Your skin is your largest organ and it readily absorbs at least a little of anything you put on
it. Absorbs...meaning, allows some molecules to pass into your blood stream. It is precisely
why trans-dermal medication patches work so effectively.
Chances are if you are an
average consumer, you use at least 10 cosmetic or body care products a day.
And like many consumers, you may believe that our government, namely the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures the safety of the ingredients in
your products. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, there
is no safety testing required for any cosmetics. The only policing the cosmetic
industry receives is through itself.
Chemical Free Cosmetics
In June 2004, the Environmental
Working Group (EWG), a consumer watchdog, initiated a project called Skin Deep.
This report found that nearly one-third of cosmetic products contained at least
one ingredient linked with cancer AND of the 10,500 ingredients used in cosmetics
only about 11% have ever been tested for safety. This leaves plenty of room for
toxic ingredients to make their way into your body and ultimately into our
Finding truly natural, chemical free cosmetics can be difficult and time consuming.
Reading labels and cross referencing ingredients with a reputable cosmetics safety database
is a good start to determining what you are putting on your body, but consumers are often unaware that
the FDA does not require cosmetics manufacturers to fully disclose all ingredients in a product. Companies
that are committed to fully disclosing ingredients are more likely to formulate chemical free cosmetics.
Reducing and eliminating exposure to known toxic chemicals in cosmetics is the best way to reduce your
chemical body burden and get on the road to a natural beauty routine using only chemical free cosmetics.
Reducing Your Chemical Burden:
Good For You and Your Environment
So...what is a consumer to do? These materials are ubiquitous in
commercial cosmetics and body care products. By making
consumer choices to avoid purchasing and using products which
contain chemicals such as these and choosing truly natural products,
you can protect yourself AND your environment.
These chemicals are not only environmentally harsh to manufacture but
also contain certain contaminants (in the cosmetic world, namely those in chemical
sunscreens and synthetic fragrances) that are so heavily used in our eco-system
that they become bioaccumulative and biopersistent. That
means that you can find them even in "clean" treated drinking water supplies.
In addition, numerous studies show that as we
wash these contaminants down the drain or flush them into the toilet, they
wreak havoc on the hormonal systems of wildlife, for example feminizing the
reproductive systems of males in a population.
"The fact that pharmaceuticals and body care products (PCCPs)
can be introduced on a continual basis to the aquatic environment via treated
and untreated sewage essentially imparts a quality of 'persistence'
to compounds that otherwise may not possess any inherent environmental
stability -- simply because their removal/transformation (by biodegradation,
hydrolysis, photolysis, etc.) is continually countered by their
replenishment, establishing a pseudo-steady-state in a manner analogous to a
Want to reduce your personal
toxic burden but can't wean yourself completely? Consider simply reducing the number of
products you use or reducing the frequency with which you use them. Start
slowly, read labels and pick your battles if going cold turkey seems a task.
In the Bath
Begin by replacing those products which remain
on your skin for an extended period of time (like lotions and creams) or
those which you may accidentally ingest (like lipstick or toothpaste) with
truly natural cosmetics and natural body care. Try our
natural sugar scrub. Our natural massage
oils are perfect moisturizers. Consider using baking soda for teeth brushing and purchasing a
beeswax and vegetable oil based lip conditioner free of sunscreen if you
will be indoors.
Use a sunscreen only when you have to be in the
sun for more than 15-30 minutes. First
and foremost, avoid the sun completely at midday. Second, use your clothes, sunglasses and
a hat or umbrella to protect your skin. When you will be in the sun for an extended period, choose a
mineral based sunblock (look for one that does
not contain nanoparticles) over those with bio-persistent
chemicals such as oxybenzone or octyl methoxycinnamate. Re-applying products after 2 hours or
after swimming is also important as further cell damage can occur from
formation of free radicals on the skin as the chemicals are absorbed.
Wash your hair less often and let the natural
oils in your scalp do their job to help condition the hair. Use a natural
bristle brush daily to distribute the oils.
Our natural soaps can also double as shampoos. Try
shampooing less often and using a baking soda and water paste at least every
other time in the shower. When
paired with a pre-"shampoo" hot oil treatment and post "shampoo" herbal
vinegar rinse, you can often do without conventional shampoo and conditioner. Some hair types do well with just a dab
of avocado, coconut or jojoba oil for static-frizz control.
Replace your vinyl shower curtain with organic cotton or hemp cloth. It is
washable, reusable and hemp is naturally antimicrobial. Who wants to inhale
PVC's and phthalates while in the shower?
In the Home
Most surfaces can be cleaned with vinegar and/or
baking soda. Mountain Girl Botanics
is a versatile cleaning product with the benefits of pure essential oils.
Forget about those synthetic fragrances in room
and body sprays. Our Essential Spritz Natural Body Spray
contains pure essential oils blended for aromatherapeutic
Try an old fashioned liquid castile soap with a
little borax as an all purpose cleaner and mopping solution.
Watch for the development of our line of
Try vinegar wiped off with newspaper for cleaning
glass and mirrors.
Lemon juice and sun will take out many stains.
Hydrogen peroxide will disinfect many surfaces
as well as help fade stains.
In a nutshell, if the ingredients list takes up half of the bottle and you can't pronounce most of
the ingredients, maybe you shouldn't be putting it on your body. Something to think about the next time you
reach for a bottle of your favorite body care product...exactly what is in
Resource sites for this
article and for further thoughts:
Excerpt from "PPCPs as Environmental Pollutants
Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: Overarching
Issues and Overview" by Christian
G. Daughton, Chief, Environmental
Chemistry Branch, ESD/NERL, Office of Research and Development, Environmental