Free radical damage and chronic inflammation are the leading causes of skin aging. Inflammation is an essential part of the body's healing process and occurs at the cellular level when the immune system tries to fight off disease-causing germs and repair injured tissue.
When the fight is over, the inflammation-triggering substances are supposed to retreat, but in many cases they don't. This chronic inflammation has been implicated in accelerating fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores, as well as puffiness, sagging, blotchiness or reddening of the skin.
Many factors can contribute to chronic inflammation such as environmental pollutants, poor diet and synthetic chemicals in skin care products. It is important to counteract the effects of these factors with naturally occurring anti inflamitories both internally and externally. Anti inflammatory ingredients in skincare can reduce the signs of skin aging as well as protect against skin disease such as cancer.
What is Free Radical Damage?
Free radicals are atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron in its outermost shell and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules (called oxidization). Because these atoms or molecules want to be stable by pairing that electron, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, "stealing" its electron. When the "attacked" molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, resulting in the destruction of skin cells and important skin molecules.
Pollution, UV rays, carbon monoxide and synthetic chemicals all contribute free radicals to our skin. Free radical damage also accumulates with age.
What does Free Radical Damage do?
Free radicals will attack a variety of molecules including the DNA, lipids and proteins in our skin. This damages the structure of cell membranes, making cells function poorly or even die off. If, for example, a free radical steals an electron from one of the proteins that is contained in a strand of collagen, it causes a change in the chemical structure of the collagen at that point and causes a break in the collagen strand.
This damages the collagen and it becomes dysfunctional and loses its elastic quality. Free radical damage is what causes the breakdown of elasticity and volume in the skin as we age, resulting in sagging skin, wrinkling and loss of volume.
How Can You Stop Free Radical Damage?
Antioxidants are chemicals that are able to donate an electron to a free radical, stabilizing the free radical and stopping the chain of chemical reactions and potential damage. Antioxidants are able to donate the missing electron to a free radical without the antioxidant becoming a free radical itself. In this manner, antioxidants prevent free radical damage and slow the aging process.
“Oil dissolves oil”
1. Harsh cleansers contribute to acne and oily skin by adding potentially dangerous chemicals to delicate facial skin and by cleaning away not only dirt and bacteria, but stripping the oil out of the skin.
2. When the skinʼs natural oils have been removed, the bodyʼs reaction is to compensate by producing more oil - causing oily patches and outbreaks and creating a vicious cycle.
3. Your skin naturally produces oil to protect the skin from the environment as well as lubricating, healing and moisturizing skin so that it may function properly.
4. Oil applied to the skin will dissolve the oil that has bonded with impurities and rests on the skins surface and in the pores.
5. Sesame Oil has powerful cleansing properties and is known for its ability to bond with toxins. It is naturally antibacterial for common skin pathogens, such as staphylococcus and streptococcus as well as common skin fungi,and is naturally antiviral. It is a natural anti inflammatory agent. Research shows that sesame seed oil is a potent antioxidant. In the tissues beneath the skin, this oil will neutralize oxygen radicals. It penetrates into the skin quickly and enters the blood stream through the capillaries.
6. Sunflower Seed Oil is very helpful is relieving skin irritations such as acne. The oil from the sunflower seed is extremely rich in vitamins A,C,D and E and is excellent in helping the skin retain moisture. Provides the skin with a natural barrier of protection against bacteria and others irritants which are at the root of most blemish issues.
7. Both of these oils are rich in essential fatty acids which are critical for the health of our cell membranes and help restore the skins natural moisture balance and help prevent unnecessary dryness.
8. Organic first cold-pressed vegetable oils have nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids that mineral oil and other refined oils don't.
Not all ingredients are created equally
There is a critical and crucial difference between first plant extracts - whether they be oils, essential oils or whole plant extracts - and extracts which are from further down the extraction chain. Take, for example, an olive oil. The first cold press (extra virgin) extraction of those olives is the highest quality oil possible. That is because all of the vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial phyto-chemicals are still intact. Each subsequent extraction of those same olives, results in an oil with fewer and fewer of these beneficial properties. Once high heat and solvents are applied in order to squeeze out the last drops of oil, there are hardly, if any, nutrients remaining at all.
The analogy of olive oil extraction holds true for every plant extract and essential oil on the market. The only extracts which have antioxidant, anti inflammatory and nutritional benefits are the first extracts. These extracts, when used in cosmetics or supplements, are usually referred to as therapeutic or medical quality.
Most of the oils and plant extracts sold to the cosmetic industry are high heat and solvent extracted (otherwise known as refined). This is because these types of ingredients are very inexpensive. In fact, the largest purchaser of yellow grease (refined post consumer frier oil) is the cosmetic industry!
The high heat and solvents used to extract or refine oils also alters their molecular structure, resulting in a large oil molecule which does not absorb readily into the skin These oils tend to “sit” on the skinʼs surface and clog pores. Applying these kinds of oils to the skin on a regular basis can result in a build-up of toxins and can lead to acne and premature skin aging.
Raw first cold pressed oils penetrate the skin rapidly, imparting all of their nutrients to repair and restore skin health. The same holds true of other plant extracts and essential oils. If it is not the first plant extract, then it is an ingredient only in name.
Mineral Oil is a petroleum derived preservative and is the chief cause of that greasy after-feel on the skin. A liquid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum, mineral oil can attract dirt and causes blackheads and eruptions. It can accelerate free radical damage, thus speeding up the aging process, because it causes toxins to build up in the skin.
Mineral Oil is an extremely cheap ingredient (much cheaper than any natural oil) and is colourless and odorless, it is used in many skin care products to fill up space in a bottle and to make the shelf life last between 3-5 years. It has no proven benefit to the skin whatsoever.
Mineral oil can not be absorbed by the skin therefore leaving mineral oil in the pores which retards the absorption of emollient (moisture) creams. To add insult to injury, mineral oil is not water soluble so it cannot be rinsed off. It sits on the skin, drying your skin out and clogging the pores, causing acne. Instead of penetrating the skin, Mineral Oil coats and wraps your skin like plastic wrap. Your skin literally suffocates because oxygen can't penetrate it and it can't breathe, therefore, it starts to die and/or age prematurely.
Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly) is a grease made from petroleum. It is used in industry as a grease component. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap. Petrolatum exhibits many of the same potentially harmful properties as mineral oil. While attempting to hold moisture in your skin, it traps the toxins and wastes that are inside your skin's layers. Your skin smothers and can't breathe, which leads to prematurely aged skin. You are using a product that creates the very problem that you are attempting to alleviate.
Sodium Lauryl (Laureth) Sulfate is a harsh detergent found mainly in products that "foam." Research has shown that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate may be one of the most dangerous ingredients found in personal care products. It is used in industrial engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners, water softeners, and auto cleaning products, as well as many skin and hair care products. It is often disguised in so-called "Natural" products as (in parenthesis) as a coconut derivative.
It is considered to be a potent irritant, and is the standard irritancy substance used (meaning it is assumed it will net an irritated reaction) to measure and compare the irritancy potential of other ingredients. Because it's such a strong and efficient degreaser, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate dries the skin and hair. It strips your skin and hair of its natural oils. It may even damage the immune system causing the layers of your skin to inflame and separate. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate has been linked to eye damage, intestinal damage, breathing problems, skin spots, and cysts. It can cause cataracts in adults and prevent children's eyes from developing properly.
Every wonder why more women are getting male pattern baldness these days? According to the Journal of American College of Toxicology, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate corrodes and damages the hair follicles. It can actually cause your hair to fall out! After exposure, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can stay in your body for up to 7 days. It penetrates easily into your skin and then lingers around in your heart, liver, lungs, and brain. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org), these surfactant molecules stay on your skin long after you think you've washed them off and as they sit there, they literally strip-away fatty acids, moisture and amino acids from your hair and skin.
Propylene Glycol (PG) / Sorbital, which are commonly used in moisturizers as humectants, should be avoided. Chemically derived from alcohol, Propylene Glycol binds repels moisture from the skin, therefore the skin ends up not receiving any benefit at all from the moisturizer. Propylene Glycol is the main active ingredient in anti-freeze. There is no difference between the Propylene Glycol used in anti-freeze and the Propylene Glycol used in personal care products. It can also be found in brake fluid and hydraulic fluid.
The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns companies who put Propylene Glycol into their products that it:
•May cause skin and eye irritation
•May be harmful if inhaled or ingested
•Can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, and depression
•Can inhibit skin cell growth. This means that your cells will not be able to reproduce normally. If your body cannot make new cells, then the cells will get old and wrinkled. Did you know that some wrinkle creams can make you look older, rather than younger? Propylene Glycol may be the reason.
•Can damage the skin and muscle tissue. Propylene Glycol is a chemical used in food processing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires food workers to wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles when working with Propylene Glycol. This is because Propylene Glycol quickly penetrates into your skin.
•And Propylene Glycol is linked to Contact Dermatitis, Liver and Brain Abnormalities, and Kidney Damage
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is used in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease, as well as to thicken products. Because of its effectiveness, PEGs are often used in caustic spray-on oven cleansers. PEGs can destroy the natural functioning of your skin which help keep it soft and moist. And what's worse, products with Polyethylene Glycol are likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen (cancer causing chemical). Studies show that dioxane easily penetrates into your skin.
Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Parabens) an be found in almost all of your personal care products. They are the most commonly used preservatives in the United States. The sole purpose of preservatives in cosmetics is not to protect you from bacteria, but to protect and extend the shelf life of the cosmetic. Parabens have caused many allergic reactions, skin rashes, and are known to be highly toxic. They can also have an estrogenic or feminizing affect on your body, meaning it can make men more feminine. In the book Organic Beauty by Josephine Fairley states that "concern is raised over parabens in skin care products absorbed throughout the skin of pregnant women. Research has shown that they may affect the future fertility of male babies. Professor John Sumpter or Brunel University, England - and expert on estrogenic chemicals in the environment - believes the result could be significant, because over the last few decades, paraben use has been very widespread in the cosmetic industry. The chemical preservatives might just play a role in falling sperm counts and rising breast cancer rates."
Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea and/or DMDM Hydantoin are the most commonly used cosmetic preservatives after the Parabens. They are just three of the many preservatives that release formaldehyde. Nearly all brands of skin, body and hair care products, antiperspirants, and nail polish found in stores contain formaldehyde releasing ingredients. According to the Mayo Clinic, formaldehyde can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin irritations, and trigger heart palpitations. Exposure to formaldehyde releasing products may also cause allergies, nose congestion, nausea, headaches, dizziness, ear infections, chronic fatigue, depression, asthma, chest pains, and loss of sleep. But more seriously, formaldehyde is toxic to the immune system, a human mutagen, and is carcinogenic.
Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA) and/or Monoethanolamine (MEA) are usually listed on ingredient labels with the compound being neutralized. So look for names like Cocamide DEA or MEA, Lauramide DEA, TEA Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, etc. Neither DEA nor TEA is carcinogenic. However, if products contain nitrites (as a preservative or contaminant), chemical reactions can occur as products are sitting on the store shelves. This reaction leads to the formation of nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. Large amounts of nitrates may enter your bloodstream after just one shampooing. The FDA did two studies showing that 27 out of 29 cosmetics contained high levels of Nitroso-Diethanolamine. "Repeated skin applications have resulted in a major increase in liver and kidney cancers," states Dr. Samuel Epstein of the National Toxicology Program.
Fragrances are the number one common cause of allergies and irritant reactions to cosmetics. The FDA does not require manufacturers to list the ingredients of a "fragrance." When you see the word "fragrance," it can have as many as 4,000 separate chemicals. Some problems you may experience when exposed to these chemicals may be: headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, forgetfulness, irritability, hyperactivity, visual problems, clumsiness, watery eyes, stuffy nose, skin rash, skin discoloration, depression, mood changes, inability to concentrate, and sleep problems. Remember that a product labeled "unscented" may in fact contain a fragrance to mask other chemical odors. A product must be marked "fragrance-free" or "without perfume" to indicate nothing has been added to make it smell good. Some fragrance reactions occur only when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Because the FDA does not require manufacturers to list hazardous chemicals in their fragrances, you have no way of knowing whether it contains carcinogens. For example, methylene chloride is one of the most common "fragrance" ingredients and is a confirmed carcinogen.
Artificial (Synthetic) Colors will be labeled FD&C (Food, Drug or Cosmetics) or Damp;C (Drugs or Cosmetics). This designation will be followed by a color and then a number. Some examples are FDamp;C Red No. 6, Damp;C Green No. 6, or FDamp;C Blue No. 1. Is your shampoo blue or green? If it is, you can bet on it that it contains a coal tar color. Artificial Colors are made from coal tar, a coal derivative. There is a great deal of controversy about the use of coal tars. Almost all of the coal tar colors cause cancer. Some artificial colors even contain heavy metal impurities such as arsenic and lead. Both of these metals are carcinogens.