Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Safe Are Your Cosmetics and Beauty Care Products?

How safe are your cosmetics and beauty care products? Do you know? Have you ever given it a thought? I do now but that was not always the case. I used to buy lots of cosmetics, bath and body, products, hair care products and never really thought about whether or not they were safe. Although I did look at the ingredients, I never really paid that much attention to the chemicals. I would only scan for the new, hot, buzz word ingredients.
These buzz word ingredients often ranged from vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and anti-oxidants to plant extracts, herbal extracts, and fruit extracts,tea and many more. And every year there was a new ingredient that popped up in many different products. The new hot ingredient was was often borrowed from the health and nutrition world. For example, if a fruit, tea, herb,vitamin,mineral, etc, was getting praised for it's health benefits, it would end up in the beauty world. Here is a list of some ingredients (from health care world) that have been popular in beauty care over the years:

Vitamin A

Vitamin E

Vitamin C

Panthenol (Vitamin B-5)

Green Tea

White Tea

Red Tea (Rooibos)



Dark Chocolate



Goji Berry



Yerba Mate

Grapeseed Extract

This list could go on and on but I will stop it here.

If I saw a few of these popular ingredients in a product, I would basically disregard all of the other chemical stuff and buy the product. Besides, I figured that cosmetics companies would not really add unsafe ingredients to their products. Plus, the chemists who develop the products usually say that the chemicals are added in such low concentrations that the chance of them causing harm is minimal to none. So I continued to buy many products without thinking about chemical ingredients.

Then I started to pay more attention. I wanted to know more about what I was putting on my face and body-especially since I was starting to eat healthier. As I changed my diet from fast food, soda and candy to homemade dishes and fruit and veggies-I began to carefully read nutrition labels and ingredients of everything I ate. This then prompted me to examine the labels and ingredients of my beauty products. And this time instead of scanning for buzz word ingredients I scanned for chemicals. I began to research some of the chemicals and found out that they were mostly used to enhance the feel and look of the products. For instance, propylene glycol is a chemical often used in moisturizers as a lubricant. However propylene glycol is also used in anti-freeze and a variety of other products. And then there are other chemicals like parabens that are used as preservatives. Parabens have recently been the subject of much controversy because many believe that they can cause cancer.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, many chemists and some beauty experts have told us that most of these chemicals are harmless since they are used in such small concentrations. However, have they considered that many women use up to and over 16 beauty care products a day. Therefore, a woman could be applying hundreds of chemicals to her hair, body, face, nails, etc, every day. This equals to thousands of chemicals over a woman's lifetime. So do these chemicals have a cumulative affect? What if, in one day, a person uses a shampoo, conditioner, hair product, facial cleanser, facial moisturizer, toner, body moisturizer, body spray, sunscreen, foundation, face powder, mascara, lipstick, and lip gloss that all have parabens or other chemicals? Does this layering increase the possible negative affects of a chemical? How much of these chemicals are actually absorbed into the body? I don't know and I do not have any scientific proof, but my senses (now) tells me that layering on chemical laden products (no matter the concentration) can not be good for your body-inside and out. And the fact that there is even controversy about whether or not these chemicals are harmful makes me not want to use products that contain them.

Now I just try to make sure that all of products I use in my hair, on my face and body are natural or organic and free of chemical. And whenever I am tempted to try a new product I look up the product and its company on the Safe Cosmetics Database. This database has information on most cosmetic companies, their products and how safe or dangerous these product may be. It has been a great help to me as I look for more natural cosmetics and body products.