Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

Does Revlon, Mac, and SK-II make you the fairest of them all?

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The answer is a resounding yes, according the Harley Street Clinic, a prestigious, private London hospital. Results from their 2013 survey uncovered that women in the United Kingdom sacrifice on average one year and three months (474 days) of their life scrutinizing and contemplating their image in the mirror.

Currently, skincare sales account for nearly 31 percent of the global cosmetic industry, with the greatest market share coming from the United States (U.S.) where sales exceed 53 billion dollars annually. A report titled Beauty At Any Cost from the YMCA stated that “if a woman invested the average amount of money she spends on a monthly manicure-pedicure treatment ($50) into her retirement account every year for ten years, she would have almost $10,000 in her account at the end of that time.”

There’s no question that superficial beauty comes at great individual expense, but are time and money the only costs?

Consider this number, 198 pounds. We’re not talking about British currency, but the approximate weight of synthetic, toxic chemicals you’ll absorb through your skin if you start applying makeup from the age of 15 though age 60.

You’ve heard the cliché, “You are what you eat”; it’s just as true that you are what you absorb. There are more than 850 dangerous chemicals floating around cosmetic labs, and in ninety-nine percent of the beauty products in the marketplace; even those touted as having organic or natural ingredients are adulterated with these pernicious compounds. In the U.S., where cosmetic sales are highest, there are more than 500 products on the shelves that contain ingredients banned in the European Union (E.U.), Canada, or Japan. Unfortunately, that does not mean products sold in these areas of the world are any safer.

Fragrances can include chemicals that damage sperm and disrupt hormones, but are not listed on the ingredient package. Many popular lipsticks have residues of lead. Eye shadows contain toxins linked to infertility, and cancer, and can damage bodily organs. Many body lotions include Polyethylene Glycol, an ingredient used in oven cleaners. Countless brands of sunscreen are polluted with Oxybenzone, an organic compound known to increase free radicals and potentially cause the very thing it’s meant to protect you against — skin cancer.

If you’re part of the minority group that purchases natural and organic brands in an effort to protect yourself from a flood of chemicals, think again. Unlike the food and agricultural industries, there are no legal standards for the definitions of the word organic in cosmetics (and as in any sector, natural has no standards either), meaning there is no consumer protection. Safecosmentic.org highlights the example of Clairol Herbal Essences, a top-selling shampoo in the U.S., which used to market their shampoo as an “organic experience.”  Third –party testing revealed the organic experience was more of a chemical onslaught, with over a dozen synthetic petrochemicals and very little evidence for herbal supplementation.

We decided to investigate the beauty landscape for ourselves, obtaining complete ingredient lists for 12 bestselling beauty products, produced by SK-II, Chanel, La Prairie, Dior, L’Oreal, Shiseido, Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Orogold, Lancome, Nerium, and one company that prides itself on using only organic and natural ingredients from Mother Earth.  The results were notably alarming. All the cosmetics contained a surreptitious range of harmful constituents, with one beauty product packing in a whopping 25 toxic substances, some of which are known for contributing to or causing liver damage, skin cell deterioration (premature ageing), stillbirths, and hormone disruption, as well as acting as a carcinogen. It’s important to highlight that the organic product, touted to contain no harmful ingredients, included six toxic chemicals, one of which is known for causing cancer.

If your daily primping routine involves the application of shampoo, eye shadow, lipstick, nail polish, perfume, body lotion, deodorant, foundation, blush, or hairspray, heed tremendous caution as you may be absorbing approximately 453 chemicals daily.

Remember back in elementary school when the teacher cautioned against doodling on your skin? This is because our epidermis is like a giant sponge; it can absorb up to 90% of the elements it comes into contact with. Toxins that enter the body via our skin are managed very differently than the contaminants found in our food. When we eat a piece of potentially harmful bacteria that’s conjoined on a raw carrot stick, powerful digestive fluids containing hydrochloric acid usually neutralize the invading threat. Chemicals lathered on the skin are not extended this layer of protection.

It’s important to remember the skin is a bodily organ, much like the heart, liver, and lungs. As the toxins penetrate through the layers of the epidermis unchecked, they end up streaming directly into the blood stream.  Here, these fat-soluble poisons can accumulate all throughout the body in our internal organs, body tissue and cells.

Companies counter this fact by claiming their products contain far more beautifying healthy benefits than the teeny, tiny toxins they use (often measured in the parts-per-million range).  While this is true, think back to monumental changes you experienced during puberty.  Those profound changes resulted from a spike in sex hormone levels, which also occur, in the parts-per-billion or even the parts-per-trillion range.

If you’re pregnant, the situation is even more precarious. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the fetus is essentially enveloped in toxins from products the mother uses from the moment of conception, and for nine months, is absorbing chemicals ranging from mercury, bisphenol A, phthalates, and everything in between. In one study by the Environmental Working Group, “Seven out of 10 babies tested were contaminated with Galaxolide and/or Tonalide, synthetic musks that are used to scent soaps, perfumes, cologne sprays, detergents and other products.” In 2012, the UN published Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) in which they state, “exposure to EDCs during fetal development and puberty plays a role in the increased incidences of reproductive diseases, endocrine-related cancers, behavioural and learning problems, including ADHD, infections, asthma, and perhaps obesity and diabetes in humans.”

In a perfect world, if these toxins were the only stresses exerted on the body, we may not have to heed such concern. Here’s the stark reality though: there are currently over a hundred thousand forms of synthetic chemicals being used today, with safety information only on a very small percentage. There is even less safety information on how they react with one another in our bodies.

Beauty-enhancing products may make you the fairest of them all, but beware, their poison is more potent than the wicked queen’s apple.

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Visit www.DrHeSpa.com for more information

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