Malkan lists several websites for more extensive information. One I find very helpful is The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which works to document the dangerous products in personal care products and promote improvement. They have developed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics for companies to sign - the PDF of all companies that have signed is available."Beware personal care products that tout the use of nanoparticles, nanomaterials or nanotechnology. This emerging technology is almost entirely untested for its health effects, and no requirements exist for either testing or labeling these products." (Safe Cosmetics)This, for me, is a case of both wanting to know and not wanting to know at the same time. Products I've used and loved for years turn out to be quite highly toxic - I want to continue using them, but feel that it's not that wise. A chance pick at the library gave me all this new information to deal with - the book Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry by Stacy Malkan.
The Canadian government has created an ingredients "hotlist," not only of chemicals, but of appropriate concentrations of them. The European Union has enacted laws governing what can go into personal care products. Although many U.S. companies have also cleaned up their act and re-formulated products, many have not, and the FDA has no clout : "The FDA does not review – nor does it have the authority to regulate – what goes into cosmetics before they are marketed to salons and consumers."
Another find through Malkan's book is the Environmental Working Group which has a cosmetics safety database that shows hazard levels. You can search by product, ingredient, and/or company to see just what's in your personal care products and what the risk of using them is.
I have dug out from the dusty back of my bookshelves a book by Virginia Castleton called The Handbook of Natural Beauty that I have had for decades and is still available. Castelton has many recipes for beauty products made from food and food-grade ingredients. I remember using corn meal for a face scrub and olive oil as moisturizer - trust me Cream of Wheat is not a substitute for the corn meal!!!
My question from now on, though, when I see the words "pure," "soft," and "natural" will be pure, soft and natural what? A little research may save a lot of grief..