Girl on a Green Mission


I’ve always been interested in natural healing and healthy eating. It was how I was raised, and for the most part, I never really strayed from my upbringing. I knew that what I put in my body had a direct effect on my overall health, but what I didn’t know until a few years ago, was that it mattered just as equally what I put on my face/body. I was first introduced to this idea when I met an amazing esthetician, friend and skin mentor named Kathryn (who runs Pur Skin Spa on Elmwood in Buffalo. Oh how I miss you!) She was the one who informed me that certain ingredients in products can actually make your acne/skin condition worse, even if they state they are for helping acne (ahem..Proactiv..) Of course, being the research fanatic that I am, I went right to work, reading and learning everything I could about the various ingredients used in makeup and skincare. I tossed everything I owned shortly after and restocked with more skin friendly, non-toxic products. It wasn’t really that extreme of a thing for me to do since I had already moved to an organic, mostly raw (mostly) vegetarian diet (to my husband’s horror at first, but soon learned to love).

When I first made these changes, some people thought I was a little crazy to say the least, especially with the vegetarian part – my family is primarily die-hard carnivores. But, like I stated above, I’m mostly vegetarian – probably more flexitarian. The one thing I am not flexible about, however, is what I use on my face and body. Here’s why – Your skin is the body’s largest eliminative organ, and as such, not only expels toxins but can also absorb them – your skin can absorb up to 70% of what you put on it. When you use products that contain pore clogging ingredients (such as mineral oil, petroleum, etc..), you’re not allowing your skin to “breathe” and the result can guessed it, acne!

There are many other reasons why I chose to “go green”, but I’ll save that for another post. For now though, here are a list of toxic and acne causing ingredients to watch out for when shopping for your skincare, makeup and personal care products (this list is just a few examples..there are more..lots more):

Benzoyl Peroxide: Frequently used in acne products, the MSDS states: “Facilitates action of known carcinogens. … Possible tumor promoter. May act as mutagen; produces DNA damage in human and other mammalian cells in some concentrations. Also, toxic by inhalation. May be harmful if swallowed and in contact with skin. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.”
DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), & TEA (Triethanolamine): This foam booster is a skin/eye irritant and causes contact dermatitis. Easily absorbed through the skin to accumulate in body organs, even the brain. Repeated use resulted in major increases in liver and kidney cancer.
Dioxin: Won’t appear on an ingredient list. Often contained in antibacterial ingredients like triclosan, emulsifiers, PEGs and ethoxylated cleansers like Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Dioxin causes cancer, reduced immunity, nervous system disorders, miscarriages and birth deformity. It’s a hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects measured in the parts per trillion–one drop in 300 Olympic-size swimming pools! Our bodies have no defense against its damage. The most visible example was of Yushchenko, the Ukrainian President, who suffered from dioxin poisoning and looked old overnight.
DMDM Hydantoin & Urea (Imidazolidinyl): Just two of many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, cancer, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Exposure may irritate the respiratory system, trigger heart palpitations or asthma, aggravate coughs and colds.
FD&C Color & Pigments: Synthetic colors from coal tar contain heavy metal salts that deposit toxins in skin, causing skin sensitivity/irritation. Absorption can cause depletion of oxygen and death. Animal studies show almost all are carcinogenic.
Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl): Used as preservatives and aren’t always labeled “parabens.” They’re used in deodorants and antiperspirants and have been found in breast cancer tumors. Parabens, as xenoestrogens (hormone disruptors), may contribute to sterility in male mice and humans. Estrogen-like activity causes hormone imbalance in females and early puberty.
PEG (Polyethylene glycol): Made by ethoxylating Propylene Glycol. Dangerous levels of dioxin have been found as a by-product of the ethoxylation process. PEGs are in everything including personal care, baby care, and sunscreens.
Phthalates: Xenoestrogens are commonly found in many products, usually not listed on labels. Health effects include damage to liver/kidneys, birth defects, decreased sperm counts and early breast development in girls and boys.
Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol: Petroleum plastics act as surfactants (wetting agents, solvents). EPA considers PG so toxic it requires protective gloves, clothing, goggles and disposal by burying. Because PG penetrates skin so quickly, EPA warns against skin contact to prevent brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. There is NO warning label on products where concentration is greater than in most industrial applications.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Detergents and surfactants that pose serious health threats. Used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and 90 percent of personal-care products that foam. Animals exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation–even death. SLS may also damage skin’s immune system by causing layers to separate, inflame and age.
Sunscreen chemicals: Avobenzone, benzphenone, ethoxycinnamate, PABA are commonly used ingredients that are known free radical generators and are believed to damage DNA or lead to cancers.
Triclosan: Synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient with chemical structure similar to Agent Orange! EPA registers it as a pesticide, posing risks to human health and environment. Classified as a chlorophenol, chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Tufts University School of Medicine says triclosan is capable of forcing emergence of ‘super bugs’ it cannot kill.


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Peace & love,
Sabrina xo

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