The season of giving has swiftly arrived and it’s time we do our holiday shopping; but do we know what we’re really giving our loved ones?  Cosmetic companies advertise their products to be “natural”, “luxurious”, or “flushable” even though these claims couldn’t be further from the truth.  Most consumers are unaware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require pre-market safety assessments as it does with drugs, making cosmetics among the least-regulated products on the market (Breast Cancer Fund, 2010).  Scary? Yes. Not cool? Not cool.  Don’t be fooled by cosmetics’ fancy five-syllable ingredients you can’t pronounce.  I'm here to help you make this your healthiest and most sustainable gift-giving season yet. 

“Exfoliating” Facial Products

In the past decade, there’s been a growing trend for personal care products sold around the world containing micro-plastic particle abrasives employed as an “exfoliant”.  These products are listed as “polyethylene”, which in case you didn’t know, is no different than the plastic used for plastic bags, waster bottles, or food containers.  These micro-beads are designed to be washed down the drain and travel through our sewage system, which easily gets deposited in our environment if not diverted properly by wastewater plants. A single container of polyethylene exfoliants can contain over 300,000 beads (5 Gyres, 2013).  It’s no surprise that these particles are found in all oceanic gyres, bays, gulfs, seas, and in the marine life we harvest for food. 

Alternatives (that work way better):

Natural alternatives such as apricot shells, cocoa or coffee beans are safe and excellent exfoliants.

Burts Bees Exfoliants- http://www.burtsbees.com/Facial-Exfoliants-Toners/facialExfoliantsA...

“Luxurious” Face Lotions and Make-Up

An overwhelming majority of women, including myself, wear make-up and use moisturizer regularly or on occasion; but with the FDA approving cosmetics without proper testing, we are putting chemicals on our faces and bodies that are not always deemed safe. Approximately 85,000 synthetic chemicals are registered today in the United States, and it is estimated that 1,000 or more new chemicals are synthetized each year (Breast Cancer Fund, 2010).  Unfortunately, more than 90 percent have never been tested for their effects on human health. The increasing incidence of breast cancer is paralleled to the proliferation of these synthetic chemicals. Known endocrine disruptors, like phthlalates and parabens, are constantly found in beauty products that are featured as “luxurious”.  There is nothing luxurious about absorbing these chemicals through your skin and putting your body at risk. 

Alternatives:

Coconut oil as a moisturizer- its only ingredient is “100% organic coconut oil” and it’s a more sustainable alternative than other oils.  Coconut trees can grow in almost any kind of soil, and are considered a “three-generation tree” which can support a farmer, his children and his grandchildren.  This is the best moisturizer I've ever used. (Sold at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods).

Make-Up: Skin Deep puts the power of information in consumers' hands so you know what chemicals are being put in your products so you can make informed makeup purchasing decisions.

 http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

“Flushable” Wipes

In order to wipe off all that makeup and moisturizer, many people resort to “flushable” face wipes to get the job done. By definition, there are a lot of things that can be considered “flushable”: hair ties, coins, Legos, you name it; but it doesn’t mean they are intended to go through our sewage system.  These misleading “flushable” wipes are creating massive clogs and backups around the U.S because they aren’t breaking down as they course through the sewer system.  This is costing wastewater plants millions of dollars to dispatch crews to unclog pipes and to upgrade machinery.  Furthermore, these wipes require high levels of preservatives, alcohol and anti-bacterial agents to enable their long shelf life and render them usable.  Again, these harmful chemicals are doing you no favors to be vigorously rubbed and absorbed through your skin.

Alternative:

It exfoliates, there are no chemicals, it can be reused hundreds of times, and it cleans wonderfully—the washcloth.  To this day I have never used a better face wipe. 

To be a critical and conscious consumer requires a little research and diligence; however, once you know the basics, it's easy to avoid products that can put our bodies, our loved ones, and our planet at harm. Spend your money wisely this season, and keep a look out for those cosmetics. Happy Holidays :)

 

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