As an avid wet shaver and a huge advocate of natural and/or organic products, I was more than pleased when I recently came across your post regarding the myriad of potential toxins in shaving cream. Still, it made me realize that there is still much the average man doesn’t know when it comes to all the possible ways in which our daily grooming routines could actually be causing us harm. While the previous poster rightly pointed out many of the potentially harmful substances that might be in your shaving cream, the problem goes much deeper than most guys know—and it is for this reason that I decided to share with you, my fellow Sharpologist readers, a bit of my expertise on the subject in an effort to show you why avoiding chemicals whenever possible is one of the smartest moves you can make.
My Natural Journey: From Necessity to Choice
As someone with overly sensitive skin, I’ve always tended to stick to the more natural shaving soaps, lotions, deodorants and other grooming products are they tend to be much less harsh on my skin. Although I’ve obviously been forced to use those cheap canned shaving foams and other synthetic, chemically laced products from time to time when I was in a pinch, they’ve generally always had the same results—leaving with me dry, itchy skin; rashes; or in one extreme case, even causing me to break out in hives.
For me, the choice to stay away from synthetic chemicals in my grooming products wasn’t born out of any concern for my health, and it definitely wasn’t about protecting the environment. No, for me the decision was purely based on the negative reactions those products caused to my skin—whether it be deodorant causing painful rashes under my arms or canned shaving foams that made me look like a red, blotchy teenager for days. That all changed around five years ago when I met my girlfriend though, as she exposed me to the darker side of those chemicals that most Americans remain blissfully unaware of.
You see, my girlfriend is European, and generally speaking, Europeans tend to be much better informed about these things than those of us from the other side of the pond. It also didn’t hurt that she happened to have studied Cell Biology and Environmental Chemistry at one of the top universities in Europe, which obviously gave her a unique insight into all of the potential dangers and damage these various man-made chemicals can cause to both our bodies and the environment. Upon learning a bit from her, I began conducting my own research into potentially dangerous chemicals and how they are regulated both in the US and the rest of the world, and since that time, I’ve made it my mission to try to educate men on the subject as the results are all quite horrifying.
America vs. The World, or How the FDA is Endangering Your Health
There is no doubt that man-made chemicals have made many significant contributions to humanity, especially in the field of medicine, where it easily can be said that they have allowed for major breakthroughs that have improved both the quality and length of our short lives. On the other hand, there is still much that we don’t know about many of these chemicals—especially the potentially negative effects that they have on our bodies.
As the previous post said, the US Food and Drug Administration plays virtually no role in regulating the use of synthetic chemicals within the cosmetics industry; basically allowing the companies to use whatever chemicals they see fit. While this really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone even slightly familiar with the way lobbying works in this country, it is still a worrying trend, and one that goes against what most of the rest of the world is now doing.
One obvious example is parabens, a group of chemicals previously written about here back in 2012. Much has changed since that post was written however, as since that time numerous countries have been working towards a comprehensive ban on parabens. Countries like Denmark have also banned their use in children’s products due to the health risks, and yet in the US, parabens are still considered safe in concentrations up to 25%, a heck of a lot higher than the 0.08% allowed in much of the rest of the world. Still, parabens are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dangerous chemicals found in the majority of US cosmetics, shaving and grooming products. Deodorants, lotions, shaving cream, soap, shampoo, even toothpaste—all of them may contain a variety of chemicals that research has shown to be potentially hazardous to your health.
By continuing to give the cosmetics industry carte blanche over chemicals, it seems that the FDA is saying that profits are more important than the continued health of our population.
So, with the government seemingly unwilling to step up and push back against the onrushing tide of potentially harmful chemicals flooding our cosmetics and thus our bodies and the environment, it is left up to the little guys like you and me to get the word out. Perhaps if more of us start putting our foot down, both the FDA and the wider cosmetics industry will get the hint and realize we’re serious about protecting ourselves against the potential harm these chemicals are causing. And just what is the potential harm you may be asking? Well, to make it simple for you, myself and the rest of the guys over at Prim&Prep created an infographic listing 10 of the worst chemical offenders. As well, it illustrates just how far the US is behind the rest of the world when it comes to regulating or banning the use of these chemicals
When the majority of the rest of the Western world has determined these chemicals are unsafe and have taken steps to either drastically limit or completely prevent their use in cosmetics, we really should be asking ourselves why companies in North America and elsewhere are allowed to continue to use them?
Of course, there’s obviously no way you can totally avoid exposure to chemicals, as virtually everything in our modern world uses them in some capacity—and if we’re being totally honest, there’s also no reason you even need to totally avoid them, as the vast majority are not harmful. However, if you value your health and that of your loved ones, you’ll probably agree after seeing the evidence in the infographic that there are some that are best to steer clear from, and until the FDA starts falling in line with the rest of the world, the only way to do this is by being an informed consumer that chooses the natural option whenever possible.