When it comes to choosing skin care and cosmetics it's easy to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of choice in terms of new ingredients and must-haves, however, once we start taking an interest in the content of our beauty products it’s also easy to make conscious decisions on the type of products and brands we could be choosing to spend our dollars on.
We are said to apply each day over 200 different toxic ingredients packed in our beauty and personal products and *researchers have identified more than 10,500 industrial chemicals used as cosmetic ingredients that have been linked to skin allergies, infertility, birth defects, learning disabilities and reproductive problems. *Australian certified organic (ACO).
It is true that each product provides only a small amount of these questionable or toxic “chemicals”, however, scientific results on their adverse health effects are indefinite and no research has been able to confirm the accumulative effects when we are exposed to these chemicals daily, in multiple products and multiple times per day.
Our skin is said to absorb at least 60% of what we put on it. For all you scepticals out there, look into how nicotine patches work; essentially they release nicotine gradually into your bloodstream through our skin. Similarly to how skin care is considered harmless, nicotine patches are considered a medicine, however, the risks to pregnant and nursing women from nicotine patches are not fully known yet they are openly available to us.
The term "chemical-free" is ambiguous because the fact is; everything that surrounds us is made of or contains chemicals. Conversely, natural doesn’t always mean ‘safe’, for instance, the poison of a snake is natural but we all know poison is “bad”. The point is, there are both good and “bad” chemicals, the ‘bad’ ones are often the ‘toxic’ ones that have been controversially linked to adverse health effects. Brands can add good and/or bad chemicals to beauty products and it's up to the consumer make a conscious decision to choose those that steer clear of the harsh and controversial ingredients.
The skin care and beauty industry is highly unregulated:
It’s only common sense to assume that all cosmetics available to us have been tested and approved for safety by a regulatory body. The reality is, the beauty and body care industry is highly unregulated as there is no pre-approval process before a product hits the market, it's kind of a free-for-all; anyone can add any ingredients and label it anything they want, including ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ as there is no legal definition for these words. According to the David Zuzuki Foundation most of the 25,000 chemicals used in personal care products have not been tested for long-term toxic effects.
Inexpensive ingredients are used in conventional beauty brands, regardless of the price you pay:
Don’t be fooled by the price and branding of your skin care, I used to be! - Lack of regulation in the industry unfortunately means that brands that don’t have the consumers best interest at heart choose to heavily market products that contain a higher percentage of inexpensive synthetic ingredients (that usually enhance the texture and mask the smell of products) whilst adding a small amount of clean ingredients, which benefits are often cancelled out when mixed with synthetic and inexpensive ingredients. A good example of this is a product deemed by Vogue as "probably the best cleanser in the world”, the first ingredient is Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), one of THE cheapest ingredients in cosmetics and the last four are parabens, Vaseline for over $100 anyone!? For this reason, believe it or not the onus is always on us as consumers to check and edudate ourselves on the ingredients.
Greenwashing and Pinkwashing by conventional beauty brands:
Greenwashing is practiced by some brands which strategy is to increase profits through deceptively advertising and marketing their products and practices as “green”, “natural”, “organic”, “eco” and “environmentally conscious” whilst not being forthcoming about questionable ingredients and unpleasant business practices. Similarly, some very popular brands release pink ribbon supporting products, which aim to raise awareness and money for breast cancer patients, yet they still use toxic and questionable ingredients in their products like parabens, which but have been shown to mimic estrogen which has been associated with increasing the risk for breast cancer.
As long as the cosmetics industry continues to be highly unregulated the onus is always on us as consumers to read and understand the ingredients and labels and to choose with our dollar. If you want to be savvy about your beauty products, don’t be fooled by the brand name, hype and marketing tricks. Finding worthy natural and organic skincare can be an overwhelming, time consuming and pricey task, with brands and products claiming to be natural and organic, charging excessive prices and some of them including questionable ingredients.
We are really not into fearmongering but if you are interested in making a choice with your dollar, do watch this 8min film revealing how ‘nobody is making sure that the stuff we smear on our bodies is safe’ and it makes a good argument on why we shouldn’t be debating how much lead should be allowed in lipstick but why can’t we just get our lipstick without any questionable non-toxic ingredients?