a public service announcement

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:-

  • methylparaben;
  • ethylparaben;
  • butylparaben;
  • propylparaben; and
  • isobutylparaben.

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.


23 thoughts on “a public service announcement

  1. linda

    Thanks for sharing! Now I know what sometimes happens in my armpits. I knew anti-perspirant wasn’t really good for you but unfortunately regular deodorants doesn’t do the trick for me 😦

  2. mancunian mammamm

    omg…i so didnt know~! I will try to find a DIY au natural concoction you can make at home. And then, I will let YOU know! For the time being, lemme just inform ye that 29th October is World Pink Hejab day! its some muslim women breast cancer awareness day….so…if ure go-ing out, go pink! πŸ˜›

  3. ovenhaven Post author

    linda: I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been wearing roll-ons since my teenage years, and have always opted for anti-perspirants because I just don’t like feeling wet. Now I have to try and see if there are deodorants out there that can do the trick without giving me risk of cancer 😦

    bie: Thanks for telling me to, dearest *uyuks*

    mammster: If you do find out, let me know! πŸ˜› And thanks for telling me about the World Pink Hejab Day; I’ve heard of it last year, but never noted down when it was πŸ˜›

  4. thecoffeesnob

    I certainly am a lot more conscious about checking food labels than labels on my comestics probably because i hardly ever use them. But it is really useful, thanks for sharing!

    I’m off to check my toiletries πŸ™‚

  5. Shaheen

    Thanks for sharing. I will be more careful now. Although I’ve known for a while that roll-ons contain a high level of aluminium, I didn’t have much of a choice in the very humid city of Bombay.

  6. faizah

    wow! this entry is really an eye-opener. i use the same anti-perpirant too and i love the range cos it keeps me dry all day long. i’ve been using it since forever! yikes!

    now lemme go check my cosmetics. *gasp*

  7. faizah

    do you mind if i copy+paste this entry of yours over at mine. kind of passing it forward? my mom and i are digging our cosmetic pouches and dumping all paraben-related products. so many of them!

  8. ovenhaven Post author

    thecoffeesnob: You seldom use cosmetics? No wonder you’ve got great skin! πŸ˜€

    Shaheen: Ah I can imagine how humid it would be. Do try to get your hands on aluminium-free roll-ons if you can find πŸ™‚

    faizah: Me too! I’ve always thought that it was the most effective one out there. Go go check your cosmetics!

  9. thecoffeesnob

    Haha my skin’s far from great, sweetie. But thanks for thinking so πŸ˜€ Heh in all honesty, i’m just too lazy- the just rolled out of bed look’s about all i can manage.

  10. is

    thanks for the post. when i was pregnant, expecting..i was quite paranoid about cosmetics, facial wash, hair care that i used because of the chemicals..

    this is another good reminder, to try to stay chemical free!

  11. plethoraofetceteras

    thanks oh. this is such a good reminder. i used to be more aware, if it affects my kiddo. but then..i got busy…tend to just grab stuff n go…..in and out. i dont bother to read so much….but with all the latest news…it is kinda scary now when you think of it..how much u have consumed…what goes into our body n all….

  12. ovenhaven Post author

    thecoffeesnob: I wish I could manage the just rolled out of bed look, but with my dark rings, I think I can only do that on Halloween πŸ˜›

    is: Oh that’s right, I forgot that preggers also need to stay away from chemicals. I think it should just be a way of life, and a great place to start would be in our cosmetics and toiletries.

    plethoraofetceteras: I think it’s great that there’s more awareness of what goes into our body in recent times, albeit it comes in wake of looming health threats and diseases. All the older generations probably sigh at how much times have changed, that life was so much easier that time, without all the chemical/cancer-fuss.

  13. nurraudha

    i just read this. and threw my anti perspirant. thanks a lot for sharing! any recommended brands that’s paraben-free and aluminium-free?

    1. ovenhaven Post author

      Hi there, for deodorants, you can check out Nivea. It’s a spray can, and one of the items in the range has the word ‘minerals’ on it; it’s paraben and aluminium free.

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