Choosing Cosmetics

Environmental chemicals can be found in most everyday cosmetics, studies have linked these ingredients to weight gain. The Defiant Beauty range has been designed with particular care to avoid endocrine disrupting hormones and chemicals.
It is not for us to scare you. The world is a scary enough place after diagnosis without us adding to it. We have a policy of not bringing doom and gloom to an already challenging place. We are often asked about the ingredients in cosmetics, the good the bad and the ugly. There is a lot of research to suggest that cosmetic ingredients are implicated in endocrine (hormone) disruption. The latest scientific research suggests that cosmetics ingredients are responsible for making it hard for a lot of us to lose weight. If you are struggling to rid yourself of any weight put on during treatment, first of all, give yourself a break and listen to someone that has been through it all before. If that doesn’t rid you of your determination, read on. We all know that loosing weight is easy: don’t we? We eat less, exercise more, reduce alcohol intake and the weight drops off. NHS advice is centred on regulation of food intake and increased activity1 so it must be the way to get into shape. If it works, why are obesity rates on the increase? The latest figures for the UK, shows that 65% of men and 58% of women are overweight or obese2 It seems that there is either
  • something wrong with the advice
  • something is interfering with our ability to loose weight by eating differently and exercising more
  • 65% of men and 58% of women have no will power, eat a lot and exercise little.

Eat Well Feel Good

All of the recognised advice on weight loss requires us to change what we eat. We are led to reduce calorie intake, be that via the ‘paleo diet’ (excluding grains and dairy, thereby not only reducing calories but putting cake and cream, even milk in tea on the banned list), ‘Atkins’ (eat only protein, exclude carbs, a major source of calories), Liquid Diets (excluding food, providing only ‘nutrients’ in liquid form - a very low calorie diet), the 5:2 diet (low calorie intake for 2 days a week), the list goes on, no matter what the name or the suggested route to and justification for, the end result is the same - eating less, coupled with doing more. Research shows, what we already know but hate to admit, only about 5% of those of us who successfully lose weight on a calorie restricted diet maintain the weight loss3. Studies to investigate the reasons for 95% of us returning to our pre-diet weight (or becoming heavier) discovered hormonal changes resulting from reduced calorie intake persist for up to a year after dieting. Dieters participating in the study had lower levels of appetite-suppressing hormones (peptide YY) and higher levels of appetite-stimulating hormone (grehlin). Those that had reduced calorie intake and had lost weight remained hungry for up to a year after the dieting had stopped, thanks to the impact that dieting had on their hormones. Weight control mechanisms are hormonal and are very complex. Hormones control metabolism, weight gain, weight loss, storage of fat, the use of fat as a fuel and many more of the biological processes associated with weight management. These hormones are critical to the control of our weight (pregnant women know the impact that hormones can have on hunger levels and many of us experience the hormone driven cravings that can come with PMS). It may not be our lack of self-control that is making us fat; it is becoming clear that our delicate hormonal balance is being disrupted, perhaps by the hormones in our handbags. As early as 2009, studies found that the ‘eat less do more’ message was inadequate and that weight balance was being disrupted by external factors “Public health risks can no longer be based on the assumption that overweight and obesity are just personal choices involving the quantity and kind of foods we eat combined with inactivity, but rather that complex events including exposure to environmental chemicals during development may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.”5 ‘Where are these environmental chemicals and what do they do?’ Not only are these chemicals in the air that we breathe and the water that we drink-they are in the cosmetics that we put on our skin everyday. Endocrine Disrupting Hormones, or chemicals that can make us fat are common in beauty products. They have been linked to the rise of obesity6 particularly when coupled with the typical high sugar, high fat western diet7. In weight gain studies, exposure to these ‘fat’ chemicals resulted not only in a significant difference in weight gain but, even worse, the groups exposed to the chemicals gained a significant amount of weight whilst not eating significantly more than those not exposed.8* Chemicals used to preserve beauty products, or provide their smooth texture, colour or spf such as parabens, BPA, phthalates, heavy metals and octinoxate are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors. They have been shown to penetrate the skin reaching the blood9 and passing through the body. Studies have measured (the metabolites of) these products in the urine of women using beauty products and found a link between the amount in their urine and the amount of skin care products used10. Weight gain as a result of exposure to these substances happens at levels much lower than are known to be toxic11. In other words, very small levels of the fat chemicals placed upon the skin, can enter the body and become active. These ‘fat chemicals’ are in many personal care products. It is likely that most of them we will be placing onto our skin everyday. Might the smart and successful ‘dieters’ of the future scrutinize ingredients on their personal care labels as well as their food labels? Should the ‘traffic lights’ long fought for on processed food labels be making an appearance on cosmetics counters? Here are some helpful hints
  • look out for endocrine disrupting ingredients
  • buy products that are packed in glass bottles and jars as some of the ingredients that can make you fat are found in the plastic bottles so often seen in beauty halls
  • products like creams and lotions contain water and so need preservatives, whilst not all preservatives are ‘fat chemicals’ some are and you can avoid the lottery by avoiding the preservatives.
Using truly natural products may well be the key to success when eating less and doing more! *animal studies


  2. Health and Social Care Information Centre, Lifestyles Statistics 2013 Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England, 2013 The Health and Social Care Information Centre available online 21 August 2013
  4. 4. Sumithran P, Prendergast L, Delbridge E, Purcell, K, Shulkes A, Kriketos A, and Proietto J. Long-Term Persistence of Hormonal Adaptations to Weight Loss. n engl j med 365;17 october 27, 2011
  5. Newbold R, Padilla-Banks E, Jefferson W 2009 Environmental Estrogens and ObesityMol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 May 25; 304(1-2): 84–89. doi:10.1016/j.mce.2009.02.024.
  6. Tabb M & Blumberg B 2006 New Modes of Action for Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Molecular Endocrinology 20(3):475–482
  7. Gru ?n F & Blumberg B 2006 Environmental Obesogens: Organotins and Endocrine Disruption via Nuclear Receptor Signaling Endocrinology 147(6) (Supplement):S50–S55
  8. Newbold R, Padilla-Banks E, Jefferson W 2009 Environmental Estrogens and ObesityMol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 May 25; 304(1-2): 84–89.
  9. Lecgien 2012 Cosmetic and Medicnal Products: a distinct but complimentary approach..? In Handbook of Skin Care in Cancer Patients Editors Vereecken P & Awada A
  10. Sandanger TM, Huber S, Moe MK, Braathen T, Leknes H, Lund E. Plasma concentrations of parabens in postmenopausal women and self-reported use of personal care products: the NOWAC postgenome study. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2011 Nov-Dec;21(6):595-600. doi: 10.1038/jes.2011.22. Epub 2011 May 25.
  11. Heindel J 2003 Endocrine Disruptors and the Obesity Epidemic TOXICOLOGICAL SCIENCES 76, 247–249 (2003) DOI: 10.1093/toxsci/kfg255

Shop now