EWG & Personal Care Products

EWG & Personal Care Products Environmental Working Group Cosmetics Ingredients Skin Care Skin Care Products Make-up Natural Cosmetics Organic Cosmetics Natural Personal Care Soap

You have probably heard of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Founded in 1993, their mission is to protect the environment and the health of individuals through “the power of information.”

With a specific emphasis on the protection of developing fetuses (and by extension, their mothers), babies, and children, EWG is an important advocate for higher standards of cosmetics and skin care ingredients, manufacturing and packaging.

While the name of the organization may imply that the focus of their research is around “environmental” issues, Environmental Working Group actually emphasizes the health issues associated with beauty products.

This is a meaningful and important distinction, and absolutely the right emphasis for EWG, because beauty products, in my opinion, are not a “greener” alternative to conventional skin care, they are a healthier alternative.

Although EWG is not a large organization, according to their Annual Report their revenue in 2008 was just $6.5 million, the research and the service they make available via their Website, www.ewg.org, is enormously important and valuable.

One of the most valuable functions of their Website is the easily searchable Cosmetics Database, a comprehensive library of cosmetics and skin care ingredients.

First launched as part of the EWG Compact for Safe Cosmetics, the Cosmetics Database summarizes all available research by ingredient, and then assigns each ingredient a health hazard score from 0 to 10, where zero is the lowest.

Specific brands are also searchable, with hazard scores calculated for each product based on the composition of ingredients in the formulation.

From time to time, EWG also conducts their own research and publishes the findings on their website.

Their findings are often surprising.

For example, according to their Report on Teen Girls’ Body Burden of Hormone-Altering Cosmetics Chemicals, young women use an average of 17 personal care products a day exposing themselves to around 174 unique ingredients.

While the study was relatively small, every one of the young participates had detectable levels of propylparaben, methylparaben and triclosan in their bodies. These three ingredients are, according to EWG, among the most hazardous ingredients in all personal care products.

Likewise, their Report on Sunscreens illuminates some important issues consumers should watch out for when buying sun protection products. Many sunscreens with SPFs from 50 – 100, for example, effectively block just 1-2% more sunburn rays than an SPF 30 product.

Rather than protecting us, EWG points out, the false confidence we get from these high-SPF products can actually harm us by tempting us to stay in the sun longer.

Detractors typically accuse EWG of over reacting. To me, they err on the side of caution, which is what you want when you’re talking about maternal and prenatal health.

Ultimately, each of us is responsible for understanding what we will be putting on our skin when we buy a personal care product. Resources like the ones found on the Environmental Working Group Website can help to educate us, allowing us to make educated and informed decisions.

For more information, go to www.ewg.org, and www.cosmeticsdatabase.com.

By Bill Baker| May 07, 2010
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Bill Baker

Bill Baker

Bill Baker is the General Manager of Consonant Body Organic Skincare. In addition to leading the company’s innovations in natural personal care products, Bill campaigns for greater industry and government oversight of cosmetics ingredients, manufacturing, and labeling.

To learn more, please visit icareaboutcosmetics.com

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