Why natural skin care is beneficial for our whole bodies and what to look out for!
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and your protective barrier. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impervious or impenetrable which is why you need to be aware of what you’re exposing it to. Consider all the potential irritants that meet your skin daily; chemical-laden personal hygiene products, fragrances, makeup, city-based pollution, bacteria, and funguses … The list goes on and on. Organic and natural skin care products are becoming more popular due to the ever-growing understanding of the harmful chemicals present in most of the skin care products available on the market. Not only will your skin and body thank you for switching to natural products, but it may even help your skin feel and look healthier than ever before.
Selecting Natural Skin Care Products
With a little research and smart shopping, you can find responsibly-made products to help you maintain a clean body and live a healthy lifestyle. Here’s what you should look for when purchasing skin care products:
- Free of harmful chemicals, irritants, or preservatives
- Carefully formulated with all natural, organic ingredients
- Never tested on animals
- Vegan friendly
- No additives such as micro-beads that damage the inhabitants of our waterways
Some of the main nasties to stay away from;
BHA and BHT – Butylated compounds, the most common of which are BHA and BHT are used as preservatives in both food and skin. The main concern with these chemicals are their potential for endocrine disruption (messing with your hormonal system) and what’s known as ‘organ system toxicity’. Children and pregnant women are most at risk. There is also evidence that suggests a strong possibility as a carcinogen and California requires a warning on lip products that contain these chemicals. These little nasties are probably lurking in your lip balm, lipsticks, sunscreen, deodorant, hair products, fragrances, and moisturisers
Parabens – Used to inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungus and other microbes and extend shelf life, it’s estimated that around 85% of skincare products contain parabens. Listed on your skin care ingredients as methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben and isobutyl paraben. You’ve probably already noticed that some skincare products are now labelled as paraben free and there’s a good reason. Parabens can weakly mimic oestrogen in your body and have been isolated from breast tumours and found concentrated in body tissues. Researchers are postulating that parabens may be one of the many chemicals contributing to the decline in sperm counts and marked increase in breast and testicular cancer.
It’s important to note that these studies call for more research, there is no definitive proof, just an association. But are you prepared to wait the decades it will probably take for the research?
Triclosan – An antibacterial and antifungal chemical found in toothpaste, antibacterial hand wash, acne products, deodorants and some moisturisers and lotions. It’s been well known for many years that triclosan is a weak endocrine disruptor, but industry’s catch cry has consistently been “the relevance of this to humans is uncertain”. When you consider that most of the chemicals used in skincare and personal care products have a degree of endocrine disrupting activity, this activity is going to add up. There is a concern with triclosan and oestrogenic activity as well as impacts upon the thyroid gland. It’s also contributing to antibiotic resistance and the fact that it’s fat soluble means that it’s going to accumulate in the fatty tissues of your body and has even been found in umbilical cord blood!
Siloxanes – Based on silicone, siloxanes are ingredients that end in _siloxane and _methiocone and they’re widely used in skincare and makeup. Siloxanes are the ingredients behind ‘oil-free’ makeup and moisturisers. They make skin feel and look smooth and velvety. Also, widely used for industrial applications, the most widely used siloxanes are D4, D5 and D6. D4 and D5 are known to be toxic and persistent in the environment (they break down slowly and accumulate). They’re also nasty to aquatic life. The European Union classes D4 as an endocrine disruptor and possible reproductive toxin. In lab experiments, D5 has been shown to damage the hormonal and immune system and interfere with neurotransmitters in the nervous system. Cyclomethicone, one of the more widely used siloxanes in skincare and makeup products is a combination of D4, D5 and D6.
PEG – Propylene glycol products know as PEG are big players in skincare products. They’re used as thickeners, solvents, skin softeners and moisture-carriers. PEG compounds are doubly problematic, they demonstrate their own issues and can also be frequently contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. Ethylene oxide is classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and 1,4-dioxane a possible carcinogen. Vacuum stripping can remove ethylene oxide from the finished skincare products, but you have no way of knowing whether this process has taken place.
Problems associated directly with PEG products include irritation and systemic toxicity if used on broken skin, there is some evidence of genotoxicity and the fact that they enhance the absorption of other chemicals and ingredients – both good and bad – in your skincare products.
These are just 5 of the many dubious chemicals used in skincare products – there are many, many more and no-one has done any studies on the combined effect of all these chemicals upon your health, the health of your kids and the impact upon our environment when we wash them down the drain each day. We know that many of them bioaccumulate and are persistent in both our body and the environment. Sure, no one wants mouldy, bacteria infested or rancid skincare products but there are safer and better alternatives to these chemicals available.