Let’s play a game, shall we? Quickly count up the number of products you use on your body before you leave your house in the morning. I’m talking about things like shampoo and conditioner, body wash and shaving gel in the shower, lotions, facial moisturizers/creams and deodorant. Are you somewhere between 5-10 items yet? Keep going. Now add in your makeup routine (for the ladies out there): foundation, powders, eye shadows, mascara, lipstick. Are you quickly approaching 20 items? What about hair gel, hairspray, serums and leave-in conditioners? And don’t forget that spritz of perfume or cologne before you walk out the door. If the length of your list is surprising, now think about how many chemicals occur in those products. The average woman is exposed to 168 chemicals every single day just by using typical products on her hair and body. Given that our skin is the body’s largest organ, it is easy to see how chemicals can enter our bodies and potentially wreck havoc.
It wasn’t until I started dating Mike that I first heard about the dangers of chemically-based products. Mike’s dad had converted their home into a scent-free environment several years prior. They used non-scented versions of all their household cleaning and body products including body soap, laundry detergent and even hand soap. They made the change after Mike’s dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He underwent testing, surgery and treatment and thankfully emerged cancer-free. Like anyone who overcomes such a diagnosis, his natural response was to re-evaluate his entire lifestyle and eliminate as much as he could that was potentially causing harm to himself and those around him. The more research he did, the more he realized that products we use every day to enhance our lives are actually doing terrible things to our bodies. When I heard all of this, I’ll admit I was skeptical. If all of these products that everyone uses caused so much harm, how are they allowed to be sold in stores? So, I did some research of my own.
I read about an app online that has single-handedly changed the way I shop for personal care products. Think Dirty allows you to scan the barcode or type the name of a product and within seconds, it will give you a rating from 1-10 of how “dirty” it is. It breaks down the score by showing you the “dirty meter” for 3 categories: Carcinogenicity, Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity and Allergies and Immunotoxicities. Then, you can explore the ingredients list and find out just what is in these products we slather all over our bodies. Once I looked up one product from my bathroom vanity, I was hooked.
Every single product in my bathroom vanity listed “fragrance” in the ingredients. I dug a little deeper and found out that “fragrance” is a known hormone disruptor. That didn’t sound good, but what did that mean? In a nutshell: “Fragrance” in your products contains potentially thousands of synthetic compounds that are used to give your favourite products that pleasant smell. Phthalates, most commonly used in fragrance, have been scientifically proven to mimic the hormones in our bodies and cause issues with puberty, fertility, thyroid function and reproductive health. I don’t know about you, but I’d like the option of having control over my hormones.
Once I started, I found so many more disturbing facts. Parabens in so many different forms like butylparaben and methylparaben were in most lotions and cleaners used as a preservative or anti-fungal agent. Doesn’t that sound great? These bad boys have been linked to various forms of cancer including breast and ovarian cancer and as an added bonus they’ve been known to actually disrupt the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs. Formaldehyde Releasing Agents are found in almost every type of cosmetic out there from powders and eyeshadows to mascaras and lipstick. As if the thought of embalming yourself isn’t enough to make you want to switch, they may trigger eczema, contact dermatitis and are (wait for it) known human carcinogens. As in… known to cause cancer in humans. Great.
I could go on and on about the chemicals lurking in our products and why you should switch, but I’d be here for days. I’m not going to lie or sugar coat it – making the change to a chemical-free (or chemical-reduced) lifestyle was difficult. The main reason for that was because I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. A lot of people say they would like to make the change, but alternative products are expensive, difficult to find or don’t work as well. In the coming weeks, I hope to open your minds to a different way of caring for yourself and your home. I know the transition can be difficult, so I plan to prevent your suffering by passing along the knowledge and resources I have accumulated in my experiences so you don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting! For anyone out there who is reading this and thinking that they would like to eliminate known human carcinogens, hormone disruptors and immunotoxins from their lives, I’m here to offer some help and advice.
This post is the first in my Going Natural series. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing information about my experience transitioning to a more natural lifestyle, giving you some tips and tools that you can use in your own home and sharing some DIY recipes for home and beauty products without all the chemicals. It is my hope that by sharing this information, you will feel empowered to make some changes in your own lives. It’s important to remember that even small changes can make a big impact in our lives. You may not be able to control everything in the environment around you, but shouldn’t your home be the one place you can count on to be safe and healthy? Join me on this journey as we explore together.