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The Natural Life: Cosmetics

Taking care of ourselves and taking care of the earth go hand in hand. For everything we put in or on our bodies eventually gets in to the water and earth around us. And in many cases how it got on or in our bodies has also affected out earth...

A vast many women I know - whether Pagan or not - include at least a basic skin care regime in their day at one point or another. The majority of them also include products such as foundation, lipstick, nail polish and mascara, among other things, in their day to day look. What the majority of them are NOT doing is making sure that these products they are putting on their skin is health and safe, for both them and the environment. In fact most women don't ever even think to read the ingredients lists in the products they use every day. What this means is they are repeatedly covering their skin, their eyes, their lips and their hands in chemicals they don't even know are there...

Now, it would be humanly impossible for me to list, or for you to read, every single brand, type and style of cosmetics out there... Seriously, I would never stop typing and I would still never list them all... But what I can do is give you the ingredients to watch out for and avoid...

Here are just a few of those COMMON ingredients and why you should avoid them:
  1. PHTHALATES / FRAGRANCE - Phthalates are estrogen-mimickers that wreak havoc on the endocrine system in the human body and cause unwelcome hormonal effects. They are found in “fragrance” and nail polish. In Europe three phthalates- DEHP, DBP and BBP- are banned for use in cosmetics and in all toys and childcare articles. “Fragrance” is unregulated and can indicate the presence of up to four thousand different ingredients, many of which can be toxic or carcinogenic. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity and irritability. Forms of “fragrance” are in the majority of personal care products such as perfume, moisturizers, soap, shampoos and candles.

    **Looks like this on a label: DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, DNOP.

  2. PROPYLENE GLYCOL - Is related to anti-freeze and is a derivative of petroleum. It is the second most common ingredient in moisturizers, aside from water. It’s linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage, and is also a skin and eye irritant. It is found in sunscreens, moisturizers, baby lotion, antiperspirants and deodorants and shaving products.

    **Looks like this on a label: Propylene Glycol, Proptylene Glycol, 1,2-Propanediol. Related synthetics: PEG (polyethylene glycol) and PPG (polypropylene glycol).

  3. FORMALDEHYDE - Often referred to as “formalin,” is used as a preservative and has been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive problems and asthma. It is primarily used in nail polishes, shampoos and bleach. It has been banned in Japan and Sweden.

    **Looks like this on a label: formaldehyde, formalin, formic aldehyde, oxomethane, oxymethylene.

  4. HYDROQUINONE – Is used as an active ingredient in over-the-counter products such as skin lighteners, hair bleaches, concealers, facial cleansers and sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher. It is related to cancer, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption and developmental and reproductive toxicity.

    **Looks like this on a label: 1,4-Benzenediol, 1,4-Dihydroxybenzene, P-Dioxybenzene,  4-Hydroxyphenol, P-Hydroxyphenol,1,4Benzenediol.

  5. PETROLATUM/PETROLEUM - Although difficult to spot because of its many aliases, it’s most commonly known as petroleum jelly. It is a fossil fuel that is broken down into smaller components, which contain hydrocarbons, and is a common ingredient in beauty products. It can be found in moisturizers, conditioners, wax depilatories, baby creams and makeup. Petroleum derivatives have been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive damage, immune system toxicity, endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity. It is banned in Europe.

    **Looks like this on a label: petrolatum, petroleum jelly, trioxaundecanedioi acid, toluene, 4-amino-2-hydroxytuolene, BHA.

  6. MERCURY - Is a controversial ingredient that causes damage to the brain and is blamed for autism related symptoms in children. It is most commonly found in eye products like mascara.

    **Looks like this on a label: mercurous chloride, thimerosal.
  7. MINERAL OIL - Is a petroleum derivative that has the same origins as fossil fuels. It’s an ingredient in foundations, lipsticks, lotions and makeup removers. It has been linked to a variety of things, from clogged pores to cancer. It does not allow the skin to breathe.

    **Looks like this on a label: liquidum paraffinum, paraffin oil, paraffin wax.

  8. LEAD - In 1978 it was banned from paint due to the dangers it causes to the body. It can affect almost every organ and system in the body. It can cause anemia, an increase in blood pressure and it can damage the brain and kidneys. Somehow traces of it can still be found in hair dye and red lipsticks.

    **Although lead should be labeled in some form or fashion, it is not. Therefore, look for products labeled “Lead-free!”

  9. COLORANTS/SYNTHETIC COLORS - Used to create make-up shades and colors, these colorants are found in countless makeup and beauty products and are listed on labels as “FD&C” or “D&C” colors. Most colorants actually are regulated by the FDA, however, most are derived from coal tar, which has been linked to cause cancer.

    **Looks like this on a label: D&C, FD&C.

  10. SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE / SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE - Often found together in products acting as a foaming agent. It is a detergent which has been found to enter the brain, heart and liver and impairs the immune system. It also causes eye irritations and skin rashes. When mixed with other chemicals found in toiletries it can form carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds. It can be found in shampoos, conditioners, soaps and toothpastes.

    **Looks like this on a label: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, Anhydrous Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Irium, SLS, SLES, MSDS, ALES, ALS.
Now that you're ready to go rummage through your bathroom, purse and possibly that Caboodles Case I know you still have, there IS a light at the end of this tunnel. More and more companies have opted to offer Green or at the very least GreenER options, knowing that women don't find cancer a decent trade off for nicer skin. And there is even a way to check out all your favorite products and discover how safe they truly are.

Skin Deep is a Cosmetic Safety Review company which will not only allow you to find out what is in the products you use today, but give you similar products which you may want to try. Ingredients for products are listed as well as the dangers which they may carry.

Once you have discovered which of your products you need to throw out the window, or at the very least avoid buying again. It's worth noting at least a few companies which have taken the idea of Green Cosmetics and run with them. Thanks to the internet finding these companies is easier than you would think... Here are some sites worth checking out in order to find such companies - some of these you can simply order from others are review sites, but together you will be able to find the products YOU need and know that they aren't going to kill you in the process!
There are lots of other companies out there, these are just a few, and many of these you can find locally or on sites like or even on sites like Amazon.  As the demand for green cosmetics grows we will see them sold locally and more readily more and more. It may seem impossible to completely avoid products which are less than green and still get the results, colors and fragrances you love, but truly with a small amount of leg work it's not. And if you decide you would prefer to use the products you know and love, that's okay too... But it's always good to know there are other options out there!

Have a favorite Green or Organic Cosmetic company or product? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!

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