Beauty in the Eye of the Consumer: Decoding Labels
Kim Traff When it comes to beauty products, there are a few things worth knowing. First, all beauty products don’t have to be approved by the FDA. Another interesting tidbit is the FDA doesn’t have the authority to recall a product. What this means is there is no higher power looking out for us when it comes to what products we purchase and use on our skin. Here are some product tips to help you be a smart consumer.
1. So sensitive
Don’t think a product is safe just because it says natural, green or synthetic-free. After all, poison ivy is natural, right? Synthetic fragrances will be labeled as fragrance or parfum. Trade secret laws don’t require companies to disclose what that chemical is so if you have allergies or sensitive skin, beware.
2. The P words
Phthalates can be found in everything from lotion and fragrance to water bottles. They give your skin a silky smooth feeling. Parabens are preservatives used to extend the shelf life of their products. Both sound harmless but have been linked to DNA damage, increased skin aging, some cancers and more commonly - hormone disruption. Let’s admit it ladies, our hormones don’t need any help with disruption. Avoid anything ending in paraben.
The lowercase "e" is a symbol called the “estimated sign.” Only found on products produced in the European Union, it ensures that the amount of product in the packaging is correct. Basically, it says you're getting what you paid for volume-wise. Another interesting thing about the “e” is that the product is up to European Standards. EU bans more that 1,300 ingredients but the FDA only bans 11. I’ll buy that vowel!
4. The jar with a number and an 'M'
This jar and floating lid tells you how long your product is good for after breaking the seal and opening. You wouldn’t eat mayonnaise after it expired so don’t use products after they go bad either.
5. The leaping bunny
The recognized leaping bunny symbol is the highest guarantee that no animals were harmed—in all stages of development and production, and it goes for all parties involved, including labs and suppliers. The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) audits companies wishing to use the symbol on their packaging to be sure they adhere to the symbol's strict cruelty-free standards. PETA will give you a pat on the back for this purchase.