The products and cosmetics we apply to our faces have effects that go far beyond skin surface concerns. They go skin deep. Skin is the largest organ of the body – it’s living and breathing, and needs to be fed and nourished with healing ingredients – because what we apply to our skin ultimately gets absorbed internally. In other words, the cosmetics we apply to our skin can end up interacting with chemical and hormonal processes taking place inside of our bodies. This in turn has far reaching effects on exterior conditions like skin and hair health that you were trying to enhance in the first place. All this said, it’s important to understand the process by which skin absorbs cosmetics, the effects it can have internally and externally, and parts of your routine that you can be tweaking or paying extra attention to in order to mitigate past absorption issues – and keep your dermis strong and fortified.
First, we’ll spotlight some studies explaining the concerns around cosmetic absorption. There have been a number of studies drawing links between external application of cosmetics and subsequent presence of chemicals internally, as well as hormonal disruption linked to the chemical profile of the offending cosmetic. A study published through the US National Library of Medicine determined that the phthalate family of chemical compounds – used to give conventional cosmetics a plastic and flexible texture – remains in fat tissue for long periods of time after exposure, and more alarmingly still, is connected to high estrogen levels present within in vitro fetuses. Other adverse health effects explored in the study include the possible disturbance of the development and function of reproductive organs as well as disruption to hormonal balance. These are all health risks that you inadvertently expose yourself to when you apply cosmetics containing these chemicals – so it’s best to think twice, read ingredient labels, and steer clear of synthetic dyes, fragrances and preservatives.
The EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database gives a thorough breakdown of the risks associated with absorbing chemicals through cosmetic application, particularly highlighting the way in which chemicals in conventional cosmetics remain in human tissue for long periods of time. The big picture: industrial plasticizers (phthalates) remain in urine, preservatives called parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue, and chemicals used to produce generic “fragrance” like musk xylene have been found to remain in human fat. The conventional beauty products containing these chemicals are designed to penetrate skin, and many of their adverse effects have either been preliminarily studied as being disruptive – to endocrine functioning, digestion, and thus secondarily to hair and skin health – or else their effects have simply not been studied over long periods of time.
So we’re looking at both red flags and question marks when it comes to many of the chemicals in conventional cosmetics. What we do know is that these chemicals enter into the body through the products you apply to your dermis. Think about birth control patches or nicotine patches: both of these tested and proven-to-work products deliver a drug vis-a-vis your skin. Both are absorbed into the bloodstream; both interact with internal chemical processes. The same story can hold true with chemicals in cosmetics. The skin is a porous receptacle, and it’s important to make links between external and internal health when making decisions about the kind of cosmetics to be purchasing and applying. We rounded up the top ten chemicals to avoid in personal care products, highlighting offenders like sulfates (an irritating detergent), petroleum-based chemicals, and even formaldehyde.
Armed with this information, what are your next steps? The obvious direction we’re arrowing you towards is to read labels and stick with plant-based alternatives. It’s time to make some more healthful swaps, and if you’ve been using irritating synthetic products for your whole life, it’s not too late to set your skin health back on track with organic skin care. It’s essential to focus on nourishing and hydrating your skin with toner and serum in order to treat early signs of aging and skin irritation that have been exacerbated by overly drying or chemical-laden products. Two of our trusted natural alternatives to conventional phthalate-loaded cosmetics are our Flower Water Toner and Vine Therapy Serum.
The Flower Water Toner is formulated with ultra calming rose and calendula hydrosols, both absorbable humectants which treat redness and restore skin to optimal moisture and oil balance. The formula also features organic witch hazel, a gentle astringent that’s known to help stop cellular damage and eradicate bacteria housed deep within your pores. It’s a must-have step between cleansing and moisturizing that will leave you with a cleansed dermis that’s not stripped of its natural moisture.
Our Vine Therapy Serum is a great swap to make in place of a chemical laden anti-aging product. The formula is an ultra concentrated blend of plant and fruit based oils and extracts with powerful anti-aging properties. Its base of organic aloe water with soothing and anti-inflammatory qualities works synergistically with grape seed extract and acai, both powerful antioxidant deliverers which combat oxidative damage at the cellular level and promote healthy and regular collagen production. The formula also boasts organic Japanese honeysuckle extract, a natural preservative that replaces parabens. It’s naturally light and a little goes a long way – and absorption of potentially harmful chemicals is not in it’s fine print.
All this said, the takeaway is fairly intuitive. Read labels and stay aware of current research around chemicals in cosmetics. Know that large cosmetic companies often have quite a bit of leeway with regards to how much they actually reveal about what’s in their products, and what kind of testing has gone into them. In addition, of course, make smart swaps that stick with plant and fruit based ingredients, of which absorption is safe and anxiety free. Keep up with us for more ingredient investigations and product spotlights. We’re committed to sharing safe, natural alternatives to conventional chemicals, because beauty is never worth any toxic risk.