We’ve all seen them…piled high on a center isle store display or lined up at the checkout counter, with their cute branding and colorful packaging, convenient bath and body gift sets geared toward moms, teachers, friends, and just about any other female in your life that you need a quick gift for. It’s so tempting and at an average price of about $15 a pop it seems like a no brain-er, right?
Wrong! Beneath the cheap sticker and glittery boxes these discount beauty products are hiding a whole host of things that are potentially dangerous for you and your loved ones this Holiday. Here are the top five reasons you need to avoid cheap bath and beauty products this Christmas!
1. With these discount creams, gels, and lotions what you are mostly paying for is water!
Ever wonder how these companies can sell hand soap for $1 or a gift set of 4 products for $4.99? It’s because the main ingredient in most of these cheap, discount, products is something that you already have at home…plain old water! Not that water, in and of itself, is a problem, but when it comes to beauty products being shelf-stable, water is the enemy, which is why the remainder of the ingredients in products like these are primarily synthetic stabilizers, preservatives, and fillers so that these products won’t go rancid sitting on the store shelves.
Not to mention the fact that, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, high water content in skincare products makes them extremely drying and harsh on the skin. In the winter, when most of us are already trying to combat the dry, itchy, sensitive skin that these cold, harsh winter winds and hot dry air our furnaces at home bring why would we want to add to the dehydration of your body’s largest organ? These products may seem like a good deal, but when you realize that what you are really paying for is water laced with carcinogens and hormone disruptors that may cause liver damage, even if they are pretty, colorful, and smell good, you have to ask yourself if it is really worth it?
2. They are chocked full of chemical colorants and synthetic scents.
It’s not just the fillers and preservatives that are dangerous in products like these, the pretty colors and captivating holiday scents that they exude also come with their own set of problems, specifically for your health! Seemingly innocent, synthetic fragrance is actually one of the most dangerous additives found in bath and beauty products. Considered an “industry secret” it is protected and therefore manufacturers are not legally required to disclose the chemical makeup of the fragrances that are used in their products. Even the sweetest smelling fragrances are chocked full of synthetic chemicals that can cause allergies, skin rashes, thyroid problems and some studies have even linked the ingredients that go into common fragrance oils to infertility and infant mortality.
Made from chemicals derived from petroleum, synthetic colorants are no better. For years we have known that dyes used in the food industry and deemed “safe” by the FDA are actually a leading contributor to hyperactivity in children, learning disabilities, allergies, and a host of other neurological issues. Many parents have made the commitment to drastically change the ways in which their families eat in order to avoid these toxic ingredients and yet, are still willing to slather synthetic dyes all over the largest organ of the body, their skin! Make no mistake, it’s not just the oral ingestion of artificial colorants that is dangerous. You skin is a direct highway to your bloodstream and the things you put on your skin will, without a doubt, end up inside your body!
3. They are wrecking the environment!
We’ve already established that these cheap, discount, products are brimming over with some pretty nasty ingredients, many of which, we end up leaving to leak and rot in the garbage, sinking into the soil of our landfills and waste stations. We could also talk about how the mass manufacturing of these products and the byproducts that are pumped into the atmosphere as a result are probably not the best, most natural, things we could be breathing but sadly, this kind of obvious environmental contamination is just the beginning. Think about this: if you have ever used a sparkly body product during the holidays…where does all that body glitter and shimmer go once you wash it down the drain? How about that body polish with exfoliating microbeads, or the “flushable” wipes that you carry with you to clean up spills or remove a face full of Holiday makeup at the end of the night?
Microbeads or microplastics are small plastic particles found in a variety of day-to-day products but specifically used in the beauty industry. A recent study by the International Maritime Organization, the UN agency responsible for preventing marine pollution now has evidence that these microplastics are ending up in the fish and seafood we are buying and frying up in our very own kitchens, as a toxic and creepy new kind of “circle of life.”
“It has infiltrated every level of the food chain in marine environments and likely fresh water, and so now we’re seeing it come back to us on our dinner plates,” says Chelsea Rochman, a University of Toronto ecologist.
Even deep-sea animals have synthetic fibers found in their guts and while discount and cheap beauty products are not the sole villain in the microplastics soap opera, the fact remains that they are a relatively inexpensive ingredient, and brands and products being sold at these hyper-low price-points are far more likely to opt for a cheap and low-cost ingredient rather than a safe, more natural, and more expensive alternative.
4. They can compromise your immune system.
When we talk about the immune system our skin is, typically, not one of the main organs of the body that we think about. It is estimated that the average woman in the U.S. uses 12 personal care products on her skin each day, containing nearly 168 different chemicals. And, like we mentioned above, our skin is a direct highway to the bloodstream and bone marrow, which is where the majority of our immune defense takes place. Our skin, working alongside our liver, and lymphatic system, is also one of main ways that our bodies are able to detox and flush out toxins once our immune system has identified them.
The skin, being such a direct route to our bloodstream, and essentially providing access to every other organ in the body, also allows the transfer and contamination of our bodies by what are called endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are a specific type of toxin, found in a variety of household health and beauty products, that interfere with development and reproduction by mimicking hormones in your body, including the female sex hormone estrogen, the male sex hormone androgen, as well as thyroid hormones. Studies have linked them to serious neurological issues, ADHD, Cancer, and they are believed to also be associated with compromised immune-systems. Of the top ten common sources for endocrine disruptors synthetic personal hygiene and health and beauty products were number one!
5. Products like this are just lining the pockets of big-business!
Aside from the health and environmental toles that these cheap, discount, beauty products cost us, there are also social and economic factors to consider. How we, as consumers, choose to spend our money, particularly at the Holidays, can have a huge impact on our local communities and neighborhoods. Did you know that if you spend $100 at large big-box store, or national chain, just over $40 stays in the local economy but spending that same amount at a local, family owned, artisan business, guarantees that almost $70 will stay in your local neighborhood? Small businesses also donate 250% more financially than their larger, national, counter-parts to non-profits and local charities funding community causes like parks, education, revitalization initiatives, and local neighborhood associations.
We’re not going to beat around the bush here, it’s true, buying top-quality, natural products, from handmade, artisan, makers and small business owners will very likely cost you a few cents more for what may seem like a “similar” big-box product but the reality is the dividends these local purchases pay back come in the form of real families who get to put braces on their daughter’s teeth, send their grandkids to space camp, help restore local historic buildings in their hometowns, employ hard-working local residents who, in turn, pump taxes into local economies, and help to sustain safe, prosperous, and thriving neighborhoods all across America.
So, this holiday season we want to encourage you to steer-clear of the discount bins and dollar stores when choosing gifts for your loved ones! When compared with all the dangers, not only to your health, but to the environment, and our local hardworking small business owners, even a $1.00 deal for hand-soap seems like too high a price to pay!