We all want to be as healthy as possible. Most of us try to choose foods that are wholesome, fresh, organic, and when possible, local. We try to move our body, deal with stress, and get enough sleep. There is another area of daily self-care, however, that can also affect your health; and that is your choice of skin care products.
These are products that you use frequently and in abundance. The average woman uses about twenty products with about 200 ingredients–not just once in awhile, but every day.
If you’re not convinced, think about this: All the chemicals from soaps, shampoos, etc. are being washed down the drain and into our rivers, streams, and drinking water. In a study conducted by the EPA and Baylor University in Texas, researchers found that chemicals used in fragrences and cleaning products are polluting our waterways. They found that the chemicals not only make their way into the water, but also into the tissues of fish living in those rivers and streams.
In Chinese medicine, your Lung organ system protects the exterior of your body, especially your skin. As the guard of your exterior, your Lungs also control your immunity. Immunity is seen as a kind of protective bubble surrounding your body. When you put toxic ingredients on your skin, you’re weakening your protective bubble, negatively impacting your health, and compromising your immune system.
What chemicals exactly are a problem? There are many. Here’s a short list of some of the most common or most toxic:
Parabens, which are used as a preservative, are a concern because they’re considered to be hormone disruptors. That means that they can mimic estrogen or interfere with your body’s natural hormone and reproductive processes. If you check labels, you’ll find they’re in almost everything.
Mineral Oil, paraffin, and petrolatum. These bad boys are basically petroleum products that coat your skin like plastic, clog your pores, and create a toxic buildup. They can slow cellular development, actually creating earlier signs of aging–and who needs that? They are also considered hormone disruptors.
Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth slufate (SLES). SLS is found in over 90 percent of personal care products! It breaks down your skin’s moisture barrier, dries your skin out, and causes premature aging and skin irritations. SLS is also a prime offender because it easily penetrates your skin’s surface allowing other chemicals easy access, and can combine with other chemicals to become a nitrosamine, which is a known carcinogen.
Fragrence on the label of your moisturizer is seemingly harmless. However, the term “fragrence” is a red flag, because manufacturers aren’t required to label what’s in it. All kinds of chemicals can be hiding behind the fragrence door, one of the most frequent is phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors. Fragrences made from essential oils are okay.
So what can you do to clean up your skin are act? The most obvious answer is to become a label reader. However this can be a problem that’s apparent if you’ve ever looked at the label of your favorite moisturizer. There are alot of ingredients; some are unpronounceable, most are unfamiliar.
One simple solution is to go to the website for the Environmental Working Group and see how your products rate. This is the website sponsored by the Environmental Working Group, which scores thousands of personal care products. A score of a perfect zero means your eye cream is clean; if it rates a 7-10, then the ingredients are considered hazardous and you may want to consider throwing it out.
You can also buy personal care products that have very few ingredients, shop at your local co-op, or other natural foods store. Most have a good selection of effective and chemically clean shampoos, soaps, lotions, moisturizers, etc.
Also, by choosing clean, less toxic skin care products, you’re sending a message to the manufacturers of these items with your wallet. These companies will stop using harmful chemicals in their products if fewer people buy them.