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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