How Chemicals In Your Skincare Can Lead To External And Internal Inflammation
By now, we can all recognise the importance of a good skincare routine; however, being selective about the ingredients we trust is essential. Unfortunately, beauty has an ugly side, which comes in the form of harsh and toxic chemicals that can cause unwanted adverse effects and potential long-term health complications. The most common of these are external and internal inflammation. Inflammation is our body’s natural built-in defence mechanism to protect from harm, and this innate response is amazingly powerful and one to always listen to.
When deciding on skincare products, it is vital to remember that your facial skin is especially responsive to chemicals, even if you haven’t been dermatologically diagnosed with sensitive skin. Around the eyes, mouth and nose are notably prone to irritation from topically applied toxins. Typical acute external reactions are redness, dry skin, hyperpigmentation, stubborn breakouts and hives. On the other hand, internal or low-grade chronic inflammation is a little more complicated. The signs of this can be subtle, so learning to recognise these and what your body tells you can reverse any damaging effects on your health. Fatigue, digestive issues and joint aches are the three most prevalent telltale indicators that you suffer from internal inflammation. Therefore, understanding which common toxic ingredients to avoid and where to make considered product switches can make all the difference for healthy skin and body.
Alcohol is a toxic solvent found in a lot of skincare. It can also be recognised under the names ethanol, methanol and benzyl alcohol. It dries out the skin by dissolving the protective layer of oil that sits on the surface. Alcohol can also eliminate the chance of healthy cell renewal as it stops the absorption of critical vitamins. Marketing has led us to believe that if we are prone to acne or breakouts, alcohol as a drying agent will prevent the production of excess oil and minimise pores but in fact, the opposite is true. Continued use of alcohol-based products causes enlarged pores, irritation, and generally unhappy skin. Fatty alcohols, however, are kind to our skin; look for ingredients like cetyl, stearyl and cetearyl alcohol; these are particularly effective on dry, sensitive skin and allow for moisture absorption from other products you use.
Parabens act as preservatives in skin and hair care; these keep products ‘fresh’ on the shelves for long periods. Research shows that parabens can cause increased production of the female hormone oestrogen and cause issues with both your menstrual cycles and reproductive system as a whole. Essential oils like tea tree and clove can be an alternative to parabens as they are high in antimicrobial properties that fight bacteria and keep your products lasting longer.
Sulfates are salts created by sulphuric acid and are highly irritant to your eyes and skin; they strip the skin of lipids, leading to redness and conditions like dermatitis ranging from minor to severe. Sulfates are also prevalent in a lot of skincare; this is what gives a lather effect. Another issue with sulfates is they can form from plant sources like palm oil that have a detrimental impact on the environment they are sourced; natural habitats are destroyed for these purposes, threatening many species like orangutans.
Of course, aside from chemicals in skincare, there are many possible contributing factors to an inflammatory response; poor dietary habits, excess exposure to UV rays, stress and various environmental pollutants all substantially impact your health. So consider the big picture of what your lifestyle looks like, as well as setting focus on what is precisely inside your beauty products.
Check out our range of non-toxic and chemical-free beauty products here.