How Much Does This Personal Hygiene or Cosmetic Product Cost? More Importantly, How Much Will it Cost my Skin and my Health?

When we go to the store to buy hygienic or cosmetic products (masculine or feminine) the most frequent question that we ask ourselves is usually: ”How much does it cost?” However, something that we’re not aware of, and that we also need to think about, is that many conventional products contain synthetic substances, many of which come from oil.

Besides aesthetic reasons, we generally don’t pay much attention to our skin, although it is our body’s largest organ. In 1cm² of skin we can find: 15 sebaceous glands, 1m of blood vessels, 100 sweat glands, 3,000 sensory cells, 4m of nerves, 300,000 epithelial cells and 10 hairs. Our skin breaths, it protects us from the exterior, it keeps our internal structures intact, it acts as a communication system (informing us of internal and external processes), it eliminates toxins, etc. An example: if we were to completely cover our bodies with something that didn’t allow our body’s to transpire, we would die within 2 hours. Our body is also one of the principle pathways that allow toxic substances to enter our body (directly to the blood); unlike the digestive or respiratory systems, there are no filters.

There are a lot of companies that make hygienic and cosmetic products. The race to maximize benefits while minimizing costs has lead to the creation of low-cost and low-quality chemical substances. Many of these materials are synthetic (the majority coming from oil) and not compatible with our bodies or the environment. They can even cause health problems.

There also exists a lot of false advertising surrounding products that claim to be natural, bio, organic, etc. being more a publicity gimmick more than a reality. HOW CAN WE KNOW IF WE’RE BEING DECEIVED? The manufacturers are obligated to list ALL of their products ingredients in the INCI (international nomenclature for cosmetic ingredients). We have to learn to read and understand the labels. We can see a concrete example of this by examining a well known supermarket’s almond oil and the principal components that we should avoid here: Ecomallorca. We can only evaluate the quality of a product by reading the INCI to detect if it contains beneficial or harmful substances Start paying attention to the ingredients that would be better to avoid: mineral oils (paraffin, silicone, Vaseline, petrolatum), sodium lareth sulfate, parabens, parfum, PEG (polyethlenglycol), falatos (Phthalatate), benzophenone, etc.

The evidence speaks for itself. In 2005, Annex II of the European Directory that regulates cosmetics had to be modified due to, “the technical progress that has demonstrated that some ingredients currently used in cosmetic products are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for the reproduction function.” In early 2013 the OMS published a report about the toxic substances used in conventional cosmetics and its possible link as an endocrine disruptor.

Some cosmetic ingredients haven’t been identified as harmful for our health, but they are contaminants that one way or another have a negative environmental impact that affects all living things, including us. These ingredients aren’t easy broken down and can’t be eliminated from water during its depuration process. Consequentially these substances accumulate in rivers, lakes and the sea where they can enter into the food chain, eventually returning to our dinner plate.

There are some basic norms that can help us to evaluate the quality of a product:

We use hygienic and cosmetic products every day… from the time we hop out of bed and wash our face, or take a shower, to the time we’re getting ready for bed and brush our teeth, or put on a hydrating lotion. Depending on our habits, we come into contact with hundreds of natural or chemical compounds every day. The proportion between one or the other depends principally on the type of products that we use.*

Amics de la Terra imparted a natural cosmetic workshop. Those who participated were taught how to read the INCIS of cosmetic products, where to find natural products in Mallorca, etc. All of this thanks to information given to us by Rituals Mediterranis.

If you are interested in taking part in a natural cosmetics workshop, we often publish information in our facebook as well as twitter.

Toxic substances in cosmetics

Cosmetic manufacturers who use toxic ingredients in their products

Information for the responsable shopper

Organic cosmetics guide