NEW YORK - May 16 - Most people think that the ingredients in personal care and cosmetic products are safety tested before they are sold. But there is no such requirement in federal law.
To help consumers make informed decisions about their products, Environmental Working Group (EWG) is re-launching its popular Skin Deep website, the only online source for assessing and comparing the safety of personal care products. Skin Deep, first launched 3 years ago by the EWG, generates more than 1 million unique page visits a month. Skin Deep 3.0 is a dramatic upgrade of the database, both in the number of products assessed and the sophistication of EWG's safety reviews. This newest version evaluates the safety of nearly one-fourth of all personal care products on the market.
Skin Deep fills the information gaps left by an industry that markets thousands of products with ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by either industry or government health experts. By law, the government cannot mandate safety studies of cosmetics products or their ingredients, and only 13 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products have been reviewed for safety by the cosmetic industry's own review panel. For virtually every product on the market, safety decisions are made behind closed doors, guided by an industry-funded panel, without the benefit of peer-review or independent pre-market safety testing.
"Under federal law, companies can put virtually anything they wish into personal care products, and many of them do. Mercury, lead, and placenta extract — all of these and many other hazardous materials are in products that millions of Americans, including children, use every day," said Jane Houlihan, Vice President of Research at EWG. "Mothers shouldn't have to worry about what is in the baby lotion they use, and now they don't have to. The new Skin Deep database provides information on nearly 25,000 personal care products so people can find out for themselves which products are the best choices for them and their families."
EWG's scientists and programmers built Skin Deep to be a one-of-a-kind resource, coupling our in-house collection of cosmetics and personal care product ingredient listings with more than 50 integrated toxicity and regulatory databases — the largest public, product-safety database in existence.
Consumers can also use Skin Deep to create customized shopping lists — products free of fragrances or carcinogens, for instance — while manufacturers can construct one-of-a-kind safety assessments, rating all their product ingredients at once to aid in reformulation plans to make their products safer.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The new database can be found at http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com and is also located from EWG's home page at http://www.ewg.org.