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Beauty & Health | Your Skin

The Organ of Sense

By Oja Nataša
December 1, 2008
A growing number of women are choosing clothes made from sustainable fibers, like organic cottons, wild silks, and soy fibers that allow the skin and the body to move freely and breathe. 
Le jeune Italienne
Le jeune Italienne, 1871 -William-Adolphe Bouguereau

The skin is a primary element of photochemical and metabolic processes. It brings oxygen and sunlight into the body through a thin, supple, outer layer that absorbs on contact.

The blood vessels just under its surface, clean, oxygenate, and heal the complex of nerves, muscles, and connective tissue.

During perspiration, the outer layer acts as a two-way membrane, releasing carbon dioxide and body toxins and absorbing oils, minerals, and chemicals from air, water, clothing, bedding, and whatever is put on it. The outer layer also protects from UV-rays, synthesizes vitamin D, balances body temperature, protects against microbes.

As the organ of sense, skin gathers information with its abundant touch-sensitive nerve cells, which crosses the sensory cortex through its microconnections to the brain.

This body-mind association is a result of the interrelation of skin and brain. During embryogenesis, the skin and brain are created simultaneously from the ectoderm skin, which forms an atmospheric dynamic where the skin and the brain intermingle with each other regularly and seamlessly.

Taking all of this into consideration, the potential of human skin as a source of healing is extraordinary. More people, however, are becoming allergic to the chemicals used in mainstream skin care products, including those labeled natural or organic.

Scientific studies have found that some chemicals, when applied to the skin, penetrate and are absorbed by the body into the blood stream and fat cells, in significant amounts. These chemicals can cause allergenic reactions, but they may also be carcinogenic.

The National Institute of Occupational safety and health has identified 884 chemicals used in personal care products and cosmetics, which are known to be toxins, and carcinogenic.

It was reported recently that 500 chemicals have been found in fat cells of otherwise healthy British women. Another study found 350 harmful chemicals and residues, which are found in lotions, soaps, detergents, shampoos, perfumes, hair dyes, lipstick, nail polish, clothing, linens, and mattresses, in mother’s breast milk.

Here are a few of the toxins and carcinogens that our bodies may be absorbing: 1) DEA-Diethanolamine,TEA-Triethanolamine, and MEA-Monoethanolamine, common in skin care products, and when combined with preservative nitrates, form carcinogenic nitrosamines. 2) Paraben, which is a preservative, increases estrogen levels in women. 3) Methylisothiazolinone or M.I.T., found in anti-microbial soap, shampoo and other products, causes nerve damage. 4) FD&C or D&C color pigments are carcinogenic. 5) Propylene glycol in hair conditioners, deodorants, cosmetics, body lotions, and toothpaste, cause eye irritation, skin irritation, headaches, and nausea. 6) Phthalates in hair mousse and hair spray causes genital abnormality. 7) SLS-Sodium lauryl sulfate, found in shampoos, toothpaste, gels, and cleaners, increase the allergic response to other toxins and allergens, and may cause permanent impairment of eyes, corrode hair follicles, and impair the ability to grow hair.

Even many so-called natural and organic products add these chemicals to their products. Natural skin care products made from vegetable or animal extracts may be inherently toxic, depending on their source.

Collagen, elastin, and keratin, are natural products, and enjoy popularity as humectants, but they are normally sourced from animals, as an industrial by-product.

The foremost purpose of any cream is to keep the skin supple and moist. Most creams, however, create a film on the skin that prevents moisture loss. Even a natural humectant like glycerin, attracts water from the air, keeps skin most when there is moisture in the air, but in a dry climate draws moisture from the skin.

Pure water is the best softening or soothing agent, but evaporates quickly and needs to be held onto the skin by emollient oil; but synthetic emollients do not allow the skin to breathe, and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes.

When the skin is not able to breathe it becomes congested and lifeless. In conclusion, pure water, such as found in ancient spas, natural springs, and high mountain rain and snow, is the best skin care treatment.

The addition of traditional herbs such as chamomile, calendula, rosemary, green tea, lavender, and hamamelis to a hot or cold bath, may have a cleansing, soothing, and aromatic affect on the skin.

Consult your apothecary or herbalist. It may also be a good idea to give some thought to clothing and bedding.

Remember, the skin and the brain intermingle with each other, and the interaction is a source of healing. But, tight clothing restricts this healthful body-mind corollary. Also, a growing number of women are choosing clothes made from sustainable fibers, like organic cottons, wild silks, organic bamboo and soy fibers.

Cotton may come from the earth, but the chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers used to grow it routinely contaminate the groundwater. And the chemicals needed to bleach, straighten, and color cotton, and make it resistant to wrinkles and shrinking, including formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, halogens, disinfectant solutions, chemical dyes, acid washes, harmful dusts, and industrial solvents, may be absorbed into the bloodstream just under the surface of the supple outer layer of skin.

Just as pure water and carefully selected herbs are the best skin care treatment, the best clothing allows the skin and the body to move freely and breathe, and nourishes the body-mind connection.

The visual beauty of raw, wild, and woven cloth and traditional handmade clothing, expresses the subtle rhythms of the organ of sense.

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