On the body care menu this holiday season: formaldehyde served in a soup of mineral oil, prepared with preservatives and sprinkled with synthetics! Yes, it’s true: what we put on our skin we might as well be consuming, just as we would with food. As the largest and most exposed organ in the human body, our skin will absorb whatever we put on or around it, making it especially vulnerable to infiltration by unsafe toxins. The products we use on our bodies may be just as important as what we put in our bodies: both can dramatically impact our health, for better or for worse. This is important to remember not only in our personal lifestyle choices, but during the holiday season too. The season of giving is the season of gift baskets and gift sets, most of which are comprised of body and beauty products. Even if you aren’t going the gift set route, you’ll see a plethora of lists for skincare and beauty gift ideas from influential sites. And while it’s increasingly crucial to check our food labels, we also need to be discerning when it comes to selecting skin and beauty products, especially when shopping for our friends and loved ones.
The terrifying reality is that the average woman’s face is exposed to about 168 toxins from the 10-12 products she uses in her daily skincare and beauty regimen, as estimated by the Environmental Working Group, or EWG. Horrified? So are we! One of the most insidious of those toxins is formaldehyde, and with the help of Formaldehyde Facts.org, we’ve confirmed many of its less-than-delicate uses. Ask yourself: why would we use the same chemical that fabricates automobile parts, flooring adhesive, building materials and is used to embalm cadavers on our sensitive, living skin? How can we feel good about gifting such a harsh toxin to the people we care about, even if it’s wrapped with a pretty bow and conveniently located on a towering holiday display? Before you reach for that glittering bath and body set, consider how potent a chemical like formaldehyde must be to slow or even stop the signs of decay in dead tissue. It seems shocking that we would accept, let alone allow its use in 20% of products like nail polishes, makeup, soaps, hair care and lotions, right? Now consider this statistic from the Environmental Working Group: 12.2 million adults – one of every 13 women and one of every 23 men – are exposed to ingredients that are known or probable human carcinogens every day through their use of personal care products. You heard that right: carcinogens. Those nasty, cancer-causing agents that we try to avoid at all costs… hidden right under our noses in the products that come into the most intimate contact with our bodies. How did we get here? While there are regulations for chemicals like formaldehyde in industrial and medical uses, there are no regulations for use in skin care and cosmetics; as investigated by Women’s Health Magazine, the only category of products regulated by the FDA for formaldehyde use are nail products, and they still allow up to 5% of the toxic chemical to be present in the ingredients list. Formaldehyde has been linked to skin irritation, nosebleeds, respiratory issues, and you guessed it, cancer. Such negligent regulations are unacceptable. Will we allow such toxic ingredients to be used in products we’ll be using on our own body, or used by those we care about?
Just one of the things making conscientious shopping more challenging is the fact that currently, FDA regulations do not require cosmetic product ingredients to be approved before hitting the market. In an extremely toxic marketplace, there are still only a handful of ingredients restricted from being used in the manufacturing of products that we use daily on our skin, hair, nails and even the water we drink. This enables cosmetic and body care manufacturers to choose virtually any ingredients they see fit, because they are not required to be monitored by any company or agency. So what do the majority choose to use in their products? The overwhelming choice is to use the cheapest ingredients available, in order to minimize cost and maximize profit. If you knew how cheaply bright and festive, conventional holiday gift sets were made, would you still feel good about buying or gifting them? It can be tempting in a season of frenzied, desperate decisions to cross off the recipients on your gift list by snatching up a preselected set, but remember that these products are developed with little to no concern for the consumer’s wellbeing, and the result of their lack of caution is long term damage to your skin and subsequently, your health. Perhaps you’ve never considered this ugly truth: that the vast majority of these companies only care about increasing your purchases, especially during the inflated holiday season, as well as their profit margins-- not preserving or improving your health. Additionally, they can legally use false claims in their marketing strategies and on their packaging that will best serve to mislead you into buying… including the word “natural”. This term is one of the most used and abused claims in the food, health and beauty industries. In their recent article “#Beautyschool: The Real Difference Between Natural, Organic and Non-Toxic Beauty Products”, Harper’s Bazaar shed light on the fact that due to lax regulations for use, any manufacturer can slap the word “natural” on a label, resulting in the absolute degradation of the word’s true meaning or any accurate implication of a product’s composition of “natural” ingredients. Keep this in mind when hunting for the highest quality, safest products for your family and friends this holiday season!
Our goal isn’t to scare you away from shopping for body care, but rather arm you with knowledge as you face the saturated web and mainstream market in the coming weeks. As you learn more about the presence of toxins in our body care and food, the more important it will become to make informed choices and seek healthful options for yourself and loved ones. Here is a basic rule to help you decode cosmetic labels: first, seek out the purest personal care items and understand their value. The claim of “organic” is highly regulated in the cosmetics world, unlike the term “natural”; so looking for organic is always a good place to start. Those receiving gifts of organic body care or cosmetics from you will be impressed, and know that you see their health as a priority and an investment! Still, it is rare in the beauty industry to find fully organic cosmetics products, because the high regulation standards require reliable resources and strict effort to achieve. These products will usually cost more, but you’re paying for quality ingredients, minus the toxins. Unfortunately, because organic products do not make up the majority of the beauty market, ingredients which adhere to the required standard are less readily available than dangerous, conventional ingredients that are mass produced on a monopolized scale. This makes it more expensive for brands desiring to produce truly pure products to source their ingredients, meaning they will pay a higher price to keep their products healthy and safe for consumers. But, our bodies are our temples, and we’re only given one temple to protect; it is our most precious resource, and we believe it is worth the effort and expense to maintain.
What can informed consumers do, not only this holiday season, but each day to make smart, healthful decisions? We can start by taking baby steps toward better health for our skin and bodies. We can choose fully organic or products containing organic as often as possible. We can choose products that exclude hundreds or thousands of harmful toxins. We can read cosmetic and body care labels just like we (hopefully) read food labels. Every choice, every question, every dollar we spend has the power to sway market demand and create larger change. You possess the capacity to improve your wellbeing and the health of our world! Look for organic and truly 100% PURE® products HERE. We pride ourselves in our cruelty-free, organic products that are free of artificial colors and fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives and all other toxins. Truly, health food for your skin! As Pure as it is powerful, we choose only the highest quality ingredients, always.
Thanks for reading and thanks for making a difference! We’d love to hear from YOU! Comment below about your journey toward pure skin. And if we can assist you in your quest for purer health, please let us know!