Updated: May 14
You may be cutting back on processed and refined foods in favour of whole foods and healthy habits, but what are you washing your hair with? What is contained in the makeup and skin care you use every morning? What chemicals are you applying to your body through your daily personal care products? Yes, you’ve detoxed your diet, but what about your makeup and skincare bag?
When it comes to personal care products, many of us are not only unaware of the chemicals we’re happily slathering over our skin, but we have happily lived til now not knowing any better.
The ugly truth is that not all ingredients are clean, and some are actually slowly poisoning our bodies, speeding up the ageing process and worst of all, are capable of causing irreparable damage. These same toxic beauty products try to mimic Mother Nature with inferior, synthetic and potentially toxic substances masquerading as ‘natural’, ‘pure’ and most worryingly; ‘safe’, and the entire system is flawed.
As a 100% natural, clean beauty company, we want you – the consumer – to be well-versed in the harmful and hazardous effects of toxins in your everyday products so you can make better decisions when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t be applying to your body. If you wouldn’t eat it, why would you apply it?
That’s why today we’re revealing top 10 ugly truths about the beauty industry that you may not know about. Brace yourselves: these will include the worst offender chemicals found in personal care products, what beauty companies are hiding from you and more alarming facts, because we strongly believe that everyone should know all about the hidden nasties in their makeup, skincare and personal care products to prevent further damage from occurring. After all, our skin is our largest organ, and what goes on, goes in!
1. Some beauty products can cause long-term health effects.
A mind-boggling array of beauty and personal care products contain chemicals that not only trigger skin problems such as rashes, rosacea, acne, and other symptoms of contact dermatitis, but are known or suspected causes of long-term health effects such as asthma, infertility, birth defects, learning disabilities, cancer, and disease.
There have been so many studies about health issues linked to toxic chemicals in the bodies, and according to a 2004 survey undertaken by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, an average of 12 personal care products are used by women and girls daily. Skin Deep, an online toxicity guide which ranks over 14,000 products on their ingredients, has released information which shows that “one out of every 100 personal care products on the market contains known or probable carcinogens and 89 percent of ingredients in products have not been assessed for safety”. Alarming? Yep. Should you be worried? You bet.
Research by Bionsen, a natural deodorant company, found that the average woman’s daily grooming and makeup routine means she hosts a staggering 515 different synthetic chemicals on her body every single day. The study show that these toxins, even in a mild form, build up over time and can gradually break down the immune system and result in disease and health problems. Gulp.
2. A toxin is actually a poison – yet can be found in most beauty products these days.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It helps to detoxify our bodies of metabolic waste products and chemicals. On the other end of the spectrum, the skin is also capable of absorbing toxins, therefore choosing what you put on your body should be consciously examined and regulated.
The Nemours Foundation describes a toxin as “a chemical or poison that is known to have harmful effects on the body.” Furthermore, they say “toxins can come from food or water, from chemicals used to grow or prepare food, and even from the air that we breathe. Our bodies process those toxins through organs like the liver and kidneys and eliminate them in the form of sweat, urine, and faeces.”
The words toxin and chemical are often used interchangeably, but water is a chemical, sodium is a chemical and these are not toxins. So when we talk about toxins, we mean the synthetic ingredients that are harmful to your health and wellbeing and these days they are found in everything from household cleaning products to food and makeup. In fact, the makeup you use every day is most likely overrun with toxins that are being absorbed by your body. Thankfully, there has been a surge in recent years of organic, natural and toxin-free beauty companies (like ours!) who derive their products from pure ingredients to ensure that your body is not being polluted from the outside in. But the fact remains that there are thousands of other brands who don’t use the same discretion and care for a consumer’s health when formulating their products, which is unfortunate.
3. Some beauty companies that contribute to charities pose a threat to the cause they are supporting.
Every October, we’re barraged with pink-ribbon products promoting breast-cancer awareness and research. The biting irony: many of the big brands that support these causes may actually be contributing to the actual disease they support and seek a cure for.
Some of the worst offenders are known for producing formulas that contain reproductive toxins, hormone-disrupting chemicals, and carcinogens. In fact, in America, as part of the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Association trade group, many of the big conglomerate companies opposed a California bill that would require cosmetics firms to disclose their use of chemicals linked to cancer or birth defects.
The beauty industry is a huge customer of the chemical industry so why are they being touted as true champions for women’s health?
4. There are flawed safety assessments required for cosmetic products
With over 25,000 chemicals marketed with little government intervention, regardless of tests, statistics and scientific evidence, it’s no wonder there is an epidemic of ADD, allergies, asthma, sinus problems and learning difficulties among today’s members of society, not to mention children.
Cosmetics sold in Canada and USA are regulated by the FDA and Health Canada, a division of the Department of Health and Ageing. Despite regulation practices in place, many harmful chemicals are still lurking in our personal care products, apparently considered safe by the authorities despite research showing otherwise + many haven’t been thoroughly tested.
Worse yet, some of the chemicals found in cosmetics sold in North America have actually been banned or restricted in other countries, or otherwise give cause for concern. Take Methylisothiazolinone (or MI – preservative used in cosmetics and shampoos), for example, which is banned in Europe and yet can still be found in humble baby wipes here in Canada, despite it being a common trigger to rashes and swelling when added to leave-on cosmetics.
Even scarier, the United States’ attempt to self-regulate when it comes to beauty products hasn’t fared any better. According to FDA, “…a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA” (FDA 1995). Colourants are one of the few ingredients that need approval.
5. Despite cold hard evidence, cosmetic companies are continuing to produce the same toxic substances.
The Daily Mail mapped out research from the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, suggesting that some parabens we had previously presumed to be safe, such as Methylparaben, may mutate and become toxic when exposed to sunlight, causing premature skin ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer.
According to The Daily Mail, (long chain) Methylparabens are found in more than 16,000 products, including moisturisers and toothpastes, yet cosmetic producers have always defended their use of parabens on the grounds that they can’t be absorbed into the body.
But the Daily Mail interviewed Dr Barbara Olioso, an independent (UK green) professional chemist, who said: ‘Research shows that between 20 and 60 per cent of parabens may be absorbed into the body.’
Despite this alarming information, none of the major mainstream cosmetics companies have committed to removing carcinogens, parabens or other harmful contaminants from their products, and continue to use the same polluting technologies and toxic formulas they developed decades ago.
Do new laws need to be put in place that hold the beauty industry accountable for the chemicals they use? Do consumers need more information to make safer choices? Why are these companies not (yet) developing the next generation of safer, nontoxic products?These are the questions we need to be asking and acting on.
6. Many personal care products contain toxic chemicals not listed on labels.
Trying to avoid phthalates? What about 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde? Good luck with locating these and other toxic chemicals in the product fine print.
Many chemicals are hidden behind ambiguous terms like ‘fragrance’ or smuggled in as trace contaminants. Loopholes in our ingredient-labelling laws exempt companies from listing them.
Of concern, too, is the number of products without ingredients listed, particularly certain eye makeup products that are sometimes found to contain heavy metals like lead and mercury.
Sidestepping undercover toxins is no easy feat, but examining labels for chemicals that are likely to be contaminated, including urea, quarternium-15, PEG compounds, and sodium laureth sulfate, is important.
The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a great resource for researching the contents of your products and how likely they are to be tainted. We believe however they take a unjust position on some ingredients such as citrus and spice essential oils rating many of them as toxins (eg limonene 6/10 hazard) due to their allergen concerns whilst synthetic colours such as D&C Red 7 Lake scores 1/10 toxicity rating despite being synthetically produced from coal tar or petroleum and precipitated with metal salts such as aluminum, calcium, barium, or others. hmmm.
It’s important to do more than just read labels, you also have to consider which companies you can trust. Which companies are standing up for what’s right? And then make consumer decisions accordingly.
7. None of the mainstream beauty giants have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics pledge.
Overseas, the US-based health and environment advocacy coalition, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, is lobbying to get the personal care products industry to phase out use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other serious health concerns, and replace them with safer alternatives.
Although there has been some success and more than 1,000 companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, ironically missing in action are some of the world’s largest makers of cosmetics and personal care products.
Let’s hope that doesn’t stay the same for long.
8. The term ‘natural’ does not always mean safe. This is called ‘greenwashing’.
Beware of the vague and misleading marketing terms on packaging labels. ‘Natural’ may lead us to think that a beauty product is pure and therefore healthy, but because label terms are regulated insufficiently, marketeers are free to write persuasive spin on the packaging and convince consumers otherwise.
Brands claiming to be ‘natural’, ‘pure’, ‘organic’ and ‘additive free’ can still contain a cocktail of chemicals, so just be mindful of these strategies used to lull us into a false sense of security.
Going back to what we said earlier; do your research into companies who are 100% transparent about what their products contain and genuinely believe in facilitating a healthy, safe and toxin-free consumer experience for their customers.
This list of ‘greenwashing’ companies may be a good starting point.
9. Some beauty products can affect pregnancy.
Reports and studies done by Environment California (titled Growing Up Toxic: Chemical Exposures and Increases in Developmental Diseases), found that makeup, shampoo, skin lotion, nail polish, and other personal care products contain chemical ingredients that lack safety data. Furthermore, some of these chemicals have been linked in animal studies to altered pregnancy outcomes.
So if you think about it like this, an unborn child is particularly susceptible to chemicals absorbed through a mother’s skin, which is then passed into the blood stream and on to the fragile foetus.
Just because a skincare product is geared toward the pint-size, doesn’t mean it’s been tested for safety. In fact, children are exposed to some of the muckiest ingredients , including known carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde. So not only are your beauty and personal care products potentially affecting you, but also your family and your children and/or unborn children.
10. It has someone’s seal of approval, so it must be okay to use? Not always true!
As a consumer, sorting fact from fiction and truth from lies can be challenging. Every year, billions of dollars are spent on convincing us that the beautifully packaged concoction of who-knows-what that’s endlessly endorsed by big name celebrities will change your life and transform your skin, not to mention make you look ten years younger. Don’t be fooled. Arm yourself with the right knowledge and make informed decisions about what you put on your skin and essentially, into your body.
So to summarise…
Until a major change occurs, consumers need to decide for themselves whether the benefits of using products containing certain toxic ingredients outweigh any potential risks.
The whole point of beauty products is to enhance beauty that is already there. But if these same products are robbing you of your health, should they still be considered beauty products?
Don’t just rely on and believe what you read on the front of product packaging or even in various articles. Ask questions, research, self-educate. Get to know the ingredients listed on the back of products and look out for any of the Dirty Dozen.
After all, our skin is our largest organ, and what is applied is absorbed into the bloodstream, which makes choosing all-natural, toxin-free and pure products not just an option, but an essential part of maintaining optimum health for you and your family.
Why choose Vooqo?
Our mission is to disrupt the beauty industry by giving every woman the opportunity to cultivate her natural beauty without compromising her health and wellbeing with outdated chemically formulated toxic beauty products and cosmetics and time consuming beauty practices.
Truth in beauty product labelling is paramount for your health, community and planet. We don’t use chemical ingredients that are known endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic or linked to cancer including preservatives, phthalates, petrochemicals, synthetic colours and fragrance. Just 100% natural, certified organic, vegan, and cruelty-free ingredients that are good for you on the inside and outside.
Our goal with this article was not to scare or shock you, but to educate and enlighten you, giving you the ability to make an informed decision about your health and lifestyle.
We hope this information has helped you, and rest assured, we will continue to unveil hidden truths about the beauty industry until no corner is left unturned. If you want to learn more, read our post on the "Why stop your exposure to toxic chemicals".