On a typical day, I use at least 10 personal care products: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, face cream, loose powder, mascara, tinted lip balm, blush, and nail polish. According to the Campaign for Safe cosmetics, American women use an average of 12 personal care products a day, resulting in exposure to more than 126 unique chemicals. Scary, huh?

Even scarier, is the fact that it’s perfectly legal in the U.S. for lipstick to have lead and other cancer-causing chemicals in all cosmetics. Of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in personal care products, 89% have not undergone safety testing.* Cosmetic companies are not obliged to register ingredients or notify the FDA about adverse reactions.

Personal care products are heavily regulated in Europe, and ingredients like parabens, phalates, formaldehyde, quarternium-15 have been banned in Europe due to their toxicity levels, unfortunately not in US. You are pretty much on your own when it comes to your safety. So it is important to do your own research and learn about the toxins lurking in your cosmetics.

Since the skin absorbs up to 80% of what you put on, it is on your best interest to reduce the amount of products that you use and to select those that have the least amount of chemicals. My take on this? Don’t pull your hair and start throwing all your cosmetics in the trash. First, inform yourself and second minimize your exposure by following these steps:

1.- Educate yourself. Books like No More Dirty Looks and Not Just a Pretty Facereveal the toxic truth about the personal care products.

2.- Choose make up that says fragrance-free (to avoid phalates ) and with no petrochemical derivatives or nano-particles.

3.- Avoid products that contain preservatives like Parabens (Methyl, Buthyl, Ethyl, Propyl) and Quaternium-15 – They’ve been linked to breast cancer and hormonal disruption.

4.- If you need guidance on toxic free make-up products contact an Eco Make Up Artist, so he/she can guide you and start you on an eco make-up routine. My personal choice is Miami based Make-Up artist Marcie Larkin from Peace Love & MakeUp.

5.- The Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database should become your best friend. It is a great tool to research the toxicity of a specific product before you buy it.

6.- Select nail polishes that are “3 free”, “5 free” or even “7 free” – that means free of dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and other yucky toxins.

7.- Steer clear of shampoos, body washes, and facial cleansers that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). SLS is primarily used to wash cars, do you want that on your skin?

8.- Opt for hair coloring products that do not contain PPD (Para-phenylenediamine) and Resorcinol because they have been linked to asthma and autoimmune disorders.

9.- Stay away from lipsticks that contain traces of lead. You end up ingesting it and it is known to be an endocrine disruptor.

10.- Take action by telling your Representative to co-sponsor the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act, in order to eliminate harmful chemicals from the products women, men and children put on their bodies every day. Click here for more information.

I hope these tips help you!

Live green,


*Based on the Campaign for Safe cosmetics data