As an ANCB board-certified naturopath, I educate women on the importance of reading labels—not just food labels, but beauty-product labels as well. Here’s why: An average woman uses 12 products with more than 168 chemicals in them every morning. Research shows that some of these chemical ingredients are hormone disruptors, which throw our hormones out of balance and trigger a variety of side effects, such as weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, loss of sleep and skin issues. Some may cause cancer.
How Hormone Disruptors Work
Our hormonal system is our endocrine system. It includes our thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, pancreas, hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) include substances in our environment, water, food and personal care products that interfere with the production, transport, breakdown, binding and elimination of hormones. Exposure to these chemicals ultimately affect the balance of the body that could lead to a number of health problems, including weight gain, hypothyroid, infertility, adrenal imbalances, estrogen dominance, lowered sperm counts, obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. This can also affect the skin, the bodies largest organ.
Skin Care Ingredients You Need to Avoid
In the Unites States, skin care products are not well regulated or screened for true safety. While other countries have banned hundreds of ingredients in personal care products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned only 11 ingredients. If you have a thyroid issue or imbalanced cortisol or any endocrine issues, it’s important that you detox now and avoid these ingredients as best as you can.
- Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake-eyelash adhesives and some shampoos. It has been banned in other countries.
- Fragrance: Has hormone-disrupting effects. Fragrance is also connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma and allergies. Instead, use products with natural fragrances only.
- Lead: A known carcinogen and hormone disruptor found in certain eyeliners, hair dye and lipsticks.
- Mercury: A known irritant and allergen that, with body accumulation over time, can impair the brain and nervous system.
- Parabens (Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl- and Isobutyl-): Used as preservatives in many products. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2004 detected parabens in breast tumors and discussed their estrogen-like properties. While this doesn’t create a direct connection with cancer, I recommend avoiding these ingredients.
- Oxybenzone: An active ingredient in chemical sunscreens that accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cellular damage. I recommend wearing skin-protective clothing and using natural minerals or zinc products.
- DEA/TEA/MEA (Ethanolamines): Used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps and topical application. It’s been associated with cancer in animal studies.
- Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES): A former industrial degreaser now used to make soap foamy, it’s absorbed into the body.
- Diethylene glycol (or DEG): A central nervous system depressant and potent kidney and liver toxin. Sometimes found in fragrances. Glycerin and propylene glycol are sometimes contaminated with DEG, which are common ingredients in personal care products.
Stay Beautiful Inside and Out by Focusing on Nutrition and Detoxification
Aside from checking your beauty-product labels, diet and exercise should play vital roles in your skin care regimen. Exercise keeps nutrient-carrying blood circulating throughout your body, so be sure to feed yourself plenty of nourishing foods, such as healthy fats (omega-3-rich fish oils and flaxseed oils), proteins and colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and dark-green vegetables. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and help your body naturally flush out toxins that might otherwise show up on your skin. Naturally occurring toxins that build up in the body can adversely impact one’s health, hormones, looks and overall well-being.
I also recommend a good cleanse program, such as a purification program, once or twice per year to eliminate inflammation and improve skin tone. A 21-day detox supports the body’s natural toxin-metabolism processes and brings healthy lifestyle habits into focus.
If you are having skin issues or any hormonal imbalance symptoms you should have your hormones tested instead of guessing. The comprehensive hormone panel is an excellent starting place for evaluating hormone function. This panel tests both reproductive (sex) hormones as well as adrenal function. The comprehensive hormone panel will test your hormones—estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol—four times throughout the day. Testing will allow your health care professional to find the best way to balance your hormones.
Remember, if you wouldn’t eat the ingredients, then it shouldn’t be put on your skin!