Is Your Facewash Damaging Your Health?
It may come as a surprise to you that it is estimated that we are exposed to somewhere between 150 to 500 chemicals every day through our personal care products. It is estimated that there are 13,000 chemicals in cosmetics and only 10% of these chemicals have been tested for human safety.
A study by the Environmental Working Group, found that blood and urine samples of teenage girls were contaminated with 64% of the analysed chemicals from four major chemical familes: phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks. These chemicals are incredibly toxic and have been linked to many serious conditions including hormonal imbalances and even cancer.
It is estimated that the average female uses somewhere between 12-16 personal care products every day. Oh and guys, before you tune out here, while the volume of chemical laden products used each day is higher in females, you are not getting off scott free either. From parabens and aluminium in deodarants, to sodium laurel sulphate, pthalates, fragrances and titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Our shampoos, body wash, toothpaste, colognes and perfumes are toxic ticking timebombs - and we're lathering up daily without a care in the world.
Here's the most frightening statement from the Environmental Working Group:
"Federal health statutes do not require companies to test products or ingredients for safety before they are sold. As a result, nearly all personal care products contain ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by any accountable agency, and that are not required to meet standards of safety. To protect the health of teens and all Americans, we recommend action"1
What's more, the environmental defense group analysed popular makeup brands and found that a whopping 96% contained lead and 20% contained arsenic. These are products that many of us are using daily - and they contain known poisons. In my talk last week I asked the crowd if they would like to spend the day sucking on a lead pencil - not one person volunteered and yet we are lathering our skin and lips with these known toxins. Licking our lead laden lips like we don't have a care in the world.
And it's not just our own health at risk:
A few years ago I attended an annual conference called the International Congress of Natural Medicine. This is a really great conference which I try to attend every year. It reinvigorates me, energises me, inspires me and I get to keep up to date with the latest scientific advances in health care.
At this particular conference however, I spent the weekend apalled and shocked to the core to hear some of the news, research and insights that were shared about how increasingly toxic our world is becoming. I left each day with a growing fierce determination to spread the message of what I had learned.
Possibly the most memorable story was that of a scientist, who decided to analyse the breast milk of his wife - who was at that time breast feeding his son. The toxicology report was so grim that he was not legally allowed to poor the breast milk down the sink of his lab - it had to be disposed of as toxic waste. This was the same breast milk that was being drunk by his own son. Scary stuff huh?
But while the level of toxicity here was shocking news - it's not at all uncommon. We have known for years that chemicals are able to be transferred via breast milk - and in fact that this is the most effective way for a woman to detox. However this particular case really brought home the incredible need for a huge transformation in the way we approach our health and wellbeing programs.
You see, we are living in such an incredibly toxic world now, it is just not enough to follow a standard healthy diet - although of course this is a good start. Sadly however, much of our good work achieved with a healthy diet and regular exercise is going to be un-done by the chemical cocktail to which we are exposed each and every day.
So what do we do about it?
Clearly there is a need for change. However until this is achieved, it is on us (literally- get it?.. sorry bad joke) to make better choices for ourselves. Take an oposing approach and assume that all chemicals are unsafe, until proven otherwise.
There are certain areas that we have no control over - unless we all pack up our city dwelling lives and live in a permenant eco retreat. However there is much we can do to reduce our exposure at home.
Now I'm not supposing that you stop washing your hair, brushing your teeth or that you start dragging yourself through a rosebush daily to freshen up (ouch). However I would like to stress the importance of taking measures to clear out all unnecessary chemicals from your life by switching to natural products - it's easier than you might think.
Take a look at my list of the 10 most commonly used, chemical laden, personal care products and their alternatives in my "Swap this for that" cheat sheet by clicking the link below.