Toxic Topic[als]

So you’re a vogue yogini – the “vogue” suggesting your penchant for all things fashionable and the “yogini” suggesting your ability to forsake most of those things. You bring last season’s clothes to a thrift store and donate well-worn items. You’ve pared down your closet and learned to live on less [less stilettos but more stretchy pants, that is]. At posh soirees you stick to sparkling water [ok, or maybe just a glass of pinot] and vegetarian lettuce wraps. You refuse the most decadent of treats during the holidays because you know the havoc that attractive red velvet cake will wreak on your insides, nevermind your bum. You buy a new vacuum cleaner with an EPA filter. You feel pretty clean, pretty “green,” and pretty non-toxic. Then, after a long day of green juice, asana, avoiding the sale at Nordstrom, and scrubbing your kitchen with some P & G Seventh Generation cleanser while chanting the mantra for purification, you get home and lather the highly-toxic Retinyl Palmitate into your largest organ – your skin. What? How? Who?  Me? That’s right – you. Have you heard of Pond’s Time Rewind Overnight Wrinkle Repair Cream? Givenchy No Surgetics Wrinkle Defy Correcting Cream? Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer Tinted Moisturizer? Laura Mercier Oil-Free Gel Cleanser?

Each of the products mentioned above are rated a 9 out of 10 in toxicity by the Environmental Working Group. And each product mentioned, along with 418 others, contain Retinyl Palmitate, a “known human reproductive toxicant,” and low doses of the ingredient have caused tumors in lab rats [and they test on animals – not awesome either]. That’s right, the chick at the Laura Mercier counter took your $35 and gave you a bottle of poison advertised as facial cleanser. Specifically, the product advertisement is as follows:

Laura Mercier Oil-Free Gel Cleanser is an oil-free gel containing coconut and oat cleansing agents that gently removes oil and impurities.

  • Marine derived exfoliants remove dead skin cells to help minimize the appearance of pores
  • Allantoin calms & soothes skin
  • Panthenol lightly moisturizes & Vitamins A & E protect the skin against free radicals
  • Avoid contact with the eyes

[Avoid contact with the eyes? Red flag!]

Nowhere does the product advertise its dangers [shocking].

Now, I am by no means a chemical or product expert [I barely passed science in college, after all] but I am a fan of not ingesting poison. You’d be surprised at how much poison you probably ingest topically – that is, by putting it on your skin. Retinyl Palmitate is just one example. There are thousands of dangerous ingredients out there and you’d be surprised at where you find them. Chances are, despite being a low-maintenance yogini, you probably have some skin care, moisturizing, and makeup regimes [although you save the moisturizer until after hot class], and more than likely you’ll find some crap in your products. Take a look in your bathroom. What kinds of products do you use? Have you read the ingredients? Researched the dangers associated with those ingredients? I know you balk at food products containing aspartame, so why don’t you balk at moisturizers with toxic fragrance?

The products mentioned above [sorry for picking on you, Laura M.] are just a few of the many dangerous products out there. Neutrogena, L’Oreal, Clinique, Maybelline, Jergens, Shisheido, Dior and countless more brands all have products on the toxic list.

Luckily, the EWG has a massive Cosmetic Safety Database profiling more than 65,00 products so you can find out the real story about your cosmetics. It’s called Skin Deep and you can search it here. Check up on your facial cleaner, nail polish, bar soap, moisturizer, sunscreen, and so on. The database rates each product on a toxicity scale from 1, being the least toxic, to 10, being the most toxic. Additionally, each ingredient is profiled for its particular danger (when the information is available). After checking up on products you have and tossing the scary ones, use the database to research less dangerous cosmetics. The good news is, there are also tons of less-toxic options and they’re not all uber-expensive. That said, Skin Deep isn’t a perfect database but it’s a good place to start, especially before you go around thinking you’re a juiced-up clean machine. You might be surprised by how junky you actually are.

Source: Environmental Working Group.

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