How Toxic Is Your Skincare Routine?
Skincare is so much more important than makeup.
Makeup is for when you’re having fun and going out.
But your skin is forever.
Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ? Not only that, sometimes it’s referred to as the “third kidney.” That’s because it functions as one of your elimination organs, helping you to get rid of toxins. It also takes in nutrients, or toxins, depending on what you put on it. You are already exposed to a lot of toxins through your environment. They can be in the air you breathe and the water you drink and bathe with. The last thing you want to do is create more stress and toxic load by using personal care products with chemicals that don’t actually help you have good skin.
Many big-name companies have done their best to convince you that the more you spend, the better their product is. They also do a lot of advertising claiming that you have to have a skin care routine that comes with all the bells and whistles (and too many different products and steps to keep straight). Do you really? We disagree.
A lot of beauty brands have started slapping an organic label on their products. Yes, organic costs more. That’s due to responsible sourcing and better quality ingredients. Many main-stream companies are offering some organic products, but not because they understand the ingredients at a deeper level. They’re just following what they see as a trend. That’s why their organics come with preservatives, chemicals, and possibly even artificial ingredients.
Shop smarter, and healthier, by avoiding toxic ingredients in your personal care products. Just like with your food or your cleaning products, it’s important to get the best quality personal care products you can. Plus, you shouldn’t need a separate line item in your budget to cover serums and potions that you don’t even understand.
We believe the best thing you can do is go back to basics. Start with a skincare routine that cleanses, purifies, hydrates, and nourishes your skin. It shouldn’t have to cost a small fortune to have beautiful skin.
Personal Care Myths
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to personal care products. Our goal in breaking them down is to help you get past manufacturer misdirection and learn how to pick truly healthy products.
Eating Healthy is Good Enough For Great Skin
Sure, staying well hydrated and eating nutrient dense, antioxidant-rich foods is good for you, but that’s really not enough. That’s taking care of your skin from the inside. You also need to take care of yourself from the outside by removing dirt and grime. Follow that up by protecting your skin with a healthy barrier, like a good quality moisturizer made with clean ingredients.
Do It Yourself
Sure, a DIY face treatment can be fun every now and then. What it’s missing, though, are the special ingredients – such as jojoba oil – which you probably don’t have hanging around in your pantry. Good quality organic skin care is more advanced and should nurture and restore your skin.
All “Natural” Personal Care Products Are Created Equal
Terminology makes a difference. Just like with food, the term natural doesn’t mean anything when it comes to your personal care products. Companies can create products that are saturated with pesticides and yet they’re legally able to use the term “natural” on the label.
In order to get certified as an organic company and/or ingredient provider, suppliers must go through an extensive, and expensive, multi-year process where they are carefully monitored. Once they’ve been certified, they have to continue following rigorous guidelines plus keep paying for the necessary oversight to keep their organic certification.
Less Expensive Products Aren’t As Effective
It’s human nature to stick with what you know, especially when it comes to something like personal care products. After all, you know what it is and you think it’s working for you. The problem is that many of these products that you’re buying at the drug store or the grocery store are probably not as effective as you think they are. They’ve been watered down and filled with a lot of chemicals so they can last a long time on the shelf. The truth is you don’t have to have all those chemicals in order to have good quality, restorative self-care products.
Organic products, on the other hand. provide antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These are ingredients which can truly nourish your skin.
You Have To Have Preservatives to Prevent Bacteria
You may be afraid that if they don’t have preservatives there could be problems with your personal care products. It’s not as simple as that. Some products need preservatives, some don’t.
Water based products do require preservatives. They’re there to stop bacterial growth. Oil-based products, however, don’t have to have a preservative. The bacteria cannot grow in that environment.
Even though water based products should have some form of preservatives, we don’t think it should be something harmful to your health like parabens. How harmful are parabens? Given their overabundance in personal care products, you might think they’re not that bad. It turns out they’re worse than you might think.
According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), parabens are used in as much as 85% of all personal care products. One of the problems with this ingredient is that it mimics estrogen. Parabens are a pervasive ingredient, and they tend to go through the skin and then simply hang out in the body. Studies have shown an increased risk for breast cancer with paraben exposure.
If the personal health issues aren’t bad enough, parabens are also harmful for a wide range of aquatic animals. In 2015, the ACS reported parabens in a variety of marine mammals – including dolphins and sea otters. They were also found in polar bears. It’s been theorized that these chemicals went through municipal sewer systems to eventually reach the ocean.
Yet while water based personal care products need preservatives, it doesn’t have to be something as toxic as parabens. Unfortunately some manufacturers may list their product as being “paraben free.” That often means that they’ve simply swapped in a different preservative which could still be harmful.
When a preservative is needed in skin care or other products, look for more naturally derived options such as ethylhexylglycerin, which is made from plants, or phenoxyethanol, which is a natural derivative of ether alcohol.
What’s In What You Put On Your Skin
Now that we’ve addressed some of the misconceptions about personal care products, let’s take a look at some of the products themselves:
You probably don’t think too much about your soap other than if you like the way it smells and if it cleans well. But soap is such an intimate part of your personal grooming routine that it’s essential your soap contain ingredients that will not only protect your skin, but your health too.
Most commercial brands of soap tend to be created using a premade base which, you guessed it, is full of chemicals. They also often leave your skin with a “squeaky clean” feeling. That’s simply a result of drying out your skin, and stripping necessary oils needed to keep your skin soft and hydrated.
The first thing you may think about when it comes to your soap is how it smells. After all, you’re using this stuff at least once a day. And whatever your soap smells like? Well, that’s what you smell like. That’s not always a good thing. Most commercial soaps use artificial fragrances (we don’t ever recommend any artificial ingredients in anything). They also have parabens (again!) and sodium laurel sulfate (SLS). SLS has been shown in laboratory studies for decades as a skin irritant. There’s no reason for it to be in your soap, or any other personal care product.
If you’re using antibacterial soaps we recommend you stop that immediately. The chemical used for its antibacterial properties is usually Triclosan. This ingredient has been shown to have a toxic hormonal impact which can start as early as pregnancy. It has also been shown to have an impact on the immune system as well as cause allergies, asthma, and eczema.
Once you get out of the shower, the next thing you probably do is apply deodorant. Most conventional deodorants contain scents to make you smell good and antiperspirants which stop you from sweating. You’re conditioned to think that you shouldn’t sweat. That’s because the bacteria on your skin break down your sweat and you may have an odor. The problem? We’re supposed to sweat, it’s important to help your body get rid of toxins. It’s also how you regulate your body temperature.
Conventional antiperspirant products stop body odor by clogging your sweat glands so you won’t sweat. One ingredient frequently used in antiperspirants is aluminum, which is highly toxic and strongly linked to breast cancer. If you choose to use a deodorant product, we strongly suggest you use a deodorant only product and not one with antiperspirants. Choose one with no parabens (there they are again!), no triclosan (you need those bacteria under your arms), no phthalates, and no aluminum.
Moisturizers and Creams
You’re showered, got your deodorant on, and now it’s time for the lotions and potions – your body cream and facial moisturizer. We’ve already talked about a few of the ingredients that can appear in these types of lotions: aluminum, artificial fragrances, parabens, and triclosan. Here are a few other ingredients you need to watch out for, and avoid, when buying moisturizers:
BHA, butylated hydroxyanisole, and BHT, butylated hydroxytoluene. These are preservatives which help to extend the shelf life of the lotions. These chemicals can accumulate in the liver and fatty tissue and are endocrine disruptors. Additionally, according to the National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens, BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
PEG, polyethylene glycol, is an ingredient made from petroleum which makes lotions thicker. It has been linked in studies to liver health issues. PEG is also frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide which have been identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a known probable human carcinogen and a known human carcinogen, respectively.
TEA, triethanolamine, is a ph balancing ingredient which is used in lotions and cosmetics. It is an irritant, affecting skin, respiratory health, and the immune system. Studies have linked it to liver tumors. Current recommendations are that it only be used in products which are meant to be washed off, and in no more than a 5% solution.
In summary, be choosy about the skin you’re in. Take time to read the label and make sure you understand what’s in there. When it comes to your personal care, it’s essential you use ingredients that will not only protect your skin, but your health too.
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