Why What You Put On Your Skin Matters

You’ve all heard the expression “You are what you eat”, and your skin is no exception. 

Here's a simple fact: Your skin is your largest organ. Its job is to protect you. It's your first line of defense against illness and disease. It is also a passageway to your bloodstream. That being said, what you apply topically on your skin, as well as what you eat, will affect the overall health & appearance of your skin. 

Let’s take a look at this from the inside out.

First, we need to hydrate the skin. This means drinking plenty of water. 

You need at least the recommended 6-8 glasses per day. If you are physically active, live in a warm climate, or feel thirsty, you may need to more than that. Because we are unique, each person's needs will vary, but it's important that you know what your personal needs are. 

Also, as we age, our skin tends to become dehydrated a lot more quickly, causing it to wrinkle, so ample hydration is key. 

Second, eat your superfoods!

If it’s good for your health, it’s good for your skin too! 

Some examples of skin-supporting foods are: 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, such as herring, sardines, and salmon. Other sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds & walnuts. Omega-3s are known to decrease inflammation and may reduce the risk of acne and other skin problems. 
  • Vitamin C helps produce collagen & prevents cells from damage caused by free radicals. Great sources of Vitamin C are oranges, pineapples, tomato, strawberries, & bell peppers. 
  • Vitamin E helps limit sun damage & signs of aging. Almonds are a terrific source of Vitamin E. 
  • Vitamin A revitalizes skin by increasing cell production and rebuilds tissue. Eggs and dark leafy greens are good choices. 
  • Beta-Carotene is needed for growth & repair of tissue. It is found in abundance in orange foods like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, and cantaloupe. 

Other fabulous foods to include to boost your skin health: dark leafy vegetables, avocados, mushrooms, berries, and, surprise! -- dark chocolate. 

Did you know that your skin is a “breathable” organ? 

Up to 60% of what you apply topically on your skin will be absorbed into your bloodstream, and children absorb even more than that! 

Imagine that product you've been using for years actually contains harmful ingredients and could damage your health. If so, your first instinct would be to find a healthier alternative ASAP! 

Heightened awareness and potential dangers have caused consumers to take a closer look at what they put on their skin and demand safer alternatives. 

Many cosmetic companies do NOT list their ingredients, some of which are toxic chemicals because they are not required to do so. 

In fact, there has not been any legislation passed regulating cosmetics since 1938! That's a long time ago!

Several of these toxic chemicals are linked to a host of problems including  allergies, skin rashes, cancer, headaches, fertility & reproductive issues, birth defects, hormone inhibitors, and more. 

Some toxic chemicals that should be avoided: 

  • Parabens: often found in deodorants & moisturizers. Parabens are hormone inhibitors & believed to accelerate tumor growth. 
  • Artificial fragrance & color: may trigger allergies, asthma, and some colors contain lead & harmful dyes 
  • Toulene: found in nail polish, hair color products, and some fragrances. This chemical is linked to kidney & liver damage, which may affect fetal growth. 
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate: a foaming agent found in shampoos and body/facial washes. It dries out the skin & is linked to eczema, hair- loss, rashes, and dry and scaly skin. 
  • Formaldehyde: used as a preservative, formaldehyde is known by several different names & should be avoided at all costs, as the side effects are numerous.
  • PEG’s: found in numerous skin & personal care products. This is anti-freeze and should be used in for your car, not your skin!
  • Paraffin + Mineral Oil + Petrolatum: clogs pores, causing toxic build-up 
  • Phthalates: found in plastics, it is a known hormone disruptor.
  • Triclosan: used in anti-bacterial products. It is a pesticide, harmful to the environment, and a suspected carcinogenic. 
  • Sunscreens: Google some of the ingredients in sunscreens and you will see that they cause possible damage to DNA and many are known carcinogens 

Of course, there are more. And you can find out what they are on Beautycounter's (the safe cosmetics brand that I partner with) "The Never Lists." 

If you wouldn’t EAT it, it doesn’t belong on your SKIN.

You can do something about this by urging Congress to pass legislation to regulate the cosmetic industry and priority safe beauty.

Until that happens there are tools available to help you know if the product that you're using is safe.

My go-to tool is the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Healthy Living app.

Using the app, you can simply scan the barcode on your product, or type its name. It will give you a numerical, color-coded rating.  Additionally, it will give you a rating as it relates to allergies, cancer or other developmental concerns, as well as list the top findings and ingredients.

It's so important to start reading labels - not just on your food, but also on what you put on your skin because it matters!

Want to learn more about safer beauty?

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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.