Chemicals in Skin Care Products: What is Your Skin ‘Eating?’
It’s time to think about what your skin is “eating.” No really, everything you put on your skin (your body’s largest organ, by the way) gets absorbed to some degree. This does vary based on what is put on your skin and where it is placed (thin-skinned areas versus thick-skinned areas),  but it is something to consider as part of a clean, healthy SuperLife. We’re pretty crazy about superfoods around here, but what you put ON your body is just as powerful as what you put IN your body.
Flip over your bottle of lotion or shampoo. How scary is the list of ingredients? The longer the list on the bottle, the less likely it is that they are all healthy, safe ingredients. As you read the list, ask yourself if you would “eat” them? Because that is technically what you are doing when you put something on your skin and it gets absorbed into your body. When you start thinking about your cosmetics and beauty products, lotions, sunscreens, shampoos, and general personal cleaning products as something your skin “eats,” it will revolutionize the way you choose them.
Think about everything you put on your body over the course of a day. You brush your teeth, wash your hair, apply lotion or sunscreen, put on makeup, use shaving cream or aftershave, apply deodorant, perfume, cologne, and more. One estimate by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) indicates the average American can use approximately 10-15 personal care products with a total of 126 different ingredients daily. But that’s not the scary stat. The EWG also estimates that approximately 10,500 ingredients are found in cosmetics. While the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) (an industry-appointed and funded panel, by the way) is supposed to screen the safety of cosmetics, it has only reviewed 11 percent of those ingredients. An incredible approximately 90 percent of cosmetics ingredients are NOT tested for safety.
Yet a notable amount of those untested ingredients and possible chemicals in skin care products end up in your body.
Let go of the false belief that every product on the shelf is healthy for you. They are not all tested for safety. More and more toxic ingredients are being found in skin care products. These toxic chemicals strain your body and negatively affect your heath!
At first it might seem overwhelming to figure out what’s going on your skin, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a great new app called Skin Deep® that lets you simply scan the barcode of a beauty product you are curious about (whether in the store or what you already have at home) and get a score for how safe the product has been rated.
Health studies or testing of the chemicals in personal care products before they can be sold are not currently required. But the Skin Deep® app and Skin Deep Website is designed to “put the power of information in consumers’ hands,”the EWG says.
“When you know what’s in the products you bring into your home and how those chemicals may affect your health and the environment, you can make informed purchasing decisions — and help transform the marketplace,” advises the EWG.
The app automatically scans for all the trouble ingredients and takes the guess work out of cleaning up (pun intended) your skin care products.
If you are the do-it-yourself type and want to skip the app (or if you don’t have a smartphone), I recommend starting by eliminating and forever avoiding these top 10 toxic skin care ingredients listed by Sarah Gottfried, MD. It’s a great list to take a broad sweep at cleaning up your skin care products.
Tips to eliminate the chemicals in skin care products:
- Avoid any overwhelm by tackling one product category at a time (shampoo, cosmetics, deodorant, etc.).
- Look for the USDA Organic Seal of Approval, which means that at least 95 percent of the ingredients are organic.
- Upgrade your products one at a time as they run out.
- Use the EWG app! They’ve done all the intensive research for you.
The Short Version: Our bodies deal with so many hidden toxins and environmental stressors on a daily basis. Taking the time to evaluate the chemical in skin care products that you use can help reduce these stressors.
“We need to become aware of all the toxins in our environments and do our best to avoid them,” (SuperLife, 170). Seriously, whatever we touch, touches us. Help support your skin – the largest organ in your body and your first line of defense against chemicals and toxins. “Take control, make better choices. Try hard to limit [y]our physical exposure to chemical badness… Don’t support companies that don’t support you.” (SuperLife, 171) (and use the same principle when buying food and superfoods)! You’ll be healthier and happier for it!
What product most surprised you when you examined what was really in it? How did you tackle “cleaning up” the chemicals in your skin care products? What organic, toxin-free products do you love?