Women, makeup, and chemicals

Ladies, something important has been on my mind this past week. Chemicals. Yes, chemicals. Not the unseen, invisible, boogeyman kind of chemicals in the air and dirt or in the flooring and dry wall in our homes. I’m talking about the chemicals we put on our bodies every.single.day. The pinks and rouges and floral scents we paint and spray ourselves with. Why are women diagnosed with chronic illness more often than men? Could this be why?

I grew up in the 90s so my first memories of these kinds of chemicals was shopping at Bath and Body Works (what could be so terrible about that?!) with girlfriends and deliberating over which scent was “ours” — fruity or flowery?; spicy or sweet?. I also grew up on grocery store cosmetics — the cheap kinds that made it seem reasonable to buy multiple brands in multiple shades.

Last week I “accidentally” got an inside glimpse into one of those make-up MLM companies — a very famous one, and one that has deep roots in Texas. An invitation to a “business seminar” from an acquaintance actually turned into a tried and true hard sell for this beauty company (whoops!?!). I saw women who were so motivated and successful at selling these makeup products. They were amazing women and I felt so inspired by their work ethic. The only question for me was if they had ever thought about the chemicals they used on their own faces and bodies and the chemicals they enthusiastically sold to other women. Did they know about the beauty product connection to words like “endocrine disruptor”, “carcinogen”, “immunosuppressant”, “immunostimulant”, or “neurotoxin”? No they didn’t.

These were women who were friendly, kind, and wanted good things for themselves and their families. I have been in their shoes as an entrepreneur myself and empathized with them. And they wanted other women to be part of the success. But I realized this is the veil that cosmetic chemicals afford us — we can pretend that these products are good for women, make us feel better, provide a sense of sisterhood, make us more confident, and aren’t really that big of a deal. When we start to break down the misconceptions, the veil gets thinner and thinner and we can see that study after study has linked the chemicals in makeup, perfume, and soap to disease. Not just disease but DAILY symptoms. Not just symptoms but a slippery slope into serious health problems for the next generation too.

Let’s stop pretending that makeup is only fun and always safe. Let’s make some difficult decisions to let go of lifelong brand loyalties and stop being afraid of looking too “serious” about something so “trivial”. Our health is dependent upon it. I watched my grandmother suffer with at least four autoimmune conditions before she eventually died of breast cancer. Her medicine cabinet and fridge were full of toxic chemicals. And she had common gene mutations that didn’t let her detoxify properly.

After I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in 2007, I made a personal commitment to not using man-made chemicals in my home and life. Sometimes that means I clean things with hydrogen peroxide. Sometimes it means I wash my face with castile soap. If you’re looking to reduce the over-stimulation of your immune system due to autoimmunity, start getting rid of those chemicals. If you’re looking to boost your thyroid due to hypothyroidism, get rid of those chemicals. Don’t stress and don’t judge yourself — just do what you can with your budget and with which products are available to you. Your current health will benefit. Your future health will benefit. Make it a core value. <3

(As a note: sometimes tone online is tricky but there is no judgment here for anyone who uses, buys, or sells conventional beauty products. It’s all about being aware and doing what we can. 100% is not reasonable for everyone).

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