Do you have dry cracking skin from the harsh winter weather? The dry heat in our buildings is pulling every ounce of moisture out of our pores combined with cold temperatures that do not encourage us to rehydrate with ice cold water. Sound familiar? This time of year, we all are left with dry skin longing for lotion.
What lotion do you pick up? The choices are endless and hard to decipher which are the best for you and the environment. You may be surprised to find out that many of the lotions on the shelves contain harmful chemicals such as parabens, petroleum products, alcohols and aluminums.
Phthalates, found in many beauty products, is a known endocrine disrupter found to “interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife” (National Institute of Health and Environmental Services). Phthalates have been linked to medical issues such as infertility, sperm damage and birth defects. When we lather up after the shower we are inundating our skin with harmful chemicals that over time build up in our bodies.
It’s easy to see if the package itself is environmentally friendly (can it be recycled and is it made from recycled products) but the ingredient list is where it starts sounding like another language. The owners of our local environmentally friendly spa, The Green Lotus, put it simply, “If I can’t pronounce it I don’t put it on my skin or eat it.”
The Green Lotus Spa (thegreenlotusspa.com) opened in 2012 after owners T.J. Mundell and Timmy Patterson took a chance to make a spa as environmentally conscious as they are from the products to the energy they use. The Green Lotus offsets some of the energy used in the spa with an on site wind turbine that also powers their electric car station out front. They take their skin care and environmental impact seriously and are looking forward to lessening their footprint in the future with solar panels. They also have hopes of creating their own organic eco-conscious skin line. Mundell and Patterson recommended some skin care lines to me but after a bit of research I’m more excited to see what they come up with locally that keeps our environment in mind.
So what can you put on your skin now? Simplify. Don’t be fooled by false marketing and start reading your ingredient labels. Go organic, at least with your lotion. Organic requires that products were not grown with fertilizers or pesticides which is healthier for you and keeps these toxic chemicals out of our waterways. You can also use the GoodGuide app to find the best beauty products rated on the environment, social and health impacts.
It turns out some of the best moisturizers can be found in our kitchens. The same oils we use to cook with can provide our skin with moisture, protection and vitamins without the added chemicals and emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are added to lotions and soaps to allow the mixing of oils and water based products. These emulsifiers can leave residue on your skin clogging your pores. Buying products that are made from one ingredient eliminates the need for emulsifiers.
The oils most commonly recommended as all over moisturizers are olive oil, grapeseed oil and coconut oil. I keep all three on hand and alternate through the three on my face and body. Especially this time of year when not much of your body needs sun protection, take the opportunity to try out the oils. Don’t be worried about a greasy residue on your skin. Use a small amount and rub it in, there’s no mess.
When buying oils, seek out cold pressed, organic or raw forms to get the least refined product possible. The simpler the product, the better for you and the less resources went into manufacturing. It’s impossible to avoid every synthetic chemical in your life but buying whole ingredients to use for your skin care can be an easy way to cut out the harmful toxins your applying directly to your skin. It’s better for you and our environment.