Chemical warning for cosmetics
Below is a transcript from a report screened on A Current Affaire (Australian Television Channel 9) on Tue 05/09/06, as reported by Ros Thomas.
Many women will spend a small fortune on toiletries and cosmetics over their lifetime, using them morning and night. However, very few women actually have a clue what is in the products they use.
A British lobby group has issued a warning that the average woman applies more than 175 chemical compounds to her face and body every day.
Dr Ernest Tan, a Perth dermatologist, says the cosmetics industry sells science to women as though it's nature. Chief amongst their favoured ingredients are the following:
- Formaldehyde — the same compound used to embalm bodies.
- Sodium laurel sulphate — used to create bubbles in shampoos and soaps.
- Parabens — often used in moisturisers, mostly as preservatives.
All of the above ingredients can cause reactions, from simple irritations if the skin is slightly damaged, to full allergic reactions.
Comment: This is a very conservative list. There are literally hundreds of chemicals (synthetic and natural), which are used in skin care and cosmetics, which have been band in countries such as the US and Canada - but not here in Australia...
However, beauty editors such as Cleo magazine's Rachel Mannell say if those chemicals weren't in makeup, no one would buy them because they'd look, smell and feel terrible.
Comment: After speaking with Rachel personally, she pointed out, that a focus on more natural ingredients is to be encouraged and that more and more companies are moving in that direction.
Editors of magazines such as Cleo, have an enormous influence on readers and are in an ideal position to bring awareness and education to the public.
You have to ask: Might it not be better to have a non-foaming cleanser or shampoo, which are widely available by the way, and avoid the possibility of slowly poisoning oneself?
Might not the thinking consumer prefer a product that may not look quite as pretty but performs the intended functions equally well in a natural way, rather than consume potentially dangerous chemicals?
"It's a catch-22 because sulphates are used in shampoos and cleansers for the foaming effect and if the products don't have sulphates in them, they don't foam and consumers are unhappy," Mannell says.
Comment: Again, this is not the case. More and more consumers are looking for natural skin and personal care products and are educating themselves on the potential dangers of these chemicals.
I run a web site that focuses on natural skin care and it provides many articles on the dangers and potentially harmful ingredients in commercially available beauty products.
But no longer fooled by the glitz and glamour of the beauty business, many women are now asking questions about what's in their cosmetics and why you need to be a scientist to understand the labels.
Comment: This is certainly a growing trend. We receive many emails wanting to know if our products include chemicals that have been discussed widely in the media, such as the three mentioned above. This points out to us, that consumers are increasingly less willing to put chemicals on their skin, which may pose a danger to their health, and this is why we do not use them in our products.
Certainly dermatologists say we're being bombarded with all kinds of products none of us need. "I think a lot of females are using too many products and I think all they need to use is a soap-free wash, a moisturiser and some sun protection. I think the rest, in terms of cosmetics, are over-used and over-marketed," Dr Tan says.
Comment: Dr Tan makes a very valid point, however, I think even he would agree that a daily skin care regime which includes cleansing, toning and moisturising is a sound approach to skin care, and using products that utilise natural ingredients, which are just as effective, if not more so then their synthetic counterparts, are to be preferred.
© Copyright: Wildcrafted Herbal Products, 2006
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