Like many political and social welfare issues, we are not aware of them until they fall in our lap. Though I have spent many years reading about the benefits of low and zero animal protein diets, and what went IN my body, I had not spent much time thinking about what went ON my body. Since I am a vegetarian initially for moral, animal loving reasons, I have always used cosmetics that are 'cruelty free' meaning, no testing on animals or animal products are included in the product. However, you must read carefully. Some products are completely cruelty free and some say 'finished product not tested on animals' meaning that they can test any individual potentially caustic chemical on animals. As a side note, the way most products are tested is by putting the chemicals DIRECTLY into the animal, usually bunny's, eyes. Let's use our brain, people. As comedian and animal lover Ricky Gervais said the other day "Dear intelligent people of the world, don't get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now f-ing stop torturing animals!"
Off the soap box and on to the soap talks. Usually, products that are cruelty free are also environmentally conscious and free of other nasty chemicals. But not always. I cannot stress enough: Read Read Read. It is amazing how much companies are able to get away with when it comes to the chemicals in their products. Recently, mega-conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, who own Neutrogena, Clean & Clear and Aveeno, to name a few, announced that it would be removing all of the harmful chemicals in their products by 2013. The Economic times reported "Johnson & Johnson, which makes a range of personal care products like baby shampoo, acne cream and anti wrinkle lotion-announced plans last week to remove a host of potentially harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde, from its line of consumer products by the end of 2015, becoming the first major consumer products company to make such a widespread commitment. By 2015, consumer products will be reformulated. Johnson & Johnson already vowed to remove certain chemicals from baby products, like its shampoo, by 2013 reports The New York Times." We're talking about some nasty stuff, such as formaldehyde and dioxane, which has been linked to cancer in ANIMAL STUDIES. I say, 2013 isn't soon enough. Why were they ever allowed to use formaldehyde in anything we put on our skin? The United States National Toxicology program describes formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen" in 2010. 2010. Three years previous to J&J planning to remove it from baby products, and 5 years previous to planning to remove it from all products. Additionally, it's not like this is new information here. Formaldehyde is used as embalming fluid, biocide and in the production of automobiles to name a few. Why was it ever used in products we put on the most sensitive skin of newborns?
I am guilty of using these products myself. They were given to me with shower gifts, and I blindly used them because they were there, and because J&J marketing team is really good at making sweet, warm fuzzy commercials that melt our hearts. Has anyone seen the You're Doing Ok Mom commercial? Tears every time. And I don't mean to just pick on J&J. They just happened to be in the news lately and at least they are trying to amend their practices. Vegan diet book, 'Skinny Bitch' says, "The Skin is the body's largest organ.. Every day, we slop all sorts of potions and lotions and makeup on ourselves, and rub them into our skin. Ever read the ingredients of these products? Ever consider that you are putting chemicals directly onto your largest organ? Ever think about the pores all over your body that you're putting inside them? Hopefully, you will now. Buy natural beauty products. What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body."
So, since many companies out there do not care about you, the consumer, or your baby, and what goes on your skin or in your bodies, we have to take charge and inform ourselves. One great site is The Organic Consumers Association which gives the names of 'green' companies, as well as political action you can take in your state to advocate on a larger level for safe products and farming practices. Pretty empowering, huh? PETA, while a bit radical in some of their stunts, even for me, does have a great way of searching for cruelty free products Cruelty Free Cosmetics, get the Be Nice To Bunnies app in your iPhone, and you can always look for the cruelty free bunny logo on products. Also the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a good resource to find out what is in the products you are using. And finally, Consumer Reports has a pretty comprehensive list of all things baby, including safety and recall information. Do a little reading, you'll feel more empowered as a consumer, and for the long term effects that some of these chemicals may have, it will be worth it!