Would You Eat What You Put on Your Body??
As you all know, I am passionate about traditional, ancestral REAL foods and nourishing the body in natural ways. There are several lifestyle pieces to consider and address. In addition to what we put INTO our bodies with food, through our mouths, another factor regarding our health is what gets in our body through our skin. This leads me to being a firm believer in the saying, “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t put in it.” Let’s talk about why we should care about this and how this can be addressed in gradual, simple steps.
While I will also soon write about more natural feminine care products, this applies to everyone, both GUYS and GALS!
Key in on this - Your skin is the LARGEST organ in your body and it’s also your THINNEST! This means your skin quickly absorbs what you apply on it, including all the self-care products, lotions, makeup, deodorant and anti-perspirants (by the way, please do not use antiperspirants – we are meant to sweat to get out toxins!) Not only is poor food harmful and TOXIC to your body, so are a lot of self-care products out there…There are a boatload of chemicals and toxins in common lotions and other products that are applied directly onto the skin. What happens to them? They don’t just disappear! They are ABSORBED BY THE SKIN and shuttled DIRECTLY into the bloodstream circulating throughout the body. YIKES!
As I often experience with my students and clients AND what I experienced in my own health journey, many people begin to be mindful about what goes INTO their body by their mouth (food), yet they seem to think that what goes ONTO their SKIN is in a separate category and not connected to their health. This cannot be further from the truth…
But I can relate. When I first began my health journey years ago, I did not initially recognize the importance of addressing this vital piece! Then I realized the massive toxic load that I had been shuttling into my body by using common face moisturizers, lotions, etc. I slowly began transitioning away from the common toxic self-care products and towards more natural versions or eliminating them all together.
As the real food lifestyle is a JOURNEY, it takes time. No one is perfect in this - just chip away at it! I still continue to chip away from time to time!
So what products am I talking about here? Products like conventional deodorants, anti-perspirants, lotions (facial moisturizers and body moisturizers), chap sticks, hair gels, perfumes and colognes, toothpaste and other makeup related products are all VERY toxic for you and your body! Don’t fret - I’m here to tell you that you can transition into either eliminating some of these products all together OR changing them for less-toxic versions. To boot, you will NOT have to smell bad, look bad, or feel bad, AND you will do your body a favor by drastically reducing the toxic load! Sounds too good to be true? Keep reading and you’ll see just how easy it can be!
First, let’s learn about some of the most toxic ingredients in conventional soaps, lotions, and shampoos (source for some of this information - Chris Kresser):
- Triclosan: What is it? An antimicrobial agent found in shampoos and soaps. Problems? Research shows that it can be a liver cancer promotor, induce bacterial resistance to clinically important antibiotic drugs, AND have possible disruptions to the endocrine system.
- Parabens and Phthalates: What are they? A chemical found more in lotions. Problems? Links to increased links to cancer (breast cancer in particular) AND endocrine and reproductive problems.
- Sulfates and Fragrances: What are they? Sulfates (such as laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate) are chemicals often found in soaps, lotions and even toothpaste. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) creates the foaming action, which we have been brain-washed to mean “clean.” The real problem with SLES/SLS is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic by-product. Fragrances are unregulated chemicals that scent your soaps, lotions, and shampoo. Problems? There is little to no regulation on what can be in these AND they are often the culprits for skin irritation and skin problems such as dermatitis.
Additionally, there has been testing that revealed there are detected carcinogenic ingredients, such as 1,4-dioxane (a known carcinogenic) and phthalates in products when they aren’t even listed as ingredients on the bottle.
I don’t know about you, but these are good enough reasons to avoid these ingredients and choose less toxic products. As I suggested earlier, eliminating some is an option too and completely doable! Here are some that I tossed several years ago:
Here are some alternatives to conventional soaps, lotions, and shampoos:
- SOAPS: Cleaner commercial producers of self-care products are popping up everywhere now a days, and many of them are sold at health food stores (local health food stores in my area of Columbia, MD are MOMs, Roots in Clarksville and David’s Natural Market) such as Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap. Their soaps (I suggest diluting a bit) are great for cleaning everything from your skin and hair, to countertops and fruit and veggie skins! They also have Peppermint, Tea Tree, Almond, and Unscented. And if you soap prefer bars, they have you covered as well!! Check out Dr. Bronner’s six pack of bar soap HERE!
- LOTION: Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. With that and the moisture in this great fat source, I’d say it’s a great candidate to replace your conventional moisturizing lotion. I use it all year long, especially in the winter and have NO issues of dry skin! Nutiva cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil is a great one to start with. Coconut oil also can serve as a light sun protectant. I am not suggesting avoiding the sun!. However, if you are going to be out in the sun for a long period of time or outside of the good sun-ray time, it’s wise to use a little protectant or a lot, depending on your skin sensitivity. See my blog post HERE. Other fats that are great moisturizers (whether alone or as the base in a product) are a good quality olive oil, tallow from grass-fed cows and jojoba oil.
- DEODORANT: There are many, effective, natural ways to keep your pits dry and clean! If you’re feeling really adventurous, might I suggest baking soda, or an even mixture of baking soda and coconut oil (see how useful coconut oil can be!). Often, it doesn’t work GREAT for dark clothes - so be warned! You could also use a spritz or two of Ancient Minerals Magnesium spray under there! Believe it or not, salts like this have been used for odor blocking long before conventional deodorants were main-stream! Just do a test first – sometimes the magnesium spray is itchy and irritating to some people’s skin. There are also fun brands of natural deodorants like Primal Life Organics Skincare and Deodorants and my personal favorite: FAT FACE Skincare and Deodorants.
- TOOTHPASTE: There are many options that don’t include sodium laureth sulfate. They also don’t contain fluoride which is another topic all together! Check out Redmond’s Earth Paste that can purchased on Amazon in Peppermint, Wintergreen, or Lemon Twist, but can be found on Thrive Market for less.
Lastly, a wonderful online resource (they have an app too!) is the EWG’s Skin Deep database. You can read about all these common chemicals AND you can see how certain products rate with regards to toxic level. I encourage you to look up the self-care products that you are currently using. Also when you are searching for alternatives, use it to research new products. Remember, small amounts of toxins all add up!
I hope this article has been helpful for you as you transition to a less toxic, truly healthy lifestyle! Remember, it’s about reducing the toxic load and what goes on our skin shouldn’t be ignored!