This time last year, my best friend was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. It was one of the worst and most shocking times as she had always been so healthy. She was advised very early on by her medical team, to stop using her regular deodorant because it contains aluminium and parabens, both of which have been linked to causing cancer.
When my friend told me this, I could not believe that this advice was given post diagnosis, surely we should be advised of this in order to prevent ever having to receive this awful diagnosis?
Over the following weeks, I started to consider what chemicals I was putting on myself and my family. In the shower one morning, I realised that before 8am I had used shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face wash, exfoliant, toothpaste, deodorant, moisturiser, perfume and a variety of cosmetics. In fact, recent studies claim the average woman is exposed to 515 different synthetic chemicals every day.
I started to do some research and found that many of the chemicals that we put into or onto our bodies are not tested to the extent that we, as consumers, would believe. And in fact, many commonly added synthetic chemicals (like parabens) have very strong carcinogenic links .
Since December last year, I started to remove as many synthetic chemicals from mine and my family’s lives as I possibly could and I started to notice amazing changes. Very quickly, I began to find my skin and hair looked and felt much healthier. In fact, every time I go for a hair cut the hairdressers always exude compliments for how healthy and shiny my hair is. My skin, which I had always thought was naturally a bit dull, started to glow. And my teeth became stronger and whiter.
Friends and strangers often compliment me and my family on how healthy we look and as a result lots of people around us have started making changes too.
But, the benefits are not just external, since reducing our exposure to synthetic chemicals, we are all healthier and feel more energetic, plus mine and my daughters hormonal moods are far more leveled.
I am passionate about encouraging people to take responsibility for their own lives and a huge part of our wellbeing is considering what you are putting in or on your bodies. Whilst it may be overwhelming at first (and it was expensive to begin with to replace all of our toiletries) I urge you to look at the ingredients on your shower gel, soap, lipstick. There are some chemicals which I believe are a huge red flag and will avoid at all costs:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate This is a really good starting point. Anything with SLS… high-tail from it – it’s a common ingredient in anti-freeze and engine degreasers.
- Parabens This chemical is found in underarm deodorants and other cosmetics and has been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen and can drive the growth of human breast tumors.
- Phthalates. These plasticising ingredients (present in nearly three-quarters of 72 products tested by the US Environmental Working Group) have been linked to birth defects in the reproductive system of boys and lower sperm-motility in adult men.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT), a chemical used in shampoo to prevent bacteria from developing, which may have detrimental effects on your nervous system.
- Toluene. Made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances, chronic exposure to toluene has been linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus.
- Mineral oil, paraffin, and petrolatum. These products coat your skin like plastic – clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins. They also slow cellular development, which can cause you to show earlier signs of ageing, and are a suspected cause of cancer and disruption to hormonal activity.
The best products to put on your skin are ones you would be happy to eat! So stocking your cupboard up with the following is a cheap way to get started:
- Coconut Oil – You must have heard by now that coconut oil is heralded as a wonder product! I use it as a moisturiser, to remove make up and as an intensive hair conditioner for smooth ends.
- Vitamin E Oil – You can get pure vitamin E oil that is pure enough to eat from most health food shops. A little goes a long way and it works amazingly for fine lines and wrinkles.
- Shea Butter – This beautiful creamy product makes a luxurious moisturiser. Whip up equal amounts of shea butter and coconut oil to make the most wonderful moisture whip!
- Avocado – Mash up an avocado with a tea spoon of honey and slather it on your face for a luxurious face mask.
And for products you want to buy, check out your local health food shops or I love Bodykind.
I urge you to make some changes today, no matter how tiny!