How To Shop For Cosmetics That Are Good for You, Our Children and Our Future

Consumers are more attuned than ever to product safety. If you’re a health-conscious consumer, you should be vitally concerned about the safety of your cosmetic and personal care products—not only for the sake of yourself but also for your family and other loved ones— because buying safe cosmetics is part and parcel of building a safe and secure future for America.

First, let’s focus on our health—that’s what I told television news reporter Stella Inger of KESQ, the ABC affiliate in the Coachella Valley, during an interview she conducted with me for an investigative report that aired in early November.

Inger called me after seeing a television investigative report I had done in San Diego with another news organization. Indeed, I’ve done plenty of such interviews recently. Reporters all over the country have been calling me ever since February 2007 when I held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group and released the results of my study showing that virtually every single kids’ shampoo, bath product and many other skin lotions and other personal care products tested were contaminated with a probable human carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. I named names. I accused companies of taking advantage of consumers, especially children, by using some of our most beloved pop culture icons to lure them into using tainted products.

So, in the conference room at the news station, I picked up a Scooby-Doo kids’ bubble bath product. “It’s contaminated with a probable human carcinogen,” I said.

I picked up a bottle with a Bratz character. “This contains a cancer-causing chemical, too,” I said. “Now, I love these characters,” I continued. “My kids grew up with Scooby-Doo and Bratz, and that’s why they want these products. Yet there are no label warnings—and the manufacturers or distributors could be taking steps to eliminate this dangerous carcinogen. Indeed, it would cost only pennies to have it removed from the product via a process called vacuum stripping. They’re putting profits ahead of our children’s health.”

I added that at least half of the ingredients in these products are petrochemicals and that they very likely harbor other potentially dangerous chemical toxins, such as formaldehyde and phthalates. Formaldehyde is a skin irritant and another carcinogen, and phthalates are linked with reproductive toxicity.

Yet here we are so “hooked” on oil, we’re bathing our children in petroleum. Is that what we think is good and healthy for our children? These are petrochemicals that cause cancer and fuel our dependency on foreign oil—is it any wonder that children’s cancer rates have escalated over the last half century?

Inger asked how these chemicals ended up in shampoos, bath products and other cosmetic products without any warnings or any actions taken by federal regulators.

I explained that when it comes to shampoos and bath products for kids and adults alike, manufacturers use an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a very harsh chemical detergent noted for having damaging effects on the eyes and on the skin.

In order to make it softer, the manufacturer or raw material supplier takes a prime petroleum starter stock called ethylene oxide and combines it with the sodium lauryl sulfate. This process is called ethoxylation. The new chemically altered chemical becomes known as an alcohol ethoxylate, specifically, sodium laureth sulfate. This process is used to create similar chemicals such as sodium myreth sulfate as well and is also found in shampoos and bath products—and other ingredients commonly found in cosmetic products, including polyethylene glycols, which are usually abbreviated on labels as PEG compounds.

Unfortunately for consumer health, ethylene oxide is only one of about 20 chemicals known to be a human carcinogen. During the ethoxylation process, it breaks down into diethylene oxide, which is also known as 1,4-dioxane, a chemical less well studied but nonetheless known as a probable human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In consumer products, our laboratory analyses found anywhere from a few parts per million to over 20 parts per million—amounts that create cancer risks far in excess of accepted government standards for exposure to carcinogens.

Furthermore, not a single manufacturer has revealed that their products contain this chemical. Why was it left to me, a private citizen, to do the work of our own federal regulators? It is outrageous—and the public needs this knowledge to make smart shopping decisions that are better not only for their health but our nation as a whole, I told the reporter.

“I took up the study because my own children wanted to use these products, and because the rest of my family used cosmetics that were similarly contaminated. I have since purchased nearly 100 different products, and virtually every single mainstream company’s cosmetics that we have tested are contaminated,” I told her.

“How do manufacturers get away with it?” she demanded to know.

“Well, if you look at the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Safety Act, you’ll see there are only a few pages devoted to cosmetics and that absolutely no premarket safety testing is required for cosmetic products,” I said. “That means products with plainly dangerous chemicals can be put on the market and the federal government can’t have them removed— unless there is a really obvious physical problem, like scalp burns from hair straighteners, that they can link to a specific product. That’s why I went to Washington in February, and will again, to alert Congress about the real dangers and sometimes disgraceful manufacturing practices of irresponsible members of the cosmetic and personal care product industry.” As far as there being no label disclosure, since 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant and not intentionally added to products, loopholes in federal regulations do not require labeling.

But there’s good news too. As part of my testing program, I also tested shampoos and bath products from Aubrey Organics, and my testing revealed that their products are completely free from this dangerous chemical carcinogen. That was why during the interview, I also recommended the Aubrey Organics product line.

Their pure products represent the very best of the cosmetic and personal care product industry. That’s why Aubrey is a Green Patriot Green 100 member.

So how does it end up that a smaller company like Aubrey Organics is producing what are clearly the better products? Well, the Aubrey family cares about you just like they do their own children and loved ones. Aubrey Hampton, who founded Aubrey Organics some 40 years ago, never has and never will use petrochemicals.

The playwright–cosmetic chemist, with formal training in cosmetic chemistry including an advanced degree, was the first modern American to formulate cosmetics that were completely natural. His training in herbs came from his mother, a natural herbalist in southern Indiana. Hampton’s father was a dirt farmer and foundry union organizer.

Today, Hampton’s Aubrey Organics is the premiere truly natural cosmetic line, and the company provides consumers with the most extensive completely petrochemical-free line of cosmetics, personal care products, cleaning and pet products today. The company is a reflection of his own sensibilities—he cares about ordinary people like you and me.

But their products are extraordinary. Not only are they formulated for specific skin types, from normal to oily, dry and combination skin, but they also use more organic herbal ingredients perhaps than any other cosmetic and personal care product company.

If you’ve never tried Aubrey products for you or your children, I would urge you to do so. Start with their shampoos, conditioners and hand and body lotions; be sure to use their kids’ liquid bath soap for your little ones. Their most famous lines are based on Rosa Mosqueta® rose hip seed oil, Matcha green tea and sea buckthorn—but that’s just the beginning of what they offer. We love their green tea–based sunscreens. In our home we also use their wonderful nontoxic cleaning products.

Thanks to aggressive investigative reporting, people are waking up to the fact that so many cosmetic and personal care product manufacturers are ripping off consumers and producing dangerous products.

But thanks to companies like Aubrey Organics, we can make a choice that speaks volumes not only to our health but to the health of our children—and to reducing our nation’s dependency on foreign oil. Isn’t it comforting to know that along with eschewing paraben preservatives, phthalates, formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane, Aubrey Organics is fighting for your health and your future on all fronts?

Aubrey Organics cosmetics and personal care products are available at health food stores and natural health centers nationwide. To find a location in your community, call Aubrey Organics toll-free at (800) AUBREY-H (800-282-7394) or visit their website at www.aubrey-organics.com. and use their store locator service.

David Steinman