It is estimated on average that we absorb almost five pounds of chemicals each year from the cosmetics and toiletries that are a part of our ever growing skincare routines. Given that we women use about twelve products a day, containing a whopping 175 chemicals; I mean it’s no wonder that our skin can sometimes feel overloaded. Just think about it, if we’re using twenty products a day on our already over stimulated skin, it can result in inflammation, irritation and premature aging; yes, you read that right, too many product, including those touted as anti aging, can negatively affect the way our skin ages. Overzealous bathing with harsh soaps and detergents are giving rise to more cases of psoriasis and eczema.
By paring down our routines, we not only save time but money as well. The first step is streamlining; and determining which products to eliminate- think, “I use two products, but will one do?”
And because I consider myself a food warrior, I urge everyone to assess what goes into our bodies as well. A skincare regime is important but our lifestyle choices are crucial. Before we purchase another anti aging skincare cure-all we must first consider our diet and daily habits. For dry skin, look into water intake. Loss of radiance and “that glow”? Be sure to catch enough Zzz’s. It’s a fact that those of us that are still lighting up are to blame for premature signs of aging; and that’s the least of the worry- but this discussion is best reserved for another time.
I will not sit here and preach that we should strive to eliminate all the chemicals we use in our products; sometimes that isn’t possible, and it can get expensive buying organic products, because they are still relatively high priced. But we can all strive to eliminate the really bad guys; including parabens which are very easily absorbed by our bodies and have been found to mimic the effects of the female hormone oestrogen. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a detergent that is added to shampoo, toothpaste and shower gel to boost lathering quality and it can lead to serious reactions. Ethanol, sometimes referred to as ethyl alcohol, is used to scent and color. Benzyl alcohol and acetone which used in nail polish removers are very strong chemicals that also absorb well into our bodies through our skin and nails. And another serious irritant is cocamide DEA (or MEA), this is a derivative of coconut oil and used as a thickener. If we can eliminate just these, we dramatically reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals. The real world application would be to look for unscented products and opt for gel toothpastes when possible. Also look for acetone free nail polish remover.
These days the dispute that plant based creams and cleansers aren’t effective has been put to bed; as in the last few years natural skincare has come a very long way. Many big brands have developed ways to combine scientific innovation in anti aging skincare with plant ingredients; and more and more companies are catching on to the fact that women are looking to limit their exposure to harmful chemicals, yet still desire the same results.
Antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, fight free radicals involved in inflammation and aging inside our bodies; and they have been known to battle acne, rosacea, wrinkles and pigmentation issues. Beta carotene, in the vitamin A family, provides protection against the sun, acting as a natural sunscreen. Goji and Acai are becoming big trends in the natural skincare world; as they are renowned for their high antioxidant content. These natural remedies are popping up in commercial and natural brands; so be sure to look for them on the label. Another thing to remember is the more ingredients, the more likely there is to be nasty additives. And if you grandmother would have a hard time recognizing 60% of ingredients- it’s probably best to pass.
When it comes to skincare, we should strive to educate ourselves on what we slather on our skin daily. Doing this empowers us to control what types of contaminants are entering our bodies. But we must remember, always, that the best anti aging products lie within the nutrients of the foods we eat. And for those of us on a budget, look at paring down and finding natural products that do the job of three commercial/synthetic products; this helps to save money and limit chemical exposure. Because when it comes to our skin, less IS more!