People who care about natural health are typically vigilant with what they put into their bodies, but rarely do they pay much attention to what they apply to the outside of their bodies. Over the course of a normal morning, the average woman uses up to a dozen different personal care products, many of which are loaded with synthetic ingredients that can contain mysterious toxins. It does not have to be this way, though, as there are natural alternatives that work just as well.
Unlike food, beauty products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any equivalent body. Products are sometimes found to be unsafe, but there is little legal oversight over how these situations are handled. Recalls are strictly voluntary, and in many cases products found to be dangerous continue to be produced until the company determines there to be a serious risk of litigation. In short, when it comes to beauty products, consumers must watch out for themselves.
Toxic ingredients in beauty products
Because many people assume that products found on store shelves must be safe, the risks of using many of these products have not gotten the attention they deserve. The average woman’s daily makeup and grooming routine involves up to 515 synthetic chemicals, many of which have not been fully tested. Many have been tested and have been found to be unsafe for humans in large quantities. With these products, you just never know exactly what you’re getting.
The risks of these products do not come from using them once or twice or even from occasional use. Rather, they come from prolonged, daily use that leads to a gradual buildup of toxins. Effects can include a greater risk of diseases such as cancer. Pregnant women need to be doubly safe, as many synthetic chemicals increase the risk of birth defects.
Meanwhile, when it comes to beauty products, we also must take into account the broader world. Toxic cosmetic ingredients and their byproducts pollute the water supply and the environments where they are produced and disposed of. The chemicals can lead to decreased wildlife populations and mutations. And when the chemicals enter the water, they inevitably find their way back into the human water supply. So choosing whether to use these products is not merely a personal decision. It effects the world.
Switching to safer products
First, find products that are genuinely green. The recent trend in the beauty industry is to attach labels such as “green” and “organic” to products simply for the marketing value these terms bring. In many cases, the products labeled this way are just as toxic and risky as those that do not pay lip service to the green movement.
The only way to know for sure that the products you buy are clean is to do your research beforehand. There are many organizations that study these issues and offer publicly available databases for consumers concerned about the toxicity of their beauty products. A quick Google search will turn up a number of these organizations.
Making the switch from toxic to more natural beauty products will benefit you and your health, but also keep in mind that it is better for the world. Plus, by voting with your wallet, you send the message to companies that you want to support clean products and that you are not comfortable with products that are packed with mysterious chemicals. Your own purchasing decisions may not seem like they will have a lot of impact, but if you help spread the word about these issues, you can have a greater impact than you know.
By Jamell Andrews