Beauty’s Dirty Little Secrets
Your skin is your largest organ. You have approximately 14 to 18 square feet of epidermis on which to create your masterpiece. Every inch of your skin is covered with pores, tiny holes that make your skin somewhat permeable. While your skin can prevent you from becoming a waterlogged sponge, it does absorb a large amount of everything you put on it – make up included.
Since beautiful comes from both the inside and the outside, you naturally want to take care with what you put in your body. But what about what you put on your body? From perfume and deodorant, to lipstick and moisturizer, your body absorbs the chemicals in your makeup through your pores, through inhalation, and by consuming products that you use on your lips.
According to geneticist David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, avoiding the “Dirty Dozen”—the most toxic chemicals found in cosmetics—can help prevent cancer, allergic sensitivities and reproductive issues. The chemicals to avoid include preservatives, such as BHA and BHT, formaldehyde-producing chemicals and parabens, as well as foaming agents, such as sodium lauryl sulfate and DEA-related ingredients. Most of these chemicals simply make the product last longer on the shelf and offer little, if any, positive benefits.
Many chemicals can cause an allergic reaction, including redness, swelling and blotchy skin. Others can cause acne, eczema or other skin sensitivities. Most of these chemical also find their way into the water supply and can contaminate other plant life.
Health-conscious beauties, including ravishing redhead Julianne Moore and international beauty Cate Blanchett, opt for cosmetics that combine natural herbs, vitamins, enzymes and botanicals rather than a laundry list of chemical alphanumeric tongue twisters. Stars shine brighter with natural mineral cosmetics, pure, plant-based moisturizers and anti-aging products that naturally reveal smoother, clearer skin.
The use of chemical cosmetics has made headline news in recent years. A 2007 ABC News report warned of the dangers that models and others in the entertainment industry face by using cosmetics that contained phthalates, a chemical linked to possible birth defects. The Environmental Working Group is a grass-roots watchdog organization that hopes to inform the public about the dangers of some of the chemicals in today’s cosmetic products. According to the EWG, just because you can buy it in a store doesn’t mean it’s safe.
To prevent health risks, choose cosmetics with ingredients you recognize and can pronounce. Choose products from companies dedicated to your health and not just their own bottom line. In the end, you’ll feel as beautiful as you look.
By Viola Horne