Category Archives: Health and Beauty

4 ways to practice hygge

Create a cozy atmosphere

“Danes are obsessed with interior design because our homes are our hygge headquarters,” says Wiking. The one thing every hygge home needs? A “hyggekrog,” or a cozy nook where you might enjoy your coffee and newspaper. You can also bring hygge to your space through candlelight, nature, and rich textures. “Danes feel the need to bring the entire forest inside—leaves, nuts, twigs, animal skins,” says Wiking. “Letting your fingers run across a wooden table or a warm ceramic cup is a distinctly different feeling from being in contact with something made from steel, glass or plastic.” In other words, log cabin chic has hygge written all over it.

Stock a self-care emergency kit

Instead of coming home after a particularly rough day and veging out in front of Netflix, try a self-care ritual that increases the R&R you get from your downtime. Wiking recommends creating a kit that contains comfort things like candles, quality chocolate, herbal tea, a soft blanket, warm wool socks, a page-turner, or a notebook and pen, or a photo album. All of these things allow you to wind down in a more mindful way.

Start a new tradition with people you love

Togetherness is a big part of the hygge concept. To facilitate more time with friends and family, create a new tradition that involves a hygge activity (that is, one that encourages everyone to connect and feel comfortable). That could mean organizing a game night, renting a cabin, going apple-picking, or taking a ski trip. “Any meaningful activity that unites the group will knit everyone more tightly together over the years,” says Wiking. “Hygge is making the most of the moment, but it’s also a way of planning for and preserving happiness. Danes plan for hygge times and reminisce about them afterwards.”

ways to take control of your chronic illness

Over 133 million people in America have at least one chronic illness. And that’s not counting the many people, especially young people, who suffer from undiagnosed conditions. Feeling sick or taking heavy-duty medication has become the new normal.

That was my situation. Starting in my mid-teens I started having debilitating back pain. My body, once very active, felt like it was failing me. There was no diagnosis and no one could tell me the root cause of the pain, so I was prescribed painkillers and muscle relaxers to ease my suffering. I endured two “perfect storms” of illness that progressed into my twenties. It earned me the label “the sick chick”… and the pain, shame, fear, isolation, and frustration that came with it. While on vacation seven years ago, I got a parasite infection (along with having undiagnosed celiac disease and a thyroid condition) and had a total system shut down. I gained 30 pounds in 30 days, couldn’t go to the bathroom or keep any solid food down, came home, and wound up in the hospital and in my childhood bed for over a month.

Up until this point I had always allowed others to make all of my health decisions for me, and looked to others for all of the answers, but now I knew I had to get in the driver’s seat and get myself well or I would never live the kind of life I wanted.

I did a lot of research, started to really think outside the box, found a team of specialists who best supported me, and started a journey of healing. One of the most important things I realized was that while traditional medicine is so important, it’s only part of the equation. I have radically improved my health and it has completely changed my life. I became a health coach – a bridge between a doctor and patient – and wrote a book to give others who are dealing with chronic conditions the insight I learned and the amazing advice I received from some of the top doctors and specialists in the country.

1. Be Your Own Best Advocate.

No one knows your body better than you do. You must become an educated health consumer. Find out as much as you can about your condition. Don’t be intimidated and don’t stop asking thoughtful questions.

2. Set Up Your “A” Team

Just because some doctors might be the “best,” they may not be the best for you. Start to ask yourself what you need in a partner who can help you get and stay well. Partnership is a key to healing, and you want to find someone who can handle the complexity of chronic health conditions and understands that medicine isn’t the only thing that will get you on the road to health.

3. Self-Care is Health Care.

Setting up personal self-care rituals are the bedrock of your well-being. They help to keep you centered, calm and in a healthy routine. A few examples of these rituals could be meditation, a hot bath at the end of a long day, and journaling in the morning to set your mind right.

4. Food is Medicine.

Food has the ability to change your body and the way you feel. When you fuel your system properly, it alters your health on a cellular level. Fill your grocery cart with organic dark leafy greens, fresh fruit, clean proteins, and healthy fats. Fresh is best.

tricks to optimize your chances of getting pregnant

1. Pull the goalie

As always, let’s start with the obvious: If you are on birth control, get off it. Work with your doctor to take you off birth control and ask her when you can expect to begin ovulating again, which has a great deal to do with the type of birth control you were taking. You might begin to ovulate immediately, or it could take several months for your body to adjust and produce its own monthly cycle. (If you were using Depo-Provera, it could be even longer—but not necessarily. Don’t assume anything!) If you are using an IUD for contraception, you will have to have it removed by your doctor, and as soon as it’s taken out, your body is ready to conceive. If you have been using some type of barrier method (condoms, diaphragm, or spermicide), the presumption is that you are fertile as long as you don’t use them.

Many people come off their longer-term contraceptives and use barrier methods until they’re truly ready to conceive.

No matter which goalie you’d previously employed, don’t panic if you don’t get pregnant right away. Just gives you more time to prepare your body!

2. Quit smoking. NOW.

Seriously. If you smoke or your partner smokes, stop immediately. I know, easier said than done, but I don’t care. Get it done. Dying isn’t easy, either. If by some miracle you did manage to get pregnant as a smoker (amazingly, it happens), you do not want your little one subjected to the hideous toxins in womb or out. And if you are thinking, “I’ll smoke up till I get pregnant and then stop,” smoking seriously impacts your fertility as well as your partner’s. There is no debate about this. In men, nicotine damages sperm DNA. In women, smoking cigarettes while trying to conceive radically decreases your chances of getting pregnant while also increasing your risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, decreased follicle count, and potential damage to DNA in the follicle.

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, an ob-gyn in private practice in Beverly Hills, says that smoking also causes fetal growth restriction and placental dysfunction—yikes! Some estimate that every year you smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day ages your ovaries 4 years. Smokers are more than 50 percent more likely to wait a year or longer to get pregnant than non-smokers. Thankfully, some of these effects can partially reverse themselves once you stop smoking. Did I say STOP NOW yet? Well, I’m saying it again!

Honestly, my friend—you just need to cold turkey this one. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but all that crap is really bad for you. Ask yourself what’s more important—your life and your kid or your smokes? Thought so. Now quit and let’s move on.

3. Cut back on caffeine

If you typically have one or two cups of coffee or tea every day, you are okay. But if you are a heavy caffeine imbiber (through coffee, tea, or yuck, soda, or even worse, diet soda!), you’re going to need to cut back to about 150 milligrams a day, or about one cup of brewed coffee, to improve your fertility. Research has linked excessive caffeine consumption (above 500 mg to 1,000 mg, or four to six strong cups daily) to miscarriage or stillbirth. Other research shows no link, but I suggest erring on the side of caution here. That much caffeine is terrible for you, pregnant or otherwise. Why risk it either way?

What I can say for sure is that caffeine is a diuretic that washes calcium and other key pregnancy nutrients out of your system before they can be completely absorbed. Caffeine is also a stimulant, so it raises your heart rate and can cause insomnia and contribute to heartburn (which is zero fun). None of this is necessary for you right now, and especially not for your baby.

4. Skip the booze

I know, this one really sucks. I hate to be a stickler, but plenty of current research suggests alcohol can affect your fertility. Your partner should take heed on this as well. I know, I read the research that says alcohol in moderation is okay, and I have heard many women talk about how they were drinking up until the day they knew they were pregnant and had no complications with conception or pregnancy whatsoever. I’ve heard the stories about the women who had a beer every night or whose European moms drank wine. Sure, it doesn’t always cause a problem for every person, but some people are more affected by alcohol than others.

5. Get to a healthy weight

Sorry to sound like an insensitive jerk, but your body weight has a direct effect on your ability to conceive, the safety of your pregnancy, and the health of your baby. If you are overweight or obese, now is the time to deal, not after you are already pregnant. I know this isn’t easy. For some people, it seems like an impossibility. However, if you never had the motivation before, this could be what finally helps you make it happen for yourself.

male immune cells are from Mars and female cells are from Venus | Why ?

Michigan State University researchers are the first to uncover reasons why a specific type of immune cell acts very differently in females compared to males while under stress, resulting in women being more susceptible to certain diseases.

The novel finding could be considered a good example of the pop culture metaphor that men and women are from two distinct planets and respond very differently under stressful situations.

Led by Adam Moeser, an endowed chair and associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the federally funded study found that females were more vulnerable to certain stress-related and allergic diseases than males because of distinct differences found in mast cells, a type of white blood cell that’s part of the immune system.

“Over 8,000 differentially expressed genes were found in female mast cells compared to male mast cells,” Moeser said. “While male and female mast cells have the same sets of genes on their chromosomes, with the exception of the XY sex chromosomes, the way the genes act vary immensely between the sexes.”

The study is co-authored by Emily Mackey, a doctoral student in veterinary medicine, and is published in the journal Biology of Sex Differences.

Mast cells are an important immune cell because they play a key role in stress-related health issues that are typically more common in women such as allergic disorders, autoimmune diseases, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

IBS, for example, is a disorder in the intestine that creates significant abdominal pain and affects almost a quarter of the U.S. population. Women are up to four times more likely to have it than men.

A further in-depth analysis of the genes within the RNA genome — a primary building block in all forms of life — revealed an increase in activity that’s linked to the production and storage of inflammatory substances. These substances can create a more aggressive response in the body and result in disease.

“This could explain why women, or men, are more or less vulnerable to certain types of diseases,” Moeser said.

With this new understanding of how different genes act, Moeser said scientists could eventually start developing new sex-specific treatments that target these immune cells and stop the onset of disease.

He added though that an important next step in his research is figuring out when in the development stage these immune cells start to act differently.

“Pinpointing when this variance happens will let us know if it occurs during adulthood or in individuals at an early age,” Moeser said. “Many mast cell diseases exhibit a sex bias in children and if we can identify the timing and the mechanism of what’s influencing the change, we’ll have an even better understanding of how these immune cells cause disease and know when to intervene with potentially new therapies.”

Ways to Boost Women’s Health

Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.

If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.

Health Tip #2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

Health Tip #3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).

Health Tip #4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

Health Tip #5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skincancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.

The reason to rethink getting a Brazilian wax

Forget the basic bikini wax. The Brazilian wax— which entails removing all of the hair down there (even between the cheeks!)— has become as standard a rite of summer for some women as spray tans and pedicures.

In fact, many of us wouldn’t dare to slip into a swimsuit before enduring the 30 or so minutes of physical torture it takes to achieve the sexy, sleek, “clean” look and feel that a Brazilian offers. No question, the salon treatment is popular and even aesthetically pleasing— but is it healthy?

Being bare may seem more hygienic than sporting a full bush, but actually, the opposite is true. “We have pubic hair for a reason,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, a dermatologist in Briarcliff Manor, NY and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City. “It acts as a shield against bacteria, allergens, and other unwanted pathogens.” Stripping away that natural barrier puts you at higher risk of irritation or infection in the vaginal area, Dr. Bowe explains. (And there are more germs than you even want to know about lurking in sand, salt water, and the community pool.)

The best way to go bare

We get it, though: An untamed nether region doesn’t exactly complement that itty-bitty bikini you just bought. So if you’re not going to forgo waxing altogether, what’s the best solution? Dr. Bowe recommends leaving a small triangle of hair behind instead of removing every single strand. Commonly known as the triangle trim, this style leaves you just the right balance between protecting your vajayjay and keeping your bikini line looking hair-free when you’re sporting a swimsuit.

Ready to try the triangle trim? Follow these ladyscaping secrets to make your wax-perience as quick, safe and painless as possible:

Prepare for takeoff

Trim hair to half an inch before your appointment; any longer or shorter, and the wax may not be able to grip properly. Find a salon that uses hard wax, which adheres to the hair— not the skin— better than the soft kind, removing more of the “ouch” factor along with the unwanted fuzz.

Make it last

“Over-waxing can destroy the hair canal, leading to permanent ingrowns,” Dr. Bowe says. Aim to go six weeks between waxes, maintaining the triangle shape in between by shaving. Try the new Schick Hydro Silk TrimStyle ($16, walgreens.com) for total convenience— it combines a hair trimmer and razor in one tiny gadget.

Get a sleeker shave

For the closest cut, first run the razor in the direction of growth and then against. Another perk: “Stubble will grow in much thinner with this back-and-forth technique,” Dr. Bowe notes. Make sure to rinse the razor after every pass so it’s not blocked by hairs stuck between the blades.

Banish the bumps

If you’re prone to ingrown hairs, reach for pads or scrubs with salicylic acid two days after waxing or shaving (use them too soon and you may feel your still-sensitive skin start to burn). These gently exfoliate, allowing hair to grow back free and clear of dead skin cells and dirt so it doesn’t loop back on itself and create painful bumps. One product to try: Completely Bare Bikini Bump Blaster Pads ($9, ulta.com).

Wash wisely

One of the biggest mistakes women make is over-washing the vaginal area, says Dr. Bowe: Too much scrubbing and using too many products can irritate the delicate skin there and even lead to infection. Add waxing to that equation and you’re just cruising for a world of hurt down there. Use only a mild soap, like Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Antibacterial Bar ($5, drugstore.com), or even just water to clean the vulva (e.g. your external genitalia). No need to get all up inside of your vagina proper; it naturally self-cleans.

How to get rid of back acne

You may not know you have it, or you might be painfully, embarrassingly aware. But the fact of the matter is that back acne (a.k.a. bacne) is extremely common, especially in the summertime.

Think about it: You sweat more while working out, during the day, and while you sleep at night. Exposure to the sun dries out your skin, creating clogged pores. Worst of all, in the summertime you are more likely to be dehydrated. It’s basically a perfect recipe for breakouts. And this is the time of year when you want to show off your body, not hide it under a shirt at the beach.

Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to prevent and treat the scourge of pimples setting up camp between your shoulder blades. So before you give up hope or rush to a dermatologist, here is your anti-bacne summer checklist:

Do your laundry more often
Because you sweat more, you also need to clean your clothes and your linens more often. So while your sheets may not feel dirty after a week or two, trust us they are. And in the summer you may be more likely sleep in the nude, therefore just rubbing week-old sweat and dead skin back into your pores. Get it? Wash your sheets at least once a week with fragrance-free laundry detergent. Fragrance and other additives can irritate sensitive skin.

If you can’t wash your gym clothes after each use, you can clean them in the shower post-workout and hang them to dry. Make it your mission this summer to treat your skin to freshly laundered fabric.

Beware of too much sun
Overexposure to the sun’s rays dries you out and creates dead, flakey skin. That dead skin clogs the pores on your back and shoulders. This causes pimples. So you should be careful to always use sunscreen and refrain from laying out in the sun too much—it also causes cancer, which you don’t want either.

Choose your grooming products wisely
Speaking of sunscreen, if you are prone to bacne you’ll want to use one that is lightweight, waterproof, and oil free. That way your skin can breathe. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to switch to an oil-free body lotion.

Exfoliate
Probably the most important thing you can do is exfoliate. Whether you use a body scrub, a loofa, or a back brush, it’s an important step in removing the dead skin and bacteria that clogs your pores and creates acne. Do it once a day in the shower for a few minutes at moderate intensity—you’re not trying to remove your skin all together.

Try a medicated body wash
Medicated body wash with salicylic acid and anti-bacterial soaps can do wonders in the fight against bacne. Find one that won’t suck all the moisture out of your skin.

Last, beauty works from the inside, out
Stress and a diet full of garbage can take their toll on your skin. So can excess drinking. It stands to reason that you should therefore drink lots of water, get enough sleep, don’t eat pizza three times a day, and get moderate exercise.

New Bacteria in Tattoo Infections

The infections involved Mycobacterium haemophilum, which usually only strikes individuals whose immune system are compromised. In this instance, however, the patients, both from Seattle, developed rashing despite the fact that both had normal immune systems, a report on the investigation found.

“Two people developed chronic skin infections after receiving tattoos at the same parlor,” explained study lead author Dr. Meagan K. Kay from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The patrons were thought to have been exposed through use of tap water during rinsing and diluting of inks.”

Kay, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC, and her team report their findings in the September issue of the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The authors pointed out that tattooing is not considered a sterile procedure, is not regulated at the federal level and can be risky. And while the specific inks and colorings (pigments) commonly used to apply tattoos are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the rules usually apply only when cosmetics or color additives are involved.

The latest concern about associated infection risk arose in 2009 when a 44-year-old man and a 35-year-old man sought care for skin infections that had developed at the site of tattoos acquired at a facility in the Seattle region.

Lesion cultures and lab testing revealed that M. haemophilum was the culprit in the case of the first patient. Skin evaluations and patient interviews led the researchers to conclude that the second man most probably also suffered from the same sort of bacterial infection, although they technically classified his situation as a “suspected case.”

A follow-up investigation of the tattoo parlor revealed that municipal water had been used to dilute the ink during the tattooing process.

Water is considered to be a source for M. haemophilum. And though the facility was cleared of any safety violations, and no M. haemophilum bacteria was found in analyzed water samples, the tattoo operators were told to use sterile water for all future tattoo applications.

“It is important to remember that tattooing is not a sterile procedure and infections can occur after tattoo receipt,” Kay said. “Measures should be taken by tattoo artists to prevent infections, including proper training, use of sterile equipment, and maintaining a clean facility. Use of tap water during any part of the tattoo procedure should be avoided,” she explained.

“Those who suspect an infection in their tattoo should consult with their doctors,” she added. “Common infections can present as increased redness, warmth, swelling, pain and discharge.”

Myrna L. Armstrong, professor emeritus at the school of nursing at Texas Tech University’s Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, said the investigation serves to highlight the general risks of getting a tattoo.

“This is an invasive procedure. And there’s basically no regulation in force. Or very sporadic regulation. So as someone who’s been looking into tattoos and body piercing for more than 20 years, I would say that it’s really not very surprising that this can happen,” Armstrong said.

“So while I’m not being negative to the industry, I do think that the customer does need to be aware of the situation he or she is getting into,” she added. “Shop around, review people’s techniques, and make sure [you] really want to have this done.”

conditioner really cause hair loss?

Last year, a group of 200 women in 40 states filed a class action lawsuit alleging the cleansing conditioner from Wen by Chaz Dean caused scary side effects, from scalp irritation to hair loss.

On Oct. 31, a federal judge in Los Angeles gave preliminary approval to a $26.3 million settlement for the suit against celebrity stylist Chaz Dean and Wen distributor Guthy-Renker. If approved by a United States district judge, customers who had adverse reactions could receive up to $20,000.

Wen is a leader in the no-shampoo movement. Many women believe that conditioner washing or “co-washing”—using only cleansing conditioner (and no shampoo)—makes their hair feel healthier, softer, and easier to manage.

But the women represented in the lawsuit say they’ve had the opposite experience: They claim Wen’s cleansing condition caused “severe and possibly permanent damage to hair, including significant hair loss to the point of visible bald spots, hair breakage, scalp irritation, and rash.”

“From what we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss is it contains virtually no cleanser,” attorney Amy Davis told CBS. “It’s like using lotion to wash your hair. So instead of removing the product when you rinse it off, it just becomes impacted in your hair follicle.”

The hair-care brand is standing by its products. “Wen by Chaz Dean is safe and we continue to provide our hundreds of thousands of customers with the Wen by Chaz Dean products that they know and love,” the company said in a statement. “Since the process of litigation is time consuming and costly, we made a business decision to pursue a settlement and put this behind us so that we can focus on delivering quality products.”

So, should you hesitate to use a cleansing conditioner like Wen’s?

This question is a tricky one, in part because experts haven’t been able to figure out what, exactly, caused the concerning side effects. When we asked two dermatologists about the lawyer’s description of the Wen product becoming “impacted” in the hair follicle, they both agreed it didn’t make much sense.

“I’m certainly not a legal expert,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. “But since hair grows from the hair follicle—which is under the skin—and not from the surface, I couldn’t really make sense of this lawsuit.” What’s more, she says, if a product doesn’t contain any cleanser, the result would be oily hair: “I can’t see how it would cause hair loss.”

Mary Gail Mercurio, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says the worst side effect she’d expect from a cleansing conditioner would be oily, matted hair that feels weighed-down. “I’d think it might have a negative effect on appearance, but it shouldn’t cause breakage,” she says.

Both doctors felt the lotion analogy Davis used was puzzling, since washing your hair with lotion shouldn’t cause your hair to fall out either. “Dermatologists often prescribe medicines of varying viscosity for the scalp without seeing this phenomenon,” says Dr. Mercurio.

But could the Wen formula contain some kind of depilatory that’s causing the women to lose their hair? Unlikely, according to Dr. Mercurio. “If there were a specific depilatory ingredient in these products, it would affect more women,” she points out. “There are many causes of hair loss. It’s possible that some of these women are sustaining hair loss from a separate issue.”

What about the no-shampoo movement itself, we wondered—is there any risk to skipping shampoo?

There’s no “right” frequency for washing your hair, the experts say. “It’s a very individual thing,” explains Dr. Mercurio. “It really depends on scalp’s oil production, which differs from person to person.”

In other words, it’s up to you to find what works best for your hair. While some people don’t like the feeling of unwashed hair, others swear by the “no ‘poo” approach. In fact, Health executive deputy editor Jeannie Kim experimented with only co-washing her hair for one month last summer. She loved the results so much, she hasn’t used shampoo since.

“I’m now at 15 months and counting of using only cleansing conditioner, even after pool swimming and major sweaty workouts,” she says. “I do make sure to massage my scalp really well, both with the product and after rinsing to make sure I’ve gotten it all out.”

For now, it seems the best advice is to experiment with co-washing, but cautiously. As with any hair- or skin-care product, watch for unusual symptoms and discontinue use if you experience a negative reaction.

7 toxic chemicals to avoid in eye makeup

 

1. Ethanolamine compounds
“The problem with ethanolamines is that they can be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund and director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

To spot ethanolamines, avoid products that contain ingredients with the letters DEA, TEA and MEA.

2. BAK
Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is a preservative found in eyeliner, mascara and makeup remover.  BAK is well documented to be toxic to the epithelial cells of the eyes. These cells keep dust, water and bacteria out of the eye and provide a smooth surface on the cornea to absorb and distribute oxygen and cell nutrients from tears to the rest of the cornea.

BAK can be listed under various names including benzalkonium chloride, quaternium-15 or guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride.

3. Prime yellow carnauba wax
Used in mascara and eyeliners to stiffen the product and make them waterproof, prime yellow carnauba wax clogs the oil glands in the eyes and can lead to dry eye disease, which affects 3.2 million women age 50 and older, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Using products that contain waxes isn’t a good idea, although Japan wax might be a safer alternative, said Dr. Leslie E. O’Dell, director of the Dry Eye Center of Pennsylvania in Mechanicsburg and Manchester.

4. Parabens
Parabens are preservatives that are used to prevent the growth of bacteria in makeup products, but they’re absorbed through the skin and easily transmitted into the bloodstream. They’re also endocrine disruptors and are linked to reproductive toxicity, early puberty and breast cancer. Parabens can also make dry eye worse since they prohibit the oil glands that line the eyelid from secreting enough oil, O’Dell said.

When reading labels, avoid anything with the suffix-paraben.

5. Aluminum powder
Used to give eye makeup its hue, aluminum powder is both a neurotoxin and has been linked to organ system toxicity. Makeup labels will list aluminum, LB Pigment 5 or pigment metal.

6. Retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate
Two forms of vitamin A, retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate, have been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity. They’re also found in anti-aging face creams and eye creams.

Even if you don’t have dry eye disease, you should avoid vitamin A.

“There are well-documented studies that show that it will kill the oil glands and once they’re gone, you can’t rebuild them,” O’Dell said.

7. Heavy metals
Nickel and chrome are two heavy metals found in all types of makeup, especially in green or metallic shadows, as well as makeup brushes, even the expensive types, O’Dell said.

Heavy metals are neurotoxins that have been linked to brain damage. Nickel in particular has been associated with lung cancer and respiratory concerns. What’s more, up to 17 percent of women have a nickel allergy, which can cause dry, itchy eyelids, a red skin rash and watery blisters.