One of the best things about being female is that we can alter our appearance with the help of a few cosmetics. Or in some cases, a car boot full of cosmetics (yes, I’m talking about you Lady Gaga). We relish in the act of buying it, applying it, experimenting with it and seeing how many flaws and blemishes we can erase with it. In fact, the only thing we don’t love about make-up is having to take it off at 3am after a big night out when all you want to do is devour six slices of Vegemite toast and hit the hay. But that is what bedside cleanser wipes were invented for, right?
Now what if I was to tell you that all your favourite cosmetics are laden with harmful chemicals and could potentially be impairing your health? Would you stop using them? Most cosmetics contain additives, preservatives and oils based on petrochemicals and when they’re applied to your skin they’re absorbed straight into the bloodstream. Some estimates suggest that women absorb around 2kg of chemicals through toiletries and cosmetics every year. Regular long-term use of these products can lead to serious health risk.
The good news is you don’t have to give up this luxury completely. You just need to get cluey about the products you’re buying. To do this you need to know which brands are safe, which ingredients to avoid and how to decipher misleading labels. In my opinion, mineral make-up is the best thing since sliced rye bread. However, it still has to be scrutinised carefully. Many of the mineral make-up brands on the market today still include harmful substances like talc and synthetic fillers in their products. Again, it is important to read the label.
Making sense of the labels:
• Watch out for products labeled “natural”. This term has no legal or scientific definition and therefore only needs to contain 1 per cent natural ingredients to earn the label.
• “Certified Organic” is the only label that actually means that the product is chemical-free. If the product doesn’t carry a certification stamp there is a good chance it contains as little as 1 per cent organic ingredients.
• Look beyond claims that a product is “sulphate-free” or “paraben free”. There are many products on the market that hide other, less publicised chemicals behind this clever marketing.
• Be careful of “naturally derived” labels. Just because it was once natural doesn’t mean it still is. Many “naturally derived” products have been manufactured and chemically processed to become synthetic.
• Be cautious of long scientific names that are impossible to pronounce. If you’re unsure of an ingredient check out its profile at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com
Chemicals to avoid:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
DEA, TEA and MEA
DBP and DEP
AHAs and BHAs
Petrochemical-based products (mineral oils, petrolatum, paraffin and any other ingredient that has the prefix propyl-, methyl- or ethe-)
Chemical UV filters
Positive affirmation for the day: I continue to let go of all thoughts that have been pulling me out of the present and bringing me to the past and future.
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