TOXIC BEAUTY: THE 5 DEADLIEST INGREDIENTS IN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
Our skin is our first line of defense to the outside world, silently protecting us from pathogens, viruses and unfriendly bacteria that can harm our delicate ecosystems. 80% of what we apply to our skin is immediately absorbed into our bloodstream where it travels around the body penetrating vital organs and even into our bones. An autopsy can actually identify the skincare brand we use, by the chemical deposits in our bones.
We smother ourselves in creams lotions and potions daily, using on average in excess of 12 different products a day, which contain ingredients that have never been tested for their safety or effectiveness. The cosmetics and skincare industry is self-regulating, meaning that it only has to volunteer the safety data on its ingredients. Incredibly the industry is not required to undertake safety analysis of how the individual ingredients interact with each other to produce new and more toxic compounds. We will now look at the worst offenders;
PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG/PEG)
This ingredient is used prolifically in skincare products and cosmetics. PG is used in the plastics industry, in pharmaceutical medicines and also used in anti freeze and de-icing solutions for cars, boats and aircraft.
Its purpose in skincare is to provide a synthetic substance that sits in the dermis and holds water within it. In a nutshell PG draws moisture up from the dermis into the upper layer of skin.
Alarmingly it is a penetration enhancer (able to modify the structure of the skin, enhancing the absorption of other chemicals). It breaks down the natural proteins present in the 3 layers of skin and damages the cellular structure (Collagen & Elastin) that gives the skin plumpness and elasticity. It de-fats the skin, removing our natural sebum barrier, leaving our skin vulnerable to our environment.
Studies conclude that PG is toxic to the kidneys, central nervous system, brain, reproductive system and respiratory system. It is also mutagenic causing reproductive abnormalities and birth defects
It is toxic to marine life by degrading slowly in water and in doing so drawing the oxygen out of the water adversely affecting aquatic life by consuming oxygen aquatic organisms need to survive.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS/SLES)
SLS are widely used in cosmetics that foam and clean, also found in fly killer, as a biocide and in industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, detergents and car wash soaps.
They easily penetrate the skin and are especially toxic as they cannot be metabolized by the liver. As the body cannot detoxify SLS it stores it within fats cells as a way to protect the vital organs from harm.
Known to disrupt and damage the Endocrine system; the adrenals, thyroid, pituitary which interferes with the bodies production of hormones, leading to hormone imbalance.
SLS damages the protective sebum layer leaving the skin vulnerable and allowing chemicals in tap water to enter the skin. It is a penetration enhancer (able to modify the structure of the skin, increasing the absorption rate of other chemicals).
In scientific SLS tests on animals, subjects experienced eye damage, depression, laboured breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion and even death.
Worryingly in human subjects it can damage the outer layer of skin over the eyes – hence the stinging when you accidentally get it into your eyes. Disastrous for the skin it causes skin layers to separate and inflame due to its protein denaturing properties.
Research has shown that SLS when combined with other chemicals (known as synergistic toxicity) is transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens, which causes the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels than eating nitrate-contaminated food.
SLS stays in the body, entering the vital organs and remaining for up to 5 days exposing us to a real and serious health threat.
Much of the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed in order to grow the genetically modified Palm trees that supply this one of the ingredients in this cheap, nasty compound.
Parabens are the most media discussed cosmetic ingredients; made from a synthetic preparation of petrochemiclas and used as preservatives, to prohibit the growth of bacteria and extend the shelf life of more than 75% of skincare and cosmetics on the market. They are also used heavily in fragrance, where by law, the manufacturers are not required to list their presence of the label.
In a recent study 99% of women with breast cancer were found to have parabens present in their breast tissue. Parabens are chemicals with estrogen-like properties, and estrogen is one of the hormones involved in the development of breast cancer.
Parabens are called hormone disruptors as they mimic Estrogen, the primary sex hormone. Excess levels of estrogen lead to diminished muscle mass, extra fat storage, and male gynecomastia (breast growth). They also interfere with the production of male sex hormone testosterone, and reduce men’s sperm levels and reproductive capabilities.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has linked methyl parabens in particular to metabolic, developmental, hormonal, and neurological disorders, as well as various cancers.
I am most concerned about the interaction between parabens absorbed into the skin and sunlight. Parabens block the production of vitamin D3 in the dermis, occurring from the interaction of natural cholesterol and sunlight. When sunlight interacts with parabens it releases a cascade of free radicals that cause indefinite damage (without the intervention of antioxidants) and accelerate the ageing process. In addition, studies indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin reacts with UVB leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage.
Triclosan is an organochlorine registered by the EPA as a pesticide, and considered to pose a high risk to humans, animals and the environment alike. Used widely as a preservative and synthetic antibacterial agent in cleansing products, including facial and baby wipes.
Triclosan is found in all facial cleansers and scrubs marketed towards teenagers, children and those with ‘problem’ skin, designed to strip the skin of bacteria and its natural sebum layer – effectively drying it out and leaving it vulnerable to environmental and sun damage.
Triclosan enters into the bloodstream via the skin and mimic estrogen in the body, interfering with metabolic and reproductive systems. Recent studies indicates that it damages thyroid function, detrimentally affecting our metabolism and ability to lose weight and keep it off.
Our overuse of this cheap chemical in modern cosmetics and cleaning products has led to it being found in human breast milk in over 80% of lactating mothers – this horrifyingly leads to changes in DNA and gene expression in infants.
Humans are at a stage in our evolution, where we are now resistant to most antibiotics, meaning that they have no meaningful effect on the body, leaving us dangerously vulnerable to harmful bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. The extensive use of Triclosan in cosmetics has contributed to this worldwide issue, by stripping the body of our natural bacterial defenses (found in our digestive system), leaving us defenseless to invading organisms, most of which are now resistant to antibiotic treatment. A terrifying thought, one that should encourage us to support and strengthen our immune system. Dirt is good – remember we need good and bad bacteria for a healthy, balanced body. It’s when the 80/20 balance of good and bad becomes disrupted, that we suffer ill health.
Triclosan reacts with the chlorine in your tap water, turning inro chloroform. Chloroform is chemically similar to Agent Orange the chemical dropped on Vietnam (made by Monsanto) that killed thousands and still causes serious birth defects today.
Extremely harmful to fish, marine wildlife and algae blooms – if it can change the sex of fish, think what it is doing to you. Triclosan is bioaccumulative, and persistent. In other words, it doesn’t degrade and can build up in the environment after it has been rinsed down the plughole. In the environment, triclosan also reacts to form deadly dioxins, which bioaccumulate and are toxic to humans and animals.
My top antiageing tip is to switch to plant based sun protection, it is not the sun that damages the skin and ages us, but the toxic chemicals contained in sunscreen that react with UV light and release free radicals to ravage our skin.
Most commercial sun cream contain nanoparticles, dangerous micron sized chemical particles that cause cell damage, DNA and RNA damage and cancerous tumours due to bioaccumulation in the body. If your suncare product is clear, don’t use it, it contains Nanoparticles.
Chemical Sunscreens (with Retinyl Palmitate, Oxybenzone and Octyl Methoxycinnamate)
When many of the chemicals used in popular sunscreens are exposed to sunlight, reactions occur between the sunscreen’s active and inactive ingredients and the epidermis. Toxic reactions include inflammation, dermalogical effects, allergic reactions and photogenotoxic (DNA altering) effects. Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that actually promote cancer.
Sunscreen does NOT allow the body to absorb any vitamin D from sunlight. So if you plan on being outside for a short period of time, skip the sunscreen and feed your body the vitamin D that will keep it healthy.
Oxybenzone: According to the EWG, there are several suspected dangers associated with Oxybenzone. It has been shown to penetrate the skin and cause photo-sensitivity. As a photocarcinogen (becomes cancer causing when exposed to UV light), it’s demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack DNA cells; for this reason, it is believed to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of melanoma cases with sunscreen users. Some studies have shown it to behave similarly to the hormone estrogen, suggesting that it may cause breast cancer. It has also been linked to contact eczema. The liver is unable to break down Oxybenozone and so to protect the body it stores this chemical in fat cells around the vital organs.
Octyl methoxycinnamate: Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC for short) is the main chemical used in sunscreens to filter out UVB light. OMC is present in almost ALL wide-spectrum sunscreen brands. Worse yet, OMC has been shown to be particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. Its usage leads to biochemical changes that cause mutation and cell death upon exposure to sunlight, including immunotoxicity and photoallergic effects. If you haven’t yet had children avoid this ingredients as it damages the reproductive system.
CONCLUSION: If you want to have more control over what you apply to your skin, choose a natural skincare line with a clear ethical and environmental policy. Read the labels, what you apply to your skin is as important as what you eat. Chemicals damage and age the skin, so if you want to retain your youth, I suggest you stay away from any chemical ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. Remember, if an ingredient is plant based, it must by law, be written on the label in Latin, as its botanical name.