Organic skin care
Organic skin care is one of the fastest growing areas of the beauty industry. It's estimated that by using a range of body and skin care products, the average woman applies more than 200 chemicals to her skin a day. Furthermore, recent research has shown that 60 per cent of these chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream. It has also been found that the number of people with eczema, allergies and skin complaints is on the rise - their conditions aggravated by the chemicals in our
skincare and body care products.
Many skin care products contain known or suspected carcinogens, neurotoxins and hormone disruptors. Synthetic as well as natural fragrances are frequently allergenic. Some ingredients, like lanolin, which comes from sheep's wool, can be contaminated with pesticides. Other chemicals interact with nitrites to form carcinogens called nitrosamines.
The best way to avoid these synthetic chemicals entering your body is to only use body care products that are organic, fresh, and synthetic chemical-free. Then, what’re organic skin care products? Organic produce has been grown without the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. Regulations governing organically grown products also prohibit the use of genetically modified ingredients. If a product claims it's organic, it must contain at least 95 per cent of organically grown produce. For a product to claim that it has been 'made with organic ingredients', it must contain over 70 per cent of organically grown produce.
The skin is the largest organ in your body. It is responsible for maintaining the correct body temperature and it regulates your body’s fluid balance. Each day through many hundreds of thousands of skin pores, the average human secretes over 850ml of fluid. The same glands are also an essential route for the elimination of toxins collected via the blood and lymphatic system. Blocking the skin could force the waste back inside the system. The skin functions as a nutritional factory, producing vitamin D, necessary in the formation of bone, and participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. It is important to remember, that the skin is a living part of your body – often referred to as the ‘third kidney’ - with several well-developed and interrelated circulation systems; blood, sweat, sebum, nerve and lymph, any of which can be damaged by absorption of chemicals or enhanced by a good skin care system.
The two leading causes of allergy and irritation in skin care products are fragrances and preservatives. If you suffer from watery eyes, reddened skin, irritation or allergic reactions, the culprit could be the fragrance added to cosmetics. Other commonly reported symptoms include nausea, mood changes, depression, lethargy, restlessness, irritability, memory lapses and inability to concentrate. Many chemicals found in fragrances are designated as hazardous. Manufactures are not required to list on product labels the ingredients used in formulating their fragrances, scents or perfumes. If you are sensitive to cosmetics or suffer from asthma avoid using products containing fragrances - 95 percent of the mix in most fragrances is made from synthetic chemicals. Fragrances made with natural ingredients can also cause skin irritation. However you are less likely to suffer allergic reactions if you use one essential oil or a blend of a few oils, than if you use synthetic fragrances.
Cosmetic products require preservatives or bactericides to prevent them from being contaminated. Some of the most allergenic and irritating preservatives release small amounts of formaldehyde, which is an irritant as well as a carcinogen and neurotoxin.
Many skin care products, both natural and from mainstream companies, contain either diethanolamine or triethanolamine (wetting agents), abbreviated on labels as DEA and TEA, and sometimes shown bound to other compounds as in cocamide DEA, TEA or sodium lauryl sulfate. Neither DEA or TEA is carcinogenic. However, if products contain nitrites - often present as contaminants and not disclosed on cosmetic labels -, their presence in cosmetics can cause a chemical reaction - leading to the formation of nitrosamines - most nitrosamines are carcinogenic.
A group of preservatives called Parabens are also causing concern due to their oestrogen-mimicking properties. There are four main types of Paraben, these being butyl-, ethyl-, methyl- and propyl-paraben. When consumed orally, it seems that our bodies are able to disarm them and prevent them interfering with hormone levels, but when they are absorbed through the skin they are far more active. A recent study found higher than normal concentrations of Parabens in human breast tumour tissue. Raised oestrogen levels are thought to be a primary factor increasing the risk of breast cancer, and the discovery of oestrogen-mimicking compounds in cancer tissue. The researchers have suggested that the use of Parabens in underarm deodorants may, particularly when used after shaving, be a contributory factor in the increasing number of breast cancer cases. In addition to the above risk, exposure to Propyl-paraben has been shown to reduce daily sperm production in men. Although the reason for this action is unknown, it would seem prudent for both men and women to avoid unnecessary contact with Parabens until their safety is confirmed.
Most anti-perspirants contain mineral salts such as aluminium chloride and aluminium chlorohydrate, used to block sweat pores by swelling into a gel in the presence of perspiration. This prevents the natural and essential function of perspiration, needed to eliminate toxins and to regulate body temperature. Research published in 2003 suggested a possible link between the use of anti-perspirants and the increasing incidence of breast cancer. In addition, raised levels of aluminium are commonly found in the brain tissue of people suffering from Alzheimer’s, although no direct link has yet been proven between this disease and exposure to Aluminium salts in anti-perspirants.