Is “getting healthier” one of your goals (aka losing weight, eating more vegetables, working out, sleeping more, more water, etc)? Odds are that one of these are on your list.
Those of us in the over 40 crowd are focused on slowing the aging process, feeling good, and staying mentally fit. Whether you know it or not, many of the changes we make are in an effort to reduce our toxin load, so that our organs and cells, etc. work optimally to achieve these results.
There are three primary ways that toxins can get inside us: ingestion, inhalation, and absorption. When we talk about chemicals in pesticides or plastics and food packaging, we're mostly talking about things we ingest.
But absorption, and even inhalation, are major pathways. In fact, absorption is potent because we absorb chemicals into the bloodstream first, before they eventually make their way to the liver to be processed, if possible.
Absorption happens through the skin, which is our largest organ. Our skin doesn’t absorb absolutely everything that touches it, but it absorbs quite a bit. Imagine soap, lotion, sanitizer, shaving oils, gels, and creams, deodorant, body spray, and perfume. And while I wish I it wasn’t true, most of the products we find at high-end department stores and cheap drugstores are not well-regulated or tested for safety. Therefore, the amount of toxic chemicals that our skin absorbs is virtually unregulated.
A 2004 study by the Environmental Working Group found that 89% of 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the CIR, the FDA, nor any other publicly accountable institution. The FDA doesn’t require companies to test their products, or share safety testing if they do. In fact, according to the FDA, “...a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA.”
So, we get to be the watchdogs. Now, I’m not a trained chemist, and odds are that you aren’t either. I wish we could trust the industry scientists and experts to be our watchdogs, but for the most part, their interests are quite different than ours. In fact, the personal care industry lobby pushes pretty hard to stay under the radar of regulations.
Thanks to some extra pressure this past year, from environmental and human health organizations and Beautycounter, the FDA more than doubled the number of banned substances from 11 - 30. We’re a long way off from the EU who’s banned 1400 or Beautycounter who has banned 1500 from its products (Check out their “Never List” to know what’s best to avoid.) Small strides, but forward movement anyway. Here are the 19 that were added in 2016.