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It’s already May can you believe that? And despite being almost halfway through this year, many people are still embarking on those New Year’s resolutions and goals we often make at the start of a new year. In my opinion, it’s never too late to start!
A lot of these resolutions tend to be about health and wellness and I think it’s a great and noble endeavor! We should most certainly consider what we are consuming and be mindful of nourishing our bodies adequately.
We often hear our friends here from Harvest Juice Cafe talk about cleansing the body and how their amazing juices plus consuming whole foods, grass-fed meats and organic produce when possible can help us achieve better health. There is no doubt that our health reflects the foods we eat and lifestyles we lead.
But have you ever considered that what we put on our bodies can affect our health as well?
Did you know that our skin is the largest organ?
Isn’t that something? I can’t recall learning that in school, it seems like whenever we hear about organs of the body, internal organs were emphasized. Believe it or not the skin, or the epidermis, is THE largest organ!
So what does that exactly mean? It means the skin plays a major role for us and our health like protecting us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.
It is such an intricate and complex organ, it’s function mesmerizes me so much and yet we often overlook our skin and what we are putting on it.
So, let’s talk about that for a minute. Is it possible that the products we are using could penetrate and be absorbed into our bloodstream much like a nicotine or birth control patch would? And what does that mean, and should you be concerned?
The answer is yes and yes! According to the Environmental Working Group, they found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. The tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by the Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. Of these 287 chemicals, 217 were neurotoxins, and 208 are known to damage growth development or cause birth defects. These toxins included mercury, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polybrominated and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and furans (PBCD/F and PBDD/F), perflorinated chemicals (PFCs), organochlorine pesticides like DDT and chlordane, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated napthalenes (PCNs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and many others.
So, as you can see personal product ingredients among other things can penetrate our skin. What are we to do? First and foremost, don’t feel overwhelmed! Yes, the idea of sifting all your personal products as well as your family’s sounds very daunting but it doesn’t have to be.
Be strategic, here are some suggestions:
- Begin educating yourself on this subject. One fantastic place to start with is the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep website. EWG are the fantastic people who brought us the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, they have up to date information and resources as well as an app called Healthy Living.
- Learn to read labels and ingredients! This is a MUST! Again, the Environmental Working Group website has a HUGE database with a lot of information about many common used ingredients in the personal care and cosmetic industry. A quick search and you will have access to incredible information. Some key ingredients to steer clear from are parabens, formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, phthalates, diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, synthetic flavor, triclosan, triclocarban, BHA and BHT are among the top culprits.
- Focus on the products you use the most and ones that cover large portions of your body like body lotions, body oils, body powders, sunscreens, even shampoos and conditioners since they touch your body as you shower, bubble baths most certainly. And I highly recommend you add to this list any baby and children products.
- Consider fragrance as well. There are more and more studies and research showing that synthetic fragrances can be very problematic to our health, causing issues like allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. Keep this one on the top of your list!
- Get to know the companies you shop from. Be vigilant to scan their websites and products. If they fail to be transparent ditch them, only after voicing your concern! Companies need to know that as consumers we want transparency. Don’t be afraid to email them and tell them your concerns. Much change can come from a simple email and an honest review.
There is no doubt that the many ingredients in our personal care products are causing issues with our health. As a matter of fact, many studies show that issues like asthma, cancer and infertility are growing among our communities in part to the persistent exposure to these questionable ingredients.
I’m very fortunate to have found one company that encompasses transparency like I’ve never seen before. I learned about Beautycounter while I was pregnant with my twins about a year and a half ago. As a family we have been on this wellness journey for about 13 years or so. We try to source and buy locally when we can, buy organic when possible and cook from scratch as much as this busy momma can. I’ve ditched all harsh cleaning products and ditched all synthetic fragrances. Synthetic fragrances bother me a lot and many have caused me to feel very ill.
But cosmetics were one area I had not considered completely. Until one day, just months after having my babies, I finally went to Beautycounter’s website and was SHOCKED at the truth and statistics they shared. Like did you know that the last time any regulation was passed for the cosmetic and personal care industry was in 1938? Crazy, right? Or that the European Union has banned 1,400 questionable and harmful ingredients yet the United States has only partially banned 30! Those truths caused me to question and dig deeper and become informed. I am no longer in the dark and I now have the right information and tools that I need as a consumer to make conscious purchases for me and my family.
My heart is for ALL to know these truths and to know that there are better and safer options available. I appreciate Beautycounter’s mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone. Something else I’m grateful for is their advocacy work. Each year they send about 100 consultants to Washington DC to advocate for stricter laws in this industry. It is an incredible endeavor and one that is finally getting some air on news channels and other media platforms.
They have some of the strictest regulations in the industry, but they go above and beyond to screen their ingredients. They also third-party test all their color cosmetics for heavy metal contamination during formulation, and again before a new batch goes to market. They strive for non-detectable levels of lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury, arsenic, and other toxic elements. And rest assured that there are no hormone disruptors in their formulas and products.
If that does not impress you, they are not only Environmental Working Group Verified but also a certified B Corporation! B Corps are companies that use business as a force for good. To be certified as a B Corporation, a brand must meet high standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
Their incredible “Counter” stance, as they are going against the grain, is catching on and many others are following in their footsteps. It makes me very pleased to see more clear options for me to consider when shopping.
I pray and hope so much that you find this article helpful and informative. If you have any further questions about the dangers of most commonly found ingredients in personal care and cosmetic products, please reach out to me. I’m very passionate about this subject and as an educator and consultant for Beautycounter it is my honest and heartfelt desire to educate, empower and equip many with the right tools to be conscious consumers.
Ana Owens can be reached at:
You can find her on FB in her group called Graceful Beauty: Living life with Grace, Beauty and Health.