Written by Maeve Gallagher.
Cancer. Infertility. Endocrine disruption. Bioaccumulation. Contamination concerns. Occupational hazards. Neurotoxicity. Organ system toxicity. Sounds like a bunch of stuff you could get from drinking polluted water - not from your shampoo, right?
Hindsight is 20/20. For almost five years, I used the same shampoo and conditioner to tame the beast (also known as my head of hair). It made my hair smell and look pretty- flaunting coconut, Icelandic moss and apricot extract as key ingredients. Now, looking that very product up on the Cosmetic Database- I learn that not only were all the above listed side effects concerns of using this product, but that there is a moderate risk of increased cancer and infertility. Well sh*t.
I started to notice a change in my skin's reaction to my regular beauty care regime around the time I completed the Fab Detox. When used, my regular facial cleanser - which rates 7 on the Cosmetic Database - would result in red, itchy irritation all over my face and neck. Turns out, once you start putting in all the goodness of green juice, zucchini noodles, homemade bone broth and other unprocessed whole foods, your body doesn't want to put up with any ol' garbage. I noticed this almost immediately once I shifted my diet- my skin and body simply would not put up with heavy metal laden, toxic beauty care products. Changes had to be made.
I swapped out my anti-perspirant right off the bat. Having a history of breast cancer in my family, this one seemed like a no brainer. You can argue all you want with me on that one- many people do. But as Meghan says "I don't want to use anything that has to be proven NOT to give me cancer." Touche. Next up was the make-up collection- which wasn't so difficult, since my entire collection was stolen in Costa Rica (who takes makeup backpacking!? I mean really now...) and a little thing called Living Libations came into my life. My exploration of that site lead to me ditching my toxic lip stuff, cheek stuff plus all my face wash and face cream. Coconut oil replaced my moisturizer. Score- almost there. My mom had been telling me for years of her disdain for toxic nail polishes- she was beyond pleased to know I've given that up, too.
Swapping out my shampoo and conditioner was a tougher move. I resolved to do it slowly, since apparently not having a bad hair day was a good excuse to use chemicals on my porous scalp. I dabbled in a few natural products, but none achieved the results I desired. I swapped back and forth with my old, toxic stuff. After working the last Environmental Defence Eco Beauty Market and learning all about their Just Beautiful campaign, my attitude completely changed. I went straight home and threw out every product I used that rated above 3 on the Cosmetic Database. One day, I want to be a mother and I would like to see my children grow up. Using these products not only increased my rate of infertility but also cancer, Alzheimer's, Dementia and more. How could I excuse using these products one second longer having this knowledge? I simply couldn't. Finding the right natural hair product that wasn't outrageously pricey was tricky- but I did with Dr. Bronner's Rinse and Leave in conditioners.
Can I take back the 25+ years of cosmetic and beauty care product use? Nope, can't be done. I feel empowered having the knowledge now that moving forward, I will make educated decisions on what I chose to slather on my body, nails and scalp. I know now that everything I put on and in my body will affect how I look and feel. I absolutely will not let flashy advertising sway me to ever again. And that is awesome.
Maeve Gallagher is technical director at Meghan Telpner Inc. Having spent too many years perfecting the art of mirror-less mascara application, she now moves forward step by step to change her beauty care regime, one natural product at a time.
Question of the Day: What beauty care products have you ditched and switched?