Have you ever thought about those everyday products you love and use and what's actually in them? Once I discovered that whatever goes on your skin gets absorbed into your blood stream, I realized how many products out there have toxic ingredients that are hormone disrupters and carcinogens that I don't want stored in my body! There are chemicals and preservatives in so many food, beauty and cleaning products that it can become insanely overwhelming trying to decide which ones to go natural with. I've compiled a convenient starter list of everyday products that would benefit your overall health if they contained natural ingredients (i.e. no harsh preservatives or chemicals). If you're concerned with toxin exposure like I am and want to limit it, then keep reading!
1. Body Wash
Body washes and drugstore bar soaps are everyday products that indulge our senses with their lovely scent. However, many of those perfumed and foamy suds contain far too many chemicals, dyes, and preservatives that strip your skin of its natural oils and leave behind no scent once your bathing regimen is complete. I've broken out in rashes (dermatitis) from body washes that smelled amazing but were clearly too harsh for my skin. A much better (and less expensive!) alternative is to opt for natural bar soaps made with Shea butter and essential oils. They clean your skin and leave it hydrated and healthy.
Did you know that the foaming action of most shampoos is the result of the additive sodium lauryl sulfate? You may have noticed that many shampoos now say "free of parabens and sulfates" in an attempt to make products safer. Sulfates are linked to dermatitis as well as disrupting normal body function and negatively affecting the environment. Parabens are common preservatives found in many beauty products to reduce bacteria growth and extend shelf life. Parabens interfere with estrogen production and are linked to breast cancer, so it's best to limit this chemical as much as possible. Formaldehyde is also a common preservative that's a known carcinogen, specifically related to brain tumors. Vitamin E oil and grapefruit seed extract are also used as preservatives and antimicrobials and are completely safe. So, check your labels and go for the more natural shampoos and conditioners!
Lotions are probably the main beauty ingredient to watch out for, particularly body lotions because they cover the largest organ of your body, your skin, and aren't being washed off (and thus, absorbed). Some common ingredients to watch out for in lotions are of course sulfates and parabens, but also mineral oil. Mineral oil, while sounding like a great option for moisture, is actually terrible for your skin! It creates a barrier that suffocates your skin and doesn't allow moisture or secretions in or out. It ages your skin prematurely and interferes with cell development. Did you also know that baby oil is 100% mineral oil? Never use baby oil on your baby's delicate skin but rather an all-natural lotion alternative that soothes and moisturizes. Better lotion options would be Shea butter, jojoba oil, and vitamin E oil.
Deodorants have an array of chemicals and harmful substances. Stick deodorants have a compound in them called Propylene Glycol, which is the active ingredient in anti freeze! Direct contact can cause liver, kidney and brain abnormalities. Antiperspirants, which are deodorants that prevent you from sweating, contain aluminum which blocks the sweat glands under your arms. Aluminum mimics estrogen and can be linked to breast cancer, as well as brain and kidney problems. Unless you have really smelly pits, it's best to use a natural deodorant to avoid these toxins. I currently use an all-natural (minus the baking soda) deodorant bar from Lush that smells like essential oils and is gender neutral in scent. It works great in my opinion and doesn't have all those harsh chemicals!
5. Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent, especially scented detergent, has loads of hazardous chemicals that not only stay on your clothing and thus come in contact with your skin, but are also harmful for the environment. Because laundry-care product manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients on the packaging, it can be difficult to know what to buy. The term “fragrance” generally refers to several hundred chemicals that are hazardous! Laundry detergents are often derived from petrochemicals and contain synthetic fragrances, even when advertised as “fragrance-free.” Most companies add to their detergent optical brighteners, which emit blue light, making whites simply appear whiter. By design, optical brighteners stay in clothes after washing, which may cause skin irritation. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are also designed to stay in clothes and not fully rinse out, which means lingering chemicals come into contact with your skin! Fortunately it's easy to make your own laundry soap. Borax and castile soap are good and safe alternatives for washing your clothing.
6. Surface Cleaners
Floor and window cleaners, surface sprays, stain removers and many other cleaning products, contain the chemical preservative Methylisothiazolinone. This compound is a highly corrosive chemical that has been found to be toxic when ingested, inhaled, or applied to the skin or eyes. It's nearly impossible to avoid breathing in some of the product sprays when you're using them, so it's important that you know what's in your cleaning products to avoid any accidental ingestion. Even some "green" products can be deceiving so it's best to be informed about ingredients. You could try vinegar which cleans very well and is non-toxic. You can add some essential oils to make is smell yummy, too.
7. Dishwasher Detergent
The last product on this list to potentially go natural with is dishwasher detergent. A few chemicals and preservatives in most dish soaps are not only toxic to you and marine ecosystems, but they disrupt your endocrine system, may cause skin allergies and reactions, and are carcinogenic. Some ingredients to watch out for are phosphates, synthetic fragrance, formaldehyde, chlorine, ammonia and triclosan. Your best option is to opt for environmentally friendly soap and detergent and ones that are phosphate-free.
There you have it, a list of common products that we all use that contain harmful chemicals! Most of us just aren't aware of all the chemicals that live right inside our home, so the best option for us all is to be informed and make decisions that are mindful. Did any of these products surprise you? What steps, if any, have you taken to eliminate your exposure to toxins?