In part 1 we established the adverse impact of everyday environmental toxins on our health, and we understand how important it is to reduce our skin exposure to these harmful chemicals. Let us now take a look at a few simple tips to put this knowledge into practice. Here are my top natural skincare products:
Replace your –Body lotion–Hand cream–Foot cream–Lip balm–Hair conditioner with organic unprocessed Shea butter!
It is an excellent moisturiser and a great one-ingredient-all-rounder. A true winner in the world of natural skincare products. In my experience, far superior to a well known coconut oil. I buy it in large 500g or 1kg glass jars and use it from top to toes.
It has a very delicate natural scent, which I love. But if you prefer to infuse it with essential oils, you can do so by melting it in a double boiler over low heat. Then add your favourite essential oils. You can also add some extra virgin olive oil to make it more spreadable. Or why not squeezing a contents of a vitamin E capsule to the mix to make it even more nourishing for your skin.
Btw – you can eat it too! Use it in recipes instead of butter or oil.
Skip your hair conditioner for a diluted apple cider vinegar.
I keep mine in a spray bottle and apply after my shampoo. Keep it on your hair for a few minutes and wash off. The smell will be gone by the time your hair is dried. You will need to experiment with the strength of the mixture, drier hair will need more vinegar. My hair is dry so I use about 50ml in a 200ml spray bottle.
It leaves your hair silky and shiny. Does wonders for an itchy scalp too!
Use an aluminium-free deodorant. Mind these are not antiperspirants, as it is the aluminium that actually blocks the pores and prevents perspiration.
Skin, alongside your lungs, kidneys and liver, is your main detoxifying organ. Blocking the pores means all the harmful substances are prevented from being expelled. They may clog up lymph nodes around the armpits and breasts, and have been linked with breast cancer (1).
Because it allows for perspiration, you may need to use your aluminium-free deodorant more often during the day. In the light of the research and a possible link with ill-health, it seems like an acceptable sacrifice.
Use mineral sunscreen instead of chemical based products.
Mineral sunscreens (physical blockers) reflect ultraviolet rays from the sun and contain one of two active ingredients, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Chemical blockers contain chemicals that absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays (avobenzone, oxybenzone*, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate).
Last year a study (2) was published reporting on systemic absorption of the active ingredient in the chemical sunscreens. It turned out that application of commercially available sunscreens resulted in blood concentrations of avobenzone that highly exceeded the threshold established by the American Food and Drug Administration. It is absolutely shocking to learn that this type of research hadn’t been conducted prior to releasing these products on the market many years ago!
Sunscreen ingredients can affect hormones and have been found to cause coral bleaching and coral death (3)!
On the other hand, nanoparticles of zinc or titanium dioxide used in the mineral products have not been shown to penetrate beyond the level of the skin and migrate into the bloodstream. This means that they are unlikely to create health risks. They may leave a white residue on your skin, so be aware of this effect. Again – a small sacrifice compared to the health gain!
Use essential oils instead of fabric conditioners in your laundry
It’s one of the simplest solutions to not only reduce your personal exposure to chemicals, but also to cut down on plastic use! Simply add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the fabric conditioner drawer of the washing machine, and put your wash on as usual. You can add a few more drops during the rinsing cycle. Tea tree oil on baby clothes is safe to use and will have a disinfecting effect. Always use premium quality oils for the best effect.
These are only a few simple ideas that you may find easy to start with. Every little thing you do will count towards reducing your total exposure risk. Other strategies include plastic-free households, consuming organic, unprocessed foods, use of water filters and even whole house air filtration systems.
Respect your bodies, respect the environment – use natural skincare products. Stay healthy and happy.
*Even if you avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone, you may encounter it in other products, including plastic, hairspray, and nail polish.