Our beauty regimens may be poison -- and I don't mean the expensive perfume of that name. Revelations of toxic ingredients in cosmetics, lotions, nail polishes, shampoos: They lead women to wonder about the safety of stunning.
Being the obsessive individual that I am, I had already swept the cupboards of lethal household chemicals. Now no floor will exude that "sparkling clean" glitter, but at least I might stave off lung cancer. And I no longer have to hold my breath while scrubbing the shower.
A quick Google of "safe cosmetics" led me to Skin Deep, which calls itself a cosmetic safety database and rates everything from Vaseline Petroleum Jelly to the most expensive designer stuff out there. I typed the brand names of what I was using into the search box, confident that the contents of my bathroom cabinet would score well -- after all, I frequented a rather upscale salon for my makeup and skin salves.
I couldn't have been more deluded: As rated on a scale of zero to 10 -- 0-2 being low hazard for health issues, 3-6 moderate and 7-10 high -- it seemed that several of my daily routines could be killing me, even if moderately. Shockingly, all of these products were touted as "pure," "organic" or "natural."
I began to sweat (but discovering my deodorant to be poison, couldn't use it) until I noticed a column that links to a list of products that are safer. Whew. And there it was, a line of perfectly pure facial and body cleansers, toners and vital anti-aging potions. Even the line's name sounded like I'd be showering under a waterfall in the Garden of Eden.
I ordered it all -- facial serums, B5 moisturizers, rejuvenating cleansers and probiotic brighteners. Days later, boxes arrived on my front porch. I tore open the cardboard and unwrapped the recycled paper and Earth-friendly "popcorn" from around the bottles and tubes.
I showered with sunflower body wash, massaged with garnet exfoliant, slathered on intensive body cream, shampooed with desert flower and rinsed with avocado hair conditioner. Then I spritzed my head with B5 hair repair and worked organic aloe gel all over my scalp.
For my face, I followed the five-step fingertip application of mixtures containing adzuki bean, wheat grain, aloe leaf juice and rose-hip-seed oil, topped off with an eye-dropper essence of tamanu nut oil, neroli citrus flower oil, Calendula oil, Carrot CO2 seed and rosemary leaf.
I am sure planet Earth and my appearance are improved under my resolve to clear my skin of sinful ingredients. There is just one problem: I emerge from bathroom ablutions smelling like compost! If my new aura were vanilla, cinnamon or eau de apple pie, that would be one thing -- they say men go mad over insinuations of something baking in the oven. But vegetable oils? I'm not sure this will go over in tight elevator quarters or while dancing cheek to cheek.
There is one species with which I remain popular: My dogs come running and proceed to madly lick my legs and leap for my no-longer-rough but refuse-ready complexion. They follow me wherever I go, hot on the oil-extract scent trail, and what sloppy slurps they manage to get in may actually help exfoliate, since their tongues are like sandpaper. It won't kill me -- after all, it's only natural.
Kathleen Clary Miller is the author of 200 essays and stories that have appeared in Newsweek, the L.A. Times, Orange County Register, Orange Coast Magazine, Missoula Living and the Christian Science Monitor. She lives in Huson, Mont.
My Turn is a forum for readers to recount an experience or air an opinion related to health or fitness. Submissions are subject to editing and condensation and become the property of The Times.