When you think of a healthy lifestyle, you probably think only about food and exercise. But what about skin care?
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? It absorbs healthy nutrients and valuable moisture from skin care products, but it also absorbs any harmful ingredients in those products at the same time. So what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body.
Many of the facial masks, scrubs, and cleansers we put on our faces to smooth and refresh our complexion actually contain products that are harmful to our skin. What are they?
- Parabens. The actual name on the ingredient list may be slightly different, but it ends in “-paraben.” This ingredient acts like a hormone and may disrupt the endocrine system. Women have enough hormones disrupting their bodies without adding any more to them. If this is not bad enough, parabens are also linked to tumors in the breasts and skin. Avoid methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben.
- Fragrances. Yes, they give skin care products a pleasant aroma, but because there is very little regulation on the ingredients (see below), there is no restriction on what goes into the fragrances. And that would be chemicals. Lots of chemicals. Look for unscented products.
- Formaldehyde. Yep. The same smelly stuff that preserved the frog you dissected in high school is in “nearly 1 in 5 cosmetic products.” Formaldehyde causes skin irritation or allergic reactions and is a known carcinogen. But, again, your ingredient list will not say formaldehyde. Instead, avoid quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol).
- SLES and SLS. This ingredient is in most any skin care, cosmetic, or other personal use product. Both SLES and SLS cause skin irritation, and SLES has the added disadvantage of releasing a carcinogen in its production. Avoid sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Petroleum. No, it is not like spreading crude oil on your face, but it is a derivative and used as a preservative in skin care products to extend shelf life. When properly refined, petroleum has no health concerns; however, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, in the U.S. petroleum is not properly refined and may “be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).” Avoid petrolatum, petroleum jelly, paraffin oil, mineral oil, and white petrolatum.
If you start researching safe skin care, you will find so much information it will make your head spin. But there is no need to be intimidated. Follow these simple steps to take control of what goes on your beautiful skin:
Start small. Instead of going for a complete overhaul of your skin care products, start with a couple of them and look for the five harmful ingredients listed above. And since moisturizers and masks stay on your face the longest, there is more time for them to permeate your skin, so start there. Invest in safer skin care products that rejuvenate the skin.
Be informed. Did you know the skin care industry is probably one of the most unregulated industries in the country? In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetic products and ingredients (other than color additives) before they go on the market.” Additionally, FDA states it does not “have a list of tests required for any particular cosmetic product or ingredient.” Know that only you can keep your skin care regimen safe for you…and your skin.
Stay away from harmful ingredients. Many other countries have a laundry list of ingredients they ban from cosmetic and skin care products; however, the U.S. has only a small list that does not even include some of the worst. Use the list above to screen your products for harmful ingredients, and toss any that don’t pass the test.
Look for affordable alternatives. Not all quality skin care products are astronomically expensive. You may be bombarded by organic skin care brands with price tags that practically require a second mortgage, but affordable alternatives are out there if you do your homework. Safe, high-quality skin care products at a reasonable price are available. Take a minute to read the labels, research the products online, and know what you are buying.
Finally, don’t forget this is a process that takes time, but is totally worth it. The end result is not just a beautiful complexion, but a healthy beautiful complexion.