Monday, March 5, 2012

Is Your Makeup Harming Your Boobs?

In my recent blog about the documentary Pink Ribbons Inc I touched on how shocked I was by the suspected links between beauty products and breast cancer. Amazing strides have been made to identify that not all breast cancers are the same but we still don't know what causes most cancers. Very few are genetic so we need a great deal of research into the causes of cancer.

Now I'm not going to be able to cover the huge amount of information available on the suspected links between beauty products and cancer, but I am going to give you some resources to explore further and leave you with some questions you might want to ponder. Plus there's a boob-friendly giveaway for you to enter too!

How can my makeup be harming my breasts?
Pink Ribbons Inc (and many other activists) want effective research into possible links between the increasing number of chemicals in our makeup and beauty products and the rising number of breast cancer cases. Considering the average woman uses 12 beauty products a day and many are known to contain carcinogenics (cancer causing chemicals) it's not a massive logical leap. Very few beauty products are regulated for health safety and groups like Breast Cancer Action want Government co-operation and industry transparency so that effective research can be done. The video below demonstrates how our beauty products could be linked to cancer and also defines irony:

Who Knew There was Lead in my Lipstick?!
Chemicals such as lead, arsenic and a multitude of carcinogenics are found in products that we put on our bodies and faces every day. Organizations like Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are pushing for there to be more transparency about the chemicals that are in these products so that women can make informed choices.

Products in the US are still allowed to include chemicals that have been banned in Canada, the UK and large parts of Europe. There are arguments on both sides of the coin about how safe/dangerous these chemicals are but I really don't think women have any clue that these chemicals are in our beauty products in the first place - I didn't! I didn't realize that I could be absorbing (and ingesting in the case of lipstick) deadly chemicals in however small a dose. Why does my lipstick have lead in it when it was banned in paint and pencils decades ago!?!?

Common Sense
I scraped by in Chemistry and Biology so I'm no scientist, however, I've read enough Agatha Christie to know that Arsenic rarely ends well. So when I learned that Clinique Stay True makeup (Stay Ivory) contains arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead, and thallium I was more than a little dumbfounded (results from Environmental Defense Canada). Just to put this in context, this is a list of what these chemicals and heavy metals can do to you in their purest form:

Arsenic: diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, hair loss, stomach pain, convulsions. At worst coma then death
Beryllim: fatigue, weakness, night sweats, difficulty in breathing and a persistent dry cough
Cadmium: tracheo-bronchitis, pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, bone density loss and fracture
Nickel: bronchitis, reduced lung function, cancer of the lung and nasal sinus
Lead: headache, abdominal pain, memory loss, kidney failure, male reproductive problems, and weakness, pain, or tingling in the extremities
Thallium: numbness of fingers and toes,vomiting, diarrhea, temporary hair loss, and effects on the nervous system, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. It has caused death.

Why Take the Risk?
OK so my Clinique foundation is not causing my hair to fall out and my toes aren't numb, however, I'm pretty sure that my body would be happier not processing even tiny amounts of these things. What has shocked and infuriated me the most is that there seems to be an industry-wide concealment of the facts. In the US and Canada cosmetics and beauty companies do not need to list ingredients in a product that are the result of a side-effect (i.e. the by-product of mixing one thing with another). Surely we have the right to know the contents of everything we put on or in our bodies.

The Changes I made to my Bathroom Cabinet
After watching the documentary and doing my own digging I decided that I was going to reduce my chemical intake as much as possible so went on the hunt for some friendly products. My first stop was Rocky Mountain Soap company, a Canadian business whose Lip Butter I had already fallen in love with. I knew they did good stuff but I didn't realize that all of their products are 100% chemical free, made in Canada and sustainably produced - now that's good stuff!!

I've been using the little haul above for a couple of weeks now and I'm in total heaven. The pomegranate moisturizer has eliminated my hives (I have crazy sensitive skin) and the soaps create amazing lather. The shampoo and shave bars are Mr Butterfly's and he's even commented on how much better his hair and skin feel.
Win Yourself some Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Goodness!
The ingredients philosophy at Rocky Mountain Soap Co. is "When an ingredient has been identified as potentially harmful it is safest to avoid it. Period." Who knew common-sense could smell so good. I asked the lovely ladies at RMSC if they would like to share some of their Soapy Goodness with my readers and they didn't hesitate! To win their gorgeous Six Soap Collection you simply need to write on their Facebook Page why chemical-free products are important to you and your life. Be sure to "Like" Rocky Mountain's Facebook Page and Butterfly Collection's Page to qualify. We'll announce a winner on March 14th over on our Facebook Page.

I really hope this blog got you thinking about what goes on your body and more importantly, what we deserve to be told about ingredients in our beauty products. Below are some resources to help you find out more as well as some companies providing chemical-free beauty products. xx

Stacy Malkan's Fascinating Book About Chemicals in our Beauty Products
Resources to Learn More About Chemicals in Beauty Product
EWG Database - Thousands of beauty products analyzed for harmful ingredients

Environmental Defense Canada Report on Heavy Metals in Makeup 

Campaign for Safer Cosmetics - with resources for writing to makeup companies like Estee Lauder and Proctor and Gamble about using safer ingredients

The Shocking Story of Toxins in Cosmetics - The original video

Rebuttal to the video above criticizing the information

Breast Cancer Action petition to US government for FDA control of cosmetics and beauty products

Gorgeous Companies Making Chemical-free Beauty Products
Rocky Mountain Soap Company
Liz Earle Makeup and Beauty Products

Suki Skincare and Makeup

Radiance Cosmetics


  1. There's a problem with saying that you don't want even small amounts on arsenic on your face. In order to do that you may never be able to step outside again. Arsenic (along with other elements you mentioned) occurs naturally in the air, water, and earth. So while I definitely applaud the need to put stricter standards on make-up, I think it's not good practice to simply say "it's dangerous, there should be none of it near my products".
    Here's some info on a great experiment done by a student who petitioned his neighbourhood to ban "Dihydrogen Monoxide".

    1. You're totally right that all of these elements occur naturally in the environment, however, none of them exist naturally in the air (without air pollution) so they wouldn't necessarily get near your skin. It's tricky to get all the info into one short blog, but I don't think most of these elements need to be in our makeup and certainly not without declaring it or putting the research into finding out what it's doing to our health. Thank you for the link, I am going to read that today with my tea break! xx

  2. Great article! I used to be more mindful of my beauty product ingredients, but then in the last few years I have allowed the blinders to be on for convenience. Thank you for reigniting my interest and taking my blinders off!

    1. It's hard to find ethical or chemical-free products so it's no wonder we get side-tracked by the convenient cosmetics. Thanks for commenting xx

  3. I think it's a great idea to de-clutter the chemicals from our bodies and our homes. I'm by no means a purist but I prefer to keep my home and body as chemical free as I can, not only with make-up and skin care products but household cleaners. There's really no need for many of the chemicals we are marketed, like air fresheners, glass cleaner, bleaches, etc. I have one or two environmentally friendly cleaners and use micro-fibre clothes for most of my cleaning. Also, the less chemicals we consume in our products, the less go into the environment when they get tossed, packaged, shipped around the world, etc. Less is more.

    1. So true. We could lessen our chemical footprint a great deal xx

  4. Great Article! While we can not avoid chemicals completely, any time you can reduce your body's chemical load it can only be a good thing! Let your body focus on repair and regeneration, not getting rid of excess toxins.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. Where we can reduce our chemical intake, we should. Thanks for commenting xx

  5. That's why I like Bite beauty (sold at Sephora). It's made from food grade ingredients and I've heard a woman who was young in the 40's ate on average 4 pounds of lipstick over her lifetime! It's important for you (and honestly your man) that what goes on your mouth (and in your eyes but that's a whole other story)and his mouth isn't gonna kill y'all. I take the same attitude with my make up that I really should with my bras, I wear it every single day (I'm super fair and my basic makeup is my day to day SPF) and I'm allergic to LOTS of stuff so instead of wearing makeup that's going to make me look worse it's worth it to get the expensive stuff that is safe, looks better, and lasts longer. Legit.

    1. You're my kinda girl Adrianna! Spend the money on the stuff that matters. Thank you for the tip on Bite beauty, I'll check that out for sure xx