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Dr. Alison Chen, ND Headshot

Sick And Tired Of Trying To Look Good? It Might Be Your Cosmetics

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WOMAN MAKEUP MIRROR
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There are times when I'm travelling so much that I'm thankful all the under-eye baggage I have is at least carry-on! Wan wan...

Joking aside, don't we all just want to look good?

Cosmetic and personal care is a billion dollar industry that caters to our need to smell good, look good, and feel good.

On average women are directly exposed to 515 different chemicals daily in everything from cosmetics to lotions, fragrances, and styling products.

While there isn't anything inherently wrong with wanting to give our appearances a boost, the long-term consequences of using many conventional health and beauty products may have you feeling less than attractive.

'Toxins' can be used to describe any synthetic or non-synthetic molecule that has the potential to negatively affect your health.

Our bodies are designed to handle daily toxic exposures though our elimination organs, including the liver, kidney, and lungs. Luckily, there are many toxins we come into daily contact with that has little immediate effect on our health. But what about toxic accumulation over your lifetime?

Toxic Accumulation

It's the things that we consume on a regular basis that raise the biggest concerns because of toxic accumulation.

Anything that enters our bodies through direct contact with our mucosal membranes, inhaled into our lungs or touches our skin for long periods of time have the highest chance of entering our blood stream and altering our physiology, for good or bad.

So, even though regular contact with these toxins may not immediately influence our health, over time this exposure can produce significant negative effects, such as:

• Cancer
• Infertility
• Immune dysfunction
• Thyroid dysfunction
• Skin conditions
• Poor libido
• Sexual performance issues

Toxic chemicals are NOT the sole reasons for these diseases, but they are potential triggers for a person who is predisposed (ie. genetics) or have other unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices.

While it is near impossible to avoid all toxins, all the time, minimizing your toxic exposure and accumulation when possible is essential to your health, and a great place to start is with your personal care products.

Be sure to check the ingredients for what is known as the "dirty dozen" in personal care by taking the list below with you when making personal care product choices:

1. Bisphenol-A (BPA)

A common xenoestrogen found in plastics, but also used in moisturizers and make-up as a preservative. BPA is associated with tumor growth, hormone dysfunction, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease, while also harms the environment when it leaches into the ground.

2. Coal Tar Dyes

Common in hair dyes. It appears as "p-phenylenediamine" or colours listed as "Cl" followed by five digits. Also contains heavy metals which are toxic and linked to cancer.

3. DEA

Diethanolamine (DEA) makes products soapy and sudsy but irritates the skin. It can cause negative effects to the immune and nervous systems.

4. Dibutyl phthalate

Found in nail polishes and plastics. Studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, obesity, diabetes, thyroid irregularities and can enhances genetic mutations.

5. Formaldehyde-releasing Agents

These chemicals irritate the skin and eyes, while harming marine life when flushed into water systems. Examples are chemicals such as:
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Methenamine
  • Quarternium-15
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

6. Parfum

Fragrances are considered "trade secrets" and many contain toxic chemicals. If a company is not willing to disclose their ingredients, I'd consider avoiding their use.

7. Parabens

These common preservative found in make-up, toothpaste, and deodorants are linked to breast cancer & hormone disruption.

8. PEG compounds

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds open skin pores, which allows harmful chemicals to penetrate. They are often found in creams and have been linked to cancer.

9. Petrolatum

Petrolatum is also known as mineral oil jelly. This chemical caracinogen is common in moisturizers.

10. Siloxanes

Used to soften, smooth and moisten skin, however it can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs.

11. Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS)

This is a very common ingredient added to shampoos, soaps and toothpastes to create a foaming effect. SLS may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both of which can cause cancer.

12. Triclosan

Found in antiperspirants, deodorants, cleansers and hand sanitizers as a preservative and anti-bacterial agent, which interferes with hormone function.

Resources

Make sure to check the safety level of your products with resources such as EWG.org or the Think Dirty App.

If you find your go to products don't measure up why not give some safer brands a try, such as:

Better yet, there are many different ways to formulate your own health care products with natural ingredients such as olive oil, coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils, where YOU control what you put on, and consequently in, your body.

Looking good inside and out should go hand in hand. When we take care of our bodies it will show.

Eating well, exercising, getting enough water, and limiting our toxic exposures will help to ensure our health now and in the future.

After all, we all know that beauty really isn't only skin deep... it's what's inside that counts!

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