Monthly Archives: November 2010

SKIN-HEALTH

A very beautiful old lady

(picture by: pedrosimoes7)

Skin-health is just that; healthy skin. The skin is our largest organ and it does a lot for us; it protects, communicates, informs and keeps the right temperature. It also secretes toxins and other stuff from our body. Lack of skin health can simply be imbalances such as spots, dryness, excessive sebum and/or blotches. But problems that shows up on the skin can also be symptoms of something else:

  • Sensitivities to foods, medication or products
  • Imbalances in different organs; liver, kidneys, intestine, lungs
  • Warning of disease (cancer can sometimes make itself known by random spots on the skin)
  • Dehydration
  • Toxicity
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Stress

It amazes me how we tend to see the skin as something apart from the rest of our bodies, as if the only thing that counts is to look good rather than to feel good. Often when there is a problem with the skin we attack it with everything possible, even aggressively, forgetting that it might be a symptom of something else.

While researching substances that are used in skin-care and looking at how people treat their skin I am horrified. The only thing that seems to matter is the whole anti-aging business; you have got to stay young-looking! This is not possible, every system in our body ages; the moment you are born you start aging. True beauty is health – that is what gives that radiant look, not the absence of wrinkles.

The first step to that “radiant glow” is food, sleep and exercise:

  • Nutrition: Take 1 month and follow an elimination diet. (a free E.D can be downloaded here) This will cleanse your system and you can determine if you suffer from any sensitivities. You might be sensitive to milk-products or wheat without having an allergy.
  • Exercise: Get out there every day and move! It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you get the circulation going and breathe fresh air.
  • Sleep: Try to get to bed a bit earlier in the evening so you get enough sleep. Use relaxation techniques to calm down and de-stress.
  • Water: The best beauty regime in the world. Dehydrated skin is life-less and dry. Drinking plenty of water helps your system to detox and leaves your skin plump and nice – no matter what your age is. Test: Squeeze your skin between 2 fingers and let go, it should return to normal rather quickly (even if you are older) if not, you suffer from dehydration.
  • Oils, fats and waxes: From natural sources. This is by far the most important thing for the skin. It is better to use only a high-quality cold-pressed oil on your skin (both for cleansing and protection) than a lot of products. Remember that a cream consists of 50-70% water… The older you get, the dryer your skin gets and water is not the solution – except when drinking it!

You can not live an unhealthy lifestyle and expect to look good. Alcohol, tobacco, coffee, sugars, aspirin, sleeping-pills… It deteriorates your system and will age you faster than anything else, no matter what you put on your skin.

Avoid too many different skin-care products and try keeping it as simple as possible. As I have stated earlier; it takes about 3-4 weeks for the new skin-cells to reach the top layer and show results from your skin-care regime. For a definite change you need to count 3 months. During this time you should stick to the same regime, to allow for the change. Very often there is a period of problems such as spots for example, this is the skin detoxifying and re-balancing itself from the inside out. Many products give an instant “good look” which can be deceiving since it is not even skin-deep, only superficial – like make-up. Over time this will deteriorate and stress the skin, creating more lines and dryness. (see my last post on mineral oils)

A lot of the stuff that is in a cream does not actually penetrate the skin, since the molecules are too large or the substances are not recognizable by our bodies. Sometimes they will even be harmful, just because products are expensive does NOT necessarily mean that they are any good. Remember: Less is more!

 

Advertisements

MINERAL OIL

One of the most controversial substances in skin-care is mineral oil. Mineral oil is derived from the petroleum industry, it is one of many substances derived from crude oil that is pumped up from the bowels of the earth. Crude oil is, by definition, a natural product since it is created by the earth itself as opposed to man-made, it is even an organic product…crude oil, that is. (See earlier posts on natural substances under skin-care)

Crude oil in its natural state can’t be used so it is refined by chemical and physical processes. By fractionating the crude oil with different temperatures a variety of substances are obtained:

  • 25-100 degrees celsius; propane and gasoline
  • 100-180 degrees celsius; heavy gasoline
  • 160-250 degrees celsius; paraffin
  • 220-350 degrees celsius; diesel
  • 360-400 degrees celsius; heating oil and lubricating oil
  • >400 degrees celsius; asphalt, tar and paraffin oil

From the paraffin oil other substances are derived such as: paraffin oil, paraffin, paraffin-wax in different levels of firmness; vaseline is a half-firm paraffin-wax. Other products that originates from some of these fractions are: plastic, solvents, emulsifiers, medicine, cloth, aromatic substances for food and perfume and much more.

(this information is taken from the book “Guldet från växterna” by Finn Andersen.)

Many now banned substances in skin-care come from the petroleum-industry and have been found to be hazardous to humans. Everybody agrees that they should be banned and laws have been passed to give more insight in what goes into skin-care. (see earlier posts under skin-care) But the controversial mineral oil ( vaseline, paraffine) is still on the market… There are 2 schools of thought; pro and anti:

PRO mineral oil:

  • Cheap (about 1 us dollar/kg)
  • Stable – will not go bad…ever…
  • Protective layer
  • Inert
  • Lubricating

ANTI mineral oil:

  • Our bodies do not recognize it
  • Clog the pores
  • Stops skin-breathing and hinders elimination of waste-products through skin
  • Diminishes natural sebum-production in skin


There is research that show negative effects of mineral oil. see here and here There is also research showing it to be non-toxic at normal doses for most people. When a substance is so easily acquired (goes automatically when fractionating all the other stuff) at such a low cost, never goes bad and can do thousands of different things…I do not trust the pro that much…of course industry wants to keep this very versatile product on the market… It’s all about the money.

Mineral oil is used widely as a laxative and there have been reports of negative side-effects. Castor oil (Ricinus communis) is a much better alternative; affordable, natural and works with the body.

And the oilspills? Nature dies, people get sick… For more info on health hazards from crude oil look here, where it actually says:

“Although a variety of hydrocarbon products produced from petroleum have specific toxic effects, the toxicity of crude light petroleum itself to humans is relatively low. (Stellman 2007) This may be due, in part, to the lower concentrations of individual fractions in crude oil as compared to the higher concentrations expected in refined products.”


Personal experience:

Vaseline once had a publicity stating; “softer skin in 8 days or your money back“. There is no problem making this statement; vaseline (mineral oils) will give you softer skin in 8 days. The problem is that skin-conditions cannot change that fast, it is only a cosmetic and superficial change; it takes 28 days for a new-born skin-cell to reach the surface, and only then will you see any kind of result.

I never ever use mineral oils for skin-care or lip-balm or anything to do with my skin-health. I refused all store-bought baby-products for my children because of the mineral-oil which is used in almost all baby-products.

I have used vaseline in other ways with brilliant results…it’s like liquid plastic and it keeps the area soft:

  • Horses: For mudfever (I think it’s called in English) when the leg above the hoof gets infected because of humidity. The condition is not easily treated and can turn very serious. I mix essential oil and other active substances in vaseline. The vaseline works as an efficient protector against humidity and the active substances are released into the wound (skin).
  • Necrosis; where infection eats away the skin and creates craters. To ensure healing from within the crater I stuff compresses with essential oil and vaseline in the wound before dressing it. The vaseline stops the compress from getting stuck in the wound and the active substances work their healing on a deep level in the crater. Without the compress in the crater, risk is superficial healing in the top skin-layers, leaving bacteria to grow beneath.

At the end of the day; do we want to use something that comes from such a horrible industry; 1)it is non-renewable and nobody knows what happens to the planet when we empty her bowels. 2) Look what it does to nature when there are spills. This alone is enough for me to choose other options, even if they may be costlier.

PIG FATS IN YOUR COSMETIC AND HAIR-CARE PRODUCTS

The slaughter industry has a big problem to get rid of the
large amount of pig fat they amass in their slaughter
houses. They try to sell this off in many disguises and they
don’t need by law to declare where it comes from.
According to Richard Lutwyche, a British pig farmer, ‘In the UK, big commercial
farms send their pigs to large abattoirs. The abattoir will find different markets for
all the by-products,’ he says. ‘Everything they can’t sell they have to incinerate, so
it’s in their best interest to sell as much as they can.’
A pig can be used in up to 185 products such as ice cream, whipped cream,
sweets and paint. Parts of the pig are also used in liquid shampoos and liquid
soaps. Detergents in these products are sold in most high street shops as it
makes a cheap shampoo base. Fatty acids from bone fat are also used to give
them a pearl-like appearance.
In solid soaps, detergents for cheap bars of soap are made from animal fats such
as pig fats and fatty acids from the bone fat act as a hardening agent and give it
colour.
Most glycerine moisturisers also contain fatty acids from bone fat as they make a
cheap moisturiser. Generally, if you buy a high street brand of cosmetic with glycerine
in, it will most likely be cheap pig fat glycerine. Also, parts of the pig are
used in face masks along with collagen to help reduce wrinkles and lines.
Information taken from the Daily Mail Saturday 3rd October 2009 & Kolbjorn Borseth.

ISOLATES

In many products isolates are used for enhanced effect. Isolates are the main molecular constituents in an essential oil, such as menthol in peppermint-oil, linalool in lavender, methyl salicylate in wintergreen or limonene in lemon. This means that the main constituent in an essential oil has been isolated and removed to be used on its own. The problem is that some of these isolates can be harmful to the body as the synergy is lost.

Synergy is when different parts together make up a whole. In most plant-matter there is a natural balance between activating and calming substances. For example essential oil of Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum): Its main molecular constituent is eugenol, up to 77%. It stimulates circulation and is anti-infectious. It is also a known skin-irritant in high doses. In proper dilution the whole essential oil is very useful for sore muscles, painful areas and as an anti-infectious agent. Clove oil is used in dentistry thanks to its anti-infectious and analgesic properties. The isolated eugenol is corrosive and toxic to the liver.

IN PRODUCTS:

  • Nutrition: Isolates are widely used as flavour-enhancers.
  • Perfumes: They are mostly made up of synthetic aromas which are cheaper and more stable. Sometimes isolates are used. (eugenol in Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent)
  • Sports-products: To warm and stimulate muscles before training and to cool and sooth aches and sprains. Most widely used isolates are menthol, camphene, methyl salicylate. It is not always clear if isolates or synthetics are used. Most of these isolates are strong skin-irritants in high doses – hence the warming / cooling effect on the skin. There have been a lot of discussion about the use of methyl salicylate, found in Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) up to 98%. (Article)
  • Skin-care: Isolates are used as perfuming-agents in many skin-care products. Sometimes, especially in natural or bioproducts, both essential oils and isolates are used. Isolates are much cheaper to use than essential oils. Here is a list of perfume-agents in a hand-cream: Citral, citronellol, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, limonene, linalool. All of these are noted to come from certified organic growers and from natural essential oils… (Check out earlier posts on natural & organic skin-care)

What is definite is that there is no way of knowing if the aromatic ingredients in a product are from natural sources (unless stated) or if they are produced synthetically…which means that there is no way to know if they will be harmful or not.