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Clean Living

natural skin care spa

Pun intended? Maybe, maybe not… read on and ponder.

I mulled over other potential titles: Avoiding Body Care Toxins or Detoxing Your Body Care.

I try to avoid being doom and gloom around health topics. Conversation can easily slip and slide in that direction. My intention is to invite people into a holistic walk, a path of joyfully creating wellness, while living in awareness. Our lifestyle choices and habits are a backbone of how our body expresses its wholeness, health, and vitality.

Let’s dive into the topic: chemicals in our body care, makeup, and hygiene products, etc.

Keep in mind, the larger the company – the bigger the product batches that are made, shipped, and warehouse stored for weeks and months. Large batch products, even if the base ingredients are natural, generally require chemical preservation to avoid mold and bacterial growth in shipping and storage (shelf life). Small batch products, purchased locally and used in a reasonable time (varies depending on the product and ingredients) are easier to make chemical free.

I will use the example of a lotion. A lotion is a combination of oils and water-based ingredients. Mixing oil and water creates a greater possibility of microbial growth. Commercially prepared lotions will have chemical preservatives. A lotion made and used at home, in small batches, can be chemical free.

However, when making your own lotions at home:

  • only make what you will use in about 3 months and store most of that lotion in the refrigerator,
  • only take out the amount you will use within a week’s time and put that amount into a separate and very clean container,
  • when transferring from the refrigerator container to the weekly use container use a sterilized spoon (I boil the spoon head, bowl, for 10 minutes on stove top. I could also soak it in rubbing alcohol or high proof vodka),
  • each week’s container should be a newly cleaned container,
  • when making the actual lotion always use utensils, containers, and blender that has been well cleaned in hot soapy water. Also, do not contaminate the product as you go, such as sticking your fingers into the product.

Conversely, making herbal infused oils, to massage into your skin, leaves out the water ingredient and creates a more stable product.

I give these examples as an explanation of why large batch, corporate made, shipped all over the world, products have to be preserved with something. Chemicals are the go-to preservative with power to get the job done. Another however here, those chemicals are often not well researched, if at all, on their impact on human and/or environmental health. Chemicals are known disrupters of hormonal, immune, liver, nervous system, and blood health. Just naming a few here when in reality, if something is toxic to any part of your body, it is toxic to the whole. We are a whole being. The whole works together.

A study published in 2016 showed that blood levels, of endocrine disrupting chemicals from body care products, dropped significantly after 3 days of not using any toxic products.

Another study from 2023 showed that switching to body care products without parabens and phthalates turned breast cancer genes off.

These studies have huge implications about the absorption of product ingredients into the bloodstream and resultant impacts on cellular health and our genetic makeup.

The products studied are types put onto the skin for hair care, skin care, and personal hygiene (think anti-perspirants, deodorants, body washes, etc.)  I will place links to the studies at the bottom of this post.

I will now use laundry products as another example. These products, seeping into the fibers of our clothing, are not always thought of in regards to their absorption into the body. Laundry products are put on cloth, not rubbed onto our skin.

Let’s take a pair of jeans that have a stain on them. The stain gets squirted with a highly scented, chemical stain removing product. After the stain treatment timeframe, the jeans are tossed into the wash with a scented and color dyed laundry detergent. The rinse cycle may include a dose of fabric softener that is dyed and scented or perhaps a scented dryer sheet gets tossed into the clothes dryer. All of the chemical scents and synthetic ingredients of these products are in the fiber of the clothing, in contact with your skin, and can be absorbed into your bloodstream.

Chemicals, in laundry products or body care products, must move through the bloodstream and through the pathways of detoxification. After detoxifying in the liver methylation process, our body releases the breakdown products in our solid waste, urine, breath, sweat, etc.

Daily use can create an accumulation of toxins in the body. Toxins are often stored in fat tissue. Storage of toxins happens because the pathways of detoxification (methylation in the liver) are overwhelmed trying to process all that comes at it in a day’s time. The body needs to tuck them away somewhere until it can deal with them through the pathways of methylation.

Toxins are directly absorbed into the body and then immediately into the bloodstream and present a health problem or two.  The stored excess toxins, that are pulled from the bloodstream and tucked away in fat tissues, are an accumulative problem for our health. Studies have been done linking these toxins to endocrine disruption (hormonal in nature), immune dysregulation, metabolic injury, nervous system disruption, reproductive and developmental concerns as a short list.

How am I doing so far in the doom and gloom department?

What is one to do to avoid chemicals and prevent a daily overload of bodily care toxins?

The simple answer would be to make everything you use.  Stick with me here, the groans of “who has time for that Paula,” can be heard.

Body care products can be made out of whole food ingredients, much like the ingredients purchased or grown to nourish the body through eating. Perhaps an easier option is to research small companies that specialize in making chemical free body care in small batches. Know your companies as I recommend knowing your farmers.

I invite you to:

Read ingredients on everything you buy.

Read those ingredients every time you buy. Ingredients can change based upon availability and costs and if a company changes ownership. If a small company becomes a corporate buy out, pay attention as product ingredients will very well change.

Examples of strategies to take:

  • Making unscented skin lotions out of organic oils such as jojoba and coconut oil.
  • Using salt sprays or moistened salt chunks for natural underarm deodorants. Salt is anti-microbial and underarm odor is from microbes accumulating in our natural sweat. Salt, as an underarm deodorant, has been used by many cultures for centuries.
  • Laundry soap out of borax and powdered natural soap flakes.
  • Skip fabric softener or use white vinegar in the rinse cycle.
  • Look for shampoos without Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). (https://nutrafol.com/blog/15-shampoo-ingredients-to-avoid/)

Making change, in household and body care products, can be accomplished over time. Taking one product at a time, perhaps weekly, and find a more natural choice. Within a few weeks or months you will have made major changes. Trying to change everything at once could be overwhelming. Life and our inner vitality benefits from more peaceful resolutions; slow and steady changes.

Environmental Working Group’s website can be used to research body care ingredients and companies that make products to cleaner standards: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Recipes, for making products at home, are easy to locate on the internet. One of my favorite blogs for this is Mountain Rose Herbs.

Glossary

  • Parabens are synthetic chemicals used as preservatives in body care, cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical products.
  • Phthalates are chemical compounds used as plasticizers, to make things pliable, and are used as solvents and stabilizers in products.
  • Sulfates are found in skin and hair products as a sudsing agent for cleansing.

PubMed Studies:

Breast cancer study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36746253/

Adolescent blood levels study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26947464/

Shared information is my thoughts – education – experience woven together into my lived wisdom and not the Potsdam Food Co-op’s information.

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