What stops you from eating something disgusting? For most people, it’s the thought of tasting, chewing, and swallowing a substance they perceive to be revolting that makes them crinkle their nose, turn their head away in nauseating aversion, and extend their hand to push away the offending offer.
The question is, what do you perceive to be unpalatable? You may repugnate a food that is actually healthy and beneficial for you or you might be completely committed to your physical health that all synthetic and processed products are distasteful to you.
If you’re the kind of person who loathes the thought of how artificial and toxic substances can harm your organs, then it’s important to think of all the channels through which your cells are exposed to these poisons. Your mouth is the most obvious and common route of access to your inner body. However, your skin and lungs are just as permeable to the tiny molecules of which toxic substances are comprised.
Your Skin ~ The Often Unguarded Gateway to Your Bloodstream and Lymphatic System
Your skin might seem like a solid encasing, but it’s actually quite permeable. Therefore, rubbing a substance onto your skin means you’re effectively exposing your blood and lymph to at least some, if not all, of it. Even though your skin serves as a functional and protective barrier, it contains pores, sweat glands, sebaceous glands (that produce natural waxy oils), hair follicles, and pervious cell membranes filled with channels and other openings. These routes allow topically applied substances to penetrate into the epidermal or vascularized dermal layers of the skin.
Not all substances are made of molecules that are small enough to be absorbed into your skin. For example, dimethicone, a silicon-based polymer that’s used extensively in cosmetics and moisturizers to give skin a silky soft feeling, cannot penetrate the skin. The same holds true for petroleum, petrolatum and mineral oil, all of which are by-products of the oil industry.
However, this doesn’t mean that such substances are necessarily less harmful than substances that permeate the skin. In fact, molecules that aren’t absorbed into your skin—either because they are very large, have certain molecular charges that prevent entry through pores, or have chemical properties that hinder their movement across the skin barrier—often create a coating or layer on your skin and literally clog pores and choke cells.
This could lead to various dermatological problems such as comedogenic acne, acne cosmetica, eczema, dermatitis, and/or other inflammatory irritations or sensitivities.
On the other hand, molecules that are able to penetrate into skin cells will affect the health and metabolism of the skin. These molecules may even penetrate deeper and be absorbed into the circulatory system—at which point, the molecules could potentially reach any cell in your entire body.
If what you absorb into your skin is a natural oil or nutrient that your skin can either use for its benefit or metabolize into a substance that can be used or easily excreted, then you’ll likely experience no side effects and may even gain from “side benefits”. But some substances act as cell toxins or are metabolized into byproducts that are poisonous to your cells.
For example, formaldehyde is a cell toxin. Even though it’s produced endogenously in small amounts due to daily cell metabolic processes and digestion of certain foods, it’s usually neutralized or excreted quickly. It’s important that the body eliminates formaldehyde quickly because it can damage cell organelles such as the mitochondria, which:
- plays essential roles in cell metabolism
- is the primary organelle involved in generating energy-rich molecules such as ATP for use by the cell
- is involved in numerous vital functions including cell growth and death
- helps to synthesize certain molecules including phospholipids and haeme that are essential for overall body health
- is involved in calcium homeostasis.
When mitochondrial health is seriously compromised, it can lead to a condition known as mitochondrial dysfunction. This is a serious disorder caused by damage to the mitochondria. Most often, the damage results from exposure to toxins (such as formaldehyde) and/or inadequate protection from free radicals (which can result from a dearth of antioxidants).
Formaldehyde also impacts how genetic material (such as DNA and RNA) are transcribed and translated. As a result, it can increase the risk of developing various disorders and can contribute to the formation of tumors.
Substances that are metabolized into formaldehyde by cells upon absorption into the body are common ingredients in cosmetics, body and hair care products, and facial care items. Formaldehyde is also ubiquitous in the environment due to emissions from factories, manufacturing plants, motor vehicles, and off-gassing buildings.
Using products that contain toxins clearly increases your exposure to various poisons that your body then needs to metabolize and detoxify. Your body may or may not have the ability to excrete certain substances, and those that can’t be excreted often accumulate in cells. For example, some synthetic compounds can bioaccumulate in lymph, liver, and/or kidneys where they can interfere with normal physiological functions and eventually increase the risk of developing disease.
Fortunately, there are all-natural alternatives to toxic products. Skin products that are 100% natural not only protect you from exposure to toxins, they also feed your skin cells the nutrients they need to remain healthy. When you choose products made with all natural ingredients, you can help prevent inflammatory skin disorders caused by topical irritation.
Remember that slathering synthetic poisons onto your skin is just as harmful to your organs as eating a refined and processed product that you may think of as disgusting. Your skin cells and your other body organs depend on you to make the healthiest choices!
Notes & Definitions:
Acne Cosmetica: Acne caused or exacerbated by the use of certain cosmetics, especially those that are comedogenic.
Comedogenic Acne: Acne caused by products (including those used for skin care, body care, hair care, laundry, household cleaning, etc.) that contain comedogenic ingredients.
Comedogenic Substance: A substance that clogs skin pores.
Lymph: A body fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system, which is a collection of vessels, ducts and nodes similar to the haemo-vascular system. Lymph is comprised of various immunological cells, especially white blood cells. It’s an essential tissue involved in immune system mediated defence, drainage of cellular and metabolic wastes, circulation of body fluids especially water, and circulation of nutrients such as proteins, fats, and essential mineral salts.