Sharing “Skin Deep” with my Sisters for Safer Self-care


Hi! I’m Paige McCormack, the Creative Director and Personal Care & Cosmetics Researcher for the National Executive Board of Protect Our Breasts. As difficult as it has been, I wanted to share a positive experience I had to help protect my family during the COVID pandemic. In March 2020, my school, UMASS Amherst, made the decision to send all of their students back home in response to the rising threat of COVID-19. I had to move my life from Amherst, MA back home to live with my two sisters, mother, and father. I had to adjust my routine which consisted of running POB virtually with my team, attending classes, and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet to work in a new environment. 

I realized being home around my sisters would allow me to share the knowledge I have gained from being a part of Protect Our Breasts more than I would have if I was school. Both of my sisters, one 24 and the other 15, fall into the window of susceptibility (up through a first full term pregnancy) – the stage when you are most vulnerable to toxins that may set you up for breast cancer later in life. I decided to take this opportunity to educate them about all the harmful chemicals hidden in their products. Being the Personal Care & Cosmetics Researcher for POB, it seemed like a good starting point as I stared at our large medicine cabinet full of different personal care products. Quickly, I introduced them to an app by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)  known as Skin Deep. If you are familiar with POB, you know we suggest using the Skin Deep app when shopping for your personal care and cosmetics. 

I scheduled a day when we were all free to sit down and organize this daunting medicine cabinet. As I showed them how to use the app, we started scanning our products. “What do you think this curl cream hair product scores?”, asked my younger sister. We all took our guesses and were shocked to see the curl cream my sister uses daily scored a 6 out of 7 (1 being the best, 7 being the worst). We found that a lot of curl creams are heavy with fragrance – a known loophole term that companies use to hide a number of other harmful chemicals contributing to the scent of the product. Our next product to scan was a staple in our night time routine, our mouthwash. Our jaws dropped when we found a product we use to clean our teeth contained an extremely high amount of propylparaben – a known harmful endocrine disruptor.

Scientists are continuously learning more about the effects of chemicals on our health.. This is one of the reasons why Protect Our Breasts finds it so important to spread our message of harmful chemicals found in our everyday products. As a community, we strive to give YOU the resources you need to stay informed with the latest science and apps like EWG’s Skin Deep. Next time you are hanging out with roommates, it might be fun to scan together like we did. Or while wandering the aisles of your local drug store, pull up the app and scan a few products in your basket. Like my sisters, you might be surprised by what you find. 

The information provided herein is the author’s opinion. Our authors are not scientists. We are not providing medical advice, but simply sharing publicly available information. When we reference data and databases, we do so with the caveat that most are only as good as the data they are based on. While POB strives to make the information as timely and accurate as possible, we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the completeness, or adequacy of the contents of any site that is shared, and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of these sites.  POB goes to great lengths to avoid declaring shared products as “safe” as there is no legal definition of the word “safe” at this time.  

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