Should you be concerned about the chemicals in your shampoo, lotion, makeup, and other cosmetic products?

Should you be concerned about the chemicals in your shampoo, lotion, makeup, and other cosmetic products?

Richard Wiles


Think of all the personal-care products that you used today. Did you use shampoo, deodorant, or makeup? on average, women use 12 products a day, and men use 6. But did you know that nearly 90 percent of the ingredients in these products have not been assessed for safety by the government or even by the cosmetics industry’s own safety panel?

Are your products safe? Cosmetics companies say yes, but the proof is hard to find. Under current law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot require companies to test personal care products for safety before they are sold. Instead, companies must ensure that a product is safe. But they do not have to tell anyone how they came to that conclusion, including the FDA.

Certain chemicals on the market have later been discovered to be dangerous. For example: Phthalates–chemicals commonly found in nail polish–have been associated with birth defects in boys. This finding led several manufacturers to reformulate their products. Also, some companies stopped using parabens, which are widely used as preservatives in cosmetics, after studies found the chemicals in breast tumors.

Companies use a wide variety of ingredients in personal-care products. They test some ingredients rigorously and others not as much–it’s their choice. We deserve a transparent system that requires companies to prove that their products are safe before they go on store shelves and onto our bodies.


From grades to relationships, today’s teens have a lot of things on their minds–but the safety of the cosmetics they use need not be one of their concerns. In fact, cosmetics and personal-care products are among the safest products on the market today.

Cosmetics companies employ and consult thousands of scientific experts and invest millions of dollars each year in cutting-edge technology and research to ensure the safety of their products. In labs across the country, experts are constantly testing ingredients and formulas for safety, quality, and performance.

Product safety is further ensured by guidelines set by the FDA. Federal law requires that every cosmetic product and its individual ingredients be substantiated for safety before it is marketed. It is a federal crime for a company to put an unsafe cosmetic product on the market. A company at fault could meet severe penalties such as product seizure, recalls, and bans.

Cosmetic products have been used safely for many years and their ingredients have been substantiated for safety by numerous independent expert bodies. Still, you may occasionally read something claiming that certain cosmetic ingredients are unsafe. Misinformation spreads easily today, and these claims are often made with no evidence of harm to humans.

If you have questions about the safety of your cosmetics, contact the manufacturer or the FDA for the most reliable information.

Richard Wiles Senior Vice President Environmental Working Group

Kathleen Dezio Executive Vice President Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association

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