Ugly Beauty | Teen Ink

Ugly Beauty

December 17, 2009
By graveschick1161 SILVER, Plainfield, Illinois
graveschick1161 SILVER, Plainfield, Illinois
5 articles 9 photos 1 comment

Lead in lipstick, coal tar in shampoo, is this even possible? Did you ever stop to think there is a deep and dark side of the beauty industry? “I wonder why cosmetic companies market themselves as pink ribbon leaders in the fight against breast cancer, yet they use chemicals that play a role to that very disease?” (Malkan) Right now, there are chemicals purposefully put into our products that are killing and making us ill. Beauty products are supposed to make us feel healthy and beautiful. Within shampoo, deodorant, lotions and other daily products, hazardous chemicals are being used through acceptable limits. Yet there are no expectable limits because the government does not regulate this industry. As long as products sell, companies combine any chemical they desire, whether or not they are harmful. “Only 11% of chemicals used in cosmetics in the US have been studied for health and safety. 89% has unknown effects to them.” (Safe Cosmetics) Toxic ingredients are being used in our beauty products today that have many negative effects to them. People need to know that there are safe and natural alternatives.

It is estimated that, on any given morning the average person uses up to twenty cosmetic products before they leave their home. We are unknowingly, exposing ourselves to harmful chemicals that affect our health. “Many products contain substances that produce cancer hormones called carcinogens, and chemicals that have never been tested for health effects.” ("Not Just a Pretty Face, Stacy Malkan") We are lathering chemicals on our bodies day after day. The toxic exposures are adding up, and sooner or later it’s going to be too late. “It is proven that people see various increases in many types of cancer and learning disabilities from these products. There is overwhelming evidence showing that chemical pollutants are also contributing to chronic diseases.” ("Not Just a Pretty Face, Stacy Malkan") It has been proven that 61% of lipstick contains lead, including some high named brands. The companies who add the lead to lipstick say they need it to make the lipstick more vibrant. They believe that it will not do us any harm because it has such a little amount of lead in it. If someone uses this product constantly, sooner or later toxins will accumulate in their body. “More than 70% of all personal care products may contain phthalates, which are linked to birth defects and infertility.” (Malkan) Most of the high quality nail polishes contain this toxic chemical, and people of all ages are using them for fun, beauty, and parties. Shampoos contain a toxic ingredient called sodium laurel sulfate to create lather. This same ingredient is used as a concrete degreaser and we are using it on our hair. Since the industry is not regulated, companies can put whatever they want in it, and they do not have to list all the ingredients on the label. So many harmfully substances can be placed in the product and we wouldn’t even know it. The upsetting fact is that these companies can put any chemicals into personal care products without testing because; the government allows it, not enough people are getting angry, and most people are not aware that this is happening.

Our bodies are like sponges which absorb everything we put on it. I want to live in a society where healthy products are being made and sold. After becoming aware of what was being allowed in this industry, I began looking at labels to see if what I read was true? Therefore I went to the drug store and started looking at a few different products. One of them had about thirty ingredients, and at least twenty of them were highly dangerous. Even makeup that looks and sounds safe like Neutrogena’s Mineral Shears, it’s not. The second ingredient is Bismuth Oxychloride and has been linked to cancer. Some ingredients to look out for are Talc which has particles that have been shown to cause tumors in the ovaries and lungs of cancer victims. “Mineral oil is an another ingredient that interferes with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals including, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K.” (McDonald) Mineral oil can also seep into the lungs and cause pneumonia. Parabans are in so many of our products, like sunscreens that are supposed to protect sun damage to our skin. However, Parabans have been linked to cancer.

Most people do not even know that this is going on. People are not aware that these products are harming our children, and companies are not acknowledging that they do. “Many baby soaps are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical ¼ dioxane. The industry is telling the people not to worry. The chemicals we are putting in our products are used for good reason.” (Johnson & Johnson). Strawberry Shortcake children’s bubble bath also contains ¼ dioxane, which is another carcinogen. This ingredient was not listed on the label and like I said companies do not have to tell us about contaminates in them. One brand of bubble bath had a warning label on it saying prolong exposure may cause urinary problems. Why would any parent put their child in a tub with harmful chemicals? Scientific studies have proven that a lot of these products like the bubble bath are very harmful to use. Baby products above all should be safe and pure, not toxic. So why aren’t they telling us about these toxins and why aren’t safe ingredients being used?

Natural and safe products are out there that do not have harmful ingredients. The question is why are not aware of them? Like myself, I first believed what the commercials and ads were saying about beauty and health were true. After doing my homework, I found out everything I was being told was lie. Almost all the big cosmetic companies are using toxins because these products are cheaper than the natural ingredients and are used as a preservative to make the product last longer. There is a website called that watches over 52,000 products on the market today. People can go to this website to find out how hazardous or safe their personal care products are based on the ingredients it contains. Natural products can also be made at home that is beneficial to you. They are inexpensive, fun and easy to make. What’s great about this you can put only safe and healthy ingredients in your products. Natural products enhance your beauty just as good as the regular products, if not better. There are many books in a book store to help you find a recipe for beauty remedies you like. These natural and homemade products are much healthier and safer for us to use. Also, they do not contain toxic ingredients in them. There are natural stores, books, and websites that all guide you towards a better and healthier you.

We only have one body and one life to live. We need to be smart and mindful about what we do. Watching what you put on your skin is very important. What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. The future depends on us, so we need to change the beauty industry and change it now. It’s necessary that our society begins eliminating toxic exposures where ever we can; starting with the products we put on our bodies. “When it comes to the future, there are two kinds of people: those who let it happen and those who make it happen.” (Richardson) Are you going to let companies put toxins into our products, or will you be the one who makes a difference and says no? What companies are getting away with is wrong and unacceptable! We are the future. We need to get the message out there that there are toxins in products we are using and there are safe alternatives to them. That my friends, is what I call Ugly Beauty.

The author's comments:
I knew that this topic was something that people never really stopped to think about all the negative chemicals in our daily products. I wanted to get the message out to the people that this is happening in our society.

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This article has 10 comments.

on Mar. 22 2010 at 5:15 pm
kfrog575 BRONZE, Santa Clara, California
1 article 0 photos 11 comments

I'll never think about makeup the same way again. :) Very convincing essay and well written!

holly1221 said...
on Feb. 6 2010 at 11:10 pm
holly1221, Plainfield, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 8 comments
This was such compelling reading. I think everyone needs to be aware of this. I found myself sharing this with everyone I knew.

Jryan818 said...
on Jan. 11 2010 at 7:09 pm
Wow, I was impressed with her persuasive writing skills.e. Outstanding article

junehere said...
on Jan. 11 2010 at 7:07 pm
I'm impressed! You have my vote

twopak said...
on Jan. 11 2010 at 6:17 pm
Kudos to the author - This information should be on the front page of all newspapers.

on Jan. 11 2010 at 5:41 pm
My goodness, I use these products and was not even aware how dangerouse they are...more people need to be alerted to them..good information! Thanks!

burrusc1 said...
on Jan. 9 2010 at 12:54 pm
This article is an amazing revelation that needs to be read and studied by many. It is extremely well written and documented.

Gail said...
on Jan. 9 2010 at 11:57 am
Excellent article!!! Many friends (educators) read it and were impressed!!

Tinagirl said...
on Jan. 7 2010 at 8:03 pm
This is an amazing article. I Learn so much from it, and now I know so much. Thanks graveschick1161 for telling me all about these products.

on Jan. 7 2010 at 7:22 pm
Great Article! Love it! I never new that about products! Thanks!