What’s Really In Your Makeup Bag


Did you know that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to test their cosmetic products for safety? Or that the FDA also does not review or approve the vast majority of products or ingredients in our makeup before they hit the shelves?

In fact, the FDA has little power to do anything with relation to the cosmetics industry. It has no authority to require recalls of harmful cosmetics, nor are manufacturers required to report cosmetics-related injuries or complaints to the agency (companies are relied upon to do so voluntarily…). Marketing claims on labels are also unregulated and companies are rarely, if ever, required to back them up. This means the claims written on your expensive “hypoallergenic” lotion made from “natural” ingredients may mean nothing at all. The term organic in cosmetics also has no legal meaning.

With the exception of 11 prohibited substances and color additives, companies may use any ingredient or raw material in their products without government review or approval and then make a claim on the front that they most likely will not have to ever support as being true. Ingredients such as formaldehyde, coal tar, lead and mercury are in products we use every day, including those used on children. In contrast, the European Union Health Commission has banned more than 1,300 ingredients from use in cosmetics and beauty products.

The regulations currently governing the cosmetics industry in the U.S. (an industry expected to top $60 billion dollars in revenue in 2016) are from 1930. WHAT?!? Talk about archaic. I’d say the beauty landscape has changed quite a bit since then.

You may think that ingredients in makeup, lotions and sunscreens applied to the skin will rarely get into the body. Not true. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and what we put on it will get absorbed into our bloodstream and our cells. We can also ingest cosmetic ingredients by breathing in powders or sprays and by swallowing chemicals on our lips or hands. A recent study in the United Kingdom found that women who use makeup absorb almost five pounds of chemicals into their bodies each year. Many of these chemicals are hormone disruptors and can wreck havoc on our endocrine system, which oversees thyroid and adrenal function as well as estrogen and progesterone, hormones necessary for a woman’s monthly cycle.

When it comes to finding healthy food I always stress the importance of reading food labels. But with makeup it’s unfortunately a bit more difficult. Federal law currently allows companies to leave some chemical ingredients off their product labels, including those considered to be trade secrets, and components of fragrance, that ubiquitous label you pretty much see on everything.

With all the push for transparency in the food we eat, I’m surprised we haven’t heard more discussion about cosmetics. I learned all of these astounding facts when I listened to a podcast recently from NPR’s On Point called The Battle to Regulate Cosmetics. There is a growing campaign out there for safe cosmetics and some big companies support regulation, though not all.

I personally don’t see what the holdup is. I think it is astounding that some companies are putting chemicals in our skin and beauty products that have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption and allergies and the government can’t do anything about it. Full transparency is a must! Companies should be required to register products, ingredients should be tested by the FDA, accurate labeling should be required and mandatory recalls allowed if a harmful substance is found in products on the market. The fact that cosmetic companies have gone so long without this being the case just blows my mind.

I think we’ll get there, but it will take some time (it’s the government we’re talking about folks…). So what can we the consumer do to protect ourselves in the meantime? There are some handy websites and apps out there that cut through all the cosmetic crap and give it to you straight.

  1. The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database from the Environmental Working Group – On this website you can search for over 62,000 products that have been tested and ranked by the EWG. This includes sunscreens, makeup, skin care, hair care, nail care, fragrances, oral care and products for babies and moms. The products with the best rankings get a 0 to 2, so if you want to go clean, focus on scores in this range. They also have great quick tips for safer cosmetics, FAQs and a guide debunking common myths about cosmetic safety.
  2. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – This site provides safe cosmetic tips, background on concerning chemicals and backs it all up with science. It also has lists of cosmetic companies that have met their safety standards by product type.
  3. Think Dirty App – It’s free and and is an unbiased product-comparison app for cosmetics and personal care products. You can scan products right off the shelf (or in your own medicine cabinet) and see their ratings and further information on ingredients and their possible long-term effects. They provide recommendations in the category of the product you just scanned and to make it easier, you can even buy products from Amazon directly through the app. I scanned most things in my shower and medicine cabinet that I use every day and was astounded by some of the ratings on products I thought were fairly healthy to use (from Dove and Origins no less).

When it comes to our health, sometimes we’ve got to do the work. Don’t rely on a company’s claims when determining what is safe to put on or in your body. Being more proactive about it now may help you save money in medical bills down the road.


Photo credit:  Image courtesy of Mainstream on flickr

A Vision for Life


Do you have a vision for how you want to live your life?  

Are you living each and every day in pursuit of that vision?

I know, I know, pretty heavy questions there.  But they are important because we don’t want to have any regrets in our lives, right?  I’m sure you all are in agreement with me in that you want to live life to the fullest and be the healthiest person that you can be so that you can enjoy said life.

Many people, myself included, tend to avoid hard questions such as those above.  The ones that make you really look at your life and the direction in which it is headed.  We are scared of the answers that we may find.  We are scared that we may want something different than what we currently have.  Scared that we will have no idea how to get where we want to be, or even where to start.  Scared of change, trying something new, going out on a limb, taking a chance.

I will be the first one to admit that I am scared of all of those things.  

But think of it this way…  What would your life be like without a vision?  The words lost and on a small boat in the middle of some fog come to mind.  How would you know which direction to steer to get where you are meant to be?  You wouldn’t.  You’d be on a boat without a paddle.  Yeah, you might make some decisions that move you in the right direction, but in the grand scheme of things, would you really be moving toward that vision? And could you get there sooner if you had something to guide you?

I watched a short video this week at work about how a vision is like an internal compass, constantly guiding you along in the direction you are meant to go in.  Setting goals that are in line with this vision can help to propel you closer to what you desire.  Think of these goals as wind in your sails.  Without them, you wouldn’t really move very fast.

I’ve been contemplating the vision of my life a lot recently.  I’m just touching the surface of it but really want to dive deep and think about the two questions I posed above.  I think they are so important.  I do know a few things…  I know that there are some things in my life that aren’t in line with my vision and I know that I want to be an entrepreneur in the health and wellness field.  But when I think too deeply about these things I don’t even know where to begin to try and tackle them.  I get overwhelmed with all the questions that pop into my Type-A brain.  Fear then rears its ugly head.

I’ve been writing on this blog for a few years now and while I love it, I want to develop this into something more.  I want my passion for holistic health, nutrition and wholesome living to be what I do every day.  Yeah, getting there will not be easy, but also continuing to do what I’m currently doing isn’t going to get me there either.  So time to take some steps…

Here’s what I’m going to do.  First, I’m going to make a vision board.  Get a big piece of posterboard and sift through magazines, cutting out photos that appeal to me and the vision I have for my life.  This includes home, relationships, health, activities, where I live, career.  I’m a visual person, so for me, having it all in front of me in picture form will really help propel me forward.

After this is complete, I’m going to make concrete goals that are in line with my vision. Like I said above, having goals that are in line with your vision or dream will be the wind in your sails.  I’ve been throwing a lot of ideas around in my head of what I want to do with my business, but right now it’s all abstract.  Floating around in my head like a rudderless boat.  I need to pick which ones are best for me and figure out a plan to achieve them.

And those are just goals for my career.  That’s what we talk about most; how we are going to get to the next level, get that raise and become more successful.  But I think life goals are just as important.  What good does a high-paying job do if you are miserable?  To live a balanced life we also need to take into account our home, who we spend our time with, what we do every day and how we take care of ourselves.

Lots to consider, but I am chucking my friends Overwhelmed and Fear at the door and moving forward.  Starting with my vision board and taking it one goal at a time.

What about you?  Are you living a life that is in pursuit of your vision?  Are your goals in line with this vision?  I encourage you to take some time this week to really think about the vision you have for your life.



Gonna be a little honest here folks…  I’ve been a bit sad lately.  It’s really hard for me to admit because I have so much to be thankful for in my life.  But it’s the truth.  Somedays my path forward feels so dark and I get a little lost.  

I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty positive person, so when I go through these phases, as I have throughout my 31 years on this planet, it crushes me.  I have to work daily (hourly, by the minute…) to not let negativity and fear take over.  It’s exhausting.  Sometimes fear and negativity win, which crushes me again.  It makes me question who I am at my core.

Where do I go from here?  Well, I’m trying to climb my way out of it.  Taking care of my mind, body and soul by writing, doing yoga, eating well and getting enough sleep.  Confiding in those I can talk to about it and reminding myself that I am not alone.  And that I will survive and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; a bright future ahead.

And by looking up quotes on happiness.  Here’s a few, in hopes that they too brighten your day and make you smile.

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” – Mandy Hale

“Just because the process hurts doesn’t mean the results won’t be beautiful.” – Unknown

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”

“You really are good enough, pretty enough and strong enough.” – Al Carraway

“It’s a good day for a good day.”

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light.” – Harry Potter

“I’m stronger because I had to be, smarter because of my mistakes, happier because of the sadness I’ve known, and now wiser because I’ve learned.”

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and focus on what could go right.”

“Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect.  It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

This blog is about health in all its forms.  Health of the mind, health of the body and health of the soul.  They are all interconnected, you see.  This blog is also a place where I want to be real.  And that means talking about the good and talking about the bad.  We’ve all had those times.  It’s how we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off that matters.

Wishing you peace, love and happiness.  And if you struggle with depression remember that you are never, ever alone.


Please visit me on my brand new website, wholesomebalancedwellness.com!

Photo credit:  Image courtesy of Jason Hunter on flickr