Skin Deep

As Appeared In Supermodels Unlimited Magazine, Fall 2004

Many people don’t realize that skin is an organ, let alone the body’s largest organ. Think about it for a moment. Skin covers the entire body — bones, organs, veins, every system — like a blanket of protection separating us from outside influences. It performs vital functions such as temperature control, waste and toxin removal and is the biggest filter system after the lungs. Pores filter substances and continually release toxic material through movement and sweating. Likewise, pores have incredible absorption power, making the skin quite vulnerable. Anything that is placed on the skin is absorbed into the body and blood stream very rapidly. So if everything you put on your skin goes directly into your internal self, you’d better be able to eat whatever you rub on your skin!

The skin has three layers: the epidermis on top, the dermis in the middle, and the lower layer, the subcutaneous tissue. The epidermis continually regenerates and therefore needs constant removal of dead skin cells. The dermis produces oil, collagen, and elastin which retains the skin’s strength. The subcutaneous layer is composed of sweat and sebaceous glands and provides the fat needed to maintain moisture.

The skin renews itself approximately every eighteen days. Realizing this gives you the power to make worthwhile changes in skin care that can positively benefit your outer shell. Society is bombarded with promotional campaigns from the cosmetic industry that advertise chemically-laden products which unfortunately, consumers are misled into believing the products good for their skin. It is through lack of awareness that many individuals are inadvertently poisoning their body through their skin with the products they use.

Recently, I learned some startling facts about ingredients present in most skin care products, as well as some health store and high-priced spa products. The ingredients I am referring to include propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulfate or sulfeth, parabens, urea, fragrance, and others.

Propylene glycol is made from a base of petroleum and is used as a de-icing fluid for airplanes as well as brake fluid. It is also found in multiple body products ranging from deodorants to facial lotions. Manufacturers, of course, state that the harmful residues have been removed through processing and that it contains such a mimiscule amount that it cannot hurt you. But using products with such ingredients every day accumulates, filling up your toxic pool. Sodium laurel sulfate or sulfeth is found in many hair and bath products as a foaming agent. It can also cause inflammation of the skin and is drying to hair. A single drop stays in the body and brain for several days. It is also a mutagen, capable of changing genetic information found in cells.

Parabens, (methyl, ethyl, butyl, propyl) which are used as preservatives, are synthetic chemicals that are found in almost every face and body lotion or cream. In a British University study it was substantiated that in 20 out of 20 studies of breast cancer tumors abnormally high levels of parabens were found. They are highly toxic to the body in any amount. Urea is another preservative and often releases formaldehyde — very toxic. The word fragrance on the label means there could be as many as 200 or more synthetic chemicals in that one product. These fragrances alone have cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, rashes, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting and skin irritations. With this in mind, why not use healthy alternatives made from essential oils, natural oils and herbs that enrich the skin and are not harmful to the inside of you!

So how do you care for your skin? Three things are vital: hydration, exfoliation, and moisturization. Our bodies are composed of over 70% water so it only makes sense to continually refill the reservoir. Water helps to transport hormones and nutrients throughout
your body as well as remove toxins. It also plumps up the skin and aids in the production of collagen. So how much water should you drink? Purified water (tap water contains too many chemicals) should be consumed at a minimum rate of ¬Ω ounce per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 120 pounds you should drink 60 ounces of water every day! Be aware though, liquids such as soda, juice, tea, and coffee do not count toward your daily recommended amount ~ you can consume additional drinks over and above the specified amount of water.

The second aspect of skin is exfoliation, or the removal of dead skin cells so younger, fresher skin can be displayed. What do you do to exfoliate? For the body, try using a loofah brush stroking in long sweeps toward the middle of your body and always toward your heart for a few minutes two or three times a week before you bathe or shower. Or use dead sea salt rubs which are fantastic for revealing sparkling, youthful skin. They can also be used on your face. The face must be treated more gently and the possibilities are endless. Oatmeal, hydroxy acids, fruit acids, green tea, seaweed, masks, facials, the list goes on and on. In addition, steam is a great way to open pores and remove toxins from the face and body that may otherwise develop into blemishes.

Lastly, skin needs to be moisturized. Moisturizer softens the skin and helps to retain the natural moisture that, in turn, prevents wrinkles. Misting throughout the day keeps the skin soft and supple as it faces unfavorable environmental influences. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of possibilities for you to use, but there are only a few available that you could actually “eat” safely. Things right out of the cupboard or the health store work best ~ things like cocoa butter, extra virgin organic coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, avocados, and so on.

Now the big question. What is safe to apply to your skin that doesn’t create unfavorable results within your body? Fortunately, there are a few companies out there, and we hope more will follow their lead, that provide healthy choices. Aubrey Organics ~ www.aubrey-organics.com ~ has a full line of family skin care made from organic and pure ingredients and are found in health stores and online. Lily of Colorado ~ www.lilyofcolorado.com ~ also creates their products from mostly organic ingredients and are found in health stores and online. Jurlique ~ www.jurlique.com ~ is an Australian company who prepares natural and organic products and has a massive line of products. They can be found in storefront locations as well as online. There are also many other companies that have good products and more are paying attention. Simply check for product ingredients before buying and make sure of what you are purchasing. Be aware of the word “natural” as it means little nowadays as far as purity.

While all of this is great in caring for the outer shell, work must be done from the inside out. Minerals must be ingested in abundance for they do the repair work in our body, including connective tissue, collagen production ~ you get the point. Anything cooked loses its vital minerals and processed food, fast food, chemically treated water, and overused soil has created a shortage of minerals. Eat organic, fresh vegetables and fruits every day and possibly take a supplement that includes lots of minerals. And don’t forget to drink plenty of purified water!

It is also necessary to include essential fatty acids in your diet. These are the omega-3 oils needed for just about every body function. They aid repair work, keep joints flexible as well as the skin, and aid to elimination as they supply lubrication throughout. They help to keep hair soft or sometimes just helps keep the hair! These oils, which include organic, cold or expeller pressed olive, coconut and flax oils should replace all saturated oils that are found on a grocery store shelf. Why? Oils on a grocery store shelf have been heated and highly processed to ensure a longer shelf life. They become trans fatty acids, or carcinogens, which can lead to heart disease, cancer, and other life-threatening disorders. Dark green vegetables have some of the highest nutritional “youthenizing” properties. Kale, chard, spinach, romaine lettuce, and parsley can add years to your life and lessen those wrinkles. They cleanse the body and skin while providing a vast array of rich nutrients including chlorophyll, nature’s sun food. Want an energy boost? Try a green drink and feel your vitality soar! Don’t forget out finned friends. Fish oil is known for its benefits to health, particularly cold water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. However, be aware of farm-raised fish because they most likely contain multiple chemicals as well as harmful metals such as mercury. Eat only wild caught fish from uncontaminated waters — not always easy to find but can be found with due diligence.

We’ve been told repeatedly to stay out of the sun or at least protect our skin with sunblock. However, Jacob Liberman, author of Light ~ Medicine of the Future, states that the sun is not only good for you, it is therapeutic. He continues by saying that it is chemical sunscreens, fluorescent lighting, and an indoor lifestyle that could be most detrimental to your health. UV light from the sun activates the synthesis of vitamin D which is needed for the absorption of many minerals, increases the efficiency of the heart, reduces cholesterol, assists in weight loss, increases level of sex hormones, while making an important skin hormone active. Light is actually a nutrient. Wow! In addition, Dr. Helen Shaw, a major researcher, found the lowest risk of skin cancer development in individuals who spent a lot of time in the sun. She also noted that melanomas were found twice as often among office workers who stayed indoors all day under fluorescent lighting. Use common sense however by not over-baking and avoid the powerful midday heat.

In the winter, when outdoor sun may not be possible, you might consider taking cod liver oil to make sure you’re receiving enough vitamin D. Be cautious in the brand you consume as you will want it toxin-free. Carlson has an excellent, pure brand and it has a lemon flavor for more palatable consumption. Rule of thumb is one teaspoon per every fifty pounds of body weight daily.

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