168. That's the number of chemicals the average woman applies to her skin and body every day according to a 2015 survey conducted by the Environmental Working Group.
Our morning routines look something like this: shower, put on make-up, apply deodorant, brush teeth and out the door. However brief, we've ignorantly exposed ourselves to scores of foreign chemicals that our body must attempt to eradicate.
In 2013, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology reported a link between toxic environmental agents and the rising concerns regarding reproductive and developmental health. Several common chemicals we lather on our bodies are harmful carcinogens and/or endocrine disruptors and have irreversible impacts on developing fetuses. Yes, the body is extremely proficient in its ability to detox naturally, but too much of something is never a good thing. The lifetime accumulation of trash leads to unmanageable biological landfills that if continued may lead to life-altering health issues.
The demands of consumerism encourage excess, convenience and speed. The marketplace sets prices so low that it's easy to become collectors of drug store cosmetics. Just take a peek in your cabinet. How many skincare products are necessary and how long should they last? Companies are forced to dump additives like preservatives, stabilizers, fragrances, fillers, dyes and finishes into their formulations to allow products to sit on our shelves. Few of the components actually contribute to the manufacturers' claims of performance.
A majority of the industry takes advantage of the loose regulations that have yet to be updated by the FDA since the 1930s. While other countries have banned thousands of harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, the US has only banned 9. Cosmetic companies are permitted to use any ingredient or raw material in their products without governmental review or approval. While we're not advocating for more or less regulation, we are calling attention to the current state of the cosmetic industry. The onus is on us, as consumers, to make educated decisions and start to shape the marketplace buy spending our dollar as informed buyers.
Consider simplicity. If you can't read the label, it's likely that your body can't read it either. Science should be intuitive, not baffling. If it's purchased from the shelf, understand that the shelf life extends beyond the packaging. "Natural" is not a regulated term and is often manipulated by large manufacturers. It goes beyond looking for products without parabens, phthalates, SLS and the list of "nos". Seek trustworthy companies, choose health over convenience and always ask questions. We're here to help, and we'll be bringing you more tips along the way.