I posted this on my personal blog, but the mister recommended that I posted it here as well to raise awareness and spread the word. Note: This is not a food-related entry.
Why should you read ingredients?
“Because you’re worth it.”
By now I think that would be one of the most over-used statements in reference to cosmetic taglines, besides Maybelline’s “Maybe she’s born with it…” mantra. Incidentally though, as my eyes were stuck on the magic box set this morning, there were several eye-opening information shared with the viewers that got the father exclaiming why the need to go through so much trouble, and the immediate answer to pop into my head was that L’oreal line.
What began as an Earth Day tribute got me frantically reaching into the cosmetic pouch, while waiting for search engines to do their work.
I don’t know just how many of us actually bother reading the ingredients when it comes to cosmetics. I know for a fact that being a Muslim in a secular country, it has become almost second nature to read the ingredients on the back of food products that do not carry the halal symbol. But when it comes to matters of the skin, three-quarters of the listed ingredients would be scientific names that you can’t even pronounce, so why bother, I used to think.
Today I learnt two new important words to look out for when purchasing cosmetics;–paraben, and aluminium.
Parabens are most often used in cosmetics for their anti-fungal/anti-bacterial properties in maintaining the product freshness. Sounds good, right? But the problem arises when it had been proven that parabens get absorbed into the skin, and can be traced in the blood of the user minutes after application. The worrying part is that there are links between concentrations of paraben traces and breast tumour growths in a research conducted. There is no immediate causality concluded, but the potential increased breast cancer link has initiated a line of paraben-free products on the shelf.
A way to identify this chemical toxin in your cosmetics is fairly simple; the specific ingredients all end with paraben. I checked the fine print ingredients on the back of my foundation above, and easily found the following:-
- propylparaben; and
Trust me, it is not even a case of bad luck on my part, because a check on my completed jar of foundation (I tried a different one prior to the current one I’m using) also revealed at least two of the aforementioned chemicals.
Aluminium, on the other hand, is something that ought to be more familiar to me, because I use my roll-ons every day. I had always known that anti-perspirants and deodorants are two different things; anti-perspirants stop the body from producing sweat, whereas deodorants mask the odor caused by sweating. I believed that it was a matter of preference, whether one prefers to be dry all day long, or smell fragrant all day long.
A study on women who had undergone mastectomy revealed that there were traces of aluminium deposits on their outer breasts, suggestive of the absorption of this metal into the breasts tissues nearest the underarms due to the use of roll-ons. Again, extensive research is needed to truly conclude the causality behind this cancer-inducing metal.
A more immediate reaction to aluminium in anti-perspirants/deodorants is the lymph gland infection. I have personally had swollen lymph glands a couple of times, which I had attributed to the heatiness of my inner body. But what aluminium actually does is that it clogs up the pores in your underarms to prevent sweat from coming out, and in doing so, it also prevents bacteria from escaping, causing a build-up of bacteria, hence a lymph gland infection. I guess I was lucky because the swollen lymph gland would go away in two or three days, but apparently they could last for weeks or months, and you would need a strong antibiotic to remedy that.
Now that I know that my lymph gland problems were probably due to the aluminium in my roll-on, I’m definitely going to start reading up the fine print before I make my next purchase. (Note: the above pictured anti-perspirant, aka my year-in-year-out roll-on, contains aluminium. Boo.)
Update: Yesterday the mister accompanied me to hunt for new paraben/aluminium-free products, and while I was delighted to find mineral line of cosmetics, the frantic search for aluminium-free deodorants was such a hair-tugging experience. I think it is about time that the local community is aware, so that paraben-free and aluminium-free products can make its way here.