The human skin wraps and protects our bodies. It constitutes a living, dynamic tissue system. It has the remarkable ability to absorb applied products, partially or completely, into the bloodstream. In fact, up to 60% of the products we use on our skin are absorbed and deposited into the circulatory system (Fairley, 2001). For instance, the average woman absorbs 30 pounds of the ingredients contained in moisturizers over sixty years (Dr.Hauschka).
These new understandings of how the skin functions reveal concerns about the possible long term effects due to the combination of chemicals used in cosmetics, often termed the “chemical cocktail effect”. Several chemicals which are used in common, popular cosmetics are known irritants and carcinogens. Concern stems from the knowledge that most of these ingredients are derived synthetically or from petroleum. Avoiding these substances serve to decrease overall exposure to harmful or irritating cosmetic ingredients.
Ingredients to Avoid
Forms Found in Cosmetics and Possible Negative Side Effects
Thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Found in almost all antiperspirants.
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FD&C, derived from coal tar.
For example, Azo dyes are a risk to asthmatics, eczema sufferers and people sensitive to aspirin.
Causes hyperactivity in children, severe headaches, blurred vision and itchy/watery eyes and nose (Antczak, 2001).
Benzoates Benzoic acid, sodium benzoate or parahydroxy benzoate.
Used as a preservative in cosmetics and fizzy drinks. Causes gastric irritation, numbing of the mouth and aggravates asthma (Antczak, 2001).
Certain essential oils
Rosemary is harmful to epileptics.Sage is not recommended for pregnant women.
DEA, MEA, TEA
Causes allergic reactions, irritating to eyes and dries out hair and skin (Fairley, 2001).
Found in all persons tested by the CDC (Center for Disease Control, USA) in a 2000 Fall study.
Highest levels were found in women of reproductive age.
Causes birth defects in animals, and damaging to the male reproductive system (ABC News, Internet Ventures 2000).
Used in cosmetics to assist the absorption of other ingredients.
Causes skin reactions.
Imidazolidinyl urea is the second most identified preservative causing contact dermatitis ( American Academy of Dermatology: Fairley, 2001).
Can contain up to 200 undeclared substances (Fairley, 2001).
Major cause, in addition to artificial colours, of skin irritations and allergies (Antczak, 2001).
May cause dizziniess, skin irritation and hyperpigmentation (Fairley, 2001).
Genetically Modified Organisms
Effects still undetermined.
Drying agent, from petroleum.
Such as hydroxyl acids, retinoic acid.
Corrosive, used in skin peels.
Dissolves the stratum corneum of the epidermis (outermost layer), making skin more sensitive to sun damage.
Accelerates production of dead skin cells; the skin thickens to repair its surface so that vulnerable skin cells underneath are protected from the effects of skin peeling.(Antczak, 2001).
Causes allergic reactions and irritations (Fairley, 2001).
Triggers skin irritations and may be an xerestrogen (Fairley, 2001).May play a role in falling sperm counts and rising breast cancer rates (Fairley, 2001).Used in 99% of all cosmetics (Fairley, 2001), and in many so-called ‘natural’ products.
Derived from petroleum.
In the form of wax, mineral oil or petrolatum.
Comedogenic, i.e.blocks pores.
When derived from petroleum.
Increases the amount of acid in the body, resulting in metabolic problems.
Large amounts are needed to produce this effect (Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry or ATSDR, 2003).
Sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate
Forms carcinogenic nitrogen compounds when combined with specific ingredients.
Irritating to eyes, skin and lungs (Antczak, 2001).
Harmful if swallowed and may cause damage to eyes (Antczak, 2001).
Not suitable for vegans, and may be a skin irritant.
Found in many nail products and nail polish removers.
Produced during the process of making gasoline and other fuels from crude oil or coal.
Evaporates into the air when products containing toluene are opened.
May affect the nervous system, and/or cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, nausea, or loss of appetite.
Symptoms disappear when exposure is eliminated (ATSDR, 2003).
In Canada, not all cosmetics list their ingredients on their labels, but most have toll free telephone numbers which link you to their customer service departments, where inquiries about ingredient lists can be made. Reading labels and recognizing problematic ingredients are necessary skills for a consumer who intends to choose products that are completely natural. The cost of a cosmetic is not a reliable indicator of either its quality or natural characteristics. Most cosmetics, from the lowest priced, to the most costly brands, are composed of identical base ingredients (Begoun, 1991).
Cosmetics do not stay on the surface of the skin without penetrating to some degree. Lipstick wearers, for example, consume 1.5 to 4 tubes in a lifetime (Aveda). If one considers the ingredients being internalized by the body, absorbing plant oils and waxes, mineral pigments or essential oils is a healthier alternative than absorbing petroleum by-products and synthetic chemicals. The ability to choose the right cosmetics for you depends on accurate ingredient knowledge, personal needs and market choices. Caring for one’s whole body includes skin care choices that support and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Natural cosmetic products and make-up are safer, healthier alternatives especially when these products are composed of all natural ingredients. A natural product is described as one that contains mostly or completely naturally derived ingredients (Antczak, 2001). It also indicates that the product is free from, or contains minute amounts of artificial chemical additives. Caution is required when products claim to be natural. For instance, they may contain small amounts of plant extracts, but the bulk of the product is petroleum based and loaded with fragrances. Instead, consider switching to completely natural products, which perform to the same standard as their non-natural counterparts. The Organic Make-up Company offers a wide range of simple, affordable and high quality products. Our cosmetic products are carefully formulated from plant waxes, plant oils, essential oils from flowers, barks and spices, as well as richly coloured mineral pigments.
Switching to all-natural cosmetic products and make-up can help you to avoid feeding your skin harmful chemicals. Many skin problems, such as acne, contact dermatitis, irritations and allergies may disappear once petroleum or synthetic ingredients are removed from your skin care regimen. Using fully natural products can contribute to healthy skin and a healthy body in the long term.
We invite you to give our natural products a try. They are completely natural, vegan and an excellent alternative to conventional cosmetics and make-up.
To view our products, please visit our website at http://www.organicmakeup.ca.
Antczak, Dr. Stephen and Gina, (2001). Cosmetics Unmasked, Harper Collins, London.
Begoun, Paula, (1991). Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me, Beginnings Press, Seattle.
Fairley, Josephine, (2001). Organic Beauty, DK Publishing, London.
http://www.abcnews.com, ABC News Internet Ventures, 2000.
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, April 2003.
By Lori Stryker, B.Sc., B.H.Ec., B.Ed. http://www.organicmakeup.ca