Friday, May 20, 2011

Confusing cosmetics

There's a wellness program for university employees in Alaska that I like to take advantage of every year. In part, this is due to the prizes (I'm on track to win $200!!) but it's also due to the fact that it pushes me to eat healthier and exercise more. It's why I've been eating oatmeal almost every morning for the last 4-ish months.
Anyway, one of the resources they list is this website, with a helpful searching tool so that you can check out just how bad your products are for you. Companies don't have to test their chemicals for toxicity, and they are allowed to put them in products for human use (the scariest are the baby and child products!) without any need for safety testing. Lovely. On top of all that, they don't have to list all of the ingredients on the label because of trade secret laws. This is why there are so many heavy metals in our cosmetics: no oversight. So this site shows you which products are best, you can search for things you might want to check on (I didn't realize my Burt's Bees and Nature's Gate products weren't all as good as I thought). Very handy, and it will definitely change how I shop for products.
I've also been looking a lot at the site No More Dirty Looks. They've got a book, which I haven't read yet but am keen to. One of the things I found most compelling was their argument that things like face washes strip our skin of the oils they really need to be healthy. As someone who's been waging war against my skin (like I've been told to by pretty much every ad, magazine, new article, etc, ever) I thought that I might as well give this a try. So I stopped washing my face, instead opting to just rinse it with water every morning and night. (The authors suggest that if you really need to scrub, once a week with baking soda should do the trick, but I haven't done that.) You know what really surprised me? They're right. I really wasn't expecting that, but my skin looks so much better than it has at any time since around middle school, even after only a few days. My skin hasn't broken out the way I thought it would, and it hasn't reacted by flipping out and getting super greasy either. I've still been putting on a light layer of moisturizer (Fairbanks is so dry, even now) and it looks great. It even feels softer!
I'm not sure if I'm so into the no-'poo group, though. (As in, no shampoo.) I've declined shampooing my hair for the past couple of nights in favor of a baking soda and water mix (to remove product build-up from my shampoo and conditioner, the only hair products I use) but it's left my hair greasy and I don't like it. I guess you're supposed to give it over a month before deciding to let the hair's natural oils even out, but do I really want to do that? Could I live with greasy hair for that long? I mean, I know the natural oils are good for it,'s the texture. I feel it and just think, "Ewww!" I might just stop using the shampoo in favor of castille soap, though, which is much better for both us and the environment. As one person put it, "You could eat the stuff and be just fine."
Reading through the cosmetics list is making me very glad I've never been a real heavy or frequent wearer of makeup. (I'm blessed with a fiance who finds makeup rather unattractive unless used in extreme moderation. "It's like smearing a lie all over your face. That's not what you look like.") I wore more makeup when I lived in Seattle, but even then never really went beyond eyeliner, concealer and mascara. Sometimes. Up here, in the winter it just sucks to wear makeup. Especially on the eyes. Why would I put eyeshadow and mascara that's just going to smear when I have to defrost my eyelashes? Literally, I have to defrost my eyelashes and eyebrows when I step inside. So not worth the trouble. And now I know, not worth the toxic risk. Or the packaging. Or the money. Or....

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