What is natural body care
Knowing what natural body care is will help you choose eco-friendly productsYou’ve heard it before, “your skin is the largest organ on your body,” which means it is also one of the most important. The average person applies approximately 10 different products to their skin a day, from shampoo to shaving cream to lotion, etc.
While the skin’s primary function is to protect your body from outside elements, it is not impermeable and most of the ingredients hidden within these seemingly benign toiletries get absorbed through the epidermis and into your bloodstream. It makes sense, then, to reach for natural body care products.
The Bad Stuff
Conventional body products are laden with hundreds of thousands of different chemicals, which are never tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety. It is a startling fact that, in the United States, there is no requirement for any cosmetic or skin care product to be approved for safety prior to being sold to consumers.
Cosmetic companies can use virtually any product they desire in their products with no regulation whatsoever (though these same companies will test their own products on animals, in often cruel and terrible ways, to see if their new gel will make your hair hold a curl better than the competitor’s, or if their new mascara burns if it gets in your eyes). And many ingredients still commonly sold in healthcare products have been shown by scientists to be dangerous to human health and the environment.
The list is vast. Phthalates (still omnipresent in everything from shampoo to baby powder) have been shown to disrupt the healthy formation of sexual organs in unborn human babies and in developing fish, where the chemicals are rinsed down our drains and off into rivers and lakes. Parabens have been linked to breast cancer. Synthetic colors contain heavy metals and are highly carcinogenic (cancer-causing). And that’s just the very tippy top tip of the ice burg. The European Union bans 1,100 cosmetic ingredients from being used in products sold to their citizens, deeming them unsafe. The United States government bans 10.
The Good Stuff
Fortunately, there are alternatives. Natural body care companies offer soaps and lotions and makeup free of dangerous chemicals, and many of them (look for the cruelty-free label) do not test their products on animals. To know if a product is truly natural, look closely at the label. Many companies are proud to offer their wares paraben-and-phtalate free. They will boast “no sulfates” and extoll the virtues of their naturally derived plant-based colors and fragrances. Hold them to their promises by knowing what to look for.
For fragrances, seek out essential oils in the mix. These are wonderful natural scents which will have you smelling like a flower (or rosemary or cinnamon) without the toxic endocrine-disrupting shock to your system imparted by chemical perfumes. Colors should also be derived from plants, and should never be synthetic. Avoid products that list colorants like FD&C or D&C followed by any number, as these are all petrochemical based.
For simply cleaning your hair and skin, reach for soaps that are naturally derived, such as glycerin and coconut oil soaps. These often contain other natural skin loving elements like oatmeal, tea tree oil, or jojoba oil. Shampoos and conditioners should be free of sulfates and EDTA, along with any other recognizable nasties.
Make It Count
As you get to know the world of body care more intimately than you ever imagined, you will begin to understand the difference between the toxic, the generally considered safe, and the truly nourishing. It isn’t enough to just avoid the bad. Your skin and the skin of your loved ones deserve to be treated with care and attention. Just like we know to avoid eating empty calories, so too should we avoid slathering our bodies with potentially harmful or pointless substances.
Find what the largest organ on your body truly needs, what will nourish it and make it the healthiest it can be, and then do that. After all, it is your first defense against the elements and environmental pollutants. Take care of your body, and it will take care of you.
Environmental Working Group: Cosmetics and Your Health
Doctor Yourself: Natural Skin Care