Sunday, December 2, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
I learned about the "Body Burden" a couple of years ago. This is the build up of chemicals in the body from constant short term exposure and/or exposure to chemicals that are not excreted easily from the body. This appears to have clear effects on our health and is not to be ignored. I can't help but think of this phenomenon that effects us all when I think of all the people who are getting sick with, or inheriting, serious illnesses. There is a really informative website that I recommend checking out: www.chemicalbodyburden.org
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies that has the function of expelling waste and toxins. An important factor in healthy skin is minimizing internal toxins and promoting proper flushing and expulsion. This can be done by eating correctly and drinking plenty of water. But as the skin has the ability to expel from the inside out, it also easily absorbs from the outside in. We should only allow our skin to absorb stuff we'd actually want in our bodies- nutritious stuff. We are already stuck dealing with pollution and treated water and we just have to try to combat those with the healthiest lifestyle possible, but we don’t want to add to this problem by using impure things on our skin.
We would never intentionally eat plastic, chemicals, synthetics, or anything else composed of man-made materials. Ideally, we only want to eat totally natural and healthy organic foods free of chemicals and pesticides. Anything else is at best non-nourishing and at worst, totally poisonous. So why would we hold our skin to different standards and absorb these things from topical application of skincare?
The key to great skin is totally healthy skin and you can’t achieve skin health by feeding it the chemical cocktail that characterizes most skincare products. And price is no indicator of quality. Super expensive products can be full of just as much crap as the drugstore stuff. It still costs only pennies to make such synthetic products, they are just priced higher to appeal to those who still hold the belief that price is always an indicator of quality. But what you are usually paying for is marketing, advertising, celebrity spokespersons, and a brand name.
It is very important to note that in cosmetics and skincare, the words natural and organic and “plant extracts” can be used on labels with no standards to uphold. These terms are not regulated and do not mean that a product really qualifies as natural or organic. So it’s necessary to educate yourself about ingredients. My advice is always to ignore what the front of the bottle says and only read the back. What percentage of the product is actually organic or wild-crafted? Are there ingredients in the product that you can’t eat or make a tea from, or even PRONOUNCE?
I am not even going to go into all the ingredients that are void of nutritional value or the companies that should be avoided because it’s the majority. It will be more efficient to name the products we should be using.
Here are some companies whose prices are what they are because of the cost of the quality ingredients used. Totally and truly natural and organic products cost much more to make, and yet you’ll notice that many of them are still less costly than many “luxury” skincare products on the market that are totally synthetic.
-and maybe John Masters Organics
These are the only companies I’m aware of that can actually be considered skin CARE. They all have a very large range of vegan options as well. Just keep an eye out for beeswax, honey, and occasionally, milk if you are looking for vegan products.
These are often sold among other brands at healthfood stores that are not the same quality. If there are any other brands that you discover, please let me know about them!
And if you don’t want to buy this kind of skincare due to cost concerns, then make your own in your kitchen using organic ingredients. The next several posts will be devoted to DIY skincare…
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I have yet to find a line of cosmetics that is totally pure. But there are a few options that drastically minimize the use of impure ingredients. They can’t be found in drug stores or in department stores. In fact, there are few if any products that are truly clean carried in those types of stores. Your best bet is to visit a health food store, green co-op, or little mom and pop natural place if you have one in your area (these places need our support!). But if not, you can find and order what you need online. Here are some companies that are trying to do things right:
Gabriel Cosmetics- The textures and colors are pretty good and these cosmetics are vegan and cruelty-free. These are mostly natural shades without any really vibrant color options. www.gabrielcosmeticsinc.com
ZuZu Luxe- This is a line made by Gabriel Cosmetics that includes some vibrant shades and they make one of the best mascaras I’ve ever used. The line is vegan and cruelty-free. Both Gabriel and ZuZu are best suited for light to medium complexions as they don’t really offer a wide variety of shades for deeper complexions unfortunately.
Jane Iredale- She makes a very popular mineral makeup and a full color line. Look closely at the ingredients because not all of them are 100% vegan. Her line is fairly large and has something for nearly all skin tones and the colors are nice. www.janeiredale.com
Bare Escentuals- This is probably the most popular line that touts healthier ingredients. I use their mineral foundation myself as well as the Rare Minerals. It’s more affordable than Jane Iredale and has a wide variety of shades for skin, eyes, cheeks, and lips. Not all the products are vegan so check out each one before buying. Also, there are still a few ingredients in some of the products that warrant caution. My suggestion is to check the ingredients or the product name on www.cosmeticsdatabase.com first.
Mi Essence- This line has the cleanest ingredient lists I’ve ever seen in a cosmetic line. However they are in
Monday, August 6, 2007
If there is no other motivation to stop using conventional cosmetics, the health risks posed by their ingredients should be. Cosmetic ingredients are not required to be tested for safety and many if not most are not assessed at all for risks to our health. Cosmetic companies will tell you that even if there is some evidence of potentially harmful effects of ingredients used in their products, they are used in such low concentrations that they aren’t a problem. But the average woman uses between 9-17 beauty products on her face, body, hair, etc. each day! So you are getting several applications of these ingredients every single day. Our bodies absorb these chemicals and since our systems have trouble flushing these synthetics out, we store them in our bodies and they wreak havoc on us over time. Below I have listed just a few common ingredients that show up in many cosmetic items like foundations, powders, eyeshadows, liners, mascara, cheek color and lip color. But of course there are countless others that are equally scary. If you want to look up ingredients or specific products to see their safety ratings and details, go to http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/index.php . This website is amazing and so informative. It is the source for the info below and a crucial resource to public health and safety education at this point because the companies making the products aren’t going to tell you this stuff.
Talc- potential carcinogen and a known respiratory toxicant, not tested by industry panel for safety in cosmetic use, some lab tests resulted in skin irritation, possibility of contamination with asbestiform fibers (extremely carcinogenic)
Mineral oil- possible human immune toxicant and potentially cancerous, low to moderate doses in some lab tests resulted in sense organ effects and skin irritation, not assessed for safety in cosmetics by industry panel
Parabens (methylparaben is most common)- Human skin toxicant, one or more lab tests showed organ system effects, positive mutation in mammalian cells in vitro, weak endocrine disruption, brain and nervous system effects, skin irritation, and gene expression interference
Ferric ferrocyanide-Known human respiratory toxicant, one or more lab tests resulted in brain and nervous system effects at moderate doses
BHT-human immune system and skin toxicant, one or more lab studies using low doses show endocrine system disruption, brain and nervous system effects, and skin irritation, reproductive system effects at high doses, and one or more in vitro tests on mammalian cells show positive mutation results
Silica- (finely ground as in loose or pressed powdered products that could be inhaled)- Strong evidence of dust being an immune system toxicant, cancer risk, respiratory toxicant, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and renal toxicant, and bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans
“Lake” colors (various pigments used for color)- Strong evidence of human neurotoxicity and nervous system toxicity, and one or more in vitro tests non-mammalian cells show positive mutation results.
It is possible to wear makeup (if you want to) without using dangerous ingredients. There are a few companies that are making truly safe cosmetics. That’s the next post.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Feeling like we need to wear makeup, like we don't look good without it, is a horrible feeling. And it's a feeling that is instilled in us so that we will spend our money trying to feel better. I commend and envy all the women out there who feel great without wearing makeup and choose not to. I wish I could say I was one of these women, but I'm not...yet. It's definitely a goal of mine and I'm getting there. When I was in my teens I felt uncomfortable leaving the house without using what added up to be 8 or 9 cosmetic products. I have since learned to appreciate the way I look with a minimal amount (a little powder and bronzer and a sweep of mascara) and that's a big achievement for me! And it literally took just scaling it down over time and learning to accept what my face actually looks like, and disregarding the fact that I seemed out of place in some beauty companies that valued fully made up faces walking around the office. Both of those things were really unpleasant at first. I hope to get to the point where I feel great with a totally bare face, but I'm still self-conscious enough that it needs to be a gradual process. I know that a lot of women feel the same way and wish they felt better about what their faces look like without all the paints and powders and all the time and money these entail.
So the next several posts will be devoted to 1) why most cosmetics are actually bad for our health, 2) some companies that are trying to make healthier makeup (while we still wear it), and 3) things we can do to look and feel amazing without makeup.
The next post will be full of scary info about why cosmetics are physically bad for our health. But almost more important are the effects that they have on us mentally and emotionally. We should never feel inadequate or unattractive or embarrassed by our real faces, but many of us do. And this is not our fault. Our society has raised woman to believe that our job is to be beautiful and attractive to men at all costs starting from very young. This is ultimately so that a bit later on we can be sure to fulfill our true role in life: to get married and have children and keep husbands happy. And if our looks are lacking compared to made-up, airbrushed, photoshopped, surgically altered, perfectly lit models, actresses, and pornstars, then we could lose all that, and that is supposed to terrify us. On top of that, it forces us to constantly compare ourselves to the competition, other women. So we have been taught to obsess over our looks rather than focus on living the lives we really want for ourselves; and this all helps jeopardize our ability to have a totally healthy perspective of and relationships with other women-our true allies.
And if the psychological issues resulting from the motivations of the cosmetic industry aren’t bad enough, the dangers of the ingredients to our health are…
Monday, July 23, 2007
Learning more about feminism shed a lot of light on why I was constantly feeling insecure about my appearance and my role in the world. I learned that several industries thrive off of making women feel concerned about how we look starting from when we are very young. I still ocassionally struggle with this feeling (as a 25 year old woman) and have to look it square in the face sometimes, which is scary.
A book called The Truth About Beauty by Kat James addresses the motivations of the beauty, medical, and food industries and their effects on us. In addition, James shows us a better approach to beauty that is actually good for us and respects that we are not simply walking collections of flaws that need fixing and covering up. There is so much information in her book and yet it is a joy to read. I frequently return to it when I need extra inspiration or reminders about great advice. I urge all women, especially those who have ever felt insecure or uncomfortable in their own skin, to read this book asap.
Here's a little excerpt that I always feel empowered by (and it is applicable to the beauty industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, and our government):
"Do your body and your beauty a serious favor: Don't put your unquestioning trust in professions and industries, brand names, number-one recommended products or treatments, industry stamps of approval, or guidelines, no matter how respectable they seem. The only people you ever needed to trust entirely were your parents, and just as every parent has very human weaknesses and personal agendas, so does every regulatory agency and authority figure that influences your living choices. The sooner you let go of any blind faith you have in the government's ability or incentive to protect you, the sooner you can put that faith and the role of the protector where it belongs: with you."