Hello My Lovely Friend
Sounds dramatic but Your Skin Is Your Life and more important than you many think. Obviously without it you can’t exist. In this post, let’s talk about why it’s so important for your health and your beauty, including 8 ways to protect it.
Why Your Skin Is Your Life
First and foremost look after your skin. It’s the only one you have. Beauty and health begins with looking after it.
Even if you didn’t do this when you were younger and the lines are showing, doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and never worry about it. It’s never too late to start taking care of it.
Your skin is considered to be the largest organ in the body. It’s also the only barrier between you and the outside world. It regulates your temperature, protects you from germs, pollution and the sun’s radiation.
It also allows you to be connected to the world via your senses.
When you think of it like that, it takes on more importance than just looking pretty.
We should try to protect it from toxic chemicals in the atmosphere, harmful sun damage, and infection due to wounds and rashes.
But how often do we consider what we are putting onto our skin from chemicals in products?
I’m sure you have heard about petroleum products being included in many cosmetics…not what you want your precious skin to have to deal with.
It’s enough that we have to check what crappy preservatives we are eating in so much of our food without dealing with this as well.
So how can you ensure this doesn’t happen?
By become aware of what ingredients are harmful and don’t deserve to be in anything we use on our skin.
Bear in mind that many of these ingredients are accumulative, so the long-term side effects may not be evident for some time.
Protect Your Skin – Avoid These Common Nasties
The following is a list of common chemicals to be aware of. That way you can make an informed decision about what you allow on and into your precious body.
Your skin absorbs approximately 60% of what you put on it.
With this in mind, there are some nasties in cosmetics (and cleaning products) that you should be aware of.
I know it’s difficult and a ‘pain in the backside’ to be constantly looking at labels. Also, chemicals are often disguised by being referred to differently.
Makes you wonder why they would try to disguise them if they’re perfectly safe…but better to be informed than not!
Scarily, there are many more substances and chemicals used, but here is a line-up of the usual suspects…the big 8.
In particular pay attention to Parabens and Phthalates as they are both Endocrine Disrupters.
There are 3 different names for this nasty. Just looking for parabens doesn’t give you the full picture. When checking the label, also look for: butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben.
Used to reduce the growth of bacteria that may occur in your cosmetics.
Sounds ok right?
After all, bacteria are not what we want in our products. But parabens mimic the hormone estrogen which can mess with your natural hormones leading to possible hormone-related issues like breast cancer or even infertility.
But they are also found to remain in your skin tissue. Parabens have also been found in animal tissue, which means it is finding its way into the sewage water and then into the environment.
Then, if we are consuming animal products, we may be getting a double-whammy of these nasties! That’s got to cause long-term problems.
These are used in a wide variety of skincare, haircare and anything containing synthetic fragrances to enhance the texture.
But they are carcinogenic leading to possible cancers, and hormone issues.
BHT’s (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
These little nasties are used to extend the shelf life of products.
Interestingly, they are banned in many countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and throughout Western Europe, due to their effect on your liver and hormones.
By the way, hormones are so critical to so many functions in our bodies. In some ways we are ‘one big hormone’.
They control so many functions in our body that we don’t want any chemical messing with them unless they are specifically designed to do so for medicinal benefits.
This is a liquid used to make oil-based and water-based ingredients mix otherwise they remain in a separated state. The WHO lists it as an unclassified carcinogen.
It is a corrosive chemical, frequently used in cleansers, soaps and household cleaners and should only ever be used in a rinse-off situation. (good reason to wear gloves when cleaning the house).
The problem is that it ends up in waste water assisting in turning it toxic.
So you can recognize these, common abbreviations are: DEA (diaethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine)
A colorless, flammable gas, also used to stop microbes growing in the product. Also, a carcinogen leading to joint pain, dermatitis (just what you want from a cosmetic!) and also asthma.
PEG’s (polyethylene glycols)
Commonly found in toothpaste and sunscreens. This is a petroleum-based product. They are very toxic and can have the effect of stopping your skin from producing its own moisture leading to dryness and irritation.
Sunscreens are important in an ever increasingly warming climate, all the more reason to find one without chemicals.
Used in soaps, cleansers, and toothpaste as an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent. Linked to hormone disruption, and also weakening your immune system.
Siloxanes – (Silicones)
Commonly used in haircare products to give shine and prevent frizz. Once again, these can disrupt your hormone production and nervous system.
More worryingly they don’t break down completely when washed off so they can have the added effect of making waste-water toxic.
Please Choose Products Not Tested On Animals
Then there’s the abhorrent practice of testing these ingredients and the trial products on animals. Something I am very much against and won’t buy or use ANY product that is.
There’s just no excuse for it these days!
I know this has always been a supposed requirement in past years, but science has come a long way. This doesn’t need to happen anymore.
Companies have found other ways…otherwise there wouldn’t be any products that aren’t tested on animals available at all!
If you’re on the fence when it comes to this:
Try to imagine the terror of being restrained while these chemicals are dripped into your eyes to test how long before you go blind, or being forced to swallow them until they burn a hole in your throat.
Now try to imagine this happening to your beloved pet.
As uncomfortable as this is to read, I write it to draw attention, as many people just aren’t aware of what happens. Pets or not, no creature deserves torture at our expense.
And, these are just two horrific things that are done. There are many, many more cruel ways that companies test their products on animals but we don’t want to hear any more.
Suffice it to say, we do have a vote as to whether it’s commercially worth while for companies to continue. Just don’t buy them.
The best way to avoid being a party to this totally barbaric and unnecessary practice is ‘vote with your feet’. Don’t buy anything that doesn’t clearly state that it is ‘Not Tested On Animals’
8 Great Ways Protect Your Skin
1. Always Choose A Moisturizer Containing Sunscreen
***check the labels for the afore-mentioned chemicals***
No matter where you are in the world, you are exposed to the sun’s UV rays and they are always doing damage…it’s inevitable.
Even in colder climates, the sun does damage without it being hot outside. Your precious skin needs protection.
I have taken to wearing hats…nice ones that maybe match my outfit. Keeping the sun off your face and neck is a great idea.
You can get sunburn even on a cloudy day, which goes to prove that being directly in sunlight isn’t what’s doing the damage.
Also, don’t forget the other parts of your body that are exposed like your arms, neck, back of your neck, and even parts we consider to be tougher like legs.
In Australia we are very aware of skin problems caused by living in a hot climate, and we are constantly warned about the possibility of skin cancers.
If we are sensible, we get checked each year for any signs of early skin issues in the hope of catching these insidious melanomas early.
Sadly, they are often very small on the surface and not immediately obvious, but they can be bigger under your skin.
This can lead to a deadly outcome, or at the very least a large scar, as removal is often bigger than what you see on the surface.
Here are a couple of things to look out for:
It can present itself as a small black dot which looks much like a freckle. This is why it’s missed quite often. You want to catch it at least at this small stage.
Anything that looks black should be checked out immediately by a doctor who is trained to look for these issues. Many GP’s can do this, you don’t always need to visit a skin clinic, although this is preferable.
Also, any moles on your skin that start to change color, itch or feel sore should be checked out as ASAP.
Obviously, I’m not a doctor so I can’t comment further, but please read this medically fact-checked article on the subject so you are aware.
2. Be Gentle When Cleansing Your Skin
Many soaps are harsh and strip the natural oils from your skin. Your skin produces the oils called sebum from a sebaceous gland under each pore. This is specifically to lubricate it, keeping it hydrated and healthy.
Some people find their skin produces too much sebum. This can lead to acne when we are younger, but overactive sebum production isn’t so common later in life. In fact it’s usually the opposite.
Menopausal women can experience hormone-related acne but this is different. Most of us find our older skin is noticeably dryer than when we were younger.
Cleanse your face daily. Don’t use soap. Choose a cleanser specific to your skin-type. Using a gentle exfoliator 2-3 times per week will remove the dead skin cells which, when left on the surface results in skin looking dry and dull.
When you cleanse your body don’t overdo it.
When asked about her shower routine actress Mila Kunis apparently stated “I only wash pits, tits, holes and soles!”
…a little blunt but there’s merit in this approach.
Wash the more important bits and maybe just let the water run over the rest of you. That will help to protect your skin from being stripped of natural oils.
Using a gentle loofah all over your body (not on your face) to remove dead skin cells no more than once per week. Following up with a rich natural moisturizer will do wonders for protecting you skin.
I suggest one made from coconut oil or Shea Butter, a beautiful silky butter with a zero comedogenic rating that won’t clog your pores, leave you feeling like an oil slick or stain your clothes.
Strangely, it’s also good for acne for the same reason.
3. Use A Skincare Specific To Your Age And Skin Type
This is important as our skin changes so much over the years. Slapping on your daughter’s 20/30-something moisturizer just isn’t going to cut it!
Skincare especially formulated for aging skin contains products that often aren’t included in those tailored for younger women, or not in the same concentrations.
These include collagen-supporting actives such as: hyaluronic acid or retinol, CoQ-10, alpha-lipoic acid, and resveratrol. Here is a good article about all these anti-aging ingredients.
These are often combined with Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Green Tea for added benefits.
It’s worth spending a little more on (a) getting the correct range and (b) making sure it’s organic and free of all the crap.
My personal favorite is City Beauty. They have a full range of products for out mature skin. Totally free of nasties and absolutely Cruelty-Free.
Although this range is formulated towards anti-aging, It’s suitable for women of all ages to experience the benefits…and the younger women start to use well-formulated skincare the better.
Maybe suggest this to your daughters. Starting young will definitely have long-term benefits.
I’ll be doing regular reviews of their products in future posts.
4. Eat A Healthy Diet
I know…I’ve been banging on about this in previous posts.
But think about it. We are what we eat!
If you want to take care of arguably the biggest organ in your body AND, the one that’s really relevant to showing your age, it makes sense that a healthy diet will lead to healthy skin.
What would be the point of spending good money of beautiful skincare, and then eating all the preservatives in a diet high in processed foods.
There’s a saying, I’m sure you’ve heard it:
“garbage in, garbage out”!
If you’re not sure how to change your diet and what to eat, try the Mediterranean diet. Actually, less a diet, and more an eating plan for the rest of your life. Super healthy, not too restrictive and definitely tasty.
BTW, if you want to lose some weight pretty fast check out this post.
5. Stay Hydrated
Yes, another topic I’m passionate about!
It’s so important at any stage of life but particularly now that we’re older.
BTW, when I say hydrated, I don’t mean more G & T’s. No reason not to have them…heck I’ll join you.
No, I mean water!. Hot, cold, sparkling, with ice, lemon, mint, whatever…just get it into you.
Nothing helps to offset the aging process more than staying hydrated, and not just for your skin, but also for your organs…kidneys in particular.
6. Get Enough Sleep
This can be a difficult one.
If you’re anything like me, you may be suffering from insomnia since becoming menopausal. It’s a common complaint and a super important one to address.
As adults, we need 7-8 hours of good solid sleep per night.
The problem is that hormones, stress, eating a bad diet, too much coffee or alcohol and numerous other issues can affect your sleep. I’m sure you know this. (related post – 9 Critical Reasons Why You Sleep Badly)
Also, using technology before you go to bed, eg; computer, SM on your phone, or TV will all disrupt your circadian rhythm which is what dictates when you should sleep.
Modern life really doesn’t help.
This is why insomnia is a huge problem for so many people. It’s not easy to resolve without some concerted effort on your part…that is without OTC medications which are best avoided whenever possible as they can be addictive.
Here’s a few ways you can combat insomnia:
Turn of all technology
At least 30-40 minutes (or more) before turning in. Maybe read a book instead.
Nothing like a good rump to help you sleep afterwards due to the release of serotonin, our body’s natural anti-stress hormone.
Have your last coffee at lunchtime
Instead, try herbal tea, green tea, or hot cocoa.
Keep alcohol to a minimum
Where possible, especially late in the day. Yes, it helps you feel sleepy, but it’s often not a normal sleep pattern.
Your brain may be overactive which isn’t restful, leaving you feeling a little shattered the next day. (no…it’s not always due to being hungover)
Do exercise earlier in the day
Not just before going to bed unless it’s something calm like gentle yoga of stretching. An exercise program will naturally help you feel rested at bedtime.
7. Control Stress
Believe it or not, constant stress will age you, inside and out. Long-term you will be lucky to get away with just aging skin, and not get a serious illness like I did.
I know this first hand as I had a stressful career and I don’t think I faired well as a result.
I know my heath didn’t and I’m certain my skin didn’t either. I have more wrinkles than I would like for my 63 years and I attribute it to a few critical issues
I was too stressed to really look after my skin at night even though I knew I should.
I didn’t take appropriate measures to control my stress as I didn’t really know how.
I didn’t take steps to ensure I got my menopausal insomnia under control.
I wasn’t eating well and didn’t drink anywhere near enough water.
I didn’t take steps to deal with my midlife anxiety issues.
I had no idea why I was ultra-sensitive to things like noise, crowded places, and human behavior.
Destress with some of these activities:
Yoga, Meditation, Walk in nature, Stand in the rain, Listen to soothing music, Play with your pet, Read a good book, Exercise, Pray, Deep breathing, Journalling, Turn up your music and dance, Paddle in water, Enjoy a bubble bath with candles, Sip Green Tea, Tend to your plants, Sit on the beach & watch the ocean, Rearrange your room, Have a massage, Burn some incense or essentials oils in a diffuser, Pick some wild flowers, Watch the sunset.
All of these are great for taking your mind away from other issues, which automatically helps you to destress.
I’ve since learned to handle these problems and as a result, I live a much more peaceful and happier life. Making the decision to live life differently and on my terms made a huge difference (related post that may interest you)
Don’t make my mistakes.
Deal with these issues and enjoy looking at yourself in the mirror more than I did. Now I’m content with life, and so far with my appearance.
But, I never say never!. I don’t rule out surgery in the future as I only have one life to live. It may not be for everyone and that’s ok. It’s a personal decision.
8. Try To Stop Smoking
I know this is a biggie and can be very hard.
Thankfully I’ve never smoked so I didn’t have to go through the trauma of trying to stop! Both my parents were heavy smokers which put me off rather than encourage me to follow in their footsteps.
I’m sure you already know that smoking will affect you skin (especially around your mouth) and overall health so I’m not going to preach.
Just in case you don’t know why smoking damages your skin over time, here’s why.
The toxins in cigarettes damage your skin’s collagen and elastin which are the components that keep it supple and firm.
Without these you will gradually see a decline in the firmness and plumpness, leading to premature aging and deeper lines and wrinkles.
Smoking can also lead to slow wound healing and it reduces the Vitamin A levels and the moisture levels in your skin.
Enough said. Try to stop or at least cut down if you can. You skin and body will thank you for it.
In this post I wanted to highlight the nasty chemicals in skincare and cosmetic products. I also wanted to give you 8 ways you can help to take care of your precious skin (and health) starting today, and why you should.
I really hope you found this post helpful. Look out for future posts in this category for reviews on City Beauty products, my best choice go-to skincare range.
I look forward to your comments as it helps me to understand what’s important to you, and if you enjoyed this post please share on SM.