What is natural skin care? Why is it important?
Written By Fernanda Menegassi-Lojac
Certified Advanced Clinical Aromatherapist, R.N, BSN
When you think about "Health & Wellness", what words come to mind ? Diet? Exercise? Emotional balance? Do you ever think about your skin when you are trying to improve your overall health? The skin is the largest vital organ in your body, making up about 10% of your total body mass. Although the skin acts a barrier to protect our internal organs from the outside world, it’s not entirely safe from chemical exposure. The CDC estimates that every year, nearly 13 million people are exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins in their workplace alone. Imagine how many of us are deliberately adding harmful chemicals to our bodies every day while applying cosmetics and body care products.
Most commercialized skin care products in the market contain synthetic ingredients and artificial fragrances that could be harmful to the skin. Long term use of synthetic products can lead to an accumulation of toxic chemicals in the body, potentially weakening our body’s natural defense against illness and disease. In 2004, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), teamed up with Commonwealth researchers and conducted a study where 10 umbilical cords from newborn babies were selected at random from US hospitals and tested for pollutants. The test results detected a total of 287 chemicals in umbilical cord blood, with a 180 chemicals known to be carcinogenic and about 217 chemicals that are toxic to the brain. You can read more about this study here: http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns
What Are Phthalates and Parabens
Even if you have never used natural or organic personal care products, you may have heard about Phthalates and Parabens, which are two of the many toxins often found in most commercialized skin care products such as soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body lotion and baby products. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, phthalates and parabens have been linked to endocrine disorders, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity and cancer. There are many different types of phtalates but the one most used in personal care products is known as Diethyl Phthalate (DEP), which helps to set the fragrances in cosmetics so that the fragrance can be smelled after application. DEP is often found in color cosmetics, fragrance lotions, body washes, hair care and nail polish products. Parabens are used as preservative and are commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, soaps, body wash and scrubs. According to the Consumers’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, parabens are the second most frequently used ingredient in cosmetics, second only to water. It is estimated that 75-90% of cosmetics use parabens as a preservative, mostly for its antimicrobial properties.
No Regulations On Cosmetics or Personal Care Items
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not require any testing of chemicals for any cosmetics or personal care products on the market. There is no way to guarantee safety of any cosmetics because there is no pre-testing done to identify harmful chemicals. Although the harmful effects of these toxic chemicals are not easily measured, Research suggests that the more cosmetics a person use, the higher the concentration of chemicals is found in the body. A study published by the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology determined that lotions, cosmetics and perfume use were associated with high levels of phthalates and parabens in the urine of the pregnant women at a fertility clinic. The study also suggests that these chemicals are potential hormone disruptors and could directly affect a developing fetus.
Use All-Natural Body Care Products
One of the ways to know exactly what ingredients you are putting on your body is to purchase natural products made with certified organic ingredients (the less ingredients, the better). You also have the option to make your own skin care products using natural ingredients that are safe and beneficial to the skin. Making your own products allows freedom and creativity to create a personalized product with ingredients that will suit your needs.Check out EWG’s Skin Deep website for tips and safety information on cosmetics: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Chemicals of Concern”. Retrieved from http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Skin Exposure and Effects. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/skin/
Malkan, Stacy (2007). Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.” New Society Publishers. Canada
Winters, Ruth (2009). A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals. Three Rivers Press.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cosmetic Safety Q&A: FDA’s Authority. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm135709.htm
Personal care product use and urinary phthalate metabolite and paraben concentrations during pregnancy among women from a fertility clinic. Journal of Exposure and Environmental Epidemiology (2014) 24, 459-465. Nature America Inc.
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