The Toxic Truth about Mainstream Beauty: Q&A with Eve Prang Plews
Oct 31, 2016 01:24PM
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Are you aware that whichever fragrances, cleansers, lotions and other cosmetic “essentials” you slather onto your skin’s surface is absorbed through the pores and into your bloodstream? This exposes the internal organs to synthetic toxins and chemical compounds which the body does not recognize and, therefore, cannot break down.
The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving both human and ecological wellness throughout the United States, suggests the average woman uses 12 skincare products on a daily basis containing 168 hazardous ingredients, while the average man uses six products containing 85 hazardous ingredients. If these statistics describe your grooming ritual, just imagine the potential damage accumulating inside those organs over time. But can you avoid those health risks without swearing off beauty regimens altogether?
To answer this dilemma, I spoke with Eve Prang Plews, LNC, IFMCP, certified functional medicine practitioner and founder of Full Spectrum Health in Sarasota. Distinguished for her expertise in connecting both skincare and nutrition behaviors with the onset of numerous physical conditions, Plews has proven herself a valuable resource for debunking the mainstream cosmetic industry’s subpar standards, while offering an organic alternative to those unnatural contaminants most people cannot even pronounce.
Natural Awakenings: What are the physical dangers of using skincare products that contain artificial parabens and chemicals?
Plews: When your cells become exposed to manufactured chemicals, the body has no means of processing them which can result in toxicity throughout your entire system. This could be expressed through superficial skin conditions, headaches or, in more extreme cases, liver toxicity which manifests into various diseases and endocrine issues.
The reason I began offering organic skincare products at my clinic is because I routinely witnessed clients purchasing expensive organic foods and supplements, while continuing to apply junk on their skin. As I discovered, this caused toxicity despite their positive and vigilant efforts to maintain a nutritious diet.
NA: Why is remaining cognizant of what ingredients go onto your body just as crucial as what ingredients go into your body?
Plews: You wouldn’t drop your vigilance when driving a car, so why drop your vigilance in terms of caring for your own body? In the United States, only seven chemicals are banned from manufacturing usage, compared to 1500 banned substances in the European Union. In fact, American cosmetic companies often group over 200 untested ingredients under the ambiguous label of “fragrance.” However, these are actually carcinogenic compounds which account for 25% to 28% of deaths nationwide.
NA: Which type of organic skincare do you advocate, and what differentiates these products from other options on the market?
Plews: I offer the Eminence Skincare Line because this 50-year-old family owned business is both ecological and humanistic––values I share––in its approach. Eminence is also produced overseas and, therefore, required to meet organic standards abroad rather than here in the U.S.
As opposed to other organic companies I’ve encountered, which I found naïve in both their manufacturing and presentation models, Eminence cultivates herbs biodynamically (i.e. an organic farming practice through which harmonious plants are grown together). When I’m choosing a skincare product, I need to know where those raw materials come from, and Eminence isn’t just concerned about your skin––they’re also committed to our planet.
NA: What active ingredients do these products contain and how do they benefit both your skin health and overall well-being?
Plews: The Eminence Line contains over 100 organic active ingredients, fundamentally grouped under the overarching canopies of plant extracts and essential oils. For instance, consider the hibiscus family. These plant compounds retain water to promote hydration, moisturization, smoothness and overall radiance. Besides, the products smell fantastic––whenever I apply the Eminence rose moisturizer, I feel just like I’m walking through a garden.
NA: Do you currently offer organic skincare treatments, in addition to the products themselves, at Full Spectrum Health?
Plews: We are not a spa-like environment, but rather a healing clinic whose primary focus is consultation and education to help our clients achieve comprehensive wellness. To this end, we recommend taking nutrients both topically and orally. For instance, supplemental antioxidants can benefit skin health through visibly reducing fine lines, wrinkles and other aging effects. In addition, these supplements have also been found to enhance organ function.
NA: Could you describe your daily wellness ritual in terms of skincare, nutrition, fitness and personal enrichment?
Plews: With regard to skincare, I follow the basic criteria of cleansing, toning and moisturizing on a daily basis, then exfoliating twice per week and applying a masque once per week. My regimen is consistently Eminence, but the products I use change seasonally.
With regard to nutrition, I consider myself a “part-time vegetarian,” meaning that I don’t consume four-legged creatures unless they’re wild-caught game, and I divide my weekly meals into organic sustainable fish, organic free-range fowl and organic bean-based proteins. I am also gluten-free and strive to eat as closely to nature as possible.
With regard to fitness, I am both an avid walker and master gardener. I much prefer digging holes, carrying dirt bags or potting seeds to lifting a barbell. I currently have more than 20 edible and medicinal plants in the ground this season. In addition, I incorporate various yoga postures into my regular activities too.
With regard to personal enrichment, I’m an amateur astronomer, and I share a passion for stargazing with my husband. I also make a point of reading for 90 minutes each night to familiarize myself with the latest updates in this ever-changing field of Integrative Health. I travel for both teaching and pleasure as well. In fact, my trips are structured around making time to explore natural history, botanical landscapes and indigenous wildlife. Reconnecting with nature––whether through plants, stars or animals––helps us figure out where we fit into the universe.
Finally, I’m passionate about educating others to discover their fullest expression of health. Every time you put a fork in your mouth or lather cream on your face, you’re presented with an opportunity to make better choices for your own future.
Eve Prang Plews is a Nutrition Counselor, licensed by the Florida State Board of Medicine. As one of 124 U.S. practitioners certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine, she offers both private consultations, public classes and nationwide seminars on various aspects of healthy living. Plews has been practicing functional medicine in Sarasota since 1988, and her other areas of expertise include medical botany and homeopathy five-element theory. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 941-952-1200 or visit FullSpectrumHealth.com.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer based in Southwest Florida. Her personal blog HealthBeAHippie.Wordpress.com features practical tips for embracing an active, nutritious and empowered lifestyle.