by Emma Peters February 02, 2018

Are your cosmetics making you sick?

I'm pretty sure we humans are meant to exist in a state of vigour and not of sluggishness. So why are we as a population getting sicker and more tired?

I’ve spent well over a decade on a bit of a health crusade. the reasons being that one- I find the workings of the human body truly fascinating. And two- I just got tired of being sick and tired all the time. 

So various tests and modalities later, I discovered some heavy metal toxicity, an autoimmune disease, gluten intolerance, adrenal fatigue and probably a few others that I’ve forgotten along the way.

Because it’s in my nature to want to know everything- I wanted to know everything! And bit by bit, it dawned on me. Throughout my career as a makeup artist and my life as a female with a bit of an addiction to beauty products, I’d been using copious amounts of chemicals unintentionally. Then came the conclusion that what I put onto my body is as important for my health as what I put in it.

Beauty companies don’t make toxic cosmetics do they?

I’m sure for the most part they don’t knowingly do so. It may be they include less than safe ingredients by sheer ignorance or just that a particular ingredient hasn’t been double-blind-study-proven-not-to-be-safe-yet. New Zealand and the EU have pretty good regulations in place to ensure the safety of cosmetics whereas others aren’t so strict, but really, we purchase globally, so it’s up to you to know what you’re buying.

But even so, there are many chemicals used in cosmetics that are included at “safe” levels. And that is just great- if you just use that one product alone and not all that often. But what happens when you layer products each containing safe amounts, day in and day out. There’s a real chance that those levels aren’t “safe” any longer. And therefore creating a toxic load for your body to deal with.

Here are some of the potential health risks associated with toxic levels of chemicals in your cosmetics.

Endocrine disruption– Chemicals like phthalates and BHA,BHT  mimic natural hormones, interfering with the normal function of the hormonal system.

Carcinogenic- Potentially cancer causing ingredients such as parabens, 1,4 Dioxane  have been known to show up in tumor tissue.

DNA damaging-Butylparaben for instance is associated with DNA damage in sperm cells.

Heavy Metal contamination– Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium. Even in minute amounts can be neuro toxic, possibly contributing to learning, language and behavioural problems and possibly Alzheimers.

With endless ingredients, it’s impossible to know them all inside and out. Some of them may even be considered safe at this point in time, only to be proven otherwise later down the track. In the past I’m sure parabens and sodium laureth sulphate were considered safe to use (and still are by some companies)

Remember that one of these ingredients may be safe in the levels within a singular product, but what about when you’re layering several products day after day with that same ingredient, do you think that it still remains at safe levels? 

This is not meant to scare you by any means, just the opposite. It’s my mission to empower you to take control of what goes onto and, therefore a lot of the time, into your body. Just as you (hopefully) read food labels before feeding your family, it’s my hope that you’ll now be reading cosmetic labels before applying to your body and that of your family.

One thing that a I have noticed lately is that companies are becoming a bit more aware of consumer reaction to “the bad ingredients” but what is happening is that they seem to be replacing the known nasties for untested ingredients that may well end up on the nasties list down the track.

With that in mind, I’d rather choose my cosmetics like I choose my food, sticking to easy to read ingredients lists that are recognisable from the get go – wouldn’t you?


Emma Peters
Emma Peters

Emma Peters, organic makeup artist, creative director and founder of Belle & Sage, is committed to leading the conversation around beauty and wellness. With over twenty years of experience as a make-up artist, she knows you don’t have to sacrifice quality for clean.

She’ll help you find the what, learn the why, nail the how, and everything in between.

Letting you know more, wear better, and start making beautiful choices: from the inside, out.

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