What You Apply on Your Skin Doesn’t Stay On Skin

Agnes Ryu

When preparing for pregnancy or struggling with fertility issues, most women focus their attention on diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes that can promote conception and a healthy fetus. However, you may not realize that many of the personal care and cleaning products you are using daily can have negative effects on hormones, fertility, and fetal development once you do get pregnant. Unfortunately, regulations of ingredients in these products are minimal, and many chemicals in shampoos, moisturizers, cosmetics, laundry detergents, and more are readily absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. At Dr Ryu’s natural fertility clinic, we urge patients to be wary of common “unsafe” chemicals lurking in bathroom cabinets and under the kitchen sink that studies have linked to hormonal abnormalities, reproductive issues, birth defects, and even cancer.

The False Assumption Chemicals Stay on Your Skin

Many consumers assume that because products like lotions are topically applied, any ingredients stay isolated on the skin’s surface and pose limited risk for internal effects. However, the skin, especially on palms and soles, is exceptionally absorbent, allowing chemicals to penetrate and enter blood circulation rapidly. In experiments where researchers applied steroid hormones like estradiol and progesterone on the skin, they detected surges in blood hormone levels within minutes. Another study found volunteers’ blood contained measurable amounts of various phthalates (plasticizers added to beauty products for fragrance) after using typical cosmetic items. Their blood also contained byproduct chemicals from cleaning agents, sunscreen ingredients, pesticides, and BPA from merely handling receipts printed on thermal paper throughout the day. What you apply DOES get into your system and travel throughout the body, so you cannot always trust something as “safe” because it does not get ingested like food or medication.

Poor Regulations of Chemicals in Personal Care Products

Major regulatory gaps allow the personal care industry to use questionable ingredients without adequate safety testing first. Over 2,000 chemicals currently register as allowed for use in cosmetics and toiletries in the UK. However, legislation has not been significantly updated here since The Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations in 2008. Most safety data relies on old research assuming little dermal penetration. There is no legal requirement for manufacturers to prove no long-term hazards before selling personal care items containing synthetic ingredients to UK consumers. It does not require any pre-market testing for safety or risks with long-term, low-dose exposure of application on skin. Most toxicological studies assume little absorption past skin barriers when declaring something “hypoallergenic” or “natural.” Companies can use almost any active or inactive ingredient without proving it causes no harm before releasing items to consumers. As our scientific knowledge grows, we are detecting links between many commonly used chemicals and issues like hormone imbalance, autoimmune disorders, infertility problems, gestational diabetes, birth defects, and cancer. For women preparing their bodies for pregnancy and fetal development, we recommend considering reducing exposure to concerning ingredients we still use daily without enough understanding about their true safety.

The Fertile Body Needs A Clean System

As a specialists in reproductive health and hormones, we aim to help patients create the optimal internal environment for conception, pregnancy, and postpartum healing. An essential aspect includes reducing bodily intake and contact with synthetic chemicals research now associates with fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and lifelong health effects in children. Over 200 unnatural industrial chemicals currently show up in the analysis of umbilical cord blood and breastmilk, meaning babies face exposure from birth to substances like phthalates, parabens, BPA, pesticides, flame retardants, lead, formaldehyde, and more. Many can disrupt delicate hormone balance, even at low doses, for adults as well.

As you prepare to conceive or enter pregnancy, we encourage you to examine your regular product routines with a critical, safety-first mindset. Opt for fragrance-free, natural options bearing labels like “non-toxic” and “hormone-safe” that disclose all ingredients. Consider simplifying your beauty regimen overall. Evaluate your home with an eye towards swapping out standard cleaners, air fresheners, and laundry detergents for non-toxic alternatives too. What you apply on your largest organ – your skin ­- does not necessarily stay safely on the surface. But with some extra care reading labels and investigating product contents now, you can reduce future chemical absorption to protect your fertility, pregnancy, and lifelong wellness.

Agnes Ryu

Agnes Ryu

Dr. Ryu is a clinician and biochemist specializing in integrative medicine. Her clinical interests include fertility, hormones, metabolism, healthy ageing, menopause, and natural breast cancer care. As an integrative practitioner, Dr. Ryu aims to uncover the root causes of health issues and strives to empower patients with the knowledge and tools to take charge of their own health.

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