Rising concern about chemicals and how they affect us isn't just centered around food anymore. Every product we use in our daily life is under scrutiny, and rightfully so. Beauty products, for instance, are applied daily for most women and more often than not can contain some seriously nasty chemicals. Applied directly to the skin, these chemicals are easily absorbed into the body with all sorts of unpleasant results. Although it requires a little more effort at the makeup counter, we have to ask: why take chances with the largest organ in our body?
First and Foremost: Petrochemicals
It can't surprise anyone that petrochemicals top the list of things you want to avoid in your beauty products. Beyond just being bad for you, they are derived from crude oil and other nonrenewable sources that make them doubly bad for the environment. Ingredients like Denatured Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol, and even so-called healthy mineral oils all have a host of nasty side effects including dermatitis, irritating the eyes and skin, and causing extreme acne. If the planet isn't a good enough reason to steer clear, certainly those counter productive results are.
The Runner-Up: Phthalates
Sure, that lotion you're eying may smell like the bee's knees, but you should know that most synthetic fragrances contain phthalates. In fact, these nasty little buggers are in just about every mainstream cosmetic, as well as glues, plastics, and nail polish. Unfortunately, they also mimic hormones and are endocrine disrupters, and are seen more and more often in the blood of pregnant mothers and infants. Early studies are tying these chemicals to genital development and birth defects.
Other Things to Avoid
If just trying to avoid those two major ingredients wasn't enough of a challenge for you, try including these ingredients on your taboo list. Several different types of ureas are known to release formaldehyde and can be a major cause of contact dermatitis. Sulfates like sodium lauryl are used in most shampoos and cleansers to create lather, which seems harmless enough. Unfortunately, they are often either derived from petroleum or vegetable oils that can be mixed with pesticides. Also beware of synthetic colors: often made from coal tar, they can contain heavy metal salts that cause skin irritation and are extremely carcinogenic.
While living green might seem a bit overwhelming at first, isn't the extra peace of mind worth a little effort? Try the beauty sections at your local health food stores to find a plethora of viable options.