Chemicals in your Closet
By Claudia Jones
Did you know that whatever you put on your skin ends up inside your body? Statistics show that anywhere between 60 -100% of any substance applied to your skin will actually end up in your bloodstream. Shocked? Read on... Consider that most people are using non-organic, synthetic products for not only personal hygiene but for household cleaning and laundry too and one can start to understand why a rise in toxicity related illnesses is spreading across the globe.
Unless you are caring for your body with 100% certified organic products then you are at risk from toxic exposure.
Most body products from face creams to nail varnishes, toothpastes to deodorants contain a number of ingredients known to be harmful to our health. So why aren't they banned from all skin products? Well a number of legal loopholes allow them to be added to the products but not actually cited on the list of ingredients. There are also thousands of chemicals that are used in skin care and household products that have not undergone safety testing. Concerned? You should be.
Parabens are substances that inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts and moulds and are found in many personal care products such as shampoos and shower gels. This gives the products an unnaturally long shelf life of up to several years. The price to pay for this however, is that parabens have been shown to mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen and this has been associated with a risk of developing breast cancer.
Another known link to breast cancer comes from the use of antiperspirant deodorants which again mimic estrogen activity and frequently contain aluminum which is linked with causing both cancer and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, a form of dementia.
Petro-chemicals, known carcinogens and endocrine system disruptors, are found in all types of cleaning and body care products, from hair dyes to perfumes, soaps to body lotions. Fragrance in products alone can cause cancer, fetal toxicity, hormonal and reproductive issues. Propylene glycol, a skin irritant known to cause liver and kidney damage is a component of motor brake fluid and antifreeze, it is also a major ingredient in many shampoos, soap and numerous other cosmetics that we apply to our skin. As if this isn't bad enough, numerous petrochemicals used in our cosmetic products have not yet been tested for their effects on human health.
Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate are commonly added to cleansing products as a foaming agent ; they cause dryness and skin irritation as well as hormonal dysfunction and cancers as is the case with so many other toxic chemicals found in commercial body products.
If you wear make-up every day, it is estimated that during the course of one year you will have absorbed 5 pounds into your body, a shocking statistic compounded by the fact that some cosmetic companies still put lead in their lipsticks!
Sunscreen is another big offender, full of toxic chemicals that enter the bloodstream, disrupting hormones and potentially causing cancers due to its Vitamin A content, while neglecting to protect against harmful UVA rays.
Feminine hygiene product, tampons, have been shown to contain traces of dioxin a very toxic chemical and known carcinogen which also causes birth defects and sterility as well as liver damage and suppression of the immune system.
The list goes on, but the question is, what are the alternatives?
Well, with a back to basics approach and a desire to return to simple, healthful practices we can protect our wellbeing and save ourselves a lot of money that would otherwise have been spent on potentially dangerous products.
Some helpful tips below:
- Choose 100% natural and certified organic products
- Look for ingredients that you can understand; if you can barely read the label, it definitely shouldn't be going anywhere near your body.
- If possible select organic food grade skin products to apply to your skin, this means that they have no nasty chemicals in them and they will be fresher because they will not contain ingredients that unnaturally increase their shelf life
- For deodorants try using a Thai deodorant stone, a pinch of baking soda or squeeze of lemon juice in water or just good old fashioned soap to keep your underarms fresh and clean
- Choose a natural toothpaste or use baking soda instead
- Use organic, bleach-free cotton tampons or a mooncup
- Prepare your own moisturizers from organic cold-pressed oils such as sweet almond oil for the body and jojoba oil for the face. You can fragrance them with a few drops of essential oils.
- Use natural vegetable oil based soaps, scented with essential oils instead of harsh shower gels and bubble baths
- Select sunscreens free from Vitamin A or its derivatives such as retinol, or go without by choosing to limit sun exposure by covering with clothing or taking shade when necessary.
- To reduce the impact of accumulated toxic exposure participation in a regular detox program is advised.
A final point to bear in mind as we make our choices; not only are these products polluting us, they are polluting our planet, our water ways and unbalancing our planets already fragile ecosystems. Make intelligent choices for your own good and for the whole of the planet too.
Claudia is the Wellness Director at Samahita Retreat. Claudia offers support and advice to guests on our detox programs and teaches detox & wellness retreats at Samahita Retreat throughout the year.
References & Resources:
- Various articles on topic of toxic exposure on www.mercola.com