In Part 1 of this article, we focused on why you should reduce your exposure to toxins and a few resources to help you get started. Now, let’s dig a little deeper and discuss some ways to reduce our exposure to the chemicals found in our everyday products. I know it’s not always going to be easy to make this transition, especially when some of the products we will discuss are ones that you may have become accustomed to.
Don’t forget, reducing your exposure to toxins is a process and it takes time. Start with one product you can easily change and feel you can live without. You will discover that this process will become easier and easier. Soon you will be a pro and will be making a more non-toxic environment for you and your entire family. So let’s get started…
Shampoo and conditioners are products that we use everyday, if not multiple times per day. Finding a perfect combination that works well with your hair and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg could be quite challenging. More and more grocery stores are beginning to carry a wider selection of products to choose from. You may even find travel sizes to test out the product’s effectiveness before investing in a larger product. Here too, Skin Deep can be a vital resource.
What about coloring your hair? Is it safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding? Unfortunately, the chemicals used in dyes change frequently and there are few studies available to assess safety and/or harm. Permanent dyes are applied to the scalp as well as hair and chemicals can be absorbed through the scalp, not to mention inhaled through fumes. For this reason, many experts agree to avoid coloring your hair during the first trimester of pregnancy. Highlights have been noted as a safer option since the chemicals used do not touch the scalp and the hair is wrapped in foil which contains the fumes. Again, more and more eco hair salons can be found; try searching Ecovian or Spa Index.
Did you know that herbs, vegetables and fruits can also be used to enhance your hair color? Try the following:
- Lighten your hair with lemons and sun
- For blondes: Chamomile, calendula, rhubarb root, saffron, tumeric and yellow flowers
- For brunettes: Henna powder, black tea and coffee
- For red-heads: Beets, carrots and henna
Eyebrows, upper lip, arm pits, bikini area and legs are all areas women keep well groomed. Waxes can contain chemicals, although some salons use better quality wax. Another point is that salons may not utilize the wax machine correctly either by not keeping the temperature of the wax at the recommended temperature or by re-inserting a used applicator into the wax. Dirty wax can carry many risks, including transmission of herpes and other infections. Remember, wax may be used for both facial and bikini waxing.
An alternative to waxing is the Indian art of threading. Threading uses a thread to remove hair from the root and although it is a bit more painful, the shaping is phenomenal! A little tip, opt out of the baby powder that is used prior to threading. Baby powder contains talc (not to mention other worrisome chemicals) and should be avoided. After the threading, an astringent is applied; most use Witch Hazel. Bringing your own ointment can ensure only the highest quality products are used on your face (Earth Mama Bottom Balm is great because it promotes healing and has anti-inflammatory properties).
For legs and bikini area, try a shaving gel that has safer health ratings such as Dr. Bronner’s shave gel.
When you sit down and think about it, we use many different types of soaps. A soap for bathing, washing our hands and faces (not to mention the soaps we use to wash dishes…but that’s another discussion). Many soaps contain surfactants which aide in foaming. 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen, is a by-product of these surfactants. In addition, triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent, is commonly found in many hand soaps. Triclosan is not only harmful to humans by killing bacteria, good bacteria included which makes us more susceptible to harmful bacteria, but it also harms the environment. Safer options are readily available at your local grocer. Castile soap is a great versatile soap that you can use for all of your skin care needs, from hand wash to facial cleaning.
Aluminum in present in many antiperspirants and has been linked to Alzheimer’s andbreast cancer. A popular natural deodorant, the Crystal rock, deodorizes naturally by inhibiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria. However, this popular deodorant is not aluminum-free. Dr. Mercola states, “The aluminum in crystal deodorant stones is a different type of compound known as an alum, the most common form being potassium alum, also known as potassium aluminum sulfate. Potassium Alum or Ammonium Alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin. They form a protective layer on your skin that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. These deodorants are recommended by many cancer treatment centers.” But again, they are not aluminum-free. Terra Naturals deodorants are vegan and aluminum-free (see their ingredient list here).
Baking soda can be just as effective as a deodorant. There are many recipes available to make your own homemade deodorant using baking soda, cornstarch, olive/coconut oil and essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, lemon, etc. It’s easy to make, cheap and lasts for months.
Most perfumes have synthetic fragrances and are loaded with toxins. Not ready to give up your favorite scent? Reduce your exposure by spraying the perfume on your clothes instead of your skin. Ready to toss your favorite perfume and opt for a healthier option? Essential oils are the answer. Just mix with olive oil, almond oil or jojoba oil to create your own signature non-toxic perfume.
Unfortunately, until there are better regulations on chemicals, we all must safeguard our health by becoming more knowledgeable about what’s in the products that we use and how we can reduce our exposure.