Over his lifetime, the average man spends 9,000 hours shaving.
Shaving cream and aftershave were designed to make the process easier and more pleasurable, but conventional products may be doing more harm than good.
Because men’s grooming products are applied to skin that is abraded during shaving — the closer the shave, the more the abrasion — their ingredients are readily absorbed. Once in the bloodstream, they are carried throughout the body to various organs, including the brain, liver and kidneys.
Health Canada believes the chemical concentration in cosmetic products is too low to cause cancer. However, most research into the health effects of grooming aids focuses on short-term skin sensitivity rather than long-term systemic risks from the cumulative effects of daily exposure. In addition, the majority of these ingredients have not been evaluated for safety — alone or in combination — by government or other public-health institutions.
Synthetic fragrances found in most men’s grooming products are a major concern as they cause about 30 per cent of all adverse reactions. A single fragrance may contain 100 chemicals, many of which have been identified as toxic substances. By law, cosmetic labels must list all ingredients; however, fragrances are exempt because their ingredients are considered trade secrets.
Conventional manufacturers also use a host of chemicals that act as penetration enhancers, emulsifiers, disinfectants, and preservatives. Other ingredients add body to foams and gels, keep products from melting or freezing in extreme temperatures, or make the product more visually appealing.
There is life beyond conventional shaving creams and aftershaves. Many natural products don’t contain synthetic fragrances, colours, or petroleum products. Check out your local health or natural food stores.
When shopping, beware of greenwashing buzzwords such as “natural,” “green,” and “botanical” that make chemical-laden cosmetic products sound healthier.
Become a knowledgeable shopper by always checking the label.
Visit the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database, “Skin Deep,” to learn which products are free from toxic chemicals: www.cosmeticdatabase.com.
Visit alive.com for more health and wellness information. Get inspired. Get alive!
From the editors of alive magazine