I get very frustrated by the amount of misinformation flying around about personal care products and the supposedly toxic things that my industry puts in them. It is part of my mission in running Dot & Lil to help represent truth and transparency in skin care. I know that consumers are not always equipped to sort through what is true and what is not. Reliable sources are hard to come by and the truth is usually not a black and white situation--by which I mean ingredients very rarely fall squarely into a "safe" or "unsafe" category...toxicology is, and always has been, about doses and thresholds and circumstances. No one I know complains about the cyanide levels in their apples, for example, and it's not because cyanide can't hurt you!

So, while I know that it's hard for you to make decisions about what to use on your body and the bodies of your family, I just wanted to give a few links to places I go when I myself am looking for reliable information.

TOXNET is the toxicology data network for the United Stated National Library of Medicine. You can search their database for almost any substance or cosmetic ingredient. Your results will link you to other information that is reliable, give you the other names or synonyms for the ingredient (which is VERY useful in decoding ingredient labels!) and address any known risks of use. The information is well-researched and lists all sources.

This list published by CIR, or Cosmetic Ingredient Review, lists the safe percentage ranges for all the ingredients they have found safe as used so far in their research. Please note, that doesn't mean that an ingredient not found on the list is unsafe--it simply means they have yet to test it! The CIR was spearheaded by the Personal Care Products Council (then called the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association), the trade association for my industry. They function completely independently and you can read their procedures here.

Personal Care Truth was started by the owners of two companies much like mine, who just as I am were very frustrated by the blatant untruths told about ingredient safety. The www.personalcaretruth.com badge is proudly displayed on the side of my blog. They regularly bring in toxicologists, researchers and cosmetic chemists to address issues and myths relating to personal care. They are basically the Myth Busters of my industry, and I have the utmost respect for them! You won't see any unsupported claims around there, let me tell you!

There's also the website of Robert Tisserand, a renowned and highly regarded aromatherapy and essential oil expert and cosmetic chemist who often uses the "I'm Just Saying..." section of his website to communicate reliable information on personal care products using a little wit, a little irony, and a LOT of sarcasm!

The above are all sources I've found to be reliable over time for truthful, well-balanced information on personal care ingredients without any scare-mongering. And if you have questions, let me know! I really want Dot & Lil to represent truth in skincare, and I'm happy to help anyone on a quest for truthful information. And next time you read a blog post or article that denounces the use of an ingredient without providing peer-reviewed data? Think of me, and post a comment or send a letter asking for them. It's time that those disseminating false information became a little more accountable.

And in my next post, we'll discuss how and why David Suzuki broke my heart this week. Stay tuned!