DANGEROUS BEAUTY: What You Need to Know About Your Toxic Cosmetics

Are we dying to be beautiful? Many of us might say that metaphorically, but here, I’m asking the question quite literally, and the answer is a resounding yes.

Much of my work is about providing information for us to make empowered choices as women, and within that, the idea of actually HAVING ACCESS to the information that will allow us to do this. Some of you are already aware that the multi-billion dollar beauty industry preys on the insecurities of women and the feeling that many have that they just aren’t pretty enough or young enough. What many of you may not know is just how potentially lethal many of those products are. The cosmetics industry is pretty much unregulated, and many of the common ingredients found in those various products we all use, are HIGHLY toxic. You might ask how can this be? They couldn’t sell items that are dangerous or toxic, that’s illegal. Wrong again. And don’t believe me. Remember, I invite you to explore for yourself whatever I put before you. It’s how I’ve learned so much about these things I know, is through questions and explorations and not taking things at face value, no matter the source.

The Environmental Working Group has a database called Skin Deep, and they are devoted to education of the consumer about cosmetics. Here is a link to an article called Myths on Cosmetic Safety. Please read this. It will open your eyes, and if you still choose to use products that are dangerous for your health, at least you will be doing so consciously. I am constantly angered by lack of full disclosure in many industries. Lack of FULL disclosure means I can’t make and INFORMED choice, and when I can’t do so, that means someone else is controlling my life, so please, so whatever you do from a place of knowledge. It truly is power. I know some of you will click on this link and think the article is too long, or you’ll read it later. For those who think the former, it’s YOUR LIFE AND YOUR HEALTH at stake. As one of the big culprits in toxic cosmetics says, “You’re worth it,” so take the time to read! Please! I’m getting preachy because many of you have no idea how dangerous this pursuit of beauty is. Here are a few facts from their article:

“Myth – The government prohibits dangerous chemicals in personal care products, and companies wouldn’t risk using them.
Fact – Cosmetics companies may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, without government review or approval (FDA 2005, FDA 2000).

  • More than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada or the European Union (EWG 2007b).
  • Nearly 100 products contain ingredients considered unsafe by the International Fragrance Association (EWG 2007c).
  • A wide range of nanomaterials whose safety is in question may be common in personal care products (EWG 2006).
  • 22% of all personal care products may be contaminated with the cancer-causing impurity 1,4-dioxane, including many children’s products (EWG 2007d, CDC 2009).
  • 60% of sunscreens contain the potential hormone disruptor oxybenzone that readily penetrates the skin and contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans (EWG 2010, Calafat et al 2008).
  • 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead (CSC 2007).”

Let’s take just that last one, that 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead. LEAD!!! Ladies, if it’s on your lips, you’re eating it all day long, ingesting lead into your system. Lead has been acknowledged for years as a toxic substance. Remember that there used to be lead based paints, and kids would eat the paint chips and end up with lead poisoning. This is from Wikipedi’s info on lead poisoning. Pay particular attention to the very last sentence:

“Humans have been mining and using this heavy metal for thousands of years, poisoning themselves in the process. Although lead poisoning is one of the oldest known work and environmental hazards, the modern understanding of the small amount of lead necessary to cause harm did not come about until the latter half of the 20th century. No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered—that is, there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm.”

That’s my emphasis in bold and underlined.

Now back to the Skin Deep database that found 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead, and tying that into the fact that there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm, WTF are we doing???? Ladies, we are poisoning ourselves, slowly but surely. You’ll literally eat pounds of lead over the course of your lifetime.

From the time we wake up, starting with toothpaste, our skincare products we wash our faces with, the creams we put on after, the makeup we use as we get ready each day, the soaps we wash our bodies with, the hand creams, ALL OF IT, is adding up to a pretty heavy toxic load cumulatively over the course of our lives as women, in the eternal and now potentially life threatening pursuit of beauty. We must start asking ourselves is this epidemic pursuit of beauty worth dying for. I firmly believe that many of the cancers and hormone issues women experience are in part caused by our lifelong use of these dangerous chemicals in our cosmetics. We live in a toxic world outside of us, and have little control of that external environment. So what we choose to put on our skin, which in Ayurveda is considered the other mouth of our bodies, is within our power to control. What you put in your mouth will be filtered through your digestive process, but what goes on your skin, goes straight into your bloodstream. In essence it’s like mainlining toxic chemicals.

Oh, one more thing we ladies do that’s a huge contributor to our level of toxicity: manicures and pedicures. and how about hair dyes that go right into our scalps, and those oh so popular Brazilian blowouts? How dare we consider going gray? That would be shameful to own our wisdom. Men look great gray. Guess what, so do women. I’ve seen several recently that were stunning, and one woman who I could no take my eyes off of with waist length salt and pepper, but mostly gray hair, with a 30-something face. I approached her and told her how stunning she was an how much I loved her hair. She told me she had never colored it in her life. Talk about REALY beauty. She was stunning! I want to do that.

I did an interview with Stacy Malkan who wrote a book called “Not Just A Pretty Face” about the dangers we are facing due to an unregulated cosmetic industry. The Skin Deep Database of the Environmental Working Group has painstakingly, over many years now created a database of cosmetics that includes all of the product categories I just ran through, and rates them for toxicity. It also has a list of ingredients and their dangers to our health, so that as you move forward in your purchases, hopefully you’ll read the labels more carefully, and with the knowledge to empower you about these substances and their harm to you, you’ll make a different, healthier, safer choice for yourself and your family.

What should you do? Some of you will say, so what, and that’s fine. Some of you will want to make changes. Go to the Skin Deep database and look up the products you use. If they’re not there, submit them. It’s how the database works. They are striving to be the most comprehensive database of cosmetic safety and it’s a collaboration with consumers of the products. See how your products rate, and if you’re mortified, and I can pretty much guarantee you that you will be at least once as you investigate, look for others that are safer and begin to replace your regimen of products with healthier choices.

Now some of you will think, “well, I only use organic products so I know they’re safe.” Think again. That’s one of the myths the above article explores. There can be as much as 10% of non organic ingredients in a product labeled organic, and that 10% can contain some pretty awful stuff. So even we organic fanatics need to check our products in the database.

Aside from changing the products you use, the number one way to avoid this dangerous beauty scenario, is to do the inner work on yourself as a woman that will allow you to live as W.O.M.A.N., knowing that beauty is an inside job, and that yours is already spectacular. Is is easy? No. But I’ve lived this way my whole life. It’s tempting to see that there are “shortcuts”, but those only lead to pretense and the relentless pursuit of an external beauty that is media created. I prefer the road less traveled. Remember, my definition of beauty is that Beauty is not skin deep. It’s soul deep, and spirit fed. Find your truth and be radiant….and that doesn’t cost a dime, and it won’t cost you your health.


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