Beauty Store Concord NC
Beauty or Bust
By Einav Keet
Our commitment to the organic, unadulterated way of life can get a little spotty when it starts interfering with our choice of beauty products. Many people, happy to drink organic soymilk till the cows come home, get surprisingly verklempt about perceived threats to their sophisticated high-tech wrinkle creams. All of a sudden, the urgency about synthetic chemicals dissolves into a puff of paraben-laden face powder.
Why the disconnect? Somehow, putting something on our skin seems less invasive than what goes in our mouths. But the chemicals used in the beauty industry have health and environmental consequences equally as staggering as the pesticides we abhor in our food. Some of the stuff in your typical shower gel, for example, takes 200 to 300 years to biodegrade once it washes down the drain.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the dangers of parabens—studies suggest they alter hormone function, increasing the risk of breast cancer and reproductive defects—but scads of other beauty ingredients may also pose health risks. We’ve named 10 of the worst offenders normally found in hair and skincare products, but they may be just the tip of the iceberg, because only 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients the FDA has documented in products have been assessed for safety.
“We’re up against an unregulated industry,” says Shannon Schroter, who started the Berkeley-based skincare company GratefulBody years ago as an alternative to the “topical junk food” produced by other companies.
The following list, adapted from Aubrey Organics (www.aubrey organics.com), will help you navigate the labels on your dressing table.
1 Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate
Perhaps one of the most common chemical groups used in cosmetics, this sudsing agent gives liquid soaps and shampoos their foam-ability. Regardless of whether it’s derived from petroleum or coconut—“Just because you start with a botanical, doesn’t mean that it maintains its biological integrity,” says Schroter—this harsh skin irritant may also cause the skin to dry out as well as a host of other allergic reactions like rashes, eye irritation, and dandruff. These sudsers can be damaging to the immune system, and their residue can show up in the heart, liver, and lungs.
2 Propylene Glycol
“It’s strong enough to dissolve the barnacles off a boat,” is how Linda Chaé describes this solvent, which is also used in antifreeze and brake fluid. Chaé, founder of the Absolutely Organic line of products, points out that factory workers who handle propylene glycol must wear protective gear to prevent skin contact. That’s because exposure can cause eye and skin irritation, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
3 Diethanolamine (DEA) + Triethanolamine (TEA)
Long used in industrial strength lubricants and as surfactants (wetting agents that help products spread) in cosmetics, DEA and TEA are known eye, skin, nose, and throat irritants and can cause liver cancer in rats. “They can form nitrosamines,...
Author: Einav Keet
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