Originally published November 17 2008
Teens and Toxic Skin Care: A Parent's Responsibility
by Al G Smith
(NaturalNews) No one has ever said that being a parent is an easy job. In the 21st century there are many reasons why successful parenting could be said to be more difficult than ever. Thanks to the impact of modern marketing methods, exploited so successfully by the cosmetics and personal care industry, teenagers are increasingly encouraged to utilize synthetic chemical laden products to solve their perceived `socially embarrassing`, but perfectly natural, adolescent problems. Helping to educate your children in suitably subtle, but effective ways, has never been more urgent as yet more evidence emerges about the toxic load youngsters are already carrying as a result of using higher than average levels of skin, hair and body care and cosmetics products.
Disturbing news has recently emerged from the ongoing research published by the respected Environmental Working Group (EWG) in September 2008, that parents need to take note of. If you have teenagers, in particular, you will know that they are at a difficult and vulnerable time of life, when their own bodies are in a state of turmoil and constant development. Amongst the numerous challenges of impending adulthood is the development of natural body-smells, and minor skin eruptions, caused by glandular and hormonal disturbances, which can make any teenager feel self-conscious. These issues can lead to many teens being liable to apply deodorants liberally and frequently, and also to use a variety of commercial creams and lotions. Teenagers are also tempted to experiment with all sorts of cosmetics without paying much attention to the ingredients used to manufacture them.
The EWG`s research has confirmed that teenagers do indeed use more `substances` on their skins than the average person. This means that during this vulnerable physical and emotional time they can be exposed to a whole host of potentially harmful chemical components regularly used in the manufacture of body, skin and hair product in the majority of typical, off-the-shelf brands.
If you are the main provider of skin, hair and body care products for your children to use then it is your direct responsibility as a parent to ensure that you are using the safest products available – even if these safer alternatives do cost a little more. Surely no parent would want to justify continuing to provide something that might be slowly poisoning their children`s skin and bodies.
If ignorance is truly bliss than perhaps this is the excuse for those parents who are less proactive about getting adequately informed. Perhaps they simply do not know or realize what an array of toxic chemicals are commonly found in the products that their child or teenager may be using every day. For others, perhaps they are happy to accept the claims made by certain `official` sources - often with politically and/or commercially invested interests to protect - that currently there is insufficient evidence of any harm that these products or ingredients might cause.
Most responsible parents will go out of their way to make sure that they are adequately informed so that they can properly care for their offspring. When this is not the case not, it begs the question: "how soon does such an attitude become tantamount to neglect?" Only an individual parent`s conscience can provide the answer, perhaps.
But if this helps you to make more informed purchasing decisions, or to make more strenuous efforts to inform and educate your own teens about their personal shopping practices, you should be aware that EWG research has shown that teens tend to use an average of 17 body/skin/cosmetic products a day compared with adult use of an average of 12 products. The study indicated that, across the United States, teenage girls are already typically contaminated with a wide variety of known toxic chemicals routinely used in many personal care and cosmetic formulations. Some of the toxic ingredients identified at elevated levels in blood and urine samples included:
Phthalates – Often used in the manufacture of plastic products, they can be absorbed both into susceptible products and also the body via various means. Known to be toxic (though played down by `official Government sources`) phthalates are potentially cancer causing and disruptive to natural hormones and may affect normal gender development and fertility.
Triclosan – Widely used in liquid hand soaps, toothpaste, anti-bacterial creams and other so-called `body care` products. It is a chlorophenol that is registered as a `pesticide` by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It progressively increases in its toxic potential through accumulation as it is very hard to get rid of once absorbed by the body. It is known to cause cause irritations, trigger allergic reactions and is also potentially carcinogenic in humans.
Parabens – A `family` of carcinogenic chemicals (e.g. methylparaben; propylparaben and others), These chemicals are also known to have disruptive effects on hormones and they were found in all of the sample of 20 teenage girls studied by the EWG.
Fragrances – Synthetic fragrances such as `musk` are frequently used in the popular, cheaper brands of perfumes, toiletries and cosmetics (typically favored by pocket-money-spending teens), These synthetic perfumes can trigger allergies and sensitivities, and have also been shown to cause cancers in mice.
These are just a `handful` of common constituents found in many personal care products - ranging from soaps, deodorants, hand lotions, body creams, toothpastes, anti-microbial blemish creams, and so on, right through to cosmetics of all kinds.
As yet there are still relatively few skin, hair and body care products on the market that can truly claim to be safer alternatives for adults to use, let alone vulnerable teens and younger children. This is because the majority of off-the-shelf products rely heavily on synthetic chemical for preservation, coloring, fragrance and as `bulking` agents, amongst other things. Some truly natural product ranges are, however, emerging but they have to be hunted-down. With effort you can find new, ethically-inspired brands that utilize the wisdom of ages and entirely natural formulations to ensure their preservation and safety for use for all age-groups. For example, you might browse the information about the certified organic products supplied via http://www.saferalternative.com, and examine the product range originally formulated through the diligence of one concerned Mother who knew she wanted to be absolutely certain that the products her three children used were as safe as could be humanly produced.
But do not make the bland assumption that every other product on the high-street, or online, that calls itself 'natural' or 'organic' actually lives-up to the apparent claims or implications made by marketing campaigns, brand names and images. Only by reading the small print, specifically the ingredients label, on your body, hair and skin care products, can you become properly informed about what is really used in their manufacture.
Even so, the ingredients listings on many labels, regularly prove to be barely legible, and will often contain items that are either hard to decipher, and even more difficult to pronounce. Another trick that manufacturers frequently use in listing ingredients is to `imply` natural derivations by mentioning natural-sounding words and phrases. It is up to every parent to do their due diligence and familiarize themselves with the names and potential health risks associated with common components in hair, skin, body care and cosmetics. For this purpose (if, as a regular Natural News reader, you do not have it already) a free ebook is downloadable from: http://www.gonando.com/healthier-lifestyle-e... that lists and identifies the major toxic, synthetic chemical ingredients of particular concern that could appear on your personal care labels.
It is never easy to educate or inform teenagers – who naturally `know it all` already. But if you can persuade your teen to read a resource that allows them to learn for themselves about the health risks posed by some of the ingredients in their favorite skin care and cosmetics products, you might just help them to avoid unnecessary, further exposure to toxic substances that could potentially cause their health to suffer in years to come.
About the authorAl G Smith MSc BSc - Has been working and teaching in the food related sector for over 30 years and is currently a website publisher (http://www.gonaturalandorganic.com) and Independent Representative for the World's first extensive range of Certified Organic skin care and cosmetics (http://www.saferalternative.com).
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