Dying to be Beautiful - How Toxic is Your Skincare?



Summer has hit full speed and with the hotter than hot days shedding clothes has become unavoidable. The media bombards us with images and ideas of looking a certain way that will make us happy, so back in January, most of us have circled these summer days on our calendars with the promise of having that flawless glowing skin and bikini-ready body. Most of you reading this article have become Healthy Food Club Members to bring health back into your homes.

Congratulations! You have made the first steps to reclaiming your right to real and clean foods, supplied by the hardworking farmers at Miller's Organic Farm. The quest to achieving all around healthy lifestyle undoubtedly starts in the kitchen, but have you thought about the rest of your "health mansion"?

I am having more and more people asking how to tackle chemical-free skincare. With a bit of an effort, just like with the food, it is possible. Today, I will touch on the subject of beauty products and the cosmetic industry as we know it and as it is available to us. How to identify the dangers, navigate in the labyrinth of the chemical kingdom and make educated decisions with the least amount of damage to our bodies. What you put on your skin, has the same effect as what you eat….only put on your face, what you would put in your mouths.

BEAUTY is the external expression of internal health and balance and no amount of creams, lotions or potions that stress our bodies will make us neither happy nor beautiful. Masking the symptoms of poor diet and lifestyle choices, will always remain just that…..a mask with no lasting beauty or health underneath.

Yes, commercial beauty can be deadly. Lurking just behind your bathroom mirror, where all of your favorite beauty products are housed, could be a potential toxic bomb. The growing list of synthetic ingredients manufacturers add to their products is turning the most innocent-looking deodorants, shampoos, face cleansers and moisturizers into cocktails of toxins that could cause cancer or reproductive damage over years of sustained use. Modern cosmetics contain a host of dangerous ingredients, which would be more at home in a test tube than in our bodies.

Some could naively assume that the ingredients found in beauty products have been thoroughly tested for safety well before they land on your grocery store's shelves. Chances are, that if this article has reached you, you already know that THAT is certainly NOT the case. Big business continues to use toxic, hormone disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals without shame......and the government continues to allow this practice. After all, the government has regulations in place for the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe.

One would like to believe, that perhaps the FDA would also be overseeing the cosmetic industry to ensure the health and safety of consumers. Hmmm….reality check….the only people ensuring the safety of personal care products are the very people who govern the industry: The Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA). Scientists paid by the CTFA make up the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel (CIR) and are charged with regulating the safety of the industry's products.

So what exactly are some of these toxins that consumers should be aware of?

Our skin acts as a shield, but it is not an impenetrable shell. Skin is our largest organ designed to protect the rest of the body from germs and other contaminants, under natural conditions, but it cannot keep the dangerous chemicals out. If a product like lotion is rubbed on the skin and contains a toxin, the body absorbs the toxin along with the rest of the ingredients faster than if we have ingested it. Toxins absorbed by the skin go directly to the bloodstream and cause internal stress to the body. Stress accelerates the aging process and damages skin….we certainly do not want that.

Here is a short list of chemicals in most commercial beauty products. This is a very diluted list and merely the tip of the iceberg to serve as an introduction to those of who you who are not overly familiar with the dangers of the chemicals in the barely regulated cosmetic industry.

Lead, a toxin that most people are aware of, can be found in lipstick. If a woman is wearing lipstick, it is difficult to avoid ingesting some of it. Laws regarding lead-based paint and other potential lead hazards in one's home have made most people aware of the dangers of this toxic metal. Lead is not actually added to lipstick; rather, it is a contaminant. However, some manufacturers' lipsticks are more dangerous than others. Furthermore, lead might even be in other cosmetics. Lead, like phthalates, is linked to cancer and birth defects, and manufacturers must do a better job of keeping their lipsticks clean.

Phthalates are found in numerous health and beauty products, from nail polish to fragrances and lotions to shampoos. In the U.S. these chemicals are difficult to avoid when purchasing common over-the-counter products. Despite the fact that they are documented as known toxins, cosmetic and beauty manufacturers continue to use them. In fact, one major American manufacturer has stated that the FDA has determined that their use of phthalates is not a "health risk." However, phthalates have been linked to cancer, infertility, and birth defects. Whether the risk is considered minimal or not, these chemicals should not be in health and beauty products.

Parabens are preservatives used in health and beauty products. They work in cosmetics the way trans-fats work in foods - they greatly extend the shelf life of the product, but at the expense of the human body using them! Parabens are thought to cause breast cancer and reproductive problems because they mimic hormones. Surely there are other ingredients manufacturers can use to extend the life of the products they sell without endangering their customer

Commercial soap manufacturers make it a practice to remove the glycerine that is produced during the saponification (soap-making) process. The glycerine is a highly profitable substance, often sold to other companies who use it to make lotions and moisturizers, which your skin, now dried out from the harsh detergent 'soap,' desperately needs. Lathering agents, artificial colors and other chemicals we can't even pronounce. My fav is Dr. Bronner's Castille Liquid Soap.

Antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps often contain triclosan. Triclosan is a toxic chemical that is known to cause cancer. According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), manufacturers of a number of triclosan-containing products claim that the active ingredient continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use. Consumers are, therefore, exposed to triclosan for much longer than the 20 seconds it takes to wash their hands or face.

We live in Florida and the debate about sunscreens rages on. Dermatologists advise slathering up every day. Nutritionists and holistic doctors advise sun exposure to get vitamin D. Some say sunscreens cause cancer, and a disturbing study showed that people who used more commercial sunscreen had more melanoma. Where is the truth? It is Commercial sunscreen ingredients (oxybenzone and methoxycinnamate) are potent hormone disruptors and potential carcinogens. My advice is to never use these commercial sunscreens.

What should you do? My personal favorite is Coconut Oil and the Herbal Face and Body Food products. There are other oils offering higher natural protection, such as Carrot Oil. I tried it in Greece a few years ago and it was amazing. I have yet to find a good quality source in the US or figure out a way of bringing some to the US :-) Apply the Coconut Oil BEFORE you arrive at the beach. Be judicious and safe. Get sun exposure. It is the best and most reliable source of vitamin D. Avoid baking in the sun at midday, especially those first days of summer or your beach vacation.

Foods that Boost the SPF of Your Skin - Eating the right foods can help us improve our skin from the inside out – even boosting the natural SPF of our skin! Foods that are rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and omega-3s can help to provide an added layer of protection for the skin from UV damage, and also help to prevent the signs of aging.
Whether or not we decide to get a limited amount of unprotected sunlight or not – we can all boost the natural SPF of our skin, and boost our skin’s ability to fight free radicals and the signs of aging – by getting more antioxidants and omega-3s in our daily diets. A diet rich in antioxidants, obtaining the right balance of essential fatty acids, and limiting processed or foods with high levels of sugar, preservatives and chemicals – will help protect our skin, and our overall health.

Consuming a diet high in sugar not only contributes to weight gain and insulin resistance, it also damages our skin. When sugar enters the bloodstream, it attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs damage collagen and elastin – the proteins in the skin that keep it looking young and healthy.

The best products for your skin are handmade, organic, and all natural. They might be challenging to find, but once you have tried these “face and body food” treasures, you will never again be satisfied with store-bought products.

The Healthy Food Club now sells some AMAZING 100% "edible" skin care products for you to indulge in - AND YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A CLUB MEMBER TO PURCHASE THOSE. Many of you have had the opportunity to test some the amazing skin treats at your pick-up locations in the past few months. We are very excited about adding these new products to our Healthy Food/Lifestyle collection!

In good health,

Niki and the HFC Crew

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