Toxic Skin Care

Toxic Burden – Women put 515 chemicals on their faces everyday!

A study published by Bionsen, found that the average woman applies 515 chemicals to her face every day.  Make up, perfumes, lotions and other beauty products all contribute to the toxic brew that is causing health problems for many women.

The study found that:

  • The average person uses up to 25 personal care products each day
  • Among these, about 200 different chemicals will have been added to scent, preserve, synthesize and stabilize them for consumption
  • Perfumes were found to contain up to 400 different ingredients
  • Many of the ingredients in personal care products include harmful substances like synthetic dyes and parabens (chemicals used to prolong the shelf life of products)
  • Many of these substances, parabens in particular, have been linked to cancer

People used to think the skin was an impenetrable barrier, blocking anything from entering (or exiting) the body. After all, if it wasn’t, how is that we can take a shower without the water going straight into our bodies and bloating us up like a cartoon character?

Now we know better. Skin does provide a barrier to the world, but not an impenetrable one. Stay in the bath long enough and you’ll see—skin absorbs water to a certain extent, which is why it wrinkles.

“Your skin is enough of a barrier to keep fluids within your body,” writes Samuel Epstein, MD, and author of Toxic Beauty (BenBella Books, 2009), “but it also readily absorbs many things with which it comes in contact.”

Whether or not the skin will absorb something depends on a lot of factors, including the substance itself, the health of the skin, site of exposure, temperature, and hydration of the skin; it’s complicated, but scientists agree that skin can absorb what is applied to it.

“Chemicals can be absorbed through skin and into the blood stream, causing toxic effects,” says the Extension Toxicology Network.

“Although the skin acts as a protective barrier against many micro-organisms and chemicals, some chemicals can penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream.”

Beyond the fact that skin can absorb chemicals is the danger those chemicals pose in the body. Many experts agree that absorption through the skin is more dangerous than through the mouth. Substances absorbed into the digestive system go through the kidneys and the liver where enzymes break them down and often detoxify them, whereas substances absorbed through the skin go through no such process.

“Chemicals taken in by the mouth are absorbed by the intestines and pass into venous blood, which is taken to the liver,” Epstein says. “Carcinogens absorbed through the skin bypass the liver and enter blood circulation without this protection.”

Though we still don’t know for sure what percentage of the chemicals we put on our bodies everyday is absorbed into the blood stream, the fact that it happens should be enough to motivate us to be more careful.

For your health and the health of those you love, look at your skin in a different way—when you put something on it, imagine that substance inside your body. Would you feel as comfortable using it? If not, try something else instead—something with more wholesome, safe ingredients you can feel good about?