“Fashions come and go, but we wear our skin for life…” ~ Caroline Archer
Something everyone needs to know but so few realize: your skin is permeable!
Permeability is the quality of something to allow gases, liquids, and other things to pass through it. As a very simple example, you might say your teabag is permeable, because it lets water through to make contact with tea leaves and create for you an energizing beverage.
Your skin is like a barrier against the external environment, and it does a fine job at keeping your internal organs internal. But contrary to popular belief, skin does more: it’s responsible for excreting waste, balancing electrolytes, protecting you from radiation, and even obtaining nutrients! This is only allowed because your skin lets stuff in and kicks stuff out – it has pores and spaces that are observed microscopically!
Even unhealthy things can enter your body through the skin. When you’re walking the dog next to a busy road, the exhaust from cars can pass through the skin. When you swim in a public pool, chlorine, cleaning chemicals, and some pretty gross public-pool-stuff can all enter you through your skin.
The harmful synthetic chemicals in your soap, perfume, deodorant, lotion, makeup, and hair gel enter through your skin.
Don’t believe me? Rub-on pharmaceuticals and topical muscle ointments work, because science knows that the skin is a great vehicle for administration of medicines.
And it’s not all doom and gloom: good things can enter through the skin too! Healthy fats absorb well to feed weakened tissues, like when you get an oil massage. Magnesium from ocean water is one that the skin soaks up greedily – and that’s okay, because it’s good for the heart and metabolism and many other things. Vitamin E – a crucial antioxidant – is also taken in. You can even take some herbal medicines like this!
But concerning the danger of bad stuff getting in, the best thing a person can do is follow this guideline:
If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin!
Start reading ingredients labels on person care products. Pretty much everything is going to contain a synthetic chemical or two – but most items contain long chemical names numbering in the tens and twenties. Health food stores stock affordable soap and personal hygiene products that are based on foods and plant extracts.
Once upon a time, regular companies did this too, and the products were just as effective. Cheaper, faster, more consistent, and greater shelf life – those are the names of the game in today’s personal hygiene market. The chemicals added to achieve this are harmful to your health, and are routinely banned and replaced because of new “astonishing” findings. (Who would have guessed a 30-letter petroleum-derived chemical might cause cancer or nerve disease? Go figure.)
This topic is very broad, because of how many things our skin comes into contact with every day. Don’t stress; by eliminating the worst of it, you can improve your health to the point that the little things you missed can easily be handled by your body. But do keep your eyes peeled for the world’s longest tongue-twisters (like methylisothiazolinone), and be aware of the fact that they can enter the body through your skin, and their use is certainly not controlled heavily by the government.
Note From Kim: Because I am asked often what products I use or have found to be good, I have now made those available to you! Check out our Bath & Beauty section to see products with the Twisted Seal of Approval! One more tip, download EWG’s Skin Deep App on your smartphone so that you’ll be able to scan products as you shop to see how they rate! ♥ Kim
-What Chemicals Should You Look Out For In Your Personal Care Products? (Frank Lipman, MD; drfranklipman.com)
-Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in 98 Shampoos and Soaps (Shawn Radcliffe; healthline.com)
-Sittig’s Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Volume 1 (Richard P. Pohanish)