Thursday, February 4, 2010

Simplicity Can Work

I agree with Mary's comment  that we should be concerned about what we put on our skin, as well as what we put in our mouths. I ran my lotions and beauty potions through the Cosmetic Database (of doom). I discovered that it is highly likely that under one of those purple crime-scene lights I will glow a brilliant green.

Why are these products loaded with toxins we don't need? Do we really need all these ingredients to help us look and feel good? For years, people worldwide have used natural oils, such as olive, coconut, marula, and argan, as moisturizers and hair elixirs with great success. I'm not sure why we've moved so far away from simple. I'm just as guilty as the next person, until I travel, and then I use next to nothing. For instance, this past year, my family and I were on the move for five months. I took along a product we made using beeswax (from our beehives) and olive oil. It's a thick, rich balm.

It was exciting to use something made from only two ingredients (the fact that we made it was also key). Not to turn this into some sort of infomercial for our balm, but the Cosmetic Database has brought this all to mind so I feel like sharing. Our balm (so far I haven't read anything that says it wouldn't pass government regulators) works and, according to friends and family, its basic ingredients are working wonders. One friend used it to rid her baby of a small patch of eczema. Another shared it with a family member who is going through chemo; the simple ingredients are the only thing her ultra-sensitive, very dry skin can handle. Seasonal drying and cracking of skin around fingernails, heels, elbows, and lips have all been relieved by the balm. I'm tickled by the feedback. Simplicity works.

Which brings me back to my question: Why is it necessary to include so many ingredients (and if the Cosmetic Database is to be believed, so many toxic ingredients) in these beauty products? Shelf life? Antibacterial properties? I don't know. I just know that our little tins, containing two nontoxic ingredients, are showing results. Is all the extra stuff gimmick? And do we really need cleansers, toners, exfoliators, scrubs, and specific lotions for every body part before capping it all off with a collection of makeup products? When we think about what is good for our bodies (inside and out), the environment, and our wallets, it may be a good idea to step back and think about what we really need. Maybe if we did use fewer of these products we would be suffering from fewer allergies, skin problems, and the like, not to mention that our wallets would be fatter. I'm certainly guilty of falling for the claims—it happens every time I walk down a store's beauty aisle or flip through a magazine. I want my hair to be less frizzy and my skin to look like it did when I was 20. Fat chance. Yet, I know that, when I step away from it all and travel, my skin and hair tend to look pretty good. Of course, there was that one bus ride in Ecuador when I looked positively green, but that's another story.

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