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Safe Cosmetics Australia

The Toxic-Free Campaign

Toxic-Free V's Non-Toxic

Safe Cosmetics Australia (SCA), The Toxic-Free Campaign, aims to make it easier for everyone to identify products that are in-line with their own personal health and beauty philosophy. Furthermore, to help reduce exposure to nasty chemicals commonly found in cosmetics and everyday products, used in and around the home. Products that are endorsed by SCA meet the highest standards of quality and transparency between manufacturer and consumer that goes above and beyond current legislation. Unfortunately, the natural V's synthetic debate is often miss-guided through marketing, media and various online channels giving somewhat unhelpful and confusing advice.

SCA is proud to provide information with references to leading experts on chemical use and the impact these chemicals can have on your health. By providing consumers with credible links to scientific reports, industry professionals, organisations and government agencies, Safe Cosmetics Australia aims to raise chemical awareness, substantiating the campaign objectives by encouraging everyone to dig a little deeper into the chemicals that are lurking in your hand bag, bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Common sense should prevail, a clearer understanding of how products are regulated and why the chemical debate is by no means black and white. 

You shouldn't need a degree in chemistry to understand a product label, so how is toxicity defined?
Today it is not clear how suppliers, manufacturers, retailers or consumers define toxicity. Australian cosmetic labeling laws require all ingredients to be stated on the product label in descending order, from highest to lowest concentration. But, not all chemicals are required to be stated on the label for example fragrances can contain an unlimited number of chemicals within this key word on pretty much all products. Even the term fragrance-free should be scrutinised.

The term 'chemical' refers to 'ingredients', a chemical can be Natural or synthetic. All ingredients are classed as 'chemicals' and both can be equally as toxic. One of the best examples is fragrance, this can refer to a natural or artificial aroma, any given perfume can contain thousands of chemicals within this one ingredient listed on the product label simply as 'fragrance' or 'parfum'. Many artificial fragrances are found to contain up to 5,000 unique chemicals, giving true meaning to the term 'a concoction of chemicals'.

Chemical is not a dirty word. It is important to understand that the term 'chemical' simply refers to each and every 'ingredient' that is available for use. Natural or synthetic chemicals (or 'artificial' as scientists prefer) can be toxic or non-toxic, both natural and man-made chemicals have the potential to be toxic, to cause harm to your skin or body. Some chemicals can start out as a natural plant, but after extraction and processing, the once natural ingredient has been chemically treated with a synthetic man-made chemical to create an entirely new chemical altogether. This is where 'naturally derived' ingredients have their origins in nature, but by the time it is used in a product it is no longer considered natural, it is in-fact synthetic.

Natural V's Artificial. To clarify an important point that is often raised in the media, SCA does not agree that "man-made is bad and natural is good" this is a blanket statement that is by no means true. Nature can most certainly harm us with poisonous bacteria, deadly toxins from snakes and spiders to the humble apple contains a compound called amygdalin, which breaks down into hydrogen cyanide when ingested. Nature is as evil as any man-made chemical can be. This topic is not black and white, each chemical or group of chemicals requires scrutiny and respect. However, time has proven the beneficial properties of natural ingredients, as well as the cautions that are well documented throughout history. Brands that market their products as being 'Natural' and therefore healthier for you, use these terms to tout the quality and benefits of their ingredients like essential oils, herbs and extracts that have been used for centuries to heal and restore the body, mind and soul. We all know that a healthy diet begins with fresh produce and this is the attitude that many natural brands adopt.

Chemicals and your health. The vast majority of man-made artificial chemicals, that are permitted for use in cosmetics and toiletries (including household products and more), have not been tested for consumer health and safety. The TGA Therapeutic Goods Administration, provides a Poisons Standard that lists hundreds of chemicals both Natural and man-made, along with restrictions, usage and safety warnings that are required to be printed on product labels. Whilst this industry standard helps to protect human health, it does not address other issues like contamination whereby a chemical is contaminated with other chemicals that are known to be carcinogenic or irritating to the skin. Other chemicals of concern are preservatives, especially formaldehyde releasing preservatives and plasticisers, artificial colours, dyes and antioxidants, known carcinogens like benzene and DPB or hormone disrupting disinfectants and antibacterial agents.

Since 2010, Safe Cosmetics Australia has used common sense and sheer stubbornest, to pressure the Australian cosmetics industry to make safer and healthier products. SCA is the first Australian campaign advocating to raise chemical awareness in the Australian beauty industry. Overseas there are many groups, individuals and organisations that campaign to raise chemical awareness like the EWG Environmental Working Group, an American activist group that specialises in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants and corporate accountability. Other advocates include David Suzuki, Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, and countless clean beauty advocates including makeup artists like Megan Potter, Monique Peters and Nicole Groch, that advocate for clean and cruelty-free cosmetics. Australian organisations that campaign to raise the beauty industry's standards include The National Toxics Network, Safe Work Australia, Human Research Australia, Real Beauty, RSPCA Makeover The World, Fair Work Ombudsman, CHOICE and Choose Cruelty Free. Along with every brand endorsed by Safe Cosmetics Australia.

Why is chemical scrutiny more  important than ever? Gone are the days when "Natural & Organic" simply meant safe and healthy. Today, it is even more important for consumers to read the product label and understand WHAT they are applying on their body, and the risks if any to their health. Current legislation does not fundamentally protect human health, the ingredient label of a given product is intended for consumers to advise them on how to use the product and in some instances, the label does a good job at providing safety warnings. However, there is limited legislation concerning this important factor. Whilst every manufacturer has to abide by 'good practice' ensuring that their products are not likely to cause harm when used as directed, this largely includes following the advice to 'discontinue use if irritation occurs'. The need for clearer labelling laws is needed in a country where allergies are steadily on the rise. For many people, choosing products that minimise their exposure to chemicals of concern is their first step in caring for their skin and body. Using products that have fewer ingredients, that you can readily identify, is a practical no-nonsense approach that SCA takes when scrutinising chemicals that form our hot-list of nasties to avoid

Products endorsed by SCA's Made Safe® trademark are formulated more than 85% free-from SCA's hot-list of top offending chemicals. Science confirms that these chemicals are potentially harmful to the human body and common sense says to avoid such chemicals, yet our modern lives often rely on toxic chemicals. The Made Safe logo was introduced to recognise products that consumers demand and as a result may contain chemicals that are required to produce a specific product that performs a certain way. For example, waterproof mascara requires a plasticiser. Given the choice, the Made Safe logo offers peace of mind knowing that the waterproof mascara is for the most, formulated free-from SCA's hot-list of chemicals to avoid. Sadly, current legislation allows toxic chemicals to be used in everyday household items like tooth paste, soap, face wash, shampoo and conditioner, skin care creams, hair care products, baby care products, sunscreen and much more. Be it only a small percentage of carcinogenic preservatives or hormone disrupting dioxins lurking in your bathroom cupboard, if your anything like the average women you'll probably have applied up to 15 products this morning, juts to get ready for the day. Its the repeated exposure that is largely unknown as to the long-term adverse health effects. Giving people the choice starts with awareness and transparency, that's why brands that are endorsed by Safe Cosmetics Australia are required to publish their full product ingredients on their website available for you 24/7 to make informed decisions.

Raising awareness of potential irritants and allergens commonly used in cosmetics, personal care and household products. Most products contain fragrances as well as preservatives, emulsifiers, binders, fillers, colours, dyes, and often metals, resins and sunscreen, as well as some food grade ingredients and components that are known to cause mild to severe skin irritation, dermatitis and allergic reactions including rash and anaphylaxis in some people. Brands that SCA endorses with the Allergy certified logo, are required to publish their full ingredients as stated on the actual product labels, either on their product listings or a page that is easily accessible on their website, they must also include specific 'product safety advice' regarding potential allergens and irritants  as outlined in SCA's list of Key Allergens.

In the EU, it is a mandatory requirement to provide allergy advise on the cosmetic product labels. However Australian labelling laws are scant and labelling allergens is only required on food labels. SCA's Allergy Certified campaign logo endorses brands that pledge to provide consumers with full ingredient transparency and specific safety advice concerning potential allergens. Irritated skin and allergic reactions can be triggered by natural or synthetic ingredients, thankfully for most people, the majority of reactions to makeup and other products are usually 'irritations' and not an allergy. Products can contain a multitude of chemicals, any of which have the potential to trigger irritation and allergies so it's important not to confuse skin conditions like seborrheic and atopic dermatitis or rosacea with chemical sensitivity. Experts advise that once you are allergic or sensitised to a particular chemical, the sensitivity typically persists, and can become far worse with repeated use, and that continuing to apply a product to the skin (that causes a reaction) can have long-term systemic effects that can potentially increase sensitivity, duration and severity of skin irritation allergic reactions and the likelyhood of cross reactivity. Women are more at risk of skin irritation compared to men. This is simply because women apply more products to their face on a daily basis. Reactions to products are also more likely to be on the face, because people apply more products to the face than any other part of the body. Learn more about allergies and skin irritation:, Allergy to selected cosmetic ingredients, The Chemistry of Cosmetics.

What process does SCA go through to develop a chemical database? All ingredients are assessed individually for health and safety according to common sense, extensive research, scientific literature, consumer concerns and government data sourced locally and aboard. Now in it's tenth year, Safe Cosmetics Australia continues to research and evaluate chemicals comparing tests carried out by leading formulation and production chemists in Australia to information published in the EU, USA and Canada by environmental working groups and scientific research groups as well as listening to consumers and feedback from manufacturers of Natural & Organic cosmetics. For further information regarding regulations     read more >>