The notion of putting food on our skin sounds so odd. Sweet potato on your face? Yikes! Turmeric on your cheeks? Why on earth?
But also, like, why not? We put it inside our body, so why not put it on our body. This also goes for the opposite— if we put it on our skin, shouldn't we also be able to put it in our mouths?
Our skin is our largest organ, and since it's porous, it has the potential to absorb whatever we put on it. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, our skin's absorption rate can be anywhere from 64% to 100% within 30 minutes of application. So why does this matter? Because the majority of skincare products (even sometimes advertised as natural !!) are loaded with harsh chemicals, preservatives and toxic fragrances. Let's dive in to them, shall we?
C O M M O N T O X I N S IN S K I N C A R E P R O D U C T S
Cocoamidopropyl Betaine— This is a sneaky one. Cocoamidopropyl Betaine is actually a derivative of coconut oil, so many "natural" skincare products can use this harsh ultra-processed chemical. It's basically what makes your toothpaste, shampoo & soap foam. If you're a sucker for foaming products, then you'll just have to risk the potential side effects that include irritation, skin rash, and blistering.
Olefin Sulfonate— Like cocoamidopropyl betaine, this guy is also generally derived from coconut. Olefin Sulfonate is what's used for cleansing in your skin and hair products; it's one of many compounds that makes up detergent that breaks down the interface between water and/or oils & dirt. The downside is that it can be very drying for our skin, plus the Environmental Working Group classifies the chemical as a moderate concern for organ toxicity. Love that!
Sodium Luaroyl Sarcosinate— This little bugger is what makes your hair and skin look pretty. In translation, it's a skin/hair conditioning agent. However, it also enhances skin absorption, meaning it can help carry other chemicals it's paired with into the blood stream & lymphatic system. Sodium Luaroyl Sarcosinate is restricted in Japan & Canada, but not the US, even though studies show it is toxic to the environment and humans (like, potentially fatal if inhaled).
Sulfates— There are a few different sulfates that can be found in skin/hair products, and they generally come from petroleum, coconut, or palm oil. Like cocoamidopropyl betaine, sulfates create a lather or soap effect. Sulfates derived from petroleum or palm oil are not good for the environment, but also not that great for our skin, either. Sulfates can cause skin, lung and eye irritation with long-term use; plus, some studies show a correlation between sulfate usage & cancer.
Parabens— Parabens are a synthetic preservative found in personal care products. There is a range of them, but you can spot them by seeing a word you can't pronounce that also ends in "paraben." For example: ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparabe... the list goes on. While each product might have "safe" levels of parabens, we can easily cross this level of safety due to the exposure of parabens in multiple products (think food products, deodrant, shampoo, lotion, etc.) Parabens are no bueno because they can disrupt hormone function and cause reproductive toxicity. Ain't nobody want breast cancer.
Phenoxyethanol— Similar to parabens, phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative and as a stabilizer. There's moderate evidence that it can cause immune and nervous system toxicity, along with high evidence of skin, lung and eye irritation.
Unfortunately, the list goes on. These are just the common toxins in skin care products, but because big companies tend to catch on to consumers awareness of their actions, they can slightly change a chemical and rename it although it's basically the same, toxic, harsh chemical. A good general rule of thumb when buying skin/hair products is to make sure you can pronounce all the ingredients! Better yet, know exactly what they are and be able to picture it in it's whole food form. The Environmental Working Group makes it really easy to understand the toxicity of your ingredients with their online database called Skin Deep. You can type every ingredient from your skincare product in here, and it will tell you the toxicity level & what (if any) precautions there are.
The clean skincare company I use is Rose & Abbot. And yes, I sat down and checked every single ingredient in the Skin Deep database. It's pure AF. Literally, not a single ingredient had toxic precautions.
I trust Rose & Abbot because not only are they free of harsh chemicals, but they use functional ingredients to help heal and nourish my skin. So every morning when I put on my custom Rose & Abbot moisturizer, I feel like I'm feeding my skin nutrients. Their moisturizers are also custom-made, meaning your Rose & Abbot moisturizer is tailored specifically for you. You take a quiz on their site & voila— out comes your perfect moisturizer. Because I'm prone to dryness & redness, my custom moisturizer uses turmeric essential oil to bring down inflammation and aloe vera to combat dryness. You can see more of their ingredients here and take the quiz here, which factors in your age, lifestyle and skin history to make sure your moisturizer is a good fit for you.
If you have any non-toxic skincare products you love & use, please share them! I'll work on compiling a list of the most recommended non-toxic brands from you guys.
Remember, do your research. Pronounce your ingredients. Eat your skincare products (or be able to!)
Love & light,