It´s Christmas time! Time to be with the family, to enjoy delicious meals, to receive gifts and…to buy them! So, what are the options available?
Cosmetics and body care products are common Christmas gifts, especially for women. This is actually no surprise because the industry is focused on us. But the truth is that many of these so-called beauty products have an ugly side and this is called toxic chemicals.
Are you in doubt? Ok, so let´s do a test. Go to your bathroom and look at the label found in your body lotion, for example. Do you know any of these ingredients or their possible effect in your health? According to EWG – Environmental Working Group, these are some of the most common chemical families that you should be aware of:
- Parabens: a group of artificial preservatives which goal is to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. According to different laboratory studies, they can disrupt reproductive hormones. Five types of parabens are quite common in cosmetics: methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, and butylparaben. The European Union, for example, banned the use of sodium methylparaben in “fragrance.” So, what can you do? Choose paraben-free and fragrance-free cosmetics and body care products.
- Phthalates: “[they] are industrial plasticizers widely used in personal care products to moisturize and soften skin, to dissolve and coalsesce ingredients, and to impart flexibility to nail polish after it dries. […] Scientists have shown that phthalates can damage the female reproductive system, but it is the male reproductive system that appears to be more sensitive.” Examples of phthalates are the “fragrance” ingredient diethyl phthalate (DEP) and the nail polish plasticizer dibutyl phthalate. The European Union restricts the use of some phthalates. If you want to avoid this family of chemicals in cosmetics and body care products, choose the ones that are fragrance-free and don´t buy a nail polish with dibutyl phthalate.
- Triclosan: “[it] is an artificial antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria on the skin and other surfaces. […] Triclosan is the most common active ingredient in “antibacterial” liquid hand soaps, and is also found in toothpastes, deodorants, face and body washes, and acne treatments, among others. […] Recent studies suggest this chemical may disrupt thyroid function.” In the European Union triclosan is classified as irritant. In case you want to avoid it, choose triclosan-free cosmetics and body care products and don´t choose the ones labeled “antibacterial.“
- Musks: [n]itro- and polycyclic musks are artificial chemicals. “Animal studies indicate musks may disrupt the hormone (endocrine) system […] and may disturb a natural defense the body uses to protect itself from toxic chemicals […] Musks are often used in cosmetics and body care products, like perfume and soap, that contain “fragrance.” […] Growing concerns about the health effects of nitromusks led the European Union to ban the use of some of these chemicals in cosmetics and body care products. […] So, once again, choose fragrance-free products!
Before buying cosmetics and body care products, my advice is for you to first make sure if they contain toxic chemicals. How can you do that? Consult EWG´s database – Skin Deep – where you will find important information regarding the safety of cosmetics and body care products. It has more than 64,000 entries, so if you live in the United States you will probably find the brand you are looking for. In my case, sometimes it is not easy to find here in Portugal the products that are listed as safe. This is why I also choose natural solutions. For example, I use apple cider vinegar as hair conditioner (once or twice a week, mixed with water).
You can find more information in my book Back to Natural where you will learn how to have a happier and healthier life. It is a great Christmas gift, don´t you think?