Column: Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep

September 5, 2017

[Written by Dr Kuni Frith]

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is comprised of several layers and has numerous functions. The skin works hard to protect the body. It is responsible for sensations such as heat/cold, touch and pain along with transmitting messages to the brain about the environment around us.

The skin naturally regulates temperature and functions to ward off bacterial invasions that help to break down the body’s immune system. This large organ that we sometimes take for granted, excretes waste from the body, helps to protect the body from sun damage, dehydration, trauma and physical injuries.

Needless to say, the skin is a pretty important organ. Many of us are unaware of just how much the skin absorbs topical products like lotions, balms, oils and gels. The vast selection of body and beauty care products on the market today leaves most consumers in a state of confusion.

Savvy consumers are searching for products that contain natural ingredients due to the overwhelming amounts of toxic chemicals found in body care products today. Chemicals such as mercury, parabens, synthetic fragrances, artificial colours, formaldehyde, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol and lead to name a few.

Personal body care products are absorbed through the skin and filtered into the bloodstream. The toxic chemicals found in these products are far reaching with many of them found in the umbilical cords of new born babies. Humans swim in a sea of environmental toxic substances found in the air, water, processed foods and even the clothes that we wear.

When we slather on lotions such as moisturizers and sunscreen creams, we add to the toxic soup. The chemicals found in these commercial products can alter hormonal function, cause allergic reactions like headaches, itchy watery eyes, skin rashes, blisters, variations in skin pigmentation, thinning hair, excessive perspiration, brain fog, skin cancers and tumors.

The scary part is we seldom think of our personal care products as being the cause of a health imbalance. Even some prescription drugs obtained from a dermatologist contain highly toxic substances that can further exacerbate a skin condition.

Manufacturers make false promises about their products, advertising how they can dramatically reverse aging, reduce wrinkles, restore collagen and make you look ten years younger.

So how does one steer clear of these toxic chemicals? Read the labels. If the ingredients read like you need a PhD to decipher them, then perhaps that is not the product for you.

Can you believe there are approximately 82,000 ingredients used in the beauty and body care industry? There is an estimated list of 10,000 – 12,000 industrial chemicals available for use in a variety of personal care products. Many of these products are known to contain pesticides, endocrine disruptors, plastic substances, and carcinogens.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found traces of these chemicals in urine, blood and hair samples. In the USA there are no restrictions on the use of toxic chemicals in body and beauty care formulas. Several European countries have actually banned the most highly contaminated substances due to side effects and health risks.

In Bermuda, most of the body and beauty care products found on our shelves are produced by US manufacturers. Babies have virgin skin, yet body and beauty care merchandise tailored to care for delicate skin have been found to carry unsavory toxic chemicals; the most advertised commercial brands are the biggest culprits.

More people, particularly women as they are the largest consumers of the beauty care market, are now moving toward plant based body and beauty care products. Oils such as jojoba, coconut, almond, olive, avocado and argan are replacing commercial products as moisturizers and remedies for skin imperfections and health imbalances.

These oils can be combined with plants like aloe, chamomile, lavender, dandelion, peppermint and sage, along with numerous other plant substances to formulate more wholesome and environmentally friendly products. Creative minds are establishing home based businesses by formulating plant based beauty care brands.

Consumers have the power to change the direction of toxic substances used in everything from food to body care products by choosing healthier options. Several of these home based businesses have emerged to become multi-million dollar companies.

Perhaps it’s time to screen the products that we use on our bodies from head to toe. If you notice signs of dryness, pigment imperfections, allergic reactions, or any other unusual symptoms after using a new brand or your favourite brand, it may be time to change to a more wholesome formula.

- Kuni Frith ND

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