By Becky de la Rosa, Owner, Pin Up Hair Emporium & Unique Boutique, San Rafael
Is your shampoo making your teenager (and possibly you) fat? Did you know that the average American is exposed to over 150 toxic ingredients a DAY that can cause endocrine disruption, cancer and auto immune disorders as well as affect our central nervous system? Ever wonder where the recent explosion of autism, ADHD, depression and even insulin resistance is coming from?
It could be from something as simple as your shower and make up bag…
In 2005 I found myself in my mid 30’s with a successful career as an HR Director in the museum industry in Marin, however, I realized it was not my calling for a lifetime. I loved connecting with people but did not like the feeling of being chained to a desk or the mountain of paperwork I faced daily. Hmmm, what to do… I realized I needed to find a new career. Determined to tap into my creative side I planted a vision of myself with a new career – as a beautician with my own salon – a vision now realized and in full swing in San Rafael.
I love every aspect of my new career but one – the dirty secret behind ‘beauty’ products, which in my opinion is a national health crisis. I was not prepared for how toxic and unregulated my industry is. I became aware of the large number of toxic ingredients I was exposed to daily while in Beauty School.
During school I noticed it was hard to breath and I would get terrible headaches when asked to do color and perms. After handling lye based hair relaxers (instructors telling us there was no need for gloves!) as well as simply using standard hair products, I developed a rash on my hands. Over the next few months the rash spread to my arms and face as well, with my perplexed doctor unable to help me. Because I had been rash-free prior to entering beauty school, I deduced that the problem might be with toxic ingredients in products I was newly exposing myself to every day.. I hit the Internet and soon realized, thanks to www.EWG.org, that I was in a toxic nightmare. When you see that there are hundreds of toxic ingredients that affect everything from your endocrine system to upping the chances of contracting cancer, in something as basic as your shampoo, it serves as a serious wake up call. It led me to question whether I had made a huge mistake with my new career choice.
Instead of giving up on my new career I decided that I would commit to working with the least amount of toxic ingredients as possible. As soon as I was out of school and could control what I was exposing myself to, that rash disappeared – further cementing my drive to go as clean and green as possible while still delivering cutting edge salon services. I became inspired to learn as much as I could about my chemically soaked industry. I began to devour information about toxic ingredients such as this article offers http://www.bodycures.com/can-cosmetics-make-you-sick/
My clients are constantly shocked to learn that there is NO regulation whatsoever for toxic ingredients in personal care products we use every day and that the only thing legally required is to list the ingredients but the label can say whatever it likes. So ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘sulfate free’, ‘paraben free’ and many other sayings are completely misleading for the consumer. For example, nearly 55% of the non-USDA-organic compliant products purchased at a natural foods market for testing proved to be contaminated by 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of petrochemical manufacturing and a known carcinogen http://www.terressentials.com/dioxane.html.
Along these lines something I often hear is: “but I bought it at Whole Foods” – which sadly means little. Yes, Whole Foods often sources cleaner products, but its selection varies and there is no guarantee that all products contain non-toxic ingredients. However, if you live in Marin, you can shop at Good Earth Natural Foods, where they are committed to clean body care products. Websites such as that of local Marin mom, Irina Webb, www.ireadlabelsforyou.com, is an excellent source for what to buy for you and your family. Because of the lack of regulation in the US, it is up to us as consumers to demand cleaner, safer products, and to vote for elected officials who will advocate for safe chemical laws.
Personally, I work with John Masters Organics, which is the cleanest salon quality line I could find, and use hair color manufactured in Germany under EU standards where they have much stricter guidelines for toxic ingredients. My hope is that the US will begin to clean up its act and be inspired by countries such as Denmark, where they have the strictest personal care guidelines on the planet. Thanks to sites such as The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, more big box retailers are changing their ways. Even Walmart recently announced that it is eliminating a long list of toxic ingredients from the entire store. When we campaign together and our collective voices are heard, business responds! So join me in continuing to demand greater safety and regulation for our collective health and continue to raise awareness with friends, family and businesses you support. Also, please support recent legislative action in congress with this goal in mind at http://www.safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=1115.
With all the things we cannot control our exposure to, this is one thing that we CAN do something about. Empowerment through knowledge and awareness is a wonderful thing.
More scientific reference articles on toxic ingredients:
For information about toxic make up and lipstick: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502082249.htm
For information about insulin resistance and teen obesity as it relates to phthalates please visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/bpa-teen-obesity-insulin-resistance-phthalates_n_3781248.html
Becky de la Rosa is dual citizen of Denmark and the US and grew up in 5 different countries, including Saudi Arabia. She owns Pin Up Hair Emporium & Unique Boutique. She is also a pilot of 16 years, avid cook, artist, animal rights supporter and does volunteer work for abused women as well as for individuals dealing with hair loss due to chemo. She hopes to have a small farm one day and to eventually orbit the earth.