You might have heard that sure, parabens and other chemicals in your skin care are bad if ingested, but they can’t penetrate your skin so you don’t have anything to worry about. The fact is, much of what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. Just think about nicotine and birth control patches. We administer effective doses through the skin to our bloodstream, enabling us to forego a daily oral pill in lieu of a patch that prevents pregnancy. Or a patch that keeps nicotine in our system without the side effects of smoking, allowing us to wean off of an addiction. While there may be some chemicals that are too large to enter our bloodstream, the majority are small enough to penetrate.
Bath & Body
With the spring season typically comes the urge to get rid of the clutter and scour away the dirt. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the American Cleaning Institute, nearly three-quarters of Americans engage in spring cleaning every year, paying particular attention to windows, closets and drawers, floors, and curtains. You’re probably already planning your cleaning efforts in the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom, but what about your cosmetic drawer or cabinet? When was the last time you sorted through that?
We have a body odor problem in this country. But it’s not what you probably think. Yes, some of us stink pretty badly (thanks, Standard American Diet), but that’s not the problem. The issue is our relentless pursuit to cover up our body odor with artificial fragrances and perfumes. Somewhere down the line we decided that detergents and chemicals smell more pleasant than our armpits. We traded in natural botanicals for hazardous materials. We let celebrities sell us perfumes because we think that’s what they must smell like all the time, and if we use their perfume, we’ll smell like a celebrity too.
We constantly hear how important it is to exfoliate, but chances are you are not doing it properly. You can both over-exfoliate and use the wrong ingredients, both will cause damage to your skin. So while it is important to make sure you exfoliate (as dead skin cells left on the surface of your skin can do everything from reduce the efficacy of absorption from the products you apply, increase dryness, aging and irritation to clog pores), it matters with what and how often. Most people are not exfoliating properly.
Winter weather is not fun for skin. Cold weather and low humidity levels result in dry air, which then steals moisture away from the skin every second of every day. Without immediate care, dry skin can lead to cracking and bleeding, and harsh winter wind makes the problem worse. Indoor heat further robs the air of moisture, as do hot showers or baths and harsh cleansers.
What's that smell? Unfortunately, there's no way to know. “Fragrance” is considered a trade secret by law, so companies are not required to disclose the chemical components that add scent to a wide range of personal care products. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, an estimated 80% of products – everything from colognes and body sprays, to shampoos, deodorants, and even make-up – contain fragrance. Even "unscented" products may contain masking fragrances, which are chemicals used to cover up the odor of other chemicals.
As a safe cosmetics advocate and founder of CV Skinlabs, I’m often asked about particular ingredients people find in their personal care products. One that has people especially confused lately is “sodium lauryl sulfate from coconut.” Many of you already know that regular sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are harsh cleansers linked to skin irritation, allergic reactions, dermatitis, and dryness. Because consumers have become so savvy lately, cosmetics companies are trying to stay one step ahead of them without giving up their cheap, readily available ingredients.
Can you trust labels such as "natural” and “organic" and what about “trusted” names like Johnsons & Johnsons? Most consumers believe if a label says “organic”, “ natural” or “safe”, it must be true. We assume that there are regulations that govern what companies can claim on their personal care product packaging. This assumption makes sense—food labels are highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and many of the same claims appear on both food and cosmetic products. But the ethos of food labels does not extend to cosmetic labels. The truth is, the 60 billion dollar beauty industry is hardly regulated, leaving marketing teams free to paste half-truths and all out lies on labels. The onus falls on consumers to learn how to decipher the truth and use the information to make choices that fit within their comfort zone and lifestyle.
When I look at protecting and maintaining beautiful skin, I look beyond the products we apply. Our lifestyle is reflected in our skin. Everything from stress to lack of sleep effects the way we look and feel. It is the sum of our life that keeps us glowing. Winter can be harsh on both our exterior and interior. With everything from constantly being inside with heaters on (which cause excessive dryness and dehydration), to damage from elements (such as wind, ice, extreme cold temperature), and lack of natural sun light, winter can be difficult. Here are some tips to keep your spirits up and your skin beautiful this winter.
Hair care, when you think about it does not just stop at your hair. It “touches” us everywhere. When we “rinse” out shampoo or conditioner in the shower it then flows all over our face, torso, and entire body. As it flows down the concentration does diminish, but we are still exposed to all the chemicals. However for the face and upper torso it has a huge impact. This allows the chemicals in our hair care to not only effect these other areas, but also makes the overall exposure to them more profound and damaging.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of and concerned with toxic chemicals in personal care products. However, we don’t only need to know what to avoid, but also what to look for in order to get the best results for skin. We need equal information on what to look out for as well as what to look for when choosing personal care products. This empowers us to avoid products that are not only harming our health but are also not good for our skin. It also gives us the information we need to select beneficial products that are healthy and effective.
Are you polishing your skin with plastic? You are if your favorite facial scrub contains particles made from polyethelene. It’s a common exfoliating ingredient in such popular products as Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Regeneration Cream Cleanser, the new Neutrogena Rapid Clear Foaming Scrub, and even Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub. Polyethelene beads are made from polymers of ethylene oxide (say that three times fast)—the same synthetic stuff used to make plastic grocery bags.