I know most people at this time of year are trying to clean up their diets. Eat clean/paleo/Vegan/juice detox etc. Whilst we frequently consider the food we ingest and the impact it has, have you ever stopped to think that what you put on your skin is having just as much of an effect?
The skin absorbs 60% of what we put on it, so if we are using products full of parabens and SLS, the majority of that is going into our bodies. If you wouldn’t eat products that are processed, full of toxins and not very good for you, then why would you put them on your skin? The skin is one of the main organs of elimination through which we expel toxins, which is why it’s so harmful to keep adding more toxins into it. These chemicals that the body absorbs can accumulate in the organs and fat cells, causing irritation and damage.
Since I started working in the health food industry I learnt loads about natural body care, and eventually made the transition with all my body/home-care products to natural products. This is not only better for me, but for the environment too. Now I’m not saying you should go out and replace everything at once, maybe take gradual steps, wait until something runs out and then replace it with a natural one.
Ideally natural products should contain no harmful chemicals, synthetics or toxins that can irritate the skin, or cause oxidative damage which promotes cellular damage and premature ageing.
The Main Offenders
Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS) Industrial cleaning agent used in shampoo, shower gel and toothpastes. It irritates the skin and has been linked to breathing problems.
Parabens Preservatives to prolong shelf life. Can cause irritation, rashes and allergic reactions, also effect hormone levels.
Petroleum Jelly Interferes with body’s own moisturising properties and causes dry skin and chapping. It’s incredibly addicting. Found in lip balms, lip sticks.
Phthalates: Chemicals found in plastics, used in perfumes to make smell last longer and make nail varnish flexible. Can cause damage to kidneys, lungs and reproductive system. Found in hair spray and deodorant as well.
Watch out for a lot of products that claim to be “natural” as a lot of them are actually full of these ingredients.
Products like deodorants are one of the main ones that you should consider switching. Natural deodorants work a little differently to the chemical laden ones, in that they kill the bacteria responsible for any odour. They are particularly beneficial is you have sensitive skin. Commercial antiperspirants contain aluminium hydroxychloride which blocks the pore and prevents elimination of toxins through the sweat glands. It may take your body a while to get used to natural deodorants, and you may have to try a few before you find one that works for you.
Toothpaste is another vital one to consider changing, as up to 90% of what we put on our gums is absorbed into the body! Natural toothpastes are made using plant compounds that have anti-bacterial properties to fight plaque, bad breath and gum disease and can also strengthen the gums. Ingredients in commercial toothpastes like fluoride and SLS are abrasive cleaning agents and actually can damage tooth enamel. I like the Green People brand.
Natural shampoo contains plant extracts to cleanse the hair, soothe the scalp, and conditioners contain nourishing oils which promote healthy hair without causing damage. Natural hair care products are extremely beneficial for anyone suffering from any kind of skin condition or sensitive scalp. Commercial shampoo and conditioners contain soaping agents like SLS which can irritate the scalp.
Cleansers, toners and moisturisers can nourish and hydrate the skin, ones with anti bacterial compounds are particularly good for acne, they are gentle on the skin and don’t strip it’s natural oils like commercial products. I use Green People’s skincare products, I also use some of the Trilogy and Dr Hauschka products that are Vegan.
Another good option is to make your own products. Coconut oil is awesome, and can pretty much be used for anything and everything you can think of. I like Viridian’s Coconut oil. Lemon juice and baking soda are inexpensive and great natural cleaners. There are loads of recipes out there for scrubs, face-masks, and cleaning products. Pinterest is a really good source for anything a bit DIY, or creative like that.
So why not detox your skin care, or cleaning products in 2014? Time to start finding natural alternatives that work for you.