Take a peek inside my medicine cabinet, and you’ll see very few expensive skin lotions and potions. Over the past several years, I’ve become very aware that our day-to-day skincare products are laced with potent chemicals that are linked to skin irritations, hormone problems, and cancer.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined the association between usage patterns of beauty, hair, and skin-related personal care products and breast cancer incidence in a large group of women. After following the women for about five years, those classified as “moderate” and “frequent” users of beauty products had an increased risk of breast cancer, compared to “infrequent” users. This is just one of many studies to come out that show how beauty products can threaten your health. And no wonder!
What you massage into your skin – the body’s largest organ - is absorbed right into your bloodstream.
This is dangerous. It may be more important to ditch your wrinkle cream than let the chemicals in it wreck your health.
Although you can’t completely avoid them, you can limit your exposure to the toxic chemicals found in cosmetics. I’ve put together these feminine skincare do’s and don’ts to help you start making shifts to greatly minimize the effects of toxins on your body.
- DO Check Labels. A quick glance at the cosmetic label is all it takes to see chemicals inside – and there could be plenty. The Environmental Working Group estimates that that approximately 10,500 ingredients are found in cosmetics, and the average American uses approximately 10 to 15 personal care products with a total of 126 different ingredients daily. I can’t go into every one, but watch out for these six toxic offenders:
- Parabens. Used as preservatives in thousands of cosmetics, foods, and pharmaceutical products, including bioidentical hormone creams, parabens are known “hormone disruptors.” These agents mimic human estrogen and cause hormone imbalances in men and women. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found a high concentration of parabens in human breast tumors.
- Phthalates. Found in fragrances, phthalates are another known hormone disruptor. Several studies show that phthalates are also “obesogens,” chemicals that alter metabolism and result in weight gain. Phthalates have also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Aspartame. Yes, this popular (and harmful) artificial sweetener has made its way into cosmetics such as concealers, lip balm, lipsticks, firming lotions, and others. Proceed with caution: aspartame is a neurotoxin, meaning it can harm your brain and nervous system.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. Both are ingredients in shampoos, soaps, and cleansers. They are often contaminated with carcinogens and ethylene oxide, a chemical known to harm the nervous system.
- Petroleum. You’ll can find petroleum and petroleum byproducts in everything from shampoos and conditioners to anti-aging creams, body lotions, mascaras, perfumes, and makeup. Often petroleum is listed on the label under disguised names, such as mineral oil or words ending in “eth.” Petroleum-containing cosmetics may irritate your skin and are often contaminated with cancer-causing agents.
- Triclosan and triclocarban. Found in hand sanitizers, these hormone disruptors are marketed as germ fighters, but don’t work much better than soap and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, their use can interfere with natural bacterial defenses in your skin.
- DO Go Natural. Switch to natural/organic cosmetics, dental and grooming products. Or try making your own cosmetics and skin care products from natural sources. It’s easy to do, and there are many recipes on the Internet.
DON’T Neglect Your Feminine Parts. Guard the health of the skin on your lady bits, especially as you get older, and be very careful about what you apply on your vaginal and vulvar tissues. I do recommend Julva®, an anti-aging feminine cream for the vulva that contains coconut oil, shea butter, emu oil, stem cells from the Alpine rose, and DHEA with no parabens or other chemical ingredients. It can be used on a regular basis to help keep your lady bits healthy.
As for sexual lubricants, try making your own. Mix together one part fractionated coconut oil mixed with one part aloe vera gel, and add in one to three drops of a favorite essential oil like rose or frankincense or bergamot. Blend ingredients and use as a natural lubricant.
- DO Use Natural Soaps Over Chemical-filled Cleansers. Olive oil soaps or goat milk soaps are best. A simple bath and the process of bathing naturally cleans your skin and vagina without the addition of soaps or other agents that can actually dry out skin or contain chemicals we need to avoid. Be gentle too. Over-cleaning can disrupt the bacteria as well as the natural oils that are part of our skin and glands.
Controlling your exposure to toxins and hormone-disrupting compounds begins simply with choices made at the store and cosmetic counter.
You can make these small steps to a healthier you, and believe me, your ongoing health is well worth the effort! I’ve got much more information on how avoid chemicals and hormone disruptors on my website and in my book The Hormone Fix, available at drannacabeca.com and all major booksellers.
One of the best natural treatments for glowing skin and overall health is healthy eating. Salmon is rich in heart-healthy omega 3s that promote healthy skin and hair. Try my Grilled Salmon with Garlic-Oregano Aioli recipe for a meal that your tastebuds and skin will thank you for!
Grilled Salmon With Garlic-Oregano Aioli
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 salmon filets (5 ounces each)
- Garlic Oregano Aioli (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 400°F or heat a grill to high heat.
- Combine garlic, oil, rosemary, and salt. Rub salmon with herb olive oil mixture. Filets can be marinated in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.
- Place on parchment-lined baking sheet for the oven. For grilling, use a cedar plank or grill grid or basket.
- Cook for about 8–14 minutes, until fish is firm but still tender when poked in the middle.
- Serve with Garlic Oregano Aioli.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin
- Olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (marjoram is good too)
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Whisk or blend mayonnaise, oil, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust garlic or lemon if needed.
- Cover and chill.
Can be made 2 days ahead.
P.S. If you’re looking for an all-natural way to address your vaginal dryness...
You need to try Julva® – my restorative topical cream for the vulva. Its combination of effective quality natural ingredients has helped thousands of women physically, mentally and sexually.