Why natural skincare?
We care about what we eat. We go to great lengths to buy the freshest foods possible, we may spend double the normal amount to buy organic food which has been grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. However, we may not go to such lengths when we buy our cosmetics and personal care products. What is the deciding factor when we buy skincare? Brands? Or is it the latest superstar cosmeceutical ingredient which promises to make us look younger than we actually are? We may not care as much about our cosmetics as we do the food we eat as we seem to be very influenced by the million dollar cosmetic industry telling us we need to look younger or more beautifulif you want that you must buy the latest product (usually not natural except maybe for a couple of ingredients). But do you think that the products you use on your skin are as important as the food you put into your body? Just like the food you eat should be pure and nourishing for you to reach ultimate health, shouldn't what you put on your skin be pure and nourishing as well?
Why did I choose to make natural skincare?
Growing up on a farm I have always had a deep love and respect for nature and thus wanted my skincare to be natural and nourishing and coupled with this another reason why I started buying and then making natural skincare & aromatherapy products, was my concern for the amount of synthetic ingredients in skincare and scented products and what the build-up of these ingredients (or components of these ingredients) can do to our health, to animals and other life and to the environment. There are the effects from the products themselves (washing down the drains into water systems) but also the effects from manufacturing processes and then the disposal of excess ingredient production or products once they reach their use by dates. Basically, we don’t know how non-natural ingredients and the breakdown of those said ingredients will affect us humans and other living creatures. And that is what concerns me the most.
Are skincare ingredients absorbed by our skin?
Not only is there this not knowing about the current and future effects of the synthetic ingredients. There is also the skin absorption issue. There is a lot of research out there about skin absorption and penetration of the ingredients commonly found in cosmetics and there are also a lot of products which contain ingredients to amplify that absorption and penetration and much contradictory research about the actual amount of cosmetic ingredients that can be absorbed through the skin, as it depends on the state of the skin, the conditions that the cosmetic is being applied in, the size of the molecules in the cosmetic's ingredients and the presence of penetration enhancers and maybe even individual human differences. However, it is known that some percentage of the ingredients of the cosmetics that we are applying to our skin are being absorbed into at the top layers of the skin, and some (probably a small amount) will be absorbed into more than the top layers, leading to absorption by the blood stream (essential oil consitiuents being one of those).
What are the effects of synthetic ingredients?
The effects of non-natural ingredients found in cosmetics are not so clear cut. You may think it is just making you look younger or better. But the synthetic ingredients can be more insidious than innocent. It is only now that we are starting to see the effects of the synthetic products we have invented and so quickly embraced in the last 100 years or so on marine life and the environment in general. Marine life is being contaminated by the microparticles of plastics and synthetic elements. There is seemingly nothing that we can’t create in a lab. It ranges from food, to clothing, packaging, chemicals for cleaning, ingredients for cosmetics, drugs and it goes on. It is great that we are able to create these things as how else might we feed or clothe our huge and ever-expanding world population. If we were only able to use that which was natural, renewable or sustainable, how would many people in the world afford to live or eat if these cheaper synthetic alternatives hadn’t been created. Good question, perhaps. However, we must also look at the reality of the effects that these innovations are having on our planet, marine life and humans.
The harmful effects
When I was a kid, my family lived on a farm thus I have always had a very close relation to nature and animals. Plastic pollution was becoming an issue. Our farm bordered on a road where people would drive past and throw out their rubbish. This was Australian in the seventies and there was a seeming lack of awareness on what that rubbish would do once thrown into nature. Our cows, also grazed near that road. Because animals are known to sometimes eat anything, one of our cows must have started eating the plastic bags that had been thrown into our front paddocks. That cow got very sick and died and when the vet did an autopsy, a chewed-on plastic bag was found in her stomach. That made me so sad as a kid to see that people had no awareness how animals (or our environment) could be so deeply harmed by their irreverent throwing of rubbish which has no possible way of decomposing.
What do we know?
We may be a little bit more aware now but as we are slowly seeing, all of these non-natural synthetic chemicals, microplastics and fibres are finding their way into soil, water and animals. They are a problem because they are not degradable, they get eaten by marine life or other organisms possibly harming the animal or organism that has ingested it or is then eliminated, once again causing pollution. We know so little right now, just as we always have, on how animals are or will be harmed by what we have created, how the environment will be harmed by what we have created and ultimately how we, the human race, will be harmed by what we have created. In the past many cosmetics contained many things which have since become known as neuro-toxins, formaldehyde being one of them. Then micro beads appeared in cosmetics which we thought were great. They were in many products; face washes, body washes, soaps, exfoliation creams; now we have found out how harmful they are for marine life and thus many countries have banned them. The same for phthalates. They are found in nail polishes, hair sprays, perfumes and other synthetically scented products and are now suspected as endocrine disrupters, not only for us humans but all living creatures. And the frightening thing is that these things may not be present on the label, many of these synthetic chemicals are a reaction from a production process and many others are hidden in another word, such as ‘fragrance’. Have you ever thought of what these are doing to more vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, babies, children and even teenagers who are still developing? The problem is our lack of knowledge about how we, all life, and the environment will be affected.
To be continued.
Campaign for Safe cosmetics. Phthalates. Retrieved from http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/phthalates/
Can Cosmetics be absorbed into your Bloodstream? Retrieved from www.herbhedgerow.co.uk/can-cosmetics-be-absorbed-into-your-bloodstream/
Gallo, F, Fossi, C, Weber, R, Santillo, D, Sousa, J, Ingram, I, Nadal, A & Romano, D (2018) Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures.Environ Sci Eur. 2018; 30(1): 13. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918521/#Sec2
Microbeads in personal care products. Countless tiny plastic beads in face and body scrubs, and even toothpaste, are polluting our oceans. Retrieved from https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/beauty-and-personal-care/skin-care-and-cosmetics/articles/microplastics-and-microbeads-in-toothpaste-facial-body-scrubs
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The story of cosmetics. Video. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/pfq000AF1i8
What is formaldehyde.Retrieved from https://blog.honest.com/what-is-formaldehyde/