Cut the Toxins Out & Go Clean! The Hidden Chemicals in Your Deodorant, Perfume + Lotions!
Go Clean + Green
Photo credit: @sarahfaithcomeau
Let me ask you this: what is the point eating clean, if your self-care products are packed with dirty ingredients? Yes, that’s right. The very things that keep us “clean” are actually made with toxins that harm your skin AND your body. In this article I want to share the top chemicals to watch out for in your shower gel, lotions, deodorant and perfume, and some handy tips to go natural. Trust me, your skin will thank you for it!
What’s lurking on your bathroom shelf?
They look so neat and lovely, don’t they, those colorful bottles lined up side by side. Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, face cream… innocently bought and applied every single day. Except for the most part, these bottles have poisons lurking inside them.
Did you know that women come into contact with over 500 chemicals every single day, just through their toiletries and make up? Every morning, we wash, cleanse, moisturize, deodorize, contour, brush, completely oblivious to the fact we’re actually slathering on chemicals that, over time, cause a ton of damage. That sweet smelling strawberry shower gel started its life as oily sludge dredged up from the ground. That designer eau de toilette is in fact a petroleum by-product.
What’s all the fuss about?
And ok, you might think “So what? It’s not like I’m eating my foundation.” But the thing is you might as well. Your skin is your largest organ, it is ALIVE, it is in constant communication with the outside world. And everything you put on it gets absorbed straight into your bloodstream.
Want proof? Back in 1984 scientists looked at the role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for chemicals in drinking water. Whereas they’d originally believed that drinking the water was the principle source of exposure, their experiments proved that skin absorption contributed around 64% of the total dose absorbed. In other words, ingesting the source of chemicals may not even be the primary route of exposure - skin absorption plays a huge role.[i]
In 2004 the Environmental Working Group published a ground-breaking study. It analyzed the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies and found that it contained over 280 man-made chemicals, from toiletries, household products, pesticides, etc.[ii]So not only are we soaking up all the chemicals in our vicinity, like the chemicals we put on our skin, but we’re also passing them onto our children. We’re creating a new generation with a heavy chemical burden.
Nobody knows the real consequences. Of the 80,000 new chemicals that have been pumped into our environment in the last few years, only a handful have been tested for safety. Nobody has bothered to test how these chemicals interact with each other at minute doses - and yet we are constantly, every day, absorbing hundreds of different toxins from our food, our environment, and our self-care products… and parallel to this, rates of chronic diseases are on the up. Is there a link? Probably.
We have very limited control over the quality of the air, but we have full control over what we choose to wash in. To list all of the chemicals you need to look out for would take hundreds of pages, but I want to share with you the worst offenders, and give you tips so you can shop for the cleanest products.
Toxins in Your Toiletries
Parabens are very effective preservatives, which is why they’re added to almost all personal care products, from shampoo to make up. They are antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal, which sounds good, until you remember that your skin is covered in beneficial microbes (just like your gut), and that stripping these away leaves your skin vulnerable to skin disorders.
The other problem with parabens is that they mimic estrogen. And too much of this hormone has been linked to cancer. Scientists from the University of Reading detected paraben residues in 99% of tissue samples from a group of women with breast cancer.[iii]
Even though it is banned in Europe because of its potential link to cancer, this chemical is still used in the United States. Manufacturers add it to products as an emulsifier and foaming agent in shampoo, shower gel and toothpaste. It’s also used as an anti-corrosion agent in metal working liquids. The problem? Researchers have uncovered that DEA can damage your memory, and it’s even been found to cause stomach cancer in laboratory animals.[iv][v]
Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
You’ll find SLS and SLES in almost all shower gels, shampoos, hand-washes, toothpaste, conditioner, and face cleansers…. Oh, and ironically, since you’ll also find it in dishwashing liquid and heavy-duty cleaners, even in products marked “for sensitive skin”. SLS and SLES are detergents, foaming agents and emulsifiers. The problem is they strip your skin’s natural oils, and increase your skin’s permeability - which means they make your skin more open to other harmful chemicals.
Tricolsan is actually classed as a pesticide, and we’re encouraged to rub in on our hands several times a day. It’s found in all antibacterial hand-washes, soaps and shampoos, as well as some toothpaste. This chemical bioaccumulates in tissues and leads to problems with the liver and kidneys. Like parabens, it mimics estrogen, and can lead to reproductive health problems. And, ironically, it actually strengthens bad bacteria, as these become resistant to antibiotics after exposure to triclosan.[vi]This anti-bacterial agent is actually helping to create superbugs.[vii]
Aluminum is what makes anti-perspirants work. When it comes into contact with sweat, your skin pH rises and causes the aluminum salt to form a plug over the sweat gland, so you sweat less. Unfortunately, it also penetrates your skin and triggers your immune system’s inflammatory response. Used every day, this means your body is constantly slightly inflamed, and this over time can cause serious issues like auto immune conditions. The other issue is that aluminum can weaken the intestinal wall, which in turn can cause leaky gut, and further inflammation. Some scientists believe that aluminum is one important factor in inflammatory bowel diseases (like ulcerative colitis).[viii][ix]
Tips to banish those bathroom toxins
The front of the bottle might say “contains natural ingredients”, but what else does it contain? Here’s a handy list to help you make sense of what to avoid:
Parfum / fragrance
Paraffin wax / petroleum jelly
Glycerin / glycerin / glycerol
Ethanols – like phenoxyethanol and diethanolamine
Any word with “ethyl” indicates ethanol content – like polyethylene glycol or diamine-tetracetacic acid
Any ingredient ending in “eth” means it is produced with ethylene oxide (a petrochemical) – like myreth, oleth, laureth
Butanol and any word with “butyl” – like butylparaben, butyl alcohol, buylene glycol
Any word with “prolyl” – like propylparaben, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, cocamidopropyl betaine
Methanol and any world with “methyl” – like methylparaben, methyl alcohol, methylcellulose
Cruelty-free, Non-toxic Beaty Brands We Adore
LE LABO - Fine Perfume, Hand-crafted, Vegan, Cruelty-free
NATURAL DEODORANTS- Say No to Toxic Chemicals: Parabens, Triclosan, Phthalates + Propylene Glycol Aluminum
Finding natural alternatives: Clean toiletries
We’re lucky now - there are hundreds of great natural brands that offer toiletries and make up without any nasties. Here’s a list of my favorite brands:
And of course, you can also make your own skincare:
· Make your own body oil using 20-40 drops of base oil (almond, jojoba, apricot kernel, grapeseed, coconut) with 2-4 drops of essential oil; rose, sweet orange, bergamot, lavender, frankincense, patchouli and helichrysum are all great options as they heal the skin and smell amazing - harness the power of Mother Nature!
· Make your own body scrub by mixing 4 tbsp of unrefined sugar with 1-2 tbsp organic almond oil and 2 drops of essential oil (vanilla or benzoin for a sweet, comforting and super moisturizing scrub).
You deserve toiletries that are kind to your skin. Isn’t it time to ditch those chemicals and instead choose natural products packed with ingredients from Mother Nature?
Go clean and green, Dolls!