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Toxic Beauty Products

I just wanted to do a bit of thinking out loud for a minute. I just caught the end of a TV programme (Health: Truth or Scare on BBC) about Toxic Beauty Products and how tabloids have used that scary title in newspapers and online to grab readers attention.

The programme talked about what actually is in the kind of beauty products you can pick up in the supermarket or high street chemist, and whether or not they are safe. This is so interesting and it always comes up in discussion at my product-making workshops. The people interviewed in the programme had no idea what was in their beauty products, This still amazes and dismays me – surely you think about what you eat, so why not think about what you rub into your skin, the biggest organ of your body?

The programme looks in detail at a products and talk about what the ingredients are – scare stories include suggestions that skincare products can cause skin problems, causing allergies, hormone disruption and even cancer. How much of this is actually true?

toxic beauty productsParabens are mentioned; these are a preservative which are linked to breast cancer scare stories (they mimic oestrogen in the body), but the truth is these scare stories are not proven. They remain a controversial ingredient with the EU banning the use of some in products (make what you will of that).

Aluminium in deodorant is also mentioned. Switzerland have totally banned aluminium in products – ok …. again, make up your own mind about that…. apparently more studies need doing on that.

So in the TV programme they talk to a pharmacist, and she says everything you can buy off the shelf in the shops is safe. It concludes that the products you can buy in shops are safe, and tested, and the questionable synthetic ingredients they are talking about are used in tiny amounts, so we shouldn’t worry about them. Phew.

But Wait …

I am not disputing that certain types of products do need to contain preservatives (any time a product includes water and oil, you are introducing the possibility of bacterial growth so you do need to avoid that by preserving) but in my opinion, there are safer preservatives out there but the majority of manufacturers will go for the cheapest option which are not always the best for us.

My argument is that yes, those synthetic ingredients are in tiny amounts in each product, But what I tend to say to my customers is that think about how many products you use per day, with those tiny amounts in. The average woman uses at least 20 different beauty and skincare products per day, if not more, so if every one of those contains small amounts of synthetic ingredients, these soon add up.

Think how our day goes:

  • toothpaste (maybe also mouthwash)
  • soap
  • shower gel
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • hairspray or other hair serums
  • deodorant
  • handwash
  • handcream
  • lip balm
  • body moisturiser
  • perfume
  • face cream
  • primer and foundation and blusher and highlighter etc …
  • lipstick (often re-applied regularly)
  • eye make-up
  • eye-make-up remover
  • cleanser
  • toner
  • nightcreams and serums
  • the list goes on and on

I think you get the idea! I’ve probably missed quite a few things as I am extremely low maintenance and hardly use anything. But these tiny amounts of synthetic ingredients in each product are adding up throughout the day, week, month …

So how do we avoid toxic beauty?

As someone with extremely sensitive and reactive skin, I do have to avoid shop-bought products with “toxic” ingredients. I can’t use parabens, suphates, perfumes, petro-chemicals, MI (another preservative that is definitely one to avoid) and other mainstream ingredients. But even if you don’t have sensitive skin, are you OK using these ingredients?

For me it is simple, if you have a choice between using products containing synthetic ingredients and using products that are completely natural that work just as well, or even better than their synthetic equivalent, then why would you choose the synthetic version?

Yes using the word toxic is a bit strong. But you have a choice, people, so why chose synthetic when you can chose natural?

You can read more about my opinion on deodorant here and more about MI here.


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