By Summer Moeller
With the prices of gas continuing to rise, oil is a frequent topic in the news. It turns out it’s also a part of most Americans’ beauty routine.
What? You don’t think it’s part of yours?
A 42-gallon barrel of oil makes about 19.4 gallons of gas; the rest is used to manufacture over 6,000 household products. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know it’s used to produce paint, ammonia, antifreeze, linoleum, trash bags, bicycle tires, etc. But you might be surprised to know it’s also used for food preservatives, deodorant, cosmetics, aspirin, dentures, toiletries, and food packaging. (See more products made at http://www.ranken-energy.com/Products%20from%20Petroleum.htm .)
I don’t like the thought of using products on my face and skin that also have ingredients in them that are used in rubber cement and fishing boots. It seems like a no-brainer to look for all-natural products, but this is, in fact, a subject of great debate.
It’s estimated that the average American woman uses 9 products a day with 126 different chemicals in them. Have you ever tried deciphering the back of your lotion bottle, shampoo or lipstick tube? Would you know what methylparaben is? Do you know the effects it might have on your skin? Or Opium Graveolens? (Celery. Just having fun. :))
Cancer in Your Cosmetics?
I was amazed to find out that the FDA does not require cosmetics companies to perform any kind of testing to make sure their products are safe before they market them. They are also allowed to make all kinds of assertions, such as “hypoallergenic,” “good for sensitive skin,” and/or “allergy-tested,” that may have no validity to them. In fact, these products may contain ingredients that are irritating, bad for sensitive skin, and allergenic. It would be like me labeling my children “always behaves” or “lets me sleep in” or “never fights.” It looks good, but unfortunately just isn’t true.
Even the phrases “dermatologist tested” or “fragrance-free” do not necessarily mean anything. It simply could mean that a dermatologist tried out some cosmetics and liked them (or was paid to like them!). And “fragrance-free” products may actually contain fragrances; this label may just mean they have no noticeable fragrance.
Furthermore, some chemicals and ingredients used in cosmetics today in the US are banned in other countries because they are suspected carcinogens (cancer-causing agents)!
Petroleum (petrolatum, petroleum jelly) is one cosmetic ingredient that is causing a lot of heated argument. In the EU, it is banned for use in cosmetics unless it can be proven that it has been adequately refined; otherwise, it is suspected of causing cancer. In the US, there are no such regulations. Baby soaps, lotions, cosmetics, and toiletries often contain petroleum bases.
All Chemicals are Not Evil
While reading this article, keep in mind that even though the word “chemical” brings to mind things that are toxic, remember that everything in life is made up of chemicals. For example, water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. Dihydrogen monoxide might seem a little scary sounding, but it’s just a scientific name for water. Similarly, some of the lists of ingredients in cosmetics and toiletries (and food for that matter!) just need a little research to find out their background. (One helpful book is A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals by Ruth Winter, M.S.)
Some manufacturers assert that there is nothing to a worry about; petroleum and other questionable chemicals have been around for decades. Others explain that there are only minute amounts of these chemicals, and that they are so diluted that they are not dangerous.
I, for a change, am skeptical of the popular cosmetic industry and more inclined to believe the claims of organic, natural-based cosmetics companies. Sixty percent of the chemicals we put on our skin are absorbed directly into our bloodstream. (That’s why some medications come in the form of patches.) It makes sense to me to scrutinize what we put on our skin.
Becoming the “Sherlock Holmes” of Skin Products
Finding out which companies distribute healthful, skin-friendly cosmetics and toiletries takes homework. Some companies, like Beeyoutiful, are full-disclosure companies-meaning that they will tell you everything that is put into the products they sell. Most companies are not. They will do as little as they can to inform you, and as much as they can to sell their product. High pricing does not necessarily mean it is a better or purer product.
I was anxious to try some of the all-natural products that Beeyoutiful sells, but I was dubious about their effectiveness. Vanilla is not my favorite scent, but when I opened up the Vanilla Dream Body Butter, I was pleasantly surprised that it was not a sickly sweet smell. It was a light and relaxing scent.
I was even more pleased at how it made my hands feel. I always wash my hands after putting on typical hand lotion. I hate how my hands feel greasy and slimy. With the Vanilla Dream Body Butter, I could feel the difference that the beeswax makes (vs. the petroleum base). There was no greasy feeling, but my hands felt softer and pampered.
I was also pleased with the Hair Shine Conditioner. My daughter has curly hair, and I sampled it on her. I was surprised that the mixture of natural oils didn’t leave her hair looking oily. (At least her hair looked manageable; now could you please make an all-natural spray that repels dirt and peanut butter?)
My absolute favorite product was the Nature’s Touch Body Bar in Lemongrass. I had been using bar soaps lately, but they always left my skin feeling tight and dry. I felt so luxurious using the lemongrass soap, and I loved the scent. It didn’t strip my skin of its natural moisturizers and left it feeling clean but smooth and soft.
After trying these and other products (did I mention that I’m hooked on Miracle Salve as a lip balm?), I was excited to find that buying all-natural products doesn’t mean sacrificing beauty or comfort for health. I’m finding that the right products actually cause your God-created natural beauty to shine by promoting health.
Making Your Skin Smile
Skin has a natural process of renewing that shouldn’t be inhibited. Every minute, we lose 30-40 thousand skin cells! We also sweat (cleansing our bodies of toxins and helping keep our bodies’ temperatures regulated) through our skin. It is a barrier from pathogens that would harm our body.
Not everyone will benefit from the same products. Some may have allergies that others do not. We all have different types of skin and are different ages and stages in life. In general, natural oils such as olive oil and coconut oil tend to lightly moisturize the skin while also allowing it to breathe. Heavy cleansers strip the skin of needed lipids, which keep the skin protected and moisturized.
I like being able to read a package and understand what is in it. I don’t like guessing when it comes to my health or my family’s health. For me, that will mean a lot more research and more time spent in the store scrutinizing labels.
Do your homework! Your skin will thank you for it, and so will your health!
Summer Burdett is a happy wife, mommy to two sweet girls, and enjoys dabbling in writing, photography and gardening-when she is not rescuing the girls from various disasters or trying to repair the house afterwards.
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