There’s an assumption that toxic ingredients in mainstream cosmetics are too minuscule to cause adverse health effects. But have you ever considered the cumulative effect of your beauty products, day after day?
How Many Beauty Products in a Single Day?
I love collecting beauty products–too much, perhaps–so I decided to create a typical breakdown of what I put on my face, body and hair each morning:
- facial cleanser
- body oil or lotion
- facial serum
- eye cream
- moisturizer with SPF
- loose powder
- eyeshadow primer
- eyebrow pencil
- lipgloss or balm
- hairstyling product
- hand cream
That’s twenty potential points of exposure. And not just today. But EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
One Plus One Might Equal Five
Sometimes more of a product makes it into our body than we intend or realize. Loose powders and sprays can be accidentally inhaled. And some topically-applied cosmetics penetrate the skin barrier. Our skin, after all, is the largest organ of our body.
Some ingredients commonly used in skincare formulations, called absorption enhancers, allow a cream or serum to get that much deeper into the body through the skin. And the FDA does not require that the manufacturer determine the amount of product that will eventually make its way into your body.
Chronic, low-dose exposure to toxic chemicals affects your quality of life for the entirety of your life.
Next, think about bioaccumulation, which is when a substance progressively builds up in an organism “because the rate of intake exceeds the organism’s ability to remove the substance from the body”. The human body can’t always metabolize all the hormone mimickers, partial carcinogens, and other toxic sludge we’re constantly exposing it to.
A little bit of a bad thing adds up.
The David Suzuki Foundation states it best: “The quantity of any particular chemical of concern in a single application of a single cosmetic is, in most cases, very small. Yet it is not uncommon for a given cosmetic to contain multiple ingredients linked to health and environmental hazards, and most of us regularly use several products every day. These individually small doses add up and combine with other daily exposures to toxic substances in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the manufactured products we use at work and at home.”
It was simpler, I once told myself, to assume the cosmetic manufacturers and FDA would keep my best interest at heart. I shut my eyes and pretended that my beauty routine had zero effect on my health. Then I began reading labels and learned about the questionable chemicals I was using every day. That’s when I realized that I needed to make a change.