Our journey to optimal health and wellness cannot be complete unless we take what we put on our body, just as seriously as what we put in our body.
Our skin is the largest organ in our body and has numerous functions from heat regulation to protecting us from foreign microbe invaders. While most of us respect that our skin plays a major role in our health, too many of us do not realize the permeable nature of skin when it comes to the chemicals it comes in contact with.
Think about everything you put on your skin. Today this is normally at least a handful or two of products daily for most of us, like lotions, perfume, shaving cream, soaps, body washes, sunblock, deodorants, anti-perspirants and various make-up. Do you ever think about how many chemicals from these products enter your body or how they affect your health?
Most of us just stop at putting the products on, not going further to think a little about what actually happens to them. Never mind that just on top of our skin alone, they can cause various allergic reactions and problems. To add to this, our skin is capable of absorbing more than most of us realize, and the worst part is that whatever our skin absorbs ends up in our blood stream, liver and other parts of our body. There, these chemicals can cause all sorts of damage from DNA mutations leading to increased cancer risk, to causing all sorts of toxicities, sensitivities and damage.
So why are more of us not concerned?
Unfortunately most of still live with the idea that if it is on the shelf, then it must be okay. Others of us simply get entranced by the fancy marketing ads. While others yet, simply choose to be ignorant about connecting the dots between all the chemical exposure in our lives and the various conditions or diseases we come down with.
We know today that there are thousands of chemicals in our personal care products, which are either blatantly not safe, whose safety is not fully known, or which have not been properly tested, etc. In fact, even when this or that chemical is not found to pose any harm, no one out there can tell us with 100% certainty what the combinations of the different chemicals together can do, in terms of harmful reactions in our system.
While we may still not know for sure the exact effects of many of the chemicals out there, we do know for sure about some. Many chemicals are directly linked to all sorts of cancers, cell damage, are hormone disrupting, cause reproductive toxicity, are neurotoxic, immunotoxic, cause liver toxicity, all sorts of allergies and more! Many of these are petrochemical-based also causing serious environmental harm.
The following is a list of the chemicals which we know enough about today and which should be avoided (in no particular order). If you see any of these on your personal care product and you are serious about optimal health, you should not buy or use that product, no matter what the front label may say or which company it comes from. You can click on any of the ingredients to learn more about the product from the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
Parabens (any chemical name that ends with the word paraben, like propylparaben)
Sodium laureth sulfate or lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Propylene Glycol (PPG) or Polyethylene Glycol (PEG, like PEG-4 Laurate)
DEA (all ingredients with DEA after first word, like cocamide DEA)
Benzyl Alcohol or Denatured Alcohol
Oxybenzone or PABA
Aluminium ingredients (like Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex PEG)
Petroleum distillates including Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Liquid Paraffin
The Natural Personal Care Solution
So what can each of us do? Quiet a lot in fact. We are more empowered than we think, we just have to exercise our power.
First off, start reading all your personal care product ingredients. This is a must today.
Now you may be thinking, “why would I waste my time reading those ingredients, if I don’t even understand which ones are okay and which ones are harmful?” That is a great point and the solution to this is three-fold.
Get to know the 10 most common ingredients above and start by ruling out any product(s) containing them. You can write them down on a small wallet card and carry them around, until they become second nature.
Immediately switch to more natural options (they may not be perfect, but better than the typical commercial brands).
Use only products with ingredient lists you can recognize and know what they are, like real plant names. This includes highly natural products only.
Secondly, I cannot emphasize enough the part about reducing the amount of personal care products you use. We simply do not need even half the stuff we use or think we need. Clever marketing and advertising makes us think we do, but most of these products are a waste of our money and causing more health and environmental harm, than any benefit they provide.
When I chose to become aware of the toxicity as well as the unreliable data when it comes to the ingredients in personal care products, I took a serious look at what I really needed and what I didn’t, doing a serious elimination. First went all perfume, followed by body washes, body sprays, lip stick and other make-up, all hair products aside form shampoo and anti-perspirants, just to name the main items. The result is that I feel better than ever, not weighed down by chemicals all over my body and artificial scents. I find a simple, natural soap, toothpaste, shampoo, some cream or oil moisturizer and some eye make-up is more than enough to satisfy both my personal hygiene and physical appearance.
How To Choose A Natural Personal Care Company?
As I mentioned above, moving from the typical commercial brands to natural companies is a good step in minimizing the chemical risk. However, due to the fact that our world works as it does, where profit and greed come before human health, even natural sounding or looking personal care products today are not exactly what they seem.
So can we trust any companies or products? First the bad news, then the good news. The bad news is that unless one works at one of these companies directly in the lab where products are made or makes the products themselves, we will never know with 100% certainty what really went into the product. The truth is that even when the ingredients on the bottle don’t sound harmful, the extracting or creation process of those ingredients may have used environmentally or health toxic chemicals, resulting in tainted ingredients with things that most makers of the products do not even know.
Labelling laws exist, and companies each day find ways to work around the system in how they name things, what they add, or don’t add, report, etc. Ultimately we have to understand, anything bottled and heavily processed is not natural, no matter what the front label says. The same goes for food.
We therefore cannot simply rely on words like “organic”, “natural” or “herbal”—again, always read all your ingredients. Words like this may simply be making the products sound way better than they are, giving us a false hope about their safety. The ingredient label is the only place you learn about what the product is really all about.
The good news is that there are companies, which are more trustworthy and which really are trying to make a difference and stand out from the crowd. And no these are not usually the products you think, like the ones from high end department stores with hefty price tags. There you are basically paying for expensive chemicals. Sometimes the simplest items, offer the most benefit.
Thus I leave you with some natural personal care options, that I have come to know and trust. You can start at whatever level you feel ready for. Level 3 is the least we can do, as it is a step up from any synthetic commercial product. There are other company options of course in each of the levels, which I put together to give you an idea of what to look for when comparing natural products. As I learn about more companies and differences, I will put together further resources in the future.
1st Level Optimal Natural Products
Nadine Artemis’ Living Libations
Products made from high quality, pure essential oils, plant and herbal infusions, with all natural, no synthetic, toxic, chemical or unfavourable ingredients. Made with your health and the environment in mind, made directly by the herbal expert and aromachologist selling them.
2nd Level Excellent Natural Products
Products made from high quality, pure essential oils, plant and herbal infusions with all natural, no synthetic, chemical or unfavourable ingredients. Made with your health and the environment in mind, by an outside laboratory source.
3rd Level Good Natural Products
Products made with mainly natural, good quality ingredients, and some possible unfavourable ingredients. Made with an emphasis on your health and the environment in mind, in a company style facility.