Are they doing more harm than good?
Skin is our largest organ and so important for detoxification and general health. So why is it that we don’t pay it the attention it deserves? Yes it is a barrier, but it is SEMI permeable. Meaning that many of the creams & pollutants we subject it to are actually absorbed into our body.
What does that mean?
It means that it affects our body systems including endocrine (the all important hormones), which in turn affects the muscular, skeletal, cardiovascular, nervous, sensory and digestive. Some of these chemicals may even be carcinogenic - as in cancer causing.
So what are some of the nasties to look out for?
Let’s take a look at the top 10.
- Phthalates are found in moisturisers and other beauty products. They interrupt hormone functions and cycles and can cause reproductive birth defects and an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Synthetic colours (e.g. Red 27 & Blue 1) are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. They are actually found to be a skin irritant (incredible) a carcinogen and linked to ADHD.
- Parabens are found in facial cleansers, make up, deodorant, and other beauty products. They are used as a preservative. Parabens mimic oestrogen in the body and can therefore interfere with reproduction and there is an associated increased risk in breast cancer.
- Fragrance is a term to cover a companies patented formula and can be found in many beauty products including moisturisers. These have been associated with dermatitis, allergies, respiratory distress and detrimental effects on the reproductive system.
- SLS & SLES Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate are found in 90% of personal care products. These are irritants to the skin, lung and eyes. They are carcinogenic and can damage the kidneys and lungs.
- Formaldehyde is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics. It is carcinogenic, and can cause skin allergies and is adversely affect the immune system.
- Sunscreen chemicals are easily absorbed into the body and disrupt hormonal functions. They are used in many beauty products. Whilst the sun can age the skin these chemicals can be even more hazardous. So keep in mind to purchase an effective but natural sunscreen.
- Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial and is a skin irritant and endocrine disruptor. Especially the thyroid & reproductive hormonal system.
- Toluene is a petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. It is actually used as a paint thinner and is found in hair and nail products. It irritates the skin and can actually cause developmental damage in the foetus.
- Propylene glycol is used as a skin conditioning agent in moisturisers and make up products. It has been found to penetrate the skin and cause dermatitis, hives and irritation.
It is important to remember that many of these chemicals are waste products from mining and industries, for example petrochemicals. Some multi national companies look for ways to monetise their waste products and don’t care if they dump them in our personal care products so long as their bottom line is reached.
Having said that - we do have choices. We can use our purchasing power to purchase products without harmful chemicals and that are certified organic - meaning no harmful chemicals were used in the production of the ingredients.
Sienna Wolke ND
Naturopath & Nutritionist