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How to Reduce Environmental Toxins
Toxins are everywhere so it is truly hard to avoid them all. What we can do is just reduce the amount of toxins that we come into contact with on a daily basis. Many people argue that there is no such thing as “toxins” and that these harsh chemicals don’t affect our health. But it is becoming more apparent that many chemicals found in common household products are actually carcinogenic. Not only do they cause cancer, but they mess up our hormones and they are very hard on our livers.
Our livers are responsible for rendering toxic chemicals inert- so if we are overloading ourselves with toxins, and not nourishing ourselves with a proper diet then our livers start to get slow and these toxins can recirculate longer before they are eliminated. Some people have such slow livers that these toxins are never eliminated, and they are stored in fat until the liver can function normally again.
What are these “toxins” to avoid?
A majority of the toxins that we come into contact with on a daily basis are products that we use ourselves: deodorant, makeup, perfume, hair dye, shampoo, dish soap, shaving cream, and more. The average woman puts on about 515 different synthetic chemicals daily – and most of that is just in the morning! There are about 82,000 known chemicals used in everyday household items, and most of them have never been tested for safety.
These chemicals are cancer causing, hormone disrupting (especially causing infertility), and skin irritants. The skin is the largest organ in our bodies and using these harsh products on our skin daily is truly wreaking havoc for our health.
Here are some of the most common toxins to avoid
1) BHA and BHT are synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers. They are also used in food products (a lot of them!! Think crackers, chips, and processed meats).
BHA is a probable carcinogen and has been shown to mess with hormone function.
BHT is also a hormone disruptor, as well as promoting tumor growth and has been shown to be extremely toxic to rats.
Both of these have been shown to have negative effects on hormones, especially reproductive hormones in both women and men.
2) Anything you can’t pronounce is probably something you shouldn’t be consuming or putting on your skin. P-phenylenediamine would be an example. This is a coal-tar dye used in hair dyes. It is derived from petroleum. Coal-tar is a recognized carcinogen to humans and yet most colored cosmetics contain it. This is why when you dye your hair, there is that crazy warning that no one ever reads about how you shouldn’t use it longer than it says to and if you get it near your eyes, it could cause blindness.
3) Parabens are one of the most widely used ingredients in cosmetics. You may actually be seeing now that some products claim to be “paraben free!” on their labels. Parabens are easily absorbed into your skin and they are known to mimic estrogen! There is a strong link between parabens and breast cancer because of the effects it has on humans.
4) One of the worst preservatives you’ll see are PEGs. PEGs stands for polyethylene glycols. I see glycols everywhere. The most common one I see is propylene glycol. I have seen this ingredient not only in lotions and other cosmetics but also in multiple food products and antifreeze. Now, why the heck is something that is in antifreeze in our food?? That scares me because unless you are truly reading all ingredients in everything, you have no idea what kind of poison you can be ingesting! PEGs are also known carcinogens and it is more than likely you are getting at least a dose of it through the day between food and cosmetics.
5) Other major offenders include triclosan (in anti-bacterial items, but it has been proven to not only be ineffective but unsafe), toulene (often found in nail polish), Pthalates ( another endocrine disruptor), oxybenzone, Formaldehyde ( do I need to explain why this one should be avoided?!) and Hydroquinone.
Take a look on the Skin Deep Guide on the Environmental Working Group’s website to see how your favorite products rank. They have about 60,000 products listed!
So what products are SAFE?
It’s easy to quickly glance at a label that claims to be “all-natural” and assume that it is truly all-natural, but unfortunately there are not many companies that are truly transparent when it comes to their ingredients. Many products that claim to be “natural” might have a few natural ingredients, but they tend to have even more toxic chemicals.
Look for brands that are transparent in their labeling. Many brands will advertise themselves as natural or organic when in reality they only contain a fraction of natural ingredients. Read labels and look for REAL ingredients- essential oils, herbal extracts, and pure ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, castor oil, etc.
I love brands like Nourish Organic, Alaffia, Earthley, and some items from Pacifica, Avalon Organics, and Shea Moisture (not all of their products are “clean”, but they do have quite a bit that are good).