The dive into cosmetics of today.

Skincare is an inside job : Any beauty routine starts with good nutrition and lifestyle practices, and addressing underlying health issues. It involves healing the gut with dietary changes, sleep, exercise, stress management, supplements, hormonal balance and focused elimination of environmental toxins.

Did you know that many personal care products expose you to toxic chemicals? An analysis by the Environmental Working Group2 found that

More than 1 in 5 of all products contain chemicals linked to cancer, 80% contain ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities,….. Personal care products may be the primary exposure route for many chemicals that raise significant health concerns. Consumers can be exposed through skin absorption, inhalation, and ingestion.”

The average woman uses 12 personal care products a day, exposing her to over 168 unique chemicals3

Here’s a list of some common ingredients that studies have indicated to be hazardous to one’s health.

  • Parabens, a family of synthetic preservatives, have been shown to be hormone disruptors and cannot be broken down in the body. They mimic estrogen and can stimulate the estrogen receptors as if they were estrogen. Studies also showed that parabens interfered with detoxification and hormones such as testosterone and DHEA. They may also be toxic to genes. They are a family of compounds that includes the word “paraben” in it such as butylparaben, ethylparaben, and so on, in the ingredient list of cosmetics.
  • Sodium Laurel Sulfate is a skin irritant and is found in many products from toothpaste to shampoos and body washes. Look out for this in a skincare product.
  • Phthalates and/or Fragrance: Phthalates are found in fragrance, toys and wall coverings as well as many personal care products such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. Studies indicate that phthalates damage the male reproductive system, and may be associated with breast cancer and increased risk of allergic illnesses.
  • BHA is used in food and cosmetics as an antioxidant that prevents fats from going rancid, It has been shown to be a hormone disruptor . The European Union bans its use in cosmetics and fragrance. Why put it on your skin where it will be absorbed and add to your toxic load?
  • Petroleum distillates: Propylene glycol, mineral oil, petroleum jelly and fragrances are extracted from petroleum, which may be contaminated with poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that are known carcinogens. These can irritate skin.
  • Other – gluten, herbicides, and pesticides and other chemicals and substances can be absorbed through the skin.


Choose natural plant based products with ingredients that are organic, safe for your skin as well as the environment. Look for cold pressed oils, gluten free, free of the chemicals listed above, check tha they are made in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) facility.

Safe Ingredients:

  • Cleansing include honey propolis, hazelnut oil, and shea butter
  • Antioxidants in the form of extracts of fruit, green tea, olive leaf, rosemary and aloe
  • Moisturizer with sunflower, jojoba, sea buckhorn oil and/or shea butter and adaptogenic herbs such as astragalus, Panax ginseng, schizandra and rosemary

A good rule of thumb is don’t use anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth.

Functional Medicine tests:

Going beyond the basic testing that a primary care doctor or even dermatologist do, will assess the drivers of skin inflammation. There are a few tests that I would recommend if you’re suffering from skin problems:

  1. Intestinal permeability: Leaky gut, a condition in which the tight junctions in your intestinal lining break apart. The ‘leaks’ cause harmful substances to enter your bloodstream, leading to inflammation that can cause as well as aggravate skin conditions like rosacea and eczema.
  2. Hormone testing: Imbalances in hormones like cortisol, testosterone, DHEA-S, and estrogen could be a major contributor to skin conditions. Overproduction of testosterone, for example, can trigger oil production on the skin which leads to acne.
  3. Metabolism and blood sugar: Fasting insulin and haemoglobin A1C are useful tests for assessing if blood sugar imbalances lead to poor metabolic management and skin problems.
  4. Food allergies and sensitivities: can be triggers for skin issues. In fact, people with celiac disease, or an intolerance to gluten, are three times more likely to have eczema.

5. Environment toxicity profile and hair mineral analysis.—in order to detect presence of mercury, aluminum, lead, copper etc. in the body which leads to skin flare-ups.

6. Microbiome assessment for fungal overgrowth: i.e. different forms of yeast and imbalances in bacteria that studies show, can lead to conditions like acne and eczema.

Using Functional Medicine protocols, one gets to the ‘why’ of the matter or the ‘root cause’ of your skin problems. Once we know the root cause, we can then form a patient-centric personalized skin-care regimen, that will be a permanent cure and not a symptomatic, treatment.

Kamal Parmar

Certified Functional Medicine practitioner

Naturally Healthy Clinic

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