ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Take a minute and think of what you put on your body today -- everything from makeup to shampoo to deodorant to perfume. Now think about what's in those products.
Do you have any idea what's on the label? The government doesn't either.
Personal care products haven't been regulated in 80 years. It's not out of the question that the hundreds of chemicals put on your skin every day could be dangerous to your health.
“I lost my period for about a year," Mikka Knapp said. "I started to have cysts on my ovaries that would rupture. It was incredibly painful.
"I ended up having to have surgery on one of them. We thought I was going to lose one of my ovaries. I had thyroid problems.”
That was Knapp's life at just 17-years-old. Doctors had no idea what was wrong.
“Feeling like I was going to lose an ovary was really terrifying. Really terrifying to think that I might have trouble becoming a mom," she said. "And at 17, that's not really something you want to be thinking about.”
Without answers, she set out to figure it out on her own. After looking at her diet and running some tests, Full Spectrum Health looked at what she was putting on her body.
And then, it clicked.
“We started talking about lotions, shampoos and makeup," Knapp said. "She explained to me how there are ingredients in these products that mimic hormones and mess with your thyroid and it just all made sense.”
There are more than 60,000 chemicals we are exposed to in our food, the air, our water and personal care products we use every day.
“They are extremely dangerous, and the reason is because they muck up the delicate metabolism of the cell,” Eve Prang Plews said. She was a licensed nutrition counselor with training in medical botany, homeopathy five-element theory and functional medicine.
Basically, she dedicated her life to teaching people what these chemicals do to our bodies.
“We've got 30,000 compounds have come into use in cosmetics and other topical products just in the last 25 years," Plews said. "None of them have been tested for safety, and none of them have been tested against any other one.”
The average woman uses 12 products before she walks out the door. Those 12 products contain as many as 168 different ingredients. The average man uses 6 products before he walks out the door. Those 6 products contain as many as 85 unique chemicals.
But how do you know what those chemicals do?
“First off, if you can't pronounce it, it's probably scary, but it's the parabens, it's the phthalates, it's the DEAs, these are the things that scare me the most,” Plews said.
Parabens and phthalates are compounds and chemicals used in cosmetics. Phthalates are substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility. The effects on our bodies are not fully known.
Beauty companies are highly unregulated: Laws have been the same since 1938.
But that could soon change. The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2018 was just introduced in September. If passed, it would ban several ingredients from personal care products and require full disclosure of ingredients.
Congress considered several similar bills, but none have gained traction and this one could face an uphill battle, as well. Keep in mind, cosmetics is a $50-billion industry.
Plews looked at the ingredients in makeup I use several times a day. She described them as “scary.”
“Your body is going to absorb some of these compounds," Plews said. "And we don't always have pathways in our liver to detoxify. We don't have an ability to get them out of the body.”
Those chemicals Knapp says messed with her body. So she stopped using them and after about two years, she started feeling better.
“I started menstruating again," Knapp said. "I stopped getting ovarian cysts. My thyroid has improved. I'm not on any medication. It's really been a miracle.”
Now, do you want to know what's in the products you're using every day? Here is a link and apps that you can use to figure out if the products you use have harmful ingredients and allergens:
And if you want to make your voices heard, here is contact information for Representatives Castor and Bilirakis, who again, are on the committee where this bill now sits.
Kathy Castor: https://castor.house.gov/contact/
Gus Bilirakis: https://bilirakis.house.gov/contact
The woman we interviewed for this story, Eve Prang Plews, died in September. She suffered from a life-long illness that she chose not to talk about. Instead, she dedicated her life to teaching how to protect and preserve our health.
It’s something she says helped her live a long and full life. Eve was 71-years-old.
Full Spectrum Health: http://www.fullspectrumhealth.com/