“Fragrance” is a generic term found on the labels of the personal care products we use day in and day out: Products like shampoo, deodorant, lotion, and in our laundry detergent, dish soap, and makeup. But the term isn’t as innocuous as it seems.
One sobering fact of modern life: endocrine disrupters are everywhere. Occasional contact wouldn’t be a major concern but the trouble is, most of us come into contact with them multiple times in a day. Many of these toxins either block or promote estrogen and other hormones, so either way, they throw off your hormonal balance. They can affect the way these hormones function in your body, causing numerous problems that many people mistakenly attribute to stress, aging or just normal aches and pains.
While I’ve experienced an incredible amount of support since establishing my non-toxic skincare brand, S.W. Basics, I’ve encountered a considerable amount of resistance to the idea of “natural beauty,” too. I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising. No one wants to be told that their favorite cleanser (the one they’ve been using since high school) actually possesses ingredients that might be harmful. It’s unsettling to have to forego your standby lip balm after you’ve used it for years and years (and you feel just fine). I get it – change is hard. And who likes being told what to do?
You might have heard that sure, parabens and other chemicals in your skin care are bad if ingested, but they can’t penetrate your skin so you don’t have anything to worry about. The fact is, much of what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. Just think about nicotine and birth control patches. We administer effective doses through the skin to our bloodstream, enabling us to forego a daily oral pill in lieu of a patch that prevents pregnancy. Or a patch that keeps nicotine in our system without the side effects of smoking, allowing us to wean off of an addiction. While there may be some chemicals that are too large to enter our bloodstream, the majority are small enough to penetrate.
We have a body odor problem in this country. But it’s not what you probably think. Yes, some of us stink pretty badly (thanks, Standard American Diet), but that’s not the problem. The issue is our relentless pursuit to cover up our body odor with artificial fragrances and perfumes.
Somewhere down the line we decided that detergents and chemicals smell more pleasant than our armpits. We traded in natural botanicals for hazardous materials. We let celebrities sell us perfumes because we think that’s what they must smell like all the time, and if we use their perfume, we’ll smell like a celebrity too.
Can you trust labels such as “natural” and “organic” and what about “trusted” names like Johnsons & Johnsons? Most consumers believe if a label says “organic”, “ natural” or “safe”, it must be true. We assume that there are regulations that govern what companies can claim on their personal care product packaging. This assumption makes sense—food labels are highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and many of the same claims appear on both food and cosmetic products. But the ethos of food labels does not extend to cosmetic labels. The truth is, the 60 billion dollar beauty industry is hardly regulated, leaving marketing teams free to paste half-truths and all out lies on labels. The onus falls on consumers to learn how to decipher the truth and use the information to make choices that fit within their comfort zone and lifestyle.
Hair care, when you think about it does not just stop at your hair. It “touches” us everywhere. When we “rinse” out shampoo or conditioner in the shower it then flows all over our face, torso, and entire body. As it flows down the concentration does diminish, but we are still exposed to all the chemicals. However for the face and upper torso it has a huge impact. This allows the chemicals in our hair care to not only effect these other areas, but also makes the overall exposure to them more profound and damaging.
You might have heard that sure, parabens and other chemicals are bad if ingested, but they can’t penetrate your skin so you don’t have anything to worry about. The fact is, that much of what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. Just think about nicotene and birth control patches. While there may be some chemicals that are too large to enter your bloodstream most are small enough to penetrate. We have had studies done on everything from umbilical cords of unborn children to adult urine and have found alarming levels of cosmetic chemicals. So I say you’re better off doing your best to avoid all known harmful chemicals because chances are they’re entering your bloodstream.
To achieve optimal health and create sustainable wellness, it’s imperative that you become aware of not only what you are putting in and around your body, but also, what you put on it. Between shampoos, toothpaste, face creams, deodorant, cosmetics and so on, most people are voluntarily dousing themselves daily with multiple chemicals, carcinogens and mutagens, adding to their toxic loads and setting the stage for illness and disease. Seems like kind of a crazy habit, doesn’t it?
This list was taken from my book REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT) DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine) These three chemicals are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents — research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. They are commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble… Read more »