Archive for category 2010 Toxicity Report

Toxicity Report 2012

Toxicity Report 2012

 

Date Time Product Type Product Product Name
6-Mar 6:37 PM Hygiene Hand Sanitizer Purell
11:47 PM Hygiene Toothpaste Crest: 3D White
7-Mar 9:08 AM Health Contact Lenses Acuvue: 1-Day Moist
9:10 AM Hygiene Toothpaste Crest: 3D White
9:12 AM Hygiene Deodorant Axe Dry
1:15 PM Hygiene Shampoo Head and Shoulders
1:19 PM Hygiene Body Wash Gillette Skin Hydrator
1:26 PM Hygiene Deodorant Axe Dry
6:23 PM Hygiene Hand Sanitizer Purell
11:34 PM Hygiene Toothpaste Crest: 3D White
8-Mar 9:06 AM Health Contact Lenses Acuvue: 1-Day Moist
9:10 AM Hygiene Toothpaste Crest: 3D White
9:13 AM Hygiene Deodorant Axe Dry
11:28 AM Hygiene Shampoo Head and Shoulders
11:31 AM Hygiene Body Wash Gillette Skin Hydrator
12:03 PM Hygiene Hand Sanitizer Purell
6:12 PM Hygiene Hand Sanitizer Purell
11:12 PM Hygiene Toothpaste Crest: 3D White
9-Mar 9:13 AM Health Contact Lenses Acuvue: 1-Day Moist
9:17 AM Hygiene Toothpaste Crest: 3D White

 

 

After tracking all of the products I use on my body for several days, my first reaction to my toxicity report was “that’s it…?!”.  Identifying myself as a guy, I use a minimal amount of beauty products as compared to most girls in our class.  All of the products that I use from a day-to-day basis are considered to be “hygiene” products, while only my contact lenses fall under the product type of “health”.  I feel like I am lucky in being a guy because looking at my routine in the morning (i.e. waking up, putting my contacts in, brushing my teeth, and putting deodorant) takes only a couple of minutes while girls in our class take some serious time out of their mornings to put on make up products.  I am confused, being a guy, why girls and women across the world would continue to use unnatural, toxic make up products on their bodies; having learned about how bad nail salons are a few weeks ago, why do people still continue to go to them to get their finger or toe-nails painted?  I guess this isn’t a question for just one person in our class, but I am just confused why women are more fashionable (if you will) than men are.  Why do we see women using make up products and beauty products more often than men?

Analysis of Purell: Instant Hand Sanitizer:

Purell is a hand sanitizer that is advertised to kill “99.99 percent” of most common germs within 15 seconds of being used.  Purell was invented in 1988 by Gojo Industries and is proudly produced in the United States of America.  At first, Purell made its niche in the market by marketing Purell “to meet the needs of healthcare providers and restaurant operators looking for ways to reduce the spread of germs”.  In 1997 Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer was introduced to the market.  Nowadays, Purell is used by basically everyone.  It can be found in bathrooms around campus, in the cafeteria, and can even be found in the library.

The popularity and abundance of Purell throughout the world is the reason why I chose to write about this product.  I have heard rumors that Purell is “bad for your immune system” from friends and family, but haven’t yet gotten around to do the research and either prove or disprove that rumor.

Skin Deep gave Purell just below moderate in terms of overall hazard.  For allergies and immunotoxicity, Skin Deep gave Purell in the middle of moderate in high in terms of the risk.  The top ingredient that deserves the most attention as suggested by Skin Deep is the fragrance, as neurotoxicity, allergies, and immunotoxicity are the biggest concern; Skin Deep gave this ingredient an eight out of ten.  This “fragrance” could also be hazardous as the ingredient is not fully labeled, thus the identity of the substance is unknown.  Other the fragrance, fortunately there aren’t very many hazardous ingredients.

In the short-term Purell will not have an impact on my body if I continue to use it once a day at the very most.  In the long-term if I were to increase my use of Purell, I would be increasing my contact with certain toxic pollutants found in Purell.  The only short or long term risk would be accidental ingestion, as Purell has been observed to make people inebriated, alcohol poisioning.

All that having been said, I do not expect to quit using Purell anytime soon.  The little amount that I do use Purell, in my opinion, validates my use of the product once or twice a day.  I abide by the instructions whenever using Purell and use about a dime sized portion of Purell.  Some hazards and risks that I have heard of have included rubbing your eyes shortly after the application of Purell and the ethanol burning your eyes, but after further research did not find any conclusive data proving that Purell weakens your immune system.  It is FDA approved and according to their website, Purell is even tested on animals before humans.

 

http://www.purell.com/about-us/about-purell.aspx

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/239055/Purell_Instant_Hand_Sanitizer%2C_Original/

 

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everyday day i….

At first glance at the toxicity report project, I found myself rolling my eyes and being pissed off. I didn’t want  to take the time to record all of the products I use daily and honestly I thought the project was silly. Once the first day of  journaling was over I stared at the amount of times I used soap. It was a tuesday so I was working at the restaurant. Every time I touched my hair, blew my nose, spilled the remains of a salad into the trash and dressing engulfed my fingers I had to wash my hands. What’s funny is I can’t even figure out the name of the soap. It is just that pink restaurant gooo that is used from everything to handwashing to dish soaking to floor cleaning. I thought about how much “stuff” must be getting killed on my hands it completely freaked me out and made be stick to the project and realize how important it is to know what you are using, when, why and for what. This project has encouraged me to continue the practice of not showering everyday ( even though my roommates make fun of me for being the ragamuffin roomie). It has made me really decide what is necessary to use and seek out healthier products to fill my needs. Hopefully I will be able to wean myself off of by canerous face scrub and hot pink nail polish of death.

A B C D E
1 time date product type product name prodcut name
2 9:30 AM 11/16/2006 hygeine toothpaste crest triple action
3 9:35 AM hygeine face wash st ives apricot srub
4 9:40 AM hygeine acne gel persa gel 10 clean and clear
5 9:42 AM hygeine face lotion garneir moisture rescue
6 10:00 AM 9:30 AM 11/16/2006 hygeine
7 10:45 AM hygeine soap
8 11:15 AM hygeine soap
9 11:40 AM hygeine soap
10 12:15 AM hygeine soap
11 1:30 PM hygeine soap
12 1:35 PM hygeine soap
13 2:15 PM hygeine soap
14 2:18 PM hygeine chapstick nivia
15 2:35 PM hygeine soap
16 14:40 hygeine chapstick nivia
17 3:30 PM hygeine soap
18 4:15 PM hygeine soap
19 4:30 PM hygeine chapstick nivia
20 5:00 PM hygeine soap dial
21 5:30 PM hygeine hand lotion eucerin
22 6:05 PM hygeine chapstick nivia
23 10:00 PM hygeine toothpaste crest triple action
24 22:05 hygeine face wash st ives apricot srub
25 10:10 PM hygeine acne gel persa gel 10 clean and clear
26 10:13 PM hygeine vasline vasline
27 11/17/2006
28 9:35 AM hygeine face wash st ives apricot srub
29 9:40 AM hygeine acne gel persa gel 10 clean and clear
30 9:42 AM hygeine face lotion garneir moisture rescue
31 10:20 AM hygeine toothpaste crest triple action
32 10:30 AM hygeine chapstick nivia
33 10:35 AM hygeine vasline vasline
34 11:30 hygeine soap dial
35 12:16 PM hygeine tissue kleenex
36 11:30 PM hygeine face wash st ives apricot srub
37 11:45 PM hygeine acne gel persa gel 10 clean and clear
38 11:50 PM hygeine vasline vasline
39 11:55 PM hygeine toothpaste crest triple action
40 11/20/2006
41 12:00 PM hygeine toothpaste crest triple action
42 12:30 PM hygeine face wash st ives apricot srub
43 12:32 PM hygeine shampoo V08 calming lavendar
44 12:33 PM hygeine soap st ives moisturizing soap
45 12:40 PM hygeine conditioner herbel essances deep clean
46 1:30 PM hygeine acne gel persa gel 10 clean and clear
47 1:40 PM hygeine face lotion garneir moisture rescue
48 1:43 PM hygeine chapstick nivia
49 11:45 PM hygeine chapstick nivia
50 11:51 PM hygeine vasline vasline
51 11:54 PM hygeine body lotion bath and body works
52 11:58 PM hygeine toothpaste crest triple action

After looking at my list I realized how my Vaseline I actually use in a week. I am constantly coving my hands with it mid class, in meetings, as getting ready for bed and any other time I think to pull it out of my bag and lather up. So its no surprise that I choose Vaseline as my product to research further.

fun fact: it can't freeSome History:

SOME HISTORY:

Vaseline was discovered in 1859 by a chemist from New York named Robert A. Chesebrough. He was on working in Pennsylvania at an oil well. During his stay was told by the men who worked in the field about a “gooey substance known as ‘Rod Wax’ that was causing the oil rig workers problems, as it stuck to the drilling rigs, causing them to seize up.” (http://www.vaseline.com/) Not only did the stuff clog the oil well, but it also clogged the skin of the workers allowing them to heal from small on the job injuries Chesebrough, being the great chemist decided this phenomenon could not go on without him, he  took some “Rod Wax” back to New York and explored his medium. After many weeks of him working with this stuff and experimentation he found and pull out unusable petroleum jelly.By 1870, chesebrough becamse a household name with his winner Vaseline®.

Although Vaseline is an United States product, it is now sold all over the world. Many countries even have their own website that caters to that country or more realistically what Vaseline wants  people in that country to buy. The products are also different country to country based I would guess societal norms, skin color or type, price, and social class. The company has plants in Europe, Africa, Canada and now recently is produced in South America. The Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly  based products owned by Anglo-Dutch company Unilever. When I called the Vaseline costumer service hotline hey could not give me any information regarding where the factories for the products are located, They also would not discuss anything about working conditions or workers in their factories. This information is not listed online or on the packaging.

PRODUCT INFO:

Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly according to its website, “is a mixture of mineral oils, paraffin and microcrystalline waxes that, when blended together, create something remarkable – a smooth jelly that has a melting point just above body temperature. The result – it literally melts into skin, flowing into the spaces between cells and the gaps in our lipid barrier. Once there, it re-solidifies, locking itself in place. Vaseline does many things.  “First it helps keep the outside world out – it protects skin from the effects of weather and exposure. Second, it acts like a sealant to help keep the inside world in – it forms an occlusive barrier to the natural water loss of our skin. So skin that is dry and chapped is protected from drying elements, enabling skin-softening moisture to build up naturally from inside the skin itself.” (http://www.vaseline.com/)

Even though Original Vaseline is listed as unscented. This is not entirely truthful because on the Vaseline container it says on its ingredients list: fragrance. I was curious about this discrepancy so when I called back to inquire. The representative I spoke to told me there is no actual scent added, but that there is an odor neutralizer. (WHAT IS THAT? AND WHAT IS THAT DOING TO BY BODY?) Anyway this made me think. What does it smell like with this neutralizer? Does it smell like oil?

According to the CD or Comestics Database plain old basic Vaseline has a zero rating in terms of harming your body. This was shocking to me. How could something have zero? Was this because the Petroleum Jelly just sits on top of your skin and doesn’t get absorbed? That can’t be, because when I wake up in the morning my hands are soft but not gooey with Vaseline. Is Petroleum Jelly actually a natural product? None of these questions could be answered for me through my research of the product.

Will I still use it?

YES!!!

In addition to having soft and protected skin from Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly, I feel even better about using it now because through my research  I found that

1. The oil industry is what drives the production not the other way around. Therefore Petroleum Jelly is a byproduct of our dependency on oil. Therefore I am not perpetuating this problem because the gooey stuff that Vaseline is made from would be thrown out if not used to make Petroleum Jelly and that would be wasteful

2. It is not harmful to my body or anybody’s body near my body (woah a lot of bodies) in any case no harmful.

3. Unilever and Vaseline are looking into way to make petroleum jelly type products and stuff in the future when the oil runs out.

http://pertinentverge.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://theshoppingmama.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/vaseline.jpg&imgrefurl=http://theshoppingmama.com/2010/11/vaseline-petroleum-jelly-celebrates-140/&usg=__Ke8DjPKID10StM-HaPH_xuu-sVU=&h=300&w=300&sz=60&hl=en&start=125&zoom=1&tbnid=atO6GsR51lrD6M:&tbnh=172&tbnw=157&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dvasline%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Den%26biw%3D1278%26bih%3D680%26tbs%3Disch:10%2C3731&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=444&vpy=335&dur=849&hovh=225&hovw=225&tx=114&ty=112&ei=b3j1TMaJL4-t8Ab86JzOBQ&oei=THj1TI-1KoKB8gatw9i0Bw&esq=8&page=8&ndsp=16&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:125&biw=1278&bih=680

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What’s in YOUR jar?

A course I took through Dickinson (Animal Welfare and Morality*) introduced me to the consideration of animals and their role in human cosmetics testing.  This class began to open my mind to “alternative” lifestyles.  For instance, I became vegetarian soon after this course began.  However, having my hair volumized everyday with my Panteen Pro-V shampoo was all too appealing to give up.  I guess I was not as open-minded three years ago as I thought I was…

Since this philosophy class, I have learned much about synergy and its unknown effects on the human body.  I have also learned to appreciate my body and respect its own welfare.  Through this meticulous recording of my daily use of health/beauty/hygiene products, I was forced to see what exactly I am choosing to put on my body.  I use about eight products everyday – some, like my Carmex chapstick, more than once (P.S. Carmex is not tested on animals). EIGHT!:

Time Date Product Type Product Name Product Name
10:00 AM Tuesday Health Contacts Acuvu True Eyes
10:15 AM Tuesday Beauty Maskara L’Oreal voluminous
10:15 AM Tuesday Beauty Anti-perspirant Deodorant Dove sensitive skin
10:15 AM Tuesday Beauty Eye Liner L’Oreal liquid
3:00 PM Tuesday Health Chapstick Carmex
11:00 PM Tuesday Health Lotion Cetaphil
11:00 PM Tuesday Hygeine face wash St. Ives (green tea scrub)
11:00 PM Tuesday Health face cream Philosophy (Hope in a Jar)
11:00 PM Tuesday Hygeine Floss Crest glide
11:00 PM Tuesday Hygeine tooth paste Crest (tartar protection)
10:00 AM Wednesday Beauty Maskara L’Oreal voluminous
11:30 AM Wednesday Hygeine Shampoo Pantene Pro-V (volume)
11:30 AM Wednesday Beauty Conditioner Avalon Organics (lavender)
11:30 AM Wednesday Hygeine Body Wash Dove
11:30 AM Wednesday Hygeine face wash St. Ives (green tea scrub)
11:30 AM Wednesday Beauty Anti-perspirant Deodorant Dove sensitive skin
11:30 AM Wednesday Beauty eyeliner L’Oreal liquid
12:00 PM Wednesday Health Chapstick Carmex
9:00 PM Wednesday Health Contacts Acuvu True Eyes
9:00 PM Wednesday Beauty Lip Gloss Sephora
9:15 AM Thursday Beauty Anti-perspirant Deodorant Dove sensitive skin
6:30 PM Thursday Hygeine Shampoo Pantene Pro-V (volume)
6:30 PM Thursday Beauty Conditioner Avalon Organics (lavender)
6:30 PM Thursday Hygeine Body Wash Dove
6:30 PM Thursday Beauty Hair anti-breakage serum Organix
6:30 PM Thursday Beauty Anti-perspirant Deodorant Dove sensitive skin
6:30 PM Thursday Beauty Maskara L’Oreal voluminous
6:30 PM Thursday Beauty Eye Liner L’Oreal liquid
11:00 PM Thursday Hygeine Tooth paste Crest glide
11:00 PM Thursday Hygeine Floss Crest (tartar protection)
11:00 PM Thursday Health Lotion Cetaphil
11:30 AM Friday Hygeine Shampoo Pantene Pro-V (volume)
11:30 AM Friday Beauty Conditioner Avalon Organics (lavender)
11:30 AM Friday Hygeine Body Wash Dove
11:30 AM Friday Hygeine face wash St. Ives (green tea scrub)
11:45 AM Friday Health Lotion Cetaphil
12:00 PM Friday Beauty Maskara L’Oreal voluminous
12:00 PM Friday Beauty Eye Liner L’Oreal liquid
12:00 PM Friday Beauty Anti-perspirant Deodorant Dove sensitive skin

Taking a closer look at one of my favorite products, Philosophy Hope in a Jar face moisturizer, I have learned that not only ‘miracles’ can be produced by Philosophy products, but developmental and reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, cancer, and endocrine disruption as well.  Say WHAT?! Yes, and some of these worrisome ingredients include propylparaben, triethanolamine, methylparaben, and phenoxyethanol.  Can you pronounce any of these words, because I sure cannot?  One could say that they are scientific terms, not meant for complete comprehension.  Yet, I think they are confusing and deceiving.  Even on the Philosophy website, they take a proud stance that their products come from cutting-edge internal research and development.  For me, this equates to scary and unknown…

Just as a sample of what is in this jar of face moisturizer, I will relay the information I learned via the cosmetics database.  Both propylparaben and phenoxyethanol, for start, are preservatives used in personal care product industries.   Propylparaben and methylparaben are in the paraben family  that mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors.  What “wowed” me was not just the fact that this chemical has strong evidence as an endocrine disruptor, but that one or more studies have shown adverse effect on wildlife.  However, this information was under the category of “lesser or emerging concerns for this ingredient,” along with neurotoxicity.  This is almost understandable (sarcasm): I mean, if the company is disregarding the potential harmful effects on their human customers, then worrying about the effects on the environment (“ecotoxicity”) comes last.  Triethanolamine is a strongly alkaline substance used as a surfactant and a pH adjusting chemical.  The main type of concern for this ingredient is allergenic and immunotoxicity.  Triethanolamine is a known human immune system toxicant and there is strong evidence that it is a human skin and respiratory toxicant.  In addition, more than one in vitro tests on mammalian cells have shown mutilation results. And the scary list goes on…and on…

I tried to investigate where this product was made and the potential impact of the worker and communities are this facility.  I first looked on the Philosophy website, with no luck, and spend over half an hour on hold waiting to talk with a representative (this might be caused by the traffic of the holiday season, but either way, I was not able to obtain this information).  However, under “occupational hazards,” the cosmetics database says that exposures at the workplace are restricted to moderate doses.  Yet, the workers are constantly being exposed to all these chemicals over their work days and years in the facility.  Some of these chemicals are being bioaccumulated in their bodies.  Is this something I should continue to support by buying this product?

Over the course of my college career, I have gained a lot of useful knowledge about me and my environment.  I have used this knowledge to choose healthier eating habits, be conscious of my energy use, and how my actions can be portrayed negatively to others.  This knew understanding I have gained about my cosmetic usage is just as important and it is something I have control over.  I can put an effort in insuring I buy products that are not tested on animals, not harmful to those involved in the manufacturing step, and are less destructive to my own body.  The good part is, these alternatives exist! I DARE you to try something new for the simple reason that it is better for you, your neighbors, and the environment.

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Toxic Products in a Toxic Society

In the past six months I have become much more conscious of the body products that I use. I have made an effort to reduce any harmful products (like Herbal Essences shampoo) and buy ones that have fewer ingredients or are homemade. However, I was still surprised by how many products I use, even if they are “natural.” Most definitely, the number of products I use, the hygienic ones aside (arguably), is a reflection on my class status and location in the Western world. In our toxicology study, I really want to discover the “risk” of using “natural” products, if there is any at all. At this moment in my life, I feel really good about the beauty products I am using on my body, especially the ones that are homemade. Are these at all less toxic or unhealthy than chemistry-lab-designed, factory-produced products? For me, that is the scariest and most important question. Is there any way to escape the unhealthy system? And even if I refuse to use mass-produced beauty products, can I reject the expectations of culture and ‘neglect’ my ‘beauty’ maintenance?

Below is a log of my “Body Work” over three days in a typical school week.

Day Product Type Product Product Name
Wednesday Beauty Facewash Legends of Africa Organic Kenyan Soap
Wednesday Beauty Facewash Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar
Wednesday Beauty Moisturizer Desert Essence Facial Moisturizer
Wednesday Beauty Moisturizer
Wednesday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s Natural Whole Care Peppermint
Wednesday Hygiene Toothpaste
Wednesday Hygiene Contact lense Optifree Replenish
Wednesday Hygiene Contact Lense
Wednesday Hygiene Deoderant Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil
Wednesday Hygiene Deoderant
Wednesday Beauty Eyeliner Origins “Mushroom” eye pencil
Wednesday Beauty Mascara Origins Fringe Benefits
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Floss Picks Stim-U-Dent Plaque Removers
Wednesday Hygiene Body Wash Nature’s Gate Pomegranete Body Wash
Thursday Beauty Facewash “Legends of Africa”
Thursday Beauty Facewash “Legends of Africa”
Thursday Beauty Moisturizer Desert Essence Facial Moisturizer
Thursday Beauty Moisturizer
Thursday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s Natural Whole Care Peppermint
Thursday Hygiene Toothpaste
Thursday Hygiene Contact lense Optifree Replenish
Thursday Hygiene Contact Lense
Thursday Hygiene Deoderant Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil
Thursday Hygiene Deoderant
Thursday Beauty Eyeliner Origins “Mushroom” eye pencil
Thursday Beauty Mascara Origins Fringe Benefits
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Unnamed bar. Not sure.
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Thursday Beauty Lip Balm Burt’s Bees
Friday Beauty Facewash “Legends of Africa”
Beauty Moisturizer Desert Essence Facial Moisturizer
Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s Natural Whole Care Peppermint
Hygiene Contact lense Optifree Replenish
Hygiene Deoderant Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil
Beauty Eyeliner Origins “Mushroom” eye pencil
Beauty Mascara Origins Fringe Benefits
Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.

During our three-day observation period, I used Nature’s Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Velvet Moisture Body Wash only once. I bought this product in Whole Foods, thinking that as long as I bought the product at such a store, it must be somewhat earth and body friendly. Unfortunately, it is only partly earth and body friendly and otherwise pretty harmful. The packaging focuses on the natural botanicals included in the product while also outlining the different ingredients not included in the body wash, such as paraben and sulfate. Yet the product is still harmful for the environment, consumer, and producer.

The Nature’s Gate website provides interesting information about the production of their product, whose “Certified Organic botanicals are farmed without the use of synthetic or inorganic chemicals, utilizing methods that naturally enhance soil structure, conserve water and mitigate climate change. Nature’s Gate sources Organic ingredients from Bayliss Ranch, a nearby organic farm in Biggs, California, minimizing the distance for transportation and the associated energy usage and emissions. The farm’s water supply is derived from rain and runoff of the adjacent Sierra Nevada snow pack.” It seems as though this company understands the importance of protecting soil and water and conserving resources. But I found further information that tells a different story.

What did the founders really have in mind when they founded their company?

I used Cosmetics Database (CD) to find information about the toxicological impact of using this particular body wash over the long term. According to CD, ingredients in this product are linked to allergies/immunotoxicity and other concerns such as “neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), and irritation of the skin, eyes, or lungs. The fragrance of this product is what is most frightening to me. It ranks an 8 and could possibly be linked to neurotoxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity and other miscellaneous problems. The issue with discerning the toxicity of the fragrance is that this ingredient is not fully labeled. Its possible effects are unknown. The packaging of the product lists pomegranate and sunflower as the fragrance. Is it possible that these ingredients could have no toxic effect on humans or the earth?

CD also recorded a possibility of occupational hazards in relation to handling the sodium hydroxide in this product. I found this quite ironic as the product’s website claims to be “animal cruelty free.” But what about the human animals who manufacture and use this product!

According to GoodGuide.com, Nature’s Gate body wash ranked an 8.0 out of 10 for human health impacts and a 6.0 out of 10 for “Company” which entails a 6.4 for Environmental Impact (air pollution, ecosystems, global warming, and toxic waste), a 5.2 for Environmental Management, and a 5.2 for Resource Management (energy, materials, and water). The ranking for human health impacts is pretty good, but the “Company” rating is not as good as the Nature’s Gate website might lead one to believe. Based on these ratings and the product website, I would suggest that this company is using some environmentally healthy practices but still has places in which to improve.

The majority of ingredients aside from the fragrance listed a four or lower on the Cosmetics Database scale, meaning their toxic impact is smaller. For me personally, I would argue that the level of personal risk is small, considering my exposure to this product is minimal. I use it twice each week at the most. What is frightening is that this company did not full label the fragrance used in the product. Here it would be most useful if there were stricter laws on labeling, so that consumers can know exactly what is in the product, even if it is unpronounceable or recognizable to the eye of a non-scientist. Of course, using products whose ingredients are readable and understandable is recommended over a manufactured product.

The Nature’s Gate website displays for the consumer ways to care for the earth’s resources. It also shows the company’s involvement in a clean water campaign. Unfortunately, although the corporation lists various ways in which it is concerned about the environment (using recycled and recyclable materials, conserving resources, utilizing local sources), Nature’s Gate still seems to be more concerned with using “natural botanicals” to sell a product. Their focus is not having a minimal environmental impact. Their concern is selling Velvet Moisture Pomegranate Sunflower Body Wash to the uninformed consumer. The website also focuses on the importance of caring for one’s body, while emphasizing the importance of sustainability. What would our society and our earth look like if we understood that really caring for ourselves meant refusing to manufacture or consume toxic products? If sustainability meant more than recycling or conserving, but also sustaining lives, whether they are of the consumer or producer?

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Would you eat your product?

5:46 Tuesday Hygiene Hand Soap Softsoap Shea Butter
10:45 Tuesday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
10:47 Tuesday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
10:48 Tuesday Beauty Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
10:50 Tuesday Beauty Skin Crème Mederma Scar Crème
9:45 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap
9:46 Wednesday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
9:50 Wednesday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
9:51 Wednesday Beauty Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
12:30 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap
12:35 Wednesday Hygiene Shampoo John Frieda Brunette Shampoo
12:37 Wednesday Hygiene Conditioner John Frieda Brunette Conditioner
12:40 Wednesday Hygiene Soap Handmade Tea tree Soap
12:43 Wednesday Hygiene Deodorant Dove
12:50 Wednesday Beauty Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
12:51 Wednesday Beauty Hair Spray Moroccan Oil
12:52 Wednesday Beauty Skin Crème Mederma Scar Crème
12:53 Wednesday Beauty Mascara Maybelline Lash Stiletto
1:15 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap Softsoap Shea Butter
3:47 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap Softsoap Shea Butter
5:45 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap Softsoap Shea Butter
7:32 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap Softsoap Shea Butter
9:54 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap Softsoap Shea Butter
10:55 Wednesday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
10:58 Wednesday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
10:59 Wednesday Hygiene Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
11:00 Wednesday Beauty Skin Crème Mederma Scar Crème
11:36 Wednesday Hygiene Hand soap Softsoap Shea Butter
10:00 Thursday Hygiene Hand soap Softsoap Shea Butter
10:02 Thursday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
10:05 Thursday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
10:06 Thursday Beauty Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
10:07 Thursday Hygiene Deodorant Dove
10:07 Thursday Beauty Mascara Maybelline Lash Stiletto
12:05 Thursday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
3:45 Thursday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
6:00 Thursday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
9:12 Thursday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
10:00 Thursday Hygiene Soap Handmade Tea Tree Soap
10:02 Thursday Hygiene Shampoo John Frieda Brunette
10:04 Thursday Hygiene Conditioner John Frieda Brunette
10:05 Thursday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
10:15 Thursday Beauty Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
10:16 Thursday Beauty Hair Spray Moroccan Oil
10:18 Thursday Beauty Skin Crème Mederma Scar Crème
11:45 Thursday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
9:12 Friday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
9:15 Friday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
9:18 Friday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
9:19 Friday Hygiene Deodorant Dove
9:22 Friday Beauty Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
9:26 Friday Beauty Skin Crème Merderma Skin Crème
12:20 Friday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
12:25 Friday Beauty Mascara Maybelline Lash Stiletto
3:15 Friday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
5:00 Friday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
8:12 Friday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
10:40 Friday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
10:42 Friday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
10:43 Friday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
11:00 Saturday Hygiene Shampoo John Frieda Brunette
11:03 Saturday Hygiene Conditioner John Frieda Brunette
11:06 Saturday Hygiene Soap Handmade Tea Tree
11:06 Saturday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
11:10 Saturday Beauty Face lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
11:12 Saturday Hygiene Deodorant Dove
11:14 Saturday Beauty Hair Spray Morrocan Oil
11:15 Saturday Beauty Mascara Maybelline Lash Stiletto
1:00 Saturday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
5:15 Saturday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
8:00 Saturday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
8:05 Saturday Hygiene Face lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
8:07 Saturday Beauty Eyeshadow mac crème
8:08 Saturday Beauty Eyeshadow mac pink
8:09 Saturday Beauty Eyeliner Bobbi Brown Black
8:10 Saturday Beauty Mascara Maybelline Lash Stiletto
8:12 Saturday Beauty Blush Bobbi Brown Bronzer
8:13 Saturday Beauty Perfume Miss Dior Cherie
9:15 Saturday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
10:10 Saturday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
12:30 Saturday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
9:00 Sunday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
9:05 Sunday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
9:06 Sunday Hygiene Face Wash Jason’s Rosewater
9:07 Sunday Hygiene Deodorant Dove
9:08 Sunday Beauty Face Lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
9:10 Sunday Beauty Skin Crème Mederma scar crème
9:15 Sunday Beauty Mascara Maybelline Lash Stiletto
10:00 Sunday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
1:46 Sunday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
6:05 Sunday Hygiene Hand Wash Softsoap Shea Butter
7:00 Saturday Hygiene Shampoo John Frieda Brunette
7:03 Saturday Hygiene Conditioner John Frieda Brunette
7:06 Saturday Hygiene Soap Handmade Tea Tree
7:06 Saturday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Peppermint
7:10 Saturday Beauty Face lotion Neutrogena Sensitive Skin

A friend once told me, “If you wouldn’t eat the product, then I wouldn’t put it on your face.” After that statement, I stopped and thought, “How cautious am I about my cosmetic and hygiene products I use everyday?”. As one can see from my cosmetic toxicity chart above, even though I wouldn’t eat my products, I am very cautious about what ingredients I put on my face and what chemicals I put on my body. I feel very happy about the products and ingredients I use. I try to buy a product  line of safe and organic products that are fragrance and alcohol free. I bought homemade body soap from my local farmer’s market, Jason’s products (coined to be pure, natural and organic), and Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. In my observation, I realized my weekend schedule is much different then my week schedule. While I shower every other day during the week and apply little makeup, I shower more often, and apply more makeup during the weekend. I apply different amounts of makeup depending on my environment. During the week, I went to class and wasn’t concerned with makeup, however on the weekend I applied makeup for a special event or dinner. When I was living in Africa for a few months, applying makeup never even crossed my mind. It wasn’t a necessity in that environment because of the hot climate and working outside.  Through my experience, many women in Africa because of their socio-economic situation was concerned with hygiene, more than beauty unless for cultural and special events.

Even though I tried to buy safe and organic products,  one can see from my cosmetic toxicity chart, I couldn’t let go of my John Frieda color-treated shampoo. Even though I could have bought organic shampoo, I wanted a shampoo that wouldn’t dry out my hair and  would keep its color and shine. I knew when we began the cosmetic toxicity test, I would eventually have to pick up my shampoo and look at the list of ingredients. I use John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Shine Release with technology enriched moisturizers. It sounded great when I bought it, but as I researched the “technology enriched” ingredients, I couldn’t believe how I could be applying this to my body. As I researched on Cosmetic Database, the John Frieda’s Brilliant Brunette Shampoo it overall ranked 6 on a 1-10 scale(10 being the most toxic) in toxicity. Throughout the Cosmetic Toxicology Report, I researched the four top toxic ingredients. The highest toxic chemicals included Fragrance, Benzyl Alcohol, Diazolidinyl and Laureth-16.

www.johnfrieda.com

The most surprising toxic chemical in my shampoo was fragrance. In the Cosmetic Database they refer to fragrance as “an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such diethyl phthalate”(Chemical Database, 2010). Fragrance rated 8 on the 1-10 scale with 100% data gap, and has side effects of neurotoxicity and allergies and immunotoxicity. The second highest toxic chemical is Benzyl Alcohol rating 6 out of 10 with a 66% data gap. Benzyl Alcohol has many side effects including neurotoxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), irritation to the skin, eyes, or lungs. The third toxic chemical is Diazolidinyl Urea rated 6 out of 10 with a 59% of data gap with side effects of allergies/immunotoxicity and also has links to cancer. Laureth-16 is the fourth toxic chemical with a toxic level of 5 out of 10 with a 85% data gap. Laureth-16 is in many shampoos and facial cleansers and side effects include contamination with ethylene oxide, 1,4-Dioxane and concerns with neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity and irritation with the skin, eyes or lungs. It is also linked to cancer.

John Frieda, part of Kao Brands Company,  mission statement states, “Our brands instill confidence in women to help them achieve their dreams of self expression. Our people possess an entrepreneurial spirit, with a passion for beauty, style and excellence. We commit to act with integrity, directness and transparency in all our relationships.” However, many of John Frieda’s practices in term of the environmental impact or working conditions is far from “integrity, directness and transparency”. The environmental impact of Kao Brands rates 6.7 out of 10, with a large percentage of its negative impact resulting in air pollution and toxic waste. However, the biggest problem Kao Brands Company faces is working conditions and employee justice.  Working conditions and benefits were a low 3.8 out of 10. Kao Brands Company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, but holds offices in Cincinnati, Ohio. Even though, I do not know Kao Brands Company’s direct effect on the community where the production takes place, employees and working conditions are very haphazard because of the harsh toxic chemicals the employees are directly in contact with. Employees exposure to the harshest chemicals in the Kao Brand production site include DMDM Hydantion which rates 9 out of 10 for toxicity. Also, the chemical Oxybenzone with rates 8 out of 10 with side effects of development and reproductive toxicity, allergies and biochemical and cellular level changes. These chemicals can have short term effects such as allergies, but also long term effects such infertility in women and men.

After Tuesday’s Cosmetic Toxicity Report Lab, I researched that even my favorite organic product, Jason’s Natural Cosmetics have many harmful chemicals and unethical environmental habits even though coined “pure, natural and organic”. Throughout this research, I realized that one must be careful with words such as “natural”, “pure” or “organic”, because even if the ingredients are moderately toxic the conditions behind the scenes such as environmental and working conditions could be not ethical.

I believe in order for policy and behaviors to change, we must be individually accountable for the products we buy and use. We can promote worker’s justice and be environmentally friendly, by learning about what products to use and what not to use. Educating one another on the safest cosmetic products is the best solution. We can use websites such as www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep or www.safecosmetics.org and read books like Kim Erickson’s Drop Dead Gorgeous or Makeup Goes Organic by Rose Marie Williams. One can even make their safe and organic products in their home in a way that is environmentally friendly . Through word of mouth, one can create a positive change. Even last weekend, a fellow ecofeminist stated how much she loved Dr. Bronner’s organic products. I went and purchased Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Lavender Castile Soap; it is environmentally friendly and has great working conditions and benefits for their employees with the lowest chemical toxicity ratings at Chemical Database. This product has cleared my conscience. It is something I feel great about.

www.drbronner.com

Work Cited

Cosmetics Database. 2010. Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep. John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Shampoo. Accessed: 25 November 2010.<http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/product/101635/John_Frieda_Brilliant_Brunette_Shine_Release_Moisturizing_Shampoo_Chestnut_To_Espresso_(2007_formulation)/?prod_id=101635>.

Kao Brand Mission Statement. 2010. Accessed 25 November 2010. <http://www.linkedin.com/companies/kao-brands>.

Wikipedia. 2010. Kao Corporation.  Accessed 25 November 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kao_Corporation>.

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Toxicity and Hygiene

I typically do not give the hygiene and cosmetic products that I apply to my skin much thought, as they have become part of my daily routine over time. I wake up, wash my face, brush my teeth, apply deodorant, and so on. Every 2-3 days I take a shower, during which time I apply various soaps to my skin and hair. For special occasions, I apply various cosmetics and makeup items to my skin (particularly my face). Most of these applications are habitual, so I do not often consider the larger implications that they might have on my body. Two weeks ago, I (along with my ecofeminist classmates) tracked my use of cosmetics and hygiene products for four days. This included everything I apply to myself throughout the day – soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and lip balm. Most of the time I do not think about these products, as their application is routine. However, this tracking exercise made me more aware of the sorts of products I am applying to myself and what they are made of.

Time Day Product Type Product Name Product Brand Name
6:55 PM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
7:02 PM Tuesday Hygeine (shower) Shampoo Organix Teatree Mint Shampoo
Conditioner Organix Teatree Mint Conditioner
Soap Marie’s Soap Co. Forest Fresh bar soap
Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
7:16 PM Tuesday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
9:17 PM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
9:28 PM Tuesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
10:50 PM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
1:33 AM Wednesday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
1:35 AM Wednesday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
9:06 AM Wednesday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
9:08 AM Wednesday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
9:12 AM Wednesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
9:12 AM Wednesday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
12:03 PM Wednesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
12:16 PM Wednesday Hygeine Dental Floss Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Dental Floss
1:15 PM Wednesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
6:21 PM Wednesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
12:47 AM Thursday Hygeine Facewash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
12:29 AM Thursday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
12:31 AM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
7:49 AM Thursday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
7:52 AM Thursday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
7:55 AM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
8:01 AM Thursday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
12:21 PM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
4:36 PM Thursday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
6:27 PM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
6:30 PM Thursday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
9:49 PM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
12:31 AM Friday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
12:34 AM Friday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
12:37 AM Friday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
9:04 AM Friday Hygeine (shower) Shampoo Organix Teatree Mint Shampoo
Conditioner Organix Teatree Mint Conditioner
Soap Marie’s Soap Co. Forest Fresh bar soap
Facewash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
9:16 AM Friday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
9:21 AM Friday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
9:25 AM Friday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
9:30 AM Friday Cosmetic Hair product Deva Curl Moisture Lock Conditioner
9:40 AM Friday Cosmetic Face powder Bare Escentuals Bisque face powder
9:42 AM Friday Cosmetic Face powder Bare escentuals Foundation- mendium beige
11:47 AM Friday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop

I am surprised by and relatively happy with the list of products I used throughout the week.  I consistently used the same few products, and most were for hygiene (i.e. soap and deodorant) rather than cosmetic (i.e. make up).  I consider products such as soap, toothpaste, and deodorant necessities because they attribute to my cleanliness (as defined by the larger society which I am a part of). I do not consider most cosmetics, such as makeup, to be necessities, and are therefore an unnecessary cosmetic.  Also, I know where some of my products came from and how they were made (specifically the bar soap I purchase from the Farmer’s Market in my home town).  Other products I use are deemed “natural” or “organic” on the label, however there are no regulations for organic hygiene products and I would like to further investigate these products and the potential implications of their long term use.  I am not completely sure of my risk associated with the long term use of these products, as I am unsure of their toxicity. I feel confident in products such as the homemade bar soap and glycerin soap from Dickinson’s biodiesel shop, and I would like to feel confident in products labeled “natural” or “organic”, however I am not sure that I can completely trust that they will not expose me to anything toxic. The largest potential for toxicity that I think of when considering cosmetics and hygiene is from how frequently I apply them. For example, I apply lip balm about 5 times a day, and most other products such as my deodorant, face wash, and toothpaste I use at least twice a day.

I decided to investigate one of my hygiene products labeled “natural” more thoroughly. I use Tom’s of Maine brand fluoride whitening mint toothpaste on a daily basis, and the label considers it a “natural” product.  In class last week, I compared my toothpaste to the Crest toothpaste of another classmate using the cosmetics toxicity database at http://cosmeticsdatabase.org.  The database gave my natural toothpaste a toxicity of 2 on a scale of 1-10, while my classmate’s toothpaste was ranked a 5. I found this to be an extremely interesting answer to my question about whether or not “natural” products are really natural. The major difference between Tom’s of Maine toothpaste and Crest was the ingredient used for fluoridation -mine uses Sodium Monofluorophosphate while the other uses Sodium Fluoride. According to the cosmetics toxicity database, this key ingredient difference makes the Tom’s toothpaste less harmful than your average tube of Crest toothpaste.

The major concerns over both fluoride ingredients seem to be developmental impacts and their potential to be neurotoxicants. The fluoride in my toothpaste otherwise does not seem to have major concerns, such as its potential as a carcinogen, while the other fluoride toothpaste has more concerns such as the potential for it to be a carcinogen.  The major concern for me with my risk of using this toothpaste, though it seems to be mostly safe, is the increased exposure to fluoride that I face when I brush my teeth twice a day. This increased exposure could potentially cause the harmful fluoride to bioaccumulate in my body over time, increasing its toxicity in a higher concentration.  Beyond this concern, the Tom’s of Maine company appears to manufacture its products with a social and environmental awareness. According to the Tom’s of Maine website (http://tomsofmaine.com), their products are all made in one facility in Sanford, Maine, they source ingredients from within the U.S., they source workers from within the community around Sanford, they do not test on animals, and they use recycled packaging.  The website also states that Tom’s is overall committed to the community in which its workers live, and employees are given paid time to volunteer in their communities as well. Though there is not much detail on the conditions of workers in the facility, the website is very transparent about what ingredients are in each product, the purpose of each ingredient in the products, and where the ingredients come from.  The amount of detailed information regarding the ingredients, manufacturing, and packaging makes me, personally, feel rest assured about the larger implications of the toothpaste I use on a daily basis. While the product does come from Maine (roughly 500 miles), it is still manufactured and sourced within the U.S. (and at least on the same coast as where I live).  I feel confident that the environmental impact of my toothpaste is minimal, relative to the larger impacts that major brands such as Crest may have. I, however, do not have full confidence that the employees who produce my toothpaste are protected from exposures in their working conditions, but the ingredients used in manufacturing are considered less toxic than those in a conventional toothpaste.

While my research into my personal hygiene habits and my toothpaste made me feel warm and fuzzy, I do not have a completely clear conscience about cosmetics. I mentioned earlier in my post that the products I use on a daily basis (deodorant, soap, toothpaste) are hygiene necessities to me. However, these “necessities” are constructed by my social atmosphere, much as the heavy use of makeup and other cosmetics is constructed for others. Similar to the ideas Joni Seager expressed in the article “Creating a Culture of Destruction”, I have come to notice how large the implications of cosmetic use are in that this social construction causes great destruction. Because of the ways society has constructed my body, I am under the impression that I need to subject myself to the application of potentially harmful products, subject the environment to further degradation, and subject others to the exposure involved in manufacturing the products I use. The ideas of cleanliness and hygiene that myself and society have constructed for our bodies are perpetuating actions that are detrimental to the health of people and the environment.

Similarly to my uneasiness about my ideas of hygiene and cleanliness, the toothpaste comparison in class made me consider another factor in the cosmetic toxicity that individuals are exposed to – the cost of the “natural” products versus conventional products. My Crest-using classmate became horrified over the toxicity of her toothpaste, and commented that she had not purchased it, but rather that her mother bought it in bulk. This made me think about the role that privilege plays in exposure. I am lucky enough to have the choice to go to the local whole foods store and purchase environmentally friendly / less toxic products (which are often more expensive than conventional products), but many other people cannot do this for various reasons. Due to constraints on time, knowledge about toxic cosmetics, and money, most people are not able to make this choice for themselves. Similarly, those who end up working in more toxic conditions in factories that produce toxic products are often unaware of the exposures they face or continue to work in those conditions because of money. I am fairly confident in the choices I make as a consumer for which companies I support (trying to buy local or environmentally friendly products when I can), however I am now second guessing the standards that I construct for others when I use these products overall.

Time Day Product Type Product Name Product Brand Name
6:55 PM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
7:02 PM Tuesday Hygeine (shower) Shampoo Organix Teatree Mint Shampoo
Conditioner Organix Teatree Mint Conditioner
Soap Marie’s Soap Co. Forest Fresh bar soap
Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
7:16 PM Tuesday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
9:17 PM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
9:28 PM Tuesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
10:50 PM Tuesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
1:33 AM Wednesday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
1:35 AM Wednesday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
9:06 AM Wednesday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
9:08 AM Wednesday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
9:12 AM Wednesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
9:12 AM Wednesday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
12:03 PM Wednesday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
12:16 PM Wednesday Hygeine Dental Floss Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Dental Floss
1:15 PM Wednesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
6:21 PM Wednesday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
12:47 AM Thursday Hygeine Facewash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
12:29 AM Thursday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
12:31 AM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
7:49 AM Thursday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
7:52 AM Thursday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
7:55 AM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
8:01 AM Thursday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
12:21 PM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
4:36 PM Thursday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
6:27 PM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
6:30 PM Thursday Hygeine Chapstick Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
9:49 PM Thursday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
12:31 AM Friday Hygeine Face wash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
12:34 AM Friday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
12:37 AM Friday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
9:04 AM Friday Hygeine (shower) Shampoo Organix Teatree Mint Shampoo
Conditioner Organix Teatree Mint Conditioner
Soap Marie’s Soap Co. Forest Fresh bar soap
Facewash The Body Shop Seaweed facewash
9:16 AM Friday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop
9:21 AM Friday Hygeine Toothpaste Tom’s of Maine Natural Spearmint toothpaste
9:25 AM Friday Hygeine Deodorant Tom’s of Maine Natural Lavendar Deodorant
9:30 AM Friday Cosmetic Hair product Deva Curl Moisture Lock Conditioner
9:40 AM Friday Cosmetic Face powder Bare Escentuals Bisque face powder
9:42 AM Friday Cosmetic Face powder Bare escentuals Foundation- mendium beige
11:47 AM Friday Hygeine Hand soap Glycerine soap from Biodiesel shop

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The Buzz Around My Products

Health and beauty products are everywhere and their use is embedded in everyone’s daily routine.  I, personally, never thought about the number or types of products that I use until I began to log my use.  Around day 2, I more closely examined my products; in particular I started looking at the ingredients within the products.  What foreign language is this?  I investigated some of the ingredients in order to understand their impact; I assumed that when I used a product regularly, the product, and by extension, the ingredients must be important.  The products that I use don’t “feel” toxic; they don’t smell toxic or feel harmful.  I realize that it a luxury to have products that I use everyday; I rarely have to worry about availability, although now I have begun to think about putting such products on my body and the perceived helpful (and subtle harmful) effects of such products.  I didn’t think about how any of my products were used (or not used) by other demographic groups.  I only thought about a product’s availability and a product’s ingredients.

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The Buzz Around My Products

Health and beauty products are everywhere and their use is embedded in everyone’s daily routine.  I, personally, never thought about the number or types of products that I use until I began to log my use.  Around day 2, I more closely examined my products; in particular I started looking at the ingredients within the products.  What foreign language is this?  I investigated some of the ingredients in order to understand their impact; I assumed that when I used a product regularly, the product, and by extension, the ingredients must be important.  The products that I use don’t “feel” toxic; they don’t smell toxic or feel harmful.  I realize that it a luxury to have products that I use everyday; I rarely have to worry about availability, although now I have begun to think about putting such products on my body and the perceived helpful (and subtle harmful) effects of such products.  I didn’t think about how any of my products were used (or not used) by other demographic groups.  I only thought about a product’s availability and a product’s ingredients.

As I looked at my products, I thought, if my room caught on fire, the products that I would grab would be:  shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, mascara, and consealer.  Then I wondered, why do I have to have these things to make me feel good?  (Am I succumbing to the pressure of the Male vs. Female dualism?  As a result, am I enforcing the Culture vs. Nature dualism?)  Some are actual “health” products: shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, toothpaste, and deodorant.  But then I have “beauty” items: mascara and consealer.  I rarely go a day without using these items, so they must have some intrinsic importance to me and my lifestyle.

My favorite product is Burt’s Bees (http://www.burtsbees.com/) Lip Balm.  In this choice, I am fortunate because the product is made up of naturally incurring products with no animal testing and the manufacturer takes its commitment to the environment and community very seriously.

Burt’s Bees Lip Balm is manufactured in Durham, NC.  The Burt’s Bees Company advertises itself as an “earth friendly, natural personal care company” that creates “natural Earth-friendly personal card products formulated to help … maximize well-being and that of the world” (Burt’s Bees).  This commitment that the corporation has to its mission is evident even in the ingredients of the lip balm: beeswax, botanical and essential oils, herbs, blowers, and minerals.  According to the website, “these safe, effective ingredients have withstood the test of time.”  In particular, this lip balm (and all of the skin care products made by Burt’s Bees) is paraben-free, sulfate (SLS)-free, petrochemical-free, and phthalate-free.

The corporation has a strong commitment to its employees, its community, and the environment. Burt’s Bees puts equal weight to the health effects of its products, to the environmental impact of its processes, and to the responsibility that it has to the world.  It is truly a “green” company.

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A Toxic Day In the Life

Over the course of a day, we use many products that we don’t give two seconds worth of thought. Nor do we ever think about what is in them, where they come from and who they are affecting. But after taking a closer look at my own daily habits, I was not only confronted by some of the poor choices I have been making, but was also horrified when I looked into what chemicals I was exposing my self to, and subsequently, the environment and countless others as well. After slightly less than a week of documenting my beauty and hygiene product use, I was forced to think about my consumer habits, as well as my long term health in terms of my purchases.

I have always been aware of the products I was using, but I never realized how superficial that knowledge was until I started keeping tabs on what I used and how often in a condensed time period. Although I think the brands and specific products themselves could be improved and replaced with local, natural, healthier ones, I feel that I don’t use superfluous amounts of anything. That is something that I was generally satisfied with. I may shower everyday, but I usually only use a very small amount of shampoo/ conditioner/ body wash because most are very condensed. I also only use very little makeup and lotion. However, the quality and type of the products I was using was what bothered me the most and I am now planning on investigating local, more natural products that would be healthier for me and the environment. I do worry that I am at risk from the chemicals in these products for how long I’ve been using them. But since there is nothing to be done about that now, I can only work on making better choices for the future. Comparing to others my age in America, using Dickinson as a sample, I probably fall somewhere in the middle between those like the Tree Kids who are very conscious about their choices and others who may care more about their physical appearance and use a larger amount of products. But compared to the rest of the world, I probably use much more than average, given my socio-economic background. This leads me to think about who my use and disposal of these products is affecting. I started wondering where the waste and pollution from the water and trash goes after it leaves my immediate environment. The people it affects are probably those not using products such as these and that is extremely environmentally unjust. This was a very interesting experience and has caused some serious self-reflection. I have slowly been making changes to what I have been putting in and on my body and I feel like this is a good next step.

The product I chose for my toxicology research was my Soft Soap Coconut Body Scrub. I chose to focus on the 3 worst ingredients and what their long term, short term, body, occupational and environmental health effects were. As a whole product it ranked a 6 on the hazard scale set up by the comprehensive Cosmetics Database. This rating system “adds up the hazards of all ingredients, and is scaled higher if the product has penetration enhancers or other ingredients that increase skin absorption…[and] now accounts for more safety references and we show it on a 0-10 scale (with no decimals, 10 corresponding to highest concern).” It is said as a whole product to cause allergies and immunotoxicity and, over a long period of time to a lower degree, has neurotoxins, and causes organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), enhanced skin absorption, contamination concerns, occupational hazards, biochemical or cellular level changes. These effects are considered when combining all of the ingredients together at the recommended exposure rates for the consumer:

The first ingredient I looked at was DMDM Hydantoin, which scored a 7-9 on the hazard scale. It causes allergies/immunotoxicity, irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) and organ system toxicity. DMDM hydantoin is an antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser preservative. In the U.S., about 20% of cosmetics and personal care products contain a formaldehyde-releaser and the allergy from frequency of contact to these ingredients is much higher among Americans compared to in Europe. But the main concern was the inclusion of Formaldehyde in this ingredient, which scored a 10 out of 10 on the hazard scale.

Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic impurity released by cosmetic preservatives, including DMDM hydantoin, among many other compounds. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) classified formaldehyde as ‘carcinogenic to humans,’ and the U.S. National Toxicology Program classified it as ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,’ based on evidence in human studies, as well as evidence in animals. “Even the industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel recommends that cosmetic products not contain more than 0.2% formaldehyde, and does not consider formaldehyde to be safe in aerosol products (CIR 2006). However, as it stands in the U.S. there are no restrictions on the levels of formaldehyde allowed in any body care products, no requirement to test products made with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives for levels of formaldehyde, and certainly no obligation to inform consumers that the products they use each day are likely to contain a cancer-causing chemical that does not appear on the list of ingredients.” Don’t I feel safe and informed.

Another ingredient I investigated was fragrance, which is a undisclosed mixture of many scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance diffuser such as diethyl phthalate. It is known to be a neurotoxin, and cause allergies/immunotoxicity over a short period of time. It has also been associated with dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. While this ingredient does not seem to be as bad as the other, it still scored a 8 on the hazard scale and is found in most hair and body products.

The final ingredient in the Soft Soap body wash I explored was Cocamidopropyl Betaine. It is a antistatic agent; hair conditioning agent; skin-conditioning agent; cleansing agent surfactant; a foam booster, and a viscosity increasing agent. It has been associated with skin irritation and allergy reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine; it is also listed as being an “ecotoxic“. While I am not sure as to the specifics of this particular claim or what it entails, the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List states it as a suspected environmental toxin. It also has 2 main compounds in the ingredient itself that are also toxic: 3-dimethylaminopropylamine and Nitrosamines. Among other things they are responsible for occupational hazards, such as allergies, immunotoxicity, organ system toxicity, cancer, developmental and reproductive problems, endocrine disruption, and biochemical and cellular level changes for the workers exposed to them.

After some research, I discovered that SoftSoap is a branch of the Colgate-Palmolive Co. They have two factories near to where I live: one in New York City, and another in Morristown, NJ. And while I do not know the specifics of how these are affecting the communities surrounding them, I can only speculate as to the effect they are having on their workers. Most of the chemicals listed under the cosmetics database were listed as slight occupational hazards, meaning that it was recommended to them that workers only be exposed to the chemicals in small doses. However, this is per product; each individual worker is exposed to a small amount of each chemical for each product for a short time. Yet most likely, each worker is exposed to that product hundreds of times a day, six days a week for 40 or 50 years. That means that most of the effects that these chemicals have on the body for large doses over an extended period of time is affecting these people, which is socially and environmentally unjust.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the horrific discoveries that are made when you investigate your daily product usage. But it’s also not that difficult to do something about it. While I feel it would be beneficial and wonderful to overhaul the whole system and create a society focused on health and community rather than personal possession and consumerism, this type of offensive approach is not very realistic. I feel that the first step is on a personal level. Making changes in your own life, especially if tons of people do it, is a good way to get attention and a good way to make healthier choices for yourself. By switching to homemade concoctions of locally and organically grown products is not only more affordable and a healthier practice for your body, it is also useful in letting the corporations know that they can not and will not continue to promote dangerous consumerism. On another level, we need rising bright minds that are heading into the workforce to be aware of these issues, to be educated and pissed. By putting more environmental, health and social justice minded people into positions of power and authority into corporations and the government, we can start making policy changes for the consumer, the workers and the surrounding communities and ecosystems. And finally, activist groups and small grass roots movements need to start speaking to their representatives, and reaching out to the government. While small movements aren’t a cure-all, they are not a bad start. And if the government is being pressured enough by the people and then changes to support it, policy and lifestyle changes will be much more successful.

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a day in the life

At first glance at the toxicity report project, I found myself rolling my eyes and being pissed off. I didn’t want  to take the time to record all of the products I use daily and honestly I thought the project was silly. Once the first day of  journaling was over I stared at the amount of times I used soap. It was a tuesday so I was working at the restaurant. Every time I touched my hair, blew my nose, spilled the remains of a salad into the trash and dressing engulfed my fingers I had to wash my hands. What’s funny is I can’t even figure out the name of the soap. It is just that pink restaurant gooo that is used from everything to handwashing to dish soaking to floor cleaning. I thought about how much “stuff” must be getting killed on my hands it completely freaked me out and made be stick to the project and realize how important it is to know what you are using, when, why and for what. This project has encouraged me to continue the practice of not showering everyday ( even though my roommates make fun of me for being the ragamuffin roomie). It has made me really decide what is necessary to use and seek out healthier products to fill my needs. Hopefully I will be able to wean myself off of by canerous face scrub and hot pink nail polish of death.

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