According to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) survey, on average, a woman uses twelve personal care products each day, exposing herself to more than 168 chemicals, many of them are known toxins. These products don’t always remain on the skin’s surface but can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. The skin is the body’s largest organ and it is highly permeable, and therefore readily absorbs substances applied topically.
Human biomonitoring studies, which measure specific chemicals found in blood, urine, or tissue, have been conducted over the last 20 years to help us to understand our potential toxic body burden of chemicals absorbed from personal care products. The results of these studies were shocking, reporting that the average person has at least 212 chemicals in their blood and urine.
Studies have shown that virtually all pregnant women have measurable levels of several toxins in their bodies that pose real threats to the development of the foetus. Foetal exposures of chemicals are of particular concern because many chemicals cross the placenta and have been measured in amniotic fluid, placental tissue, cord blood, and neonatal meconium (first stool of a newborn infant).
Researchers have found more than 290 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, rendering babies pre-polluted even before birth. Just think about that for a second, this is a human being that has never ingested any foods or liquids, nor ever taken a breath, and they already have more than 200 unnatural chemicals in their body. This study completely destroys the notion that the placenta is an impervious barrier that protects the foetus from environmental contaminants. Pregnant women represent a particularly vulnerable population, as exposure to potentially harmful chemicals during foetal development may lead to altered health outcomes for the child later in life.
Click here for a list of the most toxic ingredients found in personal care products that should be avoided during pregnancy.
Scientists are now making links between the exposures of pregnant women to toxic chemicals and many maternity and newborn disorders, as well as developmental issues with children. Each day scientific reports are published showing that very low doses of these toxic chemicals are harmful and are playing a role in the incidence of many diseases and disorders. The effects of these chemicals can manifest in the short term as stillbirth, premature birth, miscarriage or birth defects or later in life as problems with reproduction, learning and developmental disabilities, asthma or even cancers. While the chemicals in these products exist in small amounts, exposures occur every day and in multiple combinations through the use of a variety of personal products and other sources in our environment. These exposures add up. The scientific community is just beginning to uncover what these multiple and cumulative exposures mean for our health and how tiny doses of some chemicals, such as endocrine disruptors, may be harmful.
We are living in an increasingly toxic world, and it is becoming more and more apparent that the exposure to these toxins is affecting our health. But we can control the unnecessary exposure to these chemicals by being aware of what we are putting into and onto our bodies.
Follow these simple steps to minimize you and your baby’s exposure to toxic chemicals:
Ingredients derived from living organisms (plants) are better tolerated and absorbed by the human body as the biochemical process that occurs in plants cells is similar to that of human cells. In addition to this, many natural ingredients used in cosmetic products (such as almond oil and shea butter) are edible and are either absorbed by our bodies or excreted. On the other hand, the chemical compounds used in synthetic skin care products tend to accumulate in our bodies and can even begin to interact with each other. Unfortunately, scientists know virtually nothing about the long-term effects that these particular accumulated chemicals may have, and especially how many react in combination with each other. The few studies that have been done reveal links to an alarming array of diseases caused by these chemicals, even at very low levels.
The cosmetic industry in South Africa is unfortunately not subject to strict regulation (both natural and organic products). Essentially the cosmetic industry in South Africa is entirely self-regulated, whereby the cosmetic companies themselves are responsible for the manufacture of safe cosmetics. Unlike in Europe, South African cosmetic manufacturers are not required to test their products for safety before being sold. Worse, the government does not require pre-market safety tests for these products. Unfortunately, this means that the consumer needs to be more vigilant about the products they buy. Become a conscious shopper, look at labels and buy natural food and personal care products. More importantly, look for products that are certified by authorized certification bodies, such as ECOCERT, COSMOS, or the Soil Association. Also, look for products that have been approved for use by a safety assessor or toxicologist. Safety approved products are especially important if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or have young children, as they will absorb more chemicals than adults, and are in crucial development stages of their lives.
We must take personal responsibility for the health and safety of ourselves and our families, and we can only do this by educating ourselves to enable effective decision making. We cannot afford to relinquish our well-being to an industry that stands to profit from our lack of knowledge. Do your research and read the labels. You can read books or websites about dangerous chemicals to help you instantly identify dangerous food additives and cosmetics ingredients with ease.
A great place to start is Skin Deep, the Cosmetic Safety Data Base. This database was developed by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit dedicated to informing the public about a variety of topics. This resource will help you navigate the complexity of products and toxic ingredients. Another excellent resource is the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which can give you more information about individual types of dangers in cosmetics. You can also refer to the Expert Advice section of the Natralogic website.
Simplify your beauty routine by reducing the number of products you use. Reduce or avoid nail treatments or dying your hair during pregnancy. The Natralogic Product Range has been specifically designed to provide a multitude of pregnancy skin care treatments.