In my last post, I had written about 6 ways that you can nourish and hydrate your skin this winter from the inside out.
In this post, I am focussing on the external environment that impacts the health of our skin especially the products that we apply to our skin. While it is beyond the scope of this article to list down ALL the issues associated with the types of products which are available today, I have highlighted the main issues and also listed down a few of the products that are my current favourite.
Not many of us realise that cosmetics and other personal care products go more than skin deep
Personal care products and our health
We absorb the products that we use through our skin into our tissue and then circulate them throughout our body; we also breathe them in through fragrance and even "eat" these all day long. However, the chemicals they contain are not harmless and many of them are known to be endocrine disruptors. Even minuscule amounts of toxins in these products can have a profound effect on our health. Also, since women naturally have more fatty tissues than men AND use more products in general, women tend to accumulate much higher volumes of these toxins in their fat cells.
From the time girls enter their teens and start using personal care products like cosmetics, toxins start accumulating in their bodies. This process continues well into their adult life until it starts draining away their health and vitality. It is now estimated that by the time a woman leaves for work she has used a dozen products and cosmetics comprising over 168 different chemical ingredients which are toxic to the body (the average man can use upto 6 products in a day).
Toxins- hiding in plain sight
What you may not know is that while the label on a product may list some of the ingredients, manufacturers are not required to disclose the composition of "fragrances" and other "trade secrets" which allows for a lot of toxic exposure. Some of the more common toxins found in personal care products are phthalates, triclosan, parabens, DEA, aluminium, acrylates which can contribute to various health conditions in our bodies including but not limited to different forms of cancer, insulin resistance, thyroid, diabetes etc.
Endocrine disruptors and insulin resistance
In particular, phthalates are called endocrine disruptors since they can really mess up our natural hormonal balance by interacting with the endocrine receptor sites on cells throughout the body. By doing so, they can increase the production of certain hormones, interfere with hormone signalling and interrupt neutron connections necessary for the brain to function properly, decrease the production of thyroid hormones and block insulin receptor sites on cells so glucose can not get inside to produce energy. Exposure to even small traces of environmental toxins like these can interfere with glucose and cholesterol metabolism and induce insulin resistance and obesity through various pathways which include inflammation, high levels of oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and issues with appetite regulation.
Reducing toxic load
One of the best ways to reduce toxic load and support your body is to stay away from avoidable toxins found in the personal care products. Many of us are aware of and find ways to help our body's natural detoxification process by addressing constipation, hydration and consuming organic produce. However, there is little point in detoxification if you keep putting in new toxins in the body. It is also always simpler and better if you do not take these toxins into the body, to begin with.
You can do this by
cutting down on your daily use of personal care products (including bathing and cleaning products)
learning to read the labels on the products you intend to use so that you are aware of what they consist of and take an informed decision(refer to the Environmental Working Group resource shared below)
replacing your existing products with healthier alternatives
Personal care products- a revolution
The good news is that awareness has certainly grown amongst consumers regarding the safety of the products that they are using and they have become selective in buying these products. The digital revolution has made it easier than ever for consumers to get information about this topic and has also led them to figure out that some of these chemicals are completely unnecessary. And as demand has been growing for products which are safe and sustainable (not only in terms of our health but also the health of our entire planet) many companies have started reformulating their products.
What I personally find really encouraging is the fact that in India (and all over the world) many small businesses have started manufacturing products which are natural, safe and sustainable. These companies are led by concerned and determined individuals who are intent on creating healthier alternatives which harness the power of nature using traditional principles like that of ayurveda.
My personal favourites
I have shared with you below a list of local brands that my family and I have either used in the past or are using currently.
Please note that you will need to do your own due diligence in terms of the ingredients in each of these products since each of us has different threshold levels regarding toxin exposure, detoxification capabilities and can sometimes react differently to the same product. Also, sometimes the formulation of these products change and need to be reevaluated from time to time. Use your own intuition to guide you as you select those that suit you and those that you may need to avoid.
My top 10 favourite brands are
The fact is, what we put on our bodies is entirely up to us. Also, what you need to remember is that even if you are in good health, toxins are still a problem for you. When you are young and do not have any symptoms or disease, it is simply because your body can easily bounce back from these daily exposures. However, as you grow older, toxins start accumulating in your body and invisible damage starts taking place. Hence, the earlier you become aware of this and start working on avoiding toxins the better will be the outcome for you and your family in the long run.
Beautiful skin requires commitment. Not a miracle
(I have shared the recipe for the natural and moisturising body butter that I make for my family and friends every winter as a FREE download below)