Wednesday, November 08, 2006

beauty: not just skin-deep?

Have you ever stopped to wonder in the morning, while you're groggily brushing you teeth, washing your face, putting on your lotion or doing whatever it is you do...what you're *really* putting on your skin? In your eyes? In your mouth? I know I have. I've had a few interesting discussions with some of my patients about this, and most people that have spent any time thinking about the subject can, with a little research, come up with a few common ingredients to avoid or minimize, such as parabens, excess dyes, and talcs...

What most people (and myself included here!) never stop to think about is that while pharmaceuticals are strictly regulated and tested by the FDA, meat and foods are inspected and analyzed thoroughly with that nifty nutritional label, personal care products which most people use on a daily basis ARE NOT. Only about 11 percent of some 10,500 ingredients have been assessed. And unlike foods, which we usually vary on a daily basis, most of us probably repeatedly use that same bottle of shampoo, or face lotion, or whatever--until it is all gone. So while we might be able to vary the amount of mercury we *might* be eating by not consuming fish every night of the week, you probably won't skip your Dove roll-on deodorant to cut down on you aluminum starch exposure (which is also sure to up your sexiness factor too, right?).

A few days ago while reading a brief news article about cosmetic & personal care prodcut use, I found an excellent website I hope some of you might find informative, it's called "Skin Deep" and is a project of Environmental Working group. It's database includes nearly 14,000 products and scores them according to a scale of 1 to 5 with concern for potential toxicity.

Being a bit of a research-o-phile I gathered most of Andrew's and my daily use products and happily searched away to create our personal profile where I found that between the 2 of us (well, okay, except for deodorant, toothpaste, and hair shampoo all the products are really used just by me, no blush or eyeshadow for Andrew) we use about 11 products. These 11 products contained 52 ingredients with health warnings, and 18 ingredients with violiations/restrcitions in the European Union (where they obviously regulate cosmetics).

So what did all this mean? Did I run into the bathroom screaming in disbelief and pour it all down the drain? Start raising pigs so I could use their fat to make my own soap? Resolve to switch to the health-store "magic crystal" deodorant insted of something that actually works? Nope. I did find out enough to know that I wanted to replace a few items. I was suprised to find that the face lotion I'd been using and the rare application of eyeshadow were the top 2 concerning products. And the level of concern is not necessarily always such that a more expensive product = less concern.

So I bought some different face lotion today. And eventually, when I feel like wearing eyeshadow again, it will mean picking something out that's a little less toxic.

What about you? Do you know what you're wearing on your face today?

1 comment:

Jen said...

Rae...your picture cracks me up! :) I have to say, in general, I am pretty oblivious to the harmful chemicals around me and, really, prefer it that way. I don't eat organic food or worry about pesticides, breathing in gas fumes, etc. Maybe I should worry more, but I honestly don't know where I'd find the time! Thanks for posting the database, though. Maybe I should check it out.