Friday, 16 August 2013

Beneath The Varnish

Warm weather and days spent at the beach invite the inevitable desire to gloss on a bright summer nail polish. But before you open up that bottle of 'Bermuda Blue' consider the common chemicals found in nail polish.

The Problem

There are three big 'Uh Oh' ingredients commonly found in nail polish: formaldehyde- a known carcinogen, dibutyl phthalate- a suspected reproductive toxin, and toluene- known for skin and respiratory irritation. In addition, to remove the polish you need to use a remover containing a new chemical cocktail.

What Can I Use Instead?

A variety of companies have begun to formulate polish without these three chemicals. Avoiding these chemicals doesn't mean you have to skimp on colour options or quality- I recommend Cheeky Monkey polish, which is formulated without formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, camphor and parabens. Natural removers can be difficult to find, but I recommend Suncoat's Natural Nail Polish Remover Gel. 

I suggest taking a look at the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to find more products and options to make your manicure worry-free.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


There has recently been an increase in news coverage on an important environmental concern in regards to an ingredient commonly found in our daily beauty products- microbeads. Otherwise known on ingredient lists as polyethylene or polypropylene. These minuscule plastic beads are often found in facial cleansing and body scrub products to exfoliate, however they have also been known to occur in products such as toothpaste.

What's the problem?

Upon rinsing off our products, these tiny beads enter our water system. These beads can be smaller than a single millimeter in size. Most water treatment systems are unable to filter out these small beads, and they enter our natural water system. One of the highest concentration of microbeads was found in the Great Lakes. These beads pose an environmental threat as increasing numbers of them are expelled into the environment.

It's possible fish are eating the pellets, believing them to be eggs, he added. That's worrisome, because plastics tend to absorb pollutants such as PCBs, pesticides and motor oil. The pellets could therefore be poisoning the small fish that larger fish then prey on, and the larger fish are consumed by humans, posing a human health risk.
-CBC News, Facial scrubs polluting Great Lakes with plastic

What can you do?

While several companies such as Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal, and the Body Shop have agreed to phase out microbeads in their products by 2015, there are other options in the meantime. Read the ingredient list on all your products and avoid those that contain microbeads. 

There are many alternatives to products that contain microbeads. To get your exfoliation fix try a DIY treatment. 

  • Add a teaspoon of sugar, rolled oats, or ground almonds (you can do it yourself in a food processor) to your favourite body wash or to a few teaspoons of your favourite oil (olive, almond, coconut).
  • Add a pinch of ground rolled oats, finely ground almonds, or brown sugar to a small amount of oil- jojoba, coconut and almond are especially good carriers for this treatment. 
  • Alternately, try exfoliating through the use of fruit enzymes. These are available commercially, or make your own by mashing up some strawberries or pineapple, applying them with a bit of honey as a treatment (let sit about 5 minuites and rinse well- rinse off if any burning or irritation occurs). 

For more information on microbeads there are some great news stories and resources available to learn more. 

(CBC News- Facial scrubs polluting Great Lakes with plastic)