Skin Eats Protect the Body
A friend and I stand in a cramped bathroom, rifling through a giant cosmetics case. We’re nineteen at the time, and it’s the same ritual before any night out…first deciding we’ll do the natural I’m too cool to worry about how I look look, then getting into the bathroom, applying approximately 42 products and emerging as brightly painted characters. Note: the downside of wearing little or no makeup during the day–you’re vulnerable to perpetually overcompensating at night.
“This looks too matte, I think I need a cream eye shadow…”
Her eyes widen…she dives into the case and pulls out an excessively shimmery YSL lipstick. “Just use this as an eye shadow!”
“Lipstick on my eye? Is that okay to put onto bare skin though?”
“Ummmm…what’s the difference between your lips and any other part of your skin?”
This is an epiphany. She was right–there essentially is no difference! So why was I willing to put lipstick on my lips but not bare skin? The fact is that if you’re not willing to put a product near your eye, you probably shouldn’t put it near your mouth either…
There comes a point in time when we wake up to the fantasy that cosmetics rest conveniently on the skin’s surface, isolated from the complex bodily process occurring beneath. In reality, every product we put onto our skin (anywhere on the skin) absorbs into the body–that favorite lipstick, foundation, cream highlighter, even your sunscreen. This absorption means that we benefit directly from all the nutrients in our favorite products…and that we are vulnerable to all hazardous chemicals as well.
Although we get most of our nutrition orally, the skin ingests nutrients as well. In fact, unlike the food we chew and swallow, which is broken down in the stomach before it is absorbed, creams and lotions applied to the skin bypass the digestive process and go full strength directly into the bloodstream. Like all ingested substances, they become raw material for building new body tissue–or they become potent toxic waste. For this reason, I always say to my clients: Think of your beauty products not as cosmetics, but as food. If you cannot eat it, do not use it on your skin. This is the Ayurvedic standard for pure and natural.
Skin eats, and whatever you feed it, you feed to yourself. Therefore, if you are concerned about your health and well-being, it is as important to know the ingredients of what you apply externally as it is to know the ingredients of your diet and medications. Start reading the labels of your beauty products. -Pratima Raichur
In order to better understand our exposure to toxins, check out EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This website analyzes thousands of products and rates toxicity according to their ingredients. It’s such a great tool to help you learn how to minimize toxin exposure.
Raichur, Pratima. Absolute Beauty: Radiant Skin and Inner Harmony Through the Ancient Secrets of Ayurveda. Harper Collins, New York. 1997.