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Reduce Chemical Use, Green Clean How-To
Nowadays, the average person spends around 90% of their time indoors, and studies show that the air we breathe indoors can be even more polluted than it is outdoors! Add to that the chemicals that we put on our skin each day, and we’ve got a toxic recipe with the potential to prevent us from feeling our best and even worse, possibly lead to dangerous health problems.
Take a look at this list of some of the most commonly found chemicals in cosmetics and beauty products, and the dangers they may have:
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) – Found in many beauty products and household cleaners. The manufacturing process contaminates SLES with 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogenic by-product.
- Parabens – Found in deodorants and other cosmetics. Shown to mimic the action of female hormone Estrogen, which may promote breast tumour growth
- Musks – Used in many synthetic fragrances. Can accumulate in the body, showing the potential to cause skin irritation, hormone disruption, and cancer.
- Phalates – Found in shampoos, fragrances, and deodorants. Linked to birth defects in the male reproductive system and decreased sperm motility in adult men.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) – Used in shampoo. Thought to have the potential to cause harmful effects on the nervous system.
- Touluene – Found in most synthetic fragrances. Long-term exposure has been linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver/kidney damage, and negative effects on the developing fetus.
- Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum – These are known to clog pores and create toxin build up. They also slow cellular development, which can cause earlier signs of aging, and are a suspected cause of disruption to hormonal activity.
Your Cleaning Products: Did you know that research has found that a woman’s risk of breast cancer is twice as high in those who report the most use of cleaning products and air fresheners, compared to those who rarely use them? The greatest correlation has been found with air fresheners and mildew cleaners. Reduce your exposure to chemicals by using non-toxic products. Whenever possible, make your own products so you know what goes into them – you may also save money in the process!
All-Purpose Cleaning Spray – Try 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. Or, for a stronger product combine 2 cups water, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, and ¼ cup lemon Juice. The key to the latter formula is to make it as you go, as hydrogen peroxide isn’t stable when diluted and will lose its effectiveness after a few days.
Drain Cleaner – Sprinkle baking soda down the drain followed by apple cider vinegar and let it bubble for approximately 15 minutes, then rinse with hot water.
Red Wine Stains – Presoak the stain with vodka, and then wash as usual to remove.
Window/Mirror Cleaner – Combine ¼ cup white vinegar with 1 litre of water. Spray and wipe clean.
Air Fresheners – Try 100% pure essential oils to freshen your home while avoiding the artificial chemical additives.
Your Skincare Routine: There are thousands of chemicals used in your personal care products, and with skin being your largest, thinnest, and most permeable organ, whatever you apply to it can be directly absorbed into your body and enter your bloodstream. Your skin can be an excellent way of delivering medications to your body so we have to assume that it could be the same when it comes to chemicals? It is actually thought that putting chemicals on your skin and scalp may be worse for you than eating them, because when you eat something the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body whereas on the skin the chemicals absorb directly into the bloodstream without a filter, heading to your organs. The good news is that there are plenty of natural beauty products and cosmetics available today. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is make your own personal care products – that way you know exactly what’s going into them, and have access to more whenever you run out!
All Natural Moisturizers – try coconut oil for your face and body. It’s a great moisturizer and contains potent antibacterial and antiviral properties. Try it as a conditioning hair treatment too!
All-Natural Acne Spot Treatment – You can speed up healing and prevent scarring by using oil of oregano on a breakout Put 2-3 drops in water and dab on acne spots with a cotton ball (do not use on broken skin, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards).
All-Natural Deodorant – Aluminum is commonly used in deodorants & antiperspirants and has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s, and other health conditions. As an alternative, mix ¼ cup organic cornstarch, ¼ baking soda or arrowroot powder, and 6 tablespoons coconut oil together until smooth. Put in a jar and apply with your fingertips daily. The coconut oil is antibacterial and the baking soda deodorizes. Here are the KEY things to do, or avoid, to reduce chemical exposure in your body and home:
- Wait a few days before picking up your dry-cleaning, or hang it outside for a day or two before bringing it in. Dry cleaned clothes emit chemicals right after cleaning that have been linked to cancer and neurological problems.
- Use an Air Purifier – to improve your indoor air quality and reduce pollution within the home.
- Fill your home with beautiful household plants that will help filter the air and provide you with energizing oxygen each day.
- Switch to non-toxic household cleaning products
- Use homemade beauty products and natural cosmetics wherever possible
- Eliminate the use of air fresheners & perfumes/colognes, or use 100% natural alternatives
Nicola Kempinska, BKin, BA, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor located in Burlington, Ontario. Kempinska practices Family Medicine, with a special interest in Anti-Aging Medicine & Longevity, Women’s Health, and Pain Management.