A few days ago I went to a new doctor to alleviate a health problem I was having. She ended up talking with me about some possible lifestyle and eating habits I could change to help create more long-term positive effects. I ended up going home quite excited to be following some of her holistic advice that I knew certainly couldn’t hurt!
She ended up giving me a leaflet and recommended that I avoid xenoestrogens that can be found in perfume, plastic, and the majority of makeup. Essentially, she was recommending I stay away from chemicals like paraben and pthalate. While I trusted her judgement, I went ahead and did more research on my own about why she would recommend me to avoid these things that I have obviously been coming into contact with for most of my life. Could they really be a proponent in causing my current health dilemma?
Upon her advice, I checked out the Environmental Working Group. So what was the big deal with parabens and phalate? Apparently, these chemicals can cause allergies, disrupt hormones (which was a big reason she recommended them to me since having issues with premenstrual tension syndrome), and some studies showing links to cancer. Um, how did I not know all of this?! To be sure, I was really shocked that a majority of things in my shower and bathroom were now going to be reevaluated, maybe even going into the trash can. You can read more about all the health effects further on the Environmental Working Groups website.
The thing that shocked me most was just how incredibly unaware I was to this whole scientific conversation. So many brands say they are natural and organic, and come to find out they have these chemicals in them. I’m not scientifically versed enough to know how extreme these impacts can be, but I trust my healthcare professional when she thinks they could be avoided considering the health problem I have been afflicted with over the last year. But more than anything, she has made me get into the habit of looking at labels on EVERYTHING now. Food, perfume, makeup, dish soap- you name it and I want to know what is in it before I use it in or on my body.
The biggest blow yet was finding that many LUSH products contain parabens. And while LUSH claims that they use the most mild ones available, I still feel somewhat mislead since all their products say FRESH and HANDMADE on all their packaging. That makes you think surely it doesn’t contain chemicals, but apparently not in all cases. While I’m relieved that quite a few of their products I can still use, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t a smart consumer (but I was just so excited to buy stuff that I enjoy so much!). As a quick aside, it is argued that parabens are actually natural ingredients in that they “are naturally produced by vegetables and fruits. Foods such as soy, beans, flax, cherries, blueberries, carrots, and cucumbers produce parabens and other chemicals that mimic estrogen—to a much greater degree than the miniscule amounts of parabens used in skin care and cosmetics” (Parabens & Preservatives, link to article, also linked at the end of blog post).
All in all, it was just a huge learning experience. I remember countless professors always saying to be a smart consumer of information, but I never really applied it to shopping before. At the end of the day, it is nice to know confidently what you are buying, and if you are okay with what a product contains… it is all personal preference and being a consumer in the know! I’m still a LUSHie and am grateful for LUSH’s transparency, albeit somewhat misleading. Unlike other brands, they do list their ingredients upfront and on other websites it takes me much longer to get the information I am looking for. From what I have read, the bath bombs are safe– thank goodness!
Through all my research, it also made me very aware that even what people debate is bad for you can be misleading as well. I naturally thought that parabens must be bad if there is so much literature and research claiming it, but in fact that hasn’t exactly been proven yet. It is crazy the overwhelming amount of information you can find on ALL sides, and it really is up to you to decide what actions you want to take- if any.
Now to find out if all this lifestyle change will really help and if those debated “risky” chemicals are really making an impact on me personally! Can’t hurt to give it a go. Wish me luck and as always, thanks for reading!
For some more reading that I came across, I found these articles interesting:
**Sidenote- This lifestyle change is a personal choice recommended by my doctor, I am in no way saying you should limit your exposure to any of these chemicals. In fact, it is commonly asserted that the current amount of exposure is not harmful. My overall argument is being an informed consumer, something I had been pretty ignorant of and that can sometimes be difficult to do!