Because You’re Worth It

Uploaded: 21 Jul 2012

They’re something we take for granted as being safe, friendly, and beneficial - our soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, perfumes, antiperspirants, deodorants, aftershaves, skin creams, hairsprays, make-up, and even our pleasantly-fragranced domestic products.

We feel clean, purified, and refreshed, we smell nice, we look our best, and we’re ready to take on the world after our daily morning rituals.

Well, forgive me for shattering your fantasy:

The Environmental Working Group has found that more than one in five personal care products - even baby shampoos - contain chemicals linked to cancer, 80% have ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities, and 56% contain penetration enhancers that help ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin.

Their research also indicates that many of these products also contain chemicals linked to birth defects, learning disabilities, skin and other health problems.

  • Did you know that your skin is so permeable that it will absorb FIVE POUNDS of make-up every year if you wear it daily?
  • That 61% of 33 name-brand lipsticks tested in 2007 contained levels of lead ranging from 0.03 to .065 parts per million?
  • That 33% of these lipsticks contained more lead than the FDA’s limit of 0.1 parts per million for candy?
  • And that over the course of a lifetime, the average woman ingests 10 POUNDS of lipstick?

The top two offenders were from the L’Oreal Colour Riche range - “True Red” and “Classic Wine.” Cover Girl and Dior Addict came in third and fourth respectively.

Let me just remind you of the toxic effects of lead:

In lower doses, lead is responsible for impaired intellect, memory loss, mood swings, infertility, nerve, joint and muscle disorders, cardiovascular, skeletal, kidney and renal problems and possibly cancer. It interferes with nervous system development and is consequently particularly devastating for children, causing potentially permanent learning and behaviour disorders.

So, there you go - lead in your lipstick.

Courtesy of L’Oreal.

Because you’re worth it.

And what does the FDA have to say?

“Manufacturers may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, to market a product without a government review or approval.”

Remind me again - who pays the FDA’s salary bill?

Video: Breast cancer, heart disease, birth defects, memory loss, depression? These are just a few of the conditions that have been linked to The Toxic 12, a list of the worst toxic and carcinogenic ingredients commonly found in skin care products and cosmetics (eight minutes).

Other ingredients to beware of are:

  • Parabens - in deodorants and other cosmetics, mimics oestrogen, promotes breast tumours.
  • Mercury (thimerosal) - in eye drops, mascara, and gels, damages the brain,
  • Phthalates - plasticizers, cause genital deformities in male infants, low sperm motility in adult males.
  • Artificial fragrance - known allergens, cause asthma, trigger asthma attacks, can contain neurotoxins and cause hormonal disruptions.
  • Musks - used as fragrances, cumulative, linked to skin irritation, hormone disruption, and cancer.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) - in shampoo, may cause nervous system damage.
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate (sodium laurel sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate) - detergent, in shampoo, liquid soaps, dish soap, bubble bath, skin toner, toothpaste, corrodes follicles, impedes hair growth, may cause hair loss, forms carcinogens, damages immune system.
  • Petroleum byproducts - in shampoo, face creams, make-up, and others, linked to cancer.
  • Sodium Benzoate - in mouthwash, toothpaste, and cosmetics, linked to cancers, DNA and reproductive system damage, cell mutations, and skin irritation.
According to the FDA, there are at most 10 ingredients that are forbidden to be used in cosmetics in the US - in Europe, that figure is 1,100.

Video: “The Story of Cosmetics” - an animated short with Annie Leonard that examines the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lipstick to baby shampoo. It reveals the implications for consumer and worker health and the environment, and outlines ways we can move the industry away from hazardous chemicals towards safer alternatives (eight minutes).

And just because something has the word “Natural” or “Organic” on the label, please don’t think that it’s safe.

Video: “The Natural/Organic Product Minefield” - in most cases, so-called organic products contain chemical preservatives and other petrochemicals which are anything but organic. In some cases these products contain ingredients research has shown can be harmful, even carcinogenic. An address by Michael Beresford to health and beauty spa owners in Johannesburg, South Africa (Part 1A - eight minutes).

Video: Part 1B of “The Natural/Organic Product Minefield” (eight minutes).

Video: Part 1C of “The Natural/Organic Product Minefield” (nine minutes).

Video: Part 2A of “The Natural/Organic Product Minefield” (nine minutes).

Video: Part 2B of “The Natural/Organic Product Minefield” (nine minutes).

Video: Part 2C of “The Natural/Organic Product Minefield” (nine minutes).

Besides lead, other toxic heavy metals have been found in personal care products, cosmetics, household cleansers, drinking water, - and, if you have “silver” fillings, your mouth.

Video: “Toxic Heavy Metals Found in Make-up Part 1” - heavy metals cause all sorts of serious health problems, and can even kill. This three-part video shows where we get each of these poisons from - and what we can do to remove them from our bodies (nine minutes).

Link: “Toxic Heavy Metals Found in Make-up Part 2” (five minutes).

Link: “Toxic Heavy Metals Found in Make-up Part 3” (eight minutes).

Link: Searchable database of more than 74,000 beauty and personal care products. Find out what harmful chemicals are in YOUR favourite brands. You can also find out which products are safe. Brought to you by the Environmental Working Group.

Link: Website of The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Packed with useful up-to-the-minute information you need to know.

Link: Dr. Mercola on the dangers found in personal care products. With embedded video. Also Dr. Mercola’s own range of 100% safe shower and bath products.

Link: “The Toxic 12 Beauty Ingredients.” A report from the Care2 website on the dangerous compounds added to cosmetics - brought to you by a former Ms America.

Link: Do you know what’s in your shampoo? Dr. Mercola does.

Link: Find safe, healthy, green, and ethical products based on scientific ratings - at the GoodGuide website.

Link: The cancer dangers of spray-on tanning products - includes embedded video. From WWLP.

Link: AlterNet’s report on how toxic beauty products endanger the lives and health of beauty and hair salon workers.

Poisons in the Home

You might think that modern cleansers make your home a healthier place.

You’re wrong.

Please don’t assume that just because it’s on a supermarket shelf, a product has been rigorously tested and is safe. Many of them contain chemicals that cause cancers, birth defects like blindness, reproductive problems, and immune system damage.

Video: CBC report from 2009 on dangerous household cleaning products that could be lurking in your home, under your sinks, and in your cabinets (10 minutes).

We all know that children are the future. But how do we protect them when it seems the entire world is toxic?

Video: Part 1 of “Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World” (seven minutes). Shot at the the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Centre’s annual benefit. Featuring Rhonda Sherwood, Mount Sinai Vice Chair, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., President, Waterkeepers’ Alliance, and paediatrics professor Philip J. Landrigan MD, MSc (seven minutes).

Video: Part 2 of “Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World” (seven minutes).

Link: The top 12 most dangerous chemicals found in the home, from air-fresheners to furniture polish to oven cleaners. Achoo Allergy blog page.

Link: The commonest causes of poisoning in children - and the places in your home where the causes can be found.

Link: The Guardian reports on the European Environmental Agency warning on domestic dangers: “Household chemicals' 'cocktail effect' raises cancer concerns for watchdog.”

So, once again, we have the usual health effects - immune system damage, cancer, and reproductive problems.

Is it sinking in yet?
Read on to continue the story...