Parents of girls often wonder, "How young is too young for my daughter to wear makeup?" The new normal has girls as young as 12 powdering their faces on a daily basis. Wal-Mart's new Geo Girl makeup line is being targeted to girls who are as young as 8. While the decision of when and how much makeup a girl wears makeup should be left up to the parents, parents might be more inclined to just say no if they had all of the facts about cosmetics.

The safety of cosmetics is a hot topic these days, especially when it comes to young girls who are experiencing puberty and hormonal shifts. The cause for concern is the type of chemicals found in most cosmetics. In fact, enough red flags have been raised that new legislation has been introduced to change federal law concerning the regulations — or lack of regulations — on the cosmetic industry.

So are girls putting themselves at risk for cancer and reproductive abnormalities when they apply their eye shadow and lip gloss? The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics believes so. And even the cosmetics industry's own trade group, the Personal Care Products Council, is supporting the new legislation for stricter FDA regulations.

Lack of FDA Involvement

Under the current law, which is the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938, all ingredient-safety decisions are left up to the cosmetic industry. This means that the FDA cannot require that cosmetic companies perform safety assessments or conduct product recalls. With the exception of color additives and certain ingredients that are prohibited from cosmetic use, all manufacturers can use any ingredient in any cosmetic product as long as it is deemed safe. But, the FDA doesn't need to approve the ingredient and therefore the safety is left to the cosmetic companies, creating what legislators refer to as a major loophole in the system.

Common Chemicals

So which chemicals are used in our personal care products? Our makeup, face wash, body wash, and moisturizers may contain anything from zinc oxide (linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, and cellular level changes) to BHA (linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, allergies, immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity). Contamination concerns even include arsenic, lead, and heavy metals. While using products containing these chemicals sparingly may not cause you harm, chronic daily use of all of these chemicals together could spell out some serious health risks for you and your daughter.

What the New Law Would Mean

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 is being reintroduced to the new congress. If it passes, it would mean that the cosmetics industry must phase-out ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects, and developmental harm. It would also require full ingredient disclosure on labeling and company websites and, among other provisions, it would require that the cosmetic industry and the government conduct annual testing of cosmetics for pathogens and contaminants.

How to Keep Your Daughter (and Yourself) Free from Chemicals Right Now

Why wait and hope for the new law to pass? You can get safe personal care products for your children and yourself right now and check to see what chemicals your current products include. Visit Skin Deep, the safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products created by researchers at the Environmental Working Group. Search by brand name or product type to find safer makeup and other personal care products that you can feel comfortable giving to your daughter, no matter what her age.

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