What is Natural and Safe?
As consumers, we tend to believe that personal care products are safe to use because we see words like “Natural” on the label. We watch commercials that show products used on babies, fooling us into believing they are safe. We assume products seen on a store shelf are safe because there “must be” regulations governing these products. We put our faith in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect the safety of the consumer.
Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate these products because they are not a food or a drug. If this is surprising to you, you’re not alone. As a physician, I didn’t even know the ugly truth about personal care products being an unregulated industry until a health scare forced me to educate myself.
The Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) was passed by Congress in 1976 to regulate the introduction of new or existing chemicals. But contrary to what you may think, the TSCA does not determine which chemicals are toxic vs. non-toxic. It merely prohibits import of chemicals that are not on the TSCA inventory as an “existing chemical.”
When the law passed, all existing chemicals were considered to be safe for use and grandfathered in. The panel has rejected only 11 ingredients in 36 years, whereas the European Union has banned hundreds. The European Union requires safety data on skin care products but, unfortunately, the United States does not.
Facing a Health Challenge
The Environmental Working Group (my bible for ingredient safety) has identified 10,500 chemical ingredients that are used to manufacture personal care products. Many of these are suspected to be carcinogens or disruptive to the endocrine system.
These details became very important to me after I faced a pivotal turning point in my mid-thirties. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer less than a year after I had completed my residency in ear, nose, and throat and started my own practice. Ironically, I diagnosed, treated, and operated on thyroid cancer as part of my job.
The scientist in me desperately searched for the cause of my thyroid cancer at such an early age. As a result of the diagnosis, I became hyper-vigilant about the foods I ate and what products I put on my body hoping that these changes would help me avoid another cancer in the future.
Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare Products
I have compiled a list of the top ten ingredients I would avoid in skin care products:
Many times a direct correlation between chemicals and cancer cannot be established. However, common sense dictates that avoiding toxic ingredients and chemicals cannot hurt your chances of living a healthier life.
Dr. Kalpana DePasquale is an otolaryngologist (ENT) in St. Augustine, Florida and provides care at St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throat and the Avanti Medical Spa. After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer early in her career, she became passionate about creating safe alternatives to skin care and is an advocate for safe and natural personal care products.