If someone gave you a glass of gasoline, would you drink it? How about paint? Or maybe some molten lead? Would you eat it? Call me crazy, but I am guessing the answer would be no.
This past month, I’ve been focusing on healthy changes IN the body. Today it’s all about the skin…you know, our LARGEST organ. If you are trying to better your quality of life for today and beyond, we simply can’t skim over this topic.
The Chinese refer to the skin as the “third lung” because it actually breathes. Our skin takes in oxygen and breathes out carbon dioxide. In fact, the skin releases the SAME amount of carbon dioxide in one hour as the lungs!
The skin has three main layers. The epidermis is the top layer with scale-like cells that shed and replenish every 28 days. (I’ll keep reminding you how smart the body is!) When we are young whippersnappers, this is routine, but as we age, the cells mix with an oil called sebum which forms a gluey bond the gives us the wrinkled look. Sebum also makes it harder for the skin to breathe. Just this alone can make us look much older than we are.
The next layer is the dermis. The dermis houses the hair follicles, sweat glands, nerves and a network of blood vessels. If you put something on your body (lotion, anti-perspirant, perfume, etc), the moment it is absorbed, it has penetrated the vessel walls and entered the bloodstream. The dermis is about 70% collagen fibers bonded by elastin. We start to lose collagen around the age of 25. There are certainly lifestyle habits that exacerbate collagen loss (smoking, sun damage, pollution, stress, eating crappy foods), but there are easy ways to slow it down(antioxidants, collagen supplements, sunscreen, manage stress)
The final and deepest layer is the subcutaneous layer. For this topic, it is not significant….it is basically the fat storage that protects muscles and ligaments.
This is how impressive the skin is: in each square inch of skin you’ll find 65 hairs, 95-100 sebaceous glands, 78 yards of nerve fibers, 19 yards of blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, YOU READY FOR THIS ONE???? 9,500,000 cells. COME ON, that’s crazy! 1,300 nerve endings, 19,500 cells at the END of the nerve fibers, 78 sensory apparatuses for heat, 13 for cold, 160-165 pressure apparatuses for perception of tactile stimuli.
We obviously need to take care of the skin and go at it at two angles. Preservation and correction. With preservation, the quality of ingredients is essential. Correcting damage needs to be done with proper products/substances. Products must be absorbed, otherwise, the skin cannot breathe and will cause more damage and aging.
You can absorb as much through your skin as you can with food consumption. I will be here allllll day if I get in to ingredients, just know this. In the USA, the FDA allows far more harmful ingredients in skincare products than European countries. Most Americans don’t even know how many unsafe and untested chemicals are in their products. The difference with EU standards versus ours is alarming. The EU has banned over 1300 chemicals for cosmetics and skincare. The US…..eleven. Yes, eleven. The US still allows, coal tar, formaldehyde, dyes, metals and even cancerous chemicals. In the US, there are NO legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer to test for safety ( and when they are tested, it is oftentimes on animals). This means that the manufacturer can decide IF they want to register the product for safety with the FDA. Advice: make your own (seriously), find a great ALL-natural product (there are some really good ones), or see if your dermatologist can recommend a superior quality product. Most of the expensive ones in the department stores are a waste of your time and money.
Here are some ingredients to be aware of (I won’t list all 24,000 the US allows, don’t worry)
Benzyl alcohol..used in perfumes. It’s alcohol..do I really have to tell you it’s toxic?
Benzyl salicylate..used in perfumes and sunscreens. Toxic if swallowed and a known skin irritant.
Butyl alcohol…used in shampoo….oh and in gasoline, so there’s that. Toxic to skin and try not to swallow..yum.
Sodium lauryl sulfate..mainly in bath gels, soaps, shampoos, lotions. Toxic if swallowed, known skin irritant and allergen. (yet the number one ingredient after water on most of your bottles in the shower)
Methoxsalen…in suntan lotion, hair gels, mousse. CONFIRMED carcinogen
Methylparaben (and anything ending in paraben) is toxic…usually used as a preservative
So so many…
When things are absorbed in to the body via skin, the liver doesn’t get a chance to help filter the bad stuff out like it does when we consume toxins…so, great for the liver, but the impact of said substance is now more significant. Sometimes this absorption is more harmful than oral ingestion.
An easy alternative for reducing chemical exposure is simply reading the label. Sound familiar? Look for products with plant extracts with fewer chemical additives. Use essential oils instead of perfumes. Essential oils, much to social media’s chagrin, do not cure everything. Some can be very harmful, so do some research before using oils on certain body parts. Aromatherapy DOES have medicinal benefits, but not all oils are created equally.
Sunscreen…it’s that time of year. There are some really cancerous sunscreens on the market, how’s that for irony? Be mindful of what you buy. This makes me want to do an entire blog on sunscreens…..hmmmm. Ok I will. Plan on that for next week. Until then, stay away from oxybenzone (disrupts hormones snd killing coral reefs), homosalate (messes with your hormones), octinoxate(reproductive toxicity), nanoparticles(still undergoing testing for adverse health related effects)
Anti-perspirant. I am so against this that I can’t even type without getting angry. When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I got inquisitive…I started researching the disease and was shocked to find out how avoidable it is. (around 6% of Alzheimer’s patients have the genetic version, the rest is preventable).When we apply anti-perspirant, we are rubbing METAL on our pores and directly in to our nodes. Our skin is absorbing high levels of aluminum directly in to our blood stream. The only way to stop the pores from excreting sweat is to block the pores with this metal. WE NEED TO SWEAT. We can stop odor with just deodorant….we don’t need the metal. For this reason, I started making my own deodorant….super easy. I do the same with lip balm, body wash, insect repellant and sunscreen. Yep, I make my own.
Take away thoughts. Our skin is our largest organ…our third lung. Be super mindful of what you put ON it.