How Many Chemicals Get into Your Skin?

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Interviewer: Let's talk about some of the other things that we put on our body every day. If someone sits down and really counts, I think they'd be amazed at the deodorants, the lotions, the shampoos, the conditions, the soaps. Is there a cumulative effect on our skin? Do we put too much? And what sort of things should we watch out for and look for?

Jeanette Jacknin, M.D.: Well, I think there is a cumulative effect, depending on how good the absorption is. We're living in a very chemical society, which has done us a lot of good. But it also can get people sensitized and have allergens. I think the best thing is just to look at the labels and be sure that the products don't contain any of the preservatives that you wouldn't want, the parabens and phthalates. And also, just be aware of your own sensitivities or your family's sensitivities. Of course, it makes a difference on the weather, whether you want to use a heavy or topical, or more of a gel for dry skin, or a lighter lotion in the summer. I think you just have to really be aware of how much you're stocking up.

And I know women are more aware, because when they pack up their makeup bags or they're going to go to the gym and then they get dressed after the shower, it's like they brought a whole chemical factory in here. I mean, oh my goodness. It's crazy, actually.

Interviewer: That was my next question on makeup. Are there healthier options, or are there things that women can do to make it a healthier decision?

Jeanette Jacknin, M.D.: I think some of them are known more for being natural. There are natural lines, organic lines. And you have to be careful with the marketing, though, because natural's a very broad term. There's some changes in the packaging now to say what percentage are either organic or . . . natural's very confusing because chemicals are natural. We have all kinds of chemicals in our body. You just have to be a very kind of savvy consumer, to try to see what's the marketing and what is the science behind it. It's quite misleading, sometimes. I would just say go with a brand you have confidence in, and you know they've had a lot of studies and a lot of good science behind them.
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Are you aware of how many chemicals are being absorbed into your skin when you use lotions, deodorants, soaps, cosmetics... the list goes on. Many contain chemicals that could cause problems. Here, dermatologist Dr. Jeanette Jacknin discusses some of the things you can do to protect yourself.

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