I have just recently begun paying more attention to the ingredients found in products such as lotions, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc. I have for a long time been mindful about the food I eat, where it is from, how it is made, weird ingredients to avoid, etc. but I didn’t so much pay attention to what I was choosing to put on my skin. Our skin is our largest organ after all and should be treated with the same care. Honestly, I just trusted that the products on the shelf were all safe. Unfortunately, chemicals and ingredients are often not fully tested before hitting the market and we therefore become the guinea pigs. Long-term effects of these chemicals and the effects of a cumulative buildup would take…a long time to test, so these ingredients are termed “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS. The more I learn, the less weight I give this term.
My awareness of harmful ingredients became heightened after a close friend of mine began selling Beauty Counter- a beauty company who prides themselves in safe, transparent ingredients. My friend’s mission began after losing a close friend of ours, her soul sister, to cancer at a very very young age. There is something wrong with the world I think when such an amazing, young, and otherwise healthy girl is lost to cancer. My friend, Rebecca, has made it her mission to educate others about safer beauty because it is one step we can all take to control the toxins introduced to our bodies. She donates 10% of sales to a scholarship fund in honor of our friend who passed. Labeling her as a friend who passed seems like a disservice as I could write a book on the wonderfulness of this person J
Environmental pollutants are impossible to avoid entirely because from what I have read- if you are breathing, you are taking in pollutants. The positive is that if we weed out what we can, choose safer and cleaner “stuff” that we put into our bodies and onto our bodies then that can make a difference. A large % of toxins we take in come from the air, water, environment, food, and products and so if we control what we can, we can strengthen our body, optimizing its ability to flush out the other toxins, and reduce the overall load we place on the body. But if we overload it, our body is likely to reach a breaking point or impact point, and manifest in the form of allergies, intolerances, breakouts, breakdowns, etc. That is my processing of it at least.
It only makes sense to be mindful of what we rub onto our largest organ, our skin. The Environmental Working Group posted a press release just a few days ago reporting that the FDA has placed a ban on 7 food additives. The banned flavors are benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether, myrcene, pulegone, pyridine and styrene. The petitioners involved in making this happen include Earthjustice represented the petitioners, including Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, the Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice. So there are people out there making a difference. The kicker however is that these ingredients, even if in the food, have not appeared on the ingredient list by name. Instead, all of these fall under the umbrella of the term “flavor.” Just take a moment to scan your cabinets and see how many products contain the word “natural flavor” or “flavor.” I certainly have some! And with beauty products, you may find “fragrance” to encompass all the chemicals used in creating that particular scent. The Environmental Working Group has found over 80K foods with “flavor” in the ingredients and only salt, water, sugar are mentioned more frequently. Unfortunately the companies that manufacture these natural flavors are the same companies that fragrance perfumes and cosmetics. These flavors or scents can contain up to 100 or so different substances. Like propyl paraben for example has been added to prepackaged baked goods, muffins, cakes etc as a preservative. Paraben is also in beauty products. Now tell me why a company that makes chemicals for on the skin should be the same company that makes chemicals for inside the body. To give you a comparison, the European Union has banned 1328 chemicals from cosmetics and the US has banned 30. I personally would prefer to air on the side of caution but that is just my opinion.
Companies have a 2 YEAR timeline to weed these 7 out. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction of fully transparent food labels but time will tell. So the best thing we can do as consumers is to use our buying power. Scan the ingredient list and avoid those items with the term flavor or natural flavoring and to choose sasfer beauty products, soaps, and lotions, and especially if you have allergies. I am going to take it as a challenge to myself and I encourage you to do so as well.