Don’t eat the lotion!

September 17, 2010

So – What have you been eating? Lotion? Soap? Shampoo?

When you put anything on your skin, it’s like you’re eating it. Your skin – the largest organ of your body – is very absorbent. You don’t absorb calories (thank god), but other things get into your bloodstream and end up circulating through your body.

Most products – conventional lotions, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, facewashes, cosmetics, toothpastes, detergents and sunscreens – have all kinds of chemicals in them. Chemicals that don’t exist in nature. Chemicals you wouldn’t put in your mouth.

These chemicals can cause cancer, mess with your hormones, cause birth defects, and possibly a whole bunch of other nasty things – dementia, autism, etc.

A few months ago when I started researching this topic, I decided to throw away any bottles with the words “sodium laureth” and “paraben.” These chemicals are suspected more and more as a cause of breast cancer and hormone disruption – leading to obesity, diabetes, fertility issues, etc.

Here is a list of a few of the products I had in my house that contained something potentially toxic:

Aveeno Continuous Radiance Moisturizing Lotion
Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel
Coppertone Sunscreen
Pure Silk Shaving Cream
Rite Aid Oatmeal Moisturizing Lotion
Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub

Even TRADER JOE’S moisturizing cream has methylparaben and propylparaben. SO DISAPPOINTING, TJ’s! I thought you were better than that!!!

Interestingly enough, studies indicate that when applied to skin, methylparaben reacts with UVB rays, and leads to “increased skin aging and DNA damage.” ??? Aren’t most of these products trying to STOP aging and damage? Or is it just a vicious, profit-increasing cycle – the more you use these products, the more they damage your skin, and the more you think you need to buy them?!

Take a look at labels on the products in your house, like moisturizer and sunscreen. See if they have any parabens or sodium laureth sulfates.

Here is a lists of things to avoid:

Parabens or “-paraben” (hormone disruption, linked to cancer)
“PEG” and “-eth” (these ingredients can come with hidden toxic contaminants)
Triclosan and triclocarban (thyroid, reproductive and environmental concerns)
Triethanolamine (TEA) (allergies, toxic contaminants)
Hydroquinone (cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies)
Oxybenzone (allergies, developmental toxicity, hormone disruption)
Fragrance—not just perfume, but fragrance in lotions, shampoos, etc. (allergies, cancer)
DMDM hydantoin and Imidazolidinyl urea (toxic contaminants)

Anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA and BHA acids
Hair dyes, especially dark permanent dyes
Liquid hand soaps with tricolsan/triclocarban
Nail polish and removers with formaldehyde, DBP or toluene
Skin lighteners with hydroquinone
Heavily scented products

I’ve been trusting Whole Foods for “healther” skin care & soap product, but even they are being : sued for products containing high levels of carcinogens.

Now, none of this toxicity stuff is proved yet. But that it’s even being questioned, for me, indicates that there’s most likely an issue. Why can’t we just NOT have these chemicals in what we end up ingesting via our skin? (Similar to my question, why can’t we just NOT put poison (pesticides) on our food??).

Are big evil corporations using cheap but toxic chemicals in their products to increase their profit margins, with the side effect of making you dependent on their products?

Or are the up-and-coming Organic underdogs trying to scare people into throwing away all of their main-stream products and switch to their more expensive, fancy new products?

I don’t know. My inclination is to distrust big corporations. I think size is inversely related to compassion and accountability. More profits means more shortcuts, and shortcuts have negative side effects, end of story (ie there are no medications that do not have negative side effects or a toxic element). But are parabens found in such small amounts that their effects are negligable? They typically appear at the bottom of the list. But why do they even NEED to be in there anyways, when it’s true that you’re absorbing these unnatural chemicals into your body?

In the mean time, I’ve turned to using safflower oil on my skin. At least I know that’s not toxic, it comes from plants.

After reading and thinking about this and fiddling with the draft for a few months, I came across this Scientific American article: Are Everyday Consumer Products Making People Sick?

From the article:

“We are continually exposed to a mélange of potentially toxic chemicals through the air we breathe, food and water we consume, and products that come in contact with our skin.

Some of these chemicals are suspected of interfering with hormone function; causing cancer, asthma or other respiratory harm; damaging the brain and nervous system; and promoting reproductive disorders or negatively impacting developing embryos.

More than 83,000 chemicals have been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 for use in U.S. commerce. Most of these substances have not been thoroughly tested for their effects on human health. What’s more, we are often exposed to chemicals in various multiple combinations that may produce unpredictable effects.”

83,000 chemicals???? There are 88 naturally occurring chemicals. Why the F#&% do we need 83,000 chemicals for our products???

Like I said, I don’t know what the answer is. The guy writing the SciAm article is also trying to sell his book. But I think it’s better to be educated than to be ignorant, and have the option to do what you believe is going to be best for your body and your health. Personally, I’d rather minimize the amount of non-naturally-occurring chemicals that get into my system. I know it’s futile in our current world, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up.

Here are some links with more info on safe cosmetics – remember to think critically. QUESTION EVERYTHING! 🙂

Skin Deep:
A safe shopper’s guide you can print out & stick in your wallet:

Click to access EWG_cosmeticsguide.pdf

7 Responses to “Don’t eat the lotion!”

  1. Julie said

    I’ve been using jojoba oil on my skin for a few years now. It works so well. I wash my face then use a drop or two before I go to bed, then in the morning after my shower. I’m a big fan of SLS/paraben free products too. It’s harder to find now that I have my hair colored (also probably horrible for my body lol) but I did find SLS/paraben free salon quality shampoo and conditioner. I use Dr. Bronner’s bar soap in the shower. Since I moved back to Arizona I really noticed the toll all the chemical products were doing to my body, mainly because it’s so dry here. SLS is such a stripper, it’s like a harsh detergent for the skin, and everything I used was giving me eczema in the winter. Sure enough, just switching to natural products took that away.

    • lunasealife said

      I’ll have to try jojoba oil!

      I used Dr. Bronner’s at Burning Man & loved it…need to get more. The “18-in-one” cracks me up though – aside from soap & shampoo, what are the other 16 uses?!? LOL

      • Julie said

        You can use Dr. Bronner’s for everything! I use it on my floors to mop, that’s what I think it’s best for besides a personal cleanser. Two squirts in 2 gallons of water gets them very clean & doesn’t leave streaks. I also use a small amount on a rag to wipe down my kitchen counters and used it to clean dog piddle and barf out of our carpets.

  2. Zia Bossenmeyer said

    I bought Dr. Bronner’s Magic Organic Lotion Peppermint. I’ve been using it as a hand lotion at my desk, to keep me “energized” and going all day long. It starts out kind of oily, then sinks in. I don’t feel like it works all that well at moisturizing. I’m looking to try something new.

    • lunasealife said

      That’s funny, I JUST bought some jojoba oil last night. I put lavendar oil in it. I feel like the combo kinda smells like ham.
      Maybe you could put some mint oil in the jojoba oil?

      • Zia Bossenmeyer said

        I will buy some of that tonight and try it. Where did you pick up the jojoba oil? Does it soak in quickly? Can you put it on, fresh out of the shower or do you have to wait forever for it to soak in? Oil vs lotion? There’s both right? Thoughts on pros and cons?

      • lunasealife said

        I got it at Whole Foods. I don’t know of any oils that soak in quickly… I guess that’s the trade-off. I think most lotions have alcohol that makes them evaporate, but alcohol is also a drying agent…

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