By Gillian B

When first getting into healthy living, most people start by questioning their diet and make the switch to cleaner, organic and hypoallergenic options, which is great! Tidying up your fridge will take you a long way towards feeling your best. But unfortunately, there’s a lot more to it! One key piece of vibrant health is doing as much as we can to limit our exposure to the toxins of our environment.

And this all starts with the skin! It is our body’s largest organ and is our number one defense system against the elements of our increasingly harsh world. It is important to keep in mind that everything that touches our skin enters the bloodstream and will need to be processed by the liver. In a podcast, I once heard natural beauty expert Nadine Artemis say: whatever we put on the skin is absorbed more quickly and directly than that which we’ve eaten and digested!

The truth is that some of the ingredients in beauty products aren’t pretty at all!(2) World renowned Environmentalist, David Suzuki, says: “U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors”. Understanding what’s in our beloved beauty products is key, so hopefully this article inspires you to read labels and  make the switch to natural body care products.

Natural Health Authority, Dr. Mercola, states: “Almost 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetics, and only about 10 percent have been evaluated for safety. Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, they don’t often exercise it…”(1)

This means that ingredients like plasticizers (used to keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks) end up in your pretty perfumes and body creams. Imagine what this kind of repeated exposure is doing to your skin, your health and to the environment! (2)

The scary fact is: women put an average of 168 different chemicals on their bodies daily!(1)

Here is a list of some of the most toxic ingredients to look out for and avoid:

1) Triclosan– Often used in anything labeled anti-bacterial such as antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers and hand soaps and sanitizers.(2)

2) Fragrance or Parfum– This one word on the ingredient list of hair, body products and cosmetics can contain up to 100 different chemicals. Watch out for even those products labeled unscented!(2)

3) Parabens– Mostly found in cosmetics, sunscreens and moisturizers. Used as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions. (2)

4) Phthalates– found in plastic water bottles, nail and scented products. (2)

5) Petroleum –Found in various lip, skin and hair products. (2)

6) Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives- Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. They slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer. (2)

7) Sodium Laureth Sulfate & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate– Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with chemicals which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical names.(2)

8) Silicone Chemicals-Found in various hair products, moisturizers and cosmetics. (2)

9) Coal Tar-Derived Colors– Look for p-phenylenediamine (PPD) in hair dyes. Usually listed as “CI” followed by five digits. The U.S. colour name may also be listed (e.g. “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1”). Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.(2)

10) BHA & BHT– Used mainly in moisturizer, makeup and some fragrances as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors, and may cause cancer. (2)

Here’s what to look out for and some suggestions for natural alternatives:

Makeup: The face is the part of us that we show the world the most and many of us paint them with hundreds of chemicals daily!

I encourage you to get past the myth that natural makeup doesn’t work as well as conventional stuff. Make the switch—once I did I never looked back. Look for natural make up brands like rms beauty, Vapour Organic Beauty and 100% Pure, that use things like fruit pigments and mineral powders.

Deodorants and Antiperspirants: Commercial products contain MANY toxic ingredients including antibacterial agents; artificial scents, talc, preservatives and aluminum, just to name a few. Blocking off this major elimination channel of the body with neurotoxic chemicals is bad news.

You must try Poetic Pits, it’s the best ever!

Toothpaste: Commercial toothpastes contain a long list of harmful ingredients including antibacterial agents, artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors, chemical foaming agents and fluoride!

Instead try healthy  Oralive or Neem Enamelizer!

Lip Chaps/ Balms: Most commercial products contain synthetic oils and waxes to create a moisture barrier and shine. Look for cancer-causing ingredients like petroleum, glycerin and mineral oil. Artificial fragrances, colours and flavour are also very common in chaps and balms.

Keep a small container of coconut oil in your purse instead, it makes for a wonderful lip shine.

Lotions, Creams and Moisturizers: Creams and moisturizers are a main source of toxins in the beauty world because we rub large amounts of them directly into the skin! What is worse, is that we are usually attracted to the heavily fragranced ones. We all want to smell like a Victoria Secret Model, right?… Well, these products have a host of toxic additives that act as preservatives, thickeners, scents, sun protection, colour and moisture barriers. They actually dry out your skin so that you need to keep reapplying over and over again!

Use raw, organic coconut or sesame oil on your skin instead of the toxic store-bought lotions!

The take away message: Only put on your skin what you could put in your mouth.

If you are curious about what’s in your products, look them up using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database or check out the Think Dirty App.



Want yoga inspiration, healthy recipes and self-love tips? Join me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook and check out my blog.