The following article is written by Josh of Brickell Men’s Products. If you’d like to try out their all natural skin care line, use code EG15 at checkout for 15% off. (Check out my favorites in the EG Shop.)
Hopefully you know by now that taking care of your skin is no longer just for women.
In fact, it’s vital for you as a man to take care of your skin so you can portray a strong, energized appearance that not only helps with the ladies, but also with your career earning potential.
Due to the boom in demand for skincare products for men, there are now a plethora of products on the market.
The problem though, is that most of these products are jam packed with toxins, irritants, and other chemicals that are not only dangerous for your skin and body, but also cause skin problems you were probably trying to fix in the first place.
So how do you know what you should use and what you should avoid in a product?
Don’t overlook “Natural”… it’s important
Natural and organic food products are all the rage now.
You probably can’t go a few weeks without someone saying they’re starting to incorporate more organic food into their diet, or perhaps going Paleo because they’re part of Crossfit.
It’s also hard to go into just about any store, even beyond Whole Foods, without seeing tons of products or even sections dedicated to natural and organic ingredients.
This is all for good reason.
Many studies show how bad eating processed food is for your body and health. I’ve never personally known anyone who has gone natural or organic who hasn’t felt and looked better.
But what about the products you put on your body? Rubbing synthetic chemicals from your daily skin care and grooming products can be just as bad, if not worse, than digesting unnatural ingredients in food.
What exactly are you applying to your skin?
The US government is rather lenient on what companies can put into bottles and sell you.
Almost 90% of the over 11,000 grooming and skin care ingredients known to the FDA have never been evaluated for safety, while over 1,100 of these ingredients have been banned for use in the European Union 1.
These ingredients can be anywhere in your bathroom – your shampoo, deodorant, skincare products, or shave products.
Your skin absorbs anywhere from 64% to 100% of anything you put on it due to its porous nature 2, which is comparable to the absorption rate of the digestive system.
This means if you use any shaving cream, skin care products, or body wash/soaps that have toxic chemicals in them, they are being directly ingested into your body from your skin.
The overwhelming majority of men’s skin care and grooming products on the market today are made with harmful synthetic chemicals, including many known toxins, allergens, and irritants. Even products claiming to be “all natural” usually only contain trace amounts of natural or organic ingredients.
Without a doubt, if you’re buying skin care and grooming products from a drug store or large discount department store, you’re absolutely absorbing many known toxins.
As with most things in life, with personal care products, you usually do get what you pay for.
Cheap, drugstore brands usually contain only sparse amounts of natural ingredients, with the rest being basically water and cheap synthetic chemicals.
The reason is pretty simple: cost.
In order to sell you a $3 shaving cream or $10 face moisturizer, there is no margin to fill the product with effective, natural ingredients that can sometimes be rather costly.
Numerous scientific studies discuss how these toxins penetrate the skin, accumulating in the body’s organs and cause major health issues (cancer, disease, allergies, skin conditions, chronic conditions, etc).
I encourage you to look at the back of a bottle of grooming product you use and Google some of the ingredients.
The first time I did this, the first chemical I Googled brought up a study that discussed how it was known to shrink the testicles of mice (not exactly something I want to rub on my own).
An easier way to research the ingredients you’re putting on and in your body is to check out the Environmental Working Group website. They’re an independent group who rates skincare products and the toxicity of their ingredients.
Read the list of ingredients on a product’s label!
I fully admit, less than a decade ago any type of skin care product that was “natural” or organic was not very good and was probably headed for the trash after only one use.
Luckily, with advances in science, it’s now possible to create grooming products that are natural and organic, without sacrificing performance.
When looking at a label of ingredients on a skin care product, the very beginning of the list should name natural ingredients, not scientific sounding chemicals.
A few powerful and safe natural ingredients that have been used for years with great results are:
- Aloe Vera: One of the best natural ingredients you can put on your skin due to its’ amazing moisturizing abilities.
- Jojoba: A seed which protects your skin by building a protective cushion around it, helping lock in moisture and prevent free radicals (damaged cells) from forming.
- Shea Butter: A good, natural fat filled with vitamins your skin craves such as A, E, & F.
- Coconut Oil: Helps remove dead skin cells and strengthens the underlying skin tissue.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid: Found naturally in sugar cane, a large amount of research shows it helps fight skin aging and is also fantastic at preventing razor burn.
- Parabens: Synthetic preservatives found in that are widely used in skin care, shaving and other grooming products. Their list of known risks and hazards are quite long. A few of the highlighted risks for men are that parabens mimic estrogen, causing havoc with hormones and a few studies have linked them to decreased sperm levels.
- Phthalates: Popular chemicals found in fragrance and plastics. These synthetic chemicals have a long history of research showing they cause endocrine disruption and reproductive issues. Congress already banned the use of them in kid’s toys due to their hazards.
- TEA & DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine): These two chemicals are banned in Europe due to their cancer causing effects, but still widely used in the USA. They’re mostly used as a base for cleansers such as face wash and in shave cream.
- Glycols: The glycol family is rather large, with the vast majority being toxins, but the following two are the worst. Propylene glycol was originally developed as an anti-freeze, but is used in some deodorants and skincare products. It’s a neurotoxin known to cause kidney and liver damage. Glycol ethers are toxins that have been known to shrink the testicles of mice.
There’s also a common marketing theme in skincare along the lines of “made with science, made from natural ingredients”.
While this sounds cool, the fact is, when you take a natural ingredient, such as coconut, and use a host of chemicals to derive the needed ingredients from it, what you end up with is a chemically altered coconut ingredient that has virtually none of its natural properties left.
This leads us to the fact that skin care labeling and marketing is not regulated in the United States and just about anyone can say they are “natural” or “organic”.
So how can you tell?
Look at the ingredients the same as you would the ingredients on the food you eat.
It’s a pain at first, but once you get a better understanding of what you’re putting on your body, your skin will thank you by being brighter, tighter, and clearer.
Some widely used, dangerous chemicals and toxins you should avoid in skin care products are:
The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. There are thousands of these chemicals lurking in the products you use daily.
So the next time you’re lathering up a hair, skin, or shave product, take a quick peek at the ingredients list to make sure you’re not dousing your body with a plethora of toxins and chemicals.
In ten years when your body and skin are healthy, you won’t regret paying the extra sticker price of a solid, natural men’s skin care or grooming product.
Thanks, Josh. So, it sounds like the best thing you can do is to take an active approach and be aware by reading your products’ labels. Go natural and organic as much as you can, if and when it is possible for you.
I’m still working on this myself; I don’t always buy all-natural products, but when I can, I go for it.
Josh is the co-founder of Brickell Men’s Products, an all natural men’s skin care line. He’s giving 15% off to EG readers if you want to try any of their products. Just use code EG15 at checkout. Browse my favorites in the Shop.