Learning about what products to use that are safe for us, our family or the environment can become pretty overwhelming. I used to believe like many of us that products sold in stores or online were generally safe for our use; otherwise, they would come with a warning label. Right? Well, unfortunately, no so.
I would also think that once a company discovered that their products were unsafe they would voluntarily remove them from the market. Well, again, it depends on their rationalization of what they consider a risk. If you’ve followed the news about the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and their baby powder products, you learned that they were aware of the presence of asbestos in their talc and still continue using it as the main ingredient in their products; a product that is meant to be use on babies. And, as many women were using those products, they started developing cancers due to the asbestos, a known carcinogen.
While our governments put regulations in place, there is generally no formal third-party testing required to start selling products especially in the personal care, household products and beauty industry. Yes, eventually, once products are proven to be unsafe they may be removed from the market, or just not be produced anymore if consumers stop purchasing it. It is essentially a buyer-beware market. Our governments would never have the level of funding required to provide this assurance.
How are we as consumers supposed to know about what is safe or not to consumer?
Well, here are a few of my tips. This is by all means not an exhaustive list and I will continue updating this page as I learn more. It is a start.
- Visit the EWG website at: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ and search up the products you are using.
- For many common products, we can find their risk rating from 1 to 10, 1 being a low risk and 10 being a higher risk. The risks are then explained by risks of cancer, allergies and immunotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity and restricted uses.
- The EWG’s Healthy Living App for mobile phone is great to scan product bar codes in store and checkout their rating before your purchasing decision.
- Buy products from certified B-Corporation. What is a B-Corporation? Essentially, they are organizations that have decided to uphold high standards to run organizations that considers their people, the planet and their profits.
- For me, B-Corporation is a sign that the leaders of the organizations know that consumers want them to do better and not to sacrifice their employees, or the planet’s future for their immediate profits.
- Avoid products with these harmful ingredients: Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), Parabens, Phtalates, Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds), Formaldehyde, Triclosan, Toluene (as starters).
- Email companies and inquire about their third-party testing. I have only recently started doing this and the answers I receive tell me a lot about the company’s culture and how I should trust them. Companies that are generally transparent and confident in their products safety will be open to sharing their “Certificate of Analysis”, a document that confirms their products have been specifically tested and provides the results for the tests. As an example, many products should be tested for the presence of heavy metals.