I feel safe to say that I love beauty products more than the average woman. From an early age, I had dreams of being a celebrity make-up artist. I was obsessed with Bobbi Brown products and loved her philosophy of making women look like themselves but prettier. It wasn't about creating something but enhancing. In order to get my artistry on, I started working for Estee Lauder fresh out of high-school. I actually had to beg my parents to get a W2 while going to college. I quickly moved onto Bobbi Brown where I stayed for 7 years as a freelance make-up artist working with extreme talent and training new talent. Making women feel/look their best and witnessing the confidence they felt after teaching them how they can do it themselves was rewarding to say the least.
A pic from when I first started working for Estee Lauder. Maybe 18?
I still love it: the products, the packaging, the bottles, the texture, and the colors. I love feeling pretty, my skin glowing like the sun, and pampering myself when I am not looking after my three biological footprints. What I loathe is the irresponsibility of the industry. Seriously, for a multi-billion dollar industry there should be so much more accountability. Companies should not get away with profiting off poisonous concoctions and selling ugly lies to fellow goddesses. This is flat-out wrong.
The cosmetic industry and FDA is jacked. There is insufficient regulation in cosmetics and beauty products. According the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average women uses about 13 different beauty/health products a day. Me, a mere 15. Chances are the ingredients are a mystery to us. Seriously, more than half of these substances are unpronounceable to me. The ingredient "Fragrance" alone, contains numerous chemical sub-components that haven't been tested, or not tested in combination. Sure it smells great! Who doesn't want to smell like a coconut? But what I don't like is the unknown. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture on product labels. WHAT?!?!?! Uhh, why not? Technically, they could infuse cat urine and get away with it. In fact, that might actually be healthier than the chemicals they use. EWG says that Fragrances are hormone disrupters and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Natural stank is sounding a lot more appealing.
In their new book, No More Dirty Looks, Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt find that "11 % of the 10,500 ingredients determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be in use by the cosmetics industry have been tested for safety by a publicly accountable agency. Of the ones we do know about, some are flat-out dangerous to our health, others are questionable at best, and most are doing almost nothing to improve the quality, feel, and health of our skin and hair. So not only are these products wreaking some unspeakable havoc on our bodies, they're also making us look worse". ONLY 11% IS TESTED FOR SAFETY! Not really good enough for me. Now I may not know you all so well, but my guess is that when you slap health and beauty products on, your intention is not to look worse. Yet that is exactly what some of these toxic chemicals are doing to our skin.
Here is a list of 10 Ingredients to AVOID in Face Products and why... by Alexandra Spunt for www.good.is
Petroleum and related petrochemicals- The danger risk for this group of ingredients ranges from a mellow yellow to code red. Petroleum distillates are toxic solvents used in mascara, hairspray, and callus treatments. But your run-of-the-mill moisturizer probably contains something like mineral oil or paraffin in it, which are not considered dangerous per se, they're just really, really bad for the environment and they suffocate the skin and may interfere with perspiration.
Lead-tainted lipstick In 2009 the FDA discovered that of 20 lipsticks it tested, 20 were contaminated with lead. In many cases, the lead levels exceeded those set by that same FDA for candy- and since they don't set restrictions for cosmetics, this feels like a fair model of comparison, right? Not so according to the FDA, which claims that we don't eat our lipsticks. Lead is a neurotoxin and lipstick goes on our mouths, which combine to make this debate officially ridiculous. Go for organic small-batch lipstick lines or kiss a beet instead.
Formaldehyde-leaching preservatives Our crusade for clean cosmetics started after the discovery of formaldehyde in a hair treatment (and later in our nail polish), but this known carcinogen is also "donated," as the pros like to say, by preservatives such as quaternium-15, DMDM-hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, and diazolidinyl urea. That means it's both pervasive and often unlisted, not appearing as an ingredient on labels. It's considered a human carcinogen by many health agencies worldwide, and when it's not giving rats nose cancer, it might still be giving you a rash.
Fragrance- It's broken record time, but here it goes: Fragrance is in everything from your fancy perfume to your face wash. It represents a concoction of mystery ingredients, whose secrecy is protected by industry-ass-kicking trade laws. Lab studies by the EWG have shown them to contain a hole cocktail of hormone disruptors (among other things). Which is nice, since our hormones regulate, oh, everything: genital size, fertility, weight, acne, and beyond.
Parabens- This popular preservative group used in more than 10,000 products became very controversial when their presence was discovered in the tissue of breast tumors. What that data actually means is hotly debated but studies have shown that certain parabens mimic estrogen, the female sex hormone. This could be bad news for both men and women. Look for ingredients on the label with "paraben" as a suffix to avoid these bad boys.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)- These surfactants get a lot of finger wagging when we talk about shampoo: That's because they strip out natural oils, force you to use more products, and are sometimes contaminated with a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. This last fact is actually making more news in China than it is here, and carcinogens aside, they also strip your skin and scalp of their protective barriers, which we need for protection. Surfactants are also know irritants.
Triclosan- This very powerful antimicrobial- used in everything from hand soap and face wash to deodorant and acne treatments-has a serious ugly side. For one, it stays in our bodies. There's concern that regular exposure to the stuff may actually be creating resistant strains fo bacteria and hermaphrodictic marine life, just like Atrazine. It may also impact thyroid function. It's east to find on labels. If it says triclosan, put it down.
Chemical Sunscreen- We've said it once, and we'll say it again: Your best sunscreens are ones formulated from physical blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc. Popular chemical sunscreen ingredient oxybensone is a suspected hormone disruptor that penetrates skin easily and quite possibly brings its toxic friends with. It's also considered a common allergen that can result in a variety of unpleasant and unsightly skin reactions.
Hydroquinone-This skin-lightening ingredient is objectionable for so many reasons: It's incredibly toxic, it speaks to a disturbing cultural beauty standard, and it's easily abused to detrimental effects. Exhibit A: It's a suspected carcinogen that, according to industry "guidelines", shouldn't be used in formulations above 1 percent or be left on skin. But it is, and it's available at 2 percent over the counter and 4 percent by prescription. Exhibit B: It's banned in Europe. Exhibit C: Blue-black lesions are also a possible side effect.
Nanoparticles-These itty-bitty particles are a new industry favorite despite how little we actually know about them or their safety. According to Dr. Michael DiBartolomeis, a toxicologist and the chief of the California Safe Cosmetics Program, a nano may be able to "get into places it shouldn't get into-like cells or DNA." And what else will this cat drag in? Hard to say, but some experts suspect a lot. We certainly wouldn't want them in the same products as the nine ingredients listed above, would you?
Really, this list can go on and on. When I looked up toxic chemicals in cosmetics or lotions there were tons. This just happened to be the most current.
From what I read in Gorgeously Green by homegirl Sophie Uliano, I would also avoid...
- Mineral oils- coats the skin like plastic so that it cannot breathe and can create premature aging
- Phthalates- can cause a broad range of birth defects in lab animals and are hormone-mimicking chemicals
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)- carcinogen that is used as a grease-dissolving cleaner and thickener for the skin. Very toxic!
- Talc- similar to asbestos and can increase the risk of certain ovarian cancers
- Acrylates and Methacrylates- found in nail products
- Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40)- drying agent that strips off the outer layers of skin and can accelerate aging
- Phenonip- preservative blend that contains some parabens: phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, proylparaben, and isobutylparaben
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats)preservatives
In short, stay away from any products with ingredients ending in -paraben, words starting with PEG, words that have an "eth" in the middle and try to always buy fragrance free products.
Well what is a chick or dude to do? Stay away from all lotions and potions? Give up our dreams of having a perfect canvas? Not I. I will find a replacement!
What do I want? I want the smooth, wrinkle-free, pure, delicate, plumpy, kissable skin like that of baby M. His skin is like crack to me. I can't stop kissing it or... maybe it's my baby, either way, it is pure bliss.
As I have said before, the skin is our biggest organ. What we slather on to it matters. It is absorbed, enters into our bloodstream, and becomes part of our body tissue. You wouldn't take a bottle of formaldehyde or a slew of toxic unknowns and drink it, yet that is precisely what we do to our skin.
Most women and many men use a facial moisturizer daily. If you are not, what are you waiting for? Your face to dry up like Death Valley? Moisturizers play an epic role in helping the skin provide a protective barrier against bacteria, viruses, and toxins found in our environment; it increases the water content of the skin; reduces vulnerability against water loss; rebalance the skin's composition of lipids and delivers nutrients and substances to the dermis and epidermis. It helps keeps the naughty stuff from entering into our system.
When I was young, I thought that if I moisturized my skin, I would break out all over. My skin would be greasy and I would be a huge pubescent mess. Now I know that using a facial moisturizer is a secret weapon to beautiful, youthful lookin' skin. Unfortunately, I used the products from high-end department store that are filled with harmful ingredients. I thought if it is sold at Nordstroms or Saks, it has to be good for my skin? Oh, look the gorgeous sales lady says there is green tea, caffeine, Vitamin A, and cucumber extract in it. Sounds natural but what she failed to mention, is that it has a slew of harmful chemicals that are listed above.
As I am switching products and researching healthier, organic, non-toxic brands, I am still confused. Many brands green-wash, meaning they say they are nontoxic/heathy but contain ingredients like fragrance. Since I am still learning, I fall into these traps...often. I am going to be honest. I adore you and we need to have a trusting affair. I was going to write this blog on how much I adore Weleda Iris Hydrating Day Cream but after researching more on this topic I realized it is not as pure, and fantastic as it claims. Mostly because of one word...the effing F word. Fragrance! Ugh!
So this is me telling you we need to get our shizit together. The third in this relationship, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) always looks out for us. You can search for a moisturizer that is low on the hazard score or look up your current one. I am now back in the market for a new face cream. Any ideas? Awesome, would love to hear it? How about affordable too?
So now I am at a loss. My go to moisturizer is contaminated. Off $ to $ find $ another $. Sweet.