If you're one of those ladies who won't so much as peek out the window without your foundation, powder, eyeliner and lip stain on, you may want to rethink your morning ritual. When you go without makeup, you rid yourself of toxic chemicals and possibly spare animals from slaughter or cruel testing practices. I know it may seem impossible to feel like yourself without your fave rose-tinted gloss, but trust me—once you feel the freedom of the au naturel life, you may begin to dread gunking your face up with all of those products. And in reality, cosmetics may be hiding your true beauty, not creating it.
1. Disease-causing chemicals - Parabens, which are in 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics on the market, act like female hormones and are linked to breast cancer. Why would you want these anywhere near your skin? Other yucky makeup ingredients include formaldehyde, also linked to cancer, phthalates, which interfere with reproductive hormones and are linked to birth defects, and heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Considering many of these toxins spawn from the Earth, looking for "all natural" cosmetics isn't really enough to ensure safety.
2. The seeping effect - What goes on your skin stays on your skin, right? Well, not exactly. When you slather lotions and creams onto your body's surface, they have a tendency to work their way inward. According to the Environmental Working Group, many cosmetics and beauty products have "penetration enhancers" to push ingredients deeper into your tissues. Some fragrances in such products are linked to low birth weight in infants and sperm damage in men. Furthermore, you're probably inhaling traces of your powders and sprays, and ingesting any cosmetics that spread to your lips or the hands you use to eat with.
3. Animal products - Love birds and other critters? Look out for emu oil, fish bladders, snails and whale extracts in your favorite cosmetics. Many animal products hide behind names like pristane, nucleic acids, guanine and dozens of others, so you'd never know where they came from.
4. Lack of FDA approval - Even if you do all your homework and shell out for chemical-free, nontoxic cosmetics, there's no real way to ensure the safety of whatever it is you're slathering all over your face. That's because the Food and Drug Administration does not have jurisdiction over most cosmetics, so these products are simply not tested for safety. In fact, the only beauty product the FDA usually gets involved with is hair dye. While makeup manufacturers are forbidden by law to add certain poisons, regulation is particularly lax in this industry.
5. You may get your self-esteem back - If you're using makeup as a literal mask to hide yourself from the world, removing the layer may help restore your self image and make you feel pretty again. Don't be afraid to get out there and expose yourself the way that nature intended—you might learn that people don't just value you for your jet-black eyelashes or well-controlled shine, but will adore you when you present yourself as just you.
image: Robert Bejil Photography