Many of us have packed up smoking, been on hormone replacement therapy, used strong pain-killing drugs or even visited an aromatherapist. We embrace the concept that the skin is not only an excretory and secretory organ but that it also absorbs nicotine/hormones/analgesics from patches and essential oils used in massage.
So why do we have such a hard time accepting that any chemicals (depending on their origin) applied to the skin can end up in the blood stream? I have said recently in the case of alcohol, that the body has a brilliant set-up for detoxing itself and this is true. But modern living exposes us to more and more chemicals.
What do you use? Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, hand-wash gel? Facial products and sunscreens? Make-up, deodorant/antiperspirant, toothpaste, mouthwash (which may promote oran cancers) lip balm? Then there are the occasional items such as perfume/aftershave, hair colourants/mousse/gel, face-masks. The list goes on and on and the reason we use them is because we have been exposed to advertisements that tell us “It’s nice to know that you’re nice to know” (antiperspirant, I know – showing my age!), “Never touch a germy pump again” (hand wash) and “Nothing is more effective at treating gum disease” (mouthwash).
When we are exposed to these and other adverts on a daily basis – bombarded with them in fact, it is so easy to lose focus of what is actually important which is to be clean and not smell! During my childhood, we had a bath once a week and other times if necessary. For the rest of the week we had a wash morning and evening – but only the bits that mattered! We didn’t smell. Hair-washing was weekly too. Teeth were brushed twice a day with a pea-sized blob of toothpaste – no fluoride, no whitening effect and no anti-bacterial chemicals. You might wonder how on earth I have survived to past middle age and my parents survived into their 80s – with their own teeth!
Water is the cleanser. Again – water is the cleanser. Try for a couple of days washing or showering with just water. Brush your teeth with just water (or try coconut oil) and use a natural deodorant (there are lots around). I promise you, you will smell just fine. When you need to wash your hair, again use a tiny amount of a natural shampoo and conditioner. We all use far too much of everything exposing our skin to an overload of chemicals. Long-term, we probably don’t yet realize what damage we may be doing to ourselves but why take the risk? If you are pregnant, why put your baby at risk? If you are ill, the last thing your body needs is to have even more toxins to rid itself of.
The benefits of this are several. You protect your vital skin flora – this is what keeps your skin healthy, not anti-bacterial shower-gel and hand wash! You lessen the amount of potentially harmful toxins that you absorb. You save money! It doesn’t get better than that really. If you want something that will linger on the skin, why not try a few drops of an essential oil in the bath or in a natural vegetable carrier oil/gel as a body moisturiser? (Care must be taken during pregnancy as some oils are not recommended at this time.)
The original research reported in the papers, also highlighted the chemicals we consume – knowingly and otherwise. Food and drink packaging, antibiotic residues and hormones in meat, colours, flavours, preservatives, can linings, plastic boxes and cling film – all add to the toxic load ingested. The solution is easy. Cook from scratch, buy drinks and foods in bottles rather than cans, buy organic meat from a butcher, buy wild rather than farmed fish, use glass bowls for storage etc.
Chemical products in the home should be limited. Some vinegar, a little eco detergent and lots of water and elbow grease will sort out most of the usual housekeeping tasks. Use solid polish as aerosols should, preferably not be used at all. There are many publications describing natural cleaning solutions so this will suffice here.
We can’t avoid all chemicals and we should not be paranoid about it – just careful. Right, now off you go and sort out your under-sink cupboard, your bathroom cupboard and make a shopping list!