Monday, January 5, 2009

Beautiful Derma- What You Lather on your Skin Matters

Being the reading fiend that I am, I started visually inhaling all things "eco" (that I could afford of course). That started with the book "Ecoholic" by Adria Vasil, an info feast written by a Canadian with a mostly Canadian perspective. The first chapter on beauty made me gasp- then quickly run to read ALL the labels of my beauty products the bathroom.
Although skin care companies claim that their products all have safe levels of chemicals, that's with shoddy regulatory standards with no way of truly verifying their claims. Increasing scientific evidence indicates that ingredients found in cosmetic products are toxic- especially when combined with other products. That's the kicker- most of these claims of "safety" are backed up by research that's funded by the company themselves (so not that unbiased) or analyzing the chemical's reaction in Isolation....

Seriously- consider your routine every morning:
-shower: wash face with facial cleanser (maybe exfoliate too?), shampoo AND conditionner (my hair needs LOVE), body wash (and maybe that really fun new body scrub from aveda?)
- after shower: body lotion all over, face moisturizer (maybe toner?), brush teeth
- makeup and whatever other hair products before styling hair.

That's 9, potentially 12+ products on your body/skin before leaving the house every morning. And the recent evidence is saying that long term use (when did YOU start using moisturizer?) can be toxic.

Some top chemicals to avoid:
1. Nitrosamines:
The UK Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) characterizes nitrosamines as more toxic in more animal species than any other category of chemical carcinogen (i). Nitrosamines are common in cosmetics, but because they are impurities, they are not listed on product labels. ( taken January 5th 2009). Wow- that sounds a little scary- ingredients such as DEA and TEA or dienthalonamine/triethanolamine were formed by Nitrosamines. What do they do? They are linked to cancer, birth defects, endocrine disruptions, reproductive and developmental toxicity... the list goes on.

2. 1,4-dioxane: considered a contaminent- the FDA does not require that companies list it as an ingredient- but estimates put it as high as 22% in all cosmetic products. Basically anything that creates suds- shampoo, liquid soap and bubble bath. Considered a probable human carcinogen and listed AS an animal carcinogen it's suspected to cause kidney defects, birth defects, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant. Research shows that repeated exposure to a single carcinogen will have synergistic effects (i.e. baby shampoo, baby bubble bath.... you get the idea).

Used mostly in skin lightners it has been targeted aggressively towards women of colour. It has also been linked as an inpurity in facial cleansers, skin cleansers and hair conditionners. Ingredients such as tocopheral acetate and any ingredient with a "toco" root.

4. Phthalates
This guy generally gets into the ingredient list as "fragrances" or "parfum" (as if the French spelling could really trick us!). Two decades of research suggests that they disrupt hormonal systems which can cause harm during critical periods of development. Also been linked to breast cancer.

5. Parabens
These guys have been found in biopsies of breast cancer tumours and were present in nearly all urine samples of U.S. adults from varied backgrounds. What to look for: ingredients that end in "paraben". Linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation. They also quickly and easily dissolve into the skin- GREAT. They are known to disrupt hormonal function and for the same reason are being increasingly linked to breast cancer.

6. Heavy Metals
Use whitening toothpaste? I sure have! Nail polish? Mascara? Eye liner? they all could contain lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc and iron. there are a zillion health care risks- i would advise checking out the site for further details...
(Info taken from January 5th 2009)

My challenge to myself and all you yogi/yogini's out there- when beauty/bath products are so easy to change (with affordable alternatives) why wouldn't you? They are our bodies and with education and knowledge we can make the right decisions that are healthy for us :)

So- now that I've said all that scary stuff- don't you worry! I'll be following up with some eco-friendly alternatives! (and nope- that does not include Aveda... sigh).


  1. Hey there,

    I'm working my way through your archives, and really enjoy the yoga info. But this one really caught my eye. I've never heard of Ecoholic, but I recently read a similar (I assume) book called Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano. Same thing - the first chapter was on beauty, and I was SHOCKED by this information.

    I'm planning on doing a series on beauty products, and will definitely be including a link to this post!

  2. this site, Skin Deep, is a great resource:

    i'm on a mission to SIMPLIFY, which in many cases means not even buying products in the first place, but for the beauty items i deem necessities, Skin Deep has been a life saver!


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