The skin is the body’s largest organ. It is also an organ of absorption. The products we spray and slather onto it get absorbed internally. Many commonly used products contain a cocktail of toxins. These include face cream, toothpaste, shampoo and bubble bath.
Manufacturers often claim that their products will smooth wrinkles and give the consumer “younger looking skin” when all too often the face creams contain toxic substances that stop the skin from “breathing” and lock in toxins promoting acne and causing premature skin ageing. Some of the common ingredients in face cream are:
Also known as mineral oil – a derivative of crude oil which forms a coating on the skin, clogging the pores, hindering normal skin respiration, trapping dirt and bacteria and preventing toxins from being excreted through the skin thereby promoting acne. Initially it leaves the skin feeling smooth as moisture is sealed in, but will cause it to dry out and age prematurely. It can also be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which have been found in cancerous breast tumours.
Another petroleum derivative, also known as petroleum jelly or paraffin wax. Like mineral oil it creates a barrier which suffocates the skin and can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Intended as a skin protector it has the reverse effect creating an artificial barrier which inhibits natural skin function, stopping secretion – promoting acne and causing skin to age prematurely. It is also used to make skin products spread more easily over the skin. Dimethicone can cause irritation especially for those with sensitive skin.
Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymers
Used as a thickening agent. Can be an irritant to the skin and eyes. May cause respiratory tract irritation if inhaled.
Also known as caustic soda this is a strong irritant and corrosive to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal system if ingested. Used to control the pH levels in cosmetics. It is often employed in detergents and as a drain cleaner. Also used to decompose roadkill by disposal contractors.
A penetration enhancer which alters the skin’s structure and allows other chemicals to penetrate the skin more deeply and make their way into the body. It may be contaminated with impurities linked to major health problems including cancer.
This is a fungicide and preservative. It is absorbed quickly through the skin, and has been linked with breast cancer, as breast cancer tumours have been found to contain high levels of the substance. It may also cause irritation to individuals with skin allergies, eczema and rosacea.
Look for skincare products that contain only pure, natural ingredients and none of the above substances. Your health shop is a good place to start, although don’t assume that all the products stocked contain 100% safe ingredients. Do your due diligence and shop around.
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Frequently contains fluoride, the anti-bacterial agent triclosan and sodium lauryl sulphate.
This is an endocrine disruptor and impacts thyroid function. It is also thought to promote the production of triclosan resistant bacteria.
This is a toxin – supposedly more poisonous than lead. It has been linked with hypothyroidism and neurological impairment. It is added to toothpaste to help fight tooth decay, though there is little evidence as to its effectiveness.
Sodium lauryl sulfate
This is used in detergents and commercial floor cleaners. Its job is to work as a foaming agent, creating the psychological effect of cleaning “properly”. It does not make the product clean any better and can damage tissue in the mouth causing mouth ulcers, gum irritation and bad breath. It is also thought to be carcinogenic.
Propylene glycol also found in toothpaste is used as a humectant to retain moisture and has been linked to respiratory and immune disorders in children, including asthma, hay fever and eczema. It has also been shown to cause damage to the heart, liver and central nervous systems.
Sodium bicarbonate or salt is a natural alternative to commercially produced toothpaste though these can be abrasive. Checkout the ingredients in the toothpastes on sale in your health shop and find one without these 3 substances.
Sls-free, fluoride-free toothpaste is available from Toms of Maine. Natural Oral Care Products at TomsofMaineStore.com!
Bubble bath contains substances that may cause skin irritation. One of the main ingredients here is Sodium lauryl sulphate, again used as a foaming agent. This has the added effect of drying the skin. Often bubble baths are heavily fragranced and dyed, and can cause skin irritation.
Tetrasodium EDTA is used as a preservative and is made from formaldehyde – a known carcinogen and sodium cyanide. It is a a penetration enhancer and so breaks down the skin’s protective barrier.
Cocami-dopropyl betaine is used as a surfactant (detergents which decrease the surface tension of water making it easier to wet the skin) and is a known eye, skin and lung irritant.
A safe natural alternative for a fragranced relaxing bath – admittedly without bubbles, is a few drops of essential oil of your choice mixed with a little carrier oil such as grape seed oil and added to the bath. Please note: essential oils are too strong to be applied straight to the skin or put straight into the bath although lavender oil is one of the few essential oils safe to do this with.
It is best to avoid anti-perspirants of any kind as these block the pores and prevent toxins from leaving the body, causing them to build up inside you.
Aluminium is frequently found in deodorants. This is absorbed by the body and has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
Parabens is sometimes used in deodorants as a preservative. This is able to mimic the hormone estrogen which is instrumental in the development of breast cancer. Parabens has also been detected in a sample of breast cancer tumours.
A safe natural and effective alternative is the deodorant stone, made from naturally occuring crystallised mineral salt (ammonium alum). Available from the health shop or online, it neutralises body odour for around 24 hours, has no smell and does not not mark your clothes. To use: wet the stone and apply to clean skin.