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Why Switch to 'Clean' Makeup

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT PARABENS?

Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

When it comes to health information, there can be a lot of contradictions and confusion. We start hearing words like "parabens" mentioned frequently, but if we don't have a clear understanding of what they are, how they harm us or how to avoid them, we are unable to do anything to protect ourselves. In Byrdie's article, I Switched to Nontoxic Makeup—and Learned Some Alarming Things in the Process, Kat Collings breaks down what is so bad about the chemicals in our makeup and tells her story of switching to entirely non-toxic products.

"Parabens are synthetic chemicals that are used as preservatives in a variety of products, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food."
—Kat Collings

Making the switch over to non-toxic makeup was on my to-do list. The priority level was somewhere between learning how to bake Instagram-worthy cakes and figuring out how to invest in cryptocurrencies. There was a lot of me thinking "Yeah, I should do that. Maybe on a weekend? Will probably take some research, time, and money"—aka, not happening any time soon. That is, until I went on a wellness trip to Palm Springs with Net-a-Porter. The retailer has gotten behind the clean beauty category in a big way, and over the course of the weekend I was introduced to several of the brands that would kick start my non-toxic beauty journey.

But first, a little background about toxic beauty: It's been hypothesized that parabens—a group of ingredients prevalent in cosmetics in the United States—likely disrupt the endocrine system since at least 2003. This is a particularly terrifying notion when you consider most people start wearing makeup around puberty, when the endocrine system really kicks into high gear.

In 2013, a 3-day study called HERMOSA was done by researchers at U.C. Berkeley, in which they asked 1,000 girls from Latin backgrounds from the California town of Salinas to use cosmetics without potential endocrine disruptors. These included parabens, phthalates, triclosan, and oxybenzone (the final ingredient will be addressed more later.) The researchers provided the cosmetics to the girls. At the end of the study, they found that there was a 25-45% decrease in the presence of endocrine disruptive chemicals in the girls' urine. So regardless of what you believe these products do to your endocrine system, you can't pretend that cosmetic products don't make a difference.

READ MORE: I Switched to Nontoxic Makeup—and Learned Some Alarming Things in the Process

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