When my mom died of cancer back in 2008 I decided to really take a hard look at what I put in and on my body. The fact that my mom, who wasn't supposed to die until she was 102, passed away at 64 really freaked me out! At that time I changed to eating a more organic diet and started a garden so we could grow some of our own food (and by me I mean my husband started the garden).
The biggest thing that changed for me at that time though was my beauty routine. Up until that point I had been using all the popular beauty creams, makeup, moisturizers, anti-aging serums, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners that were on the market at the time. After my mom passed I decided to actually look at a label on some of these and when I couldn't even pronounce what was in it, determined that I needed to learn a bit more about what I was putting on my body. And what I discovered was one of the most frightening things I've learned in my whole life.
Here are some of the things I've learned:
- The US has not passed a federal law since 1938 to regulate the ingredients used in personal care.
- The EU has banned over 1300 ingredients used in beauty products. The US? 11.
- Certain chemicals just sound scary – for example, propolyene glycol is used in de-icing fluid for airplanes but also helps things soak into your skin better. It's a known skin irritant, a possible neurotoxin, possible endocrine disrupter, and has caused cancer in lab tests. Unfortunately it is in so many things, including lotions, deodorants, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner and body washes. Also anything that ends in -paraben sound scary to me. These are preservatives that act like estrogen in the body and have been shown to accumulate in cancerous tumors in the body.
- Our skin is our biggest organ and it absorbs a lot of what we put on it. So that means if you are putting on some chemical concoction, a lot of that will get passed into your bloodstream. Don't believe me? Why is there a nicotine patch?
- A study in the US found over 200 toxic chemicals in newborn umbilical cords
Now there are definitely people out there that say a lot of these chemicals/preservatives are safe and we should worry, blah blah blah. Me? I would rather take the better safe than sorry route. Plus there are certain things we cannot control in our environment. The air we breathe may be polluted without us being able to do anything about it. The furniture, carpets, and materials used for construction in your house might have chemical off-gassing into the air. Your car's materials might do the same. You might not always eat grass-fed meats or organic produce. There may be flame retardants on your pjs or mattress. Your office might have toxic chemicals wafting about. Point is, there is so much NOT in our control that our bodies have to process through each day. So anything I can personally do to lessen that toxic burden is a step in the right direction. When our bodies are faced with having to detox from all the chemicals it encounters and our stressful lifestyles and then maybe an illness here and there it seems quite easy and sensible to just buy (or make) an alternative hand cream.
Over the years I've tested and experimented and narrowed down what my favorites are for both safety and efficacy. This list changes, mind you, so in a year I might be a bit different, but as of right now this is what I do:
I brush my teeth with my toothpaste blend or sometimes with a flouride-free (using xylitol instead) toothpaste. Then I rinse with a mouthwash of myrrh, cinnamon, peppermint, clove, and spearmint essential oils in a fractionated coconut oil base. I also use a tongue scraper every morning. I LOOOOOOVE my tongue scraper. Sounds so weird, but when you scrape off all that bacteria after a night of sleep you'll understand. So satisfying, and I think my breath is so much nicer now. (Side note, I used to get cavities all the time but haven't had one in 4 years using this method…. Diet also plays a huge roll in this).
In the shower I use a lovely smelling goat milk bar soap by Beekman 1802. For my hair I either use Aveda's Rosemary Mint Shampoo/Conditioner or a certain essential oil company that starts with a D's shampoo and conditioner. Neither are super clean, but I only wash my hair 1-2 times a week so I let that one go. I tried the whole apple cider vinegar rinse no ‘poo thing and hated it. Mainly because rinsing my hair was so hard and it always involved a really cold bottle of rinse to go down my back. I still shiver to think about it.
This one has been one of the hardest for me to settle in on a favorite. I still use my activated charcoal eyeliner. I also still do use my homemade blush and bronzer but I've kind of gotten lazy and have been using Beautycounter's blush.
To remove makeup I just either use olive oil on a cotton ball or Primal Life Organic's Ocean Face Wash. (What I use normally depends on how lazy I'm feeling and if I'm too cold to splash water on my face).
Ever since I switched to a higher fat Paleo diet my skin is not nearly as dry as it used to be, so I hardly ever actually use a body or hand cream anymore. That's pretty amazing considering I live in the high desert of Colorado where my hands used to shed their skin like a snake every winter once the heat started coming on. The few times I do use it typically are after cooking a lot where I'm constantly washing my hands, or after the winter when my legs haven't seen the light of day for a few months and are a bit, um, scaly. Using a sugar scrub like this super quick DIY one helps with exfoliation of the dry skin, but typically I just use some coconut oil to help get rid of the dryness.
For my face though I use quite a bit of moisturizing. In the morning I use Primal Life Organic's C-ex Vitamin C Serum which honestly has made the single biggest difference in the look and feel of my skin out of everything I've ever used. In my “pre-caring about what I used days” I used super expensive Prevage and it did nothing compared to this C-ex stuff. Seriously.
At night I use that same essential oil company starting with a D's Immortelle essential oil blend on my wrinkles and then Primal Life Organic‘s Infiniti Face Moisturizer all over.
Yeah, this one I get an F on because I still use OPI. I've tried a lot of the cleaner ones and they last like 5 minutes on my hands. At least OPI stays on for a few days. If you know of a nail polish that is clean AND that stays on, PLEASE let me know!!
Other than what I mentioned above in the Shower section for shampoo and conditioner I don't usually do much with my hair. Since I wash my hair quite infrequently I just use Aveda's Damage Control and either flatiron my hair or tie it up in a ponytail/bun.
I recently started using Beautycounter's Activated Charcoal Mask and it feels like a wonderful indulgence. I use it once a week and I love the way my skin looks and feels afterwards.
I don't wear sunscreen on a regular basis as I choose to eat anti-inflammatory foods and only go out in the sun for 20-40 min at a time to get some Vitamin D and otherwise wear hats or protective clothing. But when I am going to be outside for a long period of time I've started wearing Beautycounter's sunscreen since it doesn't have all the scary stuff that I feel will GIVE you cancer (unlike some name brands), and it smells pretty good too. Plus it actually easily rubs in your skin and doesn't leave you all white like a lot of the natural brands do. I do have to mention here though that I also get yearly skin checks at my dermatologist!
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