Clean Beauty + Toxic Chemicals in Your Personal Care Products
Hey sis! Thank you again for joining me on the blog. In this post I wanted to continue raising awareness on the integrity of the products that we use in our personal care routines, from our facial products, bath soaps and even our toothpaste.
There is a whole lot that we are not informed about as consumers. Product manufacturers are not always required to list the full range of ingredients in their products. This is quite sketchy, since we know that not only what we eat, but also what we put on and into our bodies, affects our hormonal health.
So, we're doing a little bit of investigating today. Are you ready? Let's go!
In this post you will discover...
. what clean beauty is + why it matters for your health
. what the endocrine system is + how certain chemicals cause harm
. top chemicals to avoid in personal care products
What's all this 'clean beauty' fuss about?
To start this post, I thought that we should take a second to define 'clean beauty'. As with many other fads, this topic is trending quite considerably in the holistic wellness space at the moment. Is it all just hype or is there something to it?
There is no strict definition for clean beauty. This can make it quite confusing for us, people who are trying to be conscious consumers, to figure out which products are 'clean' or healthy for us and which ones are not. This is what the Good Face Project has to say about clean beauty:
"At its core, clean beauty means that you can use a product without risking your own health. The ingredients label must contain only safe, non-toxic ingredients.
When a beauty brand makes an effort to list all of their ingredients and label accordingly, they’re on the right path to clean beauty. However, not all brands are transparent. A good example of lack of transparency in the beauty industry is including fragrance in beauty products. Fragrance is not an ingredient, but since the industry is highly unregulated, companies can hide ingredients under the umbrella term “fragrance.”"
Common misconceptions about clean beauty
Before I went into detective mode and started investing in my education on clean beauty, I simply thought that clean was synonymous with natural and organic. But this actually isn't the case. So let's take a quick look at what you might be misunderstanding about what clean actually is.
1.Organic/natural is not necessarily clean
Although many natural and organic ingredients are much safer than conventional toxic lab-made ingredients, some ingredients may cause irritation and may not be suitable for topical (skin) use.
Companies also get away with confusing consumers by using labels like "organic" and "natural" to give the impression that their products are safer than they are. This is called green-washing and is something I consider an unethical business practice. So what can you do about it? Read the labels sis! We'll get into top ingredients to avoid in the coming sections.
2. Not all lab-made ingredients are toxic
This is something I also found interesting to learn. I had kind of just assumed that anything that is synthetically produced is not good for me. I definitely do still have a bias towards all-natural products, simply because it's much easier for me to tell if a product is safe when it doesn't have a long list of ingredients that I have to look up. But there has been major development in the personal care industry to create synthetic ingredients that do not cause harm to the body.
Here are some useful websites that you can use whenever you need to check out the safety of an ingredient you're unsure of:
Why Clean Beauty matters for your hormonal + overall health
Toxic chemicals in beauty and other personal care products have known endocrine (hormone) disrupting effects alongside other adverse health outcomes. These include but are not limited to: skin irritation, cancer-causing effects (carcinogenic), neurological (brain) toxicity, infertility and birth defects.
Because our focus here is on hormone health, I thought it would be good to look at what the endocrine system is, so that we can get an understanding of why it's so important to limit exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals. To start, let's take a moment to define the term "endocrine system":
The National Cancer Institute plain and simply defines the endocrine system as "the glands and organs that make hormones and release them directly into the blood so they can travel to tissues and organs all over the body. The hormones released by the endocrine system control many important functions in the body, including growth and development, metabolism and reproduction."
Secondly, let's look at how endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) act when they enter into our bodies. Gregg Renfrew of clean cosmetic company Beautycounter has the following to say about EDCs:
"Exposure to endocrine (or hormone disruptors) is particularly scary because they’re so potent in small doses, as they mimic the hormones that our bodies produce in small amounts every day. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can lead to reproductive problems, metabolic issues, cancer, birth defects, and other devastating disorders.”
This paints a clear and simple picture of why it's important for us, as women who want to take the best care of ourselves, to be mindful of the products that we apply onto our skin. My personal philosophy is that of doing the best you can in the most affordable way for you. It's no lie that healthier alternatives are usually more expensive, which is a real barrier to entry for many people of colour, not to mention young woc like us who are either still studying or just starting our careers. But as always, I got you sis. Check out this free guide which will give you the exact list of personal care products that satisfy my health criteria, and which fit my budget.
Top chemicals to avoid
Now onto the good stuff: what to look out for when you go shopping!
There are some EDCs that I've already spoken in-depth about on the blog. These are phthalates, parabens, dioxins, and bisphenols. Check out this post to get fully clued up. Here's a list from Alisa Vitti, founder of Flo Living virtual hormone centre, with other chemicals that you should stay away from:
1. Aluminum Chloride: in all antiperspirants – aluminum build up in the brain is linked to Alzheimer’s
2. Ammonium Xylenesulfonate: in nail polish – inhalation can cause central nervous system damage and coma
3. Benzalkonium Chloride: a germicide – toxic if taken internally, skin allergies
4. BHA/BHT: a preservative for packaged dry foods and skin care products made from petrochemicals – causes benign and malignant tumors
5. Butyl Alcohol: in clear shampoos – causes dermatitis [medical condition in which skin becomes swollen, itchy, red and sore], breathing problems, dizziness, drowsiness and headaches
6. Diazolidinyl Urea/Disodium EDTA/DMDM Hydantoin: a preservative, made from formaldehyde a known carcinogen [cancer-causing agent]
7. Ethanol: in acne products and skin toners gives cool feeling, perfumes – ingestion can cause nausea, stupor, coma, and death
8. Ethylene Glycol: in many shampoos, aka antifreeze- can cause respiratory problems
9. Imidazolidinyl Urea/Urea: a preservative synthesized from known carcinogens
10. Lithium Chloride: used in soap and long life batteries – very toxic to kidneys
11. Methylene Chloride: nail polish remover – skin irritant, narcotic when inhaled and carcinogenic
12. PABA: in sunscreen – causes allergic eczema, skin rashes, swelling
13. Phenoxyethanol: a preservative derived from poisonous Phenols
14. Poly Quaternium 7, 10, 11, 15 : the American Academy of Dermatology lists this as a skin irritant and combines with natural body substances to form potent carcinogens called nitrosamines
15. Talc: implicated in causing ovarian cancer
Okay sis, so I know this may have been a lot to take in, especially if this is new to you. But rest assured that it's not as complicated or as hard as it seems. Switching over to the least-toxic lifestyle you can is simple and easy to maintain with just a little bit of a mindset shift, intention (focussing on how this shift will benefit your present and future health) and with guidance on what to buy that is relatively affordable.
I'm here to offer you that guidance! Because just like you, a few months ago, I didn't know much about toxic-chemicals in our everyday products. I had acne all the time (which I was so tired of because I'd had acne since age 11) and I felt powerless in healing some of my hormonal symptoms. I'm definitely a work in progress, but I can happily say that cleaning out the toxins from my personal care products, along with general healthy eating, has radically changed my skin health and I'm eager to continue observing positive changes in my cycle in the months ahead.
If you're ready to start now, check out my free guide Clean Personal Care here.
Loved this post? How about you share it with a sister or two in your circle? I love having this community grow. It's my absolute mission to make this information accessible to all of us, because we all deserve happy ovaries, stable moods and glowing skin. Share this post wherever you hang out on the internet. And you can find me on IG @heysis.sa. Also, leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you!
All my love
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