Skin health is affected by what we put in our bodies and what we put on our bodies
Internally, inflammation leads to skin issues. But what causes inflammation? There are many causes, including nutrient imbalances, hormone imbalances, thyroid problems, adrenal issues, aging (because our sex hormones change), and environmental toxins (air, water, food, personal care products).
What’s in our skin care products?
What we put directly on our skin affects our health. Topical products penetrate the skin and get into our blood stream. This is the mechanism behind topical hormone creams, or the nicotine patch, for example!
- Endocrine disruptors: create imbalances and inflammation and affect our immune system.
- Parabens: a preservative. The concern with parabens is that they have been found in human breast tumours.
- Synthetic fragrances: contain Phthalates (which is like putting plastic on your face). These behave as hormone disruptors.
- Formaldehyde releasers: release formaldehyde in the air when you rub it in, then you breathe it in. These are carcinogenic.
- Sodium lauryl sulfates: makes soap foamy. The manufacturing of this product results in it being contaminated with a harmful carcinogenic by-product.
Remember, it’s the gradual, cumulative effects of long-term, repeated exposures that are the real concern here. The average woman applies 9-12 personal care products a day – an average of 168 chemicals per day. That’s a chemical cocktail that is sure to have additive effects. A product may be safe to use on its own, but not necessarily when used in conjunction with multiple products.
What are my other options?
- Number one, use a resource like EWG Skin Deep, a cosmetics database that will give you all the information you need to make more informed choices about your personal care products: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
- Number two, use cleaner products, and swap products with harmful chemicals for herbal based products that are fragranced with essential oils instead.
- Be especially careful of the products you apply to your lips because you are ingesting those all day, every day.
- Make your own products! See the recipe below.
Herbal Oil Infusion:
- Fill a glass mason jar with your choice of loose herbs. I used calendula, comfrey, and galium.
- Pour oil(s) over top, until it completely covers the herbs. You can use one oil, or a variety of oils, such as grape seed oil, castor oil, rose hip oil, extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, etc. Jojoba oil is a lovely option, since it closely resembles the sebum produced by our own skin glands.
- Set aside for 3-4 weeks, until the oil smells fragrant, then strain the oil with a cheesecloth, and discard the rest.
- Add essential oils of choice: lavender, tea tree, rosemary, etc. The choices are endless here, and depend on your unique skin care goals.
To use: apply to face and neck. Dampen a washcloth with warm water and cover with face until cool. Then use the washcloth to remove excess oils, with gentle upward strokes.
Enjoy glowing, soft and supple skin!
Don’t forget that what we eat also has a huge influence on our skin!
Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor, or other health care provider about how to optimize your diet to improve your digestive, and therefore, skin health.
- Darbre PD, Harvey PW. 2014. Parabens can enable hallmarks and charactersitics of cancer in human breast epithelial cells: a review of the literature with reference to new exposure data and regulatory status. J Appl Toxicol. Sep;34(9):925-38.