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Short List for Safe Skin

The end of summer is a good time for thinking about your skin.

September is a good time to stop using sunscreen, if you use it at all, and if you live north of Mexico. Thirty minutes of midsummer, mid-day sun is weakly equaled by several hours in the sun at this time of the year. The sun's rays transform cholesterol based molecules in the skin and enable our bodies to produce vitamin D, but the rays angle through the horizon is so steep that at this time of the year we need it all to stockpile some vitamin D for use in the winter.

And while you're in the medicine cabinet, closing up all the sunscreen, is a great time to survey your personal care products for their safety. We are literally sponges, absorbing everything that lands on our skin. In an ideal world, skin care products would be tested and required to be proven safe before we could put them on our skin, but it's the other way around. They have to be proven highly unsafe, and serious legal action pursued, before they can be taken off the market, so be your own skin care watchdog.

A great online summary of the ten most hazardous ingredients reminds us to avoid, my comments in bold in parentheses.

  1. Parabens, with the prefixes ethyl, methyl, butyl or propyl
  2. Phthalates in fragrances: DEHP, DHP, DBP 5, Dibutyl Phthalate
  3. Dyes: Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, and Red 33, otherwise known as coal tar
  4. Triclosan, aka chloro, phenol, and irgasan
  5. Sunscreens with 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC), octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA), bexophenome-3 (Bp-3), homosalate (HMS)
  6. Polyethylene glycol (PEG, PPG, Cocoate), propylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene mineral oil
  7. Petrolatum 
  8. Lead acetate, thimerosol, any mercury (other than homeopathic Mercury which is completely safe in normal doses)
  9. Isobutene
  10. Placenta
  11. Nano zinc oxide.  (In my mind, ALL nano-particle products for personal use are suspect as inhalation poses an unknown danger.)

And while you're cleaning up your bathroom, consider putting a filter on your shower or tub so your body isn't immersed in chlorine every time you bathe!

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