The beauty industry is taking a hit lately from lawmakers and watchdog groups who are scrutinizing claims and practices more carefully. Just like the recent FDA sunscreen regulations, lawmakers are now focusing on a broader Safe Cosmetics Act. And there’s been an epidemic of brands being called out for making questionable claims. (Hello, Brazilian Blowout.) News broke yesterday that Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorg AG, has to cough up $900,000 to settle US Federal Trade Commission charges. Nivea claimed that its My Silhouette cream, which contains anise and white tea, could actually reduce your body size. The FTC called BS and Nivea now has to pay up. (We can assume that the company is going to be fine, since Kate Middleton was seen buying its moisturizer a few weeks ago.)
Sulfates have been steadily gaining a bad rep in the beauty industry for the last few years. Why and what the heck are they? Sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate and others are found in basically any cleaning product that lathers and foams: soaps, shampoos, bubble bath, toothpaste, and yes, oven cleaner. Here’s what’s known about sulfates: 1) They can irritate the scalp, skin, and eyes. 2)They strip the essential oils from hair, which is what gives you that squeaky clean feeling. But they also cause the hair to dry out and can lead to breaking and damage. 3) They can cause allergic reactions. 4) They’re bad for the environment (they can kill fresh water fish) and don’t break down easily. 5) The jury is still out on whether they’re carcinogens. Recent studies have shown that sulfates are safe to be applied or consumed, but other studies have shown that they turn into a carcinogen when combined with other chemicals. (Some of which, yes, are also found in shampoos). The FDA isn’t all that excited about it yet, and it remains a ubiquitous ingredient. 6) And yes, they can screw up your freshly minted Brazilian Blowout. Lots of people have chosen to use sulfate-free shampoos and the market has responded with a slew of products. We offer you some choices here.