Is Your Face Cream making You Fat?

About half of our members of W10 Performance are women, most of whom are on a quest to lose body fat, increase muscle tone, have more energy and feel fitter.

They come to us fully expecting to address exercise, nutrition and hydration, but they are less prepared when we get into some more involved areas and further down the line suggest that their choice of cosmetics might, or is likely to be, influencing how much and where they lose their fat from.

Well, sorry ladies, it’s true, your favourite cream may be contributing to your frustrating lack of fat loss.  It stands true for men also, but men generally use fewer products and are much easier to convince when it comes to switching…. most of the time.

Now before I go on, I should highlight a couple of things (if for no other reason than to cover my derrière)

  1. I’m no expert in this area and I urge you to treat anything that I have to say on the subject with a healthy dose of scepticism. And,
  2. I have no ties with the EWG and I am not or cannot vouch for the efficacy of their research.

It’s a fact that most modern cosmetics are riddled with a host of dubious synthetic ingredients, which would horrify us if we realised that we were essentially ‘eating’ them through our skin. Chemicals are getting into our bloodstream from all angles: Creams and lotions through the skin, sprays and powders inhaled, lipsticks eaten, eye make up absorbed through the eyes (now that’s some thought) and so on. We’re being bombarded with toxic chemicals and in most women’s cases via several products that they use every day.

Yes, there are some regulations in place, but it might be fair to say that they are not as tight as they could be. For example, some ingredients that are banned, can actually be included if the manufacturers can make a strong enough case that they cannot ‘reasonably’ be removed.  Let’s just say that cosmetics represent big business (I saw five billion quoted somewhere) and wherever there are sunscreen covered limbs in the sea, sharks will come to feed.

The implications of this are wide ranging, and personally I’m convinced very relevant for long-term health.  And I think we’re talking severe hormonal disruption that is having a significant impact of many people’s lives.

BUT, if we’re talking fat loss, and as a Biosignature Practitoner I use Charles Poliquin’s Biosignature Modulation as a reference, excess chemicals or toxins means we’re talking accumulated fat around the hips and thighs.

CP puts forward that where you store your fat is an indication of your hormonal profile, and that when you know this, you can use certain interventions to effectively spot reduce – or lose fat from a particular place.  In other words, you can target the troublesome fat on your thighs by doing certain things.

Aside: The jury is out in some camps about the validity of the system, but I like it.  I don’t use it exclusively but I think there’s plenty of principles put forward that make a lot of sense – and more importantly, work in practice.

Given what I currently think I know my own conclusions are these:

  1. We Londoners are toxic people (from a purely physiological perspective that is!)
  2. Chemical toxins are most readily stored in lower body fat – hence why we very rarely measure a pair of lean legs when caliper testing people first time around
  3. We can reduce lower body fat by reducing our toxic load
  4. Cosmetics are seriously implicated when it comes to toxicity
  5. If we limit our exposure to toxins from cosmetics we’ll take a significant step to reducing fat on our thighs

To try and make my point about how many chemicals we’re being exposed to in the name of vanity I’ve used an article in this weekends Sunday Times (Style Magazine) which listed the current most popular cosmetic products as voted for by the readers.  This is particularly useful because we know that this means that these products are amongst the best sellers and ones being used by many of us every day.

The article listed each product by category and I’ve taken the liberty of running five of the ‘best rated’ products through the Environmental Working Group’s database – http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/company.php?comp_id=3604 – a database which looks at all of these products, lists their ingredients, and highlights their potential risks.  It then goes on to give the product a rating from zero to ten – 0-3 being low risk, 4-6 being moderate concern and 7-10 being the most concerning.

Personally, I don’t use many cosmetics, but where I would/do I would try and use products that were rated zero, and I certainly wouldn’t use anything rated above a three.

You’ll see that none of the products score in the low concern range, with the lowest product rated at four. 

Best Skincare Brand

Brand: Clinique

Product: Dramatically Different moisturizing Lotion

Rating: 5

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/265570/Clinique_dramatically_different_mositurizing_lotion/

It lists high concerns for endocrine (hormonal) disruption, organ system toxicity and irritation to skin, eyes or lungs.  Moderate concerns fare listed for biochemical or cellular level changes.

Best Body Product

Brand: Palmers Cocoa Butter Lotion

Product: Body Gloss Lotion

Rating: 8

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=palmers+cocoa+butter+lotion

There are several Palmers Cocoa Butter products listed with lowest one getting a rating of five.  The Body Gloss Lotion scores highest with a rating of 8.  This showed a low to moderate risk of cancer, a high risk of developmental and reproductive toxicity and a moderate to high level of allergies and immunotoxicity.  Listed under other high concerns are endocrine (hormonal) disruption, irritation to the skin, eyes or lunges and biochemical or cellular level changes.  There were moderate concerns listed also for neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity.

Best Eye Cream

Brand: Nivea Visage

Product: Nivea Visage Q10 Anti Wrinkle Refreshing Eye Roll On – Not listed.

Substitute: Nivea Visage Q10 Anti Wrinkle Reducer Crème

Rating: 4

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/231454/Nivea_Visage_Q10_Advanced_Wrinkle_Reducer_Eye_Creme%2C_SPF_4/

The cream version was listed and scored four overall, with moderate concerns for developmental and reproductive toxicity and allergies and immunotoxicity.  Other high concerns listed for neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity, and irritation to the skin, eyes or lungs. Moderate concerns for biochemical or cellular level changes.

Best Womens Classic Fragrance

Brand: Chanel

Product: Chanel No 5

Rating: 7

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/130609/Chanel_No_5_Eau_De_Toilette/

High concerns were listed for allergies and immunotoxicity.  Other high concerns were highlighted for endocrine (hormonal disruption) and biochemical or cellular level changes.  Moderate concerns for neurotoxicity and other system toxicity.

Best Luxury Buy – Over £50

Brand: Clarins

Products:  Clarins Super Restorative Decollete and Neck Concentrate  – Not listed

Substitute: Clarins upper Restorative Total Eye Concentrate

Rating: 5

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/58447/Clarins_Super_Restorative_Total_Eye_Concentrate/

Moderate risk listed for developmental and reproductive toxicity and moderate to high risk of allergies and immunotoxicity.

So whats the take home point I’m trying to get across?

I’m suggesting that our cosmetic products are contributing to our sub-optimal health and are potentially making us or keeping us fat by overloading us with chemical toxins.  I’m also suggesting that this can manifest itself as fat stored around the thighs.

And what am I suggesting as a course of action?

I‘m suggesting that you check out what is actually in your cosmetic products and, best case, switch to products with a rating of zero.  Worst case, switch to products with a rating of three or under.

Am I suggesting that this will make everyone’s thighs supermodel-esque?

No.  But it combined with other things like eating organic foods, avoiding plastics, eliminating tap and bottled water, switching toxic household cleaning products, etc etc etc, it will certainly help.

How do your products stack up?

You might also find these top tips for picking safer products useful.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/top-tips-for-safer-products/