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What you put on your skin

by Dr. Nicole

What you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your body. As the first line of defense for our immune system, our skin synthesizes vitamin D, regulates our body temperature, and let's us feel things through sensation. Your skin can also absorb things from the environment and, of course, from what you layer on it daily: lotions, sunscreens, makeup, and fragrances. You might not be worried because you think that you are protected from toxic chemicals by the rules of the FDA. However, under the law, cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA premarket approval, with the exception of color additives.  

The reason the cosmetic industry gets away with putting these ingredients into their products is because only minuscule amounts are used. The problem with this logic is that most items are not one-time use. You may also use multiple products simultaneously, increasing the amount of chemicals to which you are being exposed.  

I know some people who would still choose exposure to some toxins as long as it helped with preventing wrinkles as the label promised.  Unfortunately, many products that claim to be anti-wrinkle actually age the skin faster. Keep an eye out for these ingredients, which can cause wrinkles:

  1. Sulfates: found in body washes, shampoos, and even toothpaste.  They are harsh, corrosive and drying. Avoid “sodium laureth sulfate” and “sodium lauryl sulfate”
  2. Certain alcohols: specifically SD alcohol, ethanol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and ethyl alcohol.  They are drying and strip away your skin’s natural oils.
  3. Mineral oil: this is clogging to the pores because it creates a film over the skin.  It is made from petroleum. Extended use encourages acne and can inflame the skin.
  4. Chemical sunscreens: some sunscreens like oxybenzone, benxophenon-3, and octyl methoxyinnamate can encourage free radical damage when in the sun.  If you would like to follow-up, find recommendations for the best sunscreen ingredients here.  Sunscreens have come a long way but make sure the what you put on your skin is the best for not only burn and skin damage protection, but is also not toxic.

Other chemicals to be on the look out for are parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, DEA, diazolidinyl urea, butyl acetate, butylated hydroxytoluene, ethyl acetate, toluene, triethanolamine, petrolatum, and fragrance. To prevent absorbing these toxins daily, start to read ingredient labels more carefully.  The words “natural” and “organic” are not regulated. In order to have an organic seal, 95% or more of the ingredients must be organic.  If there is no seal, then it does not meet that standard. Ideally, you should try to replace your problem products with healthier ones, or replace a bad one with a good counterpart when you run out. Your skin is the largest organ on  your body; keep it healthy like the rest of them!

June 2018 Special