Why it’s Time to Switch to Natural Beauty Products
We’re all familiar with the concept of detoxing: it’s like spring-cleaning for your inner ecosystem. But what about what you put ON your body? Could the bottles on your bathroom shelf be putting your health in danger?
You wouldn’t think it when you lather on that sweet-smelling shower gel or body butter, but most conventional toiletries are packed with petroleum-derived chemicals and parabens that don’t do your skin, or your health, any good. It’s time to detox your bathroom from toxic toiletries.
Is Your Skin Absorbing Toxins?
You could be absorbing more toxins through your skin than through the foods you eat. That’s because your skin is your largest organ and provides a huge surface area through which toxins can migrate. Think of how a nicotine patch works: the nicotine is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.
What are you rubbing on your body? What is your skin absorbing on a day to day basis?
The Problem with Parabens
Parabens are a group of chemicals derived from p-hydroxibenzoic acid. They’re added to products as preservatives because of their antimicrobial, antibacterial and fungicidal effects. But if they’re good for product shelf-life, they’re no good for our health. Parabens are endocrine disrupters, which means they mimic certain hormones in the body, particularly oestrogen. And this is worrying because oestrogen is implicated in the development of certain cancers.
Parabens also compromise your dermal health. They can irritate and dry your skin (ironic that they are found in most moisturising creams). Some parabens even react to UBV rays and speed up skin aging and DNA damage.
Parabens are so toxic, the European Union carefully regulates their use and has even banned some altogether.
Some manufacturers argue that in such minute doses, these chemicals do not pose any threat to human health. But we’re not talking about small doses anymore. Most people use over 10 different body care products every day. Over months and years, you’re looking at an accumulation of a cocktail of chemicals the body struggles to process and eliminate. That’s why switching to natural beauty products is an absolute must.
Chemicals in Your Shower Gel
I remember the first time I realised my strawberry scented bubble bath contained the same ingredients as a heavy-duty detergent. My jaw dropped to the floor. Yes, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), found in almost all conventional shower gels (as well as toothpastes, hand soap, make up foundation, hair dye, scalp treatments, etc.), is actually a strong surfactant used to effectively degrease engines. I don’t know about you but I believe skin deserves a gentler treatment!
The major problem regarding SLS is less to do with the fact it’s found in industrial cleaners, and more to do with its damaging health effects. During the manufacturing process, SLS becomes contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, which is toxic to the liver, kidneys, brain and nervous system, and classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the CDC. It’s also a known groundwater contaminant—providing us with the double whammy of being bad for both our health and the planets.
Genotoxic Deodorants and Antiperspirants
I have to be honest, I’m not keen on antiperspirants—I don’t believe it’s healthy to block the skin’s natural ability to sweat. Worse, the ingredients used to make your skin impermeable are known to harm your health. Aluminium is the worst offender, with links to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is a genotoxin, which means it damages cellular DNA and can lead to mutations and cancer. And if that wasn’t enough, if you’re spraying antiperspirant you’re also breathing in a cocktail of parabens like propylene glycol and triclosan. Suddenly it doesn’t smell so sweet.
Toxic Anti-Aging Cream
It’s natural to want to slow down the signs of aging. What isn’t natural is what you’ll find in most anti-wrinkle creams. They might boast “exotic antioxidants and ground-breaking molecular technology,” but it’s lost in a toxic soup of chemicals (like phenoxyethanol, aluminium hydroxide, and a long list of parabens) sold to us under the guise of miracle skin potions. What’s more, many of these creams contain alcohol, which can dry and irritate your skin (counterproductive if you’re trying to smooth those fine lines).
So how can you begin detoxing your bathroom shelf? Start by taking a look at the ingredients on each bottle and decide whether you want to keep applying it to your skin.
Spotting the Chemicals in Your Toiletries: How to Choose Natural Beauty Products
Every year, thousands of new chemicals are released into the market (and most of them won’t even be tested for safety), so it’s impossible to have an exhaustive list of chemicals to look out for. Even so, the tips below will help you recognise and avoid some of the most common toxic toiletry ingredients:
- Butanol and any word with “butyl” (such as butylparaben, butyl alcohol, buylene glycol…)
- Any word with “prolyl” (propylparaben, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, propyl alcohol, cocamidopropyl betaine…)
- Any ingredient ending in “eth” means it is produced with ethylene oxide, a petrochemical (myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth…)
- Other petrochemicals to watch out for:
- Mineral oil or baby oil
- Parfum or fragrance
- Glycerine / glycerin / glycerol
- Paraffin wax / petroleum jelly
- Ethanols – like phenoxyethanol, ethanolamine, diethanolamine. Any word with “ethyl” indicates ethanol content – like diamine-tetracetacic acid, polyethylene glycol, ethylhexylglycerin.
Armed with this knowledge, you can now rid your home of toxic toiletries and give your body a break from exposure to these chemicals.
Detox and Replenish Your Bathroom Shelf
Once you’ve cleared some space on your bathroom shelf, it’s time for the fun part: shopping! Natural organic body care has come a long way in the last few years, and you can now find everything from safe deodorant to natural shampoo and toxin-free make-up. Treat yourself to products that truly love your skin and support your beauty naturally!
...and remember, qualified nutritionists at Healthy Being are available to offer further general advice to help guide you in selecting the right products. So please, feel free to contact us at anytime!
Mel Bee is a certified Detox Coach and freelance writer specialising in plant-based, planet-friendly living. She empowers her clients to dive into vibrant, abundant health with personalised detox plans that re-nourish body and soul.