CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Make-up products are meant to help us look and feel good, but according to experts, some of their ingredients aren’t so pretty.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, aside from color additives, the law doesn’t require cosmetic products to have FDA approval before they go on the market.

“It’s important to read the labels because a lot of these products contain harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to our health,” said Dr. Danielle Metzler, a Family Medicine Doctor for Roper St. Francis.

Just last year, lawmakers introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act to give the FDA more power to stop harmful items from hitting store shelves. The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act was also heard in 2019, but neither have made any progress since.

With the lack of regulation, Dr. Metzler suggests double-checking labels because you never know what you’ll find.

“Things like formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen is in a lot of beauty products,” the physician explained. “Mercury has been found in some beauty products, parabens which are known to affect hormones and reproductive health.”

The Environmental Working Group is an environment and public health advocacy organization. They use science and research to inform consumers on the products they use, the food they eat, and the water they drink.

Carla Burns with EWG said during this time of the year, consumers should look out for the ingredient oxybenzone, which is commonly used in sunscreens. She said it has been linked to hormone disruption.

“Products can hit store shelves without being required to be tested for safety before they’re on store shelves. Manufacturers can use just about any ingredient, there are only about 12 that are prohibited from use in the US,” explained Burns.

EWG has a database called Skin Deep that rates more than 80,000 U.S. products. Items rated green have been linked to low health hazards, while red means there are high health hazards.

“There are some products that do score in the red, but I think generally manufacturers are really trying to do the right thing making sure that they are using ingredients, that they are transparent about what’s in their products,” said Burns.  

Burns advised consumers to be aware of marketing claims such as “All Natural,” and instead read the ingredients. She said there is not a standardized definition to some of these terms so companies’ interpretations can vary.

Back here in the Lowcountry, Holly Thorpe, the owner of Wildcraft, is working to ensure community members have options when it comes to the products they’re using.

Her store offers a wide array of non-toxic, plant-based products ranging from makeup, hair care, fragrance, and skin care. Thorpe’s hope is to give people a place to turn in a mostly unregulated industry.

“Here, we’re doing the job for our community, we’re the ones combing ingredients for them. We’re doing all of that hard dirty work so they can literally come in and trust everything in here is safe and healthy for them.”

Below are some resources to help learn more about products’ safety.

  1. “Detox Me” App
  2. EWG’s “Healthy Living” App
  3. EWG’s Skin Deep Database