Our skin appears to be waterproof, tough and protective. It is … to an extent … but it’s also porous. Think of your skin as lots and lots of layers of finely-meshed gauze. It allows small molecules in and out of your body. In my aromatherapy training, I learned that essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream, and found in major organs like the heart and kidneys, within seconds of application to the skin. I even experimented myself to prove the old adage that a clove of garlic in your shoe gives you garlic breath within minutes. It’s true! Try it!
On the basis that everything we put on our skin is absorbed directly into our bloodstream and carried to our organs, we could think more carefully about the products we use every day. If you wash with a supermarket shower gel, shampoo and conditioner and then apply body lotion, moisturiser, perfume, antiperspirant and make-up … first of all you’re probably blocking your skin from being an elimination route for toxins and, secondly, all (or most of) those chemicals are going straight into your bloodstream. There are a lot of conflicting reports about the effects of the chemicals in personal care products – from harmless to cancer-causing (read this balanced article for more information). I take the view that if my grandparents didn’t use it, then I probably should question it because we don’t actually know the long-term effects yet. However, sweating and body odour are not widely acceptable in the UK in 2017. Here are some of my ideas and product suggestions:
- Pitrok crystal deodorant – still wet from the shower, I rub my armpits with this salt crystal and it creates a skin environment in which the bacteria that cause body odour cannot grow. You simply don’t get smelly. There’s also a spray version that might be easier for hairy armpits. Now, this is an effective but NOT ideal solution to body odour because it’s an alum salt crystal … so potentially you could be absorbing aluminium from it (although they say the molecules are too large to pass through the skin).
- I use a blend of organic seed and nuts oils as a natural moisturiser for face and body. Ask me for a bottle next time you’re in.
- For extra winter moisturising, add a tablespoon of fractionated coconut oil to a hot bath once a week. You could include a few drops of essential oil to make a really luxurious soak!
- Try sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners such as this UK brand or this one.
- Wash with a bar of soap … any simple, unfragranced brand will do. I buy these soaps unwrapped from Down To Earth in Dorchester.
- Perfumes used to be made from essential oils – now they’re made from thousands of chemicals. Save wearing perfume for special occasions and put it on clothes, not skin.
- If you wear make-up all day, every day you’re exposing yourself to lots of toxins all day long. Give yourself a break from it when you’re at home and try natural brands from health food shops. Dr Hauschka and Lavera are usually widely available. Read this article for more on make up.
- Finally, toothpaste – our mouth and gums absorb even more quickly than the skin (sub-lingually is the fastest route into the bloodstream for medication). Fluoride is a nerve toxin so I prefer not to use it in my mouth! I used to like this natural toothpaste but I’m now using a refillable jar from Purple Nanny in Abbotsbury. (That’s one less plastic tube in landfill.)
So our skin is highly absorbent, but it’s also an important elimination pathway. We sweat out water-soluble toxins – especially lactic acid and urea. These are the waste products of glucose and protein use – so we’re producing them all day and all night. If we block this elimination route with antiperspirants and personal care products which form a barrier on our skin, then we are making other elimination routes (especially the kidneys) work harder, and could even potentially cause a backlog of toxins – which the liver then has to handle.
We need two things to help the skin be a good elimination route and therefore support our kidneys … which in turn supports our liver:
- See Step One – WATER! It’s what dissolves and carries the lactic acid, urea and other toxins through the skin.
- Healthy, supple, unblocked skin.
Our skin cells need fats or oils (as well as water) to keep them supple and porous. We can apply as much moisturiser as we like to the outside layers but it will only help on the surface (fat cells are too big to fit through the layers of gauze). Drinking plenty of water and eating a diet rich in healthy fats and high in vitamin E makes for healthy skin. Read my fats article for more about healthy and unhealthy fats.
Your homework for Step Two:
- Add one of the following to your daily diet: half an avocado (or a whole one!); a small tin of sardines or similar oily fish, preferably in olive oil; an egg; a handful of raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, or consider supplements with fish oil or a spoonful of flaxseed oil.
- Go through your face and body products – do you really want those chemicals in your blood stream in seconds? Chuck out any products that are old – they can actually damage your skin cells. Question whether all the products are really necessary – and are they stopping your skin from being porous? Stop using an anti-perspirant now!
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