Toss the Chemicals
We are used to connecting food to our health. What we feed our bodies can be healing or helpful to disease, but have you ever thought about the products you are putting on your body? We can’t forget that our SKIN is our biggest organ. What we put on it, gets absorbed into our bloodstream and straight to our liver! Such a scary thought, right?
What we put on our body, gets absorbed into our bloodstream and straight to our liver.
Most of your skin care products are put on your face and neck. Think about your anti-aging creams, toners, sunscreens or makeup. Then there is your body, with the lotions, self-tanners and nail polish. On average every woman puts 515 synthetic chemicals on her body every day without knowing it. That is A LOT of chemicals being processed by your liver, considering it doesn’t count the water we drink or the food we eat. There are chemicals in everything from our toothpaste, to our shampoo, lotions, lip balms and our makeup.
The personal care industry is sadly unregulated—the last time is was regulated, was in 1938—which means that companies are essentially free to do whatever they want, with no government oversight, filling products that we use every day (mascara, face wash, shampoo) with toxic ingredients, including known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
Nontoxic personal care can go a long way toward removing any symptoms you may be experiencing with your health and helping you to feel more energy and vitality. In addition, you’ll be lessening your toxic load, which can have positive effects on your long-term health.
The first step in detoxing your personal care products is to take an assessment of what you already have. Unfortunately, things aren’t as straightforward as you might think. The simple word “fragrance” could mean that the product contains over a hundred different chemicals that together create that fragrance! It’s important to look behind the marketing, because even terms like “pure,” “green,” “natural,” “hypoallergenic,” and “botanical” are unregulated and are simply sales strategies. Your best bet for determining what’s really in the product is to study the ingredient list. The ingredient list is everything! It may take some time at first, but just like anything….it will become easy in no time.
Be your best advocate!
Be your best advocate by playing detective: make a list for yourself before you get to the store, being mindful of ingredients you never want to put on or in your body. Also, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a handy reference tool called the Skin Deep Database, which rates all ingredients found in thousands of products from one to ten. The higher the number, the more hazardous the ingredient and the more potential health problems it may cause over time. You can find some great, clean brands there too.
Top 5 ingredients to remove from your bathroom immediately
- Fragrance. It’s a trade secret, which means that companies are not required to disclose what’s in it—usually, there are dozens, if not hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals, including phthalates, which cause the fragrance to stick to your skin.
- Parabens. The presence of this toxic preservative—an endocrine disruptor—is indicated by any word that ends in paraben, like methylparaben, propylparaben, etc.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). The surfactant Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) can cause skin irritation and allergies. The much bigger problem is that in the process of making it less harsh for the skin, a carcinogenic byproduct emerges: 1,4-dioxane, which shows up on the label as SLES. Avoid SLES whenever you can.
- Formaldehyde. This is another preservative that you’ll never actually see listed on the label: It’s also a carcinogen, and it is linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. It’s likely present where quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol) are listed on ingredient labels.
- Phthalates. Abbreviated to DBP, DEHP, and DEP, these plasticizers make products more pliable—and make fragrances stick to skin. They are endocrine/hormone disruptors commonly used in nail products, and they hide in ‘fragrance.’
Hair and Nails, oh my!
I am so sorry to have to share this with you, but there are a ton of toxic nail polishes out there! Your nail beds and scalp are highly absorbent areas of your body. They soak up chemicals like a sponge. In general you should avoid acrylic nails, keratin hair straighteners, gel nails, and hair coloring from non-organic ingredients. Chemicals in conventional nail polish like toluene, dibutyl phthalate (an endocrine disruptor), acetone, and formaldehyde (a carcinogen) are incredibly harmful to breathe and can get into your bloodstream and can be harmful to your liver, kidneys, lungs and overall immunity.
Cutting back on the toxins you apply to your skin decreases your overall toxic exposure and reduces the burden your body has to fight off every day. While eating clean detoxifies the body from the inside out, applying clean products to your skin ensures that you’re not undoing the progress you’ve already made with your diet. This double-duty detox ensures your body is clean inside and out! It may take some time and money in the short term, but you’ll thank yourself later.
Don’t hold back! You can start tossing a few of these products today. This will make a huge difference on your internal toxic load. Start small and you’ll be on your way to clean, healthy living.