Did you know that the number one role of your skin is to act as a barrier? Even so, everything we put on our skin is absorbed and goes into our bloodstream. As a result, we shouldn’t put anything on our skin that we wouldn’t eat! According to research, the average person absorbs about ?ve pounds of cosmetic chemicals every year, and nine out of 10 women use makeup past its best-before date, thereby increasing the risk of irritation or contamination.

Take note of how many personal products and cosmetics you use every day. Here is a “typical” daily routine for most females. The alarm goes off in the morning, you jump in the shower, use shampoo, conditioner, body soap… then you get out of the shower and perhaps put on body and
face cream, then comes the foundation, bronzer, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick routine, followed by deodorant and maybe some perfume. Throughout the day, you may re-apply some makeup; moisturize your hands, etc. Before you go to bed, you use at least one product to remove your makeup and re-moisturize. Fourteen products – see my point!?

The chemicals in your cosmetics can seep into your blood stream in a variety of ways. Take note that powders are absorbed the least, while those that are oil-based or designed to moisturize will be absorbed more. Eye makeup most certainly affects the health of the eyes – a very sensitive
mucous membrane. Lipstick is often ingested. And hairspray and perfumes can irritate your lungs when inhaled.

Unfortunately, an overseeing body does not currently regulate cosmetics in the U.S. and Canada. The cosmetics industry is, in fact, a self-regulated one, which means your safety isn’t going to be a priority – sales are. It’s estimated that there are about 10,500 chemicals used in cosmetics and only 11 percent of those have been tested for safety. In addition, any chemical compound created before 1970 is grandfathered and never needs to be tested for safety – it’s assumed that time has been a good enough test. While some chemicals have been lightly tested and deemed to be ‘Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)’; even those chemicals haven’t been studied adequately, and their long-term effects haven’t been determined, nor what kind of consequences they could have when mixed with other synthetic products.

Cosmetics Hazards
There are some chemicals in cosmetics that you need to stay very clear of. These are known to be hazardous to human health. The Environmental Working Group, a non-pro?t organization, has created a cosmetic safety database that will help you ?nd out the safety rating of makeup, (visit www.
cosmeticsdatabase.com). Products are ranked from one (low hazard) to 10 (high hazard) and the site will tell you whether a product has been linked to cancer, causes allergies, is hazardous to your organs, could affect an unborn baby and more. If you haven’t found a certain product on the cosmetics database and the ingredients aren’t included on your product’s label, try looking up the
ingredients online or even call the cosmetics company to ?nd out. You need to know what your body is absorbing. Campaigns by organizations like the Environmental Working Group are pushing for changes in the legislation of cosmetics to help protect you better. Chemicals you should avoid or strive to limit include lead, aluminum, parabens, phthalates, coal tar, talc, and polyethylene glycol.

“Natural”, “Organic” or “Mineral”
Beware of cosmetic products claiming to be ‘Natural’, ‘Organic’ or ‘Mineral’. They still need scrutiny. Since the terms ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ aren’t regulated, it’s hard to tell whether cosmetics making such claims are going to be any better for you. Look, when possible, for the certi?ed organic logo and/or eco-certi?cation. True natural makeup will use base products such as jojoba oil and candelilla wax instead of the petrochemicals such as mineral oil (a gasoline by-product). Mineral oil is not recommended because it will clog pores and leave an oily residue on your skin. It is also absorbed very rapidly and goes into your blood stream.

Mineral-based makeup (not to be confused with mineral oil), is gaining popularity. Minerals in cosmetics are not a new thing, they are already in most of the cosmetics you own – minerals and tons of other added chemicals. What’s new, however, is that the demand for purely mineral cosmetics is growing. This kind of makeup is free of chemicals, preservatives and dyes. Since they are more granular powders, mineral- based cosmetics are minimally absorbed by the body. Dermatologists and health care practitioners also like them because they don’t cause many allergic reactions; they’re highly recommended to those who suffer from acne, dermatitis and other skin diseases.

The price of mineral cosmetics isn’t even that much higher than conventional ones. If you traditionally buy high-end cosmetics, you’ll notice that the price is about the same or even less. Knowing, however, that you’re putting something on your body that isn’t hazardous to your health is priceless.

For more information about healthier cosmetics choices cosmetics, and other tips and tricks for living at your best, check out Dr. Nathalie’s book Wellness On The Go at www.drnathaliebeauchamp.ca.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp, B.Sc., D.C. is co-author of the book Wellness On The Go: Take the plunge – it’s Your Life! Dr. Beauchamp’s passion for wellness is infectious and she passes that along to her patients/clients through her expertise in the areas of fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and optimal health. Dr. Beauchamp is a chiropractor, a certified personal fitness trainer, a professional natural bodybuilder, a corporate wellness consultant and an inspirational speaker.