Nearly all of us use beauty products to keep our skin soft and supple, even those that use a basic soap and water regime. Most use a cleanser or face wash twice a day and our skin tends to get drier as we age so moisturisers become a vital part of our skin care regime, along with toners and anti-ageing serums and oils.
Those with sensitive skin may well have spent time scouring the ingredients lists on the back of their cosmetics for the components that trigger reactions but for those with tolerant skin, what goes into beauty products is largely a mystery. However, perhaps we should be thinking a bit more about what we are applying to our skin in good faith, as up to 60% may be absorbed into our bloodstream.
It is thought that the average woman can absorb up to 2kg of chemicals through the skin each year, a disturbing thought when you have absolutely no idea what they are. A quick look at the ingredients in most high street skin care products, whether supermarket own labels or the big brands, usually reveals long strings of chemical names that give away very little. Even more concerning is the fact that the jury is still very much out on the safety of some of these ingredients.
A group of chemicals called parabens has hit the headlines several times in the past few years. These you can spot in your beauty products ingredients list as they will have the word ‘paraben’ appended, making compounds such as ‘butylparaben’ and ‘propylparaben’. Although there is some discussion in the scientific community as to the safety of these ingredients, studies have shown that some parabens have mild oestrogenic activity when absorbed through the skin.
However, it is not just individual ingredients in cosmetics that have a question mark hanging over them. More and more research is bringing into question the unknown quantity of how multiple chemicals interact with each other – the so-called ‘chemical cocktail’. Recent studies have linked this with the increasing obesity rate and the declining fertility rate in men, although with more than 70,000 synthetic chemicals used in cosmetics (and more added all the time), an almost impossible amount of research would have to be done to test the safety of all of the possible interactions of these.
Choosing an organic skin care regime and seeking paraben-free products is one way to reduce the contact you have with synthetic chemicals. However do remember that even products labelled as ‘natural’ may contain as much as 99% synthetic ingredients so it is always best to check the ingredients list. Look for essential oils and plant extracts, and don’t be afraid to ask the company in question about any ingredients you do not recognise.
This article was written for Barbara Karafokas by Alex from Green People, experts in certified organic, natural skin care.
Barbara is a qualified Holistic Nutritionist, a Health, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, and author of the 'The Med Life Diet , 12 Essential Steps to Creating Healthy Eating and Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Attitudes for Life !' who promotes an authentic Mediterranean diet, teaches healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !
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Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !