It is now widely accepted that we are what we eat. Everything we put in our body directly affects our health. We want to look our best so we spend thousands of dollars a year on products to make our teeth whiter, our hair healthier, and our skin younger. The average North American spends anywhere from 2-6 thousand dollars a year on personal hygiene and beauty products. We see labels that claim to do all the above. What we don’t see are the ingredients in those products.

We already know the foods we eat can lead to allergies, and the pollutants in the air we breathe and the water we drink can also trigger an allergic response. Our immune systems are constantly working with our liver and kidneys to rid our bodies of toxins. We forget about our largest elimination organ, our skin.

What’s getting absorbed into your blood stream?
The problem is that most people simply don’t know or understand what our bodies do every time we brush our teeth or put on some lotion and the effect it has on our health. Every time our skin comes in contact with lotion, for example, it is absorbed through our skin into our bloodstream, which will then have to be filtered through our liver. The liver then has to neutralize these chemicals so that they don’t damage the rest of the body. During that process, our immune system is put on alert to rid these chemicals from the bloodstream. This is the beginning of an allergic reaction.

Some people are more sensitive than others, but with constant exposure to these toxins we are all putting ourselves at risk for overworking our body’s defense systems.
Some commons ingredients used in many hygiene products like aluminum, benzyl alcohol, parabens, BHA, BHT, and methyl silicon can cause sensitivities and allergies you might not be aware of. The key is educating yourself and being aware not only what we put in our mouths but also what we put on our skin.

Always look at labels for ingredient listings.
If a product doesn’t list the ingredients, you can be sure that what’s in it is not likely something you want in your body. Some things to look for when choosing a line of hygiene products or cosmetics are natural ingredients, organic is always better, non-comedogenic, no animal by-products, ingredients which are proven, registered, and brand named, support the skin’s pH balance, and environmentally friendly. Up until recently there were no laws or regulations as to labeling and stating ingredients of products but as people have become more aware of the importance of quality vs. cost and the impact on their health, laws have been changed and will soon be implemented.

So next time you find yourself looking for a toothpaste or face wash keep in mind to check for ingredients and remember what you use on the outside can have a direct effect on your health. With all the other toxins we can’t avoid, these are some that we can. So take charge of you own health!

Christina Amaral, R.H.N., Holistic Nutritionist