I have been doing so much research this past year while writing my book, The Menopocalypse, and some of it is just too interesting not to share. One of the studies I looked at questioned if the high levels of chemicals, specifically phthalates , can be harmful to our endocrine (hormonal) system.
Let’s look at the daily habits of most women. We put on makeup first thing in the morning, spray our hair with hairspray and stick on our false eyelashes (well I would if I actually had the dexterity to do it!) then we leave that stuff on all day, taking it off at the end of our workday or bedtime, in addition to that we might re-apply cosmetics throughout the day. Well it might not be your habit, but it pretty much mirrors what I do, and while delving deep into the research I found it quite alarming to think that the simple things such as makeup and cosmetics – which we use so often – might have many negative side effects that we are not even aware of. Could something like this really have such a dramatic effect such as leading to early menopause? As I have mentioned so many times, menopause is not always a fun time of our life and I want to do anything I can to make this time smooth sailing, which means that I am looking for products that I should avoid while looking for a suitable alternative. You can read more about which non-chemical-based supplements can offer relief from the Review Critic website .
What Do Studies Show?
Recent studies have shown that women who have high levels of chemicals in their bodies can experience menopause three to five years earlier than women who don’t have that many toxins in their systems. One study was carried out at Washington University with Natalia Grindler as the lead author of the study. She and her colleagues examined the levels of phthalates in the urine or blood of 5,700 women. The women with the highest amounts of phthalates were found to go through menopause around 2.3 years before the other women who did not have high levels of phthalates in their bodies.
They found that the following chemicals might also be interfering with your hormones:
- Dioxins – many cosmetic ingredients contain dioxins.
- Phthalates – found in cosmetic products such as perfumes, lotions, makeup, hair sprays and nail polish.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls – chemicals used in lubricants, insulating materials and coolants.
- Phenols – found in toothpaste, hand soap, sunscreen and lotions.
- Surfactants – found in liquid soaps, body washes and cleansers.
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – present in some hair dyes and shampoos.
These are all chemicals that are known to be hormone disruptors – they tend to interfere with how estrogen functions in the body. Studies have shown that women with high levels of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals are 6 times as likely to be menopausal and that these chemicals definitely have a negative effect on hormonal health.
What To Know About Early Menopause And The Effect Of Chemicals
Early menopause at times can be physically and mentally draining, but it can also put you at risk for health problems such as depression, neurological diseases, heart disease, painful intercourse and osteoporosis. Chemicals may also affect the ovaries which cause a drop in estrogen. Chemicals like phthalates have been linked to other issues such as asthma and diabetes. Researchers further noted that chemicals might even affect women’s fertility as it affects the maturation of the egg and therefore also increases birth defects, and while that stat may not specifically apply to you, it is concerning to hear. It is very interesting to note that women have much higher levels of these chemicals than men – this might be because of the number of cosmetic products women tend to use.
Richard Bence, a biochemist who has spent three years researching conventional products, said: “We really need to start questioning the products we are putting on our skin and not just assume that the chemicals in them are safe.”
The research isn’t conclusive and there will be more studies done in the future I am sure, but where possible if you can use something safer on your body, why wouldn’t you? So if you’re not ready to go completely without makeup or cosmetics yet, what else is there to do? Fortunately, there are many alternatives to harmful chemical cosmetics. There are many cosmetic brands that make use of only natural ingredients derived from mineral and plant-based sources. If you start using only natural cosmetics, it will not only benefit your hormones, but it will also be less harsh on your skin as conventional makeup products tend to dry out your skin which can be avoided when using natural, gentler alternatives. Some women during menopause also become more sensitive to the fragrances of makeup and cosmetic products which may also lead to you breathing in chemicals throughout the day, leading to nausea, headaches and even allergies.
Make Your Own
Over the last year I have made a few small changes to my skincare regimen. I do still use products with chemicals in, but not as often as before and most days now I wear very little makeup but most of it is made with natural ingredients. What I have started to do is make some of my own products and I love them. Here are some ideas for you to try.
- Coconut Oil – I use this as a base for my deodorant and sometimes as a moisturiser, though I don’t love the smell.
- Shea Butter – really nourishing for the skin, improves acne, acts as a natural antibacterial and anti-aging agent, prevents stretch marks and has an SPF of 5.
- Cocoa Butter
- Beeswax has a honey scent and is also a great thickening agent. It can be used in foot cream, lip balm, lotion bars. I love anything with bee products involved, they are so good for you.
- Liquid Carrier Oil – almond oil, olive oil and apricot kernel oil can be used for liquid products such as lotions, salves and baby oil.
- Arrowroot Powder – helps with the thickening for deodorant, dry shampoo and baby powder.
- Essential Oils – gives a wonderful natural scent to beauty products and some can even lift your mood. Sandalwood, orange, lemon, lavender and mint works great with many products.
- Dried Herbs – lavender, peppermint, chamomile and calendula are ideal for skin care recipes.
- Sugar – for sugar scrubs.
- Zinc Oxide – for sunscreens and diaper cream.
- Salt – for skin exfoliation and hairspray.
- Baking Soda – for deodorant.
- Coconut Milk – for shampoo.
Here is my favourite recipe for making your own deodorant from my friend Susannah Spearin. I make a batch of this and it lasts me about 6 months and it really works.
So what do you think? Have you started to reduce the amount of chemicals you use in products? I am really interested in your opinion.