Tag Archives: chemicals

What’s the deal with those pesky parabens?

If you’re like me you only buy paraben-free lotions, shampoos, deodorants and makeup. If you’re also like me you only kind of know what parabens are and why they are bad for you. So, here’s all you need to know about parabens to sound more educated at your next dinner party: 

parabenParabens are a class of (mostly synthetically produced) chemicals, used as preservatives in the cosmetics and pharma industries. Companies use them because they are cheap, help products last on store shelves, and because they prevent the growth of microbes.

Here’s the controversy: #1 absorption, #2 cancer, #3 hormones.

Well ok #1 isn’t up for debate, parabens can be absorbed through the skin, blood, and digestive system; fact. “If these substances are in your blood, they’re also in your liver and in every other place in your body,” explains Torkjel Sandanger, head researcher of a Norwegian study on parabens.

#2 Parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors; fact. In 2004 researchers in the UK detected parabens in the breast cancer tumors of 19 out of 20 women studied, and discovered that the parabens came from something applied to the skin such as an underarm deodorant or cream. The controversy kicks in because it was a small study and did not prove a causal relationship between parabens and breast cancer. Denmark has banned parabens, the EU flip flops on it every few years (currently allowed in up to 0.4% concentrations), and the FDA says they are no biggie because the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (an INDUSTRY-SPONSORED organization) says they’re no biggie. I’m siding with Denmark on this one.

#3 Parabens have been shown to mimic estrogen (which plays a role in breast cancer and is why your 9 year old has boobs); fact. Parabens bind to estrogen receptors on cells and disrupt hormone function (this effect is linked to increased risk of breast cancer/reproductive toxicity). On this one the FDA says it’s ‘aware that estrogenic activity in the body is associated with certain forms of breast cancer. Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen.’ Well great, I’m glad that the chemicals we’re putting into our bodies are LESS estrogenic than what’s already going on.  Really though, I don’t want anything but my natural estrogen floating around in there.

As always make your own decision, but no seriously stop slathering chemicals on your body and for the love of God please get paraben-free, aluminum free deodorant!

Hide your kids, hide your wife.

While the above may be an exaggerated blog title, this is the headline I wake up to:

Major Retailers Sell Carcinogenic Shampoos, Lawsuit Claims

And I thought: no wonder everybody knows someone that has cancer, and about that gem of a news story from 2012. Maybe we should stop putting cancer in our F’ing SHAMPOO.

The culprit ingredient is cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), used to make foam and bubbles, which was added last year as a known carcinogen to Cali’s Proposition 65 list (chemical disclosure law) based on the assessment by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization and super legit).

The Center for Environmental Health (kickass NGO focused on protecting people from toxic chemicals) bought products around the bay area and had them independently tested, as companies were supposed to remove it by June. Testing found 98 products contained the chemical and offenders included Colgate Palmolive, Paul Mitchell, Lush, and store-brand products purchased at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Kmart and Babies R Us.

To see the full list of shampoos you, your kids, and your wife should definitely not be lathering on click here.

GUEST POST: Green Mascara

Hey, I’m Jen. I had a professor who once had us stand up in front of everyone to introduce ourselves. She asked the class to take out anything we had that could describe us without words. While my peers fumbled through notebooks, backpacks and purses for iPods and books, I swiftly pulled out a tube of mascara and held it up.

Maybe not the best first impression to give my teacher, but mascara is a big part of my life. Yes I love books, movies, and my family, but mascara is something I just can’t live without. Seriously… I would consider going naked before leaving the house without my beloved cosmetic.

I remember the glorious day I first put it on. It was my first day of seventh grade, my big year, and I needed BIG lashes to go with it.  My hair was half up, half down, my purple bedazzled Gap tee was looking fresh and my eyelashes were skyscrapers. It was the first time I looked in the mirror and didn’t feel like a kid.

From that day on I was hooked. And twelve years later, I’m still in love.

In 2008, I made the decision to only use cruelty free products, priding myself on such a conscious decision about makeup. But it wasn’t until I watched a little documentary that I realized how mistaken I was.

The “Story Of Stuff” Project is an amazing tool that helps us realize what we are doing to the planet, our environment and ourselves. I watched their “Story Of Stuff: Cosmetics” and my head almost exploded.  The makeup we are putting on our bodies is not safe!

The average woman uses 12 products a day. Those 12 small products contain hundreds of chemicals, less than 20% of which are inspected by the FDA. In fact, include elements that are known to cause cancer, asthma, learning disabilities and infertility. Think about putting that on your face for the next 60 years.

The documentary taught me that there are no regulations on makeup in our country. Since words like “natural”, “herbal” and “organic” have no legal definition when it comes to cosmetics, I set out on a mission to find a beauty line that can help me make the right choices for the planet and my body.

And I did.

I found 100% Pure Cosmetics, a company that uses no chemicals or harsh dyes. Their make up is 100% vegan and is even more surprisingly reasonably priced. 100% Pure offers cosmetics, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, and skin care, and is totally committed to the idea of unadulterated products.  Since as much as 60% of topical skin-care products are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, 100% Pure has taken on the task of cosmetics with no synthetic chemicals, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, harsh detergents or any other unhealthy toxins.

As I looked further into 100% Pure I found that they not only had amazing products but great gift sets. I purchased the FRUIT PIGMENTED 3-pc KIT, which includes a tinted moisturizer, the renowned coffee bean caffeine eye cream and the thing I was most looking forward to: black tea mascara. These three full sized products came to $50.00 with free shipping, which I consider reasonable, especially for the quality and peace of mind.

The tinted moisturizer is sheer yet covers small imperfections. It offers SPF, which is so important if you expect to be outside a lot during the day, and provides a quick way to smooth out your complexion. The Coffee Bean Caffeine eye cream smells delicious and has been featured in a bunch of magazines. It’s not an everyday item for me, but on my tired or hung over days it definitely saves me from looking like an extra on “The Walking Dead”.

The black tea mascara was something I was so excited to try and oddly nervous about at the same time. Now that I know how horrible other brands are, what if I didn’t like it? How could I ever go back?

Thankfully, 100% Pure did not disappoint.

This is the perfect daytime mascara. The black pigment is totally there, the lashes are definitely lengthened, although it does take a few coats to get the volume I like.

Overall, I think I’m in LOVE with 100% Pure. I just can’t help myself from trying more and more make up! In fact, I am expecting more 100% Pure in the mail while I write this. I just purchased their “All You Need” gift set and it is pathetic how often I track the shipping.

So if you’re as blind as I was before, make sure you know what you’re putting on your body. Now, I am constantly on the hunt (pun intended) for better and better green makeup products, and if I find any more I promise to share them with Sarah and the world.

About the Author: Jen and Sarah have dabbled in yoga, gone on a few hikes, and seen a lot of improv together. Jen is a teacher, a student, and as you can see from this post, into cosmetics. She grew up in New England but transplanted herself to Los Angeles where she’s started composting, trying out meatless Mondays, and attempting to walk in heels.

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