by Dr. Isabel Sharkar, ND
Every day, toxins come straight at us from many directions. The two most important areas of your life that need a serious detox are your food and beauty products. By going clean and green as much as possible, you minimize your chances of dis-ease. In our current environment, minimizing toxic load, endocrine disruption and dis-ease is mandatory.
Do you know that the average American woman is bombarded with over one hundred chemicals every day from her personal care products alone? Many believe that our personal- care products are highly regulated, but they are not. Choose personal care products by companies that hold themselves to high non-toxic standards when it comes to ingredients and formulations. In the United States the law doesn’t require companies to be fully transparent and it’s apparent by the marketing and advertising we see. There’s also a thing called “greenwashing,” when companies label products as clean and natural but they are anything but free from toxins.
Our skin is our largest organ and with cancer, infertility and other chronic diseases on the rise, we have to take a closer look into our personal care products to avoid toxins and carcinogens. If you find yourself in doubt, check the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It is a great resource to research ingredients and their toxic levels. They have a new barcode-scanning app you can download on your smartphone that ranks products on cleanliness. If a product is labeled organic, natural, green, eco or non-toxic, take a closer look by learning to research ingredients and their safety levels.
Organic products are not monitored just because they are labeled organic and can still contain toxins. Only products certified by the USDA meet the government standard. Likewise, natural is likely not natural at all. Even the word “hypoallergenic” is not legally monitored and may contain allergens like formaldehyde-releasing preservative and fragrance.
Swap the following for safer, cleaner products:
Deodorant. Our underarms are one of the most important areas where we eliminate toxins through sweat. When we block sweat, we block the release of toxins, which may then become concentrated in the lymph nodes. Using antiperspirant products that contain aluminum, endocrine disruptors and potential carcinogens on this sensitive area near your breasts is not wise. Instead opt for brands like Schmidt’s Jasmine Tea or Rose and Vanilla, Spirit Nest Lavender Moon Organic or a mixture of diluted essential oils. Don’t expect this to replace your antiperspirant, that’s not the goal. Also, the more you detox, the more your body odor will decrease.
Toothpaste. Fluoride, sodium laurel sulfate and saccharin (artificial sweetener) are a few of the ingredients you can find in conventional toothpaste products. If our toothpaste is meant to fight cavities, why is there sweetener in it? Try a safer and organic alternative to your regular toothpaste like TheraNeem Naturals Neem Toothpaste or Himalaya Botanique Neem & Pomegranate toothpaste. You can always add on coconut oil pulling and brushing with activated charcoal. To fight off those cavities, put a couple drops of oregano oil on your toothpaste once a week.
Face and Body Oil. Face and eye creams are products you use daily and it’s difficult to navigate the best options. One thing is for certain—chemicals are not anti-aging. Switching from creams to light-based oils won’t clog your pores like you suspect. In fact, they will give you the glow you’ve always wanted. There’s nothing better than organic antioxidant packed products like Annmarie Gianni, Vintner’s Daughter and MOA Aphrodite Facial Oil to name a few. You can find USDA organic body oils like jojoba and sweet almond oil by Aura Cacia that contain only one ingredient and are more nutritive to your skin, especially when you alternate with argan oil, coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter.
Shampoo and Conditioner. This may be the toughest to find a product that suits your hair needs, yet it’s important to minimize toxins that we put directly on our scalp. Stripping your hair follicles of their natural oil with detergents and sulfates will make hair finer over time. Check out companies like Rahua, John Masters Organics and True Botanicals.
Nail Polish. Did you know that your nails are part of your skin? Nail polish is one of the most toxic beauty products, especially if you are the gel kind of girl. Luckily there are healthier alternatives like Butter, Zoya, Tenoverten, Priti, Mineral Fusion and Vapour. Don’t forget to remove polish with an acetone-free soy-based nail polish remover. Nail products like dibutyl phthalate (BDP), camphor, formaldehyde, toluene and acetone may all be carcinogenic.
Finding clean beauty swaps for the above is a wonderful place to start and it doesn’t end there. On your own time, learn more about ingredients like fragrance, parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, formaldehyde and phthalates. As an educated consumer, you vote with your wallet because your money is your vote. As you dial in your food choices and beauty products, your household products come next.
Dr. Isabel Sharkar is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit IndigoHealthClinic.com.