Have you ever stopped to read the ingredient list on the back of your favourite body cream or body butter? If your food label had a list that looked as foreign as this image below, would you be comfortable consuming it? There are 29 ingredients in this popular product, not including the four chemical colorants! Of course not all chemicals are toxic, but wouldn’t you rather be sure that what you’re putting on your skin is safe?
It’s not “Only Skin Deep”
We can ingest chemicals through swallowing, breathing or skin contact. When we take in chemicals through breathing or swallowing, they pass through the liver, which is the primary detoxification organ. When chemicals enter the body through the skin however, they have direct entry into the bloodstream, bypassing the liver, and can wreak havoc on tissues anywhere in the body. That expression “it’s only skin deep” is a misnomer when it comes to things we put on our skin. Just think of a nicotine patch. It looks like a band-aid, but is chemically laden and has been developed with the sole purpose of releasing a constant amount of nicotine through the skin and into the bloodstream.
Chemicals used on our bodies
There are over 80,000 chemicals used in North America, and unfortunately most of them were never adequately tested to determine harmful health effects on humans. Furthermore, for those chemicals that have been tested, the determined level of health risk does not consider cumulative exposure. On average, we use between 100+ and over 500 chemicals on our body daily, so we have to consider the compounding effects of numerous chemicals on the body’s ability to detoxify the hundreds of chemicals that end up in the bloodstream.
Many chemicals act as hormone disruptors or xenoestrogens in both women and men. Methylparaben and propylparaben are both parabens used as preservatives. Parabens mimic estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system, interfering with hormone and production and reproductive function in both women and men (1, 2).
Butylphenyl methylpropional is a synthetic scent ingredient. The Environmental Working Group has identified it as a potential concern for organ toxicity.
Petrolatum is associated with cancer. The European Union classifies petrolatum as a carcinogen (3).
Are you willing to risk your own health or the health of your family members to continue using your favorite body lotion or beauty care product if it may be harmful to your health? There are alternatives. It is best to avoid creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients like parabens, and choose products that contain naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils.
One of the easiest ways to know what you’re putting on your skin is to make it yourself with ingredients you recognize.
Natural Body Butter
The purpose of this natural body butter is to soothe and moisturize dry skin. You can change the scent by using different essential oils, but frankincense is one of my favorites. Frankincense is said to lift the spirit and help the mind to focus. I love it for the aroma. If you just want to smell like chocolate then don’t add any essential oils. The scent of the cacao butter will shine through and you’ll smell delicious. Adding some peppermint essential oil makes for a luscious chocolate mint body butter.
Key Health Benefits
Cacao butter prevents skin dryness and fights signs of aging.
Avocado oil moisturizes skin and aids in skin regeneration.
Jojoba oil is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating.
Coconut oil – Medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties that help to protect the skin from harmful bacteria.
Frankencinse is an antiseptic and disinfectant agent that has antimicrobial effects.
What you need
1/2 cup cacao butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 Tbsp avocado oil
2 Tbsp jojoba oil
1 tsp vitamin E oil
3(+) Tbsp arrowroot powder
15 drops frankincense essential oil
What you need to do
Melt the cacao butter in bowl over a pot of boiling water. When the cacao butter is almost melted add the coconut oil to melt. Remove the melted oils from the heat and add the avocado oil, jojoba oil and vitamin E. Stir to blend. Pour melted oils in a bowl and cool in the refrigerator or freezer until the mixture begins to solidify. Whip the chilled oils with a whisk or spoon for about 3-5 minutes. Add essential oils, if using, and arrowroot powder. Continue whipping until arrowroot powder is mixed in and body butter is light and fluffy. If you find the body butter feels greasy, add more arrowroot powder.
If you want to learn more about applying the principles of Culinary Nutrition to your beauty care products, The Academy of Culinary Nutrition Culinary Nutrition Expert Program has a full home and beauty care module where you can learn how to make your own products, from toothpaste and deodorant to non-toxic home cleaning products.