The human skin is not only the largest and most easily damaged organ of the body, but it is subjected to a daily onslaught of threats. Most of the skin-damaging factors in our environment, are invisible to the naked eye. That may be because that poor naked eye is having difficulty seeing anything clearly, with its vision blurred from airborne pollution. Unless you were to retreat into the wilderness, it is practically impossible for any city dweller in any industrialized country to avoid airborne pollution from coming in contact with one's skin — to say nothing of the lungs, which are even more absorbent.
Fortunately, most assaults on our skin are avoidable, including chlorine in shower and faucet water, chemical residues in new and bleached clothing, and overexposure to the sun's UV rays — to name just a few. We can avoid or at least minimize most of these skin-damaging pollutants by filtering our water before personal use, washing brand-new clothes before wearing them, eschewing bleach or even any unnatural laundry products, and avoiding excessive sunshine. Skin health can be further promoted by drinking plenty of clean water, eating healthy and pesticide-free foods, and getting adequate rest and sleep.
It is thus amazing, and quite ironic, that one of the most common ways that people damage their skin and introduce dangerous chemicals into their bodies, is from the daily use of unnatural skin care products, in a misguided effort to improve the health and beauty of their skin! Even some of the most popular such products that are touted as "natural" and "healthy", are in reality packed with an astonishing number of chemicals. Many of these ingredients are falling under growing suspicion as to the detrimental effects they may be having on human health — to say nothing of the environment, where all of these chemicals end up, through human waste, landfill leakage, and other vectors into the natural world. The only exceptions are those chemicals which build up in the human body, such as the aluminum found in countless antiperspirants and other skin "care" products, and also found in usually high proportions among people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Another category of suspicious chemicals used extensively in skin care products, are parabens, which are chemical preservatives that come in many forms, including benzylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben. They are used extensively to boost the shelf life of cosmetics, deodorants, shampoos, skin lotions, and a host of other personal care items. They have long been suspected of promoting breast cancer. Even though industrial apologists point out that there has never been any conclusive proof demonstrating a causal link between parabens and any form of cancer, that may only be due to the dearth of studies attempting to explore such a possible link, as well as the difficulty of establishing proof in any nonclinical studies. But of those few that have been conducted, the evidence is mounting, and the news is not good. In January 2004, the Sunday Times reported that researchers at the University of Reading, in Great Britain, discovered traces of parabens in every single sample of human breast cancer tissue tested. Again, this is certainly not proof, but should alone serve as a wake-up call to anyone who is still using unnatural skin care products that contain parabens — and that would include most Americans, who read the labels on their skin products as infrequently as the labels on their packaged foods.
Some people may dismiss these dangers as unproven and unknown. But what has been proven, and should be better known in America, is that parabens are easily absorbed by the human skin, and, once in the body, mimic the natural hormone estrogen. Continued exposure to these chemicals are one of the major reasons why young American girls are developing sexually far earlier than is natural. (Another major factor is the large quantities of growth hormones found in red meat, and consumed in large quantities by American teenagers growing up on junk food.)
Even though it may be practically impossible to avoid the ongoing battle of smog versus skin in the modern world, we can at least minimize so many of the other pollutants that wage war against a precious human organ that helps protect us against countless germs, but was never intended to keep out sophisticated chemicals that do not belong inside or outside of our bodies. Do what you can to protect your own health, by using only skin care products made from truly all-natural ingredients, and informing others of the importance of doing so.