Toxicology is tough to grasp. It’s full of jargon like No-Adverse-Effect-Levels, Uncertainty Factors, and Acceptable Daily Intake. But, the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics has a simple solution – “Let’s not debate how much lead should be allowed in lipstick – just get the toxic chemicals out of our products!”

Yay! Go for it! – prohibit all the chemicals that have been “linked to” adverse effects such as cancer, neurotoxicity or birth defects. Don’t allow them to be used in any amount! Cool! I’m up to here in poison already!  Anyway, why DO cosmetics companies put lead in lipstick? Could it be because lead is naturally present in the iron oxide pigments that are used in almost all red lipsticks? Could it be that it’s only there in low parts per million? I guess I could try green lipstick…

imagesBenzo[a]pyrene is not a cosmetic ingredient as such either, and actually I have no idea how much might be found in a typical cosmetic. What I do know is that it’s one of the most notorious carcinogens known. It’s one of many found in cigarette smoke. It’s totally bad, evil, nasty, and will give you cancer.

It’s also in everything you eat. Yes, everything, including vegetable oils. So, the zero-tolerance approach means no more vegetable oils in cosmetics. Or any other foody ingredients. No more coffee scrubs, no more chocolate body butter. The fact that the benzo[a]pyrene is only there at 1 or 2 parts per billion is irrelevant, right? We don’t want carcinogens in our cosmetics!!

Mmm…what else…Ah yes, fruits and fruit extracts. They all have acetaldehyde in them, in low parts per billion or parts per trillion. Acetaldehyde is another carcinogen. And fruits have benzo[a]pyrene too! I want NO MORE PRODUCTS with fruit extracts!! Antioxidants be damned!

And have you heard about phthalates!? I know, they are so…bad! And they are in everything, especially plastics, like the plastic tubing used in extracting citrus oils, which then leach out one part per million of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate into the essential oil. Even the certified organic ones. Who knew? So long citrus oils…

According to the CFSC, we should be watching out for linalool, because, as it says on the Skin Deep database, linalool is a “possible human immune system toxicant”. OK, so only 13 people out of 25,164 patch tested had an allergic reaction, but that’s not zero, and I want zero risk! I deserve it! Who knew that an allergic reaction counted as “immune system toxicity”, but I guess you could call it that if you really want to scare the shit out of people, and anyway skin allergy is an adverse reaction, and who needs that? Not me.

So, please, NO MORE ESSENTIAL OILS! OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, after all, linalool is only found in about 90% of essential oils, so some oils would still be OK. Unless they contain limonene, because that’s another “immune system toxicant.” OK, but that still only prohibits about 99% of essential oils. Maybe patchouli oil would still be OK…

Wow, this is difficult. I wonder if, instead of lay people and attorneys writing cosmetics legislation, it should be written by people who DO understand toxicology? Even better, people who understand toxicology AND natural products? I’m just saying…