Toxic Skincare

Do you know what you’re putting on your skin?

Being mindful 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.

However, let’s consider how mindful we with what we put on our body… on our 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 insulates 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.

Let’s consider the products we apply to our skin…

Lotions, oils, serums, sunscreens, makeup, essential oils, cleansers, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, cologne, perfume, etc. Your favorite body lotion may make your skin feel soft and smell lovely, however if it contains fragrance it could cause skin sensitivity, immune toxicity and hormone problems.

Now, consider the many substances that come in contact with your skin accidentally…

Nail polish remover, dish soap, cleaning supplies, gasoline, bleach, laundry soap, furniture polish, paint, toxic garden chemicals. The list is endless, and sadly it’s sometimes difficult to avoid coming in contact with some of these.

Understand that it doesn’t just “sit” on your skin. What goes on the skin goes into the 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)

Dermal Absorption: the 3 ways chemicals enter our skin

1. Between skin cells

diagram of skin showing Intercellular lipid pathway

2. Through skin cells

diagram of skin showing Transcellular permeation

3. Through pores

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

How to protect yourself

  1. Choose natural and organic products that are safe for humans, kind to our planet and it’s creatures
  2. Use a barrier (ie: 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

Beware of green washing!

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 you are avoiding dangerous ingredients.

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.

List of Ingredients to avoid in your personal care products

  • Aluminum
    • Top concerns: Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, rash, irritation, immune toxicity, hormone disruption, impaired kidney function, bone disease and tissue damage
    • A metal and a neurotoxin that blocks the sweat glands
    • Found in antiperspirants
  • Coal Tar Derivatives
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, allergies, immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption and organ toxicity
  • DEA, MEA & TEA
    • Top concerns: cancer, allergies and immune toxicity
    • Foaming agent
    • Found in makeup, body wash, shampoo, skincare
  • Ethyl Acetate
    • Top concerns: cancer, neuro-toxicity, organ toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity
  • Formaldehyde
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, immune toxicity, irritation and hormone disruption
    • Released by some chemical preservatives
    • Found in nail polish, deodorant, shampoo
  • Fragrance (specifically, synthetic fragrance)*
    • Top concerns: allergies, skin sensitivity, dermatitis, immune toxicant, neuro-toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption. *(This does NOT include fragrance derived from natural sources such as essential plant oils or natural essences)
    • Used to artificially scent a cosmetic products, household products
  • Mineral Oil / Petrochemicals
    • Top concerns: immune toxicity, organ toxicity, allergies and cancer
    • Used as an emollient or lubricant
    • Found in skincare, body care, lip balm, makeup
  • Octoxynols
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, hormone disruptor, human skin toxicity
  • Oxybenzone
    • Top concerns: developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies, immune toxicity, hormone disruption, organ toxicity, eco-toxicology, bio-chemical and cellular-level changes, damages oceanic life and coral reef
    • Found in sunscreens
  • Parabens
    • Top concerns: acts like estrogen in the body, could lead to impaired fertility or impaired fetal development, hormone disruption, cancer
    • Used as a synthetic preservative
    • Found in soap, skin care, body care, hair care, toothpaste, deodorant
  • Phthalates
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, allergies and hormone disruption
    • Found in hair spray, lipstick, perfume and nail polish
  • Propylene Glycol
    • Top concerns: cancer, toxicity, allergies, hives, eczema, irritation (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
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
    • Top concerns: cancer, allergies, immune toxicity
    • Foaming agent
    • Found in facial cleansers, body wash, bubble bath, baby bath, toothpaste, shampoo
  • Triclosan
    • Top concerns: cancer, bio-accumulation, organ toxicity, hormone disruption, eye, skin and lung irritant
    • Antibacterial and antifungal agent, EPA registered pesticide
    • Found in toothpaste, soaps, detergents, toys

What you can do

  • Avoid products that contain potentially dangerous ingredients
  • Read labels
  • Trust your intuition
  • If you don’t recognize an ingredient on the label, do a quick Google search so you can make an educated decision regarding it’s safety
  • Transition over to using skincare products that are certified organic
collection of Éminence Organics products

If you are looking to transition to using certified organic skincare, Éminence Organics is my personal favorite.

Éminence is full of potent plant actives and organic goodness – with results that speak for themselves. Since 1958, Éminence has been using sustainable farming and green practices to create natural, organic and Biodynamic products.

Hand-picked fresh ingredients are used to create products that contain potent healing and beautifying properties. Many of the ingredients are combined with pure waters drawn from a thermal hot spring lake containing minerals and trace elements found nowhere else on earth. 

To learn more about the benefits of using organic skin care products, click on the secure link below for full descriptions of each and every product, or to purchase products directly from Éminence and have them ship straight to your door for free.

© pamela sander 2024, skin & soul holistic wellness