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September 3, 2014

The skinny on skin: the body’s largest organ

By Kate Robitello

Skin is quite amazing; it stretches, comes in all different colors and textures, and protects our bodies from environmental damage. Over the years advancements in technology, chemically created lotions and serums, and of course, the marketing efforts of major skincare companies have created the belief that it is necessary to spend a ton of money on your skin to look youthful and glowing. Fortunately, if we keep an open mind, that is not the case!

Acne “solutions” only target symptoms

Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting upwards of 50 million Americans. The cause of acne has long been debated, but the marketing teams of large skin care companies insist that the use of their products is necessary for clear skin. A common main ingredient in most skin care products is benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is a chemical compound that is also used in bleaching hair and teeth as well as wheat flour. It is relatively effective in acne treatment when used daily; when applied to problem areas, it will cause pimples to dry out and eventually peel off. However, it doesn’t just dry out the zit, it dries out the rest of your skin and peels off layers of protection, leaving you with a raw face that can be painful and not-so-attractive, allowing for even more damage to occur to your skin.

The solution? As with any issue, it is always better to treat the cause rather than the symptoms. Putting benzoyl peroxide on your face might clear up some spots, but I guarantee if you fail to target the cause of your acne, the zits will just continue to reappear.

Recent studies show that there is a strong link between acne and diet, particularly dairy products. When we ingest the hormones of another animal species, our hormonal balance is thrown off, and our bodies respond in various ways, one of which is acne. Eliminating or reducing the amount of dairy in your diet will significantly benefit your skin, overall health, and allow you to spend less on nicely packaged chemical concoctions.

Sunscreen may be a dubious “cancer preventer”

Another widely used product is sunscreen. We’ve all been briefed on the “detrimental” effects of the sun, and have been encouraged to slather on as much sunscreen as possible in order to avoid potentially developing skin cancer. But the Environmental Working Group estimates that a whopping 75 percent of commercially sold sunscreens are doing more damage than good. Most sunscreens contain a cocktail of chemicals that if used regularly have been linked to cancer and the disruption of hormones. It is indeed a bit ironic that the product that is praised as a “cancer preventer” could actually be a “cancer causer.”

What to do? Use coconut oil or red raspberry oil. Not only are these oils far less costly than sunscreen, they smell amazing, are wonderful moisturizers (even for the acne-prone), and have a natural SPF of 10, which is indicative of a 90 percent blockage of the sun’s UVB rays. I will also note that regularly “getting a little sun” is not a bad thing. It is quite necessary for the production of Vitamin D, an essential vitamin not otherwise produced by the body or found in our diet in significant amounts.

Luckily you can avoid the financial and health-related costs related to these products by merely increasing your intake of water, green juice or smoothies, fresh fruits and vegetables, and getting regular exercise! Your skin is a direct reflection of your health. Think of it as your alarm system and embrace all things fresh, anti-oxidant-rich, and of course, green!

Kate Robitello is a Plant Based Nutritionist (CPBN) and Lifestylist. She works at Pyramid Wellness in Rutland.

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