The enemy within...

Beauty products and your hormones

Lola Ross uncovers the toxic additives lurking in your make up bags that could be contributing to your PMS.

1.Can my make-up really affect my PMS symptoms?

Potentially yes. Most commercial make-up brands use toxic chemicals in their formulations, which have a real potential to interact negatively with our hormones leading to hormone issues like PMS. We term these chemicals endocrine disruptors, and they can be found lurking in lipsticks, foundations, primers, nail polish, eyeshadows, shampoos, face scrubs and pretty well most of the stuff we use on a daily basis. 


2. How exactly do endocrine disruptors affect our hormones?

When we think that our skin is able to absorb products that we put on to it, these toxic chemicals are able to enter our circulation and endocrine systems. There they have the ability to mimic the effects on oestrogen that our bodies make naturally and this can lead to changes to oestrogen levels and worsen PMS symptoms.


3. Which chemicals are we looking out for to avoid?

The main baddies are the endocrine disruptors and some heavy metals. Some of the common ones to look out for are parabens, phthalates, organochlorines, PAHs, PCBs, Dioxins and toxic minerals such as mercury, lead and cadmium. You can find a full list of these chemicals in good books such as Ruth Winter’s -A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients.


4. Are there any brands that don’t use these toxic chemicals?

Absolutely – the natural and organic skincare market is one of the fastest growing markets and there are loads of beautiful products out there with your health in mind. But be careful to check labelling as some can call themselves ‘natural’ but still include nasty chemicals. Your best bet is to learn how to read labels or stick with brands that you know have 100% commitment to being natural.


5. What about plastic water bottles and packaging?

BPA plastics found in water bottles and food packaging need to be avoided as the plastics break down over time and leach into the product where they can act as endocrine disruptors. BPA’s can still be found in make-up and body care and we can absorb these chemicals orally, vaginally or transdermally (through the skin). There are simple ways of reducing exposure to these chemicals such as, choosing BPA free packaged skin care products, using glass water bottles, removing the plastic lid from a takeaway coffee and cutting off outer layers of cheese before transferring it to a coverable glass dish before you store in the fridge. 


6.Is it true that sea salt has microplastics in it from sea pollution?

Yes - a recent study showed that microplastics from face scrubs and other fine plastics that pollute our oceans, are now part of sea water that is used in the salt milling process and ends up on our supermarket shelves! Ditch the sea salt until our seas are less polluted, and use the wonderful mineral rich ancient Himalayan cave salts instead – for everything from cooking, to body scrubs.


7. What about making your own products?

Anything homemade gets the thumbs up from me. Growing your own herbs, milling your own plant milks, to making your own skin care products where you can, will only giving you more control over what exactly goes in your body so your can stay as healthy as possible. There are many good books on how to make your own natural skin and make-up, and brands committed to natural skincare such as Neal’s Yard Remedies run natural product making classes.


8. Once we make the swap to natural products will the old chemicals leave our bodies?

Yes. As you limit your exposure to these chemicals, and support your detoxification processes with nutritious wholefoods, fruit/ vegetables and plenty of water and daily exercise, you will reduce levels of harmful toxins your system.


Photography credit Gabrielle Cooper @gabi_coops
Creative Direction Leanne Elliot Young @leanneelliotyoung