Pop quiz! What's your body's largest organ? If you said the "skin," you're correct. More often than not, when someone mentions "organ," our minds quickly assume we're talking about our internal organs. Yet, our skin- the largest organ of the body--is often overlooked and denied the care it needs and deserves.
Over the last few years many people have become more health-conscious when it comes to their diet. But have we become so focused on what we put "IN" our bodies that we've neglected what we're been putting "ON" our bodies?
Guess what? The FDA isn't going to watch out for you
As the largest organ, our skin absorbs everything; it is very porous. From soap and lotion to deodorant and perfume, our skin is absorbing it all. As it absorbs through our pores, it enters into our bodies. Yet, with little thought, we peruse the aisles in the stores for our essential products: Deodorant, soap, shampoo, lotion, toner, cream, etc.
We often buy our go-to products without knowing the ingredients or being able to pronounce them. We figure, it's on the shelf, so it must be safe. After all, the FDA has approved it and people are buying it, so there's nothing for us to worry about...right?
Wrong. Unfortunately, the FDA isn't as tightly regulated as most people think. In fact, the FDA doesn't even screen products before they go to market. So theoretically, you could come up with a product today that's filled with questionable ingredients, and it could be in stores tomorrow. No FDA approval needed.
Furthermore, manufacturers don't have to report health complaints to the FDA. So if you use a product and have an allergic reaction, your chances are slim to none on getting any kind of help.
Deirdre Imus, NY Times best-selling author explains it best: "More than 10,500 ingredients are used in personal care products and only 11% of those have been reviewed for safety. That means that we have no idea if almost 90% of what we put in our bodies is toxic or not. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)< the government agency that regulates personal care products, doesn't have the authority to test any products before they hit the store shelves and doesn't do any systematic reviews of safety once they're out there."
These everyday products contain chemicals that are being absorbed through our skin and into our bodies, causing more harm than good.
Skin care ingredients to avoid
So what are the harmful ingredients and why are they so bad? If I were to go into every harmful ingredient out there, this would no longer be an article, but a book. Instead here are a few of the most prominent ones you should avoid.
Parabens are preservatives found in a wide array of cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, even food. As the FDA puts it, parabens prevent mold and bacteria from growing within the products. However, studies have shown that parabens act as a synthetic estrogen, which has been linked to breast cancer and endometriosis. Men, too, are affected by this preservative, as it is linked to decreased levels of sperm.
Fragrances are found in most perfumes, skincare products, essential oils, just to name a few. As a combination of thousands of different ingredients, the term "fragrance" has become a loophole for manufacturers to house a number of harmful preservatives, which potentially cause allergies, skin irritations, cancer, reproductive failure, etc.
Phthalates are used to make plastics more flexible, among other uses. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, causing cancer, birth defects, and harm to reproductive hormones. They are found in medical containers and household items. But, more importantly, they are found in both skin care and personal care products. This particular ingredient is so dangerous that the U.S. Government prohibits the use of certain Phthalates. However, this harmful ingredient can be hidden under the umbrella term "fragrance."
No doubt, we live in a world full of toxins- found in our food, pharmaceutical drugs, household items, personal care, skin care products, and the list goes on. We'd have to live in a bubble to avoid them all. However, we can avoid toxins as much as possible. With diligent research and conscious buying, we owe it to ourselves to help rid our bodies from these harmful ingredients and instead use truly organic ingredients. Most people find it easy to replace one product with a healthy alternative at a time. Before they know it, their cabinets are filled with health--promoting products.
Skin care ingredients that are awesome for your skin-- and your health
There are tons of pure, healthy ingredients out there, with no hidden agendas. Again, going into all of these ingredients would take forever so here are just a few that we use here at HealthNaturally.
Derived from the fruit of the olive tree, olive oil has a number of health benefits. It contains major antioxidants, fat-soluble vitamins, and antibacterial properties. It's used as a natural moisturizer for the skin and can potentially prevent premature aging. It has also been suggested that olive oil, when applied to the skin, may fight against cells that can potentially be cancerous. This oil can be both topically applied and/or ingested.
Like olive oil, coconut oil, commonly used for cooking, has many positive health benefits. It's a natural anti-fungal, antibacterial moisturizer. It also contains essential amino acids and vitamins like vitamin E. Coconut oil has proven so effective that it's become a popular go-to ingredient for moisturizing the hair. Let's not forget it's delicious tropical smell.
Where do we go from here?
We've all heard, "You are what you eat." But in reality, we are what we eat and what we absorb through our skin's pores. When you start replacing harmful skin care products with healthy ones, your skin will look and feel younger, and your body will ultimately be healthier, with less toxins to deal with.