Monday, May 5, 2014

In the World of Wellness: Summertime Skin Health

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Protect what you have control over

Question: What is the largest organ of the body?
Answer: Your skin

Most people get that one wrong.

I wrote this post a couple of years ago, but with summer creeping up on us I thought it was beneficial to dust it off, update it a bit, and share again.

Skin Health: What You Need to Know NOW

Ever since I was a little girl I thought it was odd how people thought the sun caused cancer. The sun that helps flowers blossom, vegetables and fruit grow, gives us the tans we all so dearly strive for (which, in turn, supplies us with much needed vitamin D). The sun that we all look forward to, to come out and melt the snow and heat up our pools and lakes so we can go swimming. I never understood this fear of the sun. Especially since I love it. I love its warmth, the way it makes me feel tingly and heats my skin up when I'm outside. There is nothing I don't like about the sun.

My whole life I have doubted the sun and cancer theory. One day school I got the answers to this problem that plagued me. It's not the sun after all. Nope. Not the sun. In fact, it's actually us and the decisions we make without even realizing it.

Let me explain.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. That means when you put anything on your skin, anything at all, it hits everything internally and all parts of you. Ever heard of those patches to help control smoking or that help you not get pregnant? When you really think about it you're putting a band-aid like object on a tiny section of your whole body and that small object somehow magically works exactly the way it should for whatever specific bodily function it's supposed to. One tiny square is all it takes for your whole body to respond. Interesting, right?

Now think about this: Every day you put on cologne/perfume, lotion/after shave, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, makeup/moisturizer, deodorant, sunscreen, etc. How many ingredients can you pronounce on all the labels? How many are even listed sometimes? And what exactly do they all do? Well, let me tell you my friends, those ingredients you can't pronounce cause cancer and all kinds of other diseases. I know that's tough to swallow.

Here's how it works:

You put on multiple products each day that all affect the largest organ of your body, thus affecting the rest of you. These products are full of chemicals. Full of them. Then you go out into the sun. The sun, doing it's job of heating things up, heats up these chemicals on your body and these chemicals start to react.

Heat + chemicals = badness and are only good when used in a science lab for experiments, not on your body. This is where the bad news comes in.

Day after day, month after month, year after year of doing this will hurt you in one way or another. There's actually a website that lists all the chemical names and what they do to you. That's right ladies and gentleman, once again there is something out there that would be helpful for all of us to know but no one ever told us because they wouldn't make any money off their products if we knew. Sad, but true.

You might think you only use a little bit of each product, so no big deal. Not exactly. You see, it's like the patch example. Even a small amount has big impacts.

Think of it like this: Let's say you wake up and shower with body wash, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner, and then put lotion on. Let's say you only use a quarter size amount, which we will call 10% for each item that you use. So right off the bat you're at a 40% rate of chemical use on your skin, again, the largest organ of your body. Then, you put on perfume/cologne, moisturizer, chapstick, and deodorant. Now you're at an 80% chemical use rate. Then you put on some sunscreen (I'll get to this in a second), maybe you need gel/hairspray, and maybe you're like me and you have an addiction to body spray from Victoria's Secret. I know, it's amazing stuff. I had to give that up, too. Anyway, now you're over a 100% rate of chemical use, not to mention the reapplying you do throughout the day. So in any given day you are putting excessive amounts of toxins on and in your body. Scary thought.

Personally,I went home, sorted through my cabinets, and threw everything out. Everything. I went to my local health stores and bought everything I needed to replace those old items with new, organic and chemical free ones. Good news - the switch over is pretty easy. It's a one day task of trashing the bad and buying the good. Once you've done that, it's easy from there on out.

As for the sunscreen issue, you probably also don't know that most sunscreens are bogus. Ever been in the sun with sunscreen on and still gotten burned? That's because there was nothing effective actually in your sunscreen. It's easier and cheaper to make bogus products, so they do.

More Q&A time. I know you're excited, don't try to hide it.

Q: Bogus products are full of what?
A: Chemicals.
Q: That do what?
A: Heat up in the sun.

Uh oh.

Sunscreen, the thing that's supposed to protect us, ends up hurting us. When I switched over to a new sunscreen I never had a problem again. I live by the Alba brand, but only certain varieties of it. Not once have I gotten a sunburn of any kind since the switch. Keep in mind that getting a sunburn, regardless of what you're putting on your skin, is still definitely bad. There is nothing good about burning your skin ever, but a lot of the danger lies in the chemicals in and on your body.

My all time favorite skin care line is Hylunia. The ingredients are listed right on the site by the product. They are expensive, but isn't everything that's skin related? So why not spend your money on the good stuff. Some less expensive products that are better than a lot out there are the Say Yes line (Say Yes to Carrots, Say Yes to Cucumbers, etc.) and the Jason line. They're not perfect, but they're affordable and still a much better option that most things out there.

Food also plays a part in the way your body interacts with the sun, so keep that in mind. Real, natural, life supporting food will support your life. Chemically induced, lab created junk will turn your body into a trash can.

I know this can be tough to hear and it can be even harder to make the changes. If it helps at all, I'm not perfect at this myself. Let it be known that even with this knowledge I still must have my Viktor and Rolf perfume. I've made the conscious decision that I cannot live without it. Also, just as a side note, your body and life are yours to do with as you please. I just feel that everyone has the right to be informed so that they can make the best decision for themselves.

Below is the link to the site that lists all the chemicals, the good products, and the bad. Grab your products and start researching!

Skin Deep

Also, I want to re-mention this amazing burn cream from another post I did a while back - Ching Wan Hung burn cream. It works on all burns - cooking, curling iron, and sun - and is truly one of the most amazing products I know of. I hope everyone gets this and keeps it on hand for those "just in case" moments. Why, you may ask?

A few years ago, I burned my arm right where my tattoo is. It was pretty bad and I honestly thought I'd have to have my tattoo re-done. I hadn't heard of this magical cream yet, so all I could do was a whole lot of nothing...just the normal, burn yourself and heal, things. The next night, in class, my teacher, a Traditional Chinese Medical Doctor, told me where to find this cream. Not only did it heal my burn quickly, but you would never know I had burned myself in the first truly saved me.I tried it on an unexpected sunburn one time, too (AZ weather...sometimes, in winter, it's rather warm) and it worked like a charm.

Image 1 via Beauty Health
Image 2 via Alba Botanica

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