And be careful what you put on it

By Karen Frye

Nature’s Own recently enjoyed a milestone birthday. When our health food shop turned
30 this past April, nothing in the store was mainstream. Not even soy milk.

Over the past 10 years, information about eating healthy and reading labels has reached more and more people. Folks have discovered that the foods they eat affect how they feel and that many conditions may even disappear by a change in diet. Grocery stores have expanded their inventory to meet the growing demand for fresh and organic foods. But while we’re paying more attention to what we put in our bodies, not as much notice is given to what we put on our bodies. Our skin is our largest organ. Would you really consider slathering toxic lotion on your liver?

The Enviromental Workers Group is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to educate consumers about the products we buy: if they’re safe; if they’re environmentally friendly; and more. Their website is a reliable source of research and information. When it comes to body care, EWG has rated many of the top brands for safety.

The body care industry has few guidelines, and often there are inert ingredients in products not listed on the label. Some can be harmful, especially with long-term use. Parabens, phythalates, formaldehydes, triclosan and synthetic colors are prevalent in nearly all creams, lotion, lipstick, makeup, shampoo, nail polish, etc. They are typically filled with petroleum by-products as well.  There is a cascade of symptoms that can stem from the toxins you use on your skin daily, including hormone imbalances and premature aging of the skin.

Even sunscreen can be problematic. Most agree that sunscreen use is important to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. We think we are doing the right thing by daily applying sunscreen to protect ourselves from sun damage, and dutifully apply it to our children as well. But some chemicals pose risks of their own. Shop for a sunscreen that is made without oxybenzone and petroleum by-products.

The supplement astaxanthin — the pigment responsible for the reddish color in salmon and trout — is particularly useful in skin and eye health due to its powerful ability to absorb ultraviolent rays, especially UVB rays. It acts like an internal sunscreen, reaching all the layers of the skin. It also slows down the aging of the skin, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. The antioxidant activity of astaxanthin is 6,000 times greater than vitamin C.

Aloe is what we think of for sunburn relief, but my favorite remedy is calendula (a resin from calendula flowers). Bodyceuticals create an excellent calendula, aloe, coconut and kukui nut oil and spray for skin discomfort like sunburn and to relieve itching and redness, diaper rash and windburn. This nourishing oil will help to maintain your tan and minimize peeling. After your long summer days working or playing in the sun, be careful what you put on the beautiful skin you’re in.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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