Beauty Addicts: how toxic are you?

By Aisling | October 12 2007 | 17 Comments

Sarah Beeny introduced us to Emma and Charlotte on Channel 4 last night. These two sisters were beauty product obsessed, spending over £1000 a month on products. During their daily routine they used over 70 products between them – over 40 on their morning ablutions and makeup application alone.

But these two weren’t just obsessed with beauty products. They were hygiene freaks, spending hours a day cleaning the house, washing their hands and brushing their teeth. Emma brushed her teeth around six times a day and also ate the equivalent of a whole tube of toothpaste a week.

The girls were analysed for levels of toxicity. Numbers were mentioned. What did they mean? Who knew? I didn’t. We weren’t given a safe, or benchmark level – only gasps whenever numbers were revealed. At the end of the eight day trial some numbers had gone down – and some had gone up. Who knew why? The expert didn’t anyway.

We learned that products labelled Simple, Natural and Aveda are not pure and natural at all, but loaded with chemicals.

The best bit was when Sarah stood outside Mamas and Papas smoking a dirty big faaag with a cushion shoved up her tshirt. Potentially dangerous chemicals were also identified in baby products – brands that promoted themselves as pure and natural – Johnsons, Huggies and Avent.

On the whole though the program covered too much ground. It tried to analyse the chemical danger present in everything you do. From the moment of conception (cue Sarah showing distressing embryo pics), through breastfeeding to doing your washing in a hilarious* laundrette sequence, chemicals are everywhere. Emma’s cycle to work exposed her to a ton of chemicals, as did her clothes washing.

And at the end of it all what was the verdict? Well eh, kind of neither here nor there really. The girls ditched their products for natural alternative for eight days. Eight days! What a commitment! Unsurprisingly enough, some things worked, some things didn’t. Some of the natural substitutes just didn’t do as good a job. The hairspray was rubbish, the clothes powder substitutes either smelled like cats pee or didn’t take out stains. Or both. The cleansers, the blusher and the mascara were good though. And totally ripping off Dr Reagan’s Beauty Parlour we were offered a glimpse of the unnamed mascara at the end. Remember the Protect and Perfect brohaha anyone?

Beauty Addicts was like an unsuccessful cross between How Clean Is Your House/ You Are What You Eat/ Professor Regan’s Beauty Parlour. It smacked of media types sitting round a table and coming up with a concept by robbing bits and pieces from the successful programs that went before it.

But this program failed to convince or shock on any level – because there was nothing new shown here. It raised many questions and answered none. It was all a bit meh.

Let me know what you thought, cos I’ve seen you’ve been blathering about this – as it happened! Feel free to disagree with me!

*not hilarious at all

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17 Replies to "Beauty Addicts: how toxic are you?"

  • Atomic_Blonde says:

    I missed the first half cause i fell asleep on the sofa! Wasnt too bowled over by it. Wouldnt put me off using anything anyway.

  • beautfan says:

    Totally agree – I won’t be watching again – this type of prog is better as a once off anyway nut as a program it scored 2 and like the programe I’m not going to tell ye out of what!

  • Yvonne says:

    LOL! I didn’t watch it but it is an interesting subject, shame they didn’t address it properly. You’ve mentioned that you’ve done natural features in the past, could you perhaps recommend a few products that were said to have worked, like the mascara and cleansers? That would be great!

  • Admin says:

    Yvonne – check the ethical and organic beauty section, it’s full of recommendations

  • Yeah, I didn’t think it was very good at all.

    I didn’t get the point of the program at all.

    Was it simply to raise awareness of what exactly goes into the products (beauty or otherwise) we use every day? If so, it kind of failed because it only really concentrated on two chemicals – parabens and triclosan – but it didn’t really tell us anything about these chemicals.

    Was it to alert us to the dangers of these chemicals? If so, it failed on that one two because there was no real discussion on why we should be worried about them… there were vague references made to “carcinogens” and another vague reference to birth defects in male babies, but no real hard evidence that these chemicals are linked to specific diseases or problems.

    It showed the breastfeeding mums, and did an analysis of their breast milk to see how many dangerous chemicals they were passing on to their gorgeous babies, but didn’t say anything about the chemicals babies breathe in on a daily basis, just from the air around them. They almost, but not quite, started pointing fingers and saying these two women were bad mothers for not living on pesticide-free grass and forgoing any sort of beauty product whilst breastfeeding. But then they ok’d it all in the end because they pointed out that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the disadvantages, and so don’t give it up just yet!

    What was the point in that?

    The other two sisters that they used were a joke too. Of course they’re going to have high levels of toxins in their bodies – they’re borderline obsessive about their beauty and hygiene regimes. But that’s not really useful to the rest of us. It’s interesting, seeing how much crap they go through (eating a tube of toothpaste a week! Yuck!), but not really informative as it didn’t investigate what all these products were doing to the girls bodies. For example, were all those toxins affecting their livers? Their kidneys? Their lungs? No?? Well, then…. what’s the problem?

    And at the end of the program, they didn’t exactly wrap it up and tell us, one way or the other, what we should be doing. It was just so inconclusive, far far far too heavy on the scare tactics and, ultimately… useless.

    (Sorry for the rant – I feel quite strongly about pseudo-science programs like this, as they’re just scare mongering and don’t actually provide us with useful information.)

  • Yvonne – the website for the programme is a bit more useful and gives some links for more information: http://www.channel4.com/health/microsites/T/toxic/toxic-chemicals_3.html

  • Atomic_Blonde says:

    Ye those 2 sisters were nut jobs!! Like who brushes thier teeth SIX times a day??? And who bring anti-bacticarial soap in thier handbag on a night out????? weird!

  • beautfan says:

    I agree about the two sisters – 2 nuts jobs. Very few people are that obsessed about their beauty regimes thus will go ‘sure I don’t need to worry as I don’t use as much as those two’.

    What I thought was nuts altogether was all the deodorant the personal trainer used.

    Someone would need to tell the blond one that she is overusing the auld pink blusher.

  • The blonde one looked like she’d been Tangoed!

  • beautfan says:

    I agree patsystone at least the one with brown hair looked well.

    I have been thinking about going from blond to choc brown for a few months and when I see girls like that I go yes yes going with the choc brown.

    Meant to say well done on the long post up there.

  • Heheh, thanks – I needed to get it off my chest. Was raging last night after watching the program.

    I went from blonde to a kind of reddish brunette back in Feb (choc brown doesn’t suit me as I’m too pale), and I love it. I think it looks so much better than blonde, and is definately lower maintenance. Go for it girl!

  • jade says:

    it dident go into enough detail as to the effects of the chemicals. but i did find the websites links interesting.
    iv never been so naive as to think that there were no harmful chemicals in the products i use and that they weren’t having a long term effect. im always looking at the long names on the back of my shampoo, when in the shower, and thinking “that cant be good for you”. so it was no real eye opener for me. i already use natural deodorant as there are strong links between aluminium and breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.
    but until the alternatives for the rest get as good as the chemical filled products, il just have to keep using them.

  • deisegirl says:

    It was all over the place. I’ve never seen Sarah Beeny wearing so much make up as well ;)

    A lot of the alternatives she was offering up as well were quite expensive, both the beauty and home stuff. Now that I’m in my own house I’m trying to cut down on chemicals I use around the house, but I’m trying out the more “natural” things used for cleaning, like bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. I got a book in M&S with loads of suggestions for less toxic alternatives to shop bought cleaners etc, but I doubt I’ll be able abandon the harsher solutions completely.

  • MaryC says:

    Jade, What natural deodorant do you use. I found the programme a real eye opener.

  • Marena says:

    I know products have chemicals but I never realised it could effect your baby or future baby. I guess it will make me look a little closer at the ingredients of things and perhaps ease off some things if I was every pregnant.

  • jade says:

    i use Toms of Maine honeysuckle rose. its not the strongest but i like it.
    the Pitrock stuff is good because its supposed to stop the smell inducing bacteria from growing. the liquid form one feels better than rubbing a damp rock in your armpit.
    both are in most healthfood stores and boots sell pitrock.

  • TJ says:

    i use Toms of Maine as well, the calendula one which isn’t too bad. mite go for the rose one though cos they didn’t have that when i purchased mine.

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