Athletes put their skin through more and are exposed to the elements (i.e. sun, wind, rain) more than sedentary people. The consistent training, sweating and showering can lead to excessive loss of moisture to the skin and hair. Your skin is much more than just the largest organ on your body. Your skin serves to:
- Protect your internal organs from injury and infection.
- Detoxify wastes through perspiration.
- Provides an important line of immune defense against infections — your healthy skin creates a barrier to viruses and bacteria.
- Protects you from dehydration.
- Absorbs and excretes both nutrients and toxins through its pores.
How many products do you use?
The average adult puts over 100 individual ingredients on their skin each day, with up to 60% being absorbed into the blood stream. Women use more products and ingredients (12 products, 168 ingredients) than men (6 prods, 85 ingred.) and are more at risk to developmental toxins.
It’s important to know that most skin care regimens don’t have formulations that can withstand the conditions that dancers/athletes face. But you can lessen or avoid exposure to these chemicals by checking the labels of your skin care products. Many of these ingredients can be found in everything from deodorant, to shampoo and mascara to sunscreen. Although these ingredients may appear in small amounts, it’s the constant applying over the years that leads to bioaccumulation within your body. Take a look at these ingredients and avoid using them.
1. Parabens (Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Isoparaben, Butylparaben)
Widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic industry.
- Can be found in products containing a lot of water: Shampoo/Conditioner; Facial/Body Moisturizer; Foundation, lipstick, eye shadow.
Health Concern: Suspected carcinogen. Known to disrupt hormone functions and reproductive toxicity.
2. Propylene Glycol (PG, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), and Ethylene Glycol (EG)
Used as a moisturizer in cosmetics and as a carrier in fragrance oils.
- Can be found in: Anti-Freeze, Baby Wipes, Brake and Hydraulic Fluid, De-Icer, Paints and Coatings; Floor Wax, Laundry Detergents, Pet Food, Tobacco, Cosmetics, Toothpastes; Shampoos, Sun Tan Lotions, Conditioners, Hair Gel, Deodorants Lotions * Processed Foods * Flavored Coffees
Health Concern: Easily penetrates the skin and can weaken the protein and cellular structure. It’s what is used to carry ‘active’ ingredients in the transdermal patches (i.e. stop smoking patch, birth control patch. Linked to many severe health problems including contact dermatitis (irritation), auto toxicity, kidney damage and liver abnormalities.
3. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
An inexpensive detergent that makes products foam.
- Can be found in: Bar soaps, Liquid soaps; Shampoos, Conditioners; Laundry detergent
Health Concern: Degenerative effect on the cell membranes. SLS breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier, easily penetrates the skin, and allows other chemicals to easily penetrate. Skin irritant, Eye irritant.
4. Petroleum (Mineral oil, petroleum distillates, petroleum by products)
The workhorse of the cosmetics industry.
- Can be found in: Water-proof mascara,Wart Removal, Corn/callus treatment; Hair Spray
Health Concern: Clogs the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging.
One billion tons of phthalates are produced worldwide each year. Softens vinyl plastics common in kids toys.
- Can be found in: Frequent component of fragrances used in air fresheners, detergents, cleaning products. Found in cosmetics to hold color and scents. Most personal care products that have them don’t list them on the label.
A significant loophole in the law allows phthalates (and other chemicals) to be added to fragrances without disclosure to consumers.
Health Concern: Research in adult human males has found exposure to some phthalates is associated with poor sperm quality and infertility.
When you know better…you do better
Committing to a natural and organic skin care regimen will significantly lower your daily exposures to toxic ingredients. You may not be able to change the air you breath or all of the food that you eat, but what goes on your skin, especially on a daily basis (i.e. toothpaste, moisturizers, body wash) you have much more control over. Take a look at these resources to research the ingredients in your current products and to find products that are better for you.
Environmental Working Group (Skin Deep Database) www.ewg.org/skindeep
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics www.safecosmetics.com
Caringconsumer.org (companies that don’t test on animals)
SkinCareforAthletes.com – organic/natural skin care line for athletes.