In our daily routines as an UrbanMeister we are challenged to protect our fragile body from environmental influences like air pollution, sun, radiation or just the weather like the frost which is crossing Europe right now. Some of us maybe fitness freaks and some of us growing a beer belly. Some of us might be overly paranoid about safe-guarding ourselves from pollution and some of couldn’t be bothered, one thing we are all particular about and take enough care of is our skin! Men and women alike. Not just the conventional notions of care set by media a.k.a. moisturizing, age-defying, skin-brightening but also just daily care in terms of cleaning, problem-free skin.
Guest Columnist Christina tells us about chemical free skincare
So for the first-time ever, UrbanMeisters takes a step in the direction of green beauty with guest columnist Dr. med. Christina Freier, M.D. – specialist in Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery, studying to become a Master of Health Business Administration and at present located in Hamburg, Germany. Describing herself as an enthusiastic doctor for evidence-based and balanced medicine under real world conditions for informed patients who like to know the facts of life. And we hand-over this post to Christina….
Our skin is the largest organ we have!
It’s 1.6-2.0m2 big (Source: Braun-Falco, O., Plewig, G., & Wolff, H. H. (2013). Dermatologie und venerologie. Springer-Verlag) and forms an important barrier against all external influences as well as particles. It also prevents the invasion of infections or regulates body temperature. Without the skin we would have a huge area to lose body fluids, proteins and body temperature.
In our daily routines we clean, we peel, we lotion or make up our skin in hope to have it even and picture-perfect. But how well do you know what you put on your face every day? As a preventive and holistic thinking doctor I have to consider about indication and medication effects and also the unwarranted side effects.
In skin therapy we have different ways to achieve the desired effect. Skin has different thicknesses. The skin of the eye lid is only 1mm thin compared to 4mm of the skin on the back. We have a thick horny layer (Stratum corneum) above the Epidermis and on top an emulsion layer from lipids (fat) and sweat. So while applying a substance onto the skin is easy, getting it inside the skin is the hard part. The resorption rate (the take up rate of substances) is usually low. You can raise the resorption rate with several methods and substances (i.e. to make skin absorb easily). You can reduce the lipids and sweat surface. We do it every day with general soap for example. by washing our hands or showering. But you can also raise the take up by hydrating the skin, warming it or using an occlusive dressing, like a mask. All methods are used in dermato-therapy and in cosmetic skin care as well.
Why you need to know what’s in your skincare product?
Some of these substances we apply or use may also find its way into our blood circulation and cause chemical reaction as an effect or a side effect. How much of each substance we take up is not well evaluated at present. (source: Braun-Falco, O., Plewig, G., & Wolff, H. H. (2013). Dermatologie und venerologie. Springer-Verlag.)
There are lots of agent free balms and cremes which are originally known as cosmetics. But times have changed. We want it smooth, good smelling and of course with a visible effect on your skin. So cosmetics are not non-reactive anymore. Which is why cosmetics too eventually came under the scanner of regulatory institutions like institutions like the FDA in the U.S. or the BUND in Germany. They started analyzing what are the ingredients in a particular product and marked their impact and chemical potential. While Europe has banned more than 1,300 poisonous chemicals commonly used in personal care products, the US has banned a mere 11!
Increased studies, researches and lab-analyzing has found out that many cosmetics contain agents that may be cancer-causing like aluminium in deodorants (source: IARC. Occupational Exposures During aluminium Production. IARC Volume 100F. Chemical Agents and Related Occupations 2012: 215-224) or crude oil and heavy metals in make up. Almost every cosmetic product till date continues to contain parabens and methylparabens. These ingredients are used as preservatives. In pre-clinical studies (animal tests) they found hints for causing infertility and harm our genes. (source: Darbre, P. D., & Harvey, P. W. (2008). Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 28(5), 561-578.) The allergic potential of fragrances is also well known.
In a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives researchers studied how moving to products free of phthaltes, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzene would affect urinary metabolic residues in teenage girls. And the results were definitive in just three days of using these safer products The levels of mentioned chemicals actually dropped significantly in the urine samples.
So how can you get chemical free skincare for yourself and your family?
Choose chemical free skincare! Natural cosmetics are always a good choice. Increasingly as awareness has grown, there has been a resurgence of chemical-free cosmetics. While youcan go for brands which stock fragrance-free, parabens-free products or SLES-free shampoos, invariably these conventional ingredient-agents are substituted with newer ones where there hasn’t been much research. So opt as much as possible for completely natural products and try some home remedies (they actually work!)
The other suggestion is also to reduce the number of skincare products! Really, your skin doesn’t need so many products. Unless you have a problem like acne or some other skin issue, the skin self-regulates and balances itself. So try not to go overboard with cosmetics – skincare, bodycare, haircare or make-up.
But what about your favourite lip gloss? Or the other minimum essentials you feel you must use like face-wash, deos, shampoos, creams etc? You can find safe chemical free skincare and dailycare products with one of these Apps:
is a German based collaboration that offers a fantastic platform for almost all your daily living needs for your entire family including babies! FRom cosmetics, baby equipment, domestic needs or information about groceries check the barcode here. (Only German, Austrian and Swiss products).
is working with international products. Their aim is to promote data and help people choose healthier cosmetics. This start up from Finnland also fights for a strict adherence to legal compliance in the EU regarding ingredients used in cosmetics.
This is how it works. Scan the barcode of your most admired lotion for example and find out if it contains risky ingredients. They list and mark every content and explain you the risk of each ingredient. The other way round they suggest alternative products that might be in your interest. I use it every time when I go cosmetic and make up shopping.
is a US based startup that again gives you information on potential toxicity of a product. With a board of qualified advisors, and the methodology they employ, there’s no reason get get a clean new shelf of cosmetics and dailycare products especially with their Clean Beautique to buy safe products!