Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? It acts as a physical barrier to the pollutants in the atmosphere. When you use products on your skin, such as cosmetics, lotions and shampoos, the ingredients in these products are absorbed into your skin and bloodstream.
Currently the FDA does not have to regulate the chemicals in cosmetic products. I think it's very important that you know what's in the products you are using! Read your labels and do the best you can to find products that don't contain chemicals that could compromise your health...
Here are some of the most common (and unhealthy) chemicals that I think you should be aware of:
Listed on labels as methylparaben, benzylparaben, or other ingredients ending with paraben, these preservatives are very commonly found in everything from lotions to lipsticks. Studies have shown that parabens appear to mimic estrogen in the body, so they may affect the endocrine system. This can lead to decreased sperm counts in men and possibly breast cancer risks in women. For more info on what's in your skincare porducts, check out this website: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
2. SYNTHETIC COLORS AND DYES
In 1938, to protect consumers, Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate color additives. One exception to the ban: coaltar dyes. These dyes can be used in darker hair-coloring products as long as they carry a warning about possible skin sensitivity (and against dyeing eyelashes/eyebrows which may cause blindness). Go to fda.gov for a list of hair dyes shown to cause cancer in animal studies.
These chemicals are derived from fossil fuels such as gasoline, tar, coal and petrolatum (petroleum jelly). Since petroleum jelly (and mineral oil, it's liquid equivalent) attach to your cells and are not water soluble, they can be difficult for your body to eliminate. The oxygen and nutrients skin needs in order to release toxins and repair itself, can be blocked by the barrier created by petroleum cosmetics. Look instead for products made with natural plant extracts and oils.
These multipurpose chemicals are used in cosmetics to reduce brittleness in nail polish, make fragrances last longer, and the list goes on. Two common ones are: DBP (dinbutyl phthalate) and DEHP (di-2ethylhexyl phthalate). To protect consumers, the Europian Union has banned DBP, DEHP and a third phthalate, BBP, in cosmetics. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has placed DBP and DEHP on a list of chemicals that may present a hazard to humans.
5. SYNTHETIC FORMULAS IN FRAGRANCES
Formulas for scents, both synthetic and natural, are very closely guarded secrets. Manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients - you will only see "fragrance" on the ingredients list. This makes it almost impossible to know what chemicals are in perfumes, lotions or anything that contains a scent. Your only real option at this time is to choose a "fragrance free" product or try a natural essential oil product from a health food store.
Bottom line - whether it comes to what you put on your skin or what you put in your body, READ YOUR LABELS! Do the best you can with the information you are given. I know it can seem overwhelming, but even eliminating some of the products you might be using and trying some "cleaner" products can help you on your path to wellness. Bookmark the sites that help you "de-code" those chemicals. And check back with me for future blogs to help you navigate a healthy, balanced life!
Until next time,
"Live Now - Live Well!"