Friday, January 21, 2011

No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt

No More Dirty Looks: the Truth About Your Beauty Products - and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics has a waitlist 3 people deep. So forgive me for posting about a book that may not see a shelf till spring. I got interested in the topic after I heard about a study that showed mothers and their newborn babies testing positive for hundreds of chemicals. That's when I threw out my nail polish and got this book for my Kindle, just in case it turned out to be written by nutcases, which it wasn't, so I got a copy for the library. (I also remembered, somewhere in the back of my mind, reading that some dermatologist in a fashion magazine I read wore "medical-grade" sunblock - probably for reasons that become apparent when you read this book.)

No More Dirty Looks' basic premise is that our skin is absorbent (try googling salicylic acid poisoning if you're skeptical about that) and that since the industry is barely regulated, it's a buyer beware kind of situation. On a positive note, the authors swear that switching to clean cosmetics will actually make you look better, since the chemicals added to a lot of products to make them last longer on shelves are harsh on skin and hair. And some of the information is surprising: on a list of ingredients, "fragrance" is bad - because it could be anything - and the weird chemical in self-tanner that turns your skin brown is actually safe.

Some the advice is borderline humorous - like applying a homemade baking-soda deodorant several times a day - but a lot of it is doable. I am planning to switch to a nontoxic lotion and shampoo once I run out of my current stuff. I've already switched from liquid soap to a bar, which doesn't have preservatives, and I wear gloves when washing dishes (one of the ingredients - DCDM hydantoin - in the dish soap I use releases formaldehyde.) The authors tested a lot of clean products and recommend particular brands of every type of product imaginable.

If you can't wait for your turn to read the book, Skin Deep has a shopper's guide to safe cosmetics and sunblock recommendations for 2010.

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