When it comes to healthy body care, is less more? (Featuring: the Cosmetic Industry)

Have you ever read the labels on your hair care products, your tooth pastes, and your deodorants? Why do we use all of these things? Do we even have too?

Growing up- shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, mouth wash, body wash, face wash, hand soap, and lotion were just a few of the key necessities instructed to me by my parents, doctors, magazines, and health teachers for maintaining a happy and healthy body. In my family specifically, we opted for the oily hair shampoo, as everyone in the family would get “grease slicks” after simply a day or two.

And knowing that we had greasy hair, you had to make sure you were using some sort of body wash and face wash, because otherwise your skin would break out in acne. But the trick was not to dry out your hair too much with the clarifying shampoo-use some conditioner afterwards to re-moisturize it or you will get split ends. Same goes for your bodies, if you use a good cleansing soap, make sure you use some lotion to keep it from drying out after your shower, but not if you’ve just shaved your legs. Face wash is good, but you must exfoliate, and then tone, and then moisturize to ensure you don’t break out.

Do these cycles sound familiar to you? I began to become aware of them in second year of college. As a stressed out and hormonal undergrad, I started to have acne breakouts for the first time in my life. At first, I was mortified. I had never really had to use face wash like everyone else, because throughout high school, I had relatively good skin. So in an attempt to reverse the effects, I began using a variety of different facial scrubs, cleansers, and soaps, casting away almost full bottles after a week of no success.

I got tons of recommendations, spent time roaming the face wash section of the grocery store, and tried everything from Burt Bees, to Noxema, to St. Ives.. While I wanted to be as natural as possible, I began to use more potent remedies the worse that it got. Especially when I began seeing the dots on my upper back appear. And so here I was, a financially broke, acne covered kid with a bathroom full of “solutions” that didn’t seem to solve anything. So I eventully decided, that maybe that wasn’t the way to fix it.

See, with all of these products, the problem was getting worse. I was attacking my skin, and I was spending ridiculous amounts of money for a single bottle.  So I decided to step back, and like I did in high school, stop using any. I knew that my skin had regulated itself back then, so I decided: Maybe it will now! In any case, I was done with those chemicals. And do you know what? It worked.

Our skin, our hair, and our bodies, are amazing systems, designed to regulate and solve most of our daily issues, from colds to scraps, to infections and bruises. But everyday, we pile all of these chemicals on top of them, and its like they’re under constant attack. So why are all of these companies pushing so much onto us? Not only do they strip our bodies of its own ability to stay healthy, they add in many toxins as well (which I will post about soon)!

There are many reasons why these companies push their products.. try over 38 billion reasons! Yes, in just 2011, the cosmetic industry surpassed $38 Billion dollars in sales simply in the U.S.. If you are familiar with this culture, you know that everyone is taught from a young age to use many of the products I previously mentioned. And for the most part- these products are seen as both familiar and necessary by both health standards and social norms.

What we don’t know is that the regulations on these products is incredibly laid back. Did you know that out of all the categories, cosmetics are actually the least restricted products available? Unless it has a color additive, these products require no real “testing”, no monitoring of health effects, and have inadequate labeling requirements for getting onto the shelf. In fact, in 2009, a study by the Breast Cancer Fund found lead in many children’s Halloween face paints! (Lead in any amount is found to be toxic.)

Furthermore, many of these companies still use animal testing as their primary research. Most of these animals are mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs- all of which are not covered under the Animal Welfare Act, and which are often eliminated at the end of their test (if the test is not lethal itself). Some of the more well known companies are:

-Almay, -Arm & Hammer, -Axe, -Avon, -Banana Boat, -Bausch & Lomb, -Clairol, -Clinique, -Cover Girl, -Dove, -Estee Lauder, – Fantastik, -Finesse, -Garnier, -Giorgio Armani, -Herbal Essences, -Ivory, – Johnson & Johnson, -Lever, -Listerine, -L’Oreal USA, -Maybelline, – Michael Kors, -Neutrogena, – Pantene, -Playtex Corporation, -Proctor & Gamble Co.

(follow the link below for more)

http://www.thevegetariansite.com/ethics_test.htm

So knowing all of this, how do we make informed decisions? For me, I opted to stop using many of the products. But there are some good products still out there! In my next post, I will help you figure out some of the worst toxins to avoid, and also how to spot them on the labels! (Organic normally means close to nothing when it comes to cosmetics, so don’t be fooled!)

On a more personal note, however, I will say that despite the success of removing the face wash, I was still skeptical when I first heard about the “No-Poo” method. I knew what happened when I didn’t wash my hair for a week, and it wasn’t pretty. But once I read more about it, I was intrigued. So this past January, I decided to try it. For almost 2 months now, I have not worried about the need to buy or use shampoo or conditioner.

Not so bad, huh?

20140221_201133

Check back soon for Part 2 of this post, where I will break down some of the toxins commonly found in our cosmetic items, and Part 3 where I will explain my body care regiment! In the mean time, check out these few links from different folks going without shampoo for starters!

http://www.howweflourish.com/2013/10/11/water-washing/

http://www.ubertramp.com/index.php/backpacking-tips/gear-tips/391-loose-the-shampoo

http://www.ndoherty.com/no-shampoo/

http://tousledbeautyblog.com/2013/04/24/ditching-the-shampoo/

Also, for more research into the statistics and regulations, etc., check out these links! Thanks for reading! 

http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm262353.htm

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304682504579153842632252528

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-the-beauty-industry-wont-tell-you-1303249279432?pagenumber=1

http://www.thebeautycompany.co/downloads/Beyer_BeautyNumbers.pdf

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/cosmetic_testing/qa/questions_answers.html

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2 thoughts on “When it comes to healthy body care, is less more? (Featuring: the Cosmetic Industry)

  1. I am excited for the next two parts of this blog, and I am really happy this is the topic. I want to report first hand how awesome, soft, and great smelling your hair and skin is on a day to day basis. The second thing I want to mention is that we need to be our own biggest skeptic about buying and using any product. Our ingrained “needs” have been propagandized or advertised to us since birth, and we all have a lot to unlearn about ourselves, and while it can be difficult at first the progress is a snowball effect that feels really good once we get going. Thanks for writing these blogs.

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