Lead In Our Lipstick and Other Great Stuff

woman with compact applies red lipstick

Toxic Lipstick

We’ve all heard the rumors that the average woman eats something like 6 lbs of lipstick in her lifetime, something which has never swayed anyone I know from buying their favorite shade. But this is just that, a rumor. Snopes.com managed to bust this legend by calculating exactly how many tubes of lipstick a person would have to go through to ingest 6 lbs of the stuff, and it was a staggering 454 to 1,512 tubes a year, and that each tube would have to be consumed in it’s entirety. No lipstick blotting, no lipstick kisses, no coffee cup smudges. So, okay, we don’t eat nearly as much lipstick as we’ve thought, but does that mean it’s still safe for us to use?

The answer, like so many things I’m finding these days, is harder firmly establish. Like almost all of the personal care products in our daily lives… the shampoos, bath soaps, deodorants, perfumes, nail polishes, body lotions, self tanners… lipstick does contain harmful chemicals that scientists and medical professionals don’t know anything about, and that the personal care industry is not interested in testing. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with lead in our lipstick, neurotoxins in our shampoo, hormone distruptors in our sunscreens, and carcinogens in us just about all of them. It’s an awful mess. We’re slowly waking up to the fact that we’ve been unwilling participants in what’s turning out to be a global human experiment with toxic chemicals. Parallel this with the USDA’s recent acknowledgement that the antibiotics that we pump into  industrial factory farm animals have been creating dangerous resistant strains of bacteria, for which we are essentially defenseless. Well done America.

As Annie Leonard says in her new short on the topic of chemicals in our personal care products – the choice we think we have in the stores when seeking out these goods doesn’t amount to much choice at all. If we’re only presented with option that are toxic, what kind of choice is that? Sure, there are 5 gazillion types of shampoo, body lotions and toothpastes on the market, and that might seem like a lot of choices, but it’s really not, when they’re all bad for us. The same applies to our food… when the majority of our food is controlled by a few multinational industrial ag companies, and our only choice is what they choose to sell us, how much of a choice is that??

But the first step to making better choices, is to know why the ones we have now aren’t that great. Turn over your shampoo bottle next time you take a shower and look carefully at the ingredients. Do you know what they are? If you google them, chances are you’ll be pretty horrified by not only where they come from, but what they have the potential to do to us. The industry who uses these chemicals argue that the levels to which we are being exposed to are tiny, and not worth worrying about. That would be a fine argument if we only used one single product a few times a year. We use dozens upon dozens of products every single day, year after year after year, and scientists aren’t sure what the cumulative effect of these chemicals are. Not to mention that the few chemicals that HAVE been tested have been tested in isolation, not along with the myriad of chemicals floating around inside us… scary interactions are bound to take place.

We seem to be on the cusp of an age of awareness. We learning more and more about how the things we use are made, and how it gets to us.  We get upset when we discover lead in our children’s toys, melamine in our baby formula, and BPA in our plastics. When presented with the frightening facts of the things we consume, we start to demand cleaner, safer options.  We’re fast approaching, and for many are already in, the age of real choice when it comes to our food. We can choose organic over non-organic. We can choose hormone free, pasture raised foods. Ten years ago these options did not exist.

Instead of lamenting the current, and still very toxic situation we’re living in, I’m inspired and enthusiastic about all the positive changes that ARE taking place. The organic movement is the largest growing sector of the foods industry by far. We have bills being introduced into Congress, like the Kid-Safe Chemical Act, that are making an effort to regulate what goes into the products we use every day. We have front page headlines proclaiming the public’s disapproval of antibiotics in our food supply. This is the era of the documentary film, where the truth behind our food industry is finally being revealed. It’s with this knowledge and understanding that we’ll demand, as a country, that the rules must change. No more BPA in anything. No more lead in anything. No melamine in our food – ever. No antibiotics or hormones in our foods. No harmful pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides on our crops. No factory farms, no ground water contamination…

Let’s consider the reality of the “choices” we currently have, and aim towards creating real choice. I don’t want to choose between bad and worse, I want to be able to chose between better and best!

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