Today is our third installment of the summer guest blogger series, and we’re here with my friend and client Erin sharing her passion for finding safe skincare products.
The Truth Behind Safe Skincare Products
Hello! I’m honored to be here with you on the Second Ave Photography blog, and so thankful to Blaire for having me. Not all blog posts apply to all people, but I promise you that if you live in the US, my story is relevant to you. Thank you for spending a few minutes with me!
When we wake up each morning, we usually think about what we want or need to do for the day. Maybe it’s working, preparing food, taking care of kids, volunteering, errands, chores, exercise, projects around the house, or most likely, a combination of those. What is the common theme of most of these things on our to-do lists? Creating a good life – for ourselves and for others. We work hard every day to take care of our loved ones, our homes, and – hopefully equally – ourselves.
But there is something that you do every day that might be – unknown to you – harming you and your loved ones. Do you remember the fun fact from biology class that our skin is our body’s largest organ? And what you put onto your skin can affect the rest of your body. Every morning we rub shampoo, conditioner, soap, sunscreen, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, maybe some mascara, lip gloss, or tinted moisturizer onto our skin. Once those products are on our skin, their ingredients can and often do become incorporated into our bodies – absorbed and then circulating around in our blood.
OK, so think about this for a minute. When you’re sick, depending on how bad it is, you might decide to take medicine to help with the symptoms or to make the illness go away faster. You swallow a little liquid or a pill, and hour by hour, day after day, your body reacts to the medicine and you see your symptoms improve. But before any of these medicines are allowed to be sold to you, they are screened by manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for various aspects of safety and effectiveness. After all, if a tiny dose can have a big impact on your body systems and therefore your health, we need to be sure that it’s safe to use.
Surely similar safeguards are in place for the products we put on ourselves and our kids every day, right? Well, no. US laws do not require personal care products or their ingredients to be tested for safety. The FDA is the agency responsible for regulating the industry, but they have almost no authority to take meaningful action – they cannot conduct safety tests, they cannot request access to safety information from companies, and they cannot issue recalls. Congress would need to grant them the authority to do these things. Of the 85,000+ chemicals used in commerce today, only about 10% of those have been tested for safety. Federal laws regulating the industry have not been updated since 1938!
On average, most people use between 5-15 products on themselves and their children every day – on their hair, in their mouths, on their faces, and their bodies. What do you use each day? Do you know what’s in yours? Chemicals linked to autism, cancer, fertility problems, allergies, early puberty in girls, weight gain, and more are LEGALLY allowed in products we buy to rub onto our bodies (and our babies). Outrageous.
When I learned all of this, I was shocked, offended, and motivated. I knew that some products were better to use than others, but I had no idea just how harmful many of them are – and what a big impact this is having on millions of people’s lives. My interest in health and environment issues goes back to my childhood and has been a big part of my life ever since. I studied government and environmental science in college, and worked for an environmental non-profit organization called Conservation International for 7.5 years until my first daughter was born. After that, I volunteered for a local conservation group where I live. I have lost several people to cancers. My older daughter has nut allergies. Several of my friends have children with developmental delays and autism.
Once my eyes were opened to the full picture, it felt like pieces of a puzzle coming together. I found a way to formally get involved in tackling the problems, and I jumped in. Now, as a representative of a Benefit Corporation called Beautycounter, I share this information, educating people whenever I can, getting safer products into people’s hands, and I advocate for legislative change. In March of this year, Beautycounter consultants from all 50 states (and 8 Canadian provinces) met with their government’s legislative representatives (I headed to Senator Mark Warner’s office on Capitol Hill) to share ingredient safety information and request better regulation. The current legislation pending in the US Senate is called the Personal Care Products Safety Act – and we hope it will be voted out of committee sometime soon.
Beautycounter makes products that are as effective as anyone’s favorites, while also being free from harmful ingredients – all too rare in our country. The EU bans over 1400 ingredients from use in products; the US bans just 31. Beautycounter’s Never List consists of over 1500 ingredients that we will never use. Our products contain only ingredients that are studied and proven to be safe. Here are some of my favorite resources for learning more about these issues and finding products that will not harm your health:
The EWG Healthy Living app for your phone
Our mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. By educating people, we increase consumer demand for safe products, which will move the market in a healthier direction. Share this information with your friends and loved ones. When we know better, we do better. And we all deserve better.
Some of the most discerning people I know have tried and love Beautycounter’s beautiful products, made safe. We are proving that people no longer have to sacrifice their health in the name of beauty, or vice versa.
Reach out if you’d like to learn more. I love helping people make the switch to safer, so that the products you reach for every morning are one part of your “good life” to-do list that you don’t even need to think about.
About the author:
Erin Gulick is an environmentalist at heart, who aims to do useful work that benefits the planet and the people who rely on it (that’s all of us), one small decision at a time. As a part-time work-from-home parent, consultant, educator, volunteer, wife, friend, active citizen, conservationist, and small-time bon vivant, she lives a full life for which she is constantly grateful. Learn more about detoxing your daily life via Erin’s Better Beauty group on Facebook, and visit her website here to find products that protect your health and pamper your skin. You can reach her by email at email@example.com.