Love your skin

Give your skin the love and attention it deserves, by avoiding toxic beauty ingredients, say Deepak Chopra and Kimberly Snyder

Our largest organ, the skin, is a fascinating one. It is an elimination organ, meaning it helps dispel wastes from your body through sweat. Your skin receives roughly a third of all the blood that is circulated throughout the body. It makes sense that if the blood is congested, this is reflected in your skin. Your skin is the last organ to receive nutrition in the body, yet is among the first organs to show signs of an imbalance or deficiency.

But skin does also work in the opposite way, absorbing what is applied to it on the outside. It is therefore critical to be strategic about putting the best ingredients on the surface of your skin to help repair and support its health from the outside in. This seems obvious, but there is a great deal of marketing hype to weed through to determine what works and what is merely an empty claim. It’s also critical to avoid the numerous toxic ingredients that can be absorbed and not only tax your skin but also enter your bloodstream and burden your liver.

Natural vs chemical ingredients

Some may think that the expensive, scientifically created, cutting-edge products on the market are automatically the most effective choices out there, but this is not necessarily the case. The antioxidants found in natural plant ingredients are still widely considered to be among the most powerful skincare ingredients, and this is consistently proven in research.

As with your diet, the best approach to skin care is to understand the power of nature. Nature’s beauty is unparalleled, and if you live closer to nature in all aspects of your lifestyle, your natural beauty will increase. Choose non-toxic products that contain natural, plant-based ingredients. As long as they aren’t toxic, scientifically created ingredients, like concentrated, isolated peptides, that are aimed at a specific purpose such as minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles can work together with natural ingredients to create powerful combinations. Nature and science can most certainly work together in a balanced way.

Organic ingredients are, by definition, pesticide- and GMO-free. But keep in mind that products may contain some organic ingredients but may not be 100 per cent organic if other ingredients are processed in some way to make them usable or if they are actually lab-created. Natural minerals such as mica are not considered organic because they are not plant-based. Also, water and salts are excluded when determining a product’s percentage of organic ingredients. This means that some great products may be an effective blend of non-toxic ingredients derived from nature and science, but may not be necessarily labelled 100 per cent organic.

Beautiful underarms

Commercial deodorants contain some potentially toxic materials that you should try to avoid. Some of these ingredients include aluminium, parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, DEA, FD&C, phthalates and talc. Parabens mimic the activity of oestrogen in the body. Since oestrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells, and a woman is eight times more likely to develop breast cancer in the part of the breast close to the underarm, scientists are studying the connection, though further studies and research are needed.

Toxic skincare ingredients to avoid

There are countless toxins and additives in commercial skincare, make-up, body care and other personal-care products. There are some common offenders that are worse than others. For more information, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (safecosmetics.org/) and the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (ewg.org/skindeep/) are two great resources to consult about the toxicity of specific products and ingredients. These organisations, as well as certain reports, believe that toxic ingredients can create DNA damage; act as carcinogens; create brain, liver, kidney, and other organ abnormalities; produce allergic or other reactions; and cause eye damage, nervous system damage, reproductive damage and birth defects. The list of these possible dangers continues to grow as more chemicals are introduced and studied.

Here are some of the most glaringly toxic ingredients to avoid. Again, this is like a drop in the ocean, not an exhaustive list:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Synthetic (or artificial) FD&C colours and dyes
  • Propylene glycol (PG) and butylene glycol
  • Diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA) and triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Methyl-, butyl-, ethyl- and propylparabens
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
  • Dioxin
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
  • Avobenzone
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan
  • DMDM hydantoin and imidazolidinyl urea

Ingredients from cosmetics not only are absorbed through the skin but are also often swallowed and inhaled from sprays and powders. Many of them are hormone disruptors that can create developmental and reproductive damage and allergic reactions, act as carcinogens and create other kinds of damage in the body. It’s important to scan labels and look into the ethos of brands that you choose to use in and on your body. Ultimately we have to look out for our families and ourselves and not leave our safety in the hands of anyone else.

Extracted from Radical Beauty: How to transform yourself from the inside out by Deepak Chopra and Kimberly Snyder (£16.99, Rider)

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