Candles and Cosmetics – Buyer Beware

Woe this toxic world we live in.  Seems like toxins are everywhere.  In our food, in the water, the air we breathe, and the lotions and potions we put on our body. 

Sadly, even a new born baby isn’t immune.  Umbilical cord studies have found that newborns come into this world with over 200 known toxins. 

Eating clean, whole foods and drinking filtered water to limit our exposure is a great start to eliminating this toxic load.

Here are two other things to consider regarding the air you breathe and what you put on your body.

Regarding Candles:   per a Q & A to Jonathan Wright, MD

Q: My sister says candles are hazardous to your health. Is this true?

Dr. Wright:  Most candles contain paraffin. Paraffin is made from the sludge at the bottom of barrels of crude oil, which is then treated and bleached with benzene and other chemical solvents to “clean it up” for use in candles. Paraffin candles put out soot and smoke when you burn them along with toxins and carcinogens. Since burning petrochemical paraffin smells bad, synthetic fragrance oils are added, many of which are irritating and even toxic themselves when they’re burned. Breathing what paraffin candles give off has been compared to breathing diesel fumes. And, to make matters worse, the soot, smoke, and chemical residue from “regular” candles can stick to walls, ceilings, and ventilation ducts and gets re-circulated whenever the heating/cooling system is in action, exposing you to these pollutants even when the paraffin candles aren’t burning.

The only candles I know of that don’t cause any of those problems are ones made from beeswax. But here’s the catch: a candle only needs to contain 51 percent beeswax to be labeled as a beeswax candle. The rest can be paraffin (or anything else burnable), so it may not be as easy as picking one up the next time you’re at the mall. One way to find out is to ask the store clerk to light the candle: 100-percent-beeswax candles have a uniquely fresh smell — which is distinctly different from paraffin. Beeswax candles can be on the expensive side — at least in comparison to “regular” paraffin candles. But beeswax actually burns slower, so you’ll get more for your money than if you opted for the cheaper versions. Plus, the risk you’re avoiding by avoiding paraffin is well worth the few extra cents.

Regarding Cosmetics:

What we put on our body goes into our body.  Our skin is our largest organ and soaks up whatever we put on it.  Such as make-up, lotions, shampoos, sunscreen, etc.

Many of these products have chemicals in them that are known carcinogens and/or hormone disrupters.  Example: parabens are chemicals used as a preservative but have been found to mimic estrogen causing hormone disruptions in the body.  Parabens are usually listed toward the end of the ingredient list as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, etc.  Grab a bottle of lotion or shampoo and check it out.

One way to know if your cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, etc. are full of chemicals is to check out this site:  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/  This is a website put together by The Environmental Working Group (EWG).  They have developed a system that lets you input your brand of shampoo, make-up, etc and see how it scores.  They use a green light, yellow light, red light system.  Green good.  Red bad. 

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