Topical Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a big topic these days.

Practicing mindfulness is the act of creating space for stillness – to think, to breathe and space to be between ourselves and our reactions.

Mindfulness in regards to what we put in our body – the foods we ingest – is the number one component we can control when it comes to our health.

‘Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’

– Hippocrates

However, let’s think about what we put on our body… on our skin.

Consider the effects, intentional or accidental, that may occur from the many substances that come in contact with your skin.

Because it doesn’t just sit on your skin

Just about everything that contacts our skin has a physical effect, either positive or negative.

Our skin in our largest organ and our greatest protector.

  • It lubricates and waterproofs.
  • It absorbs shock and insulates our organs.
  • It preserves hydration levels and synthesizes vitamin D.
  • It senses our surroundings and reports tactile information to us.

As wonderful as our skin is at protecting us, harsh and harmful organisms can still find their way in.

In my opinion, what we put on our skin is as important as what we put in our body.

Dermal absorption is the transport of a chemical from the outer surface of the skin both into the skin and into the body. Studies show that absorption of chemicals through the skin can occur without it being noticed, and in some cases, may represent the most significant exposure pathway.

Center for disease control and Prevention (CDC)

Three ways chemicals enter our skin

diagram of skin showing Intercellular lipid pathway

1. Between skin cells

diagram of skin showing Transcellular permeation

2. Through skin cells cell-to-cell permeation

diagram of skin showing pathway for diffusion of chemicals Through the appendages (hair follicles, glands)

3. Through the hair follicles

Something to think about

Consider for a moment the products that are intentionally applied to your skin…

Lotions, oils, serums, sunscreens, cosmetics, essential oils, cleansers, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, cologne, perfume, etc.

Your favorite body moisturizer may give you dewy skin and make you smell like a chai latte, however its artificial fragrance may also create skin sensitivities and endocrine disruption.

Now, consider the ingredients that unintentionally come in contact with your skin…

Nail polish remover, dish detergents, cleaning supplies, gasoline, bleach, laundry detergents, furniture polish, paint, toxic gardening chemicals.

An endless list. And sadly, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid coming into contact with some offenders.

That said, I’m a believer in practicing prevention and making safe, healthy choices whenever possible.

Steps to protect yourself

  1. Choose natural, organic products that are safe for humans, kind to our planet and it’s creatures
  2. Add a barrier (gloves, eye protection, face mask) when handling anything potentially toxic
  3. Make a conscious choice to purchase products from companies that are certified organic
  4. Read ingredient labels
  5. Commit to purchasing and using products that have zero harmful ingredients

Mindful shopping when selecting personal care products 

With the rise of “natural” and “clean” skin care, we’ve also seen an increase in “green washing”.

Green washing is falsely and knowingly labeling a product organic or natural when it contains harmful ingredients. This strategy is used to trick consumers, so be mindful and check the ingredient list to be sure.

Choosing to purchase and use safe and healthy products takes additional diligence on the part of the consumer. If this is something that speaks to you, I have provided a list of ingredients to avoid.

Ingredients to avoid when opting for safe personal care products

  • Aluminum
    • Top concerns: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, breast cancer, rash, irritation, immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, impaired kidney function, bone disease and tissue damage. Has been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
    • A metal and a neurotoxin that blocks the sweat glands.
    • Found in: antiperspirants.
    • Also labeled as Aluminum zirconium, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex glycine complex, Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly.
  • Coal Tar Derivatives
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, allergies, immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption and organ toxicity.
    • Also labeled as: Toluene, & BHT, Benzene, methyl, Methylbenzene, Toluol, Antisal 1 a benzene, methyl cp 25, Methacide, Methane, phenul, FD&C or D&C, followed by a color or a number (e.g., FD&C yellow No. 5) allura red, allura red ac, c.i. 16035, c.i. Food red 17. 
  • DEA, MEA & TEA
    • Top concerns: cancer, allergies and immunotoxicity.
    • Foaming agent
    • Found in: makeup, body wash, shampoo, skincare.
    • Also labeled as: Diethanolamine, Monoethanolamine, Triethanolamine, N, N-diethanolamine, 2,2’-dihydroxydiethylamine, 2,2’-iminobisethanol, 2,2’-iminodiethanol, ethanol 2,2iminobis, DEA, 2,2’-dihydroxydiethylamine, 2’(2-hydroxyethyl) amine, 2,2’,2”-Nitrilotris-; 2,2’,2”-Nitrilotris, TEA, TROLAMINE, Nitriloriehanol, Alkanolamine 244, Daltogen, Nitrilo-2,2’,2”, Triethanol, Sterolamide.
  • Ethyl Acetate
    • Top concerns: cancer, neurotoxicity, irritation, organ system toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity.
    • Also labeled as: Acetic acid, Ethyl ester, Ethyl ester acetic acid, Acetic acid ethyl ester, Acetic ether, Acetidin, Acetoxyethane, Aethylacetat, Essigester, Ethyl acetate (acgih:osha), Ethyl acetic ester, Ethyl ethanoate.
  • Formaldehyde
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, immunotoxicity, irritation and endocrine (hormone) disruption, mutagenic.
    • An impurity released by some chemical preservatives.
    • Found in:  nail polish, deodorant, shampoo.
    • Also labeled as DMDM Diazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium 15 and Bronopol, formalin, formid aldehyde, merthaldehyde, methanal, methyl aldehyde, oxomethane, oxymethelyne, aldehyd mravenci, aldehyde formique, aldeide formica, bfv, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, phenylacetyl urea, a-1348, acetylureum, alpha-phenylacetylurea, carbamide, phenylacetate, carbanmide, cetylureum, comitiadone, eferon, epheron, epiclase. 
  • Fragrance (specifically, synthetic fragrance)*
    • Top concerns: allergies, toxicity, skin sensitivity, dermatitis, immune toxicant, neurotoxicity, cancer, endocrine disruption. *This does NOT include fragrance derived from natural sources such as essential plant oils or natural essences.
    • Chemical ingredients used to artificially scent a cosmetic products, household products.
    • Also labeled as: Naticide, Conarom H-3 (a blend of) PPG-2 methylether, piperonal and phenylpropanol, Conarom E (a blend of) PPG-2 methylether, piperonal and phenylethanol, Conarom P (a blend of ) Phenylethanol, caprylyl glycol and trideceth-8, BHT, BHA, DBP, DEP, DMP, Benzyl Alcohol, Citral, Citronellols, Eugenol, Geraniol, Hexyl Salicylate, Isoeugenol, Methylionone, Phenylacetaldehyde, Antioxyne b, Antrancine 1 2, Eec no. e320, Embanox, Nipantiox, 1-f, Protex, Sustane 1-f, Tenox BHA.
  • Mineral Oil / Petrochemicals
    • Top concerns: immunotoxicity, organ system toxicity, allergies and cancer.
    • Used as an emollient or lubricant.
    • Found in:  skincare, body care, lip balm, makeup.
    • Also labeled as: toluene, petrolatum, petroleum jelly.
  • Octoxynols
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, endocrine disruptor, human skin toxicant.
    • Also labeled as: Octoxynols (with any number behind it), peg-20, PEG-40 octyl phenyl ether, Polyethylene Glycol 2000 Octyl Phenyl Ether, carboxylic acid; polyethylene glycol 1000, polyoxyethylene, nonaethylene glycol octylphenyl ether, antarox a-200, ethoxylated p-tert-octylphenol, hydrol sw, octylphenol polyethoxylate, actylphenoxypolyethoxyethanol, polyethyleneglycol 4- (tert-octyl) phenyl ether, preceptin.
  • Oxybenzone
    • Top concerns: developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies, immunotocixity, endocrine disruption, enhanced absorption, organ system toxicity, ecotoxicology, bio-chemical and cellular-level changes, damaging to oceanic life and coral reef.
    • Found in sunscreens.
  • Parabens
    • Top concerns: has been found in breast tissue, acts like estrogen in the body, could lead to impaired fertility or impaired fetal development, endocrine disruption, cancer.
    • Used as a synthetic preservative.
    • Found in: soap, skin care, body care, hair care, toothpaste, deodorant.
    • Also labeled as: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben isobutylparaben ethylparaben, alkyl parahydroxybenzoate.
  • Phthalates
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, allergies and endocrine disruption.
    • Found in: hair spray, lipstick, perfume and nail polish.
    • Also labeled as: DBP, BBP, DEHP, 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, dibutyl este, dbp, di-n-butylphthalate, dibutyl 1,2-bensenedicarboxylate, dibutyl ester 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, dibutyl phthalate, benzene-o-dicarboxylic acid di-n-butyl ester; celluflex.
  • Propylene Glycol
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, allergies, hives, eczema, irritaion (eyes, skin or lungs), enhanced skin absorption, dermatitis, sensitizing & organ system toxicity, dryness. 
    • Helps to retain moisture in a product.
    • Found in:  skin care, hair care, body care, makeup, baby care products, contact lens cleaner.
    • Also labeled as: 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 2-hydroxypropanol, methylethyl glycol, 1,2-propanedial, propane-1,2-diol, 1,2-propylene glycol, 1,2-propylenglykol, alpha-propyleneglycol, dowfrost, methylethylene glycol, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, and trimethyl glycol, PEG or PPG.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
    • Top concerns: cancer, allergies, immunotoxicity.
    • Foaming agent.
    • Found in: facial cleansers, body wash, bubble bath, baby bath, toothpaste, shampoo
    • Also labeled as: dodecyl sodium sulfate;peg- (1-4) lauryl ether sulfate, polyethylene glycol, poly (oxy-1,2-ethanediyl), a-sulfo-w (dodecyloxy), polyoxyethylene (1-4) lauryl ether sulfate, sodium peg lauryl ether sulfate; sodium polyoxyethylene. 
  • Triclosan
    • Top concerns: cancer, bio-accumulation, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, eye, skin and lung irritant.
    • Antibacterial and antifungal agent, EPA registered pesticide.
    • Found in: toothpaste, soaps, detergents, toys.
    • Also labeled as: 5-chlora-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol, 2,4,4’-trichlora-2’-hydroxy diphenyl ether, 5chloro2, trichloro-2’-hydroxydiphenyl ether, ch 3565; irgasan; irgasan dp300; phenol.

What you can do

This is a lot of information. As a licensed esthetician, my advice would be the following:

  • Start transitioning over to using skincare products that are certified organic. My personal favorite skin care line is Éminence Organics. Éminence is full of potent plant actives and organic goodness, with results that speak for themselves.
  • Ask questions, read labels, dig deeper.
  • Trust your intuition. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, look it up so you can make an educated decision.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of using organic skin care products, I encourage you to explore Éminence Organics website. The link below offers full descriptions of each and every product and allows you to purchase products and have them ship directly to your door.

© pamela sander 2022, skin & soul holistic wellness