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Can we detox our skin?

Can we detox our skin?



We tend to think of detoxing by doing a week of green juices or cutting out processed food, however detoxing our skin can be just as important as looking at what we eat.  A study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked into the skin’s absorption rates of chemicals found in drinking water. It showed that the skin absorbed an average of 64% of total contaminant dosage.(1)  Other studies found the face to be several times more permeable than broad body surfaces and an absorption rate of 100% for underarms and genitalia.(2) And another peer-reviewed study showed 100% absorption for fragrance ingredients.(3)

A study in 2016 by UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas (4) discovered that even a 3 day break from using cosmetics containing hormone disrupting chemicals, allowed these levels to drop by up to 45%.  

The study was published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives and involved 100 adolescent girls.  The urine was analysed at the start of the study, where high levels of phthalate metabolites, parabens, triclosan, and BP-3 we observed using high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry.  This is of particular concern because, according to the Environmental Working Group (5), teenage girls use an average of nearly 17 personal care products each day, while the average adult woman uses just 12 products daily.  As a teenager’s body is at a crucial point of their hormonal and cellular development, it is feared that an assault at this time by hormone disrupting chemicals could have serious long term impact.  

For example, Phthalates have been associated in clinical studies with Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer (6). The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. Often, their presence is not noted on labels (7).  Parabens are most common in personal care products that contain significant amounts of water such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions and facial and shower cleansers and scrubs because they discourage the growth of microbes, and have been associated with endocrine disruption, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity (8).  All of the chemicals tested have clinically indicated some level of toxicity in humans, and the most concerning thing as they have not yet been clinically studied definitively in combination or in the levels of daily exposure experienced by most women and girls.  

The good news is that analysis of urine samples after a three-day trial in which the participants used the lower- chemical products, found significant drops in levels of these chemicals in the body. Metabolites of diethyl phthalate, commonly used in fragrances, decreased 27 percent by the end of the trial period. Methyl and propyl parabens, used as preservatives in cosmetics, dropped 44 and 45 percent respectively. Both triclosan, found in antibacterial soaps and some brands of toothpaste, and benzophenone-3 (BP-3), found in some sunscreens under the name oxybenzone, fell 36 percent.

So in a very short space of time, through a change to natural beauty products and cosmetics we can easily reduce the toxic load on the body and reduce the risk of hormone disruption.  With companies like Tropic, Faith in Nature and Jason to name a few, offering a huge array of products that compete with the mainstream products containing harmful chemical, is it not a wiser choice to choose natural beauty?

To find out more about the toxins in our cosmetics, come to my Toxic Beauty Workshop to try some lovely Tropic beauty products free of toxins

  1. Brown et al. The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. Am J Public Health. 1984 May; 74(5): 479–484.
  2. Kasting and Kretsos.Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2005;18:55-74
  3. Robinson et al. The Importance of Exposure Estimation in the Assessment of Skin Sensitization risk. Contact Dermatitis 2000; 42:251-259.
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047791/
  5. https://www.ewg.org/research/teen-girls-body-burden-hormone-altering-cosmetics-chemicals
  6. http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/phthalates/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1253722/

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