Skin Care and Beauty Products; What’s Really Behind That “Organic” Label

Article written by Jessica B. – on staff, BioVeda Health & Wellness Center of Vacaville – Conner Chiropractic Care

Growing up in this modern society, we are constantly bombarded with images of beautiful women – models and actresses – slinging every health and beauty product from here to Timbuktu. The ubiquitousness of these advertisements is inescapable, but what are they really telling us?

Initially, we are captivated by the models thick lustrous hair, flawless skin and trim tanned bodies; we’re intrigued by the vague and pseudo-sciencey sounding jargon used to prove how well their particular product will effectively transform us into glowing, airbrushed goddesses; but it doesn’t end there. Now more than ever we are seeing a surge in the prevalence of products marketed as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’. We are all aware of the benefits of eating organically, the pesticide and herbicide industry has come under much scrutiny as more and more research has been able to prove the adverse health effects of long-term chemical exposure.

But what do these ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ labels really mean? As it turns out, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the labeling of cosmetics as ‘organic’, but not ‘natural’. And as just about every chemical can be reduced to a natural component, essentially making it impossible to regulate, this allows marketers to use the ambiguity of the word ‘natural’ to get their consumers interested in a ‘greener’ lifestyle.

Now, I don’t want to contribute to any paranoia or fear-mongering here – but I do think that, now more than ever, we owe it to ourselves to pay better attention to what we are putting in and on our bodies. I made a list of all the things I use on a daily to semi-daily basis, and while I don’t consider myself ‘high maintenance’ by any means, I was surprised to see the actual number. I tend to be fairly basic with my beauty routine, and I’m guessing the general list of items doesn’t vary too much from woman to woman, so here are some of the most common ingredients to avoid wherever possible –

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) – Shampoo, Body Wash, Bar Soap.
Harsh detergents and wetting agents used in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and auto cleaning products. SLS is well-known in the scientific community as a common skin irritant. It is rapidly absorbed and retained in the eyes, brain, heart and liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. SLS could retard healing, cause cataracts in adults, and prevent children’s eyes from developing properly.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
SLES is the alcohol form (ethoxylate) of SLS. It is slightly less irritating than SLS, but may cause more drying. Both SLS and SLES may cause potentially carcinogenic formations of nitrates and dioxins to form in shampoos and cleansers by reacting with other ingredients. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood system from just one shampooing.

Propylene Glycol – Shampoo, Facial Moisturizer, Deodorant
A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In skin and hair products, propylene glycol works as a humectant, which is a substance that retains the moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) warn users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

Mineral Oil
A derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. Mineral oil forms an oily film over the skin to lock in moisture, toxins and wastes, but hinders normal skin respiration by keeping oxygen out.

Petrolatum
A petroleum based grease that is used industrially as a grease component. Petrolatum exhibits many of the same potentially harmful properties as mineral oil.

Methyl, Propyl, butyl, and ethyl parabens
Are used to extend a product’s shelf life and inhibit microbial growth. Highly toxic. Can cause rashes and other allergic reactions.

Imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin
These formaldehyde-forming preservatives can cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, insomnia and asthma. Can also weaken the immune system and can even cause cancer. Found in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants and nail polish.

Animal Fat (Tallow)
A type of animal tissue made up of oily solids or semisolids that are water-insoluble esters of glycerol with fatty acids. Animal fats and lye are the chief ingredients in a bar of soap; a cleaning and emulsifying product that may act as a breeding ground for bacteria.

Alcohol
A colourless, volatile, flammable liquid produced by the fermentation of yeast and carbohydrates. Alcohol is used frequently as a solvent and is also found in beverages and medicine. As an ingredient in ingestible products, alcohol may cause body tissues to be more vulnerable to carcinogens. Mouthwashes with an alcohol content of 25% or more have been implicated in mouth, tongue and throat cancers.

Aluminium
A metallic element used extensively in the manufacture of aircraft components, prosthetic devises and as an ingredient in antiperspirants, antacids and antiseptics. Aluminium has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Bentonite
A porous clay that expands to many times its dry volume as it absorbs water. Bentonite, commonly found in many cosmetic foundations, may clog pores and suffocate the skin.

Collagen
An insoluble fibrous protein that is too large to penetrate the skin. The collagen found in most skin care products is derived from animal skins and ground up chicken feet. This ingredient forms a layer of film that may suffocate the skin.

Heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’? Well, the same adage applies to what you put on your skin or in your hair. These chemicals are absorbed into the body’s tissues, and may be causing allergic reactions that you aren’t even aware of. Pregnant women should also note that the fetus absorbs everything you take in as well. While such treatments as Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy can reduce some of the symptoms of exposure to these substances, and thousands more, there are still long-term health effects.

In short – Just be aware! Read the ingredients! If you aren’t sure about one, make a note and research it when you get a chance, but don’t fall for the gimmicks and infomercials.

For more information on the specific beauty products you use or to find some new ones if you are concerned, www.cosmeticsdatabase.com is an excellent resource. You can browse by brand, or toxicity rating.

(Article written by Jessica B. – on staff, BioVeda Health & Wellness Center of Vacaville – Conner Chiropractic Care)

2 Comments

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