Toxic Shock

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Skincare worth dying for?

Imagine the scene. You’re in Boots – coasting up and down the isles, trying to work out which brand of skincare is going to hold back the years and that new wrinkle you spotted in the mirror this morning.

You eventually plump for the one you read about a famous celeb using and since you’ve seen her picture on the adverts and she looks stunning…it must work!  Let’s not even get into the whole argument that she’s probably had everything from botox to restaylne and even a mini facelift – not to mention being airbrushed to within an inch of her life!

The real danger that the cosmetics companies are keeping us in the dark about, is the extensive use of toxic chemicals in our beauty products.  Terrifying chemicals that mimic the hormones in our body and have been attributed to everything from infertility to skin allergies and various cancers.  A small study of 20 breast cancer tissue samples looked at the amount of certain chemicals used in our beauty products that had accumulated in them.

The study was looking for the levels of a range of chemicals from underarm antiperspirants, known as parabens.  The research was carried out at the University of Reading on breast cancer tissue samples given by the Edinburgh breast unit research group.  The research group found parabens in 18 of the 20 tumours.  Although the link between parabens and breast cancer is unproven at the moment, the researchers argue that parabens work on the body in the same way as estroegens and help breast cancer tumours grow.

The key chemicals that are being used in everything from skincare to haircare to anti-persipriants are actually derivatives from the petrochmical industry – in other words the same ingredients in anti-freeze and brake fluid could be in your shampoo and shower gel. Of the more than 75,000 chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, only a fraction have gone through complete testing to find out whether they might cause problems for human health.

Even more frightening but yet unproven is nano-technology. Although this technology has many positive applications in medicine, these micro-particles in your beauty products are there to help your skin absorb what is applied. Because the particles are so microscopic, they can actually breach the blood-brain barrier, carrying all those toxic petrochemicals into your brain.

The cosmetic giants will insist they are safe to use as they are being used in such small doses and being washed off the skin.  But if you think about the number of products you use containing these chemicals, how often you use them and over how many years – it’s worth remembering that your skin is an organ, a very absorbent one at that. What do you reckon the chances are of your skin absorbing the petrochemicals?  Is it worth taking the risk, even if it is a small one? Don’t you think our bodies have enough to cope with in the 21st century, like pollution, holes in the ozone layer, microwaves and mobile phones without subjecting them to unnecessary toxic overload? I, for one have been shocked out of my beauty junkie stupor into action and hope that it’s not too late to reverse the effects of years of cosmetic abuse.

 Toxic Shock

So what are the petrochemicals that are being used in our beauty products?

Parabens are a preservative that is used in many varieties of cosmetics and skincare in order to lengthen their shelf life and maximise profits!  If a beauty product only has a shelf life of a year, this makes it hard to ship internationally, keep large stock quantities and turnover the quantities that make millions in profit.

Parabens commonly go under the names methyl-paraben, ethyl paraben, benzoic acid, isobutylparben, hydroxybenzoate and are used in many products by most brand names.

Phthalates are one particular chemical you won’t find on the ingredients list.  You may be able to spot it going under the guise of parfum or fragrance.  The reason it has escaped scrutinty thus far is due to the trade secret loophole.  Manufacturers don’t have to list it as an ingredient so they don’t.  You will find parfum in most scented products, in some instances it replaces the natural scent described on the bottle!  It’s thought that synthetic perfumes are the biggest cause of skin allergies.

Sodium Laurel Sulphate is the chemical in many products that make it foam or froth – so think toothpaste, shampoo, facial wash.  It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions.

Propylene Gylcol is a wetting agent used in makeup, hair care, deodorants and aftershave.  It’s also the main ingredient in brake fluid and anti-freeze.

Polyethylene Glycol is an ingredient found in most skin cleaners, which is so caustic it is used in oven cleaners.

Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea – These are the most commonly used preservatives after the parabens. They are well established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis.  Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall 115.  Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at just over 10°. These chemicals are toxic.

Toxic Shock

Our opinion………

Although the jury is still out as to whether parabens cause breast cancer – it is worth thinking about the long-term consequences of overusing products containing petrochemicals and other synthetic products.  It is yet unknown what the combined effects of petrochemical based products will have on the human body  therefore it is best to limit your use of products containing these nasties and replace with naturally produced where ever possible.

Not only will the product work better due to the essential oils and vitmains, you will also be supporting small to medium businesses instead of big fat cat corporates!  Or even better – make your own!  See my other article on using olive oil and other basic kitchen ingredients as the basis for your skin care regime!

Our planet is an incredible source of natural ingredients that we can use on our bodies, olive, avocados, citrus can all be mashed together to make a great mask, or toner.  Love your skin they way you love your inner body and don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put past your lips!

It’s up to us, we have the consumer power to boycott these products until the cosmetics giants do something about it.  It’s also important that our government take responsibility for championing research in into these areas and enforce further studies of tumours to provide us with conclusive proof.  Giant companies such as Estee Lauder, who take fortunes from us every day in sales, should be reinvesting this in R&D to find alternatives to the dependence on the petrochemical industry.

Write a letter to your local councellor, demainding the government take action to ban the use of these chemicals in our products, as other governments around the world have done.  Write to Estee Lauder, Lancome, Boots and anyone else you can think of.  Maybe if enough of us do it, they may see it in a different light.

You can read my articles on kitchen cosmetics and the use of olive oil here.  You may also want to read the replies I received from two companies that I had always believed to have high standards when it comes to ethics – Aveda and Origins (both now owned by Estee Lauder – suprising?)

Toxic Shock
Where you can buy all-natural products?

I’ve scoured the web for brands and online retailers who can offer you beauty products with a clean conscious.  Your skin will thank you for it!

Their products are made in small batches to ensure freshness and come in a wide range from essential oil scented to scent free for sensitive skins.  They do excellent gift bags of particular interest is the 10 years younger kit  no plastic surgery required!  You can be safe in the knowledge that the products are made by certified dermatologists and cosmetologist.

I Am Natural a Brighton based manufacturer of fabulous sounding skincare and haircare products, as well as deodorants, lip balms and containers for your fab new beauty regime!  It’s also possible to purchase jute bags incase you want your items bagged as a gift.  All round eco-friendly!

Items of particular interest include a lime and rosemary shampoo, tea-tree and ginger shower gel and their lush sounding macadamia and myrrh hand cream.

There must be a better way!
Massive range of orangic natural products for everything from cradle cap to concealer and much more!

An excellent site with a wide variety of products from eco-friendly manufacturers such as Green People, Lavera etc.  every product has a full ingredients list right there on the site so you can see they are putting their money where their mouth is.

The Organic Pharmacy

A very holistic looking site with some important products worth looking at – particularly chemical free suntan lotion and carrier oils incase you feel inclined to mix your own products.

Perle Noir houses “Carol’s Daughter” – a lush range of all-natural products with a celebrity following!  You could easily lose hours on this site, drooling over the simply amazing sounding products!  My favourites were the almost edible Mango Butter, ALL of the sea salt scrubs, but in particular the Almond Cookie Sea Salt Scrub, with a combination of almond, lemon, sandalwood, vanilla with tapioca pearls and apple slices in a coconut oil base and the divine sounding Cherry Mango Cocoa Butter Body Souffle.  I know where my next paycheck is going!

Dr Hauschka has a massive celebrity following – and no wonder with their extensive range of skincare products that provide excellent anti-aging powers without the petrochemicals!  They now offer a make-up range which is about as close to natural as you can get at the moment, as well as a highly recommended range of sun-care products

Tamarind Tree.  A lovely home grown website with some pretty tasty sounding ranges.  On my Christmas list?  The Marsh Mallow Neroli hand lotion and the White Chocolate and Rose cupcakes!

Top tip – want to save the Rainforest?  Look for products that are made from sustainanble rainfoest ingredients – making the rainforests of our world more valuable if they are kept in tact.  Read our article on how to help the environment.

Try  or for fantastic rainforest beauty products.

Japanese Beauty: the magic ingredient

Sun Chlorella

Recognised the world over for their unique style, flawless complexions and ageless beauty, the secret behind how Japanese women keep looking so youthful has arrived, at last, in the UK.

New Sun Chlorella Cream is a luxurious facial moisturiser that harnesses the unique power of chlorella – a green algae, naturally rich in vitamins and nutrients – to help maintain healthy, beautiful skin which glows from the inside out.

Rich in Chlorella Growth Factor, new Sun Chlorella Cream has the power to renew and regenerate ageing skin, helping maintain a youthful complexion that will make others green with envy. 

The imperfections on my face faded after the first week and the lines on my neck and chest were reduced!

Feedback from product trial conducted in the UK, January – March 2010

Chlorella Growth Factor, the secret behind Japanese anti-ageing, is found in the nucleus of the chlorella cell. It naturally reproduces at an astonishing rate, re-stimulating growth slowed by ageing, preventing cell damage and promoting the recovery and repair of the skin’s delicate surface. In cultivation, chlorella naturally reproduces from four cells on day one, to one billion cells on day fifteen.

This powerful component encourages the growth and repair of cells and tissues in our bodies, so is ideal for anti-ageing. Useful when taken in supplement form, it’s even more effective when applied direct to the skin.

A study has shown that the application of water extract of chlorella can protect the skin against damage from oxidants by preventing the production of enzymes which can lead to collagen degradation.

Paraben-free and with a pure aqua and natural chlorella base, new Sun Chlorella Cream keeps skin hydrated and healthy, and formulated in Japan by some of the world’s leading experts in chlorella, it is the very best in natural beauty. 

I genuinely feel my skin looks brighter and more alive I haven’t used any for two days and I really miss it!

Feedback from product trial conducted in the UK, January – March 2010

New Sun Chlorella Cream is priced £59.95, and is available from – free phone             0800 008 6166

Preventive effects of water extract of Chlorella on MMP1 production induced by PMA and IL-b in human skin fibroblast, Jong-Yuh et al., Shih Department of Pharmacy, Chia-Nan University of Pharmacy & Science, School of Medical Technology, Chang Gung University, Taiwan


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