As I've become increasingly conscious of the ingredients in my food, it occurred to me I should also pay attention to ingredients in other products I use. If I care about what I put in to my body, shouldn't I also be concerned about what I put on to my body? This thought progression seemed simple enough, but I can honestly say I didn't give it much thought until this past spring, when I was unable to purchase my usual make-up.
I brought the make-up to the counter but was told by the cashier who scanned it that "the item cannot be sold." There was no explanation why, and there was no way to override the statement. Even though it was right there, on the shelf, I wasn't able to purchase it. Another store associate informed me that sometimes that happens when a product is recalled. Months later, the product was still not available and is now no longer on shelves, and despite my attempts I couldn't find anything online about a recall or any other reason for its disappearance. Of course, my next thought was, what the hell have I been putting on my face?!
That's when I started looking harder at ingredients on my cosmetics. I frequently spotted petroleum on the list... yes, the same petroleum used in oil and gasoline for cars. The same petroleum used in factories to produce plastics. The same petroleum we get from other nations and drill from the soils and oceans. The same petroleum whose fluctuating price is often a topic of complaint on the news and around the proverbial water cooler..
It was in my foundation, my powder, my mascara, my chapstick, my lipstick, my nail polish, my deodorant, my toothpaste, my body lotion, my shaving cream, my antibiotic ointment, my soaps... it was everywhere. Sometimes it was listed as a paraben or a toluene, but each of these products indeed had ingredients that were derived from petrochemicals. I also learned that 95% of all artificial fragrances are derived from petroleum, and that the FDA does not legally require companies to list the ingredients within those artificial fragrances. In fact, the US continues to include several products in their cosmetics that have been banned in Europe, because there is no law here prohibiting it. That means petroleum was also in my laundry detergent, my fabric softener, my air freshener, my candles, my perfume, and almost everything that had an added scent. (Click here to see a list of petrochemicals and their derivatives.)
No wonder our nation is so dependent on foreign oil... it's in so many products we use each day, and many people may not even realize it!
(See this full report for more information: Neurotoxins: At Home and the Workplace, Report by the Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Sept. 16, 1986, Report 99-827).
Appalled, I emptied my bathroom cabinets and threw out almost everything. I couldn't fathom continuing to use it, and I couldn't justify giving it to someone else. I decided to cut my losses and start over. The good news is that there are petroleum-free products out there, many of them organic. I have compiled some of my findings into a list below, for those who may want to transition into using less petroleum in their lives. (Also, none of these companies test their products on animals... yay!)
A Starter List of Petroleum-Free Beauty Products and Toiletries:
Alima Pure - This make-up company came highly recommended by some friends. Alima uses simple and pure minerals in their products. I now get my powder, bronzer, blush, and eyeshadow from here.
I understand this is a lot of information to process. If you want to make a change like I did, don't feel overwhelmed; the important thing is to start somewhere.