Finding the perfect products to make you look your most beautiful is no easy task, especially with the enormous amount of options available. Beauty products are an almost $60 billion industry every year, and companies are eager to push their products on you. Do you look better in warm tones or cool ones; matte lipstick or jewel toned? Though these questions are important, what you really need to ask yourself is whether or not using them is exposing you to toxic chemicals.
The threat of chemicals in cosmetics
Your beauty products probably look harmless, but the truth is that most of them are filled with chemicals. These products are filled with preservatives that prevent them from getting funky after sitting on store shelves and in your steamy shower. Though rancid shampoo is clearly not your idea of a good time, the frightening truth is that many of these chemicals are fairly untested.
A quick look at the labels on your bottles will show you how few ingredients are easy to recognize. In fact, most products today are filled with chemicals that didn’t exist twenty five years ago. Not only have most of them not been properly studied, there simply hasn’t been enough time to see what their impacts on health will be in the long term.
According to the Worldwatch Institute, there are over 75,000 man made chemicals in the world today that are used for products that come in contact with your skin. Even low levels of exposure to these chemicals can causes damage and irritation, and some of them can build up in your system over time and cause damage to your hormone systems.
Below is a short list of some of the most damage synthetic ingredients in common cosmetic products.
Moisture beads: Sometimes called micro-beads, these tiny sponge-like beads are made of plastic and take thousands of years to break down in the natural environment. Present in over 200 different beauty products, moisture beads are toxic to ingest for humans and wildlife alike.
Triclosan: Because of its antimicrobial properties, triclosan is found in plenty of cleaning products like soap, deodorant and shampoo. Multiple studies have linked triclosan exposure to hormone disruption and thyroid issues.
Parabens: This common ingredient in soaps and shampoos is made up of several distinct chemicals, including ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and methylparaben. Not only can parabens disrupt hormone function and cause allergic reactions, they have also been linked to increased risk of breast cancer.
Benzophenone: Though benzophenones make great UV blockers to protect you from the sun, they also disrupt the function of your endocrine system and can lead to eczema on the skin. Studies have shown that exposure to high doses of the lotions and sunscreens that contain these ingredients can increase your risk of developing cancer and reduce your fertility.
Phthalates: Used to add flexibility to plastic products, phthalates are made from phthalic acid and can be found in just about any beauty product with a fragrance. Evidence has shown that phthalates can act as an endocrine disruptor and even cause birth defects in unborn children.
Absorbing the harm
Toxic chemicals are everywhere in the natural world, so why is it so important to be concerned about cosmetic products? The reason is simple: few other products are put as close to your bloodstream as lotions and makeup.
Your skin is the body’s biggest organ and the primary defense it has to keep foreign materials out of your blood stream. However, skin isn’t a solid barrier. Instead, it is highly permeable and allows chemical substances to enter in and out of your bloodstream. This is why nicotine patches work to control cravings in smokers and why people have relied for centuries on rubbing medicinal herbs on the skin to treat their illnesses. According to studies, skin can adsorb 64% of chemicals applied to it, and the face is even more permeable than that.
In truth, whatever you put ON your body will soon end up IN your body. Doesn’t it make sense to be careful?
Importance of natural ingredients
Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to harmful chemical products. Many cosmetic brands now make natural products that contain ingredients from plant and mineral based sources, not from a laboratory. In some cases, these products rely on medicinal herbs for their active ingredient, which allows your skin to absorb the benefits rather than the toxins.
There are lots of benefits for choosing natural cosmetic products, including those listed below.
- Fewer harsh chemicals: Conventional makeup products can really take a toll on your skin, as some dry you out with harsh chemicals and even leave you looking older in the long run. You can avoid the health risks by sticking with gentler, more natural alternatives.
- Natural fragrance: Cosmetic product fragrances are a cocktail of chemicals that you breath in throughout the day. This can lead to headaches and nausea, or even cause you to develop allergies or birth defects.
- Nutrient-rich: Because your skin absorbs whatever you put on it, using natural products with beneficial ingredients like cocoa butter or white tea extracts will mean that your beauty products will actually make you more beautiful in the long run.
Top brands of natural products
Today, there are plenty of brands that value your health as much as their profit margins, and seek to create products that help you live better and look better. Below are some of the top natural/organic brands in the cosmetic market today.
- Little Barn Apothecary: Self-taught herbalists Joshua Morgan and Brad Scoggin created this line from their home and still source every ingredient from the United States. Even the bottle labels are completely biodegradable and made from non-toxic materials.
- Weleda: As the grandfather of organic brands, Weleda has been on the scene for almost a hundred years and prides itself on excluding synthetic chemicals and animal testing from their products.
- Burt’s Bees: Easy and convenient to find in just about any drugstore, the Burt’s Bees brand produces quality products without any harmful synthetic chemical additives. For products that you put on your lips, there shouldn’t be any compromise on getting the best ingredients!
Easy ways to make your own beauty products
You don’t have to rely on big brands to get your beauty products: making your own is quick, simple, and can often be done with ingredients right from your kitchen. Take back control over what really goes in your body by trying out these tips for making your own shampoo, toothpaste and soap.
Apple cider vinegar hair wash
Unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar is one of the best natural treatments you can give your hair. Not only is it highly cleansing, it also adds shine and body to your hair and helps to reduce hair loss, itchy scalp and dandruff. If you don’t want to rely on harsh shampoos that strip your hair, give yourself an ACV rinse by following these instructions.
Simply mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water and put in a spray bottle. In the shower, coat your hair with the solution and massage it in your strands for several minutes. When your hair feels saturated, rinse it thoroughly as you won’t need to add any conditioner. There’s no reason to worry about upsetting anyone nearby; the vinegar smell will go away as your hair dries.
Baking soda toothpaste
Making your own toothpaste can save you money while allowing you to know exactly what goes into your mouth every day. Best of all, this recipe takes less than five minutes to make.
Mix together 2/3 cups of baking soda with 1 tsp fine sea salt and 1-2 tsp peppermint extract. Add filtered water to get the desired consistency, and brush your teeth by wetting your toothbrush and scooping the mixture onto your brush. You can store the paste in a plastic container or even a tube for the full effect.
Homemade slow cooker soap
Why rely on expensive boutique soaps when you can make your own right at home? By making your own soap you can choose to use the highest quality ingredients and still get the end product for less than it costs in the store. You can follow this recipe for some great tips on making your own using just the tools you already have in your kitchen.
What you put on your body matters more than you know. The types of cosmetic products you use every day can have a huge impact on your health and well-being. Take the time to choose or make products that contain all natural ingredients, and you’ll be doing what’s best for both your body and the planet. It’s as simple as putting the health of your skin first.