I came across this excellent pictorial from Inspired Souls on Facebook. Research informs us that the average woman applies over 515 chemicals to her body each day and we are seeing more and more evidence that at least some of these are not just toxic but cancer causing. Apart from reducing cancer potential, avoiding toxic chemicals in skin care and thereby reducing overall toxic load just makes good sense.
I think the visual brings home the the idea of just how many toxic chemicals we may be applying each day. View the most worrying chemicals used everyday below:
Check our our toxic free alternatives at Vitale Natural OnlineTwitter It!
Have you noticed that organic products feel different to their synthetic counterparts? Sometimes they take a little longer to sink in or initially feel richer due to the oil component. Once applied however, you can start to notice your skin feels different, and not just after application but also over time, it feels smoother and more hydrated. There is a reason for this and it all comes down to the base ingredients used in organic skin formulations.
Conventional skin care contains synthetic ingredients such as fillers, silicon and slip agents. These make the product feel smooth as they give the product slip and are designed to settle on the top of the skin, creating a smooth barrier. It also makes your skin appear more hydrated than it actually is. In reality, the barrier created by fillers and silicone agents creates an occlusive coat, trapping ingredients below it and stopping the skin from breathing. While this may make your skin feel better in the short term, in the long term they provide little if any nourishment for the skin.
Skin “breathing” is a critical function of body detoxification. While creating a barrier to the outside world the skin also allows substances such as water, waste products and oxygen to pass through its layers. If these are then trapped below an occlusive emollient such as silicone it can lead to skin health issues such as congestion, poor skin texture and irritation. Extended exposure to sweat under an occlusive layer can further irritation. In addition, skin exposure to ingredients such as artificial colours and scents, which are already the most significant cause of skin issues, can become even more problematic if trapped under an occlusive layer.
By contrast natural base oils and butters, while giving products a smooth base feel, also allow the skin to breathe. As fatty substances they are absorbed into the skin, rather than sitting on the surface and in doing so carry important ingredients such as antioxidants through as well. In addition, they are a source of critical essential fatty acids, glycolipids and phosphlipids which support the skin cell membranes and permit nutrients and water into the cell and toxins out.
What to look for in your products are ingredients such as those listed below:
The benefits of products containing such ingredients as their basis are twofold; firstly they aren’t irritating to the skin and secondly provide essential nutrition. This is a win-win situation all round.Twitter It!
Last month I posted a blog about Story of Cosmetics. This video has caused big waves, particularly in the US where lobby groups work hard to maintain the toxic status quo. I am please to say the ground swell against toxic ingredients in everyday products is growing. Over 200,ooo people have watched the Story of Cosmetics since its launch on July 21st. What a great response! Not only did people watch but they responded, grateful for raising this issue as a topic for debate.
It is so heartening to see the impact the Story of Cosmetics is having and indeed the positive influence that can be had using social media. Keep it up I say! Please let me know what you think about this topic.
If you didn’t get to watch the video, here it is again:
Launched on July 21st, The Story of Cosmetics is the brainchild of Annie Leonard, a campaigner for safe cosmetics. This video may look cute but the message is serious – get toxins out of our skincare! Annie discusses how cosmetic companies get away with including ingredients that are potentially carcinogenic (cancer causing) in products such as baby shampoo and flow on effects of such action. The Story of Cosmetics will help spread the word to millions of people and in turn help effect the changes needed to ensure all the products we use are safe for us and our families.Twitter It!
As you know, I usually write most blog entries myself but I liked this one and so have included it as is. This blog is by Lisa Bronner (of the Dr Bronner family) from her website “Going Green with a Bronner Mum“. One of the reasons I like this blog is that it advocates soap and essential oils as effective household cleansers – you can’t get much simpler than these two ingredients:
Somewhere along the way in recent years, we’ve accepted the idea that soap isn’t good enough. The myth persists that only potent, synthetic antibacterial agents are legitimate cleansers and soap simply isn’t effective.
This idea stems partially from the pursuit of efficiency, the desire for cleanliness, and the promotion from advertisers. Although it is true that products such as these do clear away soap scum faster and kill germs “on contact”, if you look at the long term costs and effects, little time or anything else is saved. Rarely does a product do only one thing, such as kill germs. One very common ingredient, Triclosan, which is in everything from toothpaste to bathroom cleaners to hand wash to socks and cutting boards, has also demonstrated in recent studies the ability to alter hormones and create antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Quite a multitasking product. So, down the road when our bodies get sick or start to malfunction, will the few minutes we saved cleaning the bathroom really matter?
The idea that soap doesn’t clean well is also unfounded. Terms such as “antibacterial” actually have carefully regulated definitions. “Antibacterial” means that the product must kill 99.9% of germs. The term “disinfectant” means that the product must kill a mere 99% of germs. Dr. Bronner’s soap is part of the “disinfectant” category. It’s not a term we readily spout out regarding the soap because it sounds so unnatural and not something we want to put on our bodies, but for the purpose of this debate, I’ll use it. Just so you know. So if you’re still really paranoid about germs and suspicious of simple soap, grab hold of a bottle of Tea Tree Castile soap or even a bottle of pure tea tree oil (undiluted this can burn, so use care). Although the US government doesn’t yet recognize it as such, tea tree oil is a naturally occurring antibacterial agent.
In comparing the cost of conventional bathroom cleaners versus a homemade soap solution, both the upfront and long term calculations favor the soap solutions. The recipe I use at the end of this post costs roughly $1.10 USD, compared to an estimate of $2.99 USD for a bottle of conventional spray cleaner. (These numbers and the recipe are from Karen Logan’s fabulous book, Clean House, Clean Planet. I highly recommend this book for ways to replace toxic conventional products.)
To continue with the evils of conventional cleaners, let’s assume that you wear gloves when using them, so they don’t come into contact with your skin during application. (I rarely remember to wear my gloves, if I even know where I put them. Usually I’m cleaning the bathroom while my kids are in the tub, so I can’t leave the room to find my gloves anyways.) But consider what about the little residue that may be left on the tub, that ends up in the bathwater which the kids inevitably drink as they blow bubbles? What about what might remain on the toilet seat, and be absorbed through the skin of their bottoms? What about the little bit that ends up on the counter, which the kids touch and then eat their sandwiches? What if this happens every day – several times a day – for their entire childhood? How much ends up in their little, developing bodies?
Here’s a great recipe for an all-purpose household cleaner that Karen Logan calls “Merlin’s Magic”:
Ed Note: I mistakenly used the essential oil flea repellant mix for my dogs as a surface antibacterial for months until I realised what it was. I then hurridly checked the ingredients (a lavender & tea-tree essential oil mix that I had combined with water in a spray bottle) and realising is was perfect for both, kept using it. Now when the dogs venture into the kitchen, they get a spay as well!
A recent study in Mexico revealed that certain phthalates are associated with increased incidence of breast cancer. The study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal reviewed the phthalate urine concentrations of 454 Mexican women (223 with breast cancer and 221 as controls) and found a link between higher concentrations of phthalates and breast cancer incidence.
Phthalates are a group of compounds commonly found in artificial fragrances, deodorant, perfume, nail polish and certain plastic food packaging including articles such as baby bottles. Previous to this study, research indicated that this group of compounds has potential to affect the hormone system (endocrine disrupting effect). The exact link between this effect of phthalates and breast cancer has not yet been established however, the authors of the study suggest that it could be related to the DNA damaging effects of phthalates on breast cells.
Interestingly while some phthalate compounds (Monoethyl phthalate (MEP), which is a metabolite of diethyl phthalate (DEP)) were positively associated with higher breast cancer incidence, a number of other phthalate metabolites, including monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP) and mono(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate (MCPP), negatively correlate with breast cancer. The researchers suggest this is due to the ability of certain phthalate compounds to change gene expression without altering the genetic code of the cell.
As with all preliminary studies such as this one, it is important to note that while phthalates are associated with higher incidence of breast cancer, they aren’t necessarily responsible for the development of the cancer itself. Further studies in broader population groups will help establish a link, or not. Authors noted that additional research is need to identify the source of phthalate exposure, be it cosmetics, plastic packaging or a combination of many sources.
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives Journal
Exposure to Phthalates and Breast Cancer Risk in Northern Mexico
Lizbeth López-Carrillo, Raúl U. Hernández-Ramírez, Antonia M. Calafat, Luisa Torres-Sánchez, Marcia Galván-Portillo, Larry L. Needham, Rubén Ruiz-Ramos, Mariano E. Cebrián
Editor’s comments: I am of the opinion that while there is no need to be alarmist about such studies, particularly as a direct link has not been established between phthalates and breast cancer. However, on the other hand I also think that where there is smoke there is fire. There is an easy solution – reduce your phthalate exposure. The easiest way to do this is to avoid the products in which they are commonly found eg. artificial fragrances in skin care, perfume, deodorant, baby bottles, plastic take away containers. Instead choose natural and organic skin care alternatives and use glass baby bottles and food storage containers. If you do get take away, just make sure you put it into ceramic or glass before heating in the microwave or take your own container to the restaurant!
The other day I was browsing one of my favourite research sites www.ewg.org and I came across their list of Safe Shopping Tips for skincare. It is a useful list but I thought that it could be added to and so here an extended version of the Safe Shopping List from the Environmental Working Group:
true. If in doubt ask the manufacturer or retailer for proof of label claim.
I would love to hear if you can add any other safe shopping tips when it comes to skin care. Or if you have had any adverse reactions to skin care of any type, conventional or natural.
Reference: www.ewg.orgTwitter It!
Each fortnight a box of organic fruit and vegies is delivered to my door. I love this arrangement because a. it means I don’t have to go to the shops as regularly (I hate going to the supermarket and generally avoid it when possible) and b. it is organic! This fortnight the box contained peaches and nectarines, which I have been enjoying immensely. As I was eating my organic peach this morning I felt especially good because I remembered that peaches are on the Dirty Dozen List, a list of fruit & veg most affected by pesticide contamination. The other fruit & vegetables on this list include (most affected to least):
While I momentarily felt ok because I was eating an organic peach I realised that my other favourite fruits are also on that list, namely cherries (cannot share them with anyone) and nectarines. There are some alarming statistics and facts bandied around about pesticide contamination:
Reading all of this I felt a bit glum so I did a search to find out if there was any produce that wasn’t unduly affected by pesticide residue. At one of the best resources I have come across, www.ewg.org, I found the answer which cheered me immensely. Eating from the list below minimises pesticide ingestion significantly (around 2 pesticides daily and less if washed). So my new resolution is to ensure that when I buy conventionally grown produce, I will choose from the list below:
How does this relate to skin care? Well the pesticides, herbicides, synthetic chemicals, petrochemicals we eat, inhale
or absorb all contribute to our overall toxic burden. The more burdened our body’s are, the harder it is for them to get rid of all the toxins and waste byproducts which are either stored or eliminated via alternative pathways such as the skin. In those with skin conditions, reducing the overall toxic burden by eating whole foods, choosing organic where possible and using natural skin care & cleaning products can help improve the condition of the skin. For those that just want to improve their wellbeing, it is also a good idea.
Do you eat any organic produce and if so how important is it to you and your family. Is it as important as using organic skin care? I would love to hear your comments.Twitter It!
Propylene Glycol is a humectant and humidifying agent. This ingredient is generally used in brake fluid, anti freeze, laundry detergents, paints and floor wax. It is also used in the cosmetic industry and in some foods to keep products from melting or freezing in extreme temperatures by maintaining a balanced moisture content. Propylene glycol is on the US Food and Drug Administration’s list of ingredients which are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) and is recognized by the World Health Organization as safe for use.
Despite its GRAS status there are a growing number of grass roots claims that propylene glycol is an inappropriate ingredient for cosmetics and food. This is largely due to the material safety data sheet (MSDS). An MSDS is a safety disclosure which instructs manufacturers and shippers on proper procedures for handling ingredients, for treating accidental exposure, and for cleaning up spills. An MSDS does not indicate how the ingredient will react when combined with other ingredients, and the effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present. However the MSDS can be used as a guide of the ingredients potential for hazard.
The material safety data sheet for propylene glycol states that it is “implicated in contact dermatitis, kidney damage and liver abnormalities; can inhibit cell growth in human tests and can damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage”. The concentrated form of the ingredient can cause temporary reddening, stinging or swelling when it comes in contact with the eyes or skin. Propylene glycol is a petroleum plastic that can easily penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin potentially weakening cellular structure.
These indications do not mean that a product formulated with the ingredient will have irritating properties but that it could. Due to the potential for Propylene glycol to weaken cellular structure it is likely that people with a propensity to sensitive, easily irritated or damaged skin are more likely to be affected. However, it is probably best to avoid any cosmetic ingredient that has these risk factors as there are always safe alternatives.
If there is any good news it is that the MSDS for the propylene glycol contains no indications of carcinogenicity or chronic exposure effects and
tests both in humans that have worked with this substance and animals have confirmed this. However, these tests don’t take into account exposure to babies, children or the effect on babes in utero all of which are more susceptible to toxic exposure than adults.
Fortunately there are good natural alternatives to propolene glycol and in this author’s opinion synthetic ingredients should always be avoided where possible. Look for natural skin care products that contain alternatives.Twitter It!
Free eBook for clear skin:
Receive this free eBook by clicking on this link: Glowing Skin