What's in Those Cheap Cosmetics, Nail Polish and Lotions?

DollaramaDollar stores are are a boon for people on a budget, and can be a lot of fun, cruising the aisles. But you have to be careful; their business is buying overstocks, seconds and discontinued lines and you don't always know what is in them, and it isn't always good for you.

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Environmental Defence, the big Canadian green org, has just started a campaign called JustBeautiful to let people know what to look for. They write:

Here's something you're probably not thinking about when you're brushing your teeth, changing the little one's diaper, and putting on deodorant in the morning: before you even make it to the breakfast table, you've probably used almost 15 personal care products with over 100 host of toxic ingredients. The chemicals in your face cream, your diaper cream, your shampoo, and your lipstick have been linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility, and a long list of health concerns.

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They have prepared a list of the more common ingredients that you should be watching out for, that includes BHA, Formaldehyde, Parabens, Sodium Laureth Sulphate (found in almost every shampoo, including the last stuff I paid a lot for in a health food store) and phthalates. (see entire list with background information here) Many are banned in Europe and as Jessica recently wrote in TreeHugger, even cosmetics that are labeled as being safe are often not, so you really have to read the ingredients.

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They have also prepared a free guide to Personal care products that you can download here.

Stateside, there is a Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that is trying to change laws to eliminate ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm, and for the elimination of labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure on product labels and company websites, including salon products and the constituent ingredients of fragrance. But it hasn't happened yet, so you are on your own.

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