This post is about awareness and the ingredients sitting on our bathroom shelves. However, the bigger picture is the the entire cosmetic industry (as well as food and pharmaceutical industries for that matter). It is a phenomenon how guerilla marketing tactics grab our attention and convince us to buy solely based on hype, promises, packaging, memorable commercials and incomplete facts (e.g. a lack of ingredients).
All of the information in this post has been over a span of a few years, but I thought it was the right moment to write about this topic.
After a preliminary Google search, I wanted to write letters to every brand that had a place on my bathroom shelf and picket outside Washington, D.C. Instead, I decided to write this post and help you contribute your own stories and experiences with conventional, chemical-filled products.
As I was searching on the Internet for makeup one night, I found disturbing information about the components of my skincare, body care and makeup products. I read the labels and ingredient lists and was unable to recognize or pronounce almost all of the words. That couldn’t be right, I thought. I read about the chemicals and their effects on the body, my mind started racing. I knew ingredients in the vast majority of mainstream products were dangerous, but I had no idea of the long-term implications on my health.
I analyzed the back label of my most coveted Sebastian Professional Potion No.9 and the technologically advanced Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Cleansing Gel. I researched the ingredients to the sweet smelling Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil Mist and Ouidad Curl Recovery Daily Conditioner that hugged every curl on my head.
A whopping 70% of the ingredients in my products were linked to cancer and various diseases, and another 20% were potentially dangerous and hazardous. Effects linked to the ingredients were cancer, reproductive disruption, disease, hormone disruption, brain function loss, nervous system harm, lymph system cancer.
Below is a huge list of “ingredients.” Your fingers will hurt from scrolling and you will ask me why I even decided to include it. I want you to know just how many terrible (and unnecessary) chemicals in mainstream products are in your house, your gym bag, your parents’ shelves and waiting to be bought in your favorite stores.
Here are the 204 chemicals that were creeping in the bottles and jars on my shelves:
Acacia Senegal Gum
Acrylates/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Copolymer
Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer
Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate
Arginine, Butylene Glycol
BIS- Butyldimethicone Polyglyceryl-3
Butylaminoethyl Methacrylate Copolymer
C12-15 Akyl Benzoate
CI 15985 (Yellow 6)
CI 17200 (Red 33)
CI 19140 (Yellow 5)
CI 26100 (Red 17)
CI 4209 (Blue 1)
CI 47000 (Yellow 11)
CI 77491 (Brown 7)
CI 77492 (Yellow 43)
CI 77499 (Black 11)
CI 77891 (1700 White)
Copper Ferment (Saccharomyces)
Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate
Extract Hexyl Cinnamal
Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
Hydrogenated Olive Oil
Hydrogenated Vegetable oil
Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde
Iron Ferment (Saccharomyces)
Magnesium Aluminum Silicate
Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride
PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate
Silicon Ferment (Saccharomyces)
Sodium Benzotriazolyl Butylphenol Sulfonate
Sodium Laneth-40 Maleate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Tocopherol (not stated non-GMO from Vitamin E)
Zinc Ferment (Saccharomyces)
I know what you are thinking. These products are applied on the skin and not directly eaten, so how much of a risk can I really be exposed to? Skin can absorb anywhere from “29-91 per cent of the total dose [and] averaging 64 per cent” of all products applied to the skin (Brown). Of course, this depends on “skin integrity, location, physical or chemical properties, concentration, duration of exposure and surface area exposed” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). And sure, cancer does not happen overnight and the FDA approves a certain amount of dangerous ingredients in every product; however, that is precisely how cancer works.
The FDA regulates some products and deems a safe dosage of chemical ingredients. However, a small amount each day from “non-dangerous” parabens and other chemicals can accumulate and cause great harm. All of a sudden, I could notice that my body does not feel right or my has a hormone imbalance, and not have any idea where it comes.
I kept reading and searching for scholarly sources to prove what I had discovered. After, I felt angered and betrayed. Why do these household brands think they have the right to put toxic chemicals in our products that are directly absorbed into the skin, eventually flow into the bloodstream and affect organ function?
My fears were confirmed once again by the Environmental Protection Agency. Not causing an “unreasonable risk to human health,” dangerous chemicals in food have been set to certain limits. Why are food laws important? Food products – such as herbs or seed oils – are also highly present in cosmetics. When raspberries were sprayed with pesticides, your skin could be absorbing those same chemicals in the product you use contains raspberry seed oil.
Not surprisingly, the U.S. has only tested about 10% of the 13,000 chemicals used and prohibited the use of only 10 chemicals (FDA), while the European Union has diligently done away with close to 1400.
You still have to check labels and ingredients, but the only true way to make sure you are not putting yourself, children, family or friends at risk is to buy organic body care. If you are not quite ready to make the switch to the green side, please avoid these chemicals: alcohol, aluminium, fragrances, GMOs, mineral oils, octinoxate, oxybenzone, parabens, petrolatum, pthalates and sulfates.
What you can do
You hear this time and time again, but seriously, it is true – if you cannot pronounce it, do not eat or use it. Easier said than done, but if you make a conscious effort to slowly apply this principle to your skin and body care, the toxin levels and risk of cancer will dramatically decrease.
I am not writing this to you sitting on a pedestal. I know how hard it can be to make that first step toward positivity and change. I know how bad you want that black Chanel compact or the smell of the new Gucci perfume. I am here to share with you my transformation from what problems I had and why I changed to how great I feel now.
Yes, organic will be more expensive and a bit harder to find. However (this is a big however), you will know exactly what you are buying and you will know the benefits of the (pronounceable and recognizable) ingredients. Your skin and body will look better and you will actually feel better from the absorption of essential nutrients and vitamins. Make the change away from synthetics and chemicals – decide to invest in yourself!
Full list of products I threw away:
Alterna Bamboo Kendi Oil Mist
eos Tangerine Medicated Lip Balm Moisturizer
Glam Glow Supermud Treatment
It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In
John Frieda Frizz Ease Dream Curls Curl-Perfecting Spray
Lancome Dual Finish Versatile Powder
Lee Safford Hair Growth Treatment
LUSH Avobath Bath Bomb
Macadamia Professional Flex Hold Spray
Matrix Biolage Volumebloom Conditioner
Moroccanoil Morrocan Oil Treatment reviews, photos, ingredients
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
Ouidad Curl Recovery Daily Conditioner
Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Cleansing Gel
Sebastian Professionals Potion No. 9
Vichy Dermafinish Corrective Fluid Foundation
Yves Rocher Comfort Cream Foundation
Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Eclat Foundation