The Dangerous Price of Beauty
The promise of beautiful, glowing and ageless skin is so intoxicating that a lot of women worldwide are willing to take the risk of not bothering with the products’ ingredients. Some say that the ends will eventually justify the means, but how far would you really go to achieve a state of beauty? What price are you willing to pay in an effort to preserve your youth?
Research has shown that while few of the most popular skin care products today are able to deliver on their promise, what’s more certain is that they can be very harmful in the long run. Sure, short-term ill effects might include rashes and allergies, which you can immediately address. However, there are certain ingredients in skin care lines that manufacturers fail to tell us about — and most of them exhibit ill effects that don’t manifest until after years or decades of use, or when there’s no turning back.
Here are five of the most common and harmful ingredients you should watch out for the next time you snap a skin care product off the shelves. This is by no means a complete list, as 80% of ingredients in consumer products (cosmetics, skin care, cleaning) remain untested, and the complete list of proven toxic ingredients that are in your products (yes, yours!) is much longer.
Since the FDA’s inception in 1930, the FDA has only banned six cosmetics ingredients. In contrast, in the same amount of time, the European Union has banned 450 cosmetics ingredients.
Watch out for these ingredients with every skin care product you consider and, remember, don’t be fooled by high price tags. Higher price tags don’t usually mean higher quality – just more marketing.
Dibutylphthalate, also called DBP or butyl ester, is a very common ingredient in skin care products whose function is to help the skin absorb the products better and achieve desired results faster. What is alarming, however, is that DBP has been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen, meaning, it can cause cancer. It has also been shown to lower sperm count in men, and cause unborn males to have smaller penis’ and other testicular issues.
The issue on DBP-containing products was raised years ago, but most skin care lines in department stores still contain this ingredient, unlisted on the label. It’s illegal in virtually every modern country except the USA.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
This chemical is the main ingredient in most facial washes, as its effect is to strip the layer of oil off the skin to make it look “fresh and clean.” What many don’t know, however, is that sodium lauryl sulfate is also the main ingredient in garage floor cleaners and other degreasing agents. Sure, it can get rid of that oil layer, but it leaves the skin vulnerable, pitted and rough. Take note that the skin needs a considerable layer of oil to stay nourished and healthy. Washing your face with could be an industrial degreaser could lead to more harm than good, so it’s best to read the fine print and labels before getting sold on something.
3. Synthetic Perfumes
Sometimes, it is the bad things that are disguised in nice-smelling packages. Just because your facial wash or lotion smells wonderful, it doesn’t always mean your body is rejoicing in it. Synthetic or chemical-based perfumes are high in aldehydes (air pollutants) and benzene derivatives, which can lead to dizziness, headaches and other similar toxic reactions. Skin care manufacturers often take to synthetic perfumes because the cost of making natural-based fragrances is high, thereby allowing them to sell their products cheap.
On top of it, the word “Fragrance” on an ingredients label is deemed a “trade secret”, and therefore companies don’t have to disclose the contents of this concoction. Many companies hide the most harmful ingredients under the cloak of “Fragrance”.
4. Cocoamide DEA TEA
Cocoamide, also called diethylalomine, is what makes moisturizers and shampoos bubble. While bubbling looks and feels nice, studies have shown that DEA blocks your body’s natural choline absorption, which is necessary for proper brain development and function. It can also lead to skin breakouts, rashes and allergies in the short term.
Nearly all skin care products contain petroleum-based ingredients and we all thought that was okay. However, research on the product has shown that both topical and oral applications may result in kidney problems, nerve and brain damage and anemia in the long run. Tests were conducted on a group of rodents to verify this claim and, indeed, the researchers saw that some of the animals has suffered and died even before the entire study was completed. Watch out particularly for colors like C Blue No 1 and FD as they suspected to be carcinogens.
We at Urbanette use the simplest products we can. We take our makeup off with 100% organic coconut oil. We use Badger bar soap for our face and body. We use products (like the “Deep Steep” line), with as few ingredients as possible – and only ingredients we understand.
Always check your products in the Cosmetics Database (aka. Skin Deep / EWG) and the GoodGuide, both of which rate beauty and consumer products based on toxicity. Skin Deep and GoodGuide both have apps you can download on your phone, to scan a barcode for fast checking in-store. GoodGuide also has an Internet browser toolbar that slides up from the bottom of your window, to subtly warn you when you’re shopping for a potentially toxic / harmful product (based on selected criteria you care about), and suggests similar options you might like that fit your criteria better.
The best part? The natural glow that comes from a combination of natural products coupled with serenity in knowing that you’re not poisoning your body.
Let’s face it, we all grow old and, frankly, the true secret to beauty inside and out is happiness, contentment and a positive attitude. While skin care products may sometimes allow us to slow time and hang on to our youth for just a little while longer, it’s a genuine smile, along with a healthy body and outlook that will ensure we live beyond the life expectancy statistics — and gracefully.