So says Dawn Mellowship, author of Toxic Beauty: The Hidden Chemicals in Cosmetics and How They Can Harm Us. Having battled with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, Dawn firmly believes that exposure to toxic ingredients-whether through the food we eat or the daily personal-care products we use-has a negative affect on our health.
“Cosmetic products contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, endocrine (hormone) disruption, allergies, asthma, birth defects and other health problems,” she says. “Women, in particular, have a skin-care regime that exposes them to around 500 chemicals every day, and that doesn’t include other chemical exposures from furniture, environmental pollution, household products, etc.”
Dawn realized the seriousness of the situation during her experience as feature’s editor for a women’s lifestyle magazine. At the time, she did product reviews as part of her job, and quickly realized that just because the product claimed to be “natural,” didn’t mean it was safe. “I was reviewing a body wrap treatment extolled by celebrities,” she says, “that allegedly used a natural clay-based product. When the therapist was out of the room I read the ingredients and realized that they were using the term ‘natural’ very loosely. The treatment damaged the skin on my chest area. As a result, I stopped reviewing any beauty treatments, whether they claimed to be natural or otherwise!”
The experience reminded her of similar reactions she’d had as a teenager. “At 15, I used a well-known baby lotion that left my skin bright red and burning for hours. At 16, I used a semi-permanent hair dye that caused over a third of my hair to fall out, and it never grew back.” Putting two-and-two together, Dawn realized she needed to make changes in her life. She had already switched to organic foods-it was natural to change her personal-care buying habits. “One day it occurred to me to look at the ingredients on a bottle of shower gel I was using. I thought, ‘What is all this stuff?’ I read about organic beauty and toxic chemicals in cosmetics and switched to what I thought were largely organic products.”
In the midst of these changes, Dawn continued to watch her personal-health deteriorate. “I damaged my body because I would exercise relentlessly and follow faddy diets-not to nourish my organs, but to be skinny. I developed sciatica and tried lots of different treatments, but nothing helped.” Interestingly, it was Reiki that would turn her situation around-and leave her feeling well enough to warn others about toxic chemicals through her book.
“My life was transformed forever the day I took a Reiki course,” she says. “It was only after Reiki that I began writing books, producing websites and undertaking various other projects. Prior to Reiki I wouldn’t have had the confidence or self-belief. I wanted to know who I was, why I was here and get more out of life. Reiki helped me to discover these things. It changes your awareness naturally, expands your intuition and helps you to make healthy choices, without it being a chore.”
Dawn has since taught Reiki to a number of cancer fighters, and recalls caring for many family members with the disease. “The main thing I’ve learned from cancer fighters is that it’s important to fight the cancer any way you can, with nutrition, positive thinking, changing the products you use, even moving to a cleaner, healthier location if you can. It’s important not to give in to the cancer, because there are so many things you can do to help yourself. “
To date, Dawn has written four books about various health topics, and hopes Toxic Beauty will help more people become informed about what they’re using on their bodies. “Many brands claiming to be organic are using the term very loosely. Greenwashing is rife as well, so consumers need to pay more attention to what they are putting onto their bodies, and choose their products very carefully. I just hope that Toxic Beauty at least allows people to make an informed choice, so they are aware of the potential consequences of their actions.”