Toxic Hygiene; What's in Your Products?

Maureen Wurtz

OMAHA (KPTM)- People spend countless hours and money making sure they look good-from lotion, to shampoo, to makeup.

However, all that time behind the mirror could actually be harmful for your health, especially if you don't know what goes into the products you use on a daily basis.

Beauty-cosmetic companies are selling it, and women and men are buying.

"Products that are sold here, whether good or bad for you, are sold be marketing," said Todd Hurley.

"It's synthetic versus natural," said Heidi Flaming.

The ingredients on a product label can sound like a foreign language. "What is this, I can't read this?" said Flaming.

Flaming is all natural, all the time. "You can tell girls are developing earlier, kids are getting bigger. There's just something going on here," said Flaming.

Flaming uses only all natural products, from food to medicine.

The FDA requires that ingredients in personal products are put on the label, but can't control what actually goes into those products.

"For me, toothpaste is one easy example," said Hurley. "Any one of them that says, do not swallow, why would you ever put that in your mouth in the first place?"

Hurley's family has been in the nutrition business for more than thirty-two years, and started 'No Name Nutrition.'

"Every chemical you put in is slowing adding to the aging process," said Hurley.

There's one common chemical that's found in toothpaste, deodorant, and makeup. It's called 'propylene glycol,' which is actually the main ingredient in antifreeze. It hasn't been proven to be toxic, but Hurley and Flaming disagree. "Those kind of things are in your make up which is crazy," said Flaming.

There are eight chemicals banned in the United States, that's compared to more than 1,100 in the European Union.

A recent study at the University of California-Berkley found nine different metals in 32 different lipsticks. Researchers said those metals, including lead and chromium, could have a negative effect on your health.

"That's ten hours that doesn't come off-you can scrub on your glass to try and get that stuff off. You can put it through you know a whole washing system-and it's still on there. So, what is in there? And why would you keep that on your lips?" said Flaming.

"New chemicals are being made all the time, and they have to be tested," said JoEllyn McMillian.

McMillian is a toxicology professor at UNMC. She said chemicals aren't the concern, but rather the amount of them is. "If evidence comes to light that there is an adverse effect, or a carcinogenic effect, then the evidence is re-evaluated."

Some common chemicals that you can keep an eye out for are lead, coal tar, and formaldehyde. All are found in products on the market.

"You know, just ingredients again-you wouldn't put it on your kidney, why would you put it on your face," said Chevy Kozisek. Kozisek is an esthetician at Sirens Salon in Omaha. She said she's seen it all. "People will call and say I use this, my skin is a disaster, my hair is a mess."

Kozisek said, for makeup, go mineral, "You're working with pure pigments, you're working with something that likes to be on the skin."

The Environmental Working Group Skindeep Database is also a quick way to make sure products are safe.

"The list of chemicals are scary, even the more natural ones have some stuff in there that's not great," said Hurley.

Flaming said she's done her research on makeup, and the price tag didn't make much of a difference. "In fact we saw some of the really expensive ones had a lot of toxic stuff."

Flaming said instead of drugs, she uses oils. She also buys organic when she can, and uses natural products. "You can take a chance on that, but if you research enough, you'll find that there's a lot of good backing to this way of living."

She said, everything comes with a side effect, except her lifestyle. "It may not look like it's affecting you now, but what about 20 years down the road?"

Flaming, making sure her beauty is more than skin deep.

There is a bill making its way through congress that would increase the power the FDA has to regulate cosmetics.