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We are constantly surrounded by toxins. Find out ways you can reduce your contact with toxins and how to replace common household products with safer options.
As a southern girl, I don’t dare walk out of my house without my color on and hair done! However, for a long time I didn’t realize that I was dousing myself with toxins! The personal care products I was using each morning were hurting my health.
I’m not alone. The average woman uses 9-12 personal care products exposing her to 168+ unique ingredients. Think that is bad (you know I do!), will think about this: the average teen girl uses 17 products exposing her to 200 unique ingredients. That is a lot of chemical exposure day in and day out.
But guys, don’t think you are safe because you don’t wear makeup! There are plenty of toxins in products you use as well. In this post, I’m not even going to cover makeup and perfumes, so you can safely read on!
According to the Cornucopia Institute, many of the chemicals in our personal care products such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, and body lotion, are hormone disrupting and cancer-causing substances.
Shockingly, “the FDA does not require impurities, including several potential contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane or ethylene oxide, both carcinogens, to be listed as ingredients on the labels of personal care products because these toxic chemicals are produced during manufacturing,” reports Dr. Jerome Rigot, PhD policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute.
Let’s look at toothpaste. That’s a product that everyone in the family uses. In fact, the average American uses 20 gallons of toothpaste over the course of their life!
Prevention magazine offers a list of ingredients you should steer clear of that are commonly found in toothpastes
“If you diligently brush your teeth the recommended two or more times per day, you’ll likely skip out of the dentist’s office cavity-free. But, unfortunately, your pearly whites might be sparkling at a cost to both you and the environment. Many of the big-brand toothpastes lining drugstore shelves contain some nasty and potentially harmful ingredients. We’re not saying you should stop brushing your teeth or give up on toothpaste—but you should start reading the labels. Memorize these four ingredients, and keep them out of your medicine cabinet for worry-free brushing.”
If you’d like to have toxin-free toothpaste, Cornucopia’s Top 5 toothpaste picks are
Prevention added to the above list of toothpastes with the following:
Environmental Working Group also has cleaner toothpaste listed on their Skin Deep report found on their website, EWG.org.
I use Revitin, a probiotic based toothpaste created by a dentist.
Another personal care product that we all use is soap! Yes, that stuff we use to get clean may actually be bathing us with toxins!
Soaps often contain fragrances that use phthalates to make the fragrances last. Phthalates can negatively affect the central nervous system and may trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma.
Soaps also contain parabens which are estrogen mimickers and can lead to increased fat deposits and lowered muscle mass. Who knew your bar soap could make you fat and flabby?!? The parabens in soap can cause reproductive difficulties and may cause the early onset of puberty in girls.
One of the challenges in identifying parabens is they go by a lot of different names. The Skin Deep Report I mentioned earlier, lists 17 different types of parabens. Half of them are considered toxic and the other half are considered relatively safe. Unless you’re a chemist and are very familiar with the various names, the safe bet is to avoid them.
Soaps also may contain triclosan which creates dioxin, a carcinogen. Moreover, triclosan negatively affects the thyroid. Is it any wonder the most common auto-immune disease in the U.S. impacts the thyroid?
Finding natural soaps is easy. I use and sell a soap in the clinic called Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Kampuku Beauty Bar. It is a probiotic based soap that is chemical free and gentle on the skin. It is also great for shaving to avoid ‘razor rash.’
Deodorants are well known to be problematic because they contain aluminum and/or parabens.
The way deodorants work is to block the sweat glands—preventing us from sweating. While none of want to smell bad, the sweating has an important function: it is a key detox pathway.
The aluminum may also play a role in breast cancer as well. The aluminum compound found in deodorants has been found in the nipple aspirate fluid from women with breast cancer as compared to women without the disease.
Fortunately, there are good options for natural deodorants. I like to call them hippy-dippy deodorants.
For some education on what works and what doesn’t (along with a large dose of entertainment), check out this short video from Good Mythical Morning:
Americans shampoo an average of 4.5 times each week—roughly every other day. Shampoos and conditioners are full of problematic ingredients. The chemicals and potential impacts are
If you’re interested in making your own shampoo without toxins, here are some ideas:
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as it were! Think about what other personal care products you use: shaving lotions; lotions for dry skin; sunscreen. Add to that any fragrances you use, makeup products, hair coloring. The list goes on and on.
We are exposed to so many chemicals each and every day in our personal care habits. Science has demonstrated the harmful effects of these on our health—but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of your hair and teeth or stop washing your face—that certainly wouldn’t be a healthy alternative.
The great news is you don’t have to sacrifice good looks to be healthy! There are non-toxic products you can buy or options you can make at home. The products I’ve recommended do not contain the chemicals identified as toxins according to the Environmental Working Group.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of toxins that are potentially lurking in your personal care product routine. But it is a start, and I encourage everyone to start small to avoid feeling helpless or overwhelmed.
I encourage you to be proactive in protecting your health. Identify at least one personal care product you can change today to reduce your exposure to toxins. I’d love to hear what healthy choice you made!
Kristy Hall, MS, is board-certified in Holistic Nutrition through the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board. Her international designations include Registered Nutrition Consulting Practitioner and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner through the International Organization of Nutrition Consultants. Kristy is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.
Learn more about Kristy by going to our Meet the Team page.