Hello New Friends,
Have you ever looked at the back of a skin care products ingredient list and instantly feel defeated?
Trying to understand or even pronounce the words is challenging. It is honestly just easier to believe in the pretty packaging, throw it in the cart, and move on. Such in life, what may come easier is not always better! Just as it is easier with our busy day-to-day lives to drive through and order our fast food, we know stopping and taking the time to make a healthy snack or meal is better for us. Learning that what ingredients we put ON our body is just as important as what ingredients we put IN our bodies. Challenging, as it may be with the overwhelming amount of products available and along with the dreaded ingredient list we hope to ENLIGHTEN you with our “Skincare for Enlightenment” series!
Promises In A Bottle
As a teen growing up and trying to fit in, I was trying to mimic what society and what my peers saw as beautiful. This sent me scouring every beauty, style, and pop culture magazine. I was obsessed and was sure that the local drugstore or mall had the perfect lip gloss or shampoo that was going to change my life and send me straight up my small worlds social ladder, all while boosting my self confidence. We all have been there, or pretty close to all of us, because the beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar business after all! This thought process however extends past teen years as women and men of all ages every day are looking for that miracle hair product or skin product. I am pretty sure we all have purchased our fair share of promises in a bottle.
Today my thoughts are more focused on how will this product affect my health and our environment instead of how can I turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately, I went through a lot of hopes and promises in a jar to reach this point in my life. I have always been healthy growing up vegetarian, always staying active, and focusing on my health (and skin) from a very young age. I knew that what came from the earth’s ground was overall healthier for me. However, I didn’t have that same philosophy for my skin initially. As I grew older and wiser and technology became more and more advanced I thought our skin care products also made those advancements, right? Why reach for all natural skin care products when there is new technology in our beauty products out there? I had to discover those answers the hard way.
Toxic Ingredients Considered Safe
After over a year of full-time education to become a Licensed Esthetician as well as an International Beauty Therapist I ended up working with thousands of products. Not to mention the thousands of product prior to my formal education. Each product was full of promises and yes many of them delivered some benefits but as I learned later those benefits where at a cost, my health. Over the years there has begun the debate of parabens in beauty products as well as other controversial ingredients. This is where I really began questioning and educating myself on toxic ingredients. Parabens I knew were a preservative in many products, but never did I consider it would be bad for me. I mean how could they use ingredients in products that unannounced to us could potentially be bad for us? Parabens after all are being linked to Cancer! As I delved further into my researching toxic ingredients I uncovered an ugly hidden truth about our beauty industry. I read book after book in shock of how many toxic ingredients are allowed in our beauty products. Many of these toxic ingredients are allowed at certain percentages. The United States allows for some of the highest of known toxic ingredient percentages in beauty products. This high percentage is often more than most other countries allow. In addition the United States has taken little effort in banning very few toxic ingredients compared to most countries. For example, a very popular brand of head to toe baby wash contains a toxic ingredient quaternium-15, a known formaldehyde releaser is regarded safe at 0.2% or less. The problem here is what if you use this with another product that has that same toxic ingredient or you use more than directed? Now you’re over the “safe” 0.2%! The Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary on quaternium-15 states: “It is probably the greatest formaldehyde releaser among cosmetic preservatives, causing dermatitis in people who are allergic to formaldehyde and even in those who are not.” “This ingredient is a known human skin toxicant or allergen with strong evidence” stated by the Cosmetic Ingredients Review Assessments on the Environmental Working Group. Not something I want to be using on my baby at any considered “safe” percentage!
Unfortunately, many of those technology advancements I was counting on in my beauty products to work miracles were not only toxic and bad for my health, but they are also bad for my skin! Yes, I was seeing benefits, such as a moisturizer for dry skin was hydrating but I was also adding more than moisture to my skin, I was adding those toxic ingredients. Why are these ingredients even being used? Many of those toxic ingredients are created to help produce beauty products cheaper and have a longer shelf life. Cheaper ingredients allow the ability to manufacture more of a product, and a longer shelf live allows for longer lengths of time on the storage shelves of distributors, delivery trucks, and to the retailers store shelves before even selling the product. Now I like to think of my beauty products like my food these days, after all our skin is our largest organ, and what we put on our skin can also enter our blood stream. You wouldn’t want to eat something that has been on the shelf for year’s right? We know fresh is better. For example: we know food that is not highly processed, has few-to-no preservatives, and no artificial colors and flavors are better for our overall health. Just as our beauty products that have fewer ingredients, natural to no preservatives (also meaning fresher), no synthetic fragrances, and no other toxic chemicals such sulfates are better for our skin!
Making A Positive Impact
Today babies are born with these chemicals already in them before ever being in direct contact with them (1). Not only are these chemicals affecting our health, our friends and families, our children and unborn children, but also our environment. All these nasty chemicals are being used in more than just beauty products and end up going down the drain and into our waste-water ways impacting the environment. Adapting a healthy lifestyle of not just what you put IN your body but also what you put ON your body can help make a positive impact on our environment as well!
Now all that being said I do not mean for you to go and throw everything out of your beauty cabinet, but if you do, I won’t stop you! I believe life should be lived in balance, whether it is work, home life, hobbies, or fitness and health. The key here is to limit your exposure to these toxic chemicals. Maybe you love getting your nails painted but no longer want to expose yourself to the toxic ingredients found in many nail polishes such as camphor. Try picking up one of a few nail polish brands out there that are less toxic. Maybe instead of getting your nails done every other week make it a treat once a month. We all will have those vices we aren’t willing to sacrifice. So instead find another product that is not the healthiest for you that you are willing to sacrifice. We apply so many products to our skin and the fact of the matter is that we do not know how all these chemicals that are determined “safe” at certain percentages will interact with each other or how they can affect our health long term. At the end of the day make it a fun learning experience, include your friends and family, and as you finish a product go shopping for a healthy alternative!
Need a recommendation ask away and leave us a comment below.
Tiffany Minock, LE
International Beauty Therapist
Helpful Tools & Sources
-Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Database www.ewg.org/skindeep/. Search over 69,000 products rated 0 (low hazard) up to 10 (high hazard).
–The Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary.
-(1) Jane Houlihan et al. “Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns: A benchmark investigation of Industrial chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in umbilical cord blood.” Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005
– Yoga for Enlightenment
– The Science of Enlightenment [Infographic]