Originally published October 7 2008
Choosing Products That Promote Beauty and Well Being
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) Millions of Americans are adversely affected each year by a silent from of chemical warfare that's taking place every day within the comforts of our own homes. While we worry about the chemical weaponry of terrorists and lead-contaminated imported toys, we are literally poisoning our immune systems with thousands of toxic chemicals that are known carcinogens, hormone disrupters, and cancer-causing agents.
It starts with your morning routine. If you are a man, you will probably use shampoo, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, hair gel or styling products, shaving cream, and aftershave or cologne. A typical day for a woman starts much the same, with the added possibilities of shower gel, body and face cream, lotion, moisturizer, make-up, hair spray, perfume, and nail polish. By the time you have made it to the door, you have swallowed, inhaled and absorbed through your skin hundreds of toxic chemicals, some of which have been proven to be deadly to laboratory animals and many of which are known to be carcinogens.
If you are suffering from dry flaky skin, persistent skin irritations, rashes, sinus problems, allergies, asthma, respiratory ailments and other health problems that never seem to get cured, it may be time for you to examine the negative effects your personal care products are having on your health. It's great to exercise and watch what you eat, but you must also watch what you put on your body and even what you use to clean your house if you want to achieve optimal health.
Any substance you put on your skin, or inhale will enter your bloodstream just as surely as if you had swallowed it. Once these chemicals enter your bloodstream, they are perceived by your immune system as foreign and not recognizable, and they are perceived by your liver as toxins. When your immune system and liver are dealing with toxic chemical overload they aren't available to do the jobs they were intended to do. That's why people who insist on putting toxic chemicals into their bodies suffer from frequent bacterial and viral infections, other mysterious maladies, and even cancer.
Have you ever taken a close look at the ingredients in your personal care products? Whatever you are seeing probably includes water. Is there anything else on that label that you recognize as a naturally occurring substance you might actually want to put inside your body? If it doesn't occur in nature, it shouldn't be inside of you, because you are a natural being.
Kiss My Face Corporation makes a wonderful soap bar that lathers up and cleans just fine. The only ingredients on its label are olive oil, water and salt. There are no toxic chemicals or fragrance. That's what a label should look like. How does the label on your soap look?
No matter what the advertisements try to make you think, fragrance does not come from flowers or anything else natural. More than 4,000 chemicals are used in fragrances, many of which are waste products from the petroleum industry. Several of them are known to cause cancer, birth defects, infertility, and brain and central nervous system damage including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's.
Since so many products are now scented, the number of people who are made ill by fragrances is steadily increasing. Babies and children are especially vulnerable along with those recovering from illness or disease. Chemical fragrances are everywhere: laundry detergent, fabric softeners, dish washing liquids, suntan products, sunscreen, incense, lotions, moisturizers, lip balms, almost every personal care product, and more. It's even found in many products labeled as unscented because it is contained within a compound when that compound is added to the product.
Exposure to scented products can cause the persistent symptoms that mystify people, such as chronic aches and pains, headaches, allergies, swollen glands and lymph tenderness, heart palpitations, memory, fatigue, asthma, nausea, and neural-motor functioning including dizziness, and fainting. Exposure in children and even adults can cause learning and behavioral problems, attention deficit and hyperactivity in addition to any of the other symptoms. Continued exposure to chemical fragrances along with other toxic chemicals can cause development of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Disease. When you have this disease, the slightest whiff of a toxic chemical makes you so ill you cannot function. Your ability to interact with the rest of the world is seriously compromised.
It's tempting to say to your self that these products must be alright or the 'government' wouldn't let them be sold, but this isn't true. The personal care products industry is not supervised. The FDA does not require manufacturers to register their products or to file safety data on the ingredients they use in them. They are free to put in as many toxic chemicals as they want. The only thing that stops them is reaction from the public. A few years ago, magazines came with scented strips advertising the latest perfumes. So many people were sickened and complained that the strips were discontinued. If enough people refuse to buy toxic products, manufacturers would stop making them.
Products you use while taking a shower are particularly dangerous since you are using them at a time when your pores are opened by hot water, allowing quick and easy access to your bloodstream. A look at the ingredients in your shampoo may be shocking. There are more than 100 toxic chemicals traditionally used in shampoo, and most brands contain 20 to 30 of them in addition to chemical fragrance and dyes.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a dominant ingredient in almost all shampoos. In addition to its toxic effects on your immune and detoxification systems, SLS has been shown to corrode the hair follicles and impede hair growth. It has been blamed for premature hair loss. The Material Safety Data Sheet provided by the U.S. government says exposure to SLS can lead to burning, coughing, wheezing, laryngitis, shortness of breath, headache, nausea and vomiting. The American College of Toxicology says that SLS stays in the body for up to five days and maintains residual levels in the heart, liver, lungs and brain.
While there are many natural alternative substances available that will clean and beautify you far better than these toxic concoctions, the large corporations that produce personal care products won't use them because it would cost too much money and interfere with their profits. They even try to disguise their cheap chemicals with tiny amounts of natural ingredients that are prominently featured on the front of the bottle. This is done to deceive you into buying what you think is an item that promotes health. But turn the bottle over and you will see a mind boggling list of toxic ingredients.
If you have decided that you don't want to pay your hard earned money to a corporation that strives to deceive you and tell you lies, you will find that discovering how to replace your toxic products with products that promote good health is a very difficult task. No matter what it says on the label, there are virtually No products in any of the discount stores, traditional supermarkets, or drugstores that are not filled with health compromising chemicals.
Some supermarkets featuring organic or health sections carry Burt's Bees products. These are certainly far preferable to those produced by the large corporations, but Burt's Bees has recently been bought out by Clorox Corporation, so its quality may soon be compromised. For now, some of Burt's Bees products are safe, and some contain toxic ingredients such as fragrance, endocrine system disrupting glucose oxidase, and borax (the active ingredient in most ant poisons).
You will have a better chance of finding products that promote health at a health food market. But even there, you can't just walk in and buy what appeals to you on sight. Many products marketed as 'natural' contain high levels of toxic ingredients. Whole Foods Market publishes a list of ingredients not allowed in the foods they sell, but many of these ingredients are contained in their personal care items. Apparently it is alright with them if the toxins enter you body through your skin instead of your mouth.
When you try to replace your personal care products with ones that promote health, you will find that almost every item you pick lists ingredients that sounds like chemicals. The only way to be sure of what you are buying is to research these ingredients. Here is a website where you can easily research many of these ingredients using their search box: (http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/) .
Many people have found that the easiest and most cost effective way to shop for health promoting products is online using one of the large supplement companies such as Lucky Vitamin or Vitacost. Each of these carries an amazing array of the personal care and cosmetic products typically found in health food stores.
There is one line of products that stands out above the rest. Aubrey Organics consistently provides items that are of very high quality and free of toxins. Many of their lotions and shampoos are highly scented with natural oils. Of course, these products are fairly expensive, but if you order them online there is a substantial savings.
Kiss My Face makes that luscious olive oil soap without scent or in several scents created from chemicals. Many of their other products contain an array of toxic ingredients.
Jason's is good for toothpaste, making several flavors without fluoride or significant toxic chemicals. But again, much of their line contains objectionable ingredients.
Cosmetics made entirely from minerals are gaining in popularity as witnessed by the astounding growth in Bare Essential shops. Mineral cosmetics provide the affects of traditional cosmetics and don't contain toxic chemicals. There are several other companies that sell cosmetics made from minerals. Their products are available at health food stores and online.
It's not easy to make the change from disease promoting personal care products to those promoting health. It seems to require some trial and error, a lot of time to do research, patience, and a commitment to paying higher prices for the products you use. But once the change is made and these products become as familiar to you as the ones you used to buy, it will be easy from that point on. You will realize that you have made a significant investment in your future health and freedom from disease, and you will feel proud of yourself. You will know that it's all a matter of priorities.
After you have found products in every category that you really like and seen how good you feel using them, you probably won't even consider returning to the old brands. You will feel good about spending your money on products made by a company who knows its future rests in producing products that keep you healthy, rather that a corporation that sees you only as someone to be exploited. And you may realize that looking your best can be achieved only with the vibrant glow of good health shining from your insides out.
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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