Are Your Favorite Beauty Products Dangerous? A 15-Year-Old Blows the Whistle
After reporting on 15 year-old Ava Anderson's
100% non-toxic skincare line, we got to know the
high school sophomore better with some girl talk
about her favorite topic: safe-for-you beauty
The inquisitive Anderson watched a news report over two years ago that focused on the toxicity of beauty products on the market, and subsequently found through the CosmeticsDatabase.com that virtually all the products in her home, Mom's makeup bag and the beauty shopping aisle were chock full of potentially controversial ingredients. With no other apparent options, Anderson's very own 100% non-toxic skincare line was born.
"People don't realize that most beauty products are safer to swallow than to put on your skin. At least when you ingest something, your liver detoxifies the ingredients. But when it's on your skin, some of it is directly absorbed into your blood stream. Why do you think the patch works so well that doctors recommend it for people who want to quit smoking? You put it on your skin and it gets absorbed into your body," says Anderson.
And a jaw-dropping statistic: The United States has 9 ingredients banned by the FDA for use in beauty products, while Europe currently has a whopping 1300 substances banned – which include any additives known or suspected to cause cancer.
"A lot of people think they're safe using products labeled as natural or organic. But terms like that are just chosen by the company with no regulation. If I make a product, I can put anything in there and put the word 'natural' on the label," says Anderson.
One preservative ingredient in particular – methylparaben – is pointed out by Anderson as a very common ingredient found in countless cosmetic products, despite its spotty history associated with cancer. When Anderson asked this reporter to pull out a favorite makeup product so she could analyze it on CosmeticDatabase.com, the beloved blotting powder I keep at my finger tips immediately checked positive for this troublesome ingredient – in addition to a host of others.So why do companies stack so many of these questionable fillers in their products? Anderson attributes it to the competitive race for a cheaper product that performs a certain way, like creating shimmer pieces that set in eyeshadow and products with long shelf lives.
"The average woman applies 200 to 300 chemicals to her face and body before she goes downstairs for breakfast," says Anderson. "And 'fragrance' is a word you often see in ingredient lists that the FDA allows companies to hide up to 500 chemicals under. People who are wondering why they got an allergic reaction to a product that doesn't have anything bad listed are probably reacting to something hidden in that 'fragrance' word," adds Anderson.
With beauty junkies slowly becoming more aware of the implications of dangerous ingredients, companies are finding increasingly clever ways to conceal what they're putting in products. "You'll see ingredients listed on the plastic shrink wrap of a lipstick that you rip through before you even use it the first time. Another trick is to highlight natural-sounding ingredients on a package to make it look safe, but then the product is filled with controversial ingredients," says Anderson.
But what's a confused consumer to do?
"Searching CosmeticsDatabase.com was key to my understanding of everything that was in the beauty products I was using. They grade every ingredient from a toxicity level of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. All of the ingredients in my products rank a 0," says Anderson.
We hear that next on tap for the enterprising blonde are men's, body, baby and cosmetic lines.
"My Dad is always stealing stuff to use for himself. I know my packaging is girly and pink right now, but we're working on a more guy-friendly look too," says Anderson.
She sounds like a woman on a mission.