U.S. Cosmetic Industry: Covering Up a Stink for Decades

If an extra-terrestrial were to appear in the United States right now, it would mostly likely think we must be some disgusting, filthy, “damn, dirty apes” based on what’s stocked on our stores’ shelves. Think about what you can find in a typical drugstore or cosmetic aisle. Here’s a sampling of products for making your:

-underarms smell like “Ambition” (No lie. I once had an anti-perspirant named that.)
–teeth whiter (Because, apparently, Jim Carrey’s The Mask is the ideal.)
-eyelashes longer (Seriously, when will the mascara madness stop? And the new product that helps you “grow longer lashes?” It’s as if no one will be happy until I can brush food off your face by blinking my eyes.)
-body smell like “Fresh” (whatever that means).
-hair shinier/smoother/curlier/straighter/drier/softer (like spun gold, Rumpelstiltskin!!!!)
-face smooth/wrinkle free/less oily/more moist (This is the equivalent of putting margarine on old bread; it’s still old bread–just with a layer of oil on it.)
-lips shiny/soft/smooth/pink/red/purple/brown (Yeah–it was popular at one point for white girls to have “toffee” lips.)
-cheeks rosier (“Awwww…I’m blushing!” All.day.long.)
-neck smell like “White Musk” (Does anyone buy that any more?)
-vagina scented as “Morning Paradise” or “Delicate Blossom”(No.comment.)

Beyond cosmetics, there are anti-bacterial hand soaps, gels, and lotions. There are cleansers for every surface of your home with chemicals guaranteed to “kill 99% of germs.” There are even paper towels made specifically for the bathroom because, god forbid, you actually REUSE A TOWEL one of your family members touched.

Why do we hate the human body in America?* When did it become so unfathomable to be anything other than “FRESH?”

You may have heard that some cosmetics are “bad,” but if you don’t know the backstory, it may not register. Watch The Story of Cosmetics below (brought to you by the people behind The Story of Stuff) to get the scoop:

Pretty infuriating, huh? When I started learning what was in my cosmetics, I went full-throttle and tossed everything in the trash or gave it away to charity if it was usable. (I now can’t bring myself to even “donate” toxic cosmetics.) It was a bit of a process, I’ll admit, finding products that suited my needs but were also non-toxic. My very first job was as a cashier at a drugstore where I’d end up spending my paycheck on makeup or the latest bodywashes, so needless to say, I LOVE a good product. I experimented with “natural” and “organic” brands I found in stores or online, liking some until I learned that their version of organic was too far from my ideal. At some point, I finally found my products, but it wasn’t without a realization:

If you want to look good, you have to eat well.
Want glowing skin? Eat well. Drink water.
Want to get rid of acne? Eat well. Get rid of dairy.
Want healthy hair? Eat well. Drink water.
Want stronger nails? Eat well. Get your vitamins.
Want a vagina that smells like Morning Paradise? –insert joke here–

I mentioned in an earlier post that if we avoid putting artificial substances into our bodies, we will be less concerned with the artificial that is outside our bodies. I’ll tell you what has happened to me. I no longer buy fashion magazines, which are ripe with cosmetic ads, because they don’t apply to me. I no longer shop at drugstores because there is literally nothing there that I need. I don’t worry about cosmetic ads on television, because I know they’re hallucinations of a perfect woman. In short, I have been freed from society’s and the media’s hold on my confidence. I decide how I want to feel and how I want to look. I control it because I control what goes into my body.

All that being said, this girl still likes a good product so here’s what we use in our house:

Shampoo: Dr. Wood’s Shea Butter Black Soap (This stuff lasts forever.)
Conditioner: Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner
Soap/bodywash: Dr. Wood’s Shea Butter Black Soap
Deodorant: See my post about natural deos that WORK
Makeup: Everyday Minerals
Toothpaste: J/a/s/o/n PowerSmile
Styling products: If I use anything, I use Aveda, which is not the best choice, but I rarely use hair products.
Lotion: Rose of Sharon Acres, or olive oil or coconut oil
Fragrance: wiggle perfume
Baby shampoo and diaper cream: Earth Mama Angel Baby®

Coupled with a diet that is full of whole grains, organic proteins, and with minimal dairy and sugar intake and maximum water intake, I find that my teeth stay white, my hair shines, and I don’t get zits. (And when I’ve had too much sugar or dairy, I get a pimple or two and my scalp gets flaky.) I think it is also telling that I am very sensitive to the scent of artificial fragrances now, to the point where I won’t walk down the cleanser or laundry aisle of any store.

The Bottom Line: what you put into (or onto) your body has to go somewhere. If your body can’t recognize or process it, it will eventually affect your organs. (The skin is your biggest organ!) Less products=less problems.

What are some of your favorite products? Are there any toxic products you can’t live without?

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*Worse yet, why do we hate the FEMALE body in America? There is a clear feminist spin I could take here, but I really just want to note that the issue of cosmetic toxins is not only an issue of health, but of WOMEN’S health, and consequently, CHILDREN’S health.)

Disclosure: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, I might get a small portion of your purchase–at no cost to you, of course. I like to think of it as a win-win situation. I’m grateful if you click my affiliate links, but that is completely up to you.

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12 Responses to U.S. Cosmetic Industry: Covering Up a Stink for Decades

  1. Gretchen {Loliandme} October 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Just found your blog through EatingRules…

    I totally agree! My daughter has a reaction to just about everything we put on her skin. So we’ve been using organic, no fragrance, no artificial garb for a while now.

    As for me, my favorite beauty product is Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara. I figure, if I’m going to start somewhere, might as well be whats closest to my eyes lol! It wears very nicely and comes off clean.

    Look forward to following your blog :)

    • HealthfulMama October 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

      Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Sarah @ MindfullyFrugalMom October 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    I’m glad you listed some products you would recommend. It’s hard to test out new products when it seems like the ones that are more natural are also more expensive. It’s nice to see some recommendations!

    • HealthfulMama October 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      Sarah, I’ve found that if you use products that are REALLY natural, it’s quite cost-effective. The soap I use for my hair, body, and face works out to about .24/ounce. Additionally, most of the products I recommend are very much “a little goes a long way.”

  3. Sarah October 10, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    It’s great to come across another blogger with similar viewpoints! I’ve covered the issues with Triclosan in antibacterial products extensively. I love how you pinpointed the root of the issue: our issue with our bodies. We seem to be trying to mask or change everything that’s natural about ourselves. I think the best advice I’ve heard regarding products is if you wouldn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it on your body! I love Dr. Bronner’s soap, Burt’s Bees products, JASON, Kiss My Face, etc. The cosmetic industry is so unregulated that it’s so important to research the products we use on ourselves and our families. Thanks for all the recommendations!
    Sarah @ made in usa challenge

    • HealthfulMama October 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      Sarah, did you know that Burt’s Bees is now owned by CLOROX? I’ve noticed a change in some of the products (they are using less of the finer ingredients and more of the things I don’t recognize–sad). Your point about the cosmetic industry being unregulated is dead-on. Great thing to remember! Whose interest is at hand?

    • Sarah October 26, 2011 at 8:28 am #

      Oh no, that’s horrible news about Clorox! I love using the Baby Bee products on my son. Going to have to look into these changes more. Do not want my purchases supporting the toxic antibacterial industry. Thanks for the info!

  4. jessica October 10, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by, I’m your newest follower

    • HealthfulMama October 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

      Thanks for the follow, Jessica!

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