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You Are What You Wear… On Your Skin

Oct 13, 2017 | Nutrition Articles | 0 comments


Recently I was at the store shopping for some personal care products and was amazed at the long list of ingredients in some of them, even in the “organic” products at the health food store. Many of us buy our personal care products based on what the advertisers tell us, or how a lotion makes us smell nice, or the way we look in the mirror when we use that product. I suggest we all educate ourselves and read labels, because, as is said in Latin, caveat emptor: buyer beware. As we get closer to another winter and the looming cold and flu season, we know it is important to pay attention to what we eat to maintain our health and vitality. But the personal care products we put on our skin on a daily basis can also adversely affect our health. As a taxpayer, I would like to believe that the Food and Drug Administration would keep any potentially harmful ingredients out of my personal care products. My research tells me this is not necessarily the case. According to the Environmental Working Group, in the over 10,000 personal care products in the North American market, an estimated 99% contain one or more ingredients that have never been evaluated for safety! Did you know that if a personal care product is marked ”For Professional Use Only”, harmful chemicals are not required to be listed on the label? There is actually no required testing to prove that a product is hypoallergenic, and some harmful chemicals, which may not be intentionally included in a product, are not listed on the ingredient label.


As many of you know, the skin is our largest organ. When we exercise, our skin performs an important role in detoxification as we perspire. But just as our skin assists in removing toxins from our bodies, it is also an entryway into our bodies of toxins around us. The skin is highly permeable; some of you may have used a medication that is applied topically to take advantage of the skin’s ability to absorb ingredients easily. One of the common toxins we absorb through the skin is chlorine when we bathe, or when we drink tap and even bottled water. Back to cosmetics; I read recently that women who use make-up on a daily basis absorb on average five pounds of chemicals each year! Many of the harmful toxins are known as xenoestrogens, which mimic the actions of estrogens and disrupt hormonal balance. This can go a long way to counteracting all of the great steps we take to live a more healthful lifestyle. I know that nobody would intentionally apply toxic ingredients to his or her skin; it is just a matter of educating ourselves and reading those labels. Here are some to watch out for:


Acrylamide: Found in many facial creams and linked to breast tumors Dioxane: A carcinogenic component of polyethylene glycol, particularly toxic to the nasal passages, making facial products with this ingredient harmful Mineral Oil: A petroleum product that clogs the pores, creating a buildup of toxins Parabens: Commonly used preservatives implicated in cancer because of their hormone disrupting qualities Phenol carbolic acid: An ingredient in many lotions and creams that can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, and even death from respiratory failure Propylene glycol: A common moisturizer which can cause dermatitis, irritate skin, and is linked to kidney and liver issues Sodium Laurel Sulfate: Found in 90% of our personal care products; when combined with other chemicals, it becomes a nitrosamine, a potential carcinogen Toulene: A poisonous ingredient made from petroleum, with chronic exposure being linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver, and kidney damage I suggest you use this list to read the labels on your personal care products, and dispose of those containing any of the ingredients listed above. There are many products available without harmful ingredients, as listed in the Safety Guide on the Environmental Working Group’s website. Enter a product or category and find out which products are safe. We are what we eat and what we wear, clean with, and put on our skin. Read those labels, check your products online, buy organic, or even better, make your own products. Healthy do-it-yourself personal care ingredients are available through Mountain Rose Herbs. For more information about healthy eating and healthy personal care, please contact me at (541) 895-2427 or nutritionallyspeaking@gmail.com.