7 Frightening Signs Harmful Chemicals are Sneaking into Your Beauty Regime


Image: Capture Queen

Moisturizing cleanser. Gorgeous hair -- voluminous or silky, curly or straight, maybe even colored; a little primping with product to get it just right. Cover up that bit of a blemish. A delicate scent. If you are of the female persuasion, add on shiny eyes, glossy lips, a bit of a blush. Ready to conquer the world!

On average, people expose themselves to a cocktail of 130 chemicals every day, many of them in the products that constitute our beauty regimes. Even if you stick strictly to natural products, you are still exposed to powerful plant-derived chemicals that nature never intended for use in soaps, shampoos, or shadow. Here are seven signs that might indicate your beauty regime is beastly.

1. Pimples



Image: Squeezing only makes them angrier, by slopjop
Comedogenic. Sounds like someone good at making you laugh, doesn't it? Unbelievably, this fancy medical word means acne-causing. And chemicals in your beauty products may be comedogenic.

What??! The products I am using to hide a little blemish are causing more of them? It's true. You would be surprised at the ingredients which rank as highly comedogenic. Natural ingredients like algal extracts, cocoa butter, or wheat germ oil are examples. And, of course, the stuff with the scary chemical names like butyl stearate, PEG 75 lanolin, and sodium lauryl sulfate make the list too.

Bottom line: if you think you have too many zits, use a natural acne treatment or look for products labeled non-comedogenic. Or Google full lists of comedogenic ingredients to avoid.

2. Allergic Reaction

Image: Allergy Patch Test, by ejhogbin

Here are a few beauty statistics to think about:

  • Skin allergies are the second most common allergic reactions, after rhinitis (the snuffly, sneezy allergies).
  • Atopic dermatitis -- often allergy related -- is one of the most common skin diseases, with prevalence between 9 and 30 percent.
  • Americans make 7 million visits per year to discuss skin conditions with their health care provider.
Allergic rashes rarely occur the first time you use a product. The chemicals that cause allergic rashes are called "sensitizers" because a person has to become sensitized before the allergic effect is seen. Because of this delay, sufferers often have to submit to annoying "patch testing" (image) in which small dots of various chemicals are taped to the skin for a period of time. Fragrances and preservatives are common culprits. Then: good luck finding the causative agents on product labels so you can avoid them. Sites like EWG's Skin Deep can help you avoid becoming sensitized to begin with, or avoid trigger products if it's too late.

3. Irritation

Image: Irritated Eye, by titanas

Chemicals commonly cause irritation, which is simply redness, swelling and pain that occurs on contact. Toxicologists rank the degree of irritation by measuring how long contact is required to induce swelling, judging the severity of effects (for example how much corneal opacity or iritis or redness occurs), and watching how long it takes before the situation returns to normal. Unlike allergic reactions, irritation tends to be relatively consistent for all people. Therefore, beauty product manufacturers are careful to avoid using irritants in their products which have uses likely to trigger irritation. But if some shampoo leaks into the corner of your eye, you will soon know if irritants are in the mix. The best thing is to rinse an irritated spot with water for as long as you have the patience (15 minutes is recommended by experts) and avoid rubbing.

4. The Mice Got Sick

Image: Mouse, by Denn

Even if your beauty product claims "animal testing-free", the ingredients have most likely been tested. Come on now, do you really think it would be responsible for a company to sell stuff for us to put on our skin if it is not believed to be safe? But here is a dirty secret: Quite often, only the target information is really used.

For example, if a chemical is tested as an irritant, observations that the test animals acted drowsy or suffered enlarged livers, may be neglected, buried in wordy and complex reports, or far too expensive to follow up on. Luckily, this is changing, as more companies realize their responsibilities in the matter. And companies like Wal-mart are leading the charge to get that information into the hands of consumers in a usable form, such as a Green Index.

Find More Frightening Signs Harmful Chemicals are Sneaking into Your Beauty Regime on Page 2

Tags: Beauty Treatments | Chemicals | Cosmetics | Diseases

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