Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beauty and the Beast: Are Your Cosmetics Safe?

Image: Getty

Skincare and Make-Up seem like the last frontier in the battle to go organic or least to choose more natural products. While many of us have been busy eating organic veggies and sipping organic lattes, we continue to plaster our faces with products sporting the kind of ingredient lists that an industrial chemist may struggle to explain.
So, should we sacrifice a little vanity in the name of health? And is there a need to be concerned about what we put on our skin? Well, given that the skin is highly permeable, the answer is, yes!
The ingredients within cosmetics are absorbed through the epidermis and dermis and because some products, such as facial make-up, are on the skin for long periods of time, there's the potential for some ingredients to penetrate the skin layers in significant amounts.
One study cited by the US Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) showed that 13 percent of the cosmetic preservative butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and 49 percent of the carcinogenic pesticide DDT (which may be present in cosmetics containing lanolin) was absorbed through the skin.

Another example is lipstick. Although estimates vary, the average Western woman is believed to consume between 7 to 10 pounds of lipstick over her lifetime and with ingredients that may include potential carcinogens such as coal tar dyes and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), it makes sense to choose your next lipstick not just on color but also ingredients.
Ingredients to avoid
According to international agencies such as the US-based Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, as well as Australian experts Kevin Farrow, natural health-industry expert and author of Skin Deep, and Sharon McGlinchey, organic skincare specialist and founder of MV Organic Skincare, ingredients to watch out for include:
Parabens. These are used as preserving agents in cosmetics. Previously thought of as innocuous, there is growing concern that they may be endocrine (hormonal) disrupters.
Petrochemicals and petrochemical by-products. These include mineral oils (derived from crude petrol). As well as being eye and skin irritants for some, according to the International Agency for Research into Cancer in Geneva, mineral oils may be carcinogenic. Talc. Another contentious ingredient, according to the CPC, cosmetic-grade talc may be linked to serious disease. However, if talc is used it should be the purest available, sterilized and certified asbestos-free.
Lanolin. This ingredient, a natural wax coating on sheep's wool, is in itself harmless. The problem is that in regard to agricultural practices, such as the use of pesticides in farming, the lanolin may become harmful. Sharon McGlinchey recommends avoiding cosmetics containing lanolin, unless the label states the use of purified lanolin.
Make-up resources
A place to find safer cosmetics that are the same high-end quality of competitors like Chanel, Estée Lauder, Prescriptives, Bobbi Brown and M.A.C Cosmetics but with wholesale price tags AND formulated to be healthy for your skin.
Cancer Prevention Coalition
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

SOURCE: http://health.ninemsn.com.au/naturaltherapies/naturalhealth/830344/beauty-and-the-beast-are-your-cosmetics-safe 

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