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In the US on a daily basis the average person is exposed to more than hundred chemicals from cosmetics, soaps, and other personal care products. Though these items are being used for the so-called benefits they provide, most are not aware that many of the ingredients in these items are not safe. Most of the chemicals in personal care items are not tested or regulated. There are still known carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals in some products.
In this 4-article series, I am going through 4 changes you can make to reduce your toxin exposure. This article will focus on personal care products that contribute to our toxic overload.
- Food: Consume organic foods (click here for this article)
- Internal Factors: Rid yourself of negative thought patterns and emotions (click here for this article)
- Personal Care: Use personal care products without harmful ingredients
- Home Environment: Use non-toxic household products and eco friendly safe home items
Personal care products by which you should re-think alternatives if you are using products with harmful ingredients include items such as: Hair color and styling products, cosmetics, skincare, soaps, nail products, feminine care products, fragrances, deodorants, sunscreen, and bug repellant.
Most people are not aware the implications of putting items on our skin or elements that are absorbed by our skin. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and most are putting various items on it on a daily basis yet not aware of negative consequences. The amount we absorb depends on the substance, the area of our body, and other variables. However, this is just another area we are at risk. So why not use preventative measures?
Day by day as we use personal care products with harmful substances the toxic load adds up. Harmful chemical exposure has been linked to many illnesses and health problems (e.g., cancer, autism, reproductive problems, autoimmune conditions, and more). Because of the lack of regulation, some harmful ingredients are hidden in formulations by listing them as “fragrance.”
The majority of mainstream personal care products contain a cocktail of carcinogenic chemicals, allergens, and irritants. To eliminate a lot of toxic chemicals, preservatives, and fragrances that are harmful to our bodies, choose certified organic and natural skin care products. It is important to read labels and become educated about what ingredients to avoid when selecting personal care products.
Harmful chemicals and toxic substances can cause acute health problems, but many accumulate over time and lead to chronic and even life threatening conditions. So, even if you do not notice an immediate adverse effect when using or being exposed to a product does not mean you are not slowly poisoning your body, reducing your quality of life, and lessening your life span.
I agree that we cannot control 100% of our exposure to toxins with the exception of living in a bubble yet we can control more than you think. There are numerous products available that do not contain harmful agents that wreak havoc on our health. Because there are so many substances to avoid and many alternative products to choose from, the rest of this article will focus on providing you resources for your easy reference.
Remember, many small steps can equal big results so don’t get overwhelmed or believe you have to change everything all at once. If you want to begin transitioning from current products you have that contain harmful ingredients, start by setting micro-goals. There are numerous categories of personal care products so start with one, assess the products you have and whether or not you need to replace them, and then choose safer alternatives. Then, move onto the next category. Depending on your current product load, this could take a while. Be patient with yourself and the process. Be aware that any change in product to a safer one is progress in the right direction towards investing in your health.
- Environmental Working Group (EWG’s) Skin Deep website: Personal care product ingredient and product safety ratings, smart shopping tips, and other health information.
- Women’s Voices for the Earth website: Feminine-care products, fragrances, about hair and nail salons and products, harmful chemicals to avoid, and other health information.
Alternative Safe Product Examples
Because so many folks, including me, have either an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, many of these examples are gluten free. This is certainly not an exhaustive list of personal care products or brands that are safe and healthy, but this does give you good direction.
You can purchase products that have only safe ingredients. Another alternative is to use natural oils. It is all I use and though the name oil may seem like they would have a greasy feel, they do not. They are absorbed well into the skin, leave your skin feeling incredibly soft, and nutrients in the oils are quite beneficial. If you do want a special fragrance, just add your favorite essential oil to your oils.
- Coconut Oil or MCT Oil (coconut oil is solid at room temperature; MCT oil is liquid)
- Almond Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Bar soap example 1
- Bar soap example 2
- Bar soap example 3
- Liquid soap example 1
- Liquid soap example 2
Douches: They are not necessary and can actually deplete the body of important healthy flora and acidity in the vagina. Odor issues are a symptom of an infection or other cause that should be treated.
- Brown HS, Bishop DR, Rowan CA. The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. Am J Public Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1651599/.
- Harmful, untested chemicals rife in personal care products. Harvard Chan School of Public Health website. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/harmful-chemicals-in-personal-care-products/.