This is the story of a reformed beauty queen — a girl who was once drawn to her local drugstore by the allure of a magazine ad and its promise of magical ingredients, snazzier packaging and better results. No longer...
And here's why: According to a 2005 survey of 2,300 adults by the Environmental Working Group, the average woman encounters 168 chemical ingredients in her beauty regimen everyday. And let's not forget about the men — they're slathering themselves with an average of 85 chemicals everyday, too. With 90% of the 10,500 different chemicals used in personal care products never evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety, it's impossible to have peace of mind when our skin is potentially absorbing chemicals that might cause cancer, reproductive problems or other health concerns. Plus, some of these chemicals can harm the environment, too.
Even the drugs and personal care products that disappear down the drain can harm fish and other wildlife at the other end of the pipe. So you may be asking: What's the big deal? Beauty products contain small amounts of toxic chemicals. Even "active ingredients" that promise the most benefits for your beauty make up just 1% of most products.
The big deal is that we're using these products regularly, essentially creating a stockpile of some chemicals in our bodies (stored in fat cells) that may only cause harm after years of use. Some preservative chemicals used in cosmetics (like parabens) have been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen, contributing to breast cancer risk.
Pregnant mothers can pass along the effects of some chemicals to their unborn offspring, like testicular abnormalities in little boys or vaginal cancer in teenage girls. And don't think that spending more money is the answer — endocrine-disrupting chemicals are found in both drugstore and high-end department store brands.
These are frightening, but true, facts that have inspired me to pursue preventative measures now in my 20s, rather than allow this ticking time bomb to explode years down the road, potentially affecting both me and my future children.