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Toxic Exposure

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By Rita Woods

As massage therapists, we are constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest products to benefit our clients’ various skin types. One client has sensitive skin and so only a certain lotion or oil will do.

Another prefers lotions that don’t give off any scent, while another wants to smell like a garden after a treatment. While there are some great products on the market, there are others that might contain chemicals some clients are trying to avoid at all costs.

So, what ingredients should we look for when preparing to purchase the various lotions, oils and topical creams we use in our practices? What does the federal government have to say about these chemicals and what is the research behind the movement to limit or eliminate our exposure?

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act defines cosmetics as items intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering one’s appearance without affecting the body's structure or functions. This definition includes skin-care creams, lotions, powders and sprays, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup, permanent waves, hair colors, deodorants, baby products, bath oils, bubble baths and mouthwashes, as well as any material intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product.

The products we use every day in our practices could fall under this definition. As you can imagine, we are exposed to hundreds of these products daily. How do we know if what we are using is harmful? That question would appear to be simple to answer. As it turns out, however, it’s one of the most complicated issues we face today.

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