Black facial masks are trending in a big way right now, popping up on our Facebook timelines and advertised endlessly on Instagram. Their effects are particularly appealing to those of us who are prone to blackheads, as the masks supposedly attach to our skin’s surface and pull out any unwanted dirt that would otherwise prevent us from “looking our best.”
One particular video went viral when YouTuber Tiff decided to test out a black mask that was advertised to her through Facebook.
While the result is relatively amusing, there really is nothing funny about damaging the skin on your face just to attain the flawed standard of beauty that society pushes on us.
Why They’re Bad
First, lets break down the difference between a blackhead and sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are alternatively known as whiteheads, and they are naturally occurring micro hairline formations on your skin that send oil from your pores onto your skin to moisturize it.
Whiteheads lie just beneath the surface of your skin and develop when there is a buildup of either dead skin or cosmetics that plug the pores working to produce sebum. Blackheads are seen more topically and appear black because they are exposed to the air and oxidize.
So what’s the problem with pulling these filaments out? I spoke to Toni-Anne Leonardo, an aesthetician who studied at Humber College for Cosmetic Management and Esthetics/Spa Management, who said, “Well, every pore has a hair follicle in it. When you use a peel-off mask you are removing that hair, which can cause damage to the pore. This can lead to a dilated pore and cause damage to cells and create hyper pigmentation.”
The most beneficial ingredient in black masks is typically activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has made its claim to fame recently with the development of these masks and also its use as a natural teeth whitening alternative. The benefits of this carbon are endless and when you couple its qualities with skin care, it usually has a positive effect. Activated charcoal acts like a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil, and so when these are present in your pores and activated charcoal comes in contact with it, they will stick to it and wash away when you rinse.
Some people, frighteningly, are trying to mimic this infamous face mask by mixing PVA glue with charcoal powder. When your face feels smooth post facial mask rip, it just confirms that you’ve effectively stripped off a surface layer of your skin.
If you’ve partaken in this mask and are now concerned for your skin’s well-being, don’t worry. Facialist and aestheticianAndy Millward assures us that “the skin is a very sophisticated organ. It is more than capable of replacing the sebaceous filaments that have been removed.” But “this process can take up to 30 days, during which time the skin is obviously going to be a little more vulnerable.”
But Andy warns, “if you continue to use products that strip the skin of its natural oils (including harsh cleansers and exfoliants) then you’re likely to cause secondary issues.”
DIY Face Masks
Controlling what you put in and on your body is of utmost importance to your health and if you have a choice, choose natural. Major cosmetic companies don’t have our best interests in mind and their products are usually laden with toxic chemicals that can seriously harm our health over time.
It’s also important to note that the chemicals most often present in cosmetics are actually terrible for our skin. In our article “What You Really Need to Watch Out For on Your Cosmetics Labels,” I reference a study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas that demonstrated how taking even a short break from various cosmetics, shampoos, and other personal care products can lead to a substantial drop in the levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals present within the body.
Below I’ve listed a few natural face masks that you can create right from your kitchen!
Pore-Tightening Açai Berry Facial
⅔ cup sugar
2 teaspoons açai powder or ¼ cup açai slush (a pulverized form of the berry; both sold at health-food stores)
10 fresh, whole berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a mix)
1 tablespoon olive oil
With a potato masher, mash the sugar and açai powder or slush with the berries, then slowly add the olive oil; combine coarsely with a whisk. Massage into the face. Leave on for about five minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Flower and Clay Mask
2 cups Bentonite Clay
1 cup ground oats
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/8 cup dried lavender, ground
1/3 cup dried rose petals, ground
Grind oatmeal and almonds together using either a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee or nut grinder (leave grains just a little bit course to add an exfoliating element). You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind the lavender and rose petals together, too. After all ingredients are ground, mix together in a bowl. Mix one teaspoon grains with water (or ACV) to make a paste. Massage the paste into your face. Let mask dry completely and then rinse with warm water.
Papaya Pineapple Face Mask
1/2 fresh papaya, peeled and seeded
1 cup fresh pineapple
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Juice papaya and pineapple in juicer if you have one. If you don’t have a juicer, you can mash the fruit together or put it in a blender. Strain out the pulp with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Gently wash your chest, neck, and face. Use a cotton ball to apply juice to these areas, avoiding the eyes. You can also do the backs of your hands at the same time. Lie down and let it work for 10-15 minutes. It will tingle and itch. Try not to scratch! Rinse with warm water and moisturize. Recipe creator highly recommends coconut oil.
Skin-Balancing Spirulina Facial
½ teaspoon spirulina powder
1 mashed ripe banana
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
With a whisk, mix the spirulina powder and banana, then add the lemon juice. Apply to the face and leave on for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
Johnson and Johnson have recently lost lawsuits for negligence in knowingly allowing carcinogenic substances in their talc-based hygiene products.
Are we starting to turn the page on an era where human health and safety are not the prime considerations in the manufacturing of consumer products?
We are starting to awaken to the fact that it seems to be the rule, and not the exception, that large Western corporations put profits above human health considerations. The only time they seem to give any regard to human health concerns is when their forecasts of potential lawsuits down the road would likely exceed the cost measures needed to ensure the safety of their product.
Johnson & Johnson is just one of a long line of corporate perpetrators who believed that covering up and lying about known health concerns would make better business sense than taking the time and resources to actually address those health concerns within their products.
Contaminated Baby Powder: The Height Of Indignity
One would think, regardless of an understanding that the bottom line is a priority for most private companies, that the health and safety of a nursing mother and her newborn child would be sacrosanct for any industry. The reality is that this is simply not the case, even though J&J could have mitigated this problem from the start.
Companies that mine talc are required to take extra steps to ensure the absence of asbestos in their talc. Instead, J&J allegedly went to great lengths to fake it.
Not only did the company know about the asbestos contamination, evidence suggests, but J&J also failed to warn its customers about the link between Baby Powder and cancer or replace its talc with a safer alternative. As a result, J&J guaranteed its customers’ exposure to asbestos.
And regardless of their size or numbers, asbestos fibers are lethal at any capacity. As the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed repeatedly, there is no safe level of exposure. (source)
Baby Powder’s contamination with asbestos (a mineral that naturally occurs near talc) has long been the subject of lawsuits. But only in recent years has evidence begun to unravel J&J’s defense – that the company had no idea – and threatened its success in lawsuits to come.
In March, a California jury awarded $29 million to Terry Leavitt, a woman who said that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder-based products caused her terminal mesothelioma. Environmental scientist James Webber testified in her high-profile California trial and made these observations:
During several hours on the stand, Webber explained how he ran tests that showed “clear” evidence of asbestos contamination in the mines from which J&J sourced talc.
“The testing I have seen [shows] that it was present at least as early as 1971 and up through the late 1990s,” said Webber, who ran an asbestos laboratory in New York state.
Despite denying it publicly, J&J had observed this contamination in internal memos. Its notes dismissed the amount of asbestos in its talc as “but a trace,” Webber alleged. But that was just an optimistic interpretation of superficial testing, he said: the tests used methods too weak to detect microscopic asbestos fibers. Webber insisted the actual tests results revealed there could be millions of asbestos fibers per gram of talc.
And J&J’s inaccurate reports were allegedly only the tip of the iceberg. In some instances, Webber said, photos attached to J&J’s reports revealed that “they had been seeing it and not reporting it.” (source)
And It’s Getting Worse
The $29 million verdict, in California Superior Court in Oakland, was the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide. And things may be getting even worse for J&J, according to ZeroHedge:
Johnson & Johnson shares are down over 5% after Bloomberg reports that, according to people with knowledge of the matter, the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether Johnson & Johnson lied to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder…
Now, a grand jury in Washington is examining documents related to what company officials knew about any carcinogens in their products, the people said.
It seems as though corporations have long been willing to take the calculated risk of short-cuts and denials instead of ensuring that their products are safe for public use. My suspicion is that a part of our collective awakening process will be issuing in a new business paradigm in which human health and safety become paramount.
Multiple brands of prescription infant formula were found to contain high levels of aluminum.
Should we be questioning the quality of products that come from pharmaceutical production? Do we veer away from natural methods of raising children more than we should? At what cost?
You may not think aluminum is a big deal, but it is. For anybody who has looked into aluminum toxicology, it’s quite clear and apparent that it has no place inside of any living biological organism. Putting it simply, it wreaks havoc on our biology. High amounts of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, with experts in the field believing that aluminum brain accumulation may be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s also been discovered within the brains of MS patients, and some of the highest aluminum content ever recorded in brain tissue has also been discovered in people with autism. Aluminum is associated with several diseases. But an adult body can do a great job of flushing out aluminum.
Despite the fact that aluminum has no place within earth’s biota, it’s still present in many of our medications, our food, and even in the water that we drink due to contamination since the industrial revolution. Aluminum inside the body is a new phenomenon and still understudied. Again, there is a threshold, and aluminum that is injected via vaccines doesn’t exit the body–there is strong evidence that it remains inside the body and ends up in distant organs and eventually inside of the brain. If you want to access more studies on that topic, you can read this article I published that provides them and goes into more detail. You can also watch this interview with Christopher Exley, where he also points to that fact.
A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has shown that multiple popular infant prescriptions are contaminated with aluminum. You may be asking how much aluminum, but the authors make it a point to stress that there are no safe amounts of aluminum levels that can be inside of a human body, let alone a newborn baby. That being said, the amounts found are listed within the abstract of the study:
Historical and recent data demonstrate that off-the-shelf infant formulas are heavily contaminated with aluminium. The origin of this contamination remains to be elucidated though may be imported via ingredients, packaging and processing. Specialised infant formulas exist to address health issues, such as low birth weight, allergy or intolerance and medical conditions, such as renal insufficiency. The aluminium content of these prescription infant formulas is measured here for the first time. We obtained 24 prescription infant formulas through a paediatric clinic and measured their total aluminium content by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry following microwave assisted acid/peroxide digestion. The aluminium content of ready-to-drink formulas ranged from 49.9 (33.7) to 1956.3 (111.0) μg/L. The most heavily contaminated products were those designed as nutritional supplements for infants struggling to gain weight. The aluminium content of powdered formulas ranged from 0.27 (0.04) to 3.27 (0.19) μg/g. The most heavily contaminated products tended to be those addressing allergies and intolerance. Prescription infant formulas are contaminated with aluminium.
Another very important point made right off the bat by the authors:
Human exposure to aluminium is a serious health concern. Aluminium exposure in infants is understandably a burgeoning issue. While infant exposure to aluminium continues to be documented, its consequences, immediate and in the future, have received only scant attention and research is required to understand the biological availability of aluminium through formula feeding. For example, how much aluminium is absorbed across the neonate gut and its subsequent fate, including excretion.
There is already too much aluminium in infant formulas and herein we have measured its content in a large number of prescription formulas, products which are fed to vulnerable infants in their first months of life. Many of these products are heavily contaminated with aluminium.
As for the specific infant formulas, you can refer to the study. The researchers obtained 24 prescription infant formulas via the Paediatric Clinic of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, United Kingdom. The ready-to-drink and powdered products were new, ready-to-be used and unopened samples. These formulas are for babies with some sort of growth restriction, like for preterm infants or infants who have poor weight gain. There were also powdered formulas for allergies and intolerances and powdered formulas with additional amino acids.
The authors contacted each manufacturer and expressed that they denied knowing that there was any aluminum in their products, which means it’s still a mystery as to their source. The authors hypothesize on a number of ways that aluminum could be entering into the formulas.
In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that:
Where possible, breast milk feeding should be prioritised, as the aluminium content of breast milk is invariably an order of magnitude lower than in formula feeds. Where infant formulas are the only source of nutrition for many infants in their first weeks and months of life, aluminium ingested in formula feeds will be the major contributor to their body burden of aluminium. The last thing that vulnerable infants fed specialised formulas for their specific nutritional/medicinal need is additional aluminium in their diet.
There is a lot of information out there on how a person can detox from aluminum and other heavy metals. There are multiple studies, and based on what I’ve looked into, water with high amounts of Silica are effective in draining aluminum out of your body and brain. Herbs like cilantro and substances like chlorella and spirulina are also great for removing some metals. The information is out there, so be sure to do your research.
It’s concerning to think about what these corporations are doing. Again, aluminum should hold no place in our society, it should’ve remained well below our surface as part of the Earth’s crust for a reason. It wasn’t until humans began digging it out and using it for a number of things, irresponsibly I might add, that we started to see the health implications which still go largely ignored by the medical community.
In fact, heavy metal accumulation and detoxification of aluminum haven’t been addressed at all, which is odd given the fact that heavy metal accumulation is linked to a variety of diseases.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore is a case study in what can happen when nature-inspired design is applied to the medical setting to promote healing.
There are many studies that show the healing benefits of nature and the effects it has on our health & well-being. What if all hospitals integrated a more conscious approach to healing?
Lush garden views and natural landscapes aren’t usually the first thing you envision when you think of hospitals, but Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore is changing all of that.
When it comes to reenvisioning healthcare and the mental state of those who are admitted, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is really advancing how we care for those who have fallen ill. Whether it is due to lack of prior proper care, one’s diet & lifestyle, or a stagnancy to one’s energy creating blockages — and in turn illness — it is important that we look at this field and industry (medical/healthcare) as one of the most crucial for shifting humanity.
The Green Treatment
As MindBodyGreen reports, “In 2005, CPG Corporate, a Singapore-based design firm, was tasked with creating a hospital that actually lowered visitors’ blood pressure. ‘How do we challenge the idea of a hospital to deinstitutionalize it and make it look, smell, and feel, unlike a hospital?’ Jerry Ong Chin-Po, an architect who worked on the project, told mbg of the initial challenge. ‘We felt the best way to do it was to integrate nature into the space.'”
The hospital, which opened its doors in 2010 and now serves 800,000 residents in northern Singapore, has masked the smell of medicine and chemicals with over 700 species of fragrant native plants. In the lobby, sounds of machines are drowned out by bird species in the central courtyard. And instead of walking through sterile white hallways, patients, caretakers, and the occasional butterfly navigate the space on outdoor bridges wrapped in greenery.
In Singapore, medical buildings have multiple tiers of patient rooms (it’s part of how the country maintains its famously cheap health care). Some are private and have air conditioning; others have up to five beds and rely on natural ventilation. In order to ensure that all patients feel comfortable—regardless of how much they’re paying to be there—Chin-Po’s team again leaned on nature. They installed new windows that could be opened wider to allow for more airflow and made sure that every patient could see greenery from their bed, even if it was just a planter box on the other side of their window.
At mealtimes, patients are given organic food grown in a massive rooftop garden, and everyone fills their plates with fruits and veggies on the weekly, hospital-wide Meatless Mondays. ‘We always bring this idea of creating a total healing environment,’ Chin-Po says. ‘Not just for the patients but for the caregivers and staff as well. It’s all part of the whole system.’
This is the healing power of nature and community.
Image by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
And so the next question is, with all of the greenery, community and natural light, are patients healing more rapidly at this futuristic hospital? Well, it is reported that while there is still not sufficient evidence to back this claim, Chin-Po says that anecdotally, patients seem to appreciate the hospital’s unique design and are actually willing to pay more to go there than other hospitals in the area.
And, though it’s not extensive, there is a body of research showing that greenery and natural light do aid in recovery. One 2008 study found that patients who had plants in their rooms had lower blood pressure and reported less pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients who didn’t. Another one back from 1984 concluded that hospital rooms that had windows overlooking nature helped patients recover from surgery quicker than ones that faced brick walls. Outside of a clinical setting, spending time around nature has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stress.
As more of those around us seem to fall ill, it is important to look at alternative ways of healing. Whether it is holistic, alternative, or simply nature itself, it is steps like this hospital is taking that are really going to create the shift we need as a collective. We are lovers of the outdoors by nature, and though our current society and system seem to have us forgetting to step outside and ground, it is key to our longevity on this planet.
From the Sun itself being our best source of vitamin D to the very oxygen we breathe being gifted to us through trees, we owe a lot to nature.
Remember, sick or not, it is in our best interest to take time out in nature to nurture both our Soul & our bodies. This hospital is just the beginning of a great remembrance back to real self care.