Spring clean your skin

I talk a lot about nutrition because I care passionately about helping people make positive choices so their bodies have the building blocks they need to keep well and happy. However, if we’re really looking to nourish our bodies, we need to go further than food.

 

There is absolutely nothing good about these frighteningly common cosmetic ingredients being on, or in, our bodies

  • Parabens, found in everything from shampoo, to moisturiser, to makeup, are known mimic the hormone oestrogen. Exposure to parabens can affect hormone levels, particularly in little, growing bodies. Their use is restricted in several countries and Denmark has banned parabens in products for children under 3.
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a harsh foaming agent used in almost everything – particularly shampoos, bubble-baths, liquid soaps and toothpastes. It is a known skin irritant. Scarily, the molecular structure of SLS allows it to penetrate the skin and reach the bloodstream.
  • Synthetic fragrances and colourants, the most common causes of skin sensitivities, are found in almost all personal care products. Products can contain up to 2,000 chemical compounds listed under the umbrella term ‘parfum’.
  • Triclosan is an anti-microbial agent used in everything from deodorant to mouthwash to surface cleaners.  Its widespread use is believed to be a factor in the increase of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which is very bad news for all of us.
  • Alcohol is used to make products feel light and easily absorbed. Alcohol dries out the skin, can increase sensitivity and can help transport otherwise harmless substances across the skin/blood barrier, meaning what you’re putting on your skin is going straight into your body.
  • Phthalates are found in products such as mascaras and nail varnishes to keep them flexible. Phthalates have been shown to affect the normal development of the central nervous system, as well as having hormone-disruptive activity too.
  • Petrochemicals: We’ve talked before about the importance of reducing the levels of petrochemicals in our kitchens (https://franmac.co.uk/health-tips/toxic-kitchen/). But what if they’re in our skincare? There’s a huge range of ingredients derived from crude oil, including petroleum jelly, paraffin wax and mineral oils. Petrochemicals are alien to the body; they’re essentially plastics. Using them is not far off wrapping the skin in cling film, preventing it from breathing.

One of my key principles is that what you put onto your body is just as important as the food you put in it. Without knowing it, we are allowing all manner of scary substances into are bodies via our skin through the mass-produced soaps, shampoos, and scrubs that we think of as our friends.

Whilst our skin, like the surface of our intestinal tract, is designed as a barrier against invaders, it is also, like our gut, designed to absorb nutrients from the water, air and substances we come into contact with. And whilst it does an amazing job performing essential functions like converting sunlight into Vitamin D and then absorbing it into our systems, it is also equally efficient at absorbing any toxins that it is exposed to.

So what is a conscientious consumer to do?

Take a careful look at the ingredients on every single skincare or cosmetic product you buy.  The Environmental Working Group has done a good job in highlighting products to avoid, and this is a good place to start your researches.

One of the skincare products I swear by is Argan Oil.  Argan Oil has been recognised and celebrated as a wonder-product for centuries, and with good reason. It is known to be rich in Vitamin E and has a particular combination of fatty acids which are, together, a powerful combination to treat skin conditions, reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars, treat diaper rashes, heal itchy, dry scalps, promote hair growth, soothe irritated, post-shaven skin, and much more. It has three times the amount of Vitamin E found in olive oil, making it fantastic for the skin and fighting free radicals.

And there is a culinary version as well! Buttery, nutty, and absolutely delicious, the oil boasts proven health benefits: aiding digestion, regulating blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, as well as being the perfect oil for salad dressings.

But whilst most of the buzz around argan oil has been focused on its properties as a beauty aid, here is a product so pure, you can actually eat it. In fact, for generations, argan oil has been a staple in the Berber Moroccans’ diet.

The only difference between the culinary and the cosmetic oils, is that the argan nuts are gently toasted before pressing for the culinary oil, giving it its distinctive creamy, nutty flavour.

Organic, sustainable, ethically produced, and 100% good for you. That’s the kind of skincare I love!

Argan nuts

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