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What We Put On Our Skin Matters

By Nicole Avena, PhD

Your skin is the first line of defense that your body has to the outside world. Our skin defends us from unwanted bacteria and environmental hazards, it helps us regulate body temperature, and it also helps us stay away from things that are too hot or too cold (such as sending nerve signals to our brain that make us immediately move our hand away from a hot stove.) However, just like everything else in our bodies, the skin is not perfect and it may not always be able to protect us from everything without help.

So how do we help our skin protect us? One of the best things we can do is use cosmetics and personal care products without harmful ingredients—ingredients that could bypass our skin’s defense system and enter into our bodies. These products range from lotions and creams to makeup, shampoos, soaps, and even nail polish. Basically any product that comes into contact with your skin should be taken into consideration.

The FDA is in charge of  regulating the cosmetic and personal care industry, however so many products today still contain chemicals that we know may be endocrine-disrupting or cancer-causing. Some examples include petrochemicals, synthetic surfactants, foaming agents, formaldehyde or phthalates. Most of these aren’t even necessary, but rather just additives to make a soap more bubbly or shinier, for example. None of the Mambino products contain any of these chemicals.

If you’re a parent, or soon-to-be parent, being selective about your skincare products is especially important considering all of the skin contact you have with your little one. Rashes or allergic reactions may happen as immediate side effects to certain chemicals, but over time, the effects of these chemicals may be much more severe. For example, one  study found increased chances of maternal complications such as gestational diabetes or placenta previa in licensed cosmetologists and manicurists in California. Other studies have found a risk of developing breast, ovarian, and testicular cancer with exposure to  certain chemicals. Even in  adolescents, the daily use of makeup or products like sunscreen has been linked to higher concentrations of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their urine. 

The good news is that you can now find products that are safe to use, no matter your age. Skincare and other beauty products don’t need to be full of chemicals you can’t even pronounce. In fact, the best cosmetics and personal care products are those that protect and nourish your skin without the help of dangerous chemicals. When you read the ingredients label for any skincare products, you shouldn’t feel completely overwhelmed and confused. Instead, focus on using products with natural, safe ingredients, so that you can relax knowing that you’re not exposing your body (and your baby’s) to dangerous and harsh chemicals.

Dr. Nicole Avena

 Nicole Avena, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University. She is the author of several books, including  What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler and  What to Eat When You’re Pregnant. This post was adapted from  What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler.


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