Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cosmetics, Phthalates, and Skin Deep

May flowers follow April showers, so May is going to be a bit of a beauty theme with apologies to the gentlemen who frequent this blog. However, being able to make one's beauty products is not only green in that it saves money and shipping, but eliminating chemicals from your beauty regimen has benefits for health. 

A study by UCSF of 268 pregnant women looked for 163 different chemical compounds, many of which have been linked to negative health effects. One of the big offenders, a class called phthalates, was present in nearly every woman tested because it is often found in beauty products like soap, lotion, and makeup. Phthalates have been linked to endocrine disruption and there is a new study suggesting that they may be implicated in some cases of breast cancer. The UCSF study also suggests that similar levels of phthalates can be expected in non-pregnant women. 

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While many other potentially dangerous chemicals were present in the UCSF study, phthalates are concerning to women in particular because most of us use more personal care and beauty products than our male counterparts. I'm not anti-makeup by any means - I wear it daily. But precautions need to be made. 

The Environmental Working Group has put together a database called Skin Deep to address the need for information on body care and beauty products. If you've used the Good Guide, you'll be familiar with the idea. The lower the score, the more healthy the product. Please check out your favorites to make sure they aren't doing you lasting harm. 

For this month, I thought I'd explore some home-made beauty products. While I can't make my own mascara, I can try things like masks, cleaners, and shampoos to see if they work and if I can eliminate the store-bought products from my routine. Besides, it's always fun to try something new (especially if I get to make a mess while doing so!)  

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