While I am an avid label reader and science nerd, trying to understand the confusing words on packaging is hard. Enter There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, which serves as a perfect entrance into figuring out what is actually in the products your using and how to avoid the toxins.
Would you ever imagine that there are harmful chemicals in the products you rub on your face every day, the things you wash with, what you brush your teeth with, or fix your hair with? I think the majority of people, including myself, probably wouldn’t. You would assume that there is some kind of governing body somewhere ensuring harmful toxins are not put in things we use. Unfortunately, it isn’t really the case (while there are bodies, they’re not as protective as you would hope) and the biggest lesson you will learn from There’s Lead in Your Lipstick is that you have to be your own advocate.
Of course, there are some chemicals banned for use in cosmetics but that doesn’t mean that what’s allowed in cosmetics is perfectly safe. Far from it. Luckily for those living in the EU, we appear to have stricter regulations that those in the US and Canada, but again it still doesn’t mean we are actually being protected from things that can cause us harm. (And with the whole Brexit debacle, who knows what kind of laws products will or won’t have to comply with.)
Additionally, the ease of internet shopping might mean that by buying from abroad you’re exposing yourself to ingredients which are banned in your own country. Coal tar is one example. The known carcinogen is banned in the EU but is still allowed in products in the US, where it might be found in anti-dandruff shampoo, hair dye, and soaps.
I have found switching to a toxin-free lifestyle quite overwhelming, but Deacon’s book is the ideal accomplice. She explains the issues with each toxin and what it might also be referred to as on the label, in a really easy to understand way. I was half expecting There’s Lead in Your Lipstick to be a bit of a dry, textbook-style, read but it was far from it; it was equal parts interesting and horrifying. Her writing style is quite conversational, and I finished it off on my flight home because I just could not put it down.
As well as explaining some of the key ingredients to avoid (and giving a handy list of 20 things you really need to avoid), Deacon explains how to avoid them by including DIY recipes and lists of companies and products which are toxin free. Knowing what to do instead definitely takes away from some of the feeling of being overwhelmed because you feel like you’re armed with solutions and starting points. (And believe me, you will feel a little overwhelmed and want to throw away a large chunk of the stuff in your bathroom.) Note that this book does not detail every single ingredient you shouldn’t avoid, though I’d kinda like that book.
The book is split up into sections dealing with different kinds of products, such as hair, face, hands and feet. Two of the best sections are definitely the ones which teach you how to understand labels and deals with the issues with companies being able to use the words “natural” or “organic” pretty liberally without very strict guidelines.
It is sad that it’s surprisingly difficult to buy toxin free products in on the high street (how did the world come to this?). I have a few recipes or products saved on Pinterest but it can be tricky to keep going back to different pages and trying to remember where I saved something, so I like knowing I can pick up this book and flick to the section I need easily.
I wish books like this didn’t need to exist, but with the plethora of chemicals we’re exposed to every day without really realising it, and no one knowing the accumulative and combined issues they can cause over time, books like this are important. If you read one non-fiction book this summer, heck even this year, let it be There’s Lead in Your Lipstick.
I would like to point out that the products in the main photograph are not all toxin free, and NARS are no longer cruelty free either.
If you’ve read this, what did you think of it? Do you have any recommendations?