The last time the United States Congress passed a major bill to regulate the safety of cosmetic ingredients was in 1938—almost 80 years ago.

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Today’s savvy beauty consumer is increasingly interested in understanding the true nature and source of their personal care products. They care whether the product in question has been ethically and responsibly sourced. They want to understand its potential environmental impact. They need to be certain that the ingredients put into the product are safe.

And to do this, he or she doesn’t want to have to spend a lot of time and energy to translate ingredient lists and packaging details or spend hours using Google to gather and interpret product claims and manufacturing practices.

It’s this heightened level of consumer advocacy that is prompting personal care companies to come clean about their product ingredients, claims, and manufacturing practices. The movement toward greater transparency is here to stay. But it is complicated.

To help consumers better understand the frustration involved in understanding and seeing through product labels, we’ve asked the MyChelle Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Research and Product Development Chemist, Kimberly Heathman, to explain a few key points and provide perspective, direction, and guidance.

Why is it so difficult for beauty consumers to discern and believe a product’s safety and ingredient claims?

To start, there should never, ever, be a question in a consumer’s mind as to the safety of the product they are applying to their hands, face, or body. But the reality is many consumer product companies are not required to fully disclose the ingredients in their products. According to the FDA, “It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that products are labeled properly.”

But surely, the FDA must oversee the safety and legitimacy of all the ingredients poured into a skin care product?

Actually, no. The FDA neither tests nor monitors skincare for safety, and ingredients are minimally regulated. Couple this with a lack of oversight of ingredient transparency; many people may not know fully what is in their skincare products.

It is every beauty company’s responsibility to be 100% transparent when it comes to what is both in and not in their products. It’s important for all of us as cosmetic manufacturers to make ingredient and label transparency our combined mission and focus.

If the FDA isn’t regulating the skin care industry, who or what is?

Non-governmental, non-profit organizations, including the Environmental Working Group (EWG), have made it their mission to inform consumers and push brands to commit to full transparency and development of clean products. MyChelle is proud to be a founding member of the EWG VERIFIED: For Your Health™ Program, the organization’s new verification program designed to help shoppers quickly and easily identify personal care products that meet the organization’s strictest standards. EWG VERIFIED™ takes EWG’s well-respected Skin Deep® rating system a step further, requiring companies to submit significantly more detailed information to confirm they: avoid ingredients that authoritative health bodies have flagged for potential health concerns; fully disclose their ingredients to consumers; ensure that their products are adequately preserved and free of contaminants; and follow good manufacturing practices.

To bear the EWG VERIFIED™ mark, a product must provide additional information not typically found on the product label to prove they meet these rigorous criteria—an effort to drive the market toward greater transparency. To date, 15 MyChelle products have been verified. Shop them here.

When did MyChelle begin advocating product ingredient transparency?

MyChelle has always developed skin care products that are bioactive, ethically sourced, and formulated with active, plant-based ingredients. From its beginning in 2000, the company has never formulated with any potentially toxic or unnatural ingredients. As a company, we are steadfast and passionate about creating clean and safe products that are just as effective as they are natural.

Today, MyChelle continues its practice of using breakthrough research and technology to develop formulations that are all vegan or vegetarian, certified cruelty-free, and made without parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances or color, petroleum, GMOs, and gluten. The company’s sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing practices include biodegradable ingredients and formulas, wind powered energy, and recyclable paper cartons, plastic tubes, and glass bottles and jars.

How can a consumer—especially those committed to using safe cosmetics—properly vet the skin care ingredients on the label?

Most skin care ingredient lists use scientific names, making it more difficult to know which ingredients are bad and which just sound bad. If you’re concerned about the formulation of a skin care product, we’ve created this list of the 30 most toxic chemical ingredients used in skin care today.

What other questions should I be asking about product ingredients and ingredient safety?  

Although 100% transparency is the responsibility of the beauty company, we believe consumer education is crucial. Writer and activist Lindsay Dahl, a respected advocate for cosmetic safety, created a list of five simple questions for consumers to ask beauty brands and manufacturers:

  1. Do you disclose all ingredients, for each product, publicly?
  2. Do you fully disclose fragrance ingredients?
  3. Do you screen for heavy metals in color cosmetics, on an ongoing basis?
  4. Do you screen ingredients for: carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, neurotoxicity, VOCs and other harmful toxicants?
  5. Do you support reforming federal laws to protect public health from toxic ingredients?

To read Lindsay’s complete blog post, click here.

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