- We may be absorbing up to 2 kilograms per year of chemicals into our body each year
- The average woman wears nearly 515 chemicals a day
- Our skin absorbs as much as 60% or more of the topical products placed on our body
When it comes to beauty many of us will go to extremes to purchase the latest promise of youth and putting on our skin is being absorbed and how can we effortlessly build a sans-toxin beauty regime?
To what extent are chemicals in skin care a problem?
It is claimed that women who are using make up on a daily basis are absorbing almost 2 kilograms or 5 lb of chemicals a year into their bodies .
Most people use cosmetics and other personal care items without a second thought, believing that none of the chemicals will penetrate their skin and hence they have nothing to worry about. Studies suggest that our skin, the largest organ in our body, absorbs close to 60% of the topical products with which the skin comes into contact.
According to a survey conducted by Skin Deep of 2300 people, on average, respondents use nine products daily. Alarmingly, 25% of women surveyed apply 15 or more products each day. These contain 126 unique ingredients . Some studies suggest we may be wearing nearly 515 chemicals per day.
What toxins should you be looking out for?
It can often be confusing knowing what to avoid and what not to. In general it is best to avoid any ingredient natural or synthetic which can poison the environment or cause harm to human health. I provide further detail on why you should avoid the below ingredients in my blog post “Toxic Beauty”. This includes ingredients which have been proven toxic and mutagenic in animal studies and includes:
1. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) / Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and other sulfate-based detergents: These are in fact used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and 90% of personal care products that foam. Eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhoea and skin and eye irritation have been linked to their use. Not only are they harmful, they are also extremely drying to the hair and skin.
2. Propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol and various ingredients formulated with PEGs and PGs: PEGs have been found in everything from personal care products, baby care and sunscreens, acting as binders and plasticizing ingredients. Dioxin is a by-product of the process used to create propylene glycol. Dioxin has been linked to cancer, reduced immunity, nervous system disorders, miscarriage and birth deformity.
3. Parabens (methyl, butyl, ethyl, propyl): Parabens are preservatives and allow skin care products to survive for months or even years in your medicine cabinet. They are used in deodorants and other skin care products and have been found in breast cancer tumours. Parabens are known endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer and hormonal imbalances.
4. Phtalates (DBP, DEP, DEHP, and DMP): Phthalates are most often used to create fragrances in cosmetic products. They are known endocrine disruptors.
5. Synthetic (FD&C and other) dyes and colourants: Synthetic colours from coal tar contain heavy metal salts that deposit toxins in skin, causing skin sensitivity/irritation. Absorption can cause depletion of oxygen and animal studies show the majority are carcinogenic.
6. Benzyl Peroxide: This is predominantly used in acne products and may act as a mutagen, producing DNA damage in human and other mammalian cells.
7. DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) and TEA (Triethanolamine): This foam booster is a skin irritant and causes contact dermatitis. Easily absorbed through the skin to accumulate in body organs and the brain.
8. Formaldehyde: Has many uses but is most often used in cosmetics as a disinfectant and preservative. Be cautious of products containing 1,4-dioxane, as this can also release formaldehyde in certain chemical processes. Formaldehyde is a caricinogen, skin, eye and lung irritant.
Building a Toxin-Free Beauty Regime
When it comes to creating a toxin free beauty regime, it can often feel overwhelming. Below, I provide tips to de-toxing your beauty regime, with minimal cost and effort.
1. Replace you Moisturiser: The very first beauty product to invest in is a moisturiser. They stay on the skin the longest and should hence be one product you buy which is non toxic.
2. Prioritise Products that Stay on You the Longest: Be strategic with giving your beauty stash a green makeover. Try to get the best ingredients in products that you have a lot of exposure to (shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, etc.), and if you want to, relax your standards for products they you do not use often eg nail polish. In general, aim to prioritise the following products: anything you apply and do not wash off (lotion, body creams, and oils), anything you soak in (e.g. bubble bath), body powder and any product you put on your child.
3. Do your Due Diligence: Check the ingredients list on the products you are buying and know who you are buying from and what they stand for
4. Avoid Over Claims: Products which claim to restore your youth in a matter of days or be the equivalent of botox are likely to be overpriced and filled with non-green ingredients. Don’t fall in the “beauty in a flash” trap
5. Do it Yourself: Start experimenting with creating your own beauty products with ingredients you have in your pantry. You will soon realise that your home made cosmetics are more effective and pleasant to use than commercially available masks sold in pretty tubes and jars. You will be able to save. Check out the recipes on this website or invest in a DIY Green Beauty Book. One of my favourites is The Green Beauty Guide by Julia Gabriel.
6. Remember the Inside Out Principle: Once you start nourishing your skin through the foods you eat you may find that you do not need to spend excessive amounts on skin care products as your skin will develop a healthy glow from the “inside out”.