Toxic Cosmetics-The Truth About Toxic Chemical Additives

In a market of educated and aware consumersit can be rather difficult to sell cosmetic products nowadays. With many years of product sales under my belt, I have heard and used my own fair share of marketing claims in order to sell a product. In recent yearsquite a bit of awareness has surrounded chemical additives used in the food and cosmetic industries, which is leading to an upcropping of inaccurate claimsSome cosmetic products make claims such as, "natural", "organic", or "eco-friendly", but take a peek at the ingredients list, and it becomes clear most do not live up to such declarations. Why do companies make such claims and why do some companies add a slew of unnecessary chemical additives to their productsThe simple answer to both questions is one of the samebecause they can. I will expand in detail about this subject in a later paragraph

The subject of chemical additives has become especially important to me in recent years due to my own health-related issues. In this past year, I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, along with hypothyroidism. I began experiencing symptoms about five years ago and symptom only grew worse over time. By 2012, I had seen the worst of my symptoms. One symptom, which effected my skin, was severe dryness. My skin, including all mucous membranes, were uncomfortably and chronically dry (a common autoimmune symptom).  Additionally, I began to notice an increased sensitivity to moisturizers, soaps and many cosmetic products. 

Luckily, I received answers to what was causing a majority of my symptoms.  Although the diagnosis was a relief, it left me with many unanswered questions. I had been given several prescriptions to mask my symptoms, but I did not want to medicate myself, I wanted to get to the root of the problem. The paradox of it all- I have no family history of autoimmune or thyroid disorders. Therefore, I was left believing my health issues were due to environmental causes.  With this information in mind, I began to minimize my chemical exposure, which involved revamping my diet and making less-toxic cosmetic choices. I have made many adjustments within the past year of diagnosis, which allowed me to discontinue or avoid the use of all but one prescription. It was not an easy transition from sickness to better health; it took time, education, dedication and a lot of patience. Now, I appreciate each day of life a lot more. I strive to make healthier food choices and aim to use well-formulated, non-toxic or minimally-toxic cosmetic products. Because of lifestyle adjustments, I am seeing favorable improvements in my overall health.
In the past couple years, I have started to examine how environmental causes may   impact our health. This led to a mountain of research about the overabundance of chemicals in our food and cosmetic products. “Research has shown that many conventional personal-care products contain chemicals of concern that can disrupt your hormones, have been linked to cancer, cause allergies or can damage your skin,” explains Stacy Malkan, author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.” Although chemists will claim a good majority of chemicals are individually "safe", no chemist can confidently confirm long-term safety of the wide-range of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. Dr. Mercola had this to say about daily chemical exposure in cosmetics, "Did you know that if you use conventional cosmetics on a daily basis, you can absorb almost 5 pounds of chemicals into your body each year! Many of which have been linked to deadly side effects like cancer."  These findings have led me to my next question; who is in charge of maintaining our safety, when it comes to cosmetic ingredients?
Many of us do not know this but cosmetic products are not monitored by any governing agency. Do not be fooled by false claims about a product being labeled, "FDA Approved" (I will go over false claims and deceptive marketing in a future post). Aside from chemicals directly added to food or drugs, there are no mandatory health and safety studies required to put a chemical into commercial use in the United States (Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 USCA 2601-2692).  Furthermore, the FDA has left the authority of policing product claims, product ingredients and their safety, in the hands of cosmetic companies. Many of which stand to gain from using less-costly chemical ingredients in an effort to create higher profit margins. The following statement comes directly from the FDA's website: "Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their products. Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients. The law also does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with FDA." Read more about the FDA's guidelines here.

As consumers we are taking a leap of faith by choosing to put a portion of our health in the hands of cosmetic companies. I am not saying all chemicals are evil or bad. Certainly, most chemicals have their place. The same can be said about natural ingredients as well; some are safe and some are unsafe. The message I am aiming to convey is it is best to arm ourselves with knowledge, instead of blindly trusting the bias opinions of companies who stand to gain from increased product sales. Many toxic chemical additives in our cosmetic products are proving to have detrimental consequences on our health and the environment, which is showing little promise of long-term sustainability. When choosing any commercial products, do your homework, read labels, educate yourself about each ingredient and it's source (ex: synthetic or natural source). 
Yes, this chemical cloud has a silver lining! There are steps we can take to mitigate toxic chemical exposure. When it comes to ingredients, my philosophy is, "less is best". The shorter the ingredient list (and the less toxic), the better for our skin and overall health. Because of my past health issues and the decision to limit dousing myself in toxic chemicals, I tend to enjoy using less-costly, toxic-free, natural alternatives. The beauty in this decision; most  ingredients may be stocked in your kitchen right now. Below are links to skin care recipes and a list of household ingredients, which can be used to lessen toxic exposure. Many of the ingredients below can be used as facial cleansers and toners, or combined to create facial masks and moisturizers. As with any product or ingredient, not all are appropriate for every skin type. If there is uncertainty about which natural ingredients will be best for your skin type, consult a professional. 

For more detailed benefit description, please click on the individual ingredient link. 

  • Baking Soda (exfoliant, skin cleanser-can be mixed with water or coconut oil depending on skin type, dry skin should use sparingly)
  • Coconut Oil (lauric acid, skin hydration, skin cleanser-I often use this as a moisturizer)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (malic acid-exfoliant, pH balancing toner, inhibits bacteria)
  • Whole Organic Milk (lactic acid, good for hydration- facial masks and baths)
  • Avocado (hydration, Omega 9 helps reduce redness and irritation-facial mask)
  • Manuka Honey (anti-bacterial, anti-inflammitory, anti-oxident and hydration-masks)
  • Lemon (Citric Acid-antioxidant/skin brightener and lightener-masks or moisturizer)
  • Vitamin E (Mix with C for a powerful antioxidant combination-masks and moisturizers) 
  • Omega Fatty Acids  (hydrating, lessens inflammation-add to mask or moisturizer)
  • Vitamin C  (antioxidant can be used in a mask or added to moisturizer) 
  • Kefir  (Topical probiotic lactic acid mask)
  • Bentonite Clay (detoxifying/clarifying mask)
  • Aloe Vera Leaf (calming and hydration mask or moisturizer)
  • Cucumber (anti-inflammatory, hydration, reduces puffiness-eye or facial mask)
Skin Care Recipe Links
Dr. Andrew Ordon's Natural Skin Care Recipes
10 Juice Recipes For Inner Beauty & Health
Everyday Vitamins Can Be Used Externally Too!
Baking Soda Great for Exfoliation 

Additional Home Remedies
10 At-Home Tricks for Radiant-Skin
Dr. Jessica Wu's Feed Your Face Recipes
TLC's 50 All Natural Beauty Products


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