Beauty Is A Beast: The Ugly Side of Beauty Products

Would you be willing to die for the sake of looking good? In the 16th century everyone wanted to have pale skin, bright eyes and crimson lips-and those who weren’t born with that look were willing to slather on cosmetics to get it. Unfortunately, beauty products at that time were made from ingredients like mercury, lead and deadly nightshade. The side effects of these toxic ingredients included high blood pressure, mood changes, kidney failure, convulsions, insanity, coma, and even death. Today we know more about the side effects of beauty products so it’s unlikely that your moisturizer will put you in a coma. However, that doesn’t mean today’s products are any safer than the ones used hundreds of years ago. Beauty products today clog our landfills; contaminate our water supply, and torture poor helpless animals.


Even the most laid-back guy or girl uses some beauty products-toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen and moisturizer. In fact, studies show that the average American uses nine beauty products and is exposed to 126 different ingredients every day. These ingredients often wash into your shower drain and end up in streams, harming the aquatic organisms that live in there. In addition to harming organisms indirectly, your beauty products could be harming rabbits, guinea pigs and other rodents since cosmetics companies often use those animals to test the effects of beauty products. This practice is barbaric and often unnecessary since there are much more humane ways to test beauty products. Another ecological problem with beauty products is that some contain ingredients harmful to you or the environment. Products that contain mercury, lead acetates, phthalates, formaldehyde, toluene, coal tar or ammonia could all be hazardous to your health, and petroleum by-products (petrolatum/ petroleum distillates) reduces the amount of oil, leading to rising gas prices and conflict in the Middle East. Even the packaging beauty products come in can harm the environment because it’s generally non recyclable and thus fills up landfills.


Luckily, there are ways to reduce your environmental impact without giving up toothpaste and shampoo. You could buy products in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging thrown away, or limit your use of beauty products that aren’t completely necessary (like bubble bath or nail polish). You can buy from companies that have signed the “Compact for Safer Cosmetics” (www.safecosmetics.org) since those companies are more ecologically friendly. If your favorite beauty products manufacturer hasn’t signed the Compact yet, you could always contact them and ask them to sign. You could even make your own beauty products (www.care2.com has some great recipes).


In conclusion, the issue of environmentally harmful beauty products is not an unsolvable one. If we all work together to reduce our use of beauty products (or at least use ecologically friendlier products) we could see real change in the size of our landfills, the cleanliness of our water supply and the health of our fellow inhabitants of Planet Earth. After all, beauty isn’t worth dying for, and it’s definitely not worth killing our planet.





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