Today, we are talking about the dark side of beauty products.

If you are a fan of the Love Vitamin, you know I’m always harping on about “switching to natural skin care”.

The reason I suggest this is because many people are actually having their skin irritated by the chemicals in conventional skin care products, which is leading to more acne for them.

Although I don’t talk about it quite as much on the whole, I also recommend switching away from chemical beauty and hygiene products of all sorts, not just what you use on your face.

So this includes:

  • Anything you do use on your face – cleansers, moisturizers, acne treatments, anti-aging potions, exfoliants, toners, foundation, concealer, mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, blush or bronzer, lipstick or lipgloss, chapstick
  • What you wash and condition your hair with
  • Hair products & procedures such as hair spray, styling gel, curling cream, hair dye, perms, and straightening treatments 
  • Body wash, body lotion, shaving cream, waxes, depilatories, self tanners
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume and cologne
  • Nail polish, nail polish remover, and other nail treatments

Check out this eye opening infographic about the sheer volume of chemicals you are introducing to your body if you are using most of these products daily. It’s scary.

Why Should You Consider Avoiding Chemical Filled Beauty Products?

But why? Why avoid this stuff? Is it really that bad? Why would they sell this stuff if it isn’t safe?

“Darnit, I use all of this stuff all the time”, you say, “are you just trying to annoy me, Tracy?”

Well, no, it’s because I care about you and this is actually serious stuff.

The cosmetic industry is notoriously poorly regulated, which means these industry giants can just pretty much put anything they want into their products without having to answer to anyone. And let’s face it – their choices aren’t about your safety, it’s about their bottom line.

So despite what you might think, many of the chemicals used aren’t jokes.

They may not show serious short term harm in the amounts included in the product, but you are exposing yourself to them day after day after day, and often from several different products.

Many of the chemicals used in conventional beauty products are known carcinogens, meaning they cause cancer. Many more are known endocrine disrupters, aka hormone shit kickers.

And there are plenty more scary ones that can potentially create a whole array of different health problem, some as serious as depression, birth defects, and even brain damage.

Yeah But Most of That Stuff Doesn’t Enter My Body, Right?

Lookin’ so dang innocent

There seems to be a lot of disconnect about what we put on our bodies and what we put into our bodies. For some reason we all picture our skin as this thick rubber suit and keeps out anything and everything except at the most surface of levels. But unfortunately, it’s not like that.

Despite what you might think, many of the chemicals can and do absorb through your skin into your body – apparently up to 60%. And in a way, it’s almost worse than eating it, because it doesn’t have to get past the body guards that are your digestive system and liver. It just gets to go straight into your bloodstream.

Yet, I don’t think you exactly like the idea of chowing down on a bottle of moisturizer, do you? So why put that stuff on your skin?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like every chemical in the cocktail is going to be harmful. Many are benign, and you may just pee them out. But others stay in your body and don’t leave for years.

In the end, if you get cancer, it’s going to be hard to trace it back and say “yes, it was definitely the hair spray”, and that’s how the cosmetic industry gets away with it. But why take the chance when there are safer alternatives?

Plus Lots of Them Don’t Make You Look Better Anyway

As I mentioned above, the reason I am a big “pusher” of natural (and especially homemade) skin care is because the chemicals in conventional beauty products can often be very irritating, resulting in acne for us acne prone folks.

I thought you were using that stuff so you could look better, right?

But it’s not just acne, it’s dull, lifeless looking skin, rashes, bumps, allergic blotches. Many people find that conventional hair care actually makes their hair damaged, lifeless, dry, split, oily, or limp. And what about premature aging? Many products do that too.

What Are Some of the Really Bad Chemicals Used in Beauty Products?

This list is in no way conclusive, but here are just a few of the very worrisome chemicals found in a dizzying array of your favourite products:

  • 1,4 Dioxane – a known high-risk carcinogen, which is actually a byproduct meaning it doesn’t have to be labeled at all. Found in 22% of all personal hygiene products.
  • Aluminum salts – famous for being in antiperspirants. Known neurotoxin, sometimes linked to alzheimers and breast cancer
  • The Ethanolamine family – known carcinogens found as emulsifiers and foaming agents in many products. Often linked to nasty skin conditions.
  • Fragrance (aka perfume, or parfum)– could be something simple, or most likely a cocktail of chemicals, sometimes up to 500 different ones. Due to trade law secrets, they don’t have to tell us what fragrances are actually made of. Found in virtually everything. Some chemicals used are carcinogens, others hormone disrupters. Fragrances are inked to all sorts of allergies, rashes, and skin conditions.
  • Parabens – preservatives used in 75 to 90% of all products on the market because they are a cheap way to extend shelf life. Can cause premature aging, but they are also estrogen mimickers. This can definitely lead to acne, as well as estrogen related cancers. See this article about xenoestrogens and acne.
  • Phthalates – chemical compounds used in all sorts of cosmetics and fragrances, but also plastics and pesticides (double whammy). Known hormone disruptors which can lead to hormonal acne, obesity, PCOS, and other hormone related disorders. Suspected carcinogen. May be linked to birth defects.

Now What Do You Do?

So now you’re at the point where you’re like “Yeah. Okay. Great. Thanks. Now what do I do?”

Hey, I don’t blame you for the confusion on knowing what you’re supposed to use and what you’re not. Trying to remember all the chemicals you’re supposed to avoid, and deciphering the ingredients on the back of of cosmetics to know whether it’s safe or not is like solving a very difficult riddle.

Well, honestly… my suggestion? Read this book: No More Dirty Looks – by Shiobhan O’Connor & Alexandra Spunt, two entertaining journalists who also run the blog nomoredirtylooks.com.

It’s going to tell you what you need to know much better than I can. I will admit, I’m not really a “beauty blogger”. I use very, very few products now, and even before I saw the virtues of “natural”, I was not super into playing around with makeup, hair products, or perfume.

So if you want the most comprehensive guide you can get, just get the book.

These ladies know what they’re talking about. Plus, they are fun and entertaining and make reading about sucky chemicals pretty interesting.

In the book you’ll learn:

  • Why the cosmetics industry really doesn’t care about your health, and how it gets away with what it does
  • Descriptions of all the really scary chemicals, what they’re found in, and all the names they might be found under
  • A straight up, easy to read list of all the chemical names you need to avoid, so you can easily see if they’re in your cosmetics or not
  • Why even though some products say they are natural and organic, they really aren’t, and the only true way to know if they are safe is by cracking the code on the ingredients
  • And the best part of the book? Instead of making you memorize all those chemicals, they have done the research for you and just give you straight up awesome, no BS, suggestions on all kind of 100% safe, natural, products (from everything from hair to face to body, and more). This includes formulated products you can buy, but also stuff you can make at home.
  • They are conscious of health, but also vanity. So they don’t recommend products that that don’t do the job well, and they have personally tried all the products they recommend.

Again, it’s called No More Dirty Looks. Really great book that I am super stoked that I found it. Really eye opening, and so convenient if you don’t want to go through the mega hassle of endless research and trials of trying to find safe products that you can feel good about.

What are your suggestions for natural products that work really well for you? Please do share in the comments below!