Reducing your toxic load
As your body’s largest organ, your skin makes up to 10% of your total body weight and plays an important role in detoxification. It’s a permeable barrier that not only releases toxins through the act of sweating, but also absorbs substances through the products you apply, such as makeup, lotions or sunscreen. Filled with microscopic pores that release toxins from our body, our skin also helps block harmful substances from entering our body, and though it’s not a sponge that soaks up anything you put on it, it can absorb certain substances depending on their permeability.
Many substances today, especially skincare products, are formulated with penetration-enhancing ingredients such as alcohols, essential oils and fatty acids, which help the substance absorb better. Substances with larger molecules, such as moisturisers, just reach the stratum corneum (the dead outer layer of skin). Others with smaller molecules, such as serums with actives, are able to penetrate the skin barrier and disrupt its proteins and oils or enhance hydration levels.
Since we know that our skin can absorb smaller molecules, it means that we have to select our skincare products wisely if we want to ensure we’re not absorbing anything that could be toxic or harmful. Just as we watch what we put into our body, what we put onto it could be just as important — especially, during pregnancy or if you suffer from certain conditions, as we’ll outline in this article.
Autoimmune conditions and skin issues
Toxins have the ability to trigger autoimmune responses in the body, changing cellular functions, hormone activity, stimulating the synthesis of nitric oxide and even competing with things like thyroid hormones, leading to an inflammatory response in the thyroid gland(1).
In fact, a study published in the journal Environment Science & Technology reported that parabens from synthetic sources have been found for the first time in the bodies of marine mammals, including polar bears, sea otters and several species of dolphin(2). If parabens can get into the bodies of mammals through products that have leaked into our oceans, then it’s highly likely that they can also get into ours.
Toxin-free skincare and pregnancy
It’s especially important to reduce your toxic load during pregnancy and breastfeeding to minimise the risk of your baby taking in anything potentially harmful. Ingredients like retinol and substances found in most chemical sunscreens have been found to absorb directly into the bloodstream, yet there’s not enough research yet to fully understand their effect on human health(3).
And small trace amounts that are absorbed during the course of our lifetime through skincare products have the ability to compound over time. In fact, a study from 2009 found over 200 additional chemicals in infants’ umbilical cord blood, possibly from beauty products used by their mothers(4). Parabens (a preservative), phthalates (in most artificial fragrances) and butoxyethanol are some common toxins in skincare products, and have been shown by studies to potentially mess with fertility and sexual function, affecting the body’s hormones(5).
Ingredients to watch out for
As mentioned above, parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate (found in most foaming cleansers and shower gels) are two ingredients to watch out for. However, there are many others. Retinol is best avoided if you experience skin sensitivity or are pregnant or breastfeeding, as some have the ability to absorb directly into the blood. Others to look out for are:
• Mineral oil
If you suffer from allergies or skin conditions, it’s best to avoid artificial fragrances that can trigger allergies, and essential oils, which can be extremely irritating and disruptive to the skin barrier.
Why clean skincare is best
Even “clean” products have the ability to cause sensitivity and allergies, which is why it’s important to read the ingredients on the back of the products you’re buying.
Alitura Naturals is a toxin-free skincare brand you can trust, with earth-derived ingredients and no irritating fragrances or parabens. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients you can find in Alitura products:
• Freshwater pearl powder
• Grass-fed colostrum
• American ginseng
• Green clay
• L-ascorbic acid Vitamin C
• Organic kelp powder
You’ll see that there are no essential oils, artificial fragrances, parabens or mysterious artificial ingredients in their products, which means that they’re safe for most skin types (L-ascorbic acid can be irritating to sensitive skin, as can bentonite clay).
And if you’re after a perfume or cologne, theirs are paraben and toxin-free, with just a touch of essential oils to provide scent.
Many people don’t realise just how toxic the majority of skincare products on the market actually are, with high levels of potentially irritating synthetic ingredients, parabens and artificial fragrances. To lower the risk of triggering autoimmune conditions and other chronic health and skin issues, it’s wise to switch to earth-derived skincare products and check the ingredients before you buy.
And when it comes to clean products, Alitura are the cleanest on the market, with a thoughtfully curated and limited range of all-natural ingredients.
Shop their product range here.
1 A Potential Link between Environmental Triggers and Autoimmunity
2 Parabens and their byproducts found in dolphins and other marine mammals
3 Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients
4 Tests Find More Than 200 Chemicals in Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood
5 Parabens and their effects on the endocrine system