Every morning is the same routine: you roll out of bed, turn on the coffee pot, shower, and “put your face on.” At least that is how I always thought of it – nothing quite compares to going into work and having your coworkers ask you if you’re sick and all you can say is, “No, I’m just not wearing any makeup today.”
Many of us feel naked without at least a swipe of mascara, but how many of us have given any thought to the chemicals within our make up that we are applying to our face on a daily basis? That pink and green tube of mascara has been tried-and-true for decades now for many out there, why question it?
Given the history of cosmetics, perhaps we should ALWAYS question their ingredients — after all, people have actually died in pursuit of that perfect look. Egyptians once had bromine mannite in their lip stain, a toxic extract that could cause seizures, psychosis, or death in the wearer or any poor soul they might have kissed; Elizabethan women would wear ceruse to give them a perfect porcelain skin — too bad it would eventually lead to ruined skin or worse, lead poisoning⁴.
We may have had many advancements in the millennia of cosmetic use and learned our lessons the hard way a time or two, but perhaps we are still pretty naïve regarding what we are subjecting our bodies to when we apply the latest lip color or obsess over the perfect winged eyeliner (seriously though, mine are NEVER even).
So while we may not be irradiating ourselves or slowly poisoning ourselves with heavy metals all in the name of beauty, we are still dosing ourselves with chemicals that can have drastic effects on our reproductive systems⁴. Many of our makeups today contain EDCs – Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – which are chemicals that interrupt the normal function and productions of our hormones, leading to hormone imbalances and reproductive problems; they may even increase your risk for breast and uterine cancers.
They say beauty is pain, but it doesn’t have to be, right? Check your cosmetics and see if you have any of the following of these endocrine disruptors:
- Phthalates – plasticizer found in color cosmetics, nail lacquers, perfumes, and fragranced lotions and body washes, which can lead to decreased number of follicles in the ovaries, potentially inhibit ovulation, and decrease estradiol levels; look for terms DEHP, DBA, DEP, and ‘fragrance’¹
- Butylated Compounds (BHT, BHA) – preservatives found in eyeliner and eyeshadows, lipsticks and lip glosses, blushes, foundations, perfumes, moisturizers, skin cleansers
- Parabens – the most commonly used cosmetic preservatives. While many products have stopped using them, be careful of the ‘paraben-free’ alternative choice, phenoxyethanol, which has its own share of bad side effects.
- Octinoxate – an EDC in foundations which affects the thyroid
- Triclosan – antifungal and antibacterial agent found in face washes, deodorants
- Siloxanes – help give that smooth, moisturized feeling to our makeups and their applications
- Plastics – Many cosmetics are kept in plastic containers, many of which may contain BPA and similar chemicals which may leach into your products when damaged. Look for metal or glass casings as an alternative and toss out any dusty old makeups you may have lying around.⁵
These are not even all the harmful chemicals, just the ones that affect the endocrine system directly. Pretty overwhelming, isn’t it? Nearly every type of cosmetic used on a daily basis could contain some type of endocrine disruptor. So is it hopeless? Are we doomed to hormonal hell because of the ubiquity of bad chemicals?
Thankfully not! A study in 2016 found toxic chemicals showed significantly reduced levels in the bodies of teenaged girls when they were asked to switch to safer cosmetics for just three days³. If a concerted effort is made to reduce the daily intake of these disruptors, it can make a big change within the body.
Because of increasing awareness of the effects of our cosmetics routine on our delicate hormone balances, there are websites out there dedicated to giving you alternative options. Oh, how we appreciate them! Because of their efforts you don’t have to read EVERY label when you go to choose your next favorite lip color.
Check out these sites for cosmetic alternatives: https://www.familiesagainstchemicaltoxins.org/getting-edcs-out-of-your-body-products/
¹Hannon, Patrick R., and Jodi A. Flaws. “The Effects of Phthalates on the Ovary.” Frontiers in Endocrinology6 (2015). doi:10.3389/fendo.2015.00008.