Natural healing, natural wellness

Toxins & Pollutants

Phthalate Exposure – Worth Dying For?

Seventeen students in a school in Singapore recently came down with pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Everyone initially thought that the source of their illness was snacks at a class party. To everyone’s surprise, the culprit turned out to be phthalates in a toy that they played with just before eating. As the children did not wash their hands, the chemicals transferred from their hands into their mouths.

Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics flexible. The specific phthalates found in the toy were dibutyl phthalates (DBP) and diethylhexyl phthalates (DEHP). The US has classified DEHP as a “probable human carcinogen” while the European Chemical Agency calls it a “Substance of Very High Concern”.

Phthalates are widely used. They are in soft PVC products like packaging, flooring, mats, milk bottles, toys, food containers and so on. Soft PVC products contain over 40% of phthalates by weight. The “new car” smell that motorists love comes from phthalates emitting from the dashboards of vehicles that have been in the sun. As the motor vehicle cools downs, the phthalates re-condense as an oily film on the inside of the windscreen. Yet another reason not to buy new cars.

I always avoid heating food up in plastic containers. Plastics with recycling codes 3 and 7, in particular, tend to contain phthalates. I also stay away from personal care products which contain phthalates. Yes, many cosmetics, fragrances, soaps, shampoos, lotions, deodorants and even baby powder contain phthalates. Phthalates are popularly used to enhance fragrances in skin care, hair care and beauty products like perfumes, hair spray, and nail polish. These chemicals are also found in environmental products like wood finishers and lubricants.

Manufacturers are sneaky. Phthalates are rarely listed on the ingredients label. Be smart; look out for proxy ingredients like “fragrance”.

A 2009 survey on phthalate levels in the environment by the US Centre For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that exposure to these chemicals was extremely widespread. Concerned, US authorities warned that DEHP was particularly likely to cause serious development problems in the sexual reproductive systems of young male children. Phthalates act as hormone disrupters. DBP and DEHP, especially, disrupt aromotase, an enzyme crucial to the metabolism of sex hormones. These chemicals cats as anti-androgens, or anti-male hormones.

In 2003, a Boston study discovered that men exposed to phthalates had fewer sperm, which also tended to be weaker and deformed. Statistics shows that male infertility is increasing at an alarming rate in industrialized nations, where exposure to phthalates is high. Two common male birth defects are undescended testes and hypospadias (a penile deformity).

Even more alarmingly, it is women of child-bearing age who have the most exposure to phthalates, very likely because of their heavy usage of personal care products containing harmful ingredients like phthalates. Not only are they in danger of producing male babies with sexual development problems, but they are also at risk of developing cancer. Are you using phthalate-free skin care products?

Safety-conscious company Neways International avoids using at least 3,000 questionable ingredients – including phthalates – in its personal care products, such as skin care, hair care, oral hygiene and beauty products. Instead, it uses safe and gentle ingredients as well as technological processes. What’s in the personal care products you use?

Beauty at any price – is it worth dying for?

Prevention – Always Better Than Cure

When I was growing up, I drank either fizzy drinks or beverages made from cordial with every meal. The kitchen always had crates of aerated water lining one wall. We never drank plain water. At best, we would drink sweet tea heaped with sugar, the way our mom liked it.

My family was well-to-do, so we indulged in anything we liked. The dining table groaned with meat dishes, the larder was well-stocked with snacks, chocolates and other confectionery – you get the picture. As for personal care and household care products, we had all the well-known brands. Nothing but the “best” for us. What ingredients went into those products? Who knew and who cared? We were washed and powdered, and we smelled nice. That’s all that mattered.

From my teens, I bought lots of beauty products. They were a mix of unknown brands as well as famous brands. Skin care, hair products, cosmetics, I had the works. All I cared about was whether they made me look and smell good. In those days, what did anybody know about harmful and even carcinogenic ingredients in personal care products? We believed that well-known brands would only be made of the best ingredients, certainly nothing questionable or damaging to health. We never realised that the personal care and beauty products which we used daily could potentially harm us and make us sick.

We’ve come a long way, baby. Consumers today are better-informed about the dangers of common beauty and personal care ingredients such as:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Propylene Glycol
Ethanol / alcohol
Fluoride
Mineral Oil
Petrolatum
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
Retinoic Acid
Avobenzone
Homosalate
Benzophenone
Formaldehyde
PEGs
Parabens
Ceteareth-20
Diethanolamine (DEA)

There are many more toxic chemicals and harmful ingredients we are exposed to at home which can cause illnesses like cancer, respiratory problems, eye problems like cataracts, liver and kidney ailments, Alzheimer’s Disease, and allergic reactions. Many of these harmful ingredients are in products we love to slather on our skin, apply on our eyes, put in our hair and clean our mouths with.

Had I known years ago what I know today, I probably would have avoided using most kinds of commercial skin care, hair and other beauty products, and gone natural as far as possible (safe personal care products were virtually unheard of until recent years). Had my parents known what many people know today, I’m sure they would have made better dietary choices.

Today, half my siblings – including myself – have been afflicted with cancer. One lost the battle. My other siblings grapple with a variety of health problems. My father spent the last 30 years of his life fighting a host of medical conditions. My mother has been in poor health for many years and her memory comes and goes. Sheer coincidence?

Prevention is obviously better than cure. We cannot undo the damage that has already been done, but we can do our best from now on to protect ourselves and our loved ones. This is particularly essential for those who are already dealing with health conditions like cancer. Boycott personal care and household products which use inferior and potentially harmful ingredients. Choose brands which avoid using questionable ingredients. Safety-conscious Neways International avoids using more than 3,000 questionable ingredients, and counting. What about the brands you use? What poison are you putting on your skin today?

Healing Skin Care

applying face creamIs there anybody here who doesn’t enjoy trying out luxurious skincare products? Who doesn’t like being pampered with beauty products which leave your skin looking and feeling smooth, silky and youthful? Sadly, it’s been years since I’ve allowed any sales assistants at beauty counters to apply strange creams and lotions on my skin. I even avoid beauty workshops. Why? Well, have you seen what goes into common skincare products and cosmetics, even the expensive brands?

Propylene glycol, parabens, PEGs, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphate, alcohol, petrolatum and talc are some widely-used ingredients which are potentially harmful and even carcinogenic. These are just a few of thousands of questionable ingredients which are used in bath products, skincare, make-up and other personal care products. You may not know it, but what you apply daily on your face and body may be making you sick and aging you prematurely.

applying hand creamBefore I buy any personal care or beauty products, I read the ingredients on the label thoroughly. Nine out of 10 times, I end up putting the item back on the shelf. Even so-called “natural” or “organic” personal care products often contain questionable ingredients. When your family has a history of cancer as bad as mine does, you learn to get picky about what you expose yourself to, whether in food, the environment or personal care and household products. Any guest who stays in my home for a while will probably leave in better health than if they had stayed at a six-star hotel, because my family is so fussy about the safety and quality of the products we use.

This weekend brought happy news to me and many other safety-conscious consumers. My favorite safety-conscious health and wellness company, Neways International, launched a new skincare and beauty line which is comprehensive and effective while avoiding the use of at least 3,000 questionable ingredients, like toxins, dioxins, irritants, carcinogens, and contaminants. Can you think of any brand which has achieved this? Three cheers for Neways!

Neways botanicalsIngredients and technologies used by Neways are typically safer and superior in quality than those typically used by many commercial brands. What’s got me even more excited is that Neways’ new True Touch skincare and cosmetics range uses a dizzying array of newly-discovered or little-known botanical ingredients. I pride myself in being well-informed, but Neways is now using healthy ingredients and technologies which are totally new even to me. Neways is also using more environmentally-friendly ingredients, such as bamboo, an environmentally-sustainable agricultural product (it’s the world’s fastest-growing plant) in the True Touch skin exfoliator called Clarifier.

After one beauty workshop yesterday, where I got to try many of the skincare products from Neways’ new True Touch line, my body was left tingling. Not just because the products had refreshed and invigorated my skin, but because I was excited to get the whole range home for my family to use. The products are so good they’re like vitamins and antioxidants for the skin, almost good enough to eat. No wonder they leave the skin looking and feeling great.

If you know of any other beauty brand which avoids using at least 3,000 questionable ingredients, while providing a range of skincare and make-up products as wide, comprehensive, effective and luxurious as Neways’ True Touch line, please write about it here. The more beauty options we have which are safe and healthy– and, preferably, even nourishing and healing – the better. Why put up with inferior and harmful personal care products anymore? Hallelujah!