So you may be asking what “slathering” has to do with nutrition and health? Fair question! Let me tell you; for a long time I didn’t give THAT much thought to what I put ON my body, only what I was putting IN my body. Then, through working with many individuals with food sensitivities and gut issues, I became more aware of how what they put on their skin can cause a reaction for them like ingesting an ingredient they are sensitive to would. This reality opened my eyes to how what is put ON our skin can and does become what we put IN our bodies. Our skin is our first line of defense against all that should stay out of our bodies. It is our largest organ and it has a big job to do, and it does it well! BUT, depending on the particle size of ingredients, many ingredients/chemicals pass through the layers of the dermis (skin) and enter the blood stream. Oh dear! And get this; In Europe, they have banned 1371 chemicals that cannot be used in skincare products. In the US, the FDA bans 11…. ELEVEN. That’s it. (What US bans: http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/guidanceregulation/lawsregulations/ucm127406.htm#prohibited What EU bans: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.results&annex_v2=II&search) A very informative group called Environmental Working Group pulled together information from 2 studies in 2005 that showed 287 chemicals found in the cord blood of newborn babies. They found that of those chemicals found, 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. (You can peek at that study here: http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns) What do you think about this? Are you thinking “Yes, I would like to avoid this, but I cannot possibly remember 1300+ chemicals, nor do I want to, and if they’re in everything, how do I avoid them? What do I buy? How bad are they really for my body?” I will start with some basics of what to avoid and suggestions of what you can use. The top chemicals in skincare to avoid are: 1. Parabens (hormone disruptors (estrogen and testosterone) 2. Phthalates (hormone/endocrine disruptors associated with abnormal sexual development) Phthalates are found in plastics mostly…and they are everywhere! To try to avoid them, look for recycling codes 3& 7 and AVOID THEM, as that is more likely to contain BPA’s and phthalates. 3. Triclosan & Triclocarbon (another hormone disruptor, mostly thyroid & reproductive organs) Found in toothpastes and antibacterial soaps. This bad-boy has recently been removed from all Avon’s and Johnson&Johnson’s products, but is still found in MANY other products! 4. Sodium Laurel Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS/SLES) are skin eye and lung irritants and when they combine with other chemicals in the product(s) form nitrosamines, which are carcinogens. Found in products that foam (body wash, shampoo, mascara and acne treatment). 5. Formaldehyde. (formaldehyde releasers; methylene glycol, DMDM, Hydantoin & Urea) Need I say more? 6. Hydroquinone, also known as tocopheral acetate, tocopheral, tocopheral linoleate is a skin lightener. It is linked to cancer, organ-system toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity 7. Polyethylene Glycol (and Butylene Glycol)…so much to say about this one; it is typically combined with another compound. Impurities found in various PEG compounds include ethylene oxide; 1,4-dioxane; polycyclic aromatic compounds; and heavy metals such as lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium, and arsenic. Many of these impurities are linked to cancer. Ethylene oxide (found in PEG-4, PEG-7, PEG4-dilaurate, and PEG 100) is highly toxic—even in small doses—and was used in World War I nerve gas. And then there is 1,4-dioxane (found in PEG-6, PEG-8, PEG-32, PEG-75, PEG-150, PEG-14M, and PEG-20M), which, on top of being a known carcinogen, may also combine with atmospheric oxygen to form explosive peroxides—not exactly something you want going on your face! AND, I know this is not on the topic for today, but beware of ingesting PEG, as it is linked with neurotoxicity (anger/forgetfulness), affecting the Central Nervous system, then the heart. (In Miralax, Dulcolax, several others..read more here: http://www.gutsense.org/gutsense/the-role-of-miralax-laxative-in-autism-dementia-alzheimer.html) 8. Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Benzphenone, PABA; accumulate in fatty tissues, lined to hormone disruption, allergies and cellular damage.
That was a lot of information. …and I didn’t actually even scratch the surface. But I can give you this; if you are interested in becoming a bit more consumer-conscientious about what you put on your/your baby’s/family’s bodies, I suggest using the EWG’s website (even have an app) to look up your current product or a product you are considering and get their “rating” on that product…and why it got that rating. They also have a list by ratings of products by category for you to view. These companies cannot “buy” their place in rankings. ;-) The link for their Skin Deep website is here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ Go check it out! Their main site gives information about environmental health and is very interesting too! www.ewg.org
You know what I suggest you do as you begin to make these changes? Start with being choosy about those products that you leave on your skin daily versus those that only temporarily linger on your skin. So, scrutinize your body lotions, creams, facial moisturizers, cosmetics, etc. first! These are the products whose ingredients will have the most impact on health affects in your body. Smart move, huh?! ;-) Then, after you have become a confident, clean-ingredient connoisseur, you can move on to your cleansing products for both body and clothes/home. If you have a baby, PLEASE take a moment to check the ingredients of the baby products you are using…you would be surprised at what you can find in some brands of baby products.
I will say, that once you begin to look and find the products that are more organic, you will find that you love the natural fragrances, feel and effects of what the combination of these God-given ingredients can do for your skin and body! And, you know we have a WONDERFUL resource right here in Van Alstyne! Visit Rain Lilies! If you need suggestions on types and brands of products, ask me! I have tried many and have some great resources as well! Here’s to your happy, healthy, non-hormone-disrupted, youthful skin!!
Lauri Armstrong, Degreed Dietitian & Nutritionist, CLT, Adv PFT.
Armstrong Body Systems.com