Pass the Mercury…I Mean, Mascara


In October, an article from Environmental Health News announced that a new global treaty now bans mercury from some light bulbs, batteries, medical devices, and thermometers. Mascara, however, is exempt from the treaty.


From the article: “mascara and other eye makeup is exempt because ‘no effective safe substitute alternatives are available’ and ‘the intention is not to cover cosmetics, soaps or creams with trace contaminants,’…”.

If you are reading this thinking, “What the heck? I didn’t even know that mascaras and eye makeup had mercury in them to start with!”, you are not alone. And that is part of the problem. Many of us have no clue what is in the personal care products that we use on a daily basis. The companies that make them like it that way, because if we knew, we might seek out less harmful alternatives.

In the article, Stacy Malkin, co-founder of the group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, points out that there are, in fact, safe alternatives. Which are not to be confused with the *un-safe* alternatives that some companies have been using. Mercury is a neurotoxicant, but formaldehyde is a carcinogen, and parabens may be linked to hormone disruption, so those two ingredients are not safe replacements. And why do these companies put any of these chemicals in mascaras and eye makeups to begin with? Simple – shelf life. It’s cheaper for companies to make products that can sit on shelves for a good long time, rather than having to pitch expired product and make new.

There are safer alternatives out there folks, although not many at the moment. Consider making some of your own products — it’s easier than you think. And if you are thinking, “Whew, it’s a good thing I don’t use eye makeup!”, before you let that sigh of relief out, you might want to read the back of your soap box. And shampoo bottle. And hand soap. Etc. I’m not telling you this to scare you – – well, yes, I am. But the *reason* I am trying to scare you is to scare you into action. Find an alternative without carcinogens and endocrine disruptors and other toxins, PLEASE. For yourself, for your family, for those who care about having you around and having you healthy. If we stop buying this stuff, they will stop making it eventually! And then healthy alternatives will be MUCH easier to find.

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