Originally published August 24 2010
Cosmetics are More than Skin Deep
by Heidi Fagley
(NaturalNews) Lotion, deodorant, hair spray, nail polish, sunscreen ... . Most of us spend at least some amount of time pouring, scrubbing, patting, and lathering our way into a cleaner, softer hair, skin, and body. We can't pronounce some of the ingredients in the products we slather on, but they are on the shelves of our most popular stores. Doesn't that mean they're safe to use? During any one day of our lives millions of people are using products that contain hundreds of chemicals that have not been approved for our safety by our regulatory institutions. Some of these same additives, however, actually have been proven unsafe.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body. It has the distinction of being the first line of defense for our immune system. And since what we place on our skin is absorbed into our blood stream, doesn't it make sense that what we use topically could be affecting our health?
Cosmetics are big business. Numerous products for men, women, children, and even babies have us spending millions of dollars every year. Yet what exactly are we paying for?
The fact is that less than 20% of the chemicals in products we slather and spray on our bodies have been assessed for safety by the industry's safety panel. Since 1938, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned only eight from the nearly 12,000 ingredients used in cosmetics, while our neighboring European nations have banned over 1,100.
Currently the FDA does not test the safety of these personal care products, nor is there a law requiring every ingredient to be listed on their labels. As an example, fragrances alone can consist of hundreds of individual ingredients that remain unspecified for the consumer's knowledge. Decisions regarding which ingredients are to be used in their products - and the levels of each ingredient - are at the discretion of the Cosmetic Industry.
While the amounts of some of these chemicals in any one product may be too small to be harmful on their own, it must be considered that the products containing these additives are often used on a daily basis. Multiplying the initial low amount by the number of times it might be used in a single day, and then again by the number of days it may be used in a year, you will find the amount of exposure becomes considerable.
Ingredients in some of the items we use on our bodies in some form every day can contain chemicals linked to cancer, immune system damage, learning disabilities, asthma, and even damaged sperm, to name a few.
The cosmetic industry markets products to help us look, feel, and smell better. But is there more that could be happening? There is coal tar in some hair dyes. And what exactly are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Dibutyl Phthalates and 1,4-dioxane? How are our organs, skin, and body tissues responding to these ingredients? Some of these chemicals, and hundreds more, can be included in the most popular cosmetic products which may contain carcinogens, reproductive and developmental toxins, and endocrine disruptors that have been linked to birth defects.
In the land of cosmetics, the words "herbal," "natural," or "organic" have no legal definition, and seeing them on a label does not necessarily mean there are not other chemical ingredients added among them. Nor does it mean that every ingredient listed in products is unsafe. Most certainly there are products being sold that contain chemical-free ingredients.
We cannot avoid these toxins completely, but is it necessary to keep putting them into products that can work just as well without them?
About the authorHeidi Fagley is a Holistic Nutritionist and has two culinary arts degrees - one in Raw, Living Foods and another in Natural Foods. Educating others about nutrition and the benefits of using whole foods to heal and prevent disease is her passion.
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