This is the fourth and last article in a series of how to stay healthy by avoiding toxins. Read part one on staying healthy by avoiding toxins in your food. The takeaway is that eating organic whenever possible is wise. Read part two on staying healthy by avoiding toxins in your water largely by utilizing a water filter. Part three offers a multifaceted approach to avoiding toxins in your air by using an air purifier while also choosing natural home furnishings to ensure the cleanest air possible. Last, bringing awareness to toxins in body products is crucial. Conventional body products contain many toxins, such as soap, lotions, makeup, sunscreen, perfume, hair dyes and deodorants.
The skin is highly absorbent, and takes on any chemicals it comes in contact with. This is called dermal absorption, which means chemicals penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. This is important to note because the average woman uses 12 beauty products a day (men use 6 products a day) as reported by the Environmental Working Group. The chemicals used in these beauty products are tested for short term problems, like skin irritation, but they are not tested for long term safety. For example, Harvard Health Publishing reports that there is a strong link between hair dye and breast cancer. Many ingredients used in beauty products are carcinogenic (cancer causing) or linked to reproductive or developmental harm. These ingredients can be absorbed both through the skin as well as being inhaled (from the fragrance that they give off). The FDA does not regulate the ingredients used in beauty products. In America, the FDA has only banned 9 ingredients due to safety concerns, compared to 40 other countries that have banned 1400 different ingredients.
WebMD reports 11 ingredients and Skinkraft reports 16 ingredients that are known to cause harm. Some of these are familiar as certain cosmetic brands advertise not using them, such as parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, and PFAs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). These compounds are linked to hormone disruption and cancers. Either of these previously mentioned articles is a good starting point to research toxic
ingredients in body care. However, keep in mind that even while avoiding the plethora of “reported on” chemicals, there could still be a variety of toxins that are simply overlooked or lesser known. Just because they are not as mainstream does not mean they are not harmful. Since it is largely unregulated, the only truly safe option is to use all natural body products. Choosing beauty products from a health food store may be a good place to start, however it is wise to read the labels as many “natural” brands contain not all natural ingredients. The EWG’s list of safe personal care products is a wonderful place to start exploring personal care items.
The road to health isn’t always easy or inexpensive. However, switching to natural ingredients in your body products could mean a happier, healthier, and longer life. You will be steps ahead of many Americans if you are avoiding toxins in your body products, along with choosing other healthy options as discussed in the earlier articles on avoiding toxins in your food, water, and home environment, including choosing natural furniture, bed frames, organic mattresses, carpets and making sure you get fresh air often or use an air purifier. It would be near impossible to avoid 100% of toxins consistently, but when it is a reasonable option to take steps to avoid even a small percentage, it could have dramatic positive effects on long term health. Keep in mind that being healthy is the greatest form of wealth and abundance you will ever possess. Wishing you all continued health and wellbeing.