When it comes to putting things INTO our bodies, we’re pretty good at considering the ingredients and maybe even their origins. But we often overlook this when it comes to what we’re putting ONTO our bodies.
We sometimes forget the skin is an organ – our biggest one at that. It is said to be the first line of defence for the body, it protects us, houses millions of nerve endings and regulates our body temperature. The skin is sometimes referred to as the ‘third kidney’ because of its key function in eliminating sweat and toxins. It is about so much more than appearance. Our skin reflects our overall health and wellbeing.
The skin reportedly absorbs 60-70% of what we put on it (think HRT or nicotine patches). Therefore just as we might be hesitant to eat food covered with chemicals and pesticides, we should also be thinking about our skin care in the same way, to avoid potentially harmful chemicals entering our bloodstream.
If you are prone to breakouts and sensitivity, it is worth being especially wary as these ingredients may well be partly to blame for your skin issues.
Surely cosmetics companies have an interest in creating products that don’t harm their customers? They do. However some common skin care ingredients (such as phthalates, parabens and triclosan) have been shown in animal studies to interfere with the body’s endocrine system. We also don’t really know how other ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and silicones affect us over time.
What we do know, however, is that the more unsafe ingredients we are exposed to, the bigger the burden on the body’s immune system and detoxification process. Given the number of personal care products the average person uses daily, it makes sense to be cautious and avoid potentially harmful ingredients entering your bloodstream.
Being wiser about the products you use involves reading labels and becoming familiar with ingredients. This might sound daunting, but there is no need to make it too complicated.
Here are some tips:
Different products mean different levels of exposure. For instance, an all-over body lotion that sinks in to the skin all day will provide significantly more exposure than using the same ingredients in a face cleanser that is quickly washed off. So rather than worrying about every single ingredient all the time, you may choose when to be strict and when to relax your standards.
Seek out products made mostly from plant oils and butters (e.g. jojoba, rosehip oil, shea and mango butter, ideally organic). Plant oils have high concentrations of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, thus providing more of what your skin needs, whilst allowing it to breathe and eliminate toxins. The essential oils these plant oils tend to be blended with provide additional therapeutic benefits both to the skin and overall wellbeing.
If you’re finding it hard to decipher a long list of chemical ingredients, the chances are your body might struggle with it too. The ingredients to avoid where possible include parabens (methyl-, propyl, ethyl-, butyl-), petrochemicals (e.g. petroleum, paraffinium), phthalates, SLS or SLES, synthetic fragrance and triclosan.
Know who you are buying from, what they stand for and how transparent they are about their ingredients.
As the saying goes, you are what you put in – and on – your body. To allow our skin to do its job in the body’s detoxification and immune processes, we should really view skincare as feeding our skin in the same way we feed ourselves; and choose our products accordingly.
Make it enjoyable and be kind to your skin!
About the author
Maia is the founder and creator of ‘h by Maia’, an all-natural toxin-free skincare line that started in 2015 out of a love for things honest, natural and simple.
Having worked in international Public Health for many years, and following the loss of her Mother to cancer, Maia set up h by Maia to inspire people to live more naturally. The h philosophy encourages us to think about what we put on our skin, and offers healthy, honest, clean and non-toxic alternatives.
Everything Maia creates is pure and developed to enhance the skin’s natural wellbeing. All h formulations are completely free from synthetic ingredients and preservatives; they use only botanical oils and plant butters. Products are handcrafted in small batches in Berkshire.
h stands for a host of things: health, honesty, healing, handmade, happiness, him, her.
To find out more, follow Maia via the following links:
Article originally written for Healthy Reading, Issue 10