Why Go Natural?
In the world of hidden agendas and profit driven marketing, it's natural to be suspicious of yet another "fad". The trend towards non-toxic living is certainly increasing, but why all the hype? If you're not sold yet, may we humbly put forward our earnest thoughts sprinkled with some research and stats and see if we can't clarify the issue? Excellent.
If you haven't hopped on the natural bandwagon yet, we invite you to take a trip to your bathroom and check out the ingredients of your current facial moisturizer, your shampoo, and your deodorant, as examples.
In the most popular drug-store brand products, you'll likely find parabens, fragrance, phtalates, cyclopentasiloxane, methylisothiazolinone, triclosan, salicylic acid, benzyl salicylate, octinoxate, phenols and many more. These are all man-made chemicals that have varying degrees on impact on our physiological processes. Some are more noticeable, some results are attributed to other causes, and some are compounded by various other factors.
The danger is the volume with which we slather ourselves with these products. Our environment is becoming increasingly filled with chemical substances and while the human body has detoxification pathways, they are becoming more and more overburdened by the environmental load of toxins they are exposed to. From pesticides in our foods, to pollutants in the air, to the chemicals in our shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, and face creams. Our bodies are constantly taking on the toxic load and the accumulation of chemicals is bound to have an impact. Some of the most concerningt impacts include affecting gene expression, neurotoxicity, cancer, and endocrine disruption. Chemicals have even been implicated in the rising rates of autism (5) and various other chronic diseases.
That's not to say if you use these products your body will fall apart and your life will be over. But it does give reason to pause and consider are the risks worth it?
Below we took a few and listed what the research says about their potential risks.
Fragrance: Included for obvious functions. It is a known human immune system toxicant (1, 8 - 12), can lead to organ system toxicity (non-reproductive; 6) and ecotoxicology (2). It is also a hormone disruptor and potential carcinogen (13).
Parabens: Are included as a preservative. There are several kinds, ranging in severity of risk. At present, five of these synthetic substances are banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union, but not in Canada (8-12, 20-22, 25). Some of the known risks of parabens include immunotoxicity (2, 14), endocrine disruption (1, 5-7, 19, 23, 24), developmental/reproductive toxicity (17, 26), and interfering with gene expression (18).
Phthalates: Are solvents often included in cosmetics. The published research says some risks include organ system toxicity (2-5), endocrine disruption (6-9), and a wildlife and environmental toxin (10).
Cyclopentasiloxane: Is a silicone that acts as a conditioner, delivery agent, lubricant and solvent. Its risks are not minor. They include organ system toxicity (non-reproductive) (4), bioaccumulation in wildlife (3, 11), cancer (2, 10), neurotoxicity (6), endocrine disruption (7, 9, 10), and ecotoxicology (4,11).
There are of course, hundreds of other chemicals in there that we have not listed, but there are many online resources you can use to look up the research and risks for each one. One of our favourites is the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database. You can search by product or by ingredient and even create your own product report if the product you use is not in the system already.
Why does this matter if we're not eating it? Our skin, being the largest organ in our body, acts as a protective barrier for our organs. With the environmental toxin overload that is now our daily reality, the skin can often get overwhelmed, particularly when we are putting these products directly on our skin. Our skin will absorb the products - that why the nicotine patch and birth control patch work!
Further, many products include chemicals that increase the absorption rate and permeability of the skin - further adding to the amount of substances being absorbed. Products such as salicylic acid are not safe for use during pregnancy because of the rate of absorption through the skin. These not only have an effect of you, but if you are pregnant, also on your child (1, 4).
You may say who cares - what does endocrine diruption, or neurotixicity even mean? I feel fine!
We're not saying using this products will kill you. Of course not. In fact, you DO likely feel relatively fine. But let us ask you a few questions. Have you ever struggled with weight (8)? Fertility (26)? Painful periods (3)? Have you ever felt like your moods aren't in your control? Get headaches? Digestive challenges? These may be the result of an accumulation of environmental burdens, including your cosmetic and skincare products.
We do not in any way aim to be fearmongers, but we do hope to educate folks on the risks with cosmetics so that lack of awareness is not what dictates our health and regulatory policy! We also help this knowledge helps you make intentional choices to improve your health and risks and better your life!
With all of the evidence and potential risks, is it worth switching to natural products? YES! Now that there are more and more natural products available, consider making the switch on even a few products. Try our Fruit and Flower Facial Oil and Oil Cleanser- with reasonable prices and evidence - based ingredients there's no reason not to!
Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!
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