A little over a week ago a couple of my good friends got married. It was a beautifully done simple outdoor ceremony and a really fun time for everyone who attended.
The bride looked amazing of course. Speaking with her after the ceremony she remarked about the hair and makeup session she had earlier that morning and how they put on her “fake face”. She was referring to the heavier than her usual makeup they had applied for the big day. In full admission, she shared that she may have removed some of it prior to her walk down the aisle. She just didn’t feel comfortable having that much makeup on her face.
In a strange coincidence while relaxing that weekend at the hotel, I read an article in a magazine talking about the toxic dangers of cosmetics. 1
What I read blew my mind. If you ever wear make-up, the effects of putting on the “fake face” every morning may have far-reaching effects on your health.
Over the past few years you have read my articles, and articles elsewhere, discussing the minimal regulation of dietary supplements and the potential risk they post to your health.
Fake supplements. Contaminated supplements. Supplements lacking the active ingredients listed on the bottle. The list of offenses goes on.
I bet you didn’t know (because there aren’t too many stories about it) that the regulation of the cosmetic industry is even looser.
In fact the FDA’s only guideline for intervening in what may be contained in cosmetics came in 1938. And here’s the kicker – it is virtually unchanged 78 years later!
When they released the guideline, with the knowledge they had at the time, there was an assumption made that because the products were going on the body, not in the body, that they did not pose significant health concerns. Even though the chemicals were known to have potential risks, some even toxic, the risk must have been deemed minimal due to the amount being used.
The problem in that logic is that the skin is a leaving, breathing organ system. The chemicals will not just sit on the surface like a bathroom counter-top, they will be absorbed into the skin – and in turn into your body. There they can have some potentially harmful consequences.
Toxic chemicals in the three most common cosmetics used by women daily:
- Lip sheers – can contain more than 3000 different chemicals – many disruptors of hormones.
- Foundation – many contain polyethylene glycol (a derivative of ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze) and other compounds that can be carcinogenic (cancer promoting)
- Eye liners – commonly contain parabens, used as preservatives and anti-microbial, but the safety of which has been challenged for potential hormone/endocrine system disruption 2
Need further proof that something is potentially damaging about the chemicals in cosmetics?
The European Union has banned more than 1,400 individual cosmetic ingredients over the last couple of decades. In the U.S – 11.
That is not a typo.
Only 11 ingredients have been banned in U.S. over concerns about potential harm despite significant evidence listed abroad that these chemicals can cause serious harm with long-term use.
I specialize in Integrative Orthopedics as well as Functional Medicine. Many patients that seek me out are specifically struggling with pain and/or poor function as a result of the pain. They are seeking a better and more comprehensive and sustainable way to treat the pain so that it does not impair their life so significantly.
When I assess for symptoms in other systems of their body, many are also struggling with several additional symptoms:
- Low energy
- Weight gain
- Poor sleep quality
- Brain fog
- Upset stomach
- Irritable bowel symptoms
- Decreased libido
- The list goes on
The laundry list of additional symptoms highlights multiple system dysfunctions of the critical processes that must function optimally in order for the body to be able to heal and feel well.
The dysfunction and disruption can be a direct result of something we once thought to be innocuous – cosmetics, because if it goes on the body, not in the body, it is not a simple.
So not true. We now know better.
So how do you know if your cosmetics are safe?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit environmental research organization specializing in research and advocacy in the area of toxic chemicals, amongst many other areas.
This is the same organization that produces the annual “Dirty Dozen” – a yearly list of the produce containing the most pesticides and chemicals.
They have started an entire database to research cosmetics, and the potential toxic exposures that may result. Click here to search the database -> Skin Deep Database
They have also created a new label – EWG VERIFIED TM – to identify products meeting the non-toxic standards based on independent testing.
How do you assess if your cosmetics may be making you sick?
- Step 1 – Check your products on the Skin Deep Database to see if you are currently using any products on the naughty list.
- Step 2 – Consider food/environmental allergy/sensitivity testing. I routinely order this test
- Step 3 – Research cosmetic companies that are working to create toxin-free products.
In the article I read they mentioned one such incredible company – Beauty Counter. They are taking a stand against the big players in cosmetics by creating toxin-free, mostly organic products.
Your body is an intricate, beautifully constructed machine comprised of an orchestra of systems, processes, and reactions at the cell level.
This is just one more incidence of how chemical “seepage” into your body by products you use on your body, can be a contributing factor to the symptoms you may be suffering from.
Cosmetics may be a part of helping you look your best, but they may not be helping you feel your best.
Do not jeopardize your health by putting on your “fake face” each morning.
Keep America beautiful….and healthy.
P.S. More information on the testing used in my practice can be found by clicking here –>Test for toxic chemicals in your body
- Fast Company. April 2016. http://www.fastcompany.com/3057411/meet-the-natural-beauty-company-thats-making-advocacy-a-selling-point
- Cosmetic Ingredient Review. Final amended report on the safety assessment of methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, and benzyparaben as used in cosmetic products. International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 27, no. 4, pp 1-82, 2008.
- Skin Deep Database. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/?gclid=CKbK1N-ticwCFYqDfgodfd0DKA