Our skin is our biggest organ yet a lot of us would use products with these ingredients on our skin without thinking twice! Are these ingredients a part of your skin care?
5 Common Skin Care Myths
By Dr. Mercola
Some of the most widely held “truths” about proper skin care are actually myths. Among the most flagrant and egregious examples are:
Myth #1: All Sun Must be Shunned
Getting safe sun exposure every day is actually one of the best actions you can take for your health, as this is how your body produces enough essential vitamin D, which is known to protect against cancer (including melanoma) and support your immune system, cardiovascular system, kidney function, bones and teeth, muscle strength and much more.
While excessive sun exposure, such as getting sunburned, can certainly damage your skin, sensible sun exposure is not only quite healthy, it’s a fundamental step in reaching optimal health.
The skin around your eyes and your face is typically much thinner than other areas on your body and is a relatively small surface area so will not contribute much to vitamin D production. So it is strongly recommended that you protect this fragile area of your body, as it is at a much higher risk for cosmetic photo damage and premature wrinkling. You can use a safe sunblock in this area or wear a cap that always keeps your eyes in the shade.
Myth #2: Tanning Must be Avoided
Assuming you use sensible exposure and avoid getting burned, sensible tanning the “old-fashioned” way (i.e. out in the sun) is perfectly acceptable. The first few days, you should limit your exposure to the sun to allow your body’s melanocyte cells to rev up the ability to produce protective pigmentation that not only gives you a tan, but also serves to help protect you against overexposure to the sun.
If you are a fairly light-skinned individual that tends to burn, you will want to limit your initial exposure to a few minutes, especially if it is in the middle of summer.
The more tanned your skin will get, and/or the more tanned you want to become, the longer you can stay in the sun. If it is early or late in the season and/or you are a dark-skinned individual, you could likely safely have 30 minutes on your initial exposure. If you are deeply pigmented and your immediate ancestors are from Africa, India or the Middle East, it is possible you may not even have to worry about how long you are exposed.
Always err on the side of caution however, and let it be your primary goal to never get sun burned, while also protecting the sensitive skin around your eyes and face, as noted above.
Myth #3: Sunless Tanning Lotions/Sprays are Safe
Sunless tanners contain a lengthy list of chemical agents — up to 45 in the case of spray tanners. Many of these agents have never been studied for their long-term effects on human health, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not systematically review the safety of personal care products.
One of the main ingredients in spray tanning solutions is dihydroxyacetone, a color additive that darkens your skin by reacting with amino acids in your skin’s surface layer. Dihydroxyacetone is often abbreviated DHA (which should not be confused with docosahexaenoic acid, the healthy omega-3 fat often given the same abbreviation).
Manufacturers of sunless tanning products claim DHA is a simple carbohydrate sugar solution, but some toxicologists disagree. Part of the problem is that the U.S. government’s regulations for DHA allow contaminants such as lead, arsenic and mercury. Further, a report by the National Toxicology Program1 suggests the risks of DHA remain unclear, pointing to some evidence that DHA may be a mutagen that could induce breaks in DNA strands, which could contribute to accelerated aging and even skin cancer.
Myth #4: The Higher the SPF of Your Sunscreen, The Better
It’s generally unnecessary to purchase sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) greater than 50. The reason for this is because while SPF works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays on your skin, its protective ability is not linear and does not offer a great deal more protection at higher levels.
With regards to SPF, another important factor to remember is that SPF only protects against UVB rays, which are the rays within the ultraviolet spectrum that allows your body to produce vitamin D in your skin. But the most dangerous rays, in terms of causing skin damage and cancer are the UVA rays. This is why you always want to make sure any sunscreen you buy protects against UVA’s as well as UVB’s … and does NOT contain any common toxic ingredients, such as oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate.
Myth #5: All Skin Care Products on the Market are Safe
It is important to understand that of the 10,500 ingredients used in your personal care products, fewer than 20 percent have been reviewed for safety in the last 30 years, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis.2
The reviews that have been done were conducted by a fox in the henhouse—the Cosmetics Ingredients Review, which is run by the cosmetics industry! Not all ingredients need even be mentioned on the label—if they don’t want to include one for some reason, they can just leave it off. Therefore, most personal care product formulations are based on nothing more than marketing success, designed to smell good, look good and feel good when you rub them on your skin, regardless of their impact on your health.
But in reality, as the CNN video above describes, many skin care products on the market contain chemicals (including parabens, phthalates, triclosan and others) that have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity and other health problems.
One of the core principles to remember when it comes to skin care is that whatever you slather onto your skin will be absorbed into your body and enter your bloodstream. This is why it’s so important to avoid skin care products containing questionable chemicals! Your skin is an excellent drug delivery system, so you should be just as careful with what you put on your skin as you are with what you eat, if not more so, as your gut actually helps protect you against some of the toxins you ingest by filtering them out … a protection you don’t get when a chemical is absorbed through your skin.