WHAT IT MEANS: While the study is small and doesn’t prove a direct connection between the chemicals in the cosmetics and the results of the lab tests, it does suggest that cosmetics and personal products can add a chemical burden to the bodies of people who use them. According to EWG, teenage girls are particularly at risk from endocrine disruptors, which mimic or block hormone production, since they start experimenting with makeup, perfumes, lotions, and hair dyes just when their bodies are going through accelerated development. Phil Landrigan, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Community and Preventative Medicine and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has named endocrine disruptors as one of the top health dangers that young people face today (the other three are heavy metals, air pollution, and pesticides). Hormone-disrupting chemicals have been linked to reproductive problems and cancers in animal studies, and some are believed to mix with enzymes inside people to produce carcinogens.
If you want alternatives for yourself or the children in your lives, you’ll have to browse online or hunt through health food stores to find them. To start looking, check out Skin Deep, the EWG’s cosmetics safety database. And ask the makers of your favorite products to offer versions without questionable chemicals.
EWG scientists recommend avoiding products with these ingredients:
• Fragrance and dyes
• DMDM hydantoin and Imidazolidinyl urea
• Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone
• Parabens or “-paraben”
• Chemicals ending in “-eth”
• Sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate
• Triclosan and triclocarban
• Triethanolamine (TEA)
EWG’s list of products to avoid:
• Anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA, and BHA acids
• Hair dyes containing ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene, and all dark permanent hair dyes.
• Liquid hand soaps with triclosan
• Nail polish and removers with formaldehyde