I was reading the May issue of Martha Stewart Living and was interested to see an article about chemicals in consumer products. The article offers guidelines for consumers by breaking down products into three groups: products (or chemicals) to avoid, those to cut back on, and those to worry less about.
I wasn’t surprised to see “fragrance” on the list to avoid. Fragrance has been banned from several workplaces in the U.S, and just a few months ago New Hampshire considered banning perfume for state workers due to the chemical sensitivities that some individuals experience. For those with allergies or asthma, heavily scented products can be uncomfortable at the very least. (We appreciate that people might want to avoid fragrance in products, and accommodate that preference by offering unscented versions of our products. Many small businesses do this—make sure to ask about your favorite products if you are sensitive to fragrance.)
I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see Cosmetics placed in the “worry less about” category. They chose to select parabens as the chemical of concern in some makeup and other products, but quoted dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. when reassuring readers that “No large medical studies have provided evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between (parabens and breast cancer).” How refreshing to see experts and research as the foundation of recommendations about cosmetic products! Well done, Martha Stewart Living.
If you’re interested to see what other chemicals or products they feel you should be concerned with (or calm down about) you can read the article online here. I will say that I was disappointed to see the Environmental Working Group recommended as THE source for ongoing research about the safety of chemicals. Had they referenced the EWG Skin Deep database when writing about parabens, they would have seen that those preservatives have earned a Moderate hazard score (5) in the database, chemicals which Skin Deep recommends avoiding. In a previous post I recommended a list of other resources for information about cosmetic and ingredient safety. Please feel free to share your own favorites in the comments!
What do you think? Where do you go for information about safe products? And what does “safe” mean to you?
Thanks for posting this article, Emily, and your commentary. The fact that the editors gave high marks to EWG, while putting forth an expert whose opinion contradicts theirs highlights highlights how confusing these issues can be to people who have a responsibility to sort them out for their readers. Imagine how confused their readers are! Kudos to Martha’s publication for attempting to provide a more balanced view.
Thank you, dM. I sympathize with those trying to make informed decisions about products for their families. There are so many differing opinions, so much conflicting “evidence” about nearly every ingredient. We all have to find our own trusted sources of information and make the best decisions we can. I appreciated how they went straight to a dermatologist for a statement. The whole tone of this seemed very calm, which feels like such a breath of fresh air after all the scare tactics.