The largest organ of your body is your skin and while it is an incredible protective layer, we often forget it is also sensitive, porous and breathable. Those three qualities work for you, because your skin naturally works to help your body balance itself and remove toxins through this fabulous "earth suit" you've been given. For that reason, we should all be more aware not only of what you put IN our bodies, but also what we put ON them.
Of all the products in our homes, "personal care" products are the ones that we not only use daily, but also come into contact with our skin and lungs most often. Did you know that up to 60% of what you put on your skin can be absorbed in a matter of seconds; carrying ingredients directly into your bloodstream and throughout your body? When we talk about the delicate layer of new skin on a baby or child that percentage can jump up even higher up to 90%!
In fact, most irritations - including itchiness, rashes, and in severe cases even eczema - may actually be your body's adverse reaction to the multitude of chemicals and synthetic ingredients found in commercial products. So we think it's worth it to know what ingredients are in these products.
Thankfully, more and more people are raising their awareness about the negative impacts most commercial products have not only on our bodies and our health, but on the ecological environment of the planet we share as well.
The best thing you can do is to raise your awareness and take some time to just LOOK at what's inside the product you're using. Most conventional soaps, shampoos and body products - contain synthetic and petroleum based ingredients - sadly even some products that are labeled or claiming to be "all natural" and "organic".
It is estimated that the average woman can put over 500 chemicals on her body each day through the cosmetics and body "care" products she uses. That fact alone is pretty scary, but the cumulative effect translates to around FIVE POUNDS of chemicals absorbed each year - through just her "beauty" products! The scariest part is, many of these ingredients have actually been found in breast cancer tumours, and have also been linked to immune disfunction, hormone disruption and other health problems. According to some studies*, an ingredient found in many body care products (methylparaben) can actually react with UVB rays and cause DNA damage as well as increase the rate and appearance of aging. (*1, 2)
While we may expect companies that make these products should be responsible and create products that won't actually harm us or at least our government should be enforcing regulations that protect our health right?
The sad fact actually is that the "beauty and cosmetics industry" is completely unregulated by sources other than themselves - it's completely "voluntary".
In The United States, the FDA actually has NO authority; it cannot even require the ingredients used in products to be tested before they are sold in products. The truth is, only 5% of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in commercial products today actually have been tested. While Canada's regulations are a bit stronger, you'll still find chemicals that are KNOWN carcinogens and hormone disruptors in thousands of products sold as "safe for human use". And what we find MOST offensive is in countries with strict regulations, like the UK and France, manufacturers make products without harmful chemicals, but because they are able to "get away with it" in North America, they do. So that means a products sold in the UK (by let's say the Body Shop) will be FREE from parabens - but the one sold in North America, will have them in there. It's not like they CAN'T make their product without Parabens...they just don't "need" to so they're happy to keep them in there for you.
But hey, at least they're "not tested on animals" right...doesn't matter to them though that the ingredients they use have been found in breast cancer tumours!
Disgusting! It drives us nuts! Unfortunately, it's completely legal and all part of the "green washing" deceptive practices of this industry...the one that's going to make you "beautiful".
Advertising allows conventional brands to spend millions persuading you to buy their latest "beauty miracle". And they also spend millions more working to mislead you about the actual ingredients they are using and effects those ingredients can have on your body.
At Neitra, we just think that's wrong; it's un-healthy, un-natural and unfortunately mostly UNKNOWN!
We believe there is a better way, a healthier way. It's quite simple and you can start it right now...it's literally all in your hands: YOU take control over what goes on your body by simply taking a look at what you are putting ON your body! Take a few seconds, turn that product over, read the label and ask yourself - does it meet the "GETE" philosophy? At Neitra, that stands for our "Good Enough To Eat" rule of thumb.
So what does this mean for you? Well, it means now that you know, YOU are in power. And rightly so because YOU get to choose the products that YOU put on your body - how wonderful is that!
But what do you want to look for?
To make life easier, we created an awesome pocket list for you...it's wallet size so you can always have it handy when you are shopping. (Email us and we'll send you as many as you want to share with family and friends too!)
Remember, your incredible "earth suit" absorbs what you put on it...so why not make sure you "Feed Your Skin" the good stuff? After all, you're worth it!
Here are the top six things we'd suggest you avoid:
1). PARABENS (benzyl, butyl, propyl, methyl, ethyl, isobutyl): Most often used because they prevent products from developing mould and fungus. (Usually in products that contain water - to learn more about why water should NOT be in your skincare, see our "Water, Water Everywhere" blog). Parabens are known endrocrine disruptors and have been found in breast cancer tumours. They are also suspected in causing testicular cancer in men as well as interfering with male reproductive functions. Remember, women aren't the only ones using skin care products - fellas need to be just as aware!
2). PTHALATES: Actually a "family" of chemicals you'll find them in many fragrances or parfumes. Known to be hormone disruptors, Pthalates have been linked to reproductive and developmental issues in children as well as causing insulin resistance. Pthalates are also linked to birth defects in male reproductive systems with some research linking to problems with the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs.
3). TRICLOSAN: Mainly used in Deodorants, Antiperspirants and Hand Sanitizers or Anti-Bacterial soaps - also found in laundry detergents, and cosmetics. According to the EPA, Triclosan is technically a pesticide and it kills bacteria. But as you may know, some bacteria are NOT harmful to you so, if you "kill them all" it can actually have a negative effect on your health. And perhaps worst of all, Triclosan has been classified as bio-accumulative (meaning it does not biodegrade) and it builds up as it is washed down our drains, making it harmful to our environment and toxic to aquatic life.
4). DEA - Dethanolamine (and DEA compounds): found in many products including soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, cosmetics, cleansers, even sunscreen! It can be used to make products creamy or sudsy or to counteract the acidity (adjust the pH levels) of other ingredients in products. While DEA is known to cause skin and eye irritation, the EU has gone so far as to warn that prolonged exposure can cause serious damage to your health. (*3)
5). PEGs (ex. PEG-4 or PEG-100) Polyethylene glycol (and compounds) Just to make things clear here, PEG isn't a "single" ingredient but rather an entire "class" of them; the number that follows actually represents the units of ethylene glycol. And FYI, the lower the number the more easily absorbed it is. Derived from petroleum (yes, petroleum) PEG is a degreaser and can also be found in oven degreasers - NOT KIDDING! - so no doubt they'll strip your skin of beneficial moisture. PEGs are also used to "carry" moisture in skin care products. (used in cosmetics to make things creamy or as thickeners). PEG has also been "praised" to "enhance penetration" - meaning it increases the absorption of a product by your skin. But wait, you NOW know that means ingredients that aren't necessarily good for you go even further into your system. And to top it off, there's growing evidence of genotoxicity in PEG compounds especially related to them causing toxicity when used on broken skin.
6). SULFATES (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate: SLS or SLES, Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate: ALS or ALES) This is a big one - because you'll find it in so many products - up to 90% of skin and hair care that foams or lathers. They are KNOWN skin irritants, endocrine and hormone disruptors and are even suspected carcinogens. Some believe they can cause gene mutation...that's some serious stuff - especially when they are such a widespread ingredient!
While this list is just a quick start, you've got to start somewhere.
So, have a look for yourself - unfortunately, you'll find these chemicals in most commercial products...many of the ones you probably use right now.
Scary right? But we're not here to scare you - FEAR has never done anything to make forward progress, so don't get overwhelmed and stuck in FEAR. Take a deep breath. Exhale and think of it this way...you're learning, so learn from this and empower yourself.
And hey...the power truly is IN YOUR HANDS! Take a good look at the ingredients in what you're using...now you know what to look for and what you can take OUT of your skincare regime. The ultimate power is in your hands with what you CHOOSE to purchase and what you PUT ON your body! And Piper and I want you to know that we are here to help you make the switch to healthier choices.
All of our Neitra products are contain only 100% pure vegetable and nut oils and butters and are completely scented using therapeutic grade essential oils. They never contain synthetic ingredients, preservatives, fragrances, or other known toxins.
We follow ancient wisdoms that have been used for centuries by civilizations worldwide to soothe problems, relieve irritation and support the body to naturally take care of and balance itself.
Remember, your body is an amazing thing and it likes to work for you - especially when you work for it - how nice to know that you'll be working together now!
We think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship...and more importantly, the start of a healthier and more beautiful you!
Until next time...have a beautiful day!
In Neitra Love,
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*1 O.H. et al (2006) Methylparaben potentiates UV-induced damage of skin keratinocytes, ScienceDirect, Toxicology, Volume 227, Issues 1-2, 3 pages 62-72
*2 Y.o. et al (2008) Combined Activation of Methyl Paraben by Light Irradiation and Esterase Metabolism toward Oxidative DNA Damage, Chem. Res. Toxicol., 21 (8), pp 1594-1599
*3 European Commission. Regulation (EC) 1272/2008 , Annex VI, Table 3.2. Sep http://reach-compliance.eu/english/legislation/docs/launchers/CLP/launch-CLP-2008-1272-EC-ANNEX-VI.html