We need to have a talk, and you’re not going to like it.
Do you ever stop and think about how many moisturizers, lip balms, creams and layers of makeup you’re putting on your skin every single day? The average American uses at least 9 products on their bodies daily — that adds up to at least 126 unique ingredients on our person. We are often under the misconception that we have nothing to worry about since the FDA acts as our protectors, but the reality is that the cosmetics and skincare industries go pretty much unregulated. The FDA has only banned 8 of thousands of chemicals known to cause harm to the human body, while the EU has banned more than 1300 chemicals — this should be a concerning statistic for all of us. On average, human skin, our largest organ, has 2 million+ pores, and each of these pores is capable of absorbing chemicals placed over them. The question we need to ask ourselves is: given this knowledge, how many toxic chemicals are we absorbing into our system?
In this blog series, we will uncover ingredients you should avoid, alternative products to your most beloved go-to’s and even how to undo damage from toxic chemicals.
What Can Our Skin Absorb?
Our skin is made up of 3 levels: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous fat. While our skin serves as a protective barrier against many chemicals, it’s not perfect. When chemicals surpass your skin barrier, they are more easily absorbed into your bloodstream or by your lymphatic system. The likelihood of our skin absorbing chemicals is based on the following:
- Size: If chemicals are small enough, they can surpass the protections our skin has in place.
- Exposure Time: The longer we are exposed to chemicals on our skin, the more we absorb.
- Placement: Our face absorbs chemicals much more quickly than our feet due to facial skin being thinner than the soles of our feet.
- Presence of Heat: Heat allows for chemicals to more easily slip through our defenses.
- Types of Chemicals: Fragrance can be absorbed into our system through our skin, but also through our inhalation of the fragrance. Lip gloss and eyeliner enters our system through our skin, but also via means of being eaten or through our eyes.
- Accumulation: Some toxins can be harmless if our skin is exposed just once, but the reality is that many toxic chemicals compound and build in our body.
Note: Many chemicals are unharmful on their own, but become harmful when mixed with other chemicals. For example: Benzene, a chemical compound known to be a carcinogen, is created when sodium benzoate is mixed with vitamin C.
What Can I Do?
Our recommendation is to pay more attention to the products touching your skin. Begin to familiarize yourself with the chemicals that can cause you damage, while also making it a habit to check ingredients of skincare products before lathering them onto your skin. As a friendly tip, Target and other similar big-box retailers are taking note of unsafe chemicals and are beginning to provide safer alternatives. Sephora has a “Clean at Sephora” stamp of approval placed on products that avoid many toxins (you can find those products here). Here is a list of products you can start reviewing to potentially replace with healthier alternatives:
- Any and all products used on babies or children. Brands like Babyganics and Burts Bees Baby offer everything you need for your children without the unnecessary harmful chemicals.
- Bathroom Products: shampoos, soap, conditioners, shaving cream and toothpaste.
- Products On Your Skin All Day, Every Day: moisturizer, sunscreen, hair-styling products and self-tan.
We hope these tips to leading a healthier lifestyle are helpful for you and your loved ones. The Parrish Law Firm’s goal is to create a more aware and more intelligent community for all of us to enjoy together. If you have any questions, we recommend resources such as EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) website whose database covers harmful and potentially harmful chemicals in day-to-day products. Do you have tips you would like to share with your neighbors? Message us on Facebook or e-mail us here.