While working as a pharmacist, I was witness to the number of people with certain health conditions and sensitivities. How had those numbers increased in the last generation or so? I had wondered what has changed since I was a kid. Back then none of my classmates were allergic to gluten. Very few were allergic to peanuts. And there were far fewer classmates with health issues that are now being associated more and more with environmental factors.
My focus in my own research and contemplation have focused mainly in food. It seemed to me like the most obvious change that we’ve seen in the last 20-25 years, and a key reason for me adopting the paleo/primal lifestyle. I didn’t grow up eating many processed foods in my house. My parents had a garden in the back yard with a greenhouse. There were no chemicals in the vegetables they grew. These were pre-GMO days. A pre-Monsanto world. My parents made most of our meals from real food, including much of the meat being from locally and ethically raised grass-fed animals. My parents weren’t hippies (at least not by the time they were raising us kids), it was just how things were done. Real food.
Poison around us
Recently, though, I have been wondering more about other environmental factors that we are being exposed to. Too many young healthy-living people are developing cancer, allergies and intolerances, and hormone-related issues including thyroid problems, altered testosterone levels, and reproductive limitations. There is more and more science identifying ingredients as known toxins. And a lot of these are in products that we are not just surrounded by but actually put on our bodies, some of which we are in physical contact with all day!
Holley recently mentioned this cosmetics company, Beautycounter, that some women were talking about in some of her health-based Facebook groups that are making a stand against the use of harmful ingredients. Not only that but they are pushing to change the regulations around ingredients use in cosmetic products.
Where are the safety regulations?
Check out these terrifying statistics:
Many large beauty product companies have spent a lot of time, money, and energy to make us feel like they are safe and trustworthy. I had assumed (naïvely) that a) there would be some governing body that would prevent the use of known harmful ingredients in products available for purchase in North America, and b) the companies that I have chosen in the past were concerned about using ingredients that wouldn’t cause harm to me. As you can see from the stats above, I was hugely mistaken about health regulations.
So, what about the companies that I have been buying from? How safe are the products that I use?
WHERE CAN I FIND THESE ANSWERS?
EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) mission is to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment”. They have a website and an app (it’s FREE – click HERE) that have a massive database of products and ingredients in both food and cosmetic products.
Here’s a 3-minute video with more mind-boggling information accompanied by optimism and cheerful music, while talking about EWG:
The EWG database gives you a rating from 1-10 on the safety of the individual product based on the ingredients that make it up. 1 is good and 10 is harmful. They also indicate how strong the science/evidence is of the level and type of harm an ingredient can cause.
I’m using WHAT?!?
So, I looked up the products that I use on my skin every day. I’m a single guy, so the number of products that I use is likely far less than most people, but even so, we’re talking about daily exposure. It’s shocking to see that not only was my face & body wash (yeah, it’s one product – don’t judge me) rated a moderate hazard (EWG-6), but the ingredients that are in there include formaldehyde (known carcinogen) and methylisothiazolinone (a known cytotoxin – toxic to cells – which I just learned has been banned in Europe and Canada from leave-on cosmetics, because it causes allergic contact dermatitis, but apparently “OK” in rinse-off products…).
We all know more and more people who seem to be allergic to everything. In learning about commonly used ingredients like these, it’s not hard to see why. I don’t want to think about all the UNKNOWN chemicals that we are ingesting and slathering on our bodies.
Beautycounter’s Charcoal Cleansing Bar? It’s rated EWG-1 !!! Check it out (and other cleansers) HERE.
Babies and Children
Do you know what I learned about kids while training to be a pharmacist? Probably a bunch of things, but what I was going to say is that their skin is thinner, more sensitive, and more absorbent than adults, and therefore more susceptible to irritation and more permeable to toxins penetrating the skin and entering their bloodstream and other tissues.
We assume that products that are meant to protect children are safe. But are they?
Sunscreens, moisturizers, lip balms, hand and body soaps, and whatever else parents wipe on their squirming kids who just want to go play. I haven’t looked into these products myself since I don’t have kids. And there is clearly more than enough information on products that I could be affected by to keep me busy, but now you know where you can look. For some light bedtime reading that will probably not keep you up at night tearing through your house to find every horrifying product, worrying about the impacts on your kid’s health. (I don’t want to be a fear-monger, but I’ve been watching a lot of American Horror Story recently so I may be more apt to spin. I just want to make you think. Maybe not at bedtime, though.)
Obviously, beauty products are not my passion. I could probably count the number of toiletries and beauty products that I use daily on one hand – maybe both hands. And until now my choice of product was dependent upon whether or not it was available in Costco-packs and that I could tolerate the smell.
I AM passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and betterment through delicious food, laughter, passion, joy, creativity, mindfulness, personal growth, etc…. So when I learned about Beautycounter, the things I’ve shared with you today, and many more to come: I was sold. And I wanted to educate everyone that a) the things that we are buying and using are not safe and b) that there are companies (or this one, at least) that are trying to change the industry and are providing safer alternatives as well as the information around them.
If you’ve made it this far then you too are interested, shocked, and concerned about improving the health and safety of yourself and loved ones. The Primal Desire is now a Beautycounter representative and we encourage you to consider buying safer beauty products from us (and looking into the safety of your current products).
Get the word out
We will have other related articles that you can find HERE, including Holley’s experiences/issues with deodorants and sunscreens, me trying the facemask, and more information and resources. Did I mention that Beautycounter does not do any animal testing? You can look into other cosmetic companies status on this PETA website.
Please share this article (social media buttons are just below) with anyone who you know that shares these concerns, who have health issues like multiple sensitivities and allergies, or who you just care about.