Dancing Around the Beauty Industry: The impact personal care products and cosmetics may have on your performance.
Could lipstick and shampoo actually cause long-term harm to your health, body, and dancing?
When you think about being a healthy, well-rounded athlete, you probably also think of what to
put in your body and how to move it daily. But you may not think about what you put on your
body and the impact that can have on your overall health and wellness. Did you know that many
everyday personal care products like soap, shampoo, lotion, and makeup contain endocrine- or
hormone-disrupting chemicals? These can cause a whole list of health issues from early
puberty to reproductive concerns to obesity, neurological issues, and even cancer.
It may also surprise you that personal care products and cosmetics are not regulated with
regard to their impact on human health. In fact, 80,000 chemicals were introduced into our
personal products since WWII, and it’s not clear how damaging they really are. But there is
hope: a study at UC Berkeley (2016) found that levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the
body significantly decreased after only three days of using cosmetics without those harmful
As a busy, dedicated dancer, whose body is at the core of what you do, you want to make it a
priority to find the safest options for grooming and personal care. Here are five small, easy
changes that can have a significant impact on your health.
1. DON’T BE DECEIVED. Pay attention to a marketing ploy called “greenwashing,” where
labeling is used to deceive buyers about safety. Terms that fall under this category include
natural, organic, vegan, and cruelty-free, plant based, healthy, and green. While some of these
characteristics are important in choosing products, they don’t guarantee safety.
2. KNOW THE TOP FIVE OFFENDERS. After you get past the labels on the front of a package,
turn it around and check the ingredient list. Some of the worst and most common offenders to
avoid are parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance (parfum), synthetic colorants, and SLS
(sodium lauryl sulfate). These are the top 5 endocrine disruptors that wreak havoc on our entire
3. THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT. To make it easy to get past deceptive and confusing labels
and lists, use the Healthy Living app developed by the non-profit Environmental Working Group
(EWG). The app rates how safe products are based on allergens, reproductive concerns, and
cancer-causing ingredients using a rating scale from 1-10. A scanning function makes it easy to
check out more than 76,000 products and 2,000 brands to help you shop safely.
4. START SIMPLE. Overwhelmed? Wondering where to start? First, focus on products you
ingest (lipstick and toothpaste). Next, tackle those that cover the most surface area and that
remain on your skin (lotions, oils, sunscreens, makeup) compared to those that we use and
rinse off (shampoo, soap, body wash, cleansers). The next time you buy new hair gel or
deodorant or select makeup for a performance you can choose safer options.
5. SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE. Chances are you learned some information you were not
aware of – information your fellow dancers, friends, and loved ones may not be aware of either.
Tell them what you learned, share the Healthy Living app, make small but significant changes,
and lend your voice to demand stricter laws — contact your elected official in less than a minute
to ask for #betterbeauty laws: in the US, text betterbeauty to 52886; in Canada, text
betterbeauty to 70734.
Dr. Amy Fitzgerald Gordon is an educator and advocate who helps empower people through
group and individual consultations and coaching about making safer choices that meet personal
needs while considering impact on the environment. She is a Senior Director at Beautycounter,
a certified B Corporation, whose mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
Please feel free to connect at https://linktr.ee/amys_living_well