By Tyshia Ingram of ASE Beauty
We can all remember a time when something beyond our control completely disrupted our lives. In fact, most of us are living through a time like that right now. Whether it was a particularly hectic commute back when life was “normal”, or these days when what should be a quick grocery trip turns into a half-day long event, moments like these can leave us frustrated, upset, and operating at less than our best selves.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with your beauty products, the answer is: a lot. Much like factors beyond your control can disrupt your daily life, exposure to chemicals that are often found in beauty products can disrupt important bodily functions, in particular, the workings of your endocrine system.
UNDERSTANDING THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM
The endocrine system is made up of different glands in your body that create hormones to manage your growth and development, regulate your mood, sleep, reproductive health, tissue function, and metabolism, among other important functions. If the regular workings of the endocrine system are disrupted, all of those important tasks can become impaired, and wreak havoc on your body. Think of it like traffic lights and speed limits that regulate the flow of traffic, preventing accidents, and making sure everyone gets to where they are trying to go in a controlled manner. If the traffic lights didn’t work properly or speed limits didn’t exist, chaos, dysfunction, and increased collisions could occur.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals interfere with hormone function, reproduction, and developmental processes1. They come in many different forms, and exposure to these chemicals can cause obesity, diabetes, female reproductive problems, hormone-related cancers, male infertility, thyroid dysfunction, prostate cancer, and unhealthy birth outcomes, such as miscarriages, spontaneous abortions, and premature delivery1.
YOUR BEAUTY PRODUCTS AND YOUR HEALTH
You might be thinking, “but these chemicals can’t be inside beauty products!” Unfortunately, they are. Conventional health and beauty products (think makeup, hair care products, relaxers, lotions, perfumes, scented hygiene products, etc.) have been shown to contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals called phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and toxic metals. If you’ve never heard of these or had no idea that your beauty products could contain such harmful chemicals, you aren’t alone.
Even though the use of toxin-containing beauty products is widespread, their dangers and possible effects on our bodies and health are not as well known. U.S. regulations only require limited labeling, and the FDA doesn’t require the listing of chemical ingredients that are considered to be “proprietary trade secrets”. For example, the word “fragrance” listed on many beauty products can actually contain thousands of different chemicals that aren’t required to be listed.
While everyone can be affected by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, women are more likely to use a plethora of beauty products, increasing their level of exposure. And women of color specifically, are impacted by endocrine-disrupting chemicals at a disproportionately high rate, as the result of a higher usage level of products like perfumes, relaxers, and moisturizing hair products2. In fact, research shows that Black women in the U.S. have higher levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals detected in their urine than white women, and have higher levels of conditions associated with endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as obesity, diabetes, hormone-related conditions such as breast cancer, reproductive health problems, and pre-term birth rates2.
What does this all mean? When you use beauty products that contain such toxic chemicals, they are absorbed through your skin, hair and respiratory system and get into your bloodstream, causing dysfunction and increasing your risk of disease and health problems.
FIGHTING BACK WITH CLEAN BEAUTY
Committing to clean is one way you can take control of your health when it comes to your beauty. Clean beauty is all about being informed and intentional. Being aware of the impact endocrine-disrupting chemicals can have on your health is the first step to making more informed choices for your health and wellness.
ASE Beauty is part of the clean beauty movement committed to creating products that make you feel beautiful while using safe ingredients that won’t harm you or the environment. We’re here to empower you on your journey to clean and help you embrace the transformation a clean lifestyle can bring. If you want to learn more but don’t know where to start, here are some helpful resources:
Tyshia Ingram is a clean beauty enthusiast who currently serves as Beauty Editor at ASE Beauty, a clean beauty lifestyle brand for women of color. You can read the original post and more at ASE Beauty’s #CleanConversations blog.