Upgrade What Goes on the Outside - Products for Our Skin


There is a lot of time spent on this blog talking about food and how to make the healthiest choices, but there is more to good health than just what we eat. What goes on our skin matters, too. If you think about how a nicotine patch curbs smoking addiction and pain patches control pain, you’ll realize our skin absorbs what is put onto it – for better or worse.  We are exposed to thousands of chemicals through our hair, make up and body care products and we are not as protected as you might think. 

A 2015 study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported these findings: 

“Women whose bodies have high levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment experience menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals.” 

The 40-year-old law, The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is outdated.  Many harmful chemicals do not have to be revealed if they are considered “trade secret”, so don’t think the EPA is out there with a shield and sword coming to our defense.  Here's what a report from the Environmental Working Group has to say:

“Current law requires companies to inform EPA when their chemicals are shown to pose substantial risks. EPA must publish this information, but the companies can request that the company’s name, production volumes and even the chemical’s identity be kept secret. Half of the more than 250 “substantial risk” reports filed to EPA since October of (2015) masked the chemicals’ identity.”  

It’s a sticky mess for sure and so, short of becoming a chemist, how are we supposed to know which brands and products pose the least threat?  The Environmental Working Group has a great section to their website called Skin Deep. It’s a searchable database of toxic ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products.  If you find some of your favorites get a failing grade and you want to make some changes, then here is a good place to start . . . with five of my favorite ("passing grade") skin care products: 

1.   Face Cleanser – MyChelle Refining Sugar Cleanser. This gentle cleanser starts out sugary, but melts into a nice cream that is effective without drying out your skin. 

2.   Face Moisturizer and Serums – Odacite is my favorite for serums and moisturizers, especially when used together. Available online, these formulations are so fresh, they actually have an expiration date. Not sure which products to start with? Try their 10-day discovery kit.  

3.   Sunscreen – the key ingredient for optimal sun defense is zinc.  MyChelle makes a great clear spray Sun Shield Clear Spray (that is also reef safe) and Suntegrity makes a good option for your face in both clear and tinted formulations. 

4.   Hand and Body Lotion – The Naked Bee Hand and Body Lotion and Seaweed Bath Co. are my current favorites. They go on nicely, smell good and don’t leave an oily residue. Both available on Amazon.

5.   Nail Polish – yes, our nails absorb chemicals from nail polish, so choose wisely.  OPI and Deborah Lippmann both get passing grades. 

While it is impossible to live a life completely free of exposure to unwanted chemicals and toxins, it IS possible to reduce our exposure to them. And why wouldn’t anyone want to do that? Upgrade your products, one purchase at a time and improve your health from the outside in.

Where will you start making changes?