It is a fact that allergic reactions, skin sensitivities, childhood eczema, adult acne and rosacea are all on the increase. It is also true that the number of personal care products has grown exponentially over the last 10 years, with most women using several different beauty products every day. Many of the chemicals contained within these products are potentially harmful, and untested in the long term. Several are linked with allergies and skin sensitivities, and some are linked to birth defects (the phthalate group) and cancers such as breast cancer. The chemicals enter the body through the skin (lotions and creams), the respiratory system (sprays and aromas) and through ingestion (lip balms and lipsticks).
If you wear lipstick you may eat sixty pounds of the stuff in a life time, and most contain artificial colours (linked to cancer, skin sensitivity, memory problems and behavioral problems; keep it away from your teenaged daughter!) as well as other carcinogenic chemicals (cancer-causing), toxic metals such as lead and aluminium, artificial perfumes and artificial sweeteners such as saccharin. If you would like to avoid ingesting this unpleasant chemical cocktail, invest in a lipstick or gloss made with natural ingredients and pigments, such as Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers http://www.myburtsbees.co.uk at around £5. Your lip balm is also usually made with chemicals such as Petroleum Jelly, yep, that's PETROLEUM as in Petrol. You may wish to switch to a more natural lip balm based on natural waxes and oils.
Children and babies are increasingly targeted by the body care industry, and many kid products will contain several of the nasty chemical ingredients listed in newsletter 65. Children and babies are most at risk from the toxicity of these chemicals as their organs are less able to process the impurities. Luckily there are many children's organic and natural products available now. I have almost completely eliminated my children's eczema by using more natural products on their skin, but just one yellow Mister men fun bubble bath, with bring them both out in rashes immediately. Tesco now do a range called Halos and Horns which avoid the use of chemical nasties. I recommend Weleda, and Lavera which can both be found in organic supermarkets, health food shops and on the internet. Sainsburys and Waitrose also stock Nature Baby Care nappies, wet wipes and travel wipes, which avoid the main nasties, and are made also without bleach. For kid-friendly first-aid, try Dr Greenfingers http://www.drgreenfingers.co.uk who also supply very handy bravery stickers.
If you are concerned about the amount of chemicals in your skin care, then there are many good products on the market which you can choose from, but sometimes they do seem more expensive. One way around this is to make your own. There are plenty of ingredients around the house which will double up as top class beauty products, and home made can also be of interest for teenage girls, and possibly provide inspiration for Christmas presents. Here are a few ideas;
o Try olive oil and salt body scrub, to smooth rough skin and exfoliate. Yes you have guessed it, all you do it add some salt to some olive oil, and rub in big circles into the skin while you are in the bath or shower. Alternatively you could use almond oil and sugar.
o Mash an avocado and apply as a moisturizing face pack (you may wish to do this when everyone is out).
o Rinse blonde hair with chamomile tea or diluted lemon juice to add highlights and shine, and rinse dark hair with dilute apple cider vinegar for shine.
o Massage lemon juice, almond oil and sugar into the finger tips to exfoliate, clean and moisturize the hand and nail.
o Make some honey conditioner with a teaspoon of honey, a teaspoon of olive oil and an egg. Massage it into the hair and scalp, wrap in a warm towel and wash off after half an hour with a mild shampoo; you may wish to use tepid water to avoid looking like an omelet. For dry hair do the same using some warm olive or almond oil.
o For tired eyes, sit back with two slices of cucumber, or some used chamomile tea bags. For conjunctivitis.
o For aching muscles and some real aromatherapy, tie some rosemary, mint, and thyme into some muslin, and steep in your bath water.
o To exfoliate, cleanse and soften skin, add some warm water to oat meal (keep it handy for your healthy breakfast), and wash the face with the resulting paste.
o For a relaxing bath, take a jar; add milk, and a few drops of lavender oil, shake well, and run under the hot tap into the bath. The milk softens the skin, and disperses the drops of oil evenly. (I use this for the kids as well).
o Make massage, bath or body oil, by adding your favorite essential oil to almond oil (available at the chemist).
o For spotty problem skin, wash with cold chamomile tea which is naturally anti bacterial.
o If you become interested in making your own cosmetics take a look at http://www.nealsyardremedies.com which has a full range of base ingredients.
If you like the idea of fewer chemicals in your beauty regime, but love beauty products, do not despair, there is a growing range of products to tempt you. Some products may be slightly more money than you are used to paying, but they often last longer, and you tend to use them more sparingly and carefully. The award-winning Skincare Café (www.skincarecafe.com) offer an enticing range of beauty Products, which are 100% free from harsh chemicals such as, parabens, sulphates, alcohol, lanolin, petrochemicals, GM, benzoates, PEG's, propylene glycol and synthetic colours or perfumes.
Other natural products such as Dr Hauschka, Weleda, and Lavera are a third cheaper to buy from Germany; try http://www.alegria-naturkosmetik.de/ for natural cosmetics, sun cream, beauty, and mother and child: order with your friends to split the cost of postage. Visit your local organic supermarket or health food shop for more ideas, and read labels carefully, as many products pretend to be healthier by tempting you with promises of essential oils, and over-using the word natural, when they are really just lots of chemicals with essential oils added. Don't forget that people did survive without hundreds of beauty products in the past, and one of the best things that you can do to stay beautiful is to drink plenty of water, and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (but you knew that).