Photo: Woman Applying Sunscreen on Her Face

by Tracy Ternes

When it comes to living a healthy and natural lifestyle, what you put on your body is just as significant as what you put in your body. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and since it is porous, it absorbs whatever you put on it. 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 It is easy to see that what we use on our skin ends up inside our bodies. So it is important to pay close attention to the ingredients in our skin care products. If the products you use contain harmful ingredients such as harsh, toxic chemicals, colors, and fragrances, those ingredients make their way into your body, your blood and lymphatic system. The majority of mainstream body care products contain a cocktail of carcinogenic chemicals, allergens, and irritants. To eliminate a lot of toxic chemicals, preservatives, and fragrances that are harmful to our bodies, choose certified organic and natural skin care products. It is important to read labels and become educated about what ingredients to avoid when selecting body care products. A good motto to go by is if you can’t pronounce it or have only seen it in chemistry class, don’t use it! Petroleum derivatives, preservatives, synthetic fragrances and dyes go by many names. A few examples of common ingredients to steer clear of are Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Luaroyl Sarcosinate, Potassium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sulfates, Parabens, and Phenoxyethanol. Following is an example of a mainstream product and the synthetic ingredients it contains:

Vaseline Intensive Care Dry Skin Lotion

Ingredients from packaging: ACTIVE INGREDIENT: ETHYLHEXYL P-METHOXYCINNAMATE (SPF 5). OTHER INGREDIENTS: WATER, GLYCERIN, STEARIC ACID, GLYCOL STEARATE, SUNFLOWER SEED OIL, SOYA STEROL, LECITHIN, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, RETINYL PALMITATE, DIMETHICONE, GLYCERYL STEARATE, CETYL ALCOHOL, TEA, MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, FRAGRANCE, CARBOMER, STEARAMIDE AMP, CORN OIL, METHYLPARABEN, DMDM HYDANTOIN, IODOPROPYNYL BUTYLCARBAMATE, DISODIUM EDTA, PG, BHT, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, YELLOW NO. 10.

By selecting organic and natural products for yourself and your family, you are taking a big step toward a healthier lifestyle. The developing organs of babies and children are particularly sensitive to chemicals so it is especially important to use safe products for your youngsters. Down to Earth has a wide selection of natural and organic body care products. Look for even more in the near future as our team is working hard to ensure that DTE carries the purest products available.

Footnotes: 
  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.