Beauty That Kills

Colorful bottles and jars from pharmacy shelves allure us with sweet promises to make us beautiful, young and healthy. Almost all of them carry a line: “Doctors’ choice #1”. They entice us with delicious smells and exotic ingredients. Toothpastes promise to whiten our teeth, shampoos – to recondition our hair, and creams – to rejuvenate our skin. There is no secret (confess to yourselves) that quite few of them are able to keep their word. However, one thing – not to show any results, and quite the opposite – to cause harm. So, what should we pay attention to, when choosing some product? Let’s sort out their chemical composition!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and it’s closest relative Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are widely used in shampoos, soap, toothpastes, detergents and washing up liquids. These very chemicals make these products foam. The bad news: SLS and SLES can cause serious skin irritation, can lead to stomatitis and cataract. What’s worse: we eat these components from poorly rinsed washed dishes. On top of that SLS is a conductor of lead, that accumulates on our hair and skin from atmosphere (“thanks” to chemical production and car exhaust fumes), absorbing it in our skin and dispersing it throughout our body.

Another monster in a beautiful wrap is paraben. It is used as preservative that prevents products from spoiling (i.e. the longer the expiration date is – the more preservative it contains – the worse it for our health). Paraben could be found among ingredients of shampoos, shaving gels, make-up, toothpaste and… of my!, in personal lubricants that are used on the most delicate parts of a body. UK scientists have discovered that in 18 cases out of 20, women with breast cancer had a very high level of paraben. Usually the area close to armpits is affected, exactly where women apply deodorants and antiperspirants, that contain paraben. “I personally feel there is a very strong correlation between the underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer,” said immunologist Dr. Kris McGrath, the author of the study which was conducted in the Northwestern University (IL).

Lead. It was used as whiting by Medieval ladies. The results are well-known: poisoning from this heavy metal was not only taking away their beauty but also their lives. Nevertheless, in our time of technological progress, we still use lead in make-up, just like in the Medieval times. It is in lipsticks, used be women every day. However, we do not only apply it on our very own skin, but also swallow it. Men are not protected either: they “eat” lipstick while kissing as well. Scientists are deadly certain: there is no “safe” amount of lead for a human.

How come, that all these dangerous chemicals are in beauty and hygiene products? The answer is obvious: they are cheap. For some of them – such as paraben – there is still no natural alternative found.

Despite the gigantic amount of different brands and products, we have a very little choice: these life-threatening chemicals are everywhere. Perhaps, we cannot avoid them completely, but we can certainly do ourselves a favor and reduce the use of them.

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