Have you seen the documentary film Toxic Beauty (from Phyllis Ellis), which investigates whether our beauty, skin and hair products could be doing us more harm than good?
Well, you should. We have.
It’s uncomfortable viewing and it’s scary in parts. It will make you wonder about every single product you have ever used on your body, and even those your parents may have used when you were a child.
But it is essential viewing, and for those of us who understand a little about this kind of thing, it simply reinforces what we already know – that clean beauty is the only beauty.
These are the five things that shocked us the most in Toxic Beauty.
THERE HAVE BEEN CONCERNS ABOUT COSMETIC SAFETY STANDARDS FOR DECADES.
If you think this is unbelievable, you’ll be shocked to know that despite this, there has been no significant policy change in this area since the 1930’s when a page-and-a-half of regulations was first set. In the United States, almost every attempt made to review, or increase, the regulation of personal care products has been met with vigorous resistance from the industry. Instead, they advocate self-regulation, which means that the ethical and safety standards for the personal care industry are set and monitored by – you guessed it – the members of that same industry. Not exactly objective.
NOT MANY BEAUTY PRODUCTS ARE SAFETY TESTED BEFORE GOING TO MARKET.
In the United States, where there is rigorous testing for food and drugs before public consumption, no such testing exists for beauty, skin and hair products. Products in this category are only tested IF problems start to occur. So, how do we know that what it says on the label is true? We need to do our research, or buy from a trusted reseller who has done the work for us (like Biddy+May!).
WE NEED TO BETTER UNDERSTAND ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS.
An endocrine disruptor is any synthetic substance that can mimic endocrine hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, which may cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological or immune effects at certain doses. There is data that connects common chemicals like parabens and phthalates to this kind of hormone disruption, indicating the use of carcinogenic heavy metals in many personal care products. Scary stuff.
WE ARE ONLY STARTING TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPACTS OF THESE CHEMICALS.
When we talk about the personal care industry, we are talking about thousands and thousands of different chemicals, which have potential effects both in the short and long term. Whether or not any of this exposure will negatively impact our health is unknown, and hopefully unlikely, but we have been caught out before. For example, numerous studies (not to mention anecdotal evidence) have indicated that prolonged usage of baby talcum powder can be carcinogenic, despite these products being marketed as safe – even today.
NOT ALL BEAUTY PRODUCTS ACTUALLY DISCLOSE THEIR INGREDIENTS.
Huh? That’s right, many labels do not disclose what is in fragrance, perfume, parfum, aroma or flavour. These items can all conceal a range of potentially toxic chemicals. That means if you think your soap or moisturizer is clean, but lists “fragrance” as an ingredient, you need to think again.
The upshot of all of this terrifying stuff is that we need to be more aware, and thoughtful, when using beauty, skin and hair products. We need to consider replacing any potentially toxic products in our bathroom cabinet with clean ones - even if that means doing it one item at a time.
The good news is there are so many amazing toxic and cruelty free brands in every pocket of the globe making safe high-performing skin care, hair care and make up. And we happen to know a few of them here at Biddy+May, where we examine and interpret every ingredient in every product sold. So, you can always feel confident when shopping with us that none of our products will appear in the next beauty industry expose!
Written by Alysha Farry for Biddy + May Clean Beauty Blog
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