Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Do You Know What You're Slathering On Your Largest Organ?

Your skin isn’t simply a sheath holding in your guts and bones; it’s an organ itself. As evidenced by certain birth control methods and hormone replacement creams, or nicotine patches, your skin can absorb strong chemicals (beneficial and toxic) that have significant reactions in the body once they enter the bloodstream.

      Eliminating unnatural petrochemicals, harsh preservatives, and estrogenic compounds can have profound and immediate effects on your skin, and even your entire body. For example, switching to fragrance free formulas eliminates noxious chemicals like formaldehyde (used to fix fragrances), and may alleviate allergies and headaches. 

    When I stopped buying the dryer sheets I’ve used since I started doing laundry (because they were the same brand my mother uses), I got rid of chronic headaches I’ve had for years. The skin on my arms stopped the itching I’ve had since childhood when I got rid of my mother’s old standby detergent, as well.

    Despite my addictive use of hair color, my scalp and hairline aren’t burned up and broken down now that I have outlawed parabens and sulfates in all hair products in the house. In short, the entire family has healthier skin, but  learning about the ingredients in cosmetics and soaps can be a full-time project.

    Thankfully, the brilliant broads at Organic Divas have done the homework for you, even creating a little cheat sheet you can carry in your purse. If you really want to take your understanding to the next level, go straight to Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s ginormous database. You can access the ingredients and safety ratings for virtually every beauty product on the market, including sunscreens. 

    So what are you slathering onto your skin? Mineral oils, petroleum products, plastics, stuff that goes into antifreeze? The chances are Yes! if your routine includes many old American favorites. Now is the time to reevaluate and question the safety and purity of everything you put on and into your body.

    When you’re on vacation, do you look forward to a nice, relaxing facial at your resort’s spa? Before you book appointments, research the facility’s lines, and possibly be prepared to bring your own healthy alternatives for the facialist to use. On my last trip, I checked into a spa, received the world’s worst facial rubdown, was charged triple what the service was worth, and later broke out with rashes and pimples that I’m still battling a month later!

    I should have known better. For months, nothing but pure, natural, organic products have touched my skin. When I came off the facialist’s table, I took a look at her arsenal. A no-name brand, seemingly one step up from generic. Two different kinds of parabens.  And then there was the Hexyl blah, blah, blah. Nothing I could discern but alcohol and glycerine. Impure, cheap crap loaded with preservatives in just one of several products this so-called “skin care expert” used on my face. Hello 100 zits and red rashes.

    Conversely, some spas (usually large franchises such as Relache Day Spas in Gaylord Hotels) offer organic products from natural brands like Eminence, and the services actually nourish and repair the skin. If you’re really lucky, your journey will take you someplace home to a Dr. Hauschka Day Spa! 

    For other services like exfoliation, refuse unsanitary pedicure razors and scrubs with plastic beads that can scratch the skin and damage our waterways when rinsed down the drain.

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