This biohack may feel like a real doozy because, once you realize how many products contain toxic ingredients, the prospect of cleansing your life of all toxins can feel daunting. Trust me, I’ve been there!
However, when tackled slowly and deliberately, switching to all-natural products is not as difficult or burdensome as it may seem. My own experience of making the change was quite gratifying and eye-opening.
First, some startling facts:
- The EU bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutations, reproductive harm, and/or birth defects. In comparison, the United States FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals. I still have difficulty wrapping my head around this 11 vs. 1,328 statistic… Yikes!
- Chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides show up in umbilical cord blood, and the time a baby spends in utero shapes everything in that baby’s future life: risk for disease, metabolism, appetite, intelligence, temperament, and more!
- Our bodies store toxins in our fat cells; the more toxins we expose ourselves to, the more toxic our bodies may become. A buildup of toxins can lead to skin issues, fatigue, aches and pains, and weight gain.
- Many chemicals in our products also disrupt our hormones. These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, and animal studies have suggested that our exposure to certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may actually impact three future generations.
- Consider the Nicotine patch. It works because the skin–the largest organ!–is able to absorb small amounts of Nicotine slowly (but surely). Now, consider the personal products you lather onto your skin or spray into the air each day. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “the average adult uses 9 personal care products each day, with 126 unique chemical ingredients. More than a quarter of all women and one of every 100 men use at least 15 products daily…The average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every day. Men, on the other hand, use 6 products daily with 85 unique ingredients, on average.” By the time a person is finished getting ready in the morning, he/she may have exposed him/herself to 100+ different chemicals, which takes us back to #1…the majority of those chemicals are banned in other countries but approved by our very own FDA!
Detox by Switching to All-natural Products
Like I said…this can get very overwhelming very quickly! You may think you don’t use many personal products, but once you start to tally the lotions, sprays, perfumes, and soaps you use on a daily basis, they really add up. Fortunately for you, I’ve been experimenting with all-natural products for a few months, and I have some suggestions! Below, see my recommendations by category…
- Body Wash: Replace your run-of-the-mill, toxic, harsh Dove or Olay body wash with Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap (sold almost everywhere, including Trader Joe’s!). It’s available in all different scents, but some can be quite strong. Baby Unscented and Almond are my favorites. Dr. Bronner’s is free from all toxins and is super gentle on the skin. It’s a win-win!
- Shaving Cream: Again, I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap. Just work it into a lather and it’ll work just as great–if not better!–as the standard shaving cream.
- Shampoo: I tried going truly “no poo,” meaning I’d “wash” my hair with a baking soda + water solution and rinse with an apple cider vinegar + water mix. Since my hair is very fine, this did not work so well. Also, I tried to use Dr. Bronner’s as my shampoo; some people are very successful with this. However, I experienced a lot of waxy buildup and it wasn’t pretty… I’m still experimenting with all-natural shampoos, but my current favorite is Intelligent Nutrients’ Harmonic Shampoo. It is somewhat pricey, but this shampoo works so well that I only need to wash my hair every few days. (Also, I’d rather pay a bit more and rest assured knowing I’m not scrubbing toxic chemicals into my scalp!)
- Conditioner: Intelligent Nutrients also makes a Harmonic Conditioner, which I’ve been using on the ends of my hair about once a week. However, I don’t know if this is a necessary step. It definitely makes my ends silky soft, but the shampoo works pretty great on its own.
- Face wash: For all facial matters, oil is your best friend! I recently purchased one of the Living Libations “Best Skin Ever” oils, which I plan to use for cleansing and moisturizing. Most all-natural gurus rave about Living Libations products, so I can’t wait to try it out! Prior to this, I was using Andalou Naturals Meyer Lemon + C Creamy Cleanser. Every single product in the Andalou Naturals line has the perfect pH level (between 4.5 to 5.5) for your skin, so their products are extremely gentle, soothing, and effective.
I don’t wear much makeup, so I’m probably not the best resource for this category. However, these are some staples I’ve tried and loved:
- Bronzer: Ecco Bella talc-free bronzer in Hibiscus. I did a lot of research, and this seems to be the best all-natural bronzer on the market. Be sure not to use too much for a light sun-kissed glow. I love it!
- Chapstick: Beauty by Earth Lip Balm. I have the Peppermint, but there are all different flavors.
- Lipstick: ILIA in all different colors! It is hydrating and lasts hours. (I usually apply a layer of the Beauty by Earth lip balm on top for extra hydration.)
- Mascara: W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara. Apparently, it is very tough to create an all-natural mascara. This one works well when applied just to the ends of your lashes. When I’ve applied it too close to my eyelids, I’ve experienced smudging and itching.
- Tinted moisturizer: Andalou Naturals Vitamin C BB Beauty Balm Sheer Tint SPF 30. (Aside from Amazon, you can buy Andalou Naturals products at many natural markets and Whole Foods stores.) I have gotten so many compliments on my complexion when I’ve worn this sheer BB cream. However, if you blow your nose or wipe your face, an orange-y film wipes off. Don’t be frightened; your face doesn’t look orange at all! Still, to reduce the orange residue, I now combine a pea-sized amount of the tinted BB cream with a pea-sized amount of this tint-free moisturizer, mix them together in the palm of my hand, and apply. Sometimes, I just wear the tint-free moisturizer on its own. Both have SPF, so you can mix it up!
Hand Soap and Body Lotion
- Hand Soap: Following this recipe, I created my own foaming hand soap using Dr. Bronner’s.
- Lotion: Remember that it is always a good idea to moisturize with Jojoba (or some other) oil, but I like to use an actual cream for my hands. My current favorite is the ACURE Fragrance-free Ultra Hydrating Body Lotion.
Household Cleaners and Laundry Detergent
- Glass cleaner: Simply combine 50% distilled vinegar (white) with 50% tap water in a spray bottle!
- Household cleaners and laundry detergent: Check out the Seventh Generation products. They sell most of their products at drug stores and Target. Also, read the Dr. Bronner’s label (or find an online cheat sheet) for cleaning and detergent recipes you can make yourself!
No all-natural deodorant will function as an anti-perspirant because it’s actually not good to prevent your pores from releasing moisture. So, don’t expect to stop sweating! The best deodorant I’ve found is made by Real Purity. It has a light, pleasing scent that masks any foul odor.
As I mentioned, it can feel absolutely overwhelming to detox your personal products. I could add so many more to the above list: toothpaste, floss, pore-cleansing masks, concealer, blemish treatments… However, I’ll save those for a future post. Bottom line: Take it slow. When you run out of one product, consider replacing it with an all-natural alternative. Within a year, you’ll be able to reduce your chemical exposure drastically!
One final note: Some brands make a lot of advertising claims but don’t live up to the hype. When in doubt, check my favorite resource: the EWG’s Skin Deep database. When you type in the names of your favorite products, (when available) you’ll see their scores on a scale of 1-10 (1 being least toxic, 10 being most). When I was cleansing my shower, beauty, and cleaning regimens, I visited this site several times each week!
Do you have a favorite all-natural product? If so, please share in the comments!
In each blog post, I aim to bring you food for thought (pun intended. See: my day job), but don’t take my word for it! Click on and read all of the links above to become your own expert on this topic; knowledge is power. The more you know and understand the “why” behind each biohack, the easier it will be to stick to it and realize you can’t live without it!
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