* Many health-conscious individuals tend to be very selective when it comes to the food they eat. After all, traditional wisdom holds that what we put inside our bodies can drastically affect the state of our health and well-being. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” so goes the adage that is often attributed to Hippocrates, a Classical Greek physician who’s considered by many as the father of medicine.
But while so many of us consistently give thought to what we eat for the nourishment of our bodies, can the same thing be said when it comes to what we put on our skin? Some of us choose to make a counter-intuitive exception, choosing not-so-healthy cosmetics and skincare products simply because we think they’re less harmful than unhealthy food products anyway.
In some ways, this assumption make sense, considering that we’re more likely to get ill eating or drinking toxic substances compared to when they just come into contact with our skin.. However, it’s wrong for anyone to categorically believe that all cosmetics and skincare products are safe to use just because they’re not going into your digestive tract anytime soon.
A simple search online will lead you to horror stories about extremely dangerous chemicals like mercury, lead, arsenic, and cyanide being used in cosmetic products in many parts of the world, as these report from Forbes Magazine and Mashable highlight. Remember that the skin is actually the largest organ in the human body, and it’s our first line of defense not only against diseases, but also against harmful substances that may inflict harm upon us from without.
Thankfully, you can do something to steer clear of the dangers of these potentially harmful beauty products, and this is by adopting a nontoxic makeup and skincare routine. What’s more, choosing this route is also one of the best things you can do not only as a health-conscious individual, but also as a conscientious consumer. Read on to find out why.
Even in the developed world, many beauty products are not safe
Companies with questionable credentials and safety practices can sometimes set up shop and thrive in developing countries due to lenient regulations or corruption in government agencies that fail to protect consumers. For instance, the highly toxic ingredient mercury can sometimes be found in products developed by unscrupulous companies in some Asian and African countries. Often, it is introduced as an ingredient in skin-lightening products, which are popular among many consumers in these locations. It’s a serious situation that is thankfully gaining increasing attention and scrutiny in recent years.
However, just because you live in the developed world, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be exposed to dangerous cosmetic products. In fact, even regulators in the US admit that they are finding it difficult and daunting to oversee the safety of beauty products, simply because of the sheer size of the global cosmetics and skincare industry. Moreover, many ingredients that are traditionally considered safe are not always widely tested for their actual long-term effects. Experts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been reported by Time Magazine as saying the following: “For products that are used routinely, small effects over time within large populations can be almost impossible to detect without active surveillance.”
This means greater due diligence on your part is required for you to be able to discover truly non-toxic makeup and skincare products that are worth including in your vanity or bathroom cabinet. Thoroughly researching current scientific literature about each ingredient and examining the philosophy and practices of the companies that make the products can actually go a long way.
By buying nontoxic makeup and skincare products, you’re helping the environment, too
Aside from being good for your health, choosing nontoxic makeup and skincare products can be good for the environment as well. This is because some of the ingredients used in traditional beauty essentials can also have detrimental effects on the environment, particularly on the health of wildlife and ecosystems.
Consider for instance, those exfoliating micro-beads that you find in many face creams and body washes. Did you know that these beads are actually made of plastic, which don’t biodegrade, pollute the environment, and get eaten by small animals? On the other hand, other ingredients like phthalates, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and triclosan are actually known endocrine disruptors, which can affect the growth, development, and behavior of fish, amphibians, and other marine and aquatic creatures. One particular endocrine disruptor that has lately become a pollutant of great concern because of its potency is oxybenzone, which is found in many chemical sunscreens today. A report by The Guardian has described the effect of the ingredient as “causing baby corals to encase themselves in their own skeletons and die.”
Choosing nontoxic makeup and other beauty products will make you feel good in knowing that—with your own wallet—you’re also able to make a vote for the larger environment-friendly movement.
Ethical nontoxic makeup and skincare companies also don’t test of animals
By now, you’ve probably already seen one of those many videos of beagles being freed from laboratories across the world—dogs that have been subjected to cruel toxicology tests by companies belonging to the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. Chosen because of their docile nature, these dogs and many other animals continue to be subjected to these brutal tests every year. This is despite the fact that many of these companies know that results from such tests often can’t be extrapolated to human subjects.
In fact, many beauty companies only perform animal testing so that they can market their products as having been “tested,” regardless of the actual results of these tests. It’s a pointless, ruthless practice that continues to be legal in the United States and required in China for many types of cosmetic products.
Responsible companies that produce nontoxic makeup and skincare products typically also take a firm stance against animal testing, so buying products from such brands is also a great way to support the phase-out of this outdated and barbaric practice.
Again, to make sure that you’re buying the right kind of products, take everything with a grain of salt. A beauty company may advertise itself as selling “natural” or “nontoxic” products, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to cruelty-free as well. Do your own research, and read thoroughly about a company’s background and practices before deciding whether or not they are worth supporting.
The fight for a more ethical, more conscientious beauty industry has only just begun. Choosing nontoxic makeup and skincare products is the simplest but one of the most powerful ways you can support this movement.
* This is a pre-written collaborative post