Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beauty Lessons

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A few years ago I learned and became fascinated with chemistry. Sorta. I was shocked to learn about the types of chemicals included in the majority of beauty and skincare products that are now known to cause diseases and contain carcinogens. (Side note: this is a long wordy post, as it is a topic I am passionate about and feel summarising any more than I have is not doing it justice). After this I tried products developed without these chemicals, and have since adopted a mixed beauty regime. MANY years ago when I first learned about these facts, I didn't really understand what they were on about, but soon frightfully learned the harder, less well known facts. These products are known to cause cancer. That FREAKED me out! More on that below, but first here are a few things about the chemicals in beauty products...

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) is the cheapest cleansing product, and is the most commonly used cleaning chemical. Why? It foams up a lot, it is cheap, and has a long shelf life. However it is also the most skin irritating, and hundreds of studies have highlighted it's toxicity as it is made from petroleum. Combined with other chemicals such as Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALES), SLS and ALES can create nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. They have also been linked to immune system damage, eczema, psoriasis, UTI's, cataracts, gum disease, mouth ulcers and more. They use these chemicals in 90% of cleaning products- cleansers, haircare, shaving cream, toothpaste etc.

Propylene Glycol is easily absorbed through the skin, accumulating in the heart, liver and kidneys. Material Safety Data Sheets warn to avoid skin contact. Right. So where do we find it? Commonly in moisturisers, lotions, cosmetics, hair care, deodorants and more. Acute effects can be eye irritation, nausea, headaches, central nervous system depression and gastro-intestinal issues. 

Some other chemicals you may find in the bathroom and the things they have been proven to cause or associated with (simplified)...

Talc- ovarian cancer, respiratory illness (chemically it is similar to asbestos) 
Aluminium- Breast cancer, Alzheimer's disease
Fluoride- bone and oral cancer (made from toxic waste produced by aluminium smelting, it is the main ingredient in rat poison and is poisonous over long periods to humans)
Alcohol- oral cancer
Formaldehyde- asthma attacks, nose bleeds, headaches, vomiting, rashes (its used as a preservative in cosmetics)
Toluene- triggers asthma, causes liver cancer (its used in nail polish, hair spray, fragrances)

All of these are readily absorbed into the blood stream through the skin. 
Last I heard there were 125 chemicals that are either suspected or proven to cause cancer, all of which are found in common bathroom items. 

Some people when I have discussed this have laughed it off, saying "Everything causes cancer these days Jenelle." In a way, they are not far off the mark. One in two men and one in three women are at risk of developing cancer. THAT IS SHOCKING! 75% of all cancers are caused by something other than smoking. Why do we have so many non-smoking warnings and no fluoride in toothpaste warnings???
This info is care of Dr Samuel Epstein, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. 
At home we have a long list of the known carcinogenic chemicals, and chemicals that when combined with other ingredients may develop carcinogenic properties. 

So, what to use? After I first learned of this, I discarded a lot of products, did a lot of research, and began using one brand, an American company who manufacture its products in the US and Australia, but are available worldwide called Neways. Personally I found that after years of use, my skin was always breaking out, irritated and I couldn't get the kind of products I wanted for everyday use. I know that they create products which are not harmful, and promote healthy living, but I felt miserable about my skin. After that I tried to find the safest products I could. Now I adopt a policy of using what I consider to be as safe as possible, where I can. I am definitely not perfect, and in no way am I aiming to name and shame a brand. However, I think that educating people about these things mean that they are better able to make healthier choices if they wish. 
Everyone talks about being organic, so I looked into what it was all about. Why Certified Organic?

A “certified organic” product must adhere to the strict guidelines and regulations governing not only all of the ingredients used in the products, the processes undertaken to produce the product but also the packaging used in the products. Products classified as "Organic" can contain some of these harmful chemicals. A product with the Australian Certified Organic logo means that the product contains a minimum of 95% certified organic ingredients, will all ingredients being naturally sourced and derived. ACO certified cosmetics are accepted by most major trading countries without any additional requirements including EU, US and Asian countries.

Recently I have been using Kora Organics products. 
Kora, a Certified Organic brand, is obviously known as having been developed by Miranda Kerr, as a personal passion and lifestyle choice. I read a lot about the company prior to using the product, and spent time trying out the testers on my skin, smelling the products etc. Finally I tried the cleanser, and am now hooked. As my skin is not usually at all blemished, I was probably a little apprehensive about breaking out. I need not have worried. Kora is a beautiful product. 
I love it- and actively feel excited to wash my face. Weird, I know, but it is true. 

KORA Organics products do not contain any of the following: Sulfates, Parabens, Synthetic or Natural fragrances, Synthetic colours, T.E.A., D.E.A., Glycols, Silicones, PEGS. Ethoxylates, Formaldehyde or Formaldehyde derivatives.  
I am interested to learn that Miranda Kerr, with her busy modelling career, does not use any other foundation than the tinted day creme, which I am yet to try. 
As I have recently gone off of using a heavy foundation- swapping to a tinted moisturiser, and testing a few at that, I will let you know what I think of the Kora product down the line. I really don't need a heavy foundation, and prefer not to wear anything more than moisturiser and sunscreen whenever I can.  
Net-A-Porter are now stocking Kora Organics, take a look here

Another brand that I have recently been testing out is MooGoo, having been recommended it by several friends who were in love with it. 
A survey done at the St Vincent's Hospital in 1999 found that nearly half of the Australian population had some sort of skin problem. The number of people with eczema has doubled every decade since petroleum based detergents became commonly used for washing and Paraffin Oil (also petroleum based) became the dominant oil used in skin care.
MooGoo does not use Paraffin or Mineral Oil in any of its products. Instead they natural oils which are a lot better for your skin. While MooGoo do not have a Certified Organic classification, (their rosehip oil is certified organic by the USDA) they are very much about labelling their products with every ingredient- one thing that a lot of brands do not do, and use only natural- non chemical based ingredients. 

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So in my personal journey with beauty care, I am experimenting with a few companies. I do use a mixture- I know that some of the cosmetics brands I use do contain some of the bad chemicals, but I still use them anyway. Hopefully, I do this a lot less than I used to, and make sure to give my skin a rest from cosmetics as often as possible- hence why you will see me barefaced in this blog at times. I am really not a blogger who only posts outfit shots where I look ready for a cocktail event or wedding- as this is not an accurate representation of my life. 
I would love to know more about your own beauty product journeys, and anything you can teach me! 
Also in the image above is a mens razor. Why? I have had nothing but rashes and irritation since I began shaving as a teen. I have tried everything, from razors, creams, foams, conditioner, all with the same issue. Until one day, when I ran out of razors- and asked to use a spare blade head from my Dad.
He gave me a Gillette Mach 3 razor blade and lent me the holder. It was amazing and I quickly ran out to get my own. I am telling you, these are the smoothest, longest lasting, painless and irritation free shaves I have ever had! Bliss! Even in the most sensitive areas, no problems. I am using the MooGoo Milk Wash with the Gillette Mach 3 razor and I love it! 
Thanks for baring with me and reading this, I hope you learned something, or have some thing to teach me- please leave comments below! 

xx Nell


  1. Wow, never knew that there are so many unhealthy ingredients in most products. I normally use Nivea or Origins products because they don't test on animals and the latter uses natural ingredients. Due to my sensitive skin I need to use non aggressive products but I've never looked at it from your perspective. Of I course I do know that not every brand uses fair ingredients but like I said I didn't know that so many brands use those.

  2. I never knew about all these harmful things in my products! So scary! Glad that you wrote a post about it to inform us!
    Love you cute photo!


  3. One of my favourite brands is a local