Monday, May 3, 2010

What's on the label?

In my quest for wellness I've started taking a closer look at exactly what is in many of the products I use daily. Needless to say I was overwhelmed. Scanning the labels it all seemed like a foreign language to me. I set out to decipher these strange words, and after doing an internet search discovered something called endocrine disrupter chemicals (EDC's).

According to the National Institute of Environmental Sciences, EDC's are "substances in our environment, food, and consumer products that interfere with hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, or action resulting in a deviation from normal homeostatic control or reproduction." Well, that's a mouthful, but the take away is "a deviation from the norm." That doesn't sound good.

Considering that most cosmetics enter the body through the skin, my skin is my largest organ and I use most of these products daily, I decided to narrow my focus to personal care products for now. To make matters worse, I discovered that the cosmetics industry is unregulated. Naively, I thought that they would fall under some regulating agency like the FDA. The reality is the cosmetics industry can call anything natural or herbal even if it contains things that are far from it. For example, most shampoos, lotions, soaps, and cosmetics contain paraben or phenoxyethanol (EDC's), even the so-called natural products.

So what's a hair product, fragrance loving girl to do? Well, if you're politically minded you could get involved in the campaign for safe cosmeticsYou can also begin by eliminating just one product at a time from your beauty regimen. Stop using the cosmetic that contains the most EDC's and that you use most frequently and replace it with something that doesn't contain EDc's. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has some great info on their website to help get started. Just click on the post title to view it.

It's been frustrating trying to find personal care products that don't contain EDC's, but I keep reminding myself that small changes can have a big impact. This is especially important considering the cumulative amounts of EDC exposure received through the daily use of these products on our skin. In this case the price of beauty is more than skin deep.

PS I did find a great body lotion at our local herbal pharmacy. Just email me if you're interested.

Sources:
For more information check out http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/docs/endocrine.pdf and http://www.ewg.org/files/EWG_cosmeticsguide.pdf
http://e.hormone.tulane.edu/learning/learning.html
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm


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