Our skin absorbs DIRECTLY INTO OUR BLOODSTREAM up to 60% of the products we apply to it – it’s a scary thought if those products are synthetic, processed and full of preservatives, chemicals and toxins(2). This is why I am so passionate about advocating for healthy, safe, non-toxic products.
A few years ago PETA exposed the reality of animal testing and companies started quickly claiming that their products are now vegan and cruelty-free. But are they really? And what does it really matter if there are animal parts and fats in your skin care? What difference does it make when you just had bacon for breakfast?
Well it goes A LOT deeper than just ‘saving the animals’.This is not just a discussion on ethics. Using products full of animal parts and fats is actually very toxic and harmful to your health.
Today is going to be a little bit of a longer blog but I can promise you it’s worth the read. I keep saying that it’s overwhelming trying to do all the research on how to choose safe products for your skin. I totally get it. But I hope after I share with you the years of research I have done, you feel a little more confident in choosing your next face wash or foundation. I hope you will think back on this blog next time you see a “vegan” or “cruelty-free” logo on a product you’re using and will actually understand what it means to you and your body. Make sure to also be following @pickingdaisiesblog on Instagram this week where I will be diving in deeper and deeper every day on how to choose safe products that won’t harm your body & make you sicker.
WHAT DOES VEGAN & CRUELTY-FREE MEAN?
“By definition, vegan skin care products are not produced from an animal or an animal byproduct. This means that traditional ingredients like meat, fish, fowl, animal by-products, eggs or egg products, milk or milk products, animal fat, lanolin and keratin are not used,” said Dr. Hooman Khorasani, chief of the division of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Health System(1). Simple enough? And to save you time reading through all the ingredients you can tell if a product is vegan if they have one of the labels below.
One thing I will add is that certified companies are not allowed to claim they are vegan if their products contain beeswax, palm oil, or lanolin. Even if they are ethically sourced, there are some label laws and certifications that will not allow them to claim it as a vegan product. However, if you do take the time to read through the ingredients (remember, less ingredients=HEALTHIER!) & you do find one of the three listed above. These are very SAFE & beneficial ingredients to use on your skin. Beeswax is antibacterial and does wonders for your skin especially if you have acne or eczema. Palm oil is very nutritious and plant-derived. However there is a huge debate because some companies who exploit palm oil are destroying the Rainforest. Also lanolin is derived from the natural components of sheep wool which does not harm the sheep at all and shearing them is necessary in the sheep’s safety and health. As much as I want to be 100% ethical, I do have to make life a little easier and I do opt to use these ingredients as I see them extremely beneficial to our skin.
“’Cruelty free’ simply means a product or its ingredients have not been tested on animals by a supplier, manufacturer, producer or any third-party entity. Some brands may be cruelty-free without being vegan, so if you are looking for the latter make sure it is explicitly stated,” said Dr. Anthony M. Rossi, assistant attending of dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center(1).
This is HUGE!!! Even if you eat meat, animal testing is extremely cruel and 100% unnecessary. Testing on animals is very outdated. Our skin’s chemistry is so much different than the animals (bunnies, puppies, rats, etc) that they are testing that the animals may not have a reaction but humans will. The only way to test a product 100% is to test on a HUMAN. But if you are using clean, natural, and pure ingredients- there is no risk. That’s why products that are not certified cruelty-free should stand out to you, because what chemicals are in the product that they need to actually test the safety of them first??? When I was a consultant for Perfectly Posh they were proudly cruelty-free & the CFO would go live when they conducted product testing- ON THEMSELVES. They were using clean, trusted, non-toxic ingredients that they knew there would be no risk but they wanted to see how the formulas would work & the quality of the product.*please use common sense and do not buy products with ingredients you are allergic too*
ARE ALL VEGAN PRODUCTS SAFE AND NON-TOXIC?
Absolutely not. There are a TON of companies that Greenwash their products and try to sell you “natural” vegan products that are actually FULL of synthetic, toxic ingredients. Choosing vegan and cruelty-free products is only the first step. DO NOT LET THESE LABELS FOOL YOU but let them guide you to help narrow down the products to choose from. You will still want to stay FAR AWAY from preservatives, pesticides, parabens, GMO, fragrance/parfum and many other harmful ingredients that will do serious damage to your health. To learn more about the ingredients in your skin care, click here.
WHAT DO ANIMAL FATS AND PARTS DO TO YOUR SKIN AND BODY?
There is a ton of FALSE information on Google about how tallow (animal fat) or animal by-products are healthy for your skin. This is simply not true. But why would companies lie?
For one, animal parts and fats are extremely easy to come by. Most beauty companies don’t farm and kill their own animals. Instead they take lab animals such as rats, pigs, and sheep that died due to sickness or expired meats from supermarkets(5)..
Tallow is being widely advertised as extremely beneficial to your skin. Stating it was your grandma’s beauty secret and it is a “natural” ingredient that closely matches the oils in our own skin. There are so many claims from companies who want you to believe you NEED this for your skin. Because it’s full of essential vitamins (um plants are actually 10x higher in essential vitamins then any animal fat can be). This is an example of greenwashing.
Tallow is not “natural”. It is taken from the fats cells surrounding the cow’s organs primarily their kidneys and liver(3). For tallow to be non-toxic it has to be derived from a 100% antibiotic-free, grass fed, free range cow. The only way cows make healthy tallow that does what everyone is claiming, is when they are allowed all day exposure in the sun where their body will naturally create Conjugated Linoleic Acid and then store it in their fat cells(3). But that’s not the case or reality of the tallow on the market.
Most cows used for meat or beauty are kept in unhygienic cages no bigger than they are and with zero sun exposure. They are fed a diet of corn and hay which are usually covered in pesticides. To top it all off, they are given huge, regular doses of antibiotics from the second they’re born to prevent them from dying of bacterial diseases from the unsafe living conditions. So where do all these toxins go? To their liver and kidneys and whatever isn’t filtered out is stored in their fat cells. So the “amazing” tallow we have heard sooo much about is actually a fatty cocktail of toxic chemicals.
And because tallow is SO easily absorbed by the skin, all those toxic chemicals are getting dumped right into our bloodstream. All because we were misled by this “natural” miracle ingredient we HAD to have. AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF- tallow is used in aviation fuel and diesel gas(4). Ummm YUCK. You can find tallow in soap, moisturizer, lipstick, eyeshadow, blush, and most cream skincare products.
To avoid getting carried away, I went into MUCH more detail of toxic chemicals and animal by-products in your skin care in my blog here.
But before we move on, I want to talk about one more EXTREMELY important animal product found in your skin care: estrogen. You know the hormone? Yep it’s also listed as ‘parabens’, ‘estradiol’, ‘phytoestrogen’ & dozen other names. It’s found in a TON of skin care products, make up, sunscreen, shampoo and almost all perfumes. And you know where they get it from?? Horse urine or placenta extract(6).
If we naturally produce estrogen why is it that big of a deal? Well let me tell you. They are adding it to anti-aging creams because of their effectiveness in raising collagen count and promoting skin hydration. Together, these two factors are thought to decrease wrinkling of the skin, but they can also increase women’s total lifetime exposure to estrogen. Increased exposure to estrogen has been linked to the development of breast cancer later in life by causing rapid cell division of mammary tumor cells when they are present(7). Because SO many products contain estrogen and you are getting repeated exposure, it is also causing thousands of men to get and die from breast cancer(8).
Estrogen exposure isn’t minimal either. The average woman uses 12-15 products to get ready in the morning which puts over 300 chemicals directly in our blood stream. And I can guarantee you unless they are vegan made with natural ingredients, almost every single product will contain MULTIPLE forms of estrogen(9).Constant exposure EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, multiple times a day literally disrupts our entire body and endocrine system.. Not only can it cause cancer in men, women, and children(9) but it WILL cause weight gain, hypothyroid, infertility, adrenal imbalances, estrogen dominance, lowered sperm counts, obesity, diabetes, skin disorders, and certain types of cancers(9). And what really resonates with me is I have Factor V Leiden which is a blood clotting disorder. Meaning I not only get all the side effects you do, but it puts me at a huge risk for a blood clot. Estrogen is the worst thing someone with Factor V can be exposed to.
Your endocrine system is your thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, pancreas, hypothalamus and pituitary glands (9). So being exposed to estrogen on top of many other hormone disrupting chemicals is literally making us sick. You can read more about other hormone disrupting ingredients in skin care here.
I know it’s hard to believe that we live in America and this is being allowed to happen. However, In the United States, skin care products are not well regulated or screened for true safety. While other countries have banned hundreds of ingredients in personal care products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned only 11 ingredients(9). Do you think I am still being over dramatic for caring about the chemicals we put directly in our bloodstream???
Other names estrogen goes by: butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, benzophenone-1, benzophenone-2, homosalate, octinoxate, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, 4-MBC, and a few others not listed(6).
And although it is primarily sourced from horse urine or placentas (yuck) there are tons of lab grown synthetic hormones on the market. So ‘vegan’ doesn’t always mean safe but it is a HUGE step in the right direction.
Education is CRUCIAL. And learning the name of even ONE toxic chemical will be enough for you to choose a safer product.
Do you see now why it really does matter what you put on your body? You can work out and eat clean all you want, but you will continue to get sick until you remove the chemicals from your body.
I know it makes you want to run to your bathroom and throw away everything you own. But that’s not affordable or practical. So take this blog with you and next time you run out of something, take the time to research and replace it with a non-toxic safe alternative. I can promise you will be surprised by how much better it works and how cost effective it is.
To help you out I have compiled a HUGE list of my favorite non-toxic, vegan skin care products for every price point here. And one thing to remember, I will be listing some things that are not certified vegan because they contain beeswax or palm oil. These are not true animal products and are only not considered vegan because of the ethics debate. I’m not here to argue with you on ethics but to help you take your health and the health of your family seriously. I hope this opens up your eyes to stop taking everything at face value and start asking questions and diving a little deeper- your life literally depends on it.