Regardless of age or gender, people in the Western world use a lot of cosmetic products in their daily lives. Open most people’s bathroom cabinets and you will find an array of lotions, potions, aerosols, colognes, and makeup.
Cosmetics are everywhere, but commercially produced cosmetics are often laden with nefarious chemicals that can adversely affect our natural hormone balance. These same chemicals are also, quite frighteningly, linked to cancer cell growth, learning disabilities, asthma, and even low male fertility, advises The Story of Stuff.
A study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas delved deeper. Working with 100 teenage subjects, researchers effectively demonstrated exactly what happens to our bodies when we reduce our use of cosmetics. The results were illuminating.
Even a few days off from using makeup, shampoos, and other cosmetic products instigated a significant reduction in hormone-disrupting chemicals in participants’ bodies. How did the researchers know this? Well, through the rather glamorous method of collecting urine samples. That’s how.
One hundred Latina teenage girls were chosen as study subjects specifically because, on average, they tended to use more cosmetic products than their adult counterparts. The participants were all given replacement, natural cosmetic products to use throughout the duration of the experiment.
These products were free from chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and oxybenzone, ingredients commonly found in popular cosmetics, soaps, sunscreens, shampoos, and hair-styling formulas. After a three-day trial, the obligatory urine test results were in.
The research team got the results they were hoping for. The teens who exclusively used the low-chemical products exhibited a triumphant drop in the level of chemicals in their bodies. For the scientifically minded, here follows the small print.
Levels of metabolites of diethyl phthalate, commonly used in perfumes, dropped by 27 percent. Both triclosan and benzophenone-3 levels fell by an impressive 36 percent. But best of all? Levels of methyl and propyl paraben, which are often used as preservatives in cosmetic products, dropped by a staggering 45 percent.
“After learning of the results, the youth took it upon themselves to educate friends and community members,” said study co-director Kimberly Parra. Additionally, “[they] presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento,” she shared. Study co-author Maritza Cárdenas then explained that “seeing the drop in chemical levels after just three days shows that simple actions can be taken.”
Are you also concerned about the presence of chemicals in the products that you use? Then maybe you can give these simple actions a try for yourself.
1. Check the label
Take the time to check labels and read the ingredients on the products that you buy. Don’t be daunted; you now know what you’re looking for. If you have a favorite brand that doesn’t detail its ingredients, then contact the manufacturer directly, because knowledge is power.
2. Shop organic
The terms “natural” and “organic” on product packaging have no legal definition. So be wary, unless these terms are substantiated by the ingredients. Perhaps play it safe and stock up on goodies at your nearest health food store instead. When products are free from damaging chemicals (and cosmetic companies know what they are), these companies are pretty good at shouting it from the rooftops.
So, read those labels and you’ll find the good stuff before long.
3. Make your own
If you don’t live near a health food shop or pricey natural products put your bank balance under too much strain, then consider a DIY approach. Just a few easy-to-find natural ingredients can make a plethora of different personal care products. It’s cheaper, it puts you in control of what goes on (and into) your face and body, and it’s fun!
“I’ve decided to splurge more on products with fewer chemicals because of the effect in the future,” Cárdenas shared. “And if you can’t make the best choice when you’re buying because of cost,” she advised, “you can at least try to limit the use of the products you do buy.”