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Holisticonline.com

Skin Care: Protect Your Face
By Judith Tovey

Your face is part of your body's largest organ--your skin and the skin is a living, breathing organ that is constantly renewing itself. You wouldn't expose an organ like your heart to harsh chemicals, right? Why expose your face? You probably didn't even know that many of the skin care products you use on your face every day have harsh chemicals that erode your skin.

The average turn around for skin cells is about 28 days. A skin cell starts its life deep in the inner layers of our skin It is round and plump and full of moisture. As it ages it migrates to the outer layer, flattens out a bit and eventually sloughs off naturally. While it is a part of the outer layer it helps form a protective moisture barrier for its younger brothers still in their infancy and adolescence.

Baby boomers are reaching middle age and are starting to notice the signs of aging in their faces. What to do? Reach for that miracle cream you purchased that promises you'll look years younger. Unfortunately, as with many cosmetics, these miracles in a jar have slipped past the rigorous testing procedures afforded to drugs and food additives when, in fact, if they actually did what they claimed they should have by definition been regulated as drugs.

For example, Tretinoin (Retin-A) is a vitamin derivative. It was used as a prescription drug for the treatment of acne. Later it was found to plump up the skin and eliminate small wrinkles. Several manufactures began promoting the inclusion of vitamin A in their formulations claiming it was producing similar effects as Retin-A. Studies in the 1980's showed there were some subtle changes to skin with Tretinoin. (Allure magazine, Nov. 1991, Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, August, 1991) Others disagreed with findings saying that the reason it seemed to work was because it literally irritates the outer layer of the skin to such a degree that it swells or puff's up, reducing wrinkles.

When fruit acids or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) hit the market, in 1990 there were 5 AHA products on the market, one was by prescription. By 1993, there were 50 and by 1994 over 200 new products were on the market. In January and February of 1995 alone there were 32 new products containing AHA introduced into the marketplace.

AHA's claims that by gently removing the dead skin cells our skin will look healthier and feel smoother. When Dr. John Bailey, acting director of FDA's office of Cosmetics and Colors, spoke at the Sixth Annual Spring Seminary of Society of Cosmetic Chemists in New York, in April, 1994, he warned that AHA had clearly stepped over the boundary line between what is considered a drug as opposed to a cosmetic. His concerns were with the application of the higher percentage solutions being used today, as much as 50% by non-professionals and people with less than adequate training.

As of 1993, the FDA didn't require companies to list percentages of concentrations of fruit acids in their products. What the AHA proponents are saying is remove the outer layer of the skin to decrease signs of aging and to give skin a general appearance of smoothness, right? But what about the people that say that very same outer layer of skin is what protects us from moisture loss and signs of aging. If you are confused about this you're certainly not alone. In an article in Self magazine on moisturizers and your skin, the first part of the article states that new moisturizers with lipids that mimic your own skin's lipids are beneficial because they build up and bind skin together forming a protective barrier against moisture loss. Lipids are actually described as the "glue that holds the skin together." Next comes a section on AHA's that say they're beneficial because they act as an exfoliant and dissolve the "intercellular glue" between dead cells, peeling them away to real softer, smoother skin. (Self, August, 1995, page 107-108) Wait a minute! Isn't that the same protective barrier we just glued together to prevent moisture loss? It seems everywhere we look a different group is telling us to do something different to our skin.

Some of the worst things in your moisturizer may include petrolatum, mineral oil, isopropyl myristate, trietholamine, glycerin and propylene glycol. All of these ingredients may clog your pores and smother your skin's respiration: and in no way do these ingredients benefit your skin.

PROPYLENE GLYCOL - This is the most common moisture carrying vehicle in use in cosmetics. It's cheap and available. It has also been suspected of causing sensitivity reactions. It in fact absorbs moisture from your skin. Propylene glycol is also used extensively in industry as a component of brake fluids and anti-freeze preparations. It's also used in the production of varnishes.

EXFOLIANTS disrupt the natural order of things when they remove adult skin cells and leave those below open to premature exposure to the environment. Without the adult cells the immature cells can dry out and age more rapidly than is natural.

The BENTONITE MINERAL AND KAOLIN CLAY in facial masks dries out your skin and forms an impenetrable barrier. This barrier traps toxins, including carbon dioxide, in your skin and keeps oxygen out. If your skin can't breathe, it can't stay healthy.

ALCOHOL, the main ingredient in astringents and several other facial cleansers, makes your face feel cool and refreshed, but it is really damaging your skin. As it cleans, it strips away the natural oils protecting your face. After the skin's surface has been stripped, it takes almost twenty- four hours for it to repair itself. Your face needs moisture to stay healthy and young-looking, not harsh chemicals.

Liquid foundations often contain MINERAL OIL, a substance that suffocates and dries out your face. They usually also have PETROLATUM AND ISOPROPYL MYRISTATE in them. Petrolatum can't be absorbed by the skin and it clogs pores. Isopropyl myristate is a fatty compound that has been shown to clog pores and cause blackheads and pimples also has a more sinister hidden danger. When it comes in contact with either a Di-or Triethanolamine the result is a nitrate compound such as n-nitrosodiethanolamine, a suspected carcinogen. Moisturizers for the face and body are applied over a large portion of the skin and remain there for several hours. This exposure is significant. Many powder foundations have talc and zinc stearate, both of which are carcinogenic (cause cancer). Most blushes contain mineral oil, talc, and zinc stearate.

GLYCERIN, although this ingredient is used in moisturizers to help the cream glide, it is detrimental in that it draws moisture from the skin and holds it on the surface, effectively drying the skin from the inside out.

Have you ever wondered why men seem to age more gracefully than women. Their skin is less likely to suffer from over cleansing and drying because they do not as a rule buy into these skin care fads. Perhaps it is not just the so-called thicker skin. Perhaps it is what we have been doing to our skin that is making the biggest difference in both its structure and ability to stay healthy and young looking.

When it comes right down to it, the giant skin care and cosmetic companies are charging you big bucks to ruin your face. Don't let them keep selling you treatments for problems their own products cause. Become aware of the ingredients in their products and their side effects. Don't let big business take advantage of you.


(c) Judith Tovey, 2002

Protect your skin by educating yourself and reading the labels on your cosmetic and personal care products or demanding to know the ingredients -- For more information on a natural skin care line of products that are safe, effective and FREE of carcinogens, toxins, contaminates and other potentially harmful ingredients, go to: http://antiagingchoices.com/skin_care/index.htm

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