Skincare; making you beautiful or toxic?
I know I, as most of us do, love my potions and lotions. They leave me feeling fresh and smelling nice. However there is also the risk that they could leave you being contaminated with toxic chemicals, harm animals from testing and destroy our environment. I realise it sounds a little extreme but the skin is the bodies largest organ and it absorbs what we put on it, animal-testing is still common, often barbaric and unnecessary and we all know that chemicals and the environment do not mix. When considering personal health remember that cosmetic and beauty products are made to penetrate! The majority of skin care today contains many nasties such as paragons, petrochemicals, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate, DEA’s, artificial colours and fragrances. Chemicals. Toxic chemicals being absorbed into your skin.
Petroleum derivatives such as coal tar, mineral oil, paraffin and propylene glycol are used throughout all types of skincare. Mineral oil, or liquid petroleum, is a by-product in the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline. According to the International Agency for Research into Cancer in Geneva, mineral oils are most likely carcinogenic. Mineral oils are cheap so are used widely in skincare but actually cause a barrier and prevent the skin from functioning correctly. (Those of you with babies, please be aware that Johnsons and Johnsons are a top offender in chemical ingredients, just have a look at what the Baby Oil is made from.)
Parabens, methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl paraben, are mostly used as preservatives and antibacterials and are the most commonly used chemicals in cosmetics. Research has established that parabens mimic oestrogen. This can have serious side effects such as lowered sperm counts, breast cancer, osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases. Eek.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphates are foaming agents that penetrate the skin, are stored in vital organs and are also totally toxic to sea life, so also cause added damage to our environment when washed down the drain:(
Then think about those sweet smells in the creams. What are you actually smelling? More often than not, it will be artificial chemicals made in a laboratory,that are also toxic for you.
When looking at the ingredients of products, it is complicated. Some great books to help you decipher what the complex names are actually referring too, their purpose and potential side effects are;
The Chemical Maze by Bill Statham
Ecoman Book by Malcolm Rands
Skin Deep by Kevin Farrow
The other major concern for me is testing on animals. While the EU, Israel and recently India have banned testing on animals, and the sale of any cosmetic products that have been tested on animals, many places in the world still continue to undertake incredibly cruel and unnecessary tests on animals for skin care. In China it is mandatory by law, but apparently they are considering changing this in the near future.
Draize Eye Test;
rabbits are immobilized in full-body restraints while a substance is dripped in high amounts into their eyes or smeared onto their shaved skin, causing symptoms such as bleeding, swelling or blindness. The ironic thing is that rabbits eyes are anatomically and physiologically different to ours so the tests are not as accurate.
Acute Toxcity Tests;
To determine the toxic consequences of a single, short-term exposure to a product or chemical, the substance is given to animals in very high doses via force-feeding, inhalation or via the skin. Animals may endure severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, seizures, paralysis, and bleeding from the nose, mouth, and genitals before they ultimately die.
This video is not confronting but really brings home the point.
There are hundreds of cosmetics companies that do not engage in animal testing and alternatively use sophisticated non-animal testing methods available today. Examples are human-skin equivalent tests such as EpiDerm™ and EpiSkin™ that are accepted in Canada, the EU and all other member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, as complete replacements for animal-based skin-corrosion studies. These methods use of normal, cultured, human-derived skin cells to form a multilayered model of human skin and have more accurate results.
PETA have great lists of companies that do not test on animals and a list of those that do. Check them out. Some popular brands that DO test on animals are REVLON, AMWAY, ELIZABETH ARDEN, SHISEIDO, PONDS, CLEAN AND CLEAR, OLAY, SK-ll, MAYBELLINE, MAC, LOREAL.
Not every brand in the world is on this list, so it is worth asking the company directly. When asking, you need to make sure that they do not test on animals, buy ingredients that are tested on animals and do not sell in China, as if they do, their products will be tested on animals!
Watch out as always, for clever but misleading marketing, "natural", "hypo-allergenic", even "not tested on animals" doesn't guarantee that they are not involved in testing of animals. Crazy, yes.
We all draw the line somewhere and it is a personal choice. I am not perfect and still use products that are not organic and natural here and there- such as nail polish and hair dye- but with so many great options that are good for us, kind to the animals and our planet, I believe as often as we can we should purchase skin care products that promote an ethical stance and have a positive effect on the whole.
Skin care products that I love, are mostly organic and don't test on animals are;