Every day, all across America, a mom gets up and douses herself in over 100 chemicals as she gets ready for each day. Beginning with aspartame in toothpaste, ozone depleting chemicals, hydrocarbons and isobutane in hairspray, aluminum in antiperspirant, sulfates and triclosan in soaps, lead in lipstick, coal in mascara, petroleum based lotions full of poisonous fragrance topped off with a splash or spray of perfume containing more fragrance, with a side of petrochemicals, in addition to diethyl-phthalate or DEP,* dressed in clothing washed with detergents containing cancer causing 1,4 dioxane, only to have an appointment later that day at the hair salon for a “Brazilian Blowout” exposing all in the room to formaldehyde, then a manicure polished up with more formaldehyde, Toluene and reproductive harming dibutyl phthalate (DBP), finishing off the appointment with eyeLash extenders applied with glue (super glue to be exact) containing more of... (you guessed it!).... FORMALDEHYDE.
What’s the big deal? All of it. But let’s look at Formaldehyde first, a known carcinogen (cancer causing chemical) and VOC (volatile organic compound) according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Formaldehyde has been shown to cause structural and numerical changes in chromosomes, with particular risk to embalmers and other occupations that expose workers such as beauty salon stylists. (I “grew up” in a beauty shop, so this part is even more personal to me.) These occupations carry an increased risk of blood cancers known as Leukemia, including Myeloid Leukemia according to a National Institutes Health Study published in 2009. Other increased risks are cancers of the nose, nasal cavity, and nasopharrynx and many reproductive problems including miscarriages. In 2011, the FDA sent a violation letter* to the maker of “Brazilian Blowout’s Acai Professional Smoothing Solution” after it found methylene glycol, a liquid form of formaldehyde, in its straightening serum. The box claimed “formaldehyde free” but methylene glycol when heated, turns into formaldehyde and releases into the air. Adding to their deception, the word “Acai” in its name, infers health as the Acai berry is considered a “superfood” high in antioxidants.
All of that toxic exposure is bad enough, right? But, what if that same mom is pregnant? The fetus or unborn child, is exposed to everything the mother is exposed to. In fact, many of these chemicals, including DEP* (fragrance) has been found in cord blood. Our body absorbs these chemicals by inhalation (ie: air fresheners- a TOTAL oxymoron), ingesting them (alcohol in mouthwash), or by one of the most effective means, trans dermal transmission (face makeup, lotion, perfume). In fact, most things that touch our skin enter our blood stream in seconds with the possibility of affecting every cell in our bodies. That fact alone makes it essential to know exactly what ingredients and chemicals are contained in a product. It is as equally important to our health, as food and medicine is! You simply can not separate it and have whole health. This is a point that must be a call to action for change in our system. Today, the 32 billion dollar cosmetic industry has little regulation and nothing requiring evidence of safety, or disclosure of harmful chemicals, often hiding behind classifying ingredients as fragrance, trade secrets and fair competition. What’s fair about poisoning society? It is vitally important to keep your, and your children's exposure to these and other chemicals as low as possible. Start by educating yourself and supporting organizations like EWG.org , by reading the labels on your bathroom products, discarding (properly) the ones containing these (cited above) and other toxic chemicals, by claiming your air and by using the “power of your pocketbook” to increase demand for clean, non-toxic cosmetics and beauty products in the market place. At the end of that day, you will find that true Beauty comes naturally from a truly Healthy place.
DEP in Fragrance: *According to research published by Washington Toxics Coalition 2009, found that exposure to unborn fetus can cause abnormal reproductive growth in baby boys and sperm damage in men.
Formaldehyde in Hair Straighteners:
*Baby Products Tested http://www.safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=426
Holly’s Note: *Inquire with the Hair Salon about whether or not they offer “Hair Straightening or Relaxing” Treatments. See OSHA standards on “acceptable” formaldehyde levels. No open room, air ventilation system is effective enough. There is also exposure at the shampoo bowl. A salon is required by Law to Inform patrons of its use.