Ah, beauty, so elusive, so fleeting. But in our quest to fight the aging process, look glamorous and keep that youthful glow, we may also be speeding up the signs of aging and even worse, making ourselves sick. It’s tough to navigate the deep waters of fabulous marketing, packaging and yes, vanity. So many of us fall prey to the promises of beauty product and cosmetic manufacturers. Oh, and if it’s good enough for that hot A-list celebrity, then it must be good enough for me? Right? Wrong!
Conventional beauty products and cosmetics are some of the most toxic personal products on the market. The skin on our face is more delicate then that on the rest of our bodies, therefore more absorbent and susceptible to drawing in toxins. And what you will see about the ingredients you will find in your beloved face treats, will show you how they aren’t doing your pretty little face any favors ; (
Creams, Lotions and Cleansers
These are the most deceiving of the bunch. Great skin care begins with great skin care products. Lots of natural ingredients, moisturizing agents and all sorts of magic anti aging goodies. Yep, that’s what all the major companies promote and reel you in with. All the fabulous vitamin E, aloe, whatever mumbo jumbo won’t do anything for you if it contains mineral oil. Why?
Well, mineral oil is a product of petroleum, crude oil actually (yep, gasoline!), and the molecules are so large that they cannot penetrate your pores to allow all the good ingredients in. So what happens is that it sits on the surface of your skin, not letting any goodies in, thereby continuing to dry out your skin. And what do you do when your skin is dry? Use more product! And thus the cycle begins.
The next awful, and carcinogenic, ingredient found in most conventional face products is Propylene Glycol. Called a humectant in cosmetics, it is really “industrial anti-freeze” and the major ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluid. Tests show it can be a strong skin irritant. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on Propylene Glycol warn to avoid skin contact as it is systemic and can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
Don’t you love it when your cleanser, or shampoo, gets all sudsy? Well,the ingredient that makes that possible is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Potentially, SLS is perhaps the most harmful ingredient in personal-care products. SLS is used in testing-labs as the standard skin irritant to compare the healing properties of other ingredients. Industrial uses of SLS include: garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and car wash soaps. Studies show its danger potential to be great, when used in personal-care products. Research has shown that SLS may cause potentially carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins to form in the bottles of shampoos and cleansers by reacting with commonly used ingredients found in many products. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood system from just one face wash or shampooing. Another sudsing agent is Lauramide DEA. A partly natural, partly synthetic chemical used to build lather and thicken various cosmetic products. Also used in dishwashing detergents for its grease-cutting ability. Can be drying to the hair, cause skin and scalp itching and allergic reactions and has been declared carcinogen.
Lanolin, sounds like a really nice ingredient, beneficial even. Haha! Nope! Lanolin has been found to be a common skin sensitizer causing allergic contact skin rashes. Lanolin usually contains pesticides and dioxins, known carcinogens, used on sheep and wool. And what is lanolin anyway? It’s a fatty, yellowish substance that comes from the wool of sheep. It is excreted by the sebaceous glands on their skin, and acts as waterproofing so they don’t get cold.
Here are just a few other ingredients that do absolutely nothing for you when listed on your products:
- Collagen – animal tissue derived)
- Keratin – made from crushed horse bones and hooves as well as bird feathers & quills)
- Stearic acid – a saturated fatty acid often taken from animals including cows, sheep, pigs and, according to PETA, even euthanized dogs and cats from animal shelters.
- Alcohol – It’s incredibly drying to your skin.
- Parabens – Can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers.
Foundations, Powders, Lipstick, Balms and Gloss
Your favorite beauty basics have some seedy things lurking inside of them! One of the most “secret” of the toxins found in your cosmetics is Parabens. Parabens, though they have been on the market for decades, have now been shown to mimic estrogen, disrupting our bodies’ endocrine (hormone) system and have been found in human breast tumors possibly linking them to breast cancer.
But one of the more disgusting ingredients is Tallow. Yuck! It’s what makes your stuff gelatinous and stays in one piece (like I your lipsticks). What is tallow? But do you know what it is? Tallow is technically rendered beef or mutton fat, but for commercial purposes, what is referred to as tallow may also be derived from other animals, such as pigs. Industrially, tallow defined by a number of criteria, including boiling point. You may find tallow or its derivatives Sodium Tallowate, Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides or Tallow Imidazoline in soaps, lipsticks, shaving creams and other cosmetics. Some tallows are made from a number of animal carcasses (usually downed or sick animals), cooked in a vat and the fat that rises to the top is used in super cheap, low grade products.
Another is Alumina. An anti-caking agent, research has shown that alumina has demonstrated strong evidence of toxicity to the nervous system, and that has the potential to be absorbed from the skin into the bloodstream. There is some evidence that this ingredient may cause cancer, and Canada considers Alumina to be toxic. It is suspected to be an environmental toxin as well.
Carmine is a relatively low hazard pigment but is made from insects. It is also used as a food dye and can cause allergic reactions to some people. Carmine is also used in medical tests that require injections of dye, can cause skin irritation and nausea.
In addition, fragrances can cause quite a bit of irritation and many people develop allergies, even rosacea, from these additives.
Mascara, Liners and Shadows
By now, most of us know that synthetic colors aren’t good for us. Labeled as FD&C or D&C and followed by a number, these make products look pretty but can be carcinogenic.
Believe it or not, talcum powder is no good! In some “natural brands of eye shadows, this additive can be a respiratory irritant that may cause lung fibrosis; prolonged use around genital area may increase ovarian cancer risk; talc is like asbestos!
Phthalates are used in cosmetics such as eyeliner to make it smooth. A 2002 test of 72 name-brand beauty products found almost three-quarters contained phthalates. Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption; neurotoxicity and neurodevelopmental disorders; toxicity of the brain, kidneys, liver, and lungs; and birth defects in the male reproductive system.
Moral of the story
While you may be a slave to name brands or you simply can’t afford more then your drug store beauty line, take a step back. These big companies spend all of their money on advertising and their big name celebrity endorsements, not on quality ingredients. The cheaper the manufacturing, the more they can use to get you to buy their goods.
Do your homework and search for alternatives. You’d be surprised at how many great lines are out there that offer natural, organic and healthy products that are just as pretty, if not more so, then the big guys. Here are justa few:
- Josie Maran cosmetics
- Urban Decay
- Honeybee Gardens
Or learn how to make your own goodies! We’ll be adding DIY makeup and beauty product tips very soon so be sure to check back!