When thinking about our health, we often take great care with what we put into our bodies – we choose natural, fresh whole foods as often as possible and avoid preservatives, additives and highly processed foods. We all want to be nourishing our bodies with the best possible fuel. But what about what we are putting on our bodies? Our skin is our largest organ, and we readily absorb everything that is put onto it from moisturisers, sunscreens, deodorants and of course make-up.
Many of us wear make-up daily, not to mention the rigorous skin care routine we may follow, and yet we may have never really considered the cocktail of chemicals involved in this daily ritual.
The list of nasty ingredients many mainstream beauty products contain is scary- parabens, talcum powder, phthalates, triclosan and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are just a few of the worst offenders. But what effect do these toxins have on our bodies and what products contain them?
Parabens: These are a group of preservatives used in many beauty products and although concern over their potential effects on the endocrine system have been raised, research hasn’t found any conclusive reason to ban them in Australia. However, the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety reviewed the safety of these preservatives and subsequently banned the use of 5 parabens in cosmetic products- isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, phenylparaben, benzylparaben and pentylparaben.
Talcum powder: This ingredient has come to the attention of the public due to the recent case of an American woman dying from ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder on her genital area for 35 years…The Cancer Council states that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that talcum powder increases the risk of ovarian cancer, however goes on to state that it is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as ‘possibly carcinogenic’. Until more conclusive research is conducted, avoid using talcum powder, especially on babies.
Phthalates: Found in hair products, perfumes, nail polish and skin lotions, they are used as plasticisers and solvents and have been found to have some very scary consequences- from endometriosis and early puberty in girls to reduced fertility in males and have even been linked to obesity (Choice 2016). Several phthalates have been banned from use in cosmetics in Australia but some are still used. Avoid like the plague!
Triclosan: A preservative and antibacterial agent used in hand sanitisers, antibacterial soap products, antiperspirants and body washes, tests show triclosan may disrupt the normal functioning of our endocrine system. What’s more, the American Medical Association recommends avoiding the use of antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan in the home as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics! Plain old vegetable soap and water is the safest way to go
BHA: This is another preservative found in some lipsticks, eye shadows and some food items such as chips, chewing gum and baked goods in order to preserve the look and integrity of products when exposed to air. Due to the very low level found in cosmetic products (and the mentioned foods) it is considered safe for ingestion. However Healthy Child (2016) recommends choosing cosmetics and foods that do not contain any BHA due to its ability to mimic oestrogen, not to mention the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies the compound as a possible human carcinogen. It may be the build-up of everyday exposure of such tiny amounts that has the greatest negative impact on health.
Make sure to always read the label when buying beauty and skin care products and keep in mind that just because the label states that a product is ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ doesn’t mean it’s better for you or even better than its mainstream competitors. Companies are sneaky with their marketing as looking for natural products has become popular nowadays, so you need to read the ingredient list and not just take the product on face-value.
Luckily, there are a few companies in Australia who are committed to using 100% safe, natural ingredients in their beauty and make-up products, so here are a few of the ones we love:
We’ve also found the best place to buy all your natural beauty products in one place. Nourished Life is an amazing website that takes the hard work out of searching for make-up, skin care, sun care and hair care that is free from toxins and nasties. Check out the Black Chicken Axilla Deodorant Paste, Pollen Botanicals Honey and Sugar Exfoliator and Wot Not sunscreen- a few of our favourite products.
And don’t forget beauty comes from the inside out- providing our bodies with healthy food, especially good quality fats and protein as well as plenty of water is the best way to ensure you have healthy and glowing skin and hair.