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The Toxic Twelve:

Updated: Jul 17, 2023


Making sure we use non toxic ingredients at Ethos Day Spa.
Know what's in your products.

When it comes to everyday products, few are subject to less government oversight than cosmetics and personal care items. Despite their widespread use, many of these products contain chemicals and contaminants that have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer. The lack of regulations surrounding the cosmetic industry is concerning, especially considering that exposure to certain substances can pose significant risks to our well-being.

The Toxic Twelve Chemicals: Among the numerous chemicals found in cosmetics, twelve have raised particular concern due to their links to cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. These toxic substances include:

  1. Formaldehyde and related compounds: Known carcinogens used in various beauty products.

  2. Mercury: Can damage the kidneys and nervous system.

  3. Phthalates: Found in many fragrances, they disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.

  4. Parabens: Chemicals that disrupt hormones and have reproductive system implications.

  5. PFAS: Long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, associated with cancer.

  6. M- and o-phenylenediamine: Commonly used in hair dyes, these substances can irritate the skin and potentially cause cancer.


Regulatory Efforts and Industry Actions: While the U.S. has been slow to regulate these toxic chemicals, other countries and major retailers have taken steps to address the issue. The European Union and various nations have banned many of these chemicals, while major U.S. retailers like Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS Health have begun removing them from their store brands. Whole Foods has also prohibited the use of several toxic chemicals in the products it sells.

The Need for Regulation: The lack of oversight in the cosmetics industry is concerning. Current laws governing cosmetics are outdated and inadequate, leaving the FDA with limited authority to regulate potentially harmful substances. Unlike food, drugs, and medical devices, cosmetics companies are not required to register with the FDA, provide ingredient statements, adopt Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), report adverse events, or grant the FDA access to safety records. This lack of regulatory power prevents the FDA from effectively ensuring consumer safety and conducting recalls when necessary.


Consumer Exposures and Growing Concerns: The use of cosmetics and personal care products exposes consumers to numerous chemicals on a daily basis. Studies have shown that American women use an average of 12 personal care products containing 168 different chemicals, while men use an average of six products with 85 different chemicals. With ingredients being absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the skin, these exposures can have long-term effects on our health.


Nations with Regulations targeting personal care products from EWG.
Nations with Regulations targeting personal care products from EWG.

The Global Perspective: The United States lags behind other countries in regulating cosmetics, with more than 40 nations having implemented bans or restrictions on over 1,400 chemicals or contaminants. For example, the European Union has already banned all the chemicals included in California Assembly Bill 2762, which aims to ban the Toxic Twelve in the state. The international community recognizes the need for stricter regulations to protect consumer health.

The presence of toxic chemicals in cosmetics is a significant concern that demands attention. As consumers become more aware of the potential risks associated with certain ingredients, there is an increasing demand for stricter regulations and transparency in the cosmetic industry.

Ethos Day Spa recognizes the importance of non-toxic beauty products and prioritizes your health and well-being. By offering a range of non-toxic, clean beauty options, Ethos Day Spa ensures that your beauty rituals are safe and enjoyable, without compromising on results or your health. For more information including site work please visit EWG.


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