Buyer Beware: Are Your Skincare Products Really Safe to Use?

A person could get lost for weeks amongst the thousands of skincare and beauty products out there. Generally, most of the ingredients on the back of the bottle are complicated words we can’t pronouce, let alone explain what their purpose is. “Oh well, I’m sure they have a reason. The beauty industry is regulated by the government, right? Therefore, I can trust everything in this product to not only be safe, but also benefit my skin.” Incorrect, my dear fellow consumers!

What? Not all of these chemicals are safe you say? Many beauty products are mostly water and inexpensive filler chemicals, with a few drops of actual “good-for-your-skin stuff”. Gasp! What can I do to avoid being taken for a fool and wasting my money? How do I know what’s safe to use and what could be causing more harm than good? Those that insist chemicals in our skin products are safe, are basing it off of the “low concentration factor”. While this has some merit, you’re using these products every day and getting continuous exposure. The majority of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bodies. Or equally as undesirable, sits on top and doesn’t allow our skin to perform it’s vital functions (breathe). Going completely au natruale in our modern world is next to impossible. I encourage you to use “natural” and “organic” products when you can, for your own health and that of the environment. However, reading the Ingredients List is critical even if the product is labeled as such. At the least, try to avoid these common chemicals found on the Ingredients List:

Mineral Oil– (baby oil, Vaseline, paraffin wax) This is what’s left over after crude oil gets turned into gasoline. It sits on top of the skin, inhibits the skin’s ability to breathe, and traps toxins you would normally sweat out. This leads to clogged pores, breakouts, and premature aging. Even though skin may feel soft and supple after applying mineral oil, it really is drying out your skin cells. There is also much concern over petro chemicals leading to cancer. Natural oil (derived from plants) can be wonderful additions to your beauty regimen. Use olive, jojoba, sweet almond, apricot kernel, grapeseed, etc instead of “baby oil”. Burt’s Bees makes a lovely, all-natural, plant-based baby oil that is perfect for massage and moisturizing on any age.

Parabens– (methyl, ethyl, benzyl, propyl and butylparaben) Preservative derived from petroleum that absorb into the skin. Mimics Estrogen in the body and could lead to cancer and reproductive issues. Denmark and the UK are taking steps to ban these chemicals, while most countries put a limit on how much can be in a product. Much research is being done, with evidence for and against. But why take the risk when there are paraben-free products out there? Just read the Ingredients List.

Sulfates- (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, aluminum laureth sulfate, etc) Primary cleansing agent in just about everything, very cheap and make products foamy. The skin has a natural barrier layer to protect it, keep water inside the body, and keep contaminates out. Sulfates strip all of your natural oils that make up this layer. This makes skin more susceptible to environmental contaminants and can lead to acne. Drying products cause the body to rebound and produce more oil, leading to that oily forehead shine you may find yourself blotting in the afternoon. To rid your skin of excess oil, use an oil based product, as “like attracts like”. A personal favorite of mine is Dermalogica’s PreCleanse, which uses a combination of plant based oils to liquify sebum without stripping the skin.

Fragrance&Dyes- Their only purpose is to make a product more inticing to the consumer by smelling and looking “pretty”. These additives do nothing to help your skin, and often times lead to sensitivity, inflammation, and allergic reactions. “Fragrance” could be a combination of over 4,000 chemicals (lab created), and companies are NOT required to list them individually. Most dyes are synthetic coal-tar or heavy metal salt derivatives. A product’s scent should come from plant-based oils and extracts. An example of a fragrance and dye-free product is Clarisonc’s Gentle Hydro Cleanser

This is a great link for more info about product safety…

I do not get compensated in any way for recommending certain brands or products. I simply have your best interest at heart and give you my professional opinions. Be well!


Sunburn Help

Oops! You somehow missed my “Best 5 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Lobster this Summer” post and got a sunburn 😦  Time to stay out of the sun for awhile and begin the recovery process. You inadvertantly damaged your body’s main protection from the outside world- your skin. Sunburns can be quite serious. While the majority of sunburns are considered 1st degree burns, 2nd and even 3rd degree burns do happen. If your skin is no longer intact, blistering, extremely painful, or you have fever/ chills/ nausea, please get medical attention. Otherwise, minor sunburns can be effectively treated at home and should completely heal within a few weeks.

First things first- be gentle! Avoid tight clothes, scratchy towels, adhesive bandages, or anything else that will cause more trauma to your pink flesh.

Cool the burn- the verdict is still out on whether you should take a hot, cold, or tepid shower. A good rule of thumb is to listen to your body and not do anything extreme. Really hot water or ice should be avoided. Stick to lukewarm water, shower or bath- your choice. If you choose to soak, there are a variety of things that you can add to your bath water to help ease the pain and soothe your skin.

  • whole milk
  • oatmeal (grind to a fine powder in your blender/ food processor and make a little bag out of cheesecloth, drop the bag in your bath to get all the benefits without the mess)
  • lavender oil (naturally soothing and antiseptic)

Cool compresses are very helpful.

  • Try using chilled cucumber slices on small areas, or cucumber juice as a compress.
  • Steep a tea bag and let it cool, apply to the skin. Black/ green/ mint teas are all beneficial
  • plain yogurt (ideally full fat) is soothing and cooling to slather on, although a little messy. Be sure to rinse yourself off  after 15min

Aspirin/ Ibuprofen/ Acetaminophen will  reduce the pain and swelling associated with sunburn, especially during the 1st 24hrs.

Aloe is the old standby for a reason- it works! Just be sure to read the ingredients on your product. Alcohol will further dry out your skin, and added fragrance/ colors are often irritating.

After a few days you might start to peel. While this isn’t pretty, it is your body’s natural process once new skin is ready to come to the surface. Don’t use any harsh exfoliants to help it along, just be patient! If fluid-filled blisters develop, leave them alone. The clear fluid helps the area to heal and protects it from bacteria. If they do pop, gently cleanse the area with cool water and apply a little antibiotic ointment or honey. If a skin flap is there, place it back over the sore and wrap the area with gauze. Tape the gauze, not your skin.

Stay Hydrated. You need extra water at this time. Also, feed your body more protein and vitamins- essential for healing!

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Best 5 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Lobster This Summer

A person’s chance of getting melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) doubles after 5 blistering sunburns in their lifetime! How can you prevent getting sunburned while still enjoying your Summer? Follow these tips:

  1. Wear a wide brimmed hat. Our faces get hit the most with the sun’s ray’s (unless you’re laying down, of course!). The nose, cheeks, and lips are particularly susceptible.
  2. Stay hydrated and eat fresh fruits & veggies. Damage from UV radiation causes the production of free radicals, which lead to cancer. Your body is equipped to fight off the free radicals if you give it the right ammo- water and antioxidants. Antioxidant rich foods include blueberries, broccoli, carrots, green tea, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and pomegranate.
  3. Apply sunscreen everywhere, including your ears, lips, and around your eyes. These areas are often neglected and are often some of the 1st to develop cancerous areas later in life. Your lip balm/ lip stick will not protect your lips unless it lists SPF in the ingredients. Wearing sunglasses is a great start, but the rays will come in around the sides and damage your delicate skin (not to mention give you Crow’s Feet!).
  4. Stay in the shade between 10am-3pm. The sun’s rays are strongest at this time. And cruising in your car doesn’t count as shade! Apply sunscreen before hitting the road, whether you’re in a convertible or not.
  5. Wear clothing specially designed to protect you from the sun. A regular cotton tee provides you with about an SPF 8. Many brands are now coming out with shirts, tunics, and dresses woven differently to provide higher Sun Protection Factors, in some cases as much as SPF80. Sure, they’re more expensive, but it’s worth the investment if you’re lax about putting on the sunblock. Plus, they’ll wear longer because of the higher quality material.