Does a woman put 515 chemicals on her face EVERY FLIPP'N DAY!? I counted.

You know those perfectly-placed articles that just accidently pop up on social media pages? You know the ones. You're just blissfully trying to escape the stress of the day through mindless + effortless scrolling, when, without much intention, you begin to unveil the appearance of what some Facebook marketing genius lumped your profile into the "this poor schlub might buy this stuff" category. Oddly enough, this is EXACTLY how I stumbled on an article about a 2016 study performed by UK-based natural deodorant company, Bionsen, stating that on average, a woman applies 515 chemicals to her face, every day. JUST to her FACE?! The study also exposes the following; a typical woman uses roughly 13 beauty products per day. Assuming that each product contains 20-50 ingredients/additives, that is a minimum of 260 ingredients for the average woman. Minimum.

So, if you're anything like me (Lord help us), you're probably thinking one or more of the following:

  1. Holy SHIT, that's a lot!
  2. But...not all chemicals are synthetic
  3. But...I use the good/expensive stuff
  4. But...they're probably only talking about people that wear a lot of makeup
  5. OR...these are "big-name" companies. They wouldn't intentionally sell something harmful.

Right??

Ok, so. Here's what I know. We absorb AT LEAST 60% of what we apply to our skin. Like, into-the-blood-stream kind-of-absorb. I know that MANY beauty products are made of harmful parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes, fragrances that include phthalates, sulfates, and other harmful chemicals known to contain reproductive toxins, bacteria, and known carcinogens. Let's just be honest with ourselves. These ingredients are cheaper, easier to purchase, allow for competitive pricing, AND the FDA says they're safe. Perhaps most disturbing, I know this...I have daughters. And they have started to experiment with makeup, creams, moisturizers, cleansers, etc. Hell, my youngest has been obsessed with lip gloss since she was four. So, if companies are not being responsible, I need to know that.

Now, you're probably wondering, "how many do I use?" I wondered too. And so I counted.

Disclosure: Ok, so listen. Here at Monocacy Soap Company, we do not make all skincare products. I am, in no way, attempting to encourage you to replace ALL of your products with ours. In fact, as you can plainly see from the information listed below, I buy cosmetics and other skincare products. Also, aside from using the products that Monocacy Soap Company sells, about 10 months ago I "cleaned up" my daily beauty routine with more natural body care products. I am including two investigations/calculations in the information that follows, one from my routine before switching + without using MSC products, and one from the routine that I use currently. This way, you can get a good idea for which total number would be closer to what you use. And, only because I was curious, the calculations also include an "all products" number that I apply to my skin over the course of a typical day.

Collecting Data: First and foremost, for liability reasons I am not going to include the brand(s) of the product(s). You'll just have to take my word for it. Why? Because I like our company and I'd like to keep it. Next, not all chemicals are synthetic, and not all "natural" chemicals are good for you either. I will include all of the "not-so-good-for-you" chemical amounts regardless of "natural" or synthetic, based off of personal research of each of the chemicals.

Daily Routine: Harmful/Synthetic Chemical Ingredients

"Less Natural" Beauty Routine

"More Natural" Beauty Routine

Product

# Chemicals

Additional Notes

Product

# Chemicals

Additional Notes

Face Products

Face Products

Soap/Beauty Bar

13

*contains sulfates, parabens, phthalates, etc.

Soap

0

*MSC product

Moisturizer

28

 

Hydrating Crm.

3

 

Foundation

17

* contains sulfates, parabens, phthalates, etc.

Foundation

0

 

Bronzer

14

* contains sulfates, parabens, phthalates, etc.

Bronzer

13

 

Blush

20

 

Blush

7

 

Highlighter

12

 

Highlighter

12

 

Eye Shadow

10

 

Eye Shadow

10

 

Eye Liner

18

* contains sulfates, parabens, phthalates, etc.

Eye Liner

0

 

Mascara

25

 

Mascara

17

 

Lipstick

21

 

Lip Balm

0

*MSC product

Makeup Remover

11

 

Makeup Wipes

5

 

Body Products

Body Products

Deodorant

15

*butane, synthetic vitamin e, isobutene, AND propane...I wish I was joking here!

Deodorant

0

*MSC product

Perfume

17

 

Perfume Oil

0

*Essential Oil/Carrier Oil blend

Shampoo

31

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Wash

13

 

Conditioner

27

 

Whipped Body Butter

0

*MSC product

Lotion

27

 

 

 

 

Totals:

 

Face Products

189

 

Face Products

67

 

Body Products

117

 

Body Products

13

 

All Products

306

 

All Products

80

 

 

Here it is. Before renovating my beauty routine to more "natural" skincare products, I was using AT LEAST 300 synthetic/harmful ingredients on my skin every day. Do you ever reapply your lipstick, your deodorant, your lotion, etc.? If so, count on a much higher number. Another side note, the FDA does NOT require companies to list ingredients of proprietary blends of fragrances on ingredient panels OR those that make up less than 1% of a product's composition. SO...there's that. And now you can tack up to another 100, or so, ingredients to the total number, depending on the products that you use. According to the Bionsen study, the "515" chemicals/day was said to be used on the average woman's face. Although I think I may have initially been slightly lower than average, it is not hard to see how this would be possible.

Alrighty, so that is a Debbie Downer. I was secretly hoping that the "515 chemicals" number was WAY too high. The good news is this... it looks like I am down to about 80 synthetic/harmful chemicals per day. This is incredibly lower than what it used to be before switching to better and more ingredient-aware skincare products. The "zeros" are a HUGE help, and yet another reason why we do what we do here.

Some advice if you would like to count your own synthetic ingredient number. 1) Don't be discouraged by INCI names on the products. They look confusing. But, if you're not sure if it is natural or synthetic, just google that little bugger. Beware, some ingredients come in both forms (ex. tocopherol; which is vitamin E, can also be tocopheryl , which is synthetic...yup, they really do that...a LOT!) 2) Understand that if you typically apply something more than once/often, feel free to include that in the calculation. 3) It may take a while, at first. Until you get a handle on what is synthetic and what is not, you may be googling a bit. Here's the kicker...once you spend the time doing the research, now you will know which ingredients to keep an eye out for.

I will leave you on this lighthouse-sized beacon of positivity. Synthetic-free skincare product companies are gaining in popularity. Not only can you search for them online, but we are starting to see a variety of them pop up in some of our favorite retail stores. (I was shocked to see one of the "online only" makeup products that I use now available at Target). Aside from online, Ulta and Sephora are two of my favorite places to find good, quality products. But, keep an eye on the labels. They, too, have a good bit of the primarily-synthetic skincare items. Switching over can be expensive. No one says you have to do it all at once. Start with your highest-number of synthetics-product, or the one(s) you used most often, and work your way down. Like it too much to get rid of it? Don't. I love my highlighter. I know it has 13 synthetic ingredients in it. But my soap, my body butter, my eyeliner, my foundation, my perfume oil, my deodorant, and my lip balm don't have ANY in them. I feel like I've earned a little back. (Provided it doesn't have those pesky parabens or sulfates. That crap'll kill ya.) Need another tidbit of product advice? Sign up for one of those monthly subscription boxes... Ipsy, Birchbox, and any other that allow you to fill out the personalized questionnaire. Fill that puppy out and be sure to include a quick line about wanting to try more natural, organic, or Earth-loving products. Most boxes include sample-sized products, but it will be enough to try each one out before spending the dough on the larger products (and most give you discounts on a full size).

There you have it. 515 chemicals on the average woman's face/body a day is perfectly plausible. Know your ingredients and shop around. You only get one skin. Love it. Cherish it. Respect it. And, for the love of all that is holy, take good care of it.