Beauty is More Than Skin Deep

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am a recovering beauty product addict. Hi, Stephanie.

I’m not going to lie, kicking this habit in order to use more natural, healthy products hasn’t been easy. I use to hear angels sing every time I went to a drugstore spending upwards of $50 per trip, everything form nail polish to about 20 different hair products. And let’s not talk about make up, because I would salivate at the sight of a department store make-up counter. But what girl isn’t addicted, really? We love pampering ourselves with gels and lotion in and after a bath, then put on our best face and do our hair. And who doesn’t want to avoid those fine lines and crows feet, and we all want to smell great, too, don’t we? And it doesn’t help that adds for the cosmetic industry are everywhere promising us that we will look young forever, or at least that we can have lashes up to 10 times longer and bouncy curls or sleek and shiny hair.

Our skin is the largest human organ. What we put on our bodies, gets in our bodies, it is that simple. Or why do you think the nicotine patch or the Ortho-Evra patch are used with great efficacy? The average person uses 9 beauty/body care products a day, exposing her on average, to 126 chemicals a day. According to the Environmental Working Group, our skin absorbs about 60% of what we put on it.  Many very harmful synthetic chemicals or heavy metals, like lead. The FDA produced a report in December, 2011 finding 400 lipstick containing lead. Lead is a known neurotoxin, and according to the FDA no levels are safe. Many argue that the amounts of chemicals and heavy metals are so small to cause harm. But we are exposed to these on a daily basis, we women use these products for a lifetime and the levels build up in our bodies and over time they may increase the risk for a variety of health problems.

The cosmetic industry is not as regulated as it should be. For example, perfume manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients used, protected under “secrets or the trade”. Perfumes contain synthetic fragrances and most of the ingredients used are derived from petroleum and contain phthalates. Phthalates are a type of chemicals often used to bind chemicals. Phthalates have been linked from nausea, allergic reactions, to even cancer. They can also cause infertility and damages to the hormone system and reproductive system. Another scary group of chemicals are parabens. Parabens are used, among many other uses, to extend the shelf life of a product. Found in just about everything; shampoos, body lotions, make-up, even your baby’s products. They are chemicals known as xenoestrogens, they mimic estrogen in the body. Traces of parabens have been found in breast tumors, they are know to cause hormone and reproductive problems as well. In a study done on sunscreens containing parabens, male frogs and fish began to change sex from male to female. It is also suspected of causing underdeveloped testes in infant boys. Women who suffer from infertility should also pay close attention to this information.

Unfortunately, the scary list doesn’t stop there. The ingredient that gives your lip gloss that beautiful fruity color is most likely FD&C or D&C, coal-tar colors. Made from bituminous coal, they are listed by the EPA as “probable human carcinogen.” The U.S. Department of Labor links arsenic (found in high levels in lip gloss) to stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate. Lip gloss can be ingested and it is very important that pregnant women stay away from them since these chemicals can cross the placenta. Speaking of placenta, any of these chemicals, whether is applied to our skin, ingested, or inhaled, can cross the placenta. How do you think I felt to find out that while pregnant I was lathering–religiously every single day–on the trusted Palmer’s cocoa butter lotion to keep stretch marks away. All the while I was lathering up with parabens (listed as one the ingredients) and phthalates (under “fragrance”)!

I am very passionate about living as toxins free that for the most part since my son’s birth–May 2011–I haven’t worn make-up, or nail polish, or hair mouse, or body lotion or, well, you get my gist. I realize that not everyone is able or willing to go the lengths I’ve gone and my objective is not to scare you into going completely beauty product free, or judge you if you haven’t yet. What I hope you get out of this is that we need to become educated consumers and that the process can be done gradually with great alternatives. I have been slowly phasing out my conventional products and switching to more natural ones. And I have been slowly learning that mother nature has provided us with most of what we need. Coconut oil, for example, is a great moisturizer and has antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and soothing properties.

Next up I will have a list of ingredients (click here to see) you should absolutely avoid as well as some handy resources. I will include some of my current favorite products like the natural mascara I’m in love with and some natural beauty recipes!

This post was proudly shared at Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and at: Simply Natural Saturdays, Natural Living Link-up

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About Stephanie

Stephanie is a stay-at-home mom to her curly-haired two year old son, a nursing student, dog lover, and yoga enthusiast. She loves to share her tips on making green and healthy living attainable to families getting
started in the wonderful world of eco-consciousness. She believes in
real food and living as natural as possible…and why not, leaving behind a
better planet for our children.


  1. I can’t wait to see your next post! This post really resonated with me. Thanks!

  2. Hi Stephanie, I enjoy your blog. I work for a 100% natural skin care company so of course support your bid to ‘go natural’, but I have a bee in my bonnet about this spurious 60% statistic, which has been spread across the internet. I am disappointed to see that EWG has promoted it. I think it’s important not to scaremonger. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

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