beauty beneath the surface: how is your makeup effecting you?

I love my skincare + makeup as much as the next girl. I love pampering myself – doing at-home spa days, using smoothing + anti-aging skincare lines, getting glammed up… because who doesn’t love feeling comfortable in their own skin? but what if I told you that beauty is not just skin deep?

when I started this blog, I knew I wanted to discuss wellness, but I also wanted to be able to talk about fun stuff like skincare, beauty, and makeup. but I didn’t want to be a “wellness blog” but use/promote products that weren’t “well” for your health. so, thanks to this blog, I started to do research into what it was I was putting on my skin day in and day out. it was when I started doing research that I realized that I had a passion about environmental wellness in terms of beauty products. it might seem weird to perceive beauty/personal care as environmental, so allow me to explain.

the first thing we tend to think of when we hear “environmental” is obviously the environment – ya know, going green. save the trees, save the bees, pollution. and while that’s definitely part of it, we health promotion-focused folk also see it in terms of safety + our general surroundings. are we safe? do we have access to healthy options?

did you know that Europe bans 1300+ ingredients from cosmetics? but do you know how much the United States bans? eleven.

lol, okay excuse me… what??? that’s all we get?

truthfully, a lot of us do most of our makeup/beauty shopping at drug stores for the sake of cost – I mean, yes, spending $40 on a bottle of foundation feels like a major stretch, but when we consider the ingredients that are in our $7 foundations, does the cost outweigh the health risks? or, if you aren’t necessarily thinking about the health risks, per say, think about this: what if your makeup is making you age faster? or what if you go to buy an anti-aging skincare regimen but it has ingredients that don’t have anti-aging benefits? isn’t that sort of a waste of money?



parabens are preservatives that give products a 10-30 year shelf life. they also have been shown to have estrogenic properties, which has raised concern seeing how these chemicals are, in fact, absorbed into the bloodstream + body tissues, including breast tissue. while studies are still being conducted, there is reason to believe parabens may aid in breast cancer development.

“the average daily total personal paraben exposure is estimated to be 76 mg, with cosmetics and personal care products accounting for 50 mg, 25 mg from pharmaceutical products, and 1 mg from food” (Kirchof & Gannes, 2013). so if there’s anything to take away, it’s that our makeup, skincare, beauty products, etc is our largest exposure to parabens! (and this is a total side note and rant for another time, but the fact that the next largest is from medications emphasizes the need to be healthy from the inside, too, to find ways to avoid pharmaceuticals!!!) read the article in full here.

mineral oil

mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum. it’s often referred to on the ingredients list using other names like paraffin oil, liquid petroleum, prolatum oil, white mineral oil, or deobase. while mineral oils are too large to penetrate our skin (but don’t even get me started on ingestion or inhalation…), the problem with it is that it coats the surface of our skin, inhibiting its ability to breathe… and the influx/outflow of oxygen is what allows toxins to be released! other than that, it’s also been shown to disrupt natural oil production from our own pores, which can dry out our skin.

rendering plants

look up rendering plants at your own risk. rendering plants recycle dead animal by-products from slaughterhouses – most notably recycled meat, bone meal, and animal fat (source). while the majority of these by-products tend to show up in animal feeds for cows, dogs, pigs, etc, some of these products also get funneled into our cosmetics + personal care products, like oleic acid, glycerine, and stearic acid (source). also, did you know the ingredient guanine (used in shampoos, shimmery eye shadows, and metallic nail polishes) is made from bat poop and/or fish scales? yummy.


according to the CDC, phthalates are used to make plastics more flexible + harder to break. they are commonly found in vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, and plastic clothes. so… you mean to tell me I’ve been putting plastic on my face this whole time? lol

furthermore, the NIH says “current levels of seven phthalates studied by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences posed “minimal” concern for causing reproductive effects. However, the National Toxicology Program concluded that high levels of… di-n-butyl phthalate, may adversely affect human reproduction or development.” another article by Meeker, Sathyanarayana, & Swan (2009) says in the conclusion of their research “Although the epidemiological data on the plastic additives described here suggest that there may be associations with altered endocrine function and reproductive or developmental effects, the number of human studies is currently limited and the quantity and quality of the data available for the different compounds are varied.”

so yes, while more research might still be required to know the full effects of phthalates on our health, so far, I don’t like what I see.


fun fact: listing “fragrance” on an ingredient label is how companies can hide hundreds to thousands of other chemicals without actually having to list what’s inside. isn’t it wild to think that there’s still so much in your shampoo, face washes, deodorants, etc that you have no clue about what it is or what could be getting absorbed into your body?


the list could go on and on and on about cosmetics + personal care ingredients that could affect your health, these are certainly the big categories that we should be trying to avoid. however, in a country that only bans 11 chemicals, it’s hard to feel confident in what we’re applying to ourselves topically, knowing that it could have biological consequences. that’s why I made the choice to use + sign up with Arbonne – avoiding harmful, icky ingredients was always a passion of mine, so for me, finding a company that follows European standards + bans an additional 700 ingredients based off their own research, I couldn’t say no.

I didn’t say all of this to scare you or gross you out, but I am passionate about raising awareness about our personal care + cosmetic products. even reading the ingredients on the back of a tampon box is horrific. we deserve to know what we’re applying to ourselves on a daily basis, and I stand with those that are fighting to have stricter regulations in place.

3 thoughts on “beauty beneath the surface: how is your makeup effecting you?

  1. Pingback: midyear round-up
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