Why you need to stop putting toxic chemicals on your skin. Spoiler: the answer lies in the question.
It’s easy enough to accept that consuming unnatural chemicals can negatively affect our health. It’s a little harder to grasp the concept that what we put on our skin also affects us. For many who strive to lead a healthier lifestyle, it’s the missing piece of the puzzle.
We tend to think that our skin is a closed protective shield and that what we put in it absorbs only superficially. Our skin is, in fact, our first barrier – our line-of-dense. It’s our multi-tasking integumentary system – yup, a whole organ. If you want to get really nerdy, it’s more than just a physical layer.
- It protects our homeostatic balance.
- It regulates our temperature: it keeps us cool by sweating through eccrine and apocrine sweat glands and keeps our organs warm by constricting its blood vessels and letting blood flow to our core.
- It lets us know if we are being cuddled or being hurt via cutaneous sensory receptors known as tactile and lamellar corpuscles.
- It helps us to synthesize vitamin D while protecting us from too many UV rays with melanin.
- It protects our immunity with dendritic cells and macrophages that block antigens.
- It protects us from physiochemical threats. It can resist the penetration of many molecules, particularly larger, inorganic, and water-soluble molecules.
The truth is, however, that numerous chemicals do absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream. Considering the amount of body care products we apply on a daily basis, and how much pollution we are unconsciously exposed to, it is more than worth your time and effort to actively reduce your exposure to environmental toxins.
A non-comprehensive list of things you don’t want in/around your body care products:
Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)
Fragrances (keyword for a myriad of unlisted chemicals)
Heavy metals (aluminum, arsenic, lead, mercury)
Parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, propyl-)
Phthalates (DBP, DEP, DMP)
Sulfates (SLS, SLES)
If you haven’t taken an Organic Chemistry course in your life, that is all gibberish. So let me translate for you. These chemicals are used to enhance specific characteristics of the products or act as preservatives, antimicrobials, and the like. These are compounds, however, that are either proven unsafe or not adequately studied for safety. Frankly, the standards for what deems an ingredient safe or unsafe are quite subpar.
Here’s what can happen. Your body will filter these toxins the way it’s meant to filter out what it doesn’t need… to an extent. These compounds will flow through our lymphatic system, some of them accumulating in our lymph nodes. Some will make it through our detoxification organs and end up in our urine. Some of them will irritate our digestive organs. Some will stay back and affect our neurologic systems. Some, like the endocrine disruptors, will interfere with our hormones. Plenty will accumulate in our body tissues – all types of body tissues. Truly, the chemicals we absorb through our skin can affect every single body system.
Yes, the body is resilient, and it has built-in detoxification systems. But, when it’s overburdened with toxins, it will get to be too much, and it will make us sick.
There are safer known alternatives on the market. It’s up to companies to incorporate them even if it means a higher cost. It’s up to us to require this higher standard even is it’s years ahead of what is deemed FDA-safe.
In the meantime, become you and your family’s advocate and take precautionary measures as you are able to. Become a DIYer. Save your pennies and stop buying perfumes. For goodness’ sake, stop using antiperspirant.
As always, I’m here for you.