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Detoxing your life requires that you take a good look at not just what you’re eating, but how you’re living. Our skin is our biggest organ so everything that you put on your skin, gets absorbed into your bloodstream and then you guessed it- your LIVER. Yes, I know it’s a scary thought. I freaked out when I heard this and tossed everything from my expensive designer makeup to my nail polish to lessen the body burden of toxins on my liver. There are chemicals in everything from our toothpaste to our shampoo and chapstick as well as our makeup. Nontoxic personal care and cleaning products, a clean living space, and a clean working space can go a long way toward diffusing any symptoms you may be experiencing and helping you to feel more energy and vitality. Plus, you’ll be lessening your toxic load, which can have positive effects on your long-term health. There is a helpful quiz in my new book, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, that walks you through whether your personal care products are making you sick and toxic.
How to Detox Through Your Skin
Here are a few ways that I’ve detoxed my body over the last decade of chronic illness; they’ve all helped me tremendously. My best advice is to do the sauna and bath no more than 1x a week unless your doctor advises you to do more.
- Epsom Salt Baths. These amazing and soothing baths are great for revitalizing our bodies with mangnesium, a mineral that most of us are deficient in.
- Infrared Saunas. An incredible way to detox through your skin. An infrared sauna heats you from the inside out to remove heavy metals, mold and help with Lyme disease and die-off symptoms of detox.
- Castor Oil Packs. This is a birthday party for your liver. I suggest doing this at night before bed when your liver is working to clean out everything from your day.
- Oil Pulling. This is a great technique to use to remove bacteria and heavy metals from your mouth in the morning.
- Rebounder. This is a fun activity to do to get your lymph system moving.
- High-quality filter on your Shower because we absorb all the chemicals and flouride in the tap water in our shower and bath tub through our skin.
Toss the Chemicals
The first step in detoxing your personal care products is to take an assessment of what you already have. Unfortunately, things aren’t as straightforward as you might think. The simple word “fragrance” could mean that the product contains over a hundred different chemicals that together create that fragrance! Remember, the longer these chemicals stay on your skin (such as in moisturizers and makeup), the more likely they’ll find their way into your body.
My book has an extensive list for “never use” ingredients. These rate high on the “toxic scale” and simply just aren’t worth putting onto your body. They have been linked with hormone disruption, allergies, dermatitis, inflammation, developmental problems, and more. Here are a few of my “never use” ingredients. For the why behind each of these as well as the products they are found in and the side effects, check out my book.
- Retinoic Acid
To find out how your products rate, turn them over and read the ingredient lists on the back. If you find any of the following chemicals, don’t buy that product again. (I’d actually recommend you toss it in the trash, but it’s up to you.) It’s important to look behind the marketing, because even terms like “pure,” “green,” “natural,” “hypoallergenic,” and “botanical” are unregulated and don’t mean a darn thing. Even if a product includes organic ingredients, it may be packaged with toxic preservatives. Your best bet for determining what’s really in the product is to study the ingredient list, always.
The good news is that many people are discovering the links between toxic exposures in personal care products and health issues. They’re demanding safer personal care products, which means you’ll see more “clean” products popping up on the shelves as time goes on. My How To Detox Your Beauty Routine page has a bunch of brands that I love to use in my home. And speaking of my home, check out my recent post on 13 Simple Ways to Detox Your Home so you can reduce your body burden from toxins in your living environment.
Fragrance is a good example. Most products have synthetic fragrances that contain unknown chemicals—sometimes many are mixed together to create the right scent. Companies don’t have to reveal these chemicals because their fragrances are protected as “trade secret.” I recommend that you avoid anything with the word “fragrance” in it and choose either fragrance-free products or those scented with plant-based ingredients or NOW Foods and Aura Cacia organic essential oils.
Skip the toxic, processed body oils and lotions and use organic oils (such as jojoba, macadamia, sweet almond, argan, and rosehip) to moisturize your skin after you shower. Apply them immediately when your skin is still moist—that’s when it’s most absorbent. Add in a few drops of organic essential oils to create a unique scent that you truly love, thereby replacing your conventional perfume, as well.
Sadly, companies can use the word ‘organic’ on their packages when the product may be full of synthetic chemicals found in conventional products. If you see an organic beauty product, check the ingredient list to ensure my “10 Never-Use” ingredients in my book are nowhere to be found on the label. As you get used to the idea of shopping for nontoxic products, you’ll find that many personal care and beauty products are not organic but still contain safe ingredients that you can feel good about using. Check out my list in my book of the full list of personal care brands I love.
Also, just because a personal care product contains organic, natural or plant-based ingredients, doesn’t mean it’s free of toxic chemicals, soy or gluten. Always keep in mind that natural or organic ingredients do not imply the product is safe. Be your best advocate by playing detective: make a list for yourself before you get to the store, being mindful of ingredients you never want to put on or in your body. Scan the ingredient list to be sure the product does not contain any of my “10 Never-Use” ingredient list from my book.
Also, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a handy reference tool called the Skin Deep Database (www.ewg.org/skindeep), which rates all ingredients found in thousands of products from one to ten. The higher the number, the more hazardous the ingredient and the more potential health problems it may cause over time.
Here are a few brands and products that I love and use in my home. They’re fabulous and of course, non-toxic.
- Non-Toxic Sunscreen
- Non-Toxic Exfoliants
- Non-Toxic Makeup
- Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizers
- Non-Toxic Lip Care
- Non-Toxic Hair Care
- Non-Toxic Facial Moisturizers
- Non-Toxic Facial Cleansers
- Non-Toxic Deodorant
- Non-Toxic Body Scrub
- Non-Toxic Body Lotions
- Non-Toxic Aromatics
- Non-Toxic Acne Care
Make Your Own DIY Style
Did you know that your kitchen may contain a lot of the supplies you need for smooth, radiant skin and hair? You can also buy basic supplies like oils to use as moisturizers and redness soothers (think jojoba, olive, and coconut). I’ve got a bunch of personal care beauty recipes in my book that are super easy to make and are cheaper than purchasing the store-bought options. I love making my own toothpaste!
When I was growing up, my grandmother swore by using the inside of a banana peel to moisturize her skin. That’s why smearing a little coconut oil on my eyes, using coconut oil and tea tree oil for toothpaste, or slathering a little avocado on my face for a hydrating mask never seemed strange to me.
What’s really strange is buying a beauty product with unlisted or unpronounceable ingredients and putting them all over your body! That’s why I love to make my own products, when I have the time to do so. It ends up being cheaper because I can make things in larger quantities than I would buy, and I have the benefit of knowing the ingredients.
Nail Polish and Nail Polish Remover
Something you may not realize ladies, is that your nail beds and scalp are highly permeable areas of your body. They soak up chemicals like a sponge. As a general rule, avoid acrylic nails, tanning beds, keratin hair straighteners, gel nails, and hair coloring from non-organic ingredients. Chemicals in conventional nail polish like toluene, dibutyl phthalate (an endocrine disruptor), acetone, and formaldehyde (a carcinogen) are incredibly harmful to breathe, and can get into your bloodstream.
Cutting back on the toxins you apply to your skin decreases your overall toxic exposure, and reduces the burden your body has to fight off every day. While eating clean detoxifies the body from the inside out, applying clean products to your skin ensures that you’re not undoing the progress you’ve already made with your diet. This double-duty detox ensures your body is clean inside and out! It may take some time and money in the short term, but you’ll thank yourself later.
Have no fear. You can start tossing a few of these products today. This will make a huge difference on your internal toxic load. Start small and create a strategy based on these suggestions and the ones in my new book, and you’ll be well on your way to clean living.