We have the opportunity to choose better vitality and a healthier planet by changing a few simple purchasing habits. The more pertinent question is why wouldn’t you go organic? And by organic, I mean opting for natural cosmetic alternatives that are not polluted by harmful man-made synthetic ingredients or ingredients grown with pesticides.
Most of us work hard to stay healthy by participating in regular exercise and avoiding ingesting harmful chemicals and hormones but unfortunately nasty toxins are still creeping into our systems in other ways. You see the problem is that beauty is not in fact skin deep, nor are the products that we apply to our skin.
There is about six pounds of skin on your body providing a more significant gateway to your system than food. This is where the majority of dirt, pollutants and toxins enter the body. People generally absorb about 60% of whatever formulations they put on their skin. Think about your morning routine, from brushing your teeth to applying your make-up. About 200 chemicals are absorbed into your skin everyday, before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee!
But how has this been allowed to happen you may ask? Historically, manufacturers of personal care and skin products were not meant to claim that their products could penetrate the skin as this would classify their products as “drugs” and they would then be governed by much stricter protocols. Today we can no longer ignore the screaming evidence however, that the skin does absorb much into our system and where we would not be legally allowed to take a lot of the ingredients used in our products orally, we absorb them into our skin daily.
Your deodorants, eye creams, and make-up may seem harmless, but check out the labels and you’ll find a catalogue of tongue-twisting ingredients, most of which are toxic and damaging to your health. The idea that the skin is a resilient barrier to the world we live in has been harmfully misleading. This fallacy has given manufactures of skin, personal care and cleaning products license to use any ingredient or raw material and take it to market without it having been tested and regulated by government bodies. After analyzing 2,983 chemicals used in personal care products recently, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in the US found that 884 were toxic.
If this is all a little difficult to swallow then just think about how many other drugs are delivered “transdermally” (through the skin.) The examples are endless. We use nicotine patches, hormone patches, vitamin patches and while cosmetic companies are more concerned with skin irritations, should we not be concerning ourselves with the question of systemic absorption, toxicity and chronic effects? What degree of absorption is there when a cosmetic is left on the face or spread over the entire body, or both. In fact times that by ten at least… creams, oils, toiletries all over the body twice a day… and what is the exposure to ingredients that may have been used for years?
The impact that synthetic chemicals are having on the health of billions of people is almost unbelievable. These ingredients may seem harmless in the short-term, but their chemical components are stored in the fatty tissues of the body where they accumulate and magnify over time. Many skin care products contain known or suspected carcinogens, neurotoxins and hormone disruptors (For example, read about the recent Johnson & Johnson scandal here). Over the last 50 years, thousands of new chemicals have been developed and it doesn’t take an expert to see that the rise in cancer rates, heart disease as well as many psychological disorders have increased dramatically during the same time frame. While every synthetic ingredient may not be toxic at all, or may only be toxic in minute concentrations, it is a fact that we are using A LOT of synthetic ingredients and have little control over what is mixing with what.
And we’re not only damaging ourselves. The synthetic chemicals and toxins found in most of the products in our bathrooms are seriously harming the environment. In March 2007, a team of US Geological Survey scientists showed that a selection of chemicals from common personal care products were among 95 wastewater contaminants found in US waterways.
No wonder three out of four households today own some sort of water filtration device or system for their families. Even if you have a water filter – I doubt that you filter the water that you cook your vegetables in or bath your children in? The bottom line is that the sooner we begin to clean up our water, the sooner we can clean up our own health and that of our children’s children. One intelligent but very simple way to do this would be too stop flushing synthetic chemicals down our bathtubs, showers and basins.
There really is no alternative to going organic. It is outrageous that the very things that we are using to restore the appearance of youth and vitality are killing us. You would never think twice about eating food that contains cancer causing agents, so why allow them to creep through your skin? You really don’t want to jeopardise the healthy and safety or yourself and loved ones for the sake of not changing a few very simple purchasing habits – AND bear in mind that organic does not necessarily mean more expensive.
Become a little more discerning and start reading the ingredient labels of the products that you buy. In recent years it became law that all products sold in South Africa must contain a full ingredient list at the back, so if until then manufacturers were not proudly listing ALL the ingredients on your new night cream – you have to wonder why?
- Organic Cosmetics for Natural Beauty, Narelle Chenery
- The Makers of Natural Beauty, Delia Montgomery
- Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid: Stay safe and skip products that contain nay of these dangerous chemicals, Natural Health, Sept 2002
- A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, Ruth Winter, M.S