What to Do When Your Beauty Routine Is Making You Sick
When it’s time to go out, or you just want to look pretty, it’s easy to reach for your favorite lip gloss. But what if it’s actually making you sick through toxin exposure?
It seems unfair that an innocent-sounding object like lip gloss or lipstick could actually be harming us! Unfortunately, the truth is these cosmetics are not regulated and most of them contain heavy metals and chemicals that wreak havoc on our health.
Did you know experts estimate the average woman eats 10 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime? (1) Read on to learn how to protect yourself and your family with chemical-free makeup.
Heavy Metals in Cosmetics?
If you haven’t heard much about heavy metals, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Isn’t metal natural? Yes, but when we talk about “heavy metals,” we’re referring to tiny, toxic pieces of metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, and many others. Our processes of mining and manufacturing often stir them up and expose us to them in unnatural ways and amounts.
These heavy metals, which can easily be absorbed into our bodies, are hard to get rid of, so when we’re exposed they build up in our bodies and cause many health problems. (More on this in a bit.)
If heavy metals are such a problem, why do we find lead and the others in so many cosmetics?
Obviously, most companies are not adding heavy metals just for the sake of adding heavy metals! Instead, heavy metals often sneak into products by way of the materials used for adding the coloring. The coloring pigments are typically based on either petroleum or minerals, and both of these could include heavy metals. (2)
The Dangers of Heavy Metals in Beauty Products
Having heavy metals in our bodies is linked to many adverse effects on our health. Heavy metals can cause many problems, including: contributing to the development of autoimmune disorders, slowing cellular energy, burdening detoxification channels, causing hormonal imbalances, and affecting behavior and learning in children. (3)
When we use lip gloss or lipstick with lead and other heavy metals, it’s easy to ingest them while our skin also is absorbing the toxins. Once we’re exposed, it’s difficult for our bodies to clear these toxins, which can lead to build up and ever-increasing associated health issues. (4)
Lead. Most of us have heard about lead from the way it was removed from house paint and gasoline for its health hazards. However, lead still lingers in our lives today in other places. Surprisingly, lead-free lipstick can be a hard thing to find. Lipstick without lead is important, as lead is linked to many things including developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, respiratory issues, kidney toxicity, and cancer. (5) (6)
Cadmium. While cadmium hasn’t had the coverage that lead has, it is still concerning that it is one of the heavy metals found in beauty products. Cadmium is believed to be carcinogenic and cause hormonal imbalances, as well as cause kidney issues. (7) (8)
Arsenic. This is another troubling heavy metal that may be lurking in our cosmetics. Arsenic is a known carcinogen, is linked to hormonal issues and infertility, and is a toxicant to many of our bodily systems. (9)
Aluminum. Again, aluminum is not something we want to be exposed to. It is linked to brain toxicity, as well as respiratory issues. (10)
Mercury. Earning a bad score of 9 from the EWG, Mercury is linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, respiratory issues, and environmental toxicity as well. (11)
Obviously, we want to avoid filling our bodies with these toxic heavy metals! But finding safe lipstick or lip gloss can be so confusing. Are we doomed to never wear make-up again? Fortunately, there are ways to wear non toxic make-up and reduce our exposure to these chemicals, which we’ll talk about soon.
More Problems for Teenage Girls
In addition to all the problems discussed above, teen girls who are exposed to heavy metals face extra issues. When a girl hits puberty, her body is still trying to figure out how to set up her reproductive processes, causing her to be extra sensitive to any disruptions. As we noticed above, heavy metals are closely associated with issues in endocrine and reproductive health.
When teen girls absorb and ingest heavy metals by using lip gloss or lipstick, this can have lasting implications on their lifelong health. This is when their bodies are learning to function, so disturbances during this time leave their bodies with no picture of what is correct. Additionally, heavy metals easily build up in our bodies throughout our lives, meaning that more exposure at an early age means more heavy metals to deal with later in life. (12)
Is Everybody Doing It?
The search for lead-free lipstick and other safe cosmetics can be daunting. It’s easy to assume that unsafe products wouldn’t be sold; however, the truth is the FDA doesn’t regulate most of the ingredients of cosmetics. In fact, they report: “Cosmetic products and ingredients, and their labeling, do not require FDA approval before they go on the market. There’s one exception: color additives (other than coal-tar hair dyes).” (13)
Since there aren’t strict regulations, it’s important for us as consumers to shop smart. Unfortunately, when tested, almost all cosmetics turn up with heavy metal content, and companies generally don’t engage in the often-expensive process of good 3rd-party testing. (14) (15)
So how do you protect yourself and your family?
How to Find Non-toxic Lipstick and Lip Gloss
While there will be very trace amounts of heavy metals in the coloring of any cosmetic, there are steps we can take to greatly reduce our exposure and risk of health issues.
Safer Usage Tips
When using any lipstick, be sure to keep it away from babies and small children, as they are at a higher risk for complications.
If you eat while wearing lipstick, you unfortunately ingest more! To reduce exposure, make sure you wash off your lipstick before you got to bed.
However, the most important tip is to find a quality product, which you can read about below. (16)
MY FAVORITE NON-TOXIC LIP PRODUCTS
Beautycounter offers a perfect, non-toxic lip gloss, which is my daily favorite, as well as great lipsticks.
I like the sheer lipstick as I don’t like heavy color and it’s so moist and lightweight. But they offer more intense color too that you can layer with a gloss. Browse all their lip products here.
Detox Your Body
What about all the heavy metals and other toxins that may already be stored in your body?
Grab our Five-Day DIY Detox Guide and get some spring back in your step, naturally.