We've all heard of breast cancer and seen the pink ribbons, but what do we really know about it? Surely you've heard about things like inherited genetic risk or lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol use, and lack of exercise. But there are also a lot of environmental factors that increase the risk of breast cancer too (1,5). Some of these environmental factors come from things like toxic chemicals in our personal care products and cleaning solutions, endocrine disrupting chemicals that find their way into our food, processed foods, poor air quality, and much more. This means aspects of our home life and the outside world could make us more susceptible to breast cancer. It's not just the cocktails and our seemingly inability to get off the couch and go for a run! And yes, "us" really means all of us! Whether you're a man, woman, non binary, transgender, or you're over the age of 50 or are young enough to know how Tik Tok works, breast cancer affects us all. The way breast cancer develops and knowing the risks for it can be tricky and sometimes uncontrollable, but it doesn't mean there aren't ways to limit your exposure to these lesser-known environmental risks, so keep reading to find out how!

Environmental factors and breast cancer

In our daily life we come into contact with a lot of products that may contain chemicals that increase our risk for developing breast cancer. These chemicals may be in the cleaning products we use, cosmetics, our food, our air, and even our water. You may have even heard of some of them like heavy metals, PCBs, radiation, pesticides, and a whole host more. But to spare you about 8 hours, we will just mention a few!

Personal care and cleaning products

The usual suspects of harmful chemicals in our cosmetic and cleaning products are also the ones that are putting us at risk for breast cancer. Chemicals like BPA, phthalates, parabens, and PFAS have all been studied for their correlation with breast cancer (2). BPA and phthalates, which are often added to plastics, have been tested in a myriad of breast cancer studies for their endocrine disrupting abilities. Being exposed to these chemicals in utero or even in puberty can alter the development of mammary glands and increase an individual's risk for breast cancer later in life. While there is still ongoing research, laboratory studies show BPA alters mammary growth and development in rodents and other mammals and can increase the risk of tumor formation (3). And phthalates, which are also found in many fragrances, showed a high association with breast cancer and people who used cleaners and air fresheners frequently throughout their life (2).

Parabens, another group of endocrine disruptors, are often used in cosmetics as preservatives. Parabens have been found in biopsies of breast cancer tumors and have been shown to rapidly increase the numbers of human breast cancer cells (1). Then finally there is PFAS, a group of waterproofing chemicals found in many cosmetics that remains in our bodies and the environment for a very long time. PFAS has been found in amniotic fluid and placental cord blood samples and is linked with issues with mammary gland development during the prenatal and puberty stage. It has also been linked to delayed breast development in some studies (3). All of these chemicals have pretty serious effects over a long period of time and many of them are avoidable if we choose the right products!

Contaminated Food

Another risk factor we come into contact with everyday is our food. Some of the concerns include the use of pesticides and even the materials our food is packaged in. Many pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture are classified as endocrine disruptors and in animals studies have been shown to affect the development of mammary glands in both males and female rodents (1,6). Pesticides can often be found as residue on the food itself or in cases like fish, the pesticides can be found within the meat of the animal. Because pesticides are often found in water runoff, they leach into bodies of water and can be found in the fatty parts of fish (6).

Materials that come into contact with our food after it is grown can also potentially increase our risk. Contamination can be through packaging, processing, cooking, and food storage. For example, BPA is found in the lining of canned food and in many plastics. One study found that reducing intake of packaged foods decreased BPA levels in urine by 65% (1). Breast development is controlled by the endocrine system so being exposed to different endocrine disruptors in many forms can lead to altered breast development and an increased risk in breast cancer (7).

Poor air quality

Last up is all about what we breathe! There are many harmful air pollutants that come from a variety of sources like cars and industrial processes, but the one that has been correlated with breast cancer the most is nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is considered to be a marker of traffic related air pollution because it comes from the burning of fuel in automobiles, trucks, and other equipment that run on combustion (5,8). This air pollutant has been linked to pre and postmenopusal breast cancer, as well as many other types of cancers. Air pollution is a tricky risk factor because we all have to breathe air, making it really hard to avoid, but it's often most concentrated in cities with high traffic and in communities of color (5,10,11).

Medical inequalities related to Breast Cancer

While explaining how all of these environmental risks affect us everyday, it's important to note that some groups of people are more at risk than others. In particular, Black women have a higher incidence of breast cancer before the age of 45 and are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age compared to White women. Many factors contribute to this including lack of insurance, fear of testing, delay in seeking care, barriers to early detection and care, and racial bias (9). A lot of the barriers minorities face comes directly from racism within the health care system as well as socioeconomic factors. One survey done at York State hospitals found that physicians have more negative perceptions towards African Americans and people of low or middle socioeconomic status. Another study found that 41% of Black women compared to 28% of White women had stated their doctor had never suggested mammography (9). So in many instances doctors are not recommending preventative care that could save a Black woman's life.

And not only are minority populations directly affected by the health care system, they are also disproportionately exposed to chemicals of concern for breast cancer, like the ones we discussed above. African Americans often have high body levels of many chemicals including PCB's, mercury, PAH's, and phthalates. And both African American and Hispanic populations have varying levels of BPA, PFAS, and triclosan compared to White populations (1). Beauty products marketed to Black and Brown women (such as skin lighteners, hair straighteners, and feminine hygiene products) contain harmful chemicals (12). In a time of ongoing social change these issues need to be addressed and brought to light. These barriers are not a choice, they are placed on these communities and put them at a disadvantage that is causing them to get sick.

Ways to avoid these environmental risks

It's almost impossible to know when, how, or if breast cancer might develop because of the many factors including environmental risks that are at play. But even though there isn't a definitive way to determine what might cause breast cancer, there are ways you can potentially reduce your exposure levels. Here are a few tangible ways to reduce your risk!

  1. First things first, do self breast exams and go in for regular mammograms with a licensed physician. You can do it yourself or have a partner help you! Here is a link on how to do a self breast exam!
  2. Reduce toxic cleaning products in your daily routine. Here are some natural cleaning alternatives we recommend for all purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, and laundry detergents. Check out our website for more alternatives!
  3. Also reduce the amount of toxic cosmetic products in your routine. Check out stores like Credo, Follian, Sephora clean, and Target clean to try some cleaner cosmetic products!
  4. Buy less fast food or even reduce the amount of times you go every week. Start by going one less day a week!
  5. Reduce the amount of packaged foods you consume to reduce your exposure to chemical additives in the plastic as well as the food!
  6. Buy organic fruits and vegetables if possible. Our secret for prioritizing organic produce is leafy greens, berries of all kinds, and things with skin you eat. If you prefer conventional produce make sure and wash the produce as much as possible to remove any possible residual pesticides!
  7. Buy an air purifier to keep the air you breathe in your home as clean as possible. Here are a few we recommend, but if you can't buy one here is how you can make your own!
  8. Drive less! It's easier said than done, but reducing vehicle emissions is a sure way to reduce the amount of air pollution we collectively breathe in!
  9. Donate to organizations that are fighting against medical racism and trying to reduce the health disparities for people of color. Some organizations are The Center for the study of Racism, Social Justice, and Health and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Also check out are article on environmental justice and how to get involved!

When it comes to breast cancer there are risks all around us, but we are not completely powerless. While some things are hard to avoid, there are plenty of chemicals and products we can limit in order to minimize our exposure as much as possible. And as a young person you may not feel like any of this applies to you, but it's never too early to protect yourself against the risks of breast cancer.


Sources

  1. Gray, J. M., Rasanayagam, S., Engel, C., & Rizzo, J. (2017). State of the evidence 2017: An update on the connection between breast cancer and the environment. Environmental Health, 16(1), 94. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-017-0287-4
  2. Rodgers, K. M., Udesky, J. O., Rudel, R. A., & Brody, J. G. (2018). Environmental chemicals and breast cancer: An updated review of epidemiological literature informed by biological mechanisms. Environmental Research, 160, 152–182. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2017.08.045
  3. Buermeyer, N., Engel, C., Nudelman, J., Rasanayagam, S., & Sarantis, H. (2020). Paths to Prevention: California Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan. UC Office of the President: California Breast Cancer Research Program. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1v2745z0
  4. Fiolet, T., Srour, B., Sellem, L., Kesse-Guyot, E., Allès, B., Méjean, C., Deschasaux, M., Fassier, P., Latino-Martel, P., Beslay, M., Hercberg, S., Lavalette, C., Monteiro, C. A., Julia, C., & Touvier, M. (2018). Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: Results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. BMJ, 360, k322. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k322
  5. White, A. J., Bradshaw, P. T., & Hamra, G. B. (2018). Air pollution and Breast Cancer: A Review. Current Epidemiology Reports, 5(2), 92–100. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40471-018-0143-2
  6. Kass, L., Gomez, A. L., & Altamirano, G. A. (2020). Relationship between agrochemical compounds and mammary gland development and breast cancer. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 508, 110789. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mce.2020.110789
  7. Yang, K. J., Lee, J., & Park, H. L. (2020). Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure and Breast Cancer Risk: A Rapid Review of Human, Animal, and Cell-Based Studies. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(14), 5030. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145030
  8. https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/nox.html
  9. Yedjou, C. G., Sims, J. N., Miele, L., Noubissi, F., Lowe, L., Fonseca, D. D., Alo, R. A., Payton, M., & Tchounwou, P. B. (2019). Health and Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 1152, 31–49. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-20301-6_3
  10. Clark, L. P., Millet, D. B., & Marshall, J. D. (n.d.). Changes in Transportation-Related Air Pollution Exposures by Race-Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status: Outdoor Nitrogen Dioxide in the United States in 2000 and 2010. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(9), 097012. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP959
  11. Tessum, C. W., Paolella, D. A., Chambliss, S. E., Apte, J. S., Hill, J. D., & Marshall, J. D. (n.d.). PM2.5 polluters disproportionately and systemically affect people of color in the United States. Science Advances, 7(18), eabf4491. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abf4491
  12. Zota, Ami R., and Bhavna Shamasunder. "The environmental injustice of beauty: framing chemical exposures from beauty products as a health disparities concern." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 217.4 (2017): 418-e1.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2017.07.020

Roundups

Non-Toxic School Lunch Packing Essentials

Get ready for school with these eco-friendly options

Packing lunches for school is a lot of work! We know from firsthand experience how hard it can be to pack something nutritious that your kids will actually eat. Plus if you're trying to reduce the amount of food packaging or plastic waste in your kid's lunch, it can just seem overwhelming. To make things easier, we rounded up our favorite non-toxic school lunch packing essentials. We included stainless steel lunchboxes, a hot food container, snack containers and bags, reusable food wrap, and a couple of cute and functional lunch bags. All of these items are free of lead, phthalates (commonly found in vinyl), BPA, and PFAS (Teflon-like chemicals). Check out these lunch packing essentials and get inspired to pack the best lunches ever.



a) Lunchbots Large Stainless Steel Lunch Container

Lunchbots is a great stainless steel bento container that will last for years. This one has 5 compartments for every type of lunch and snack combo you can come up with. You can get dip condiment containers that are leak proof that neatly fit inside. Lunchbots also has smaller containers for snacks that you should check out as well.

b) Planetbox Lunchbox

This stainless steel lunch box is easy for kids to open with a simple latch. The lunchbox comes with containers for wet foods and dips and you can buy extra dividers. The different compartments make it easy to pack a variety of foods. We love how it comes with magnets on the cover so that kids can customize the look. Planetbox also has an insulated carry bag, just make sure to pick one of the patterns that is made without a PFAS durable water repellent. Planetbox also has a smaller sized box for snacks or for little ones.

c) Bentgo Kids Stainless Steel

Bentgo is a favorite bento container that now comes in stainless steel! The silicone lining on the lid makes it leak resistant as and the latches make the container easy to open. It comes with 3 compartments and an extra silicone container.

d) Thermos Stainless Steel Insulated Food Jar

This container keeps food hot for 5 hours and is perfect for days when soup or mac n cheese are on the menu. The handle make it convenient to carry and helps kids open the top.

e) Stasher bags

Stasher bags are so popular for a reason! Say goodbye to single use plastic bags and say hello to a reusable food packing essential that comes in lots of fun colors. We particularly love the sandwich and snack sizes and use them daily.

f) Zip Top Snack Containers

These Zip Top container are as convenient to use as they are cute! We love how they sit flat and are easy to open for small hands. They are perfect for some sliced fruit or any loose snack.

g) Ukonserve Round Nesting Trio Stainless Steel Containers

These snack containers come with see through lids so that kids know what's inside. The are great for snacks, or use all three to pack a bento style lunch. They also nest for easy storage.

h) If you care Sandwich Bags

Sometimes you need a disposable sandwich or snack bag. No judgement! These If You Care unbleached sandwich bags are made of greaseproof, nonstick paper which is biodegradable, compostable, and microwave safe. Perfect for a cookie, sandwich, or other dry snack.

i) Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wrap

Replace plastic wrap with this sustainable alternative. Bee's Wrap is made from GOTS Certified organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. We love wrapping up snacks, sandwiches, and cut up fruits and veggies in these.

j) Fluf Lunch Bag

This organic cotton canvas lunch bag is fully machine washable! The interior is lined with a food safe water resistant lining (free of PFAS, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals) and has a pocket for a ice pack. The bag comes in so many cute prints and has a very durable canvas handle.

k) Fjallraven Kanken Mini Cooler

This well insulated lunch bag is made of durable, waxed fabric that is PFAS free! Bonus that the the fabric is made from recycled plastic. It comes in lots of cute colors and is sure to be a favorite for kids of all ages.

l) Petit Collage

A roomy insulated lunch box that is easy to wipe clean thanks to a biodegradable laminate made from sugar cane. It comes in several cute patterns and comes with a handle or a strap.

m) Ukonserve insulated lunch bag

This lunch bag is made from recycled plastic bottles and is free of PFAS, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals. It holds ups well to daily use and is roomy enough to pack a lunch plus snacks.

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Life

Does Your Makeup Have Teflon-Like Chemicals in It?

Why is there PFAS in makeup and is it bad for me?

Nowadays there are so many makeup options for us to choose from like waterproof mascara, dewy or matte foundations, smudge proof lipsticks, metallic eyeliners, and so much more. But how do companies get these products to have the perfect finish or such long lasting effects? One of the most common ways is to use chemicals like PFAS. PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are chemicals that are often called forever chemicals because they don't naturally break down in the environment and are associated with all sorts of health issues. Keep reading to learn more about what PFAS chemicals are, why they are in makeup, and how to buy makeup without PFAS!

What is PFAS?

PFAS is a group of thousands of chemicals that are used in many consumer products as well as industrial processes. PFAS is primarily used as a stain and oil repellent or a waterproofing agent so you can find it in food packaging, camping gear, waterproof clothing, nonstick cookware, paints, and personal care products (1,6). These chemicals have been found to cause a wide variety of health issues including high cholesterol, thyroid disease, hypertension, immunosuppression, hormonal imbalances, and different types of cancers (2,3). And because the chemical composition of the different PFAS chemicals are so strong it makes them really durable and long lasting in the body and in the environment. Many studies have found PFAS in breastmilk and found that the levels of PFAS in people's bodies is steadily on the rise (4).

And besides being harmful to our health, PFAS chemicals are also highly damaging to the environment (6). Due to contamination from industrial processes and consumer products, PFAS contaminated drinking water is a major concern. The average water treatment plant is unable to remove the PFAS from the water, allowing these chemicals to continue to pollute our waterways (5). But water isn't all that gets polluted. Our soil is also heavily impacted by PFAS contamination as well. Most of the contamination comes from farmlands reusing the sludge and water that comes from wastewater treatment plants that contain PFAS, which then infiltrates the soil and disturbs microbes and bacteria causing the soil to deteriorate (5). This can negatively affect the food currently growing in the soil and cause issues for growing food in the future as more of the soil deteriorates (5).

Clearly PFAS is bad for our health and the environment, so why is it put in our makeup?

PFAS in makeup

The makeup that you are most likely to find PFAS in is foundation, concealer, lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara. The reason it's in these products is because PFAS chemicals are great emulsifiers which keeps the products mixed together, stabilizers that prevent the product from breaking down, viscosity regulators that help change the texture of a product, and a great waterproofing agent (7). And in makeup these properties help to make a product smooth and conditioning for the skin, make it appear shiny, make it waterproof, and create a smoother texture for the product (8).

Ever since the 1950's, when PFAS was first created, the health and environmental effects of PFAS have been researched and more research comes out everyday as more PFAS like chemicals are created. On the other hand PFAS in makeup and how that affects our health still needs to be looked into more (9). Research has shown that products like lipstick and lipgloss that contain PFAS are much more likely to enter into the bloodstream compared to products like foundation because lipstick and lipgloss are so easy to accidentally ingest (7). There has also been evidence that putting cosmetic products containing PFAS around the eye area, where the skin is much thinner than the rest of the face, has a higher rate of absorption into the bloodstream (7,10,11). This means products like concealer, eyeliner, and mascara.

These studies show that there is some correlation between using cosmetics with PFAS and having PFAS within your body. And although not all products seem to pose a danger to our health, you have to remember that we might be ingesting and being exposed to PFAS in many other ways than just our makeup. PFAS is all around us in our drinking water, food packaging, clothes, household items, and more. So it may not seem like a big deal that a few of your makeup products have PFAS in them but the more PFAS builds up in your body the more risk there are for health issues associated with PFAS.

And if you thought PFAS in makeup wasn't a big enough issue, another concern is that not all brands are being transparent about it. A recent study found that many US cosmetic products contained PFAS and many of them did not disclaim it on the label. This means that cosmetic companies are purposely hiding the fact that they use PFAS in their products. This study also discussed that this issue is widespread throughout the entire cosmetics industry from drugstore makeup to high end brands (15,16). So now the real question is, how do we stay away from makeup with PFAS in it?

How to find makeup without PFAS

Finding PFAS free products can be difficult especially if the brand isn't upfront about it, but the first thing to do is check the ingredients list and look for any ingredients that have the word "fluoro" in it, that's usually a pretty good indication that there is some type of PFAS chemical in the product! You can also check EWG Skin Deep to see if your product is listed on the database and if it has PFAS in it!

Since you can't be sure if the ingredients list is accurate or not, another option is try natural or clean makeup brands. Often these brands have fewer chemical additives in them and ingredients are screened for potential health effects. Some clean beauty retailers are Sephora Clean, Target Clean, Credo Beauty, Follian, and Detox Market. And other stores like Walmart, Target, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens, and Amazon have all started to take action by looking for toxic chemicals in their beauty products (16). If you want to check out how some of your favorite stores handle toxic chemicals and their retailer report card, check out this link!

What Else Can You Do to Get PFAS out of Makeup?

Besides buying PFAS-free products and making choices with your money, another great thing to do is get involved in changing the policies around makeup. Right now there is very little legislation out there that tests for the safety of chemicals that are added to cosmetics. Only two states currently have regulations on PFAS in cosmetics, California and Maryland. A few other states have bills in the works but it could be years before they are passed (13). Compared to other places like the EU and Denmark, the US is very far behind when it comes to regulating PFAS (11,14). So by voting with your dollar, signing petitions, talking about the issue with your friends, and even emailing companies about your concerns, you have the power to try and shift the entire cosmetics industry to be cleaner and safer. Many companies have made the choice to make safer products for their customers, but there are still far too many companies who will not make that choice unless required to by better policies. If you want to read more about clean beauty legislation and how you can get involved in the issue, check out this article!

At the moment, there are hundreds of studies on the health impacts of PFAS chemicals. By limiting the number of interactions and exposures we have with PFAS the better! One easy way to do this is by getting rid of all of your makeup that contains PFAS. Getting new makeup is a blast and what could be better than supporting brands that care about your health and the health of the planet!


Sources

    1. Schultes, L., Vestergren, R., Volkova, K., Westberg, E., Jacobson, T., & P. Benskin, J. (2018). Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and fluorine mass balance in cosmetic products from the Swedish market: Implications for environmental emissions and human exposure. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 20(12), 1680–1690. https://doi.org/10.1039/C8EM00368H
    2. Sunderland, E. M., Hu, X. C., Dassuncao, C., Tokranov, A. K., Wagner, C. C., & Allen, J. G. (2019). A review of the pathways of human exposure to poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and present understanding of health effects. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 29(2), 131–147. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-018-0094-1
    3. Bell, E. M., De Guise, S., McCutcheon, J. R., Lei, Y., Levin, M., Li, B., Rusling, J. F., Lawrence, D. A., Cavallari, J. M., O'Connell, C., Javidi, B., Wang, X., & Ryu, H. (2021). Exposure, health effects, sensing, and remediation of the emerging PFAS contaminants – Scientific challenges and potential research directions. Science of The Total Environment, 780, 146399. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146399
    4. Zheng, G., Schreder, E., Dempsey, J. C., Uding, N., Chu, V., Andres, G., Sathyanarayana, S., & Salamova, A. (2021). Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Breast Milk: Concerning Trends for Current-Use PFAS. Environmental Science & Technology. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c06978
    5. Abunada, Z., Alazaiza, M. Y. D., & Bashir, M. J. K. (2020). An Overview of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Environment: Source, Fate, Risk and Regulations. Water, 12(12), 3590. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123590
    6. Abunada, Z., Alazaiza, M. Y. D., & Bashir, M. J. K. (2020). An Overview of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Environment: Source, Fate, Risk and Regulations. Water, 12(12), 3590. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123590
    7. Thépaut, E., Dirven, H. A. A. M., Haug, L. S., Lindeman, B., Poothong, S., Andreassen, M., Hjertholm, H., & Husøy, T. (2021). Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in serum and associations with food consumption and use of personal care products in the Norwegian biomonitoring study from the EU project EuroMix. Environmental Research, 195, 110795. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2021.110795
    8. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas-cosmetics#:~:text=Per%2D%20and%20polyfluoroalkyl%20substances%20
    9. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/overview.html
    10. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/teflon-in-beauty-products_n_5ab2b16be4b0decad04661b6
    11. Risk assessment of fluorinated substances in cosmetic products. (2018). Danish Environmental Protection Agency.
    12. https://safemakeupproject.com/natural-makeup/are-the-best-drugstore-makeup-products-safe/
    13. https://www.saferstates.org/toxic-chemicals/cleaning-cosmetics-and-construction/
    14. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/pdf/chemicals/2020/10/SWD_PFAS.pdf
    15. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00240
    16. https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/15/health/makeup-toxic-chemicals-wellness/index.html
  • Science

    What’s the Deal with Clean Beauty Regulations?

    The current regulations in the cosmetics industry and some hope for cleaner products

    When you walk into a cosmetics store what section do you go to first? The makeup, the skin care, maybe the hair care? By the time most of us are done and have gone through the entire store it's been two hours and our hands are full of different swatches of nude lipsticks, gold eyeshadows (somehow they are all slightly different), eyeliners, and maybe even a few perfumes on each arm. Cosmetics products are a staple in everyone's lives, but something most people might not be aware of is how many ingredients go into making our favorite cosmetics products like foundation or lip gloss. There's a lot of ingredients and magic that go into making foundation that gives you that perfect dewy skin look or lip gloss that is the perfect balance of sparkly and not too sticky. Due to the lack of government regulation of the ingredients in cosmetics products, there are all sorts of ingredients that are known to cause harm to humans in our makeup, lotions, deodorants, hair care, and the myriad of other cosmetic products. This issue on toxic ingredients has sparked a huge growth in cosmetic products that are labeled as "clean". Have you ever heard of clean beauty? Is it just a trend? Keep reading to explore what clean beauty is and some of the current and upcoming cosmetic regulations!

    The problems with unregulated cosmetics

    With the exception of hair dye, there are no laws that require cosmetic products or ingredients to be approved by the FDA before they go on the market. The FDA does not require specific safety tests to be done on a product or ingredient meaning only the individuals who manufacture and market the cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products. This is a major problem! Because manufacturers are not required to test for safety, consumers do not know if they did these tests at all or if the testing they did was adequate (4). To make matters worse, if a product eventually appears to have an adverse effect, the FDA has no authority under the current regulations to force the company to recall the product, the company must do so voluntarily (12). Between the years 2004-2016, an average of 396 adverse events per year were submitted to the FDA (11). If the objective is to keep people safe, this is too little too late!

    Some common toxic ingredients in typical cosmetics products are heavy metals, PFAS (a group of Teflon-like chemicals), parabens, petroleum, phthalates, and fragrances. Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, zinc, chromium, and iron are often used for coloring purposes in cosmetics from lipstick to eyeliner. They can also accidentally end up in products due to contamination during the manufacturing and packaging processes (1,17). PFAS chemicals are often found in a lot of products like pressed powder makeup, foundation, anti-aging lotions, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick (1,16). PFAS gives cosmetics a waterproofing ability along with giving it a really smooth texture on the skin (2). Parabens are a synthetic preservative that is added to cosmetics to last longer, and petroleum, a byproduct of oil refining, has a really long shelf life and softens upon use making it a beneficial addition to cosmetics. The last two common ingredients are phthalates and fragrances which often go hand in hand. Fragrances are obviously placed in a product to make it smell better (1). They can be made from petroleum or natural materials, but most of the time the entire ingredient lists are not given due to it being proprietary information for the brand. Many fragrances then add in phthalates as a solvent to make the scent stick around longer. Phthalates are used mainly in cosmetics as skin moisturizers, skin softeners, skin penetration enhancers, and as anti-brittleness and anti-cracking agents for nail polish (18).

    These ingredients are known to be endocrine disruptors, and are linked to reproductive and developmental harm, allergies, and even cancers (1,19). We should also keep in mind that we could be exposed to more than one toxic ingredient everyday depending on how many cosmetic products we use. When used repeatedly, ingredients like PFAS and the different heavy metals can accumulate in our bodies over time and increase our risk for illness (1).

    In addition to being hazardous to our health, these same ingredients can also be toxic to our environment. Everytime you throw something away or wash it down the drain, those chemicals are going back into the environment polluting our soil and waterways (5). It's the same as chemicals coming off of your car and polluting the environment: a toxic chemical is a toxic chemical no matter where it came from!

    What clean beauty means

    The term "clean beauty" is pretty subjective, but it usually means that the products contain ingredients that have been evaluated for safety and the brands are transparent about the ingredients they are using. More and more brands have been coming out with clean cosmetic products because they realized that a lot of the everyday products people use have harmful and toxic chemicals in them. Some of these brands have a list of chemicals they refuse to use like parabens, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, phthalates, and more. There are even some clean beauty retailers that require brands to disclose all of their ingredients and check them against a do not use list before they are allowed to be sold. This all seems like progress, but all of these actions are voluntary and not required under law, meaning most brands don't go that extra mile which is why there's an urgent need for new government regulation and policies for the skincare industry.

    Clean Beauty Regulations

    The current federal regulations are pretty lackluster. For some context, the EU has prohibited the use of 1,378 substances in cosmetic products compared to the United States which has only banned 11 substances (13,14). Some of these banned chemicals include chloroform, mercury compounds, vinyl chloride, chlorofluorocarbons, and a few others (14). This abysmal effort by the federal government has forced states to come in to propose more comprehensive safety regulation for cosmetics. One particular bill recently passed in California, has established a ban of 25 toxic ingredients in cosmetics which could have major impacts on the cosmetics market as a whole. Because California is such a big market, with about 40 million people, it might force brands to start producing cleaner products. Most brands don't want to create two separate products, one cleaner version for people living in California, and another that is suitable for the rest of the U.S.! So there is hope that this bill in California could push brands to only create clean products. There are also a few other states including Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Minnesota, and Wisconsin that have adopted policies to start cleaning up the cosmetics sold in their states (6).



    Upcoming Clean Beauty Legislation

    In the past few years there have been three big pieces of federal legislation that have been introduced into congress along with 9 state policies introduced by Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. Most of these state and federal policies focus heavily on removing the toxic ingredients and giving the FDA more authority to recall a product and to do their own safety reviews. These policies have not been passed or turned into law, but if all goes well they will be on their way to pass in the next few years!


    Why switch to clean beauty?

    Switching to clean beauty products can be a great way to start limiting our exposure to toxic chemicals. But as we previously mentioned, there is no universal clean beauty standard, or list of ingredients brands need to avoid. There is very little regulation on ingredients across the entire cosmetics industry, meaning products can claim they are safe but that could mean entirely different things depending on the brand. For the most part switching to clean beauty products is likely to reduce your overall exposure to toxic ingredients because these brands have tried to reduce the number of chemicals in their products. Brands like Sephora and Target now have clean beauty sections that people can shop from, along with stores and brands like Detox Market, Follian, Credo, BeautyCounter, Ursa Major, and Biossance to name a few. These stores and brands have made it so we don't have to wait around for government regulation to get cleaner cosmetics products. If you can, try to support more clean beauty brands to show the world that there is a market and a need for cosmetic products that don't put us at risk!

    Resources to support and keep updated on clean beauty legislation

    We created a list of letter writing campaigns, clean beauty news sources, and information pages on current and upcoming clean beauty legislation. If you want to stay updated on clean beauty legislation and find ways to support the different state and federal policies, click on the links below!

    1. This link allows you to send a message to your congressional representative to support the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019 (H.R. 4296)!
    2. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has an action alert page with multiple letter writing campaigns to tell your cosmetics companies, the FDA, and elected officials that safe cosmetics are important to you. Click the link here!
    3. The Environmental Working Group has a page dedicated to clean cosmetics legislation, news and reports, and where to support clean cosmetics companies.
    4. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tracks upcoming and adopted state policies in regard to cosmetics and cleaning products.



    Sources

    1. https://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chem-of-concern/
    2. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/contents/is-teflon-in...
    3. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/chapter-9/subchapter-VI
    4. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-laws-regulations/fda-authority-over-cosmetics-how-cosmetics-are-not-fda-approved-are-fda-regulated
    5. Juliano, C., & Magrini, G. A. (2017). Cosmetic Ingredients as Emerging Pollutants of Environmental and Health Concern. A Mini-Review. Cosmetics, 4(2), 11. https://doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics4020011
    6. https://www.saferstates.org/toxic-chemicals/cleaning-cosmetics-and-construction/
    7. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB2762
    8. https://energycommerce.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/hearing-on-building-consumer-confidence-by-empowering-fda-to-improve
    9. https://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/files/documents/COSMETICS_DRAFT%20112719.pdf
    10. https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/3/feinstein-collins-introduce-bill-to-strengthen-oversight-of-personal-care-products
    11. Kwa, M., Welty, L. J., & Xu, S. (2017). Adverse Events Reported to the US Food and Drug Administration for Cosmetics and Personal Care Products. JAMA Internal Medicine, 177(8), 1202–1204. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.2762
    12. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-recalls-alerts/fda-recall-policy-cosmetics
    Roundups

    PFAS and PVC Free Adult Rain Gear

    Stay protected from the elements

    As spring approaches, you may be thinking of upgrading your rain gear before the rainy season hits. Most rain gear can contain harmful chemicals like PFC/PFAS or PVC, which is not something you want on your body. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is a common plastic that is used in hundreds of places, but it's often used in rain gear to make it more waterproof. PVC on its own is not inherently toxic but it is extremely brittle, which is why phthalates are often added to make it stronger. Phthalates are harmful endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer, infertility, heart disease, and obesity.

    The other group of chemicals that we want to steer away from is PFAS or PFC (i.e. Teflon-like chemicals). These chemicals have extremely tight bonds between the atoms, which means nothing can get past them. While this makes them great waterproofing agents, it also means these chemicals basically don't break down over time. These "forever chemicals" are also found in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and even take-out containers. Because these chemicals are found in so many common products they eventually end up in our environment polluting the water and soil and staying there forever. PFAS have been known to cause serious health problems like decreased fertility, increased cholesterol levels, harming the growth and development of children, and lowering immune system function.

    That's why we found the best rain jackets and rain boots for adults! These boots and jackets are free from PFAS and PVC but will still keep you protected from the elements.



    a) VAUDE Escape Light Rain Jacket

    b) Marmot Phoenix EVODry Jacket

    c) Jack Wolfskin Hardshell Jacket

    d) Royal Robbins Switchform Waterproof Jacket

    e) Joules Welly Print Rain Boot

    f) Columbia OutDry Jacket

    g) Tretorn Wings rain jacket

    h) Western Chief Women's Printed Tall Waterproof Rain Boot

    i) North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT™ Jacket

    j) VIKING Unisex Marine Kadett Boot

    Roundups

    PFAS and PVC Free Kids Rain Gear

    Rain, rain, go away... unless you're wearing one of these jackets!

    For most people, the arrival of spring also means the arrival of the rainy season. And if you have kids, and are having an increased number of outdoor playdates due to covid, you probably need to stock up on some new rain gear. Remember, there's no bad weather, just bad clothing! But before you go out and purchase just any rain gear, you should know that a lot of the common gear you see at the stores could be made with toxic chemicals.

    The two chemicals that we want to steer clear of are PVC and PFAS. PVC or otherwise known as Polyvinyl Chloride is a super common plastic that is used in hundreds of places, but it's often used in rain gear to make it more waterproof. PVC on its own is not inherently toxic but it is extremely brittle, which is why phthalates are often added to make it stronger. Phthalates are harmful endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer, infertility, heart disease, and obesity.

    The other group of chemicals that we want to steer away from is PFAS or PFC (i.e. Teflon-like chemicals). These chemicals have extremely tight bonds between the atoms, which means nothing can get past them. While this makes them great waterproofing agents, it also means these chemicals basically don't break down over time. These "forever chemicals" are also found in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and even take-out containers. Because these chemicals are found in so many common products they eventually end up in our environment polluting the water and soil and staying there forever. PFAS have been known to cause serious health problems like decreased fertility, increased cholesterol levels, harming the growth and development of children, and lowering immune system function.

    I think it's pretty clear that it's best to stay away from any rain gear that uses these chemicals. They are not good for the planet, nor for your health. We definitely think PVC, PFAS (PFCs) need to be avoided, which is why we rounded up our favorite PVC and PFAS free kids rain gear so you don't have to worry this Spring!



    a) RAINY DAYS KIDS This lightweight jacket is waterproof, windproof, and comes in a variety of fun colors and sizes for toddlers to preteens! It also has built in, high visibility reflectors for added safety.

    b) Kids' PreCip Eco Jacket This waterproof jacket is ultra lightweight and breathable for all types of weather protection. Also it's made out of completely recycled materials!

    c) JAN & JUL Girls' Fleece-Lined Rain Jacket for Toddler Kids, Water-Proof This jacket comes in a variety of prints and solid colors and is fleece lined to keep the kiddos warm no matter the weather. It also comes with reflective strips for some added safety!

    d) Playshoes Childrens Waterproof Reflective Rain Jacket and pants These super cute raincoats and pants are heavier duty while also being breathable and easy to pack away. Plus, they're waterproof and windproof!

    e) CeLaVi - Kids Rain Suit Reflective Waterproof 2 Pcs Jacket and Pants/or Dungarees This waterproof set comes with a jacket and pants for full protection from the rain. The set comes in a crazy amount of colors and has sizes from toddlers to age 10.

    f) Hatley Boys' Printed Raincoats This rain jacket comes in so many fun prints your kids are guaranteed to love it! It also comes in sizes for toddlers to preteens and is super durable.

    g) WATERPROOF SHELL JACKET Made from recycled materials, this jacket is fully sealed to create the ultimate waterproof jacket. Also because of the jacket's unique finish it makes it super easy to clean!

    h) OAKI Rain & Trail Suit - Kid &Toddler - Girl & Boy One Piece Rain Jacket & Pant Not only does this one piece waterproof suit come in so many fun colors it is also guaranteed to keep you kids dry! It's great for the rain and the snow.





    Roundups

    PFC and PVC Free Kids Rain Boots

    Puddles don't stand a chance against these wellies!

    Spring is right around the corner, which means so is the rain! If you have kids, chances are you need to stock up on some new rain boots (how do kids grow so quickly?!). But a lot of rain boots you'd find in stores often are made with harmful chemicals like PVC and PFC. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is a common plastic that is used in hundreds of places, but it's often used in rain gear to make it more waterproof. PVC on its own is not inherently toxic but it is extremely brittle, which is why phthalates are often added to make it stronger. Phthalates are harmful endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer, infertility, heart disease, and obesity.

    The other group of chemicals that we want to steer away from is PFAS or PFC (i.e. Teflon-like chemicals). These chemicals have extremely tight bonds between the atoms, which means nothing can get past them. While this makes them great waterproofing agents, it also means these chemicals basically don't break down over time. These "forever chemicals" are also found in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and even take-out containers. Because these chemicals are found in so many common products they eventually end up in our environment polluting the water and soil and staying there forever. PFAS have been known to cause serious health problems like decreased fertility, increased cholesterol levels, harming the growth and development of children, and lowering immune system function.

    That's why we found the best kids rain boots that don't contain PFAS or PVC! These rain boots are seriously cute, come in lots of different sizes, and will keep feet dry! Check them out today!



    a) Hatley Rain Boots

    b) Joules Welly Print Rain Boot

    c) L.L. Bean Kids' Wellies

    d) Oaki Rain boots

    e) Polarn O. Pyret Classic Stripe Rain Boots

    f) Stonz Natural Rubber Rain Boot

    Roundups

    Non-Toxic Infant and Convertible Car Seats

    Keep your little one safe and secure in flame retardant free and PFAS free car seats

    Updated for 2020!

    If there's only one thing you absolutely need before your baby is born, it's a car seat. Everything else on your registry (except maybe diapers) can come later! Car seats are an absolute necessity for keeping your little one safe while you're on the road, from the first car ride home and on. Most kiddos actually end up spending a lot more time in car seat other than just for rides. Many kids end up napping and snacking in them. Unfortunately, most car seats contain flame retardants and forever chemicals called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.) The good news is that car seat makers can meet the required flammability safety standards without using chemical flame retardants and car seat covers can be removable and washable for when messes happen. There are great flame retardant free and PFAS free infant car seats and convertible car seats. We outline all the options and why they are important for you.

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