Any recommendations in this post are not intended to diagnose or treat disease. This article is purely for informational purposes and is not intended to make any health claims. 

 If you suffer from fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle pain, brain fog or any chronic condition that chips away at your happiness, it’s a good idea to get evaluated by a functional medicine doctor and run some lab tests. And maybe it’s also time to look at what is entering your bloodstream and brain through your pores.

The cosmetic effect on our internal health is often overlooked when we go on a wild goose chase to find answers to health problems. How much longer do you want to endure the burden of achy joints, chronic inflammation and simply missing out on the fun in life? Let’s look at the topical side of things.

In my last article, “Straining the Cosmetic Soup” I talked about the state of cosmetic toxicity regulation in the US versus Europe and Canada and the importance of being a conscious consumer. 1 

Too often we are swayed by media and celebrities into buying what’s hot and what will improve our appearance, making us look younger. We tend overlook the effect on our internal function. The scary part is we don’t feel the effects of topical toxins. And unless we have a skin reaction such as allergic dermatitis or eczema, we don’t feel it either. Out of sight out of mind. That is until months to years down the road when we wonder why we can’t focus, why the weight won’t come off despite diets, fasts and exercise or until autoimmunity is “suddenly” diagnosed. 

You can pull a cosmetic product off the shelf, turn it around and go dizzy just looking at the list of ingredients!

 

My general rule for reading labels.

When I started down this road of natural health, I found it daunting way back then just to read those cosmetic labels.  The internet was barely born and we had no smart phones nor apps for easy access. Okay I am dating myself but here’s my point: It was common sense to me.  If the ingredient sounded like part of a chemistry experiment, it made me question putting it on my body or in my hair. To this day, I tell my patients “If it doesn’t sound like it came mostly from nature, it won’t serve you well”.  Translation: Do NOT bring that home. 

Keep in mind, there are many chemicals which are considered safe in low doses. But with regular use on a long term basis, I want you to consider what happens to your body over time. I call it the accrued effect on your cellular function and tissues. (This includes your brain – your most vital organ which is most vulnerable to chemical perpetrators.) Studies are now revealing that combinations of chemicals also have a detrimental effect, increasing your risk of cancer. 2 

Some common product types to be aware of: 
Hair dyes (especially dark, permanent dyes) – allergies and cancer. 
Loose powder cosmetics – inhalation risk. 
Aerosol sprays – inhalation and environmental risk.
Nail care – That one is largely explained in my previous blog articles on nail toxicity. 

My Common Ten Ingredients to Avoid:

Hopefully this gives you a general starter guideline for choosing safer products.  You may even be able to trace some of your conditions and symptoms back to your bathroom.

Formaldehyde 
Nail polish, nail hardeners, eyelash glue, hair gels, soaps, makeup, shampoos, lotions, deodorants. This a common culprit also found in mattresses, bed sheets, pillows, furniture and clothing. 
Toxicity by inhalation causing lung conditions, headaches, skin rashes.

Parabens 
Found in over 80% of ALL cosmetics on the market.
Preservatives. These are endocrine disruptors and potential carcinogens.  
 
Fragrances (without an asterick) 
Found in scented body lotions, parfums, etc. 
Allergens, potential carcinogenic risks. 
(In the U.S. companies are not required to list the ingredients in their cosmetics. An asterick denotes an all-natural fragrance and should be disclosing the source of fragrance such as 100% essential oils). 

PEG’s 
Found in lotions, makeup, soaps etc. 
May be contaminated with carcinogens and contribute to birth defects and infertility. 
 
Petrolatum 
Found in hair and skin conditioners, moisturizing lip care and emollients 
Organ system toxicity. Also look for “mineral jelly” in the list.  

Phthalates 
Found in fragrances and perfumes.
Respiratory toxins, endocrine disruptors, male infertility, birth defects, inability to carry a baby to term. 

Sulfates 
Found in toothpaste, face wash, body wash, soaps to create the foam and lather effect. There are many versions of sulfates (consider all). 
Skin, eye, lung irritants. May cause cancer. Environmental concerns for aquatic life. 

Talc 
Found in products such as baby powder, makeup. 
In natural form, may contains asbestos, Carcinogenic in lungs, genitals.  
(See the story in my last blog about the recent ban by FDA regarding children’s cosmetics HERE.) 

Toluene
Found in nail polish. 
Crosses the blood brain barrier and disrupts neurotransmitter function. 
(You can read my “Toxic Manicure” Blog article describing all the common nail care ingredients HERE.) 

Triclosan 
Found in hand sanitizers, toothpaste, liquid hand soaps (such as those you find in most public bathrooms) 
Endocrine (thyroid) disruption, allergies, asthma, eczema. 

A safe skin product for aging complexions!
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I usually refer to the Environmental Working Group’s rankings and evaluations for both food and cosmetics. You can search their website for the Skin Deep Personal Care Guide at www.ewg.org 
Commercial and designer cosmetics usually come at a higher price. Personally, I can’t justify spending hard earned money on things that will rob me of my health and potentially shorten my life span.  
 
I’ve heard all the excuses from patients and friends, including this one: “But all natural and organic products are soooo expensive!” 
Really?  Chemo, surgery and medications are more expensive and not just financially. Investing in natural products and services in most cases supports smaller businesses, is a sustainable practice (supporting our environment) and optimizes your health to prevent complications and expensive disease conditions in the future. 

I try to shop local and support manufacturers who ethically source their ingredients (not tested on animals). For example, one of my favorites is the Hyaluronic Serugel from Devita International (based in Glendale, AZ). 

The challenge is, can you consider your future wellbeing with every choice you make today?  

 

Dr. Melanie

 

Resources and References: 

  1. https://www.nakedtruthbydrmelanie.com/straining-the-toxic-cosmetic-soup/?v=7516fd43adaa 
  1. https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/36/Suppl_1/S254/316933?sid=db47f5ec-47a2-4879-bf30-6da9c076003d

 

 

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