The Care and Feeding of Healthy Skin

Your skin is your largest organ and is vulnerable to the environment. Skin is the barrier between you and the increasingly toxic world. Its role is to protect you from the elements and harmful microbes, aid in regulation of body temperature and allow you the sensations of heat, cold and touch.

Caring for your skin IS caring for your health and is something to take seriously. Since it is porous it will absorb whatever it’s exposed to. Approximately 60% of substances applied to the skin are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. The rate of absorption is much higher on the forehead and scalp than the forearms. The thin skin of the inner arms, inner thighs and soles of the feet is also quite permeable.

The structure and size of chemicals is one important factor that determines whether or not a substance will be absorbed. Products containing nanoparticles and penetration enhancers are designed to penetrate the skin quickly and are found in an increasing number of mainstream lotions and sunscreens. There’s no way to know the effects of combinations of the many chemicals you may be exposed to on a regular basis.*

When the CDC studied the blood of more than 10,000 Americans they found hundreds of chemical toxins, including in the umbilical cord blood of newborns and those living in remote areas. Many of the synthetic chemicals discovered are ingredients in mainstream personal care products.

Your ancestors were never confronted by the onslaught of toxins that you are exposed to daily. There is increasing evidence that use of personal care products containing chemicals may contribute to rising cancer rates. Choosing products based on the ingredients list is as important for personal care products as it is for food and supplements.


There is a substance that you and I grew up with that is in the majority of products applied to the face, body and head. From baby oil to Vaseline***, and nearly every mass market personal care product on the market, you have been exposed to mineral oil over a lifetime. This is a highly refined and cheap by-product derived from crude oil from petroleum. It delivers fat-soluble hydrocarbons into the body that are then stored inside fat cells and the liver.

Its benefit to skin is minimal; it simply seals the skin to supposedly lock in moisture but offers zero nutritional benefits to the skin cells. Instead, it may clog pores and suffocate the skin and lead to dehydration. It may technically be “natural” but was never intended to be applied to the skin. Other names for this same ingredient are: petrolatum, paraffin oil, Albolene and white oil. Buyers beware.

Some other petrochemical ingredients to watch out for:

  • PEG (polythene glycol)
  • Benzene
  • Tolulene
  • Ingredients with DEA or MEA
  • Ingredients with “propyl” in the word such as “Propylene Glycol”
  • Ethanol
  • Butanol
  • Methanol
  • Fragrance or “Parfum”
  • Ingredients that end with “eth”, for example, myreth, ceteareth, etc.

“Cancer prevention is the most important reason to avoid products with petroleum due to their potential contamination with PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons.)** The National Toxicology Program classifies PAHs to consist of reasonably anticipated carcinogens. During a study, women with increased levels of PAH-DNA adducts had a 50% higher risk of developing breast cancer.” Cynthia V. Rider, Ph.D., Division of the NTP (DNTP)/Toxicology Branch

Department Stores

Use caution when shopping for cleansers, toners, masks, serums and moisturizers at department stores unless you have money to burn. Those high-end products are not more effective than natural products. You are paying for expensive and glamorous worldwide advertising, space rent to the retailer, massive profits to the manufacturer and its shareholders and a hefty commission to the sales person behind the counter. As little money as possible is actually spent on ingredients. Even walking through the cosmetics section in a department store can be hazardous to your health. They love to spritz people with perfume as you walk by; perfume made from petrochemicals.

Natural Options

The best news is that there are now many safe, effective and genuinely natural personal care products for every imaginable purpose available for you to choose from:  from hair care and hair color, to deodorants, shaving creams, soaps, shower gels, sunscreens, lotions, foot and hand creams and every imaginable category for the face. Products for babies and children as well as specialty products like nail polish and cosmetics are widely available.

Prices for natural products are competitive and their value more than makes up for paying a bit more than grocery store brands. Not only are these products safe for you and your family but offer truly beneficial effects. Nut and seed oils are typically the base of natural personal care products, delivering nutrients to the skin cells. You will likely find aloe vera and other nourishing and healing plant extracts, hyaluronic acid, natural fragrances, vitamins and guarantees of:

  • No Parabens
  • No Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate
  • No Propylene Glycol
  • No Animal Testing
  • No Animal Ingredients
  • No Phthalate ingredients (phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance)

The bottom line: don’t put ingredients on your skin that you wouldn’t be willing to eat. People who follow this advice tend to enjoy using extra virgin coconut oil on their body as a moisturizer after a bath. For my face, neck and décolleté I prefer products with multiple natural ingredients that add extra nourishment and protection as well as moisture.

It feels good to support companies that provide the highest quality products for you and your family. Since you vote with your dollars why not choose the “candidates” with ethics and values that align with yours?

Our next article discusses collagen, its benefits and how to heal and repair the skin and body to turn back the clock. Thank you for trusting Healthy Habits® as your resource for quality natural products and useful information. Your optimal health is our #1 priority.

*These damaging chemicals and heavy metals can also be inhaled (fragrance or “parfum”) or ingested (lipsticks, lip moisturizers, etc.).

**For a list of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs):

*** There is a popular natural product called Unpetroleum Jelly that replaces Vasoline. tumorigenic-when-applied