by Brenda Clevenger of Midlife Mona Lisa
Snow White didn’t wear Revlon, Maybelline, Lancome, or L’Oreal. She was a purist who made her own preservative-free cosmetics. Still, the Queen poisoned Snow White with lipstick with ten times the lead in it, even though Snow White tried to avoid such tragedies by reading labels and ingredients.
I was getting ready for a date to a partner yoga class that I had been looking forward to. Wanting to look extra nice, I decided to put some luminescent body butter on my neck and throat. I had only used this product in small quantities once in the past, placing just a dab on my cheekbones as a highlighter.
Within five minutes of applying the lotion on my neck, I couldn’t breathe and could barely see because of the swelling. With no time to spare, I had to drive myself to the nearest emergency room and based on the picture, I don’t know how I saw to get there.
Upon staggering in, I had only 2% lung capacity, a swollen face, throat, eyes, lids, rock bottom blood pressure and bright red skin–all the signs of a life threatening allergic reaction.
One month later, I had a similar allergic reaction to another lotion. Then I put two and two together and determined I’m deathly allergic to a toxic preservative that was in both the Pacific lotion and Sacred Earth massage cream. This preservative, Phenoxyethanol, is cheap and used widely in skincare and personal hygiene products, although it has been banned in Europe and in children’s products.
My makeup wakeup call has led me to not buying anything, or believing any product’s “all natural” marketing, until I know everything that’s in it and checking out the toxic risks. I find the following help me in doing that:
- Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
- Kim Barnouin’s book, Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty & Style – A No-Nonsense Guide to Cutting the Crap Out of Your Life
With four attacks under my belt this year alone, I understand the ongoing risks of products polluted with toxins that accumulate in our systems through the years. It is that which has pushed me from being mildly allergic into an epi-pen-carrying person with anaphylaxis.
It’s great look fantastic, but not at the expense of our health. If you notice your skin itching after you shower or put on freshly laundered clothing, check the labels on your soaps. Chances are they contain some chemicals that are irritating your skin. And the good news is you can actually save money by omitting many expensive brands and going organic or using carrier (Jojoba) and essential oils to moisturize your skin and face instead of $30 to $100 jars of cream sold by the cosmetic giants.