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Hidden Harm


Many of the cosmetics and skin care products you confidently use in your daily beauty routine may contain a number of ingredients harmful to your health and well-bein.

Many of the cosmetics and skin care products you confidently use in your daily beauty routine may contain a number of ingredients harmful to your health and well-being. A health-enhancing skin care product should not contain any of the harmful toxins, potential carcinogens, dioxins, contaminants or irritants that are frequently encountered in most low-priced products.

Skin care products for teenagers need to be gentle, protect you from the detrimental effects of environmental pollution and able to deal with minor blemishes.

Take a close look at the ingredients in your cosmetic collection. You'll notice that most of them contain one of the following ingredients:

Di-ethanol-amine DEA and Tri ethanol amine TEA are known as wetting agents. They are sometimes found in other compounds such as cocamide DEA or in sodium lauryl sulphate TEA. It's important to be clear that neither DEA nor TEA by themselves are carcinogens, but when found in products which also contain nitrites, they have the potential to combine with them, either during formulation or on the shelves, and produce nitrosamies, which are carcinogens.

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is, among other things, an engine de-greaser. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology reports that sodium lauryl sulphate is easily absorbed into your skin and builds up in the heart, liver, lungs and brain, even if you wash it right off after using it! Most shampoos contain SLS.

Alpha hydroxy acids used to prevent wrinkles have been found to cause long-term damage to your skin.

Talc, contained in a large number of pressed powders and foundations, is a mineral produced by the mining of talc rocks and then processed by crushing, drying and milling. Processing eliminates a number of trace minerals from the talc, but does not separate minute fibres which are very similar to asbestos. It has also been known, for more than 30 years, that talc is able to enter the body even though it's used topically. It's known to cause lung disorders and if used in the genital area, it may cause reproductive tract disorders including female infertility.

Propylene glycol, used in many facial moisturizers and hand/body lotions, may damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage to the skin. It's also an ingredient of industrial anti-freeze.

Ingredients which have the prefix word or syllable PEG such as in Polyethylene glycol, polyethylene, eth as in sodium laureth sulfate may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which readily penetrates human skin, thus causing harmful reactions. On repeated usage, these ingredients may cause contact dermatitis with symptoms such as itching, irritation, soreness, redness and swelling of the contact areas, watering of your eyes and a general feeling of discomfort. Feelings which you may not connect to chemical sensitization may include spaciness, mood swings, restlessness, anger, irritability, inability to concentrate or memory lapses. Watery eyes, increased skin redness, skin irritation and allergic reactions could be the result of added fragrances.

Contact reactions may occur with the first application, however repeated use may lead to full blown allergic reactions and multiple chemical sensitivities. Unlike simple irritants causing a non-allergic inflammation at the site of contact, which diminishes when you stop the product, allergens and sensitizers involve your immune system. Their effects can be similar to those of irritation, but generally the reaction only appears between 24 and 48 hours later. Symptoms often increase in intensity over the next two to three days after exposure. The irritation may also show up in parts of the body which have not been directly in contact with the harmful ingredients and may be triggered with very low amounts.

Forewarned is Forearmed

  • product warning labels are shown for a reason. It is a fact that many manufacturers use potentially harmful chemical ingredients mainly because they are cheap and give the temporary illusion of making you look glamorous.

  • your skin is the largest organ of your body and many chemicals can be absorbed through it.

  • residues of more than 400 toxic chemicals have been found in human blood and fat tissue.

  • the two leading causes of irritation and sensitization are compound synthetic or semi-synthetic fragrances and preservatives.

To be safe, visit your health food store and look over the selection of natural cosmetic and personal care products. They should contain the fewest ingredients yet still be effective. Handle all cosmetics in a way that prevents bacterial contamination. Don't use other people's cosmetics directly from the container; instead use cotton tips or disposable applicators, brushes and spatulas.

Beauty Preservation

Your cosmetics and personal care products contain preservatives to avoid bacterial contamination. The following ingredients break down into formaldehyde, a well known carcinogen, neurotoxin irritant and skin sensitizer:

  • bromo, 2 nitro propane, 1 diol
  • diazolidanyl urea
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • imidazolanyl urea

As a positive alternative to harmful chemical preservatives, the following ingredients have proven to be extremely gentle and effective and cause less irritation and fewer allergic reactions:

  • grapeseed oil
  • phenoxi ethanol
  • potassium sorbate
  • sorbic acid
  • tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • vitamin A (retinyl)
  • vitamin C (ascorbic acid)


Your Sustainable Style Guide

Your Sustainable Style Guide

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