Enhancing their appearance has been a prerogative for women pretty much since the beginning of time. While the practice has been proven to have evolutionary ties to attracting a mate and then reproducing, in a simpler sense it’s rewarding for a woman to accentuate their natural beauty with cosmetics, makeup, and skincare products. We’re fortunate that there’s less of a societal expectation to do so, but the fact that most women continue to ‘do’ themselves up somewhat in the morning suggests it’s still a pleasure.
Recently there has been increasing exposure regarding the extent to which conventional makeup and skincare products are much more harmful than previously regarded. How much should we buy into the insistence that natural, organic products are superior to conventional ones? Is there substance to that claim, or is it perfectly safe to go conventional and enjoy more selection and better prices?
To begin; Our skin has a protective barrier to keep out dangerous compounds, but over exposure to certain conventional skin and personal care products can weaken that barrier and lead to the intrusion of harmful chemicals that can lead to health problems, according to Laura Braunmeier, a natural skincare expert working in conjunction with YesWellness.
To be more specific, there are certain harmful chemicals in these products that cause this degradation. Avoiding them is reason number one to choose natural and organic cosmetics and skincare. Let’s look at them;
- Parabens and Phtalates
These are used extensively in conventional cosmetics, and are linked to cancer development as well as type 2 diabetes. One of the most disturbing of them that’s widespread in use is dibutyl phthalate, which is used in conventional cosmetics to assist in the absorption of other ingredients but can lead to permanent hormonal imbalances that – among other issues – can promote reproductive problems in women. Reason enough I imagine.
Aluminum is found in many skin care products, and most notably in antiperspirants. Absorbing it through the skin is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, among other conditions and diseases.
- Artificial Colors
Conventional makeup is artificially colored, while natural makeup is not. This makes conventional makeup more vibrantly colorful, and less expensive, but it comes at another price. Many of them will have FD&C, which is derived from coal tar. Azo dyes are also common, and are particularly harmful to asthmatics, eczema sufferers / in extreme cases can promote severe headaches, blurred vision, itchy / watery eyes and nose. There’s more of them, but suffice to say the artificial colors in your average makeup are something you should avoid.
- Benzoates & Formaldehydes
Both of these chemicals are incorporated into conventional makeup and cosmetics as preservatives. Benzoates can cause gastric irritation, and formaldehydes can leave you with skin irritation, and in some cases to a severe degree
- Keratolytic Chemicals
Keratolytic chemicals aren’t found in ALL standard cosmetics, but the reason they get a mention here is in the interest of highlighting the long-term degradative effects that some of the cosmetic and skin ‘care’ products can have. Long story short, these corrosives are used in conventional skin peels. And prolonged use can lead to a dissolving of the stratum corneum of your epidermal skin, making it permanently more sensitive to sun damage.
We could go on at length here as there’s a whole host of transgressors found in these products, but we’ll leave it at that – they’re decidedly dangerous for your skin and overall health
Going to the other side of the argument now, there are plenty of reasons why natural cosmetics and skincare products are superior. For starters, they are eco-friendly and as such a responsible choice for those of you who place value on the health and welfare of the planet. This is because they contain no petroleum, aluminum, and lead – all of which require mining and the conducting of it is quite nasty for the earth and often done in very sensitive areas of the planet like South America.
Next up, you should consider the way conventional products have a man-made aroma, while natural or organics will have a natural fragrance. The man-made aromas are created by combining chemicals and other synthetic scent sources, and they too can have a number of toxic effects, with research linking them to the possibility of cancer, nervous system disorders, allergies, and birth defects
Cosmetics derived from 100% natural ingredients will not have as pronounced scents, but when you consider the price that comes with a particularly ‘fragrant’ product then you will likely be quite accepting of that. Essential oils are highly recommended.
Other pluses for natural products include:
- Protection from Premature Aging
Natural makeup usually provides a certain level of sun protection. Especially important for facial skin, which his thinner and more susceptible to UV-related skin aging. Organic products often include Vitamin C
- Gentler on Skin
Conventional makeup dries your skin, making it look tired and dull
- Antioxidants for skin
Natural skin care products often incorporate fruits and vegetables that include antioxidants in their cellular make up, which are then transferred to your skin and provide you with extensive anti-aging benefits
- No Animal Testing
This one gets back to being ethically responsible with your purchases of skin care and cosmetics products, and likely needs no explanation. Animal testing of cosmetics in particular is especially cruel and increasingly a disturbingly archaic way of doing things. Don’t support it, and feel better about your consumerism as a result.
Many conventional cosmetics prevent the skin from breathing and clog pores. These are called comedogens. This can lead do blackheads, acne, and breakouts of other sorts.
To conclude, while it is quite clear that natural products are superior, both for you and for the world you live in, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Their shelf life is shorter due to no preservatives and lead, there are fewer shade options due to their not incorporating artificial colours, they are not waterproof or water resistant, and the fact that there are no preservatives means there is a risk (albeit small) of contaminants forming in the makeup, especially if not used before their indicated ‘best before’ date.
Go natural with your cosmetics, and both look good AND feel good!