Toxic Trends In Everyday Beauty
In the beauty industry the current trend is to look young and rejuvenated. Women and some men search high and low for the beauty products that “guarantee” youthful appearance. They buy hundreds of products that promise to prevent or reverse aging. What most people don’t know is that there is an average of thirty artificial chemical ingredients in beauty products. These artificially produced ingredients destroy immune systems within the body then affect the waterways in which they drain when we wash them off. Many people fall into the trap of trying to achieve their desired look while overlooking the consequences of the artificial and potentially toxic chemicals that they use.
Artificially manufactured chemicals in shampoos, for instance, can break down the body’s immune system and lead to cancer. Cheap or expensive, modern shampoos are usually a mixture of a handful of detergents, most of which are harmful to our skin. Coal tar, a popular ingredient in shampoos, is known to be effective in controlling and reducing dandruff. However, it is also known as a cancer-causing agent. Another ingredient in shampoo, ZPTO or zinc pyrithione, can cause severe allergic reactions, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness and lack of concentration. Manufacturers do not acknowledge these side effects when selling the benefits of soft, bouncy hair to consumers.
Shampoo is not the only beauty product that has toxic chemicals. Deodorant is one of the most commonly used beauty products. However, most people do not know that deodorant contains aluminum, which when applied to the skin, becomes absorbed into the body. The aluminum in the body is known to cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Other popular beauty products are antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. Triclosan, an ingredient found in many of those soaps, has been found in the blood of wild dolphins, affecting their development negatively. Studies have also found that elevated blood levels of triclosan may lead to a depressed central nervous system and impaired thyroid function, as well as to hormone disruption.
Polyethelene glycol (PEG) is a common ingredient in facial cleansers. Frighteningly, this ingredient can also be found in oven cleaners. The ingredient is added to dissolve the oil and grease on our skin. When a chemical dissolves a substance on our bodies, it is more than likely damaging our external skin and our internal bodies. Polyethylene glycol is also used as a thickener to produce a creamy consistency in creams, lotions, and soaps. The ingredient deteriorates our immune system at a slow pace, taking away our skin’s natural moisture, and is potentially carcinogenic.
Another ingredient that is found in many facial cleaners and exfoliates are tiny plastic beads. Often found in cleansing scrubs for their abrasive effect on the face and body, they are listed in the ingredient list as polyethylene. Seemingly harmless, these bits, which are less than one millimeter in diameter, wash down the drain and eventually flow into our oceans. The beads fall to the ocean floor or are swallowed by aquatic animals. They will never biodegrade. An easy solution for consumers is to choose scrubs that contain sugar, apricot, nuts or other natural abrasives, that do not damage the waterways or leave permanent manmade footprints in nature.
Propylene glycol (PG) is found in hair care products, cosmetics, after-shave, deodorants, mouthwashes, and toothpaste. It is also used in processing our food and is the active ingredient in anti-freeze. Industrial workers handling this product have to wear gloves and even eye protection because of its toxicity to the skin. It also has to be disposed of at hazardous waste sites. We use this ingredient, however, in extreme concentrations in daily products for our skin and even in our mouths.
So what do we here at Greenlifestyles.org recommend? Most women don’t know that the same ingredients in the 200-dollar bottle of “elixir of life” can be found in their very own back yard or local market. Sugar and honey is a great facial. The ingredients are natural and healing. Many women look for products that promise to rejuvenate the skin and lift bags under their eyes. Instead of using toxic chemicals that dissolve oil, using lemon and cucumbers work just as well. Cucumbers lift bags under the eyes and lemon juice lightens the skin, especially dark unwanted scars.
Shampoo originates from the Hindi word champoo. However, in India most of the population do not use manufactured shampoos, but create original shampoos using natural ingredients. For example, the powder of neem (soap nuts) is mixed with eggs, almonds, curds, buttermilk and honey. The ingredients are ground together to make a paste that works wonderfully to nourish and strengthen the hair without stripping it of its natural oils.
Return to older practices and find organic alternatives for shampoos, soaps and more, to heal the body. Instead of washing toxic chemicals down our drains when using synthetic shampoos, soaps, toothpastes, and facial cleaners, it would be eco-friendly, health producing, and logical to use natural products that are better for our bodies, for the earth, and for its oceans. If we band together and choose natural ingredients over toxic chemicals and manufactured ingredients, we can make a positive impact on our earth, our waterways, and our bodies, all at once. We can do it!
Go to http://www.greenlifestyles.org for videos and articles on green health and beauty alternatives.
– Khali Hampton
Additional information on this topic can be found at:
1. Leavell, C. L. (2010, July 12). 11 beauty products that may be ruining the planet. Retrieved from http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/natural-beauty-fashion/photos/11-beauty-products-that-may-be-ruining-the-planet-0.
2. Archer, L. A. (2007, February 7). The campaign for safe cosmetics. Retrieved from http://www.safecosmetics.org/
Committed to Raising Consciousness