Do you check food ingredient lists but assume skin care is safe? Or maybe you've read the label but the ingredients look like a foreign language. I was shocked to learn the US hasn't passed federal legislation to regulate the cosmetic industry since 1938! And that out of the 1400 ingredients that are banned in the European Union in skin care, only 30 are banned in the states.
Toxins are everywhere around us, not just in the food supply.
Listed below are some of the worst offending ingredients which are found in plastics, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, face washes, nail polishes, cosmetics and soaps, among others:
Triclosans (primarily in anti-bacterial soaps)
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
Heavy metals, especially mercury and arsenic
These toxins accumulate in our tissues and disrupt our metabolism, fertility, hormone function, energy cycles, blood sugar balance, and so much more.
I have advocated for years for the critical importance of pursuing health through nutrition (from the inside out) but what about from the outside in? Does what we put on our skin, hair, and nails really matter? A bounty of research in the last few years has proven - emphatically, YES!
More exposure to toxins = higher risks of obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, hyperactivity and emotional problems in children, autoimmune diseases like Lupus, thyroid diseases or changes, and others. This is why many of these chemicals are called "endocrine-disrupting chemicals" and "obesogens."
Here are some jaw-dropping facts:
Cancer rates are highest among those with the highest chemical exposure
Over 300 chemicals are known to transfer to amniotic fluid and breastmilk which can increase risk of stillborn births, poor cognitive abilities, hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children (and likely many other effects we don't even know yet).
People with darker (non-caucasian) skin carry higher toxic loads (see page 296 as an example in the link) which makes them more susceptible to autoimmune diseases like lupus and other side effects.
Who's most at risk? Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those of color, those who have high exposure, and those with a personal or family history of any of the above diseases.
The more I learn and the more I talk to people about this, the more I realize this is an area that is often forgotten or ignored by even those with the best health intentions.
What can be done for our skin, our largest organ?! Thankfully it's not all bad news. The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep program(EWG) rates products based on levels of carcinogens, endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals and other dangerous ingredients. What's amazing is that you can change your toxic levels in as little as 3 days!! A study in California with 100 Latina teenagers found various endocrine-disrupting toxins dropped 27 to 44% in just 3 days when they switched from regular shampoo, lotion and cosmetics to EWG-verified clean products!
Before you think you can run to your local drugstore, health store or cosmetics store to get a better product, think again. Because of the lack of regulation in the US, even seemingly "better," "healthier" or "safe" products don't mean much and in the US often still contain dangerous ingredients. I fell into this trap too. And that leads me to my favorite skin care line - Beautycounter (affiliate link), a company on a mission.
They are a top-rated EWG brand, were founded on principles of ingredient transparency and science and embody commitment to cleaner, safer products by voluntarily excluding 1400 toxic ingredients.
I have not found another brand that is more consistent with my nutrition philosophy than Beautycounter. When we know better, we can do better.
Christmas is around the corner! What a wonderful gift you can give yourself and those you love - safe, and clean skin care and cosmetics that work! For more information on Beautycounter products or for help on making the switch to safer skin care, click here (affiliate link).
Now my heath message is complete - feel good about what you put in your body AND ON IT!
Darbre, P. D. (2017). Endocrine Disruptors and Obesity. Current Obesity Reports, 6(1), 18–27. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359373/
Ejaredar, M., Nyanza, E.J., Ten Eycke, K., Dewey, D. (2015, October). Phthalate exposure and childrens' neurodevelopment: a systematic review. Environmental Research, 142, 51-60. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26101203
Ginsberg, G.L., Balk, S.J. (2016, April). Consumer products as sources of chemical exposures to children: case study of triclosan. Current Opinions in Pediatrics, 28(2), 235-42. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26867165
Jeong, H. Kim, J. Kim Y. (2017, Sep. 30). Identification of linkages between EDCs in personal care products and breast cancer through data integration combined with gene network analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(10). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664659/
Meeker, J. D., Calafat, A. M., & Hauser, R. (2007). Di(2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate Metabolites May Alter Thyroid Hormone Levels in Men. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(7), 1029–1034. http://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.9852
Parks, C. G., & De Roos, A. J. (2014). Pesticides, chemical and industrial exposures in relation to systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus, 23(6), 527–536. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4020505/
Phillipat, C., et.al. (2017, Sep. 5). Prenatal exposure to non persistent endocrine disruptors and behavior in boys at 3 and 5 years old. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(9), 097014. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28937960
Zeliger, H.I. (2013). Lipophilic chemical exposure as a cause of type 2 diabetes. Reviews on Environmental Health, 28(1), 9-20. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23509204