Thursday, 8 August 2013

Guest Blogger: Harmful Beauty

Today we have a very special guest blogger on an important organic topic. Ladies and Gentleman - all the way from the sunny down under of Australia, my older sister, Anna Barker. On her travels throughout Australia she has been discovering and learning and wants to share with you how important is to look after your skin starting with the small things....

Did you know that your skin, just like your heart, your lungs and your kidneys is an organ? It is your bodies biggest organ and it protects us from all kinds of things. But it also absorbs everything that you put on it. You know when you do the washing up without gloves on, your skin absorbs the ingredients that are in the washing up liquid. When you cleaned the floor barefoot with some chemical, your skin absorbed the chemical through the bottom of your feet. These are just a couple of examples of things that we don't mean to be putting on our body. What about the things that we are putting on our bodies on purpose. The shampoo to help with your dandruff, the concealer to cover your spots and the moisturizer for your dry skin? Did you know that some of these products contain chemicals that are used in paints and explosives and these are finding their way into our beauty products. Some of these things can even cause cancer. Even the beauty products that are labeled as being organic or natural only need to contain one ingredient that is organic or natural and they can be labeled as such. I've learnt a lot about the things that I
put in my body and the products that I put on my body in the last few months which has lead me to take much more care in the products that I buy and use on my body. In some cases I've even started making my own beauty products from natural ingredients in order to avoid all the chemicals that go into everyday products like shampoo and conditioner. There are so many ingredients to avoid that it is difficult to pick out a product in a shop if you don't know what you are trying to avoid. Below is a list of ingredients that I try to avoid when buying any kind of product that is going to come into contact with my skin, including make-up. 
Ingredients to avoid:
Fragrance - Here I just mean the fake kind of fragrance, the ones that come from chemicals rather than something natural like tea tree oil or peppermint, if it just says fragrance the likely-hood is its a synthetically produced fragrance from a lab and when it says this, the company doesn't have to legally tell you what has gone into the fragrance 
Dibutyl Phthalate, Dimethyl Phthalate, and Diethyl Phthalate - also known as (DBP, DMP and DEP) - these are found in nail varnish, hair spray and some products that we put on our skin, and cause hormone disruptions.  
Diethanolamine - These cause foaming effects. Arguably these are safe in small doses but when they are in a lot of products that we use daily then the amount we use them can stack up quickly! So avoid anything that says Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA-Cetyl Phosphate, DEA-Oleth-3 Phosphate, Lauramide DEA, Linoleamide MEA, Myrjstamide DEA, Oleamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, TEA-Layryl Sulfate and Triethanolamine 
Coal-Tar Colours and Dyes - These are banned as they are a proven carinogenic but some do pass safety tests and are marked FD&C or D&C 
Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Resin - This is the biggest one for me and it causes cancer. Its used because its a preservative but it is also used in paint and explosives as well as in hospitals to prevent bodies from decomposing. But is is used in nearly all nail varnishes and some of the ingredients in mascara break down to become formaldehyde which is why you should replace your mascara every 3 months. I had a love affair with a certain nail varnish for a few yearsuntil I found out that it was free from formaldehyde but not formaldehyde resin, and that ended that love affair.If you search for nail varnishes that are "5 free" on the internet you can find a list of all the companies whose nail varnish doesn't contain any of these harmful ingredients. My new favourite is Zoya.  
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate - also known as SLS and SLES, these are most commonly found in shampoos are are the things that causes it to foam. These can become carciogenic when combined with other ingredients and can also damage the immune system.Triethanolamnie - also known as TEA, again this has similar effects on the body as Sodium Lauryl Suflate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate! 
Propylene Glycol- This product has moisturizing capabilities but its also in anti-freeze and causes problems with some of your major organs. 
Aluminium - This is used in nearly all deodorants and antiperspirants as it plugs up sweat ducts. But it behaves like estrogen and can cause cancer. You can buy deodorants without aluminium in them just be careful which one you go for as some contain other ingredients from this list. 
Parabens - These often start with methyl-, ethyl, butyl- or propyl and are preservatives but they interfere with hormones.  
So I looked through all of my beauty products and found only a handful of products that didn't contain any of these ingredients, surprisingly two of them were my conditioner and dry shampoo. Apart from make-up, the products that contain these ingredients that concerned me the most were my shampoo and face wash. So I'm starting to use the "No Poo" technique that Lo talks about below as well as using coconut oil as a leave in conditioner or avocado as a hair or face mask. I decided that where possible, using natural products on your body is a much better way to go than using products that it is hard to tell where most of the ingredients are sourced from. The is a great place to go to find out just how harmful the ingredients that are in your products are, and they also tell you the top 3 and bottom 3 most harmful products, so if you need to buy a new mascara for example just go on there type in mascara and pick one from the least harmful list. My problem with this though is that so many products that are on the market these days contain harmful ingredients that it is difficult to know how far to go with this. Women have been putting products on their bodies for years and caking their faces in potentially harmful make-up since the early 1990s when it first entered the market.But it is hard to tell just how much harm these products are doing our bodies and we won't know the effects of these for years to come. My advice is try and avoid these ingredients at all costs and if you are going to buy beauty products, because lets face it, we are never going to stop wearing make-up or using products on our bodies, go for the ones with the smallest ingredients list and where you can, make your own.

Lauren Conrad's book Beauty has been extremely helpful to me while writing this article and an extremely eye opening read for anyone interested in beauty.

If you want to keep up with my sisters adventures in Australia follow her Tumblr:

Hope you all found this useful and will be checking what you buy from now on. I find it really shocking that there are so many harmful ingredients in all our beauty products, and we apply it so generously without thinking. When my sister told me all this, I cleared all my beauty products, and I am now even making my own Make-up remover wipes. If I cant pronounce a word or know what it does for the product, I have stopped buying it.

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