Skin is not an impenetrable barrier. Chemicals in contact with your skin can be absorbed into your body. For instance, a recent study showed that bisphenol A (BPA) can be absorbed through skin. BPA has gotten quite a bit of attention lately as it is suspected to have damaging effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate for fetuses, infants, and children. Take a quick look at the ingredients in a bottle of lotion or body wash, and you'll likely find a very long list of synthetic chemicals.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep website,
The government does not require health studies or pre-market testing for [personal care products]. The Cosmetics Ingredients Review (CIR), the industry's self-policing safety panel, does not make up for FDA inaction. In 2007 EWG analysis found that over 30 years, the industry panel has reviewed the safety of just 13 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products.
What's in Your Lotion?
Lets take a look at some conventional lotion (and this is not even a sunscreen or anti-aging product):
The Skin Deep database gives this lotion an overall health concern rating of HIGH, which includes a high concern for developmental and reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity.
What About Baby Lotion?
Even baby lotions can have ingredients to be concerned about:
Johnson's Baby Lotion, Original:
Water, Propylene Glycol, Myristyl Myristate, Glyceryl Stearate, Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Polysorbate 61, Dimethicone, Isopropyl Palmitate, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Synthetic Beeswax, Stearyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, BHT, D&C Red 33.
The Skin Deep database gave this baby lotion an overall health concern rating of HIGH, which includes a high concern for allergies and immunotoxicity, persistence and bioaccumulation, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity. This is not a lotion I would want to apply to my baby!
What Can You Do?
To avoid using products that are potentially unsafe, check the Skin Deep database to find products that have LOW health concern ratings. You can search for specific products, brands, or even broad categories of products. For instance, my family has been using California Baby products for several years. The Skin Deep database shows that all products from California Baby have a LOW health concern rating.
Skincare products are used often, and can be a vehicle for introducing toxins into your body. Pregnant and nursing mothers as well as children should be especially careful of the products used on their bodies. In addition, skincare products could have negative consequences for people with health problems. It may take a little time to research products and determine what healthy alternatives are available where you live, but this time is worthwhile.