Beauty and personal care products are a multi-billion pound industry in the UK. In 2017, UK consumers spent £25.1bn on beauty products, the fifth highest in the world. When it comes to our health, its not just about the food we put into our body that is important.
Historically, beauty products were created using plant extracts, minerals and metals. Now, we’re a lot more advanced but have our regulations have not been updated to suit. UK cosmetic products are regulated by the EU but many chemicals are allowed to used in our beauty products still.
How do we absorb them?
The skin is our largest organ of the body and therefore absorbs everything that it comes into contact with. The stratus corneum is the first layer of our skin that works as a physical barrier. Commercial skincare products contain parabens, silicones, mineral oils, and artificial fragrance that disrupt the gut microbiome over time by entering our blood stream through sweat glands, hair follicles and through a process called passive diffusion. These chemicals reach the liver adding extra waste for our body to detoxify.
Its easy to think that we are only exposing ourselves to a small amount of chemicals, but think about your daily routine and the products you use on your body everyday, over time these products result in chronic and repeated exposure which mimics oestrogen and has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and effecting fertility rates.
When adding extra toxic waste to our body to detox, we are damaging our gut health by placing added stress on the body. Our bodies already have so much to detox from dietary choices, air pollution and environmental stressors and our work/life balance that placing additional chemicals load is the last thing our liver needs.
Benzophenone-3 (BZ-3) is a UV absorbent chemical found in many sunscreens and moisturisers and further chemicals used in cosmetics act as endocrine disruptors, meaning that they interfere with our hormones. Whilst exposure to phthalates that are common ingredients in fragrances, household cleaners and candles are linked to underdevelopment of male reproductive organs, and increased risk of asthma and allergens in young children.
What can I do?
Now this doesn’t mean its time to throw out the make up bag and wash kit. You can still enjoy wearing make up and spa days. The trick is opting for natural, certified organic products. A top tip to make the transition is to slowly replace your products each time you run out & start with the products that you use the most such as body washes and deodorants.
Reading labels can become overwhelming as many products are often branded as ‘natural’ but still contain harmful chemicals. Apps such as Think Dirty and the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Skin Deep’ app are great resources to have on your phone to rate the safety of your products & help to understand what you should be looking out for. (Linked below)
To help you get started, here are some of my current favourite wash bag staples:
Bath & shower gel – Bee Lovely Bath and Shower Gel & Seaweed and Arnica Bath Foam from Neals Yard Remedies
Moisturiser – Bee Lovely Body Butter & Mothers Balm from Neals Yard Remedies
Deodorant – Activated Charcoal Deodorant Balm
Toothpaste – AloeDent Action Charcoal Toothpaste
Face SPF – Sun Day SPF 50 from Tropic
Body SPF – Scent Free Sun Lotion from Green People