A little goes a long way

January 08, 2010

Qin Shi Huang (of terra-cotta army fame) was Emperor of the Qin Dynasty in China between 221-210 BCE.  What does he have to do with bath and body products?  There is a lesson in his life and death that I found had an interesting correlation to why we do what we do here at this giant pile of soap.

Qin was obsessed with finding the secret to immortality (aren’t we all).  He sent oodles of people on quests to find the elixir of youth.  They didn’t return. Coming back empty handed meant execution (rumour has it that those intelligent peoples went on to colonize Japan).  Qin’s doctors and scientists, men on the cutting edge of their profession, believed mercury to be the secret to everlasting life and advised him to take mercury pills everyday.  He started with a tiny dosage, but he did eventually die of mercury poisoning (though not before he went mad).

My point?  I have two.  First – what happened to Qin is called bio-accumulation: even tiny amounts of something toxic everyday can add up.  He is an extreme example, but he does illustrate the point.  Now I know you’re not ingesting mercury pills everyday, but you ARE ingesting what you put on your body.  What is in your lotions and perfumes?

Second – not everything that is touted to be good for you actually is.  Does it promise to erase your wrinkles?  Puff up your lips?  Maybe it will – great!  Is there a trade off?  Some chemicals that sound benign, aren’t. I would rather kiss and hug poisonous snakes than slather them on my body day after day.  Alternately, some chemicals that are unpronounceable may be completely natural and good for you. (PS, just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s good for you either.  See hemlock.)