I blog a lot about food, stress, thoughts and emotions. For this blog, I want to change gears. Today I want to talk about skincare and how what you put on your skin plays a huge role in your health.
This is a subject that often gets overlooked when people embark on their health and wellness journeys. My intention is to put it front and center for each one of you.
Did you know that the skin is considered the body’s largest organ? It has many jobs – protecting us from whatever is outside the body and providing a container for what’s inside. If the skeleton is the physical structure that the rest of the body rests on, the skin is the protective layer surrounding all that makes up our bodily self.
When we ingest something, it is likely to end up in the liver – the body’s most important filtration organ. The liver knows how to look for toxins and prepare them for excretion. The liver, if functioning properly, will not allow anything that can harm us to get into circulation and affect the rest of the body. The digestive tract houses the majority of the body’s immune system, providing yet another layer of protection from outside toxicants. One of its main jobs is to survey what we ingest and keep the dangerous components out of circulation.
But what happens when we put something on our skin? The important layers of defense mentioned above are likely to be bypassed. Whatever it is can enter systemic circulation without further surveillance. The skin is porous; many medications today are delivered transdermally, in patches, creams and sprays. Whatever goes on the skin gets into the body.
According to the Environmental Working Group, a trusted Washington, DC based non-profit, women in the US use an average of 12 personal care products daily – exposing them to up to 168 different chemicals. Men’s exposure is lower, but still high at 85 chemicals. The personal care product industry is poorly regulated, allowing companies to use ingredients with little or no testing. The Federal Drug Administration, the agency tasked with oversight, states on its own website:
“Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients.”
Toxic chemicals are not compatible with good health and they need to be avoided in the Wildatarian® lifestyle. Health-conscious individuals should not put anything on their body knowing that it was likely never tested for safety. What am I talking about includes everyday products like soaps, lotions, shampoos, nail polish, make-up and many others. Take a look at the products you use – you would be shocked at the long lists of ingredients with unpronounceable names. And now you also know that most of them have no associated safety data. And another thing – don’t fall for “greenwashing,” bogus marketing claims about a product being clean. Companies often take advantage of the lax regulations to fool us into a false sense of security.
Maybe the products you use are clean. But what if they are not? It’s important to be educated about this. Download the Healthy Living app from the Environmental Working Group onto your smartphone. Visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website and get educated. Start transitioning away from products with unsafe ingredients. You don’t have to do it all at once. As you run out of something, replace it with a cleaner version. Start with products that affect a large area of skin – body lotion, soap, sunblock, shampoo and conditioner – as these are most important.
Many products in this space are geared toward the health-conscious consumer. With some effort and research, you will be able to find the products that meet your specific needs.