Our skin is highly absorbent, and provides a pathway into our bloodstream for many of the ingredients in our skin care and makeup. Women on average absorb more than 14kg of the ingredients in face and body care products alone over 60 years - that is not counting those we absorb from cosmetics. Yet most of us use skin care that is filled with chemicals that can accumulate in our bodies, and may, over time, provide harmful.
For example, one common ingredient in skincare is parabens. Parabens can have an effect similar to estrogen, and may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. A study conducted by researchers in Britain found that there were traces of parabens in the tissue of women who had breast cancer.
Whilst they are not suggesting that the parabens caused these women's cancer, they pointed out that this is the first study that shows that these chemicals do accumulate in our bodies. So even though we may only be absorbing a small amount each day, that can build up to a more significant amount over time. Some ingredients have very concerning chemical relatives. For example, talcum powder is in the same group of minerals as asbestos, and there is a 300 to 400% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer when it is used regularly.
The common emulsifiers used to thicken and bind products are known to be irritating to the skin, yet they are used in nearly every skin care product to prevent it from separating. These emulsifiers include monostearate, and stearic acid. Another one, triethanolamine, can cause allergies on contact with the skin, and in some people causes eczema. Other emulsifiers such as the ethoxylate group (abbreviated usually to something like PEG-20-stearate - or PEG-something else), have an interesting association with World War 1.
Then, a by-product of it was used as part of chemical warfare. Interestingly, although skin is so highly absorbent, there are products which are banned in food use still used in skin care and makeup. These include certain artificial colors, such as FDC Red 4, FDC Red 1, and Food Red 1. They were banned from use in food because they are known to cause urinary bladder polyps and wasting of the adrenal glands, yet they are allowed to become part of the 14kg of chemicals women will absorb over 60 years into their bloodstream. If we begin to look closer at the ingredients in our skincare and make-up, this disturbing theme of toxicity comes up again and again.
Whilst these chemicals are present in only very small amounts, the potential for them to build up is real. It's no wonder so many women are opting for organic skincare.
Learn more about natural skincare with aromatherapy here, including recipes. Rebecca presents health and natural beauty articles here.