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5 Shocking Facts about Your Cosmetics


by guest blogger Ava Anderson, natural beauty expert and safe cosmetics advocate

I decided when I was 14 that I would work to clean up the beauty industry. After learning about the use of toxic chemicals in personal care products during a news segment, I spent a year researching the products I was using and searching for safer alternatives. I’d get excited when I found a “natural” or “organic” product, but once I looked beyond the marketing and did my homework on the ingredients, I was often left with yet another product with toxic chemicals that did not meet my standards.

I began to share the issue of toxic chemicals in cosmetic products with friends and family through a blog, yet I constantly ran into a wall trying to find a truly safe line to recommend. Too often a company would have one or two products that were somewhat safe, but once I looked into the rest of the line, I couldn’t recommend it. I was really upset by this “greenwashing” and, after watching my grandmother repeatedly fail to find products without harmful chemicals—when I reviewed her purchases, every single one needed to be returned!—I finally decided to create my own line.

Armed with a very long list of “no-no” ingredients, I searched for and ultimately found a private-label manufacturer that would work with me to create a line of skin-care products called Ava Anderson Non-Toxic. We launched six months later, in 2009, (when I was 15) with six products. Now, just three and a half years later, we have more than 60 products in 11 categories—skin, face, hair, body, sun, bugs, baby, pet, candles, home cleaning, and scent—and close to 3,000 Ava “consultants” are earning an income share in this important issue all across the country. We chose direct-sales distribution because this important health issue requires personal education. My goal is to build the company so it’s large enough to create a paradigm shift in consumer behavior by educating millions of American families personally about this troubling situation.

Lack of regulations and slick marketing campaigns have set everyone up for failure, and here are the five most upsetting facts about the U.S. cosmetics industry.

1. There are only 10 banned ingredients in the U.S., but more than 1,400 in the EU. Manufacturers have to clean up their formulations to export, due to the European Union’s stricter safety standards, but they leave in all those toxic chemicals for us because they can!

2. Manufacturers are legally allowed to hide hundreds of chemicals in the ingredient “fragrance” or “parfum” and do not have to list them on the ingredient label. If your product contains the ingredient fragrance, all bets are off because there is no way to determine the true toxicity of the product. Beware—even “fragrance-free” products use the ingredient “fragrance.” If a manufacturer isn’t willing to tell the consumer everything that is in its products, that’s a big red flag!

3. The Red Cross and Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted a study in 2004 that detected more than 287 synthetic chemicals in the cord blood of newborns. More than 180 of them are carcinogenic, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 can cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.

4. In his book Toxic Beauty, Samuel Epstein, MD, states it’s actually safer to consume your products than to put them on your skin. A percentage of what you put on your skin does enter your bloodstream—and faster than if you swallowed it! Think of nicotine or estrogen patches, used as drug delivery systems because they are an immediate gateway to the bloodstream, bypassing the liver.

5. A number of carcinogenic contaminants are not required to be listed on your ingredients label. Formaldehyde (from DMDM hydantoin), 1,4-dioxane (from sodium lauryl sulfate, PEGs, and ingredients ending in -eth), nitrosamines (from triethanolamine, or TEA; diethanolamine, or DEA; or monoethanolmaine, or MEA), and hydroquinone (from tocopherals) can be included without informing consumers.

Please remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg! If you start reading ingredient labels, and look beyond the misleading advertisements, you can begin to learn how to make safer choices for yourself and your family.

xoxo Ava Anderson

At the age of 15, Ava Anderson launched her own line of personal care and home cleaning products, Ava Anderson Non-Toxic. Now 19, Ava is educating tens of thousands of American families on the issue of toxic chemicals in personal care products through her line, which now includes baby, skin, face, hair, body, scents, bugs, candles, home, sun, and pet products. This fall, Ava will be a sophomore at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and will also actively help run her multimillion-dollar empire with 12 full-time employees. Her goal is to help force a paradigm shift on the issue of toxic chemicals in cosmetics.

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6 Responses to 5 Shocking Facts about Your Cosmetics

  1. Paula July 19, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Way to go, Ava! But there might be tough times ahead: it might become a moot point that 1400 ingredients are banned in the EU if the EU–US Free Trade Agreement is approved and takes effect. Stricter European regulations may be avoided by a back door that could open to encourage “more open”trade. This situation is also not lost on companies that do business based on GMOs. Monsanto stopped advertising in Europe, but not (only) because the anti-GMO movement here is so strong; there are also loopholes in this trade agreement that could allow foods and seeds containing GMOs to be sold from the US into Europe, regardless of the stricter laws here. I hope someone has time to research this issue more thoroughly and educate us quickly enough so that we can contact our legislators and fight back in other ways as well.

    Paula

  2. Alice Green July 19, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    It’s almost impossible to fight Monsanto’s GMO’s through our legislators. Our whole system from the White House on through the Congress is tainted with Monsanto money. About the only way States have gotten any headway is through their State legislators, and even then some of their Governors have vetoed GMO labeling because Monsanto threatened to sue them. Maybe the only way to make them change is if we all stop buying any food that is not labeled Non-GMO. And that will be difficult for many to do, but hitting greedy corporations in their bottom line profits is sometimes the only thing that works. It’s very sad.

  3. Valerie Cookson-Botto July 21, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    After taking a close look at Ava Andersen cosmetics, I found that still fall into the category of claiming to be safe based on what is not in their products rather than what IS. I am a Miessence Independent Representative because of what IS in Miessence products. Miessence is the first in the world to have a complete skincare line certified organic to international food grade standards. That means no synthetics, no GMOs and no nasties. They also don’t outsource their manufacturing like other companies do. Miessence uses their own gold GreenBizCheck award winning 100% wind powered manufacturing facility. Being a green business is so much more than not using toxins. It requires a look at the total cycle from cradle to grave. Miessence is the only cosmetic company that I have found that truly supports a sustainable future.

  4. Catherine July 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Are Ava’s products and ingredients cruelty-free?? I’d like to see Ava Anderson NonToxic certified by both Leaping Bunny and PETA. 🙂

  5. Lorre July 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I totally agree with Valerie for I am also a Miessence loyal user and rep since 2005. I love their products and would never use anything else. Once you have found the best, why use the rest? Miessence has removed moles from my chest area brown spots and a red spot from my face. Fine lines have softened and I am able to look in the mirror at 66, (how old did I write) and be happy, very happy with my skin.

    Their skin care ingredients are the very best and I do not think that any company can top their ingredients. I love the products. What more can I say? Clean, pure, cold formulated, potent and a new batch made every 30 days. After you try them, you will not use anything else. Guaranteed.

  6. Barbara Tarleton July 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    to Valerie and Lorre, It’s extrarodinarily rude to hijack someone else’s column to advertize for yourself. If this is what your employer expects, I won’t be buying that product. Go Ava!

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