I know it is important to shower -- we all thank those we work closely with for showering regularly and not smelling like a pit fest. But, how "healthy" is a normal shower for you? I know you want to run and use my detox foot pads right now, but just hold on and read first, THEN go use them! :)
WaterProblem: Most cities chlorinate their municipal water supply. That means that if you are on city water, you are being exposed to chlorine. With your skin being your largest organ, it is soaking up all the contaminants that are in the water supply with each shower you take. Chlorine is especially bad for those with thyroid issues, as it blocks thyroid receptor cells.
According to the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality, the cancer risk to people who drink chlorinated water is 93 percent higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine. Americans are ingesting from 300 to 600 times what the Environmental Protection Agency considers a “safe” amount (And bathing in it is not much better).
Solution: While you may not be able to control where your water comes from, or put in a whole house water filtration system (especially if you are renting), you can put a chlorine filter in your shower. (Here is one from Amazon but you can get them at Home Depot or Lowe's just as easily)
If you are on a well system, you may want to have your well tested to see what contaminants may be lurking around, but chances are you won't have to worry about chlorine.
And you definitely want to keep your shower clean (make a vinegar and lemon essential oil spray to spray the shower after every use so that you don't harbor a nation of fungus and bacteria just waiting for you to step into it every morning and attack you! Athlete's foot and other fungal infections are NO fun!)
Shampoo & ConditionerProblem. Most commercial shampoos and conditioners have chemical poisons in them. Some of the worst offenders include the sulfates: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate; then there's methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, other neurological cancer causing toxins. And just as bad are the paraben family: propylparaben and methylparaben (along with their cousins). There are at least a dozen more that I won't list. All of these may contribute to cancer and other diseases.
Solution: There are so many natural and safe alternatives that you can try. I personally use Miracle Soap on my hair and face. I am not a huge fan of Dr. Bronner's castile soap for my hair, but you may like it, as many swear by it. Other options are plain water washing, the no 'poo method, and a natural shampoo / conditioner you can find at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods market. I have used a tiny amount of coconut oil as a conditioning treatment about once a week or so, and then shampoo it out. Another conditioning option is a vinegar rinse.
Soap & Body WashProblem. Fragrance, artificial colors and dyes, BHA, antibacterials like triclosan, parabens, formaldehyde releasers, petrolatum and mineral oil. There are so many toxins and chemical ingredients in various soaps that it is impossible to get a comprehensive list.
Solution: If you have a local Farmer's Market near you -- you can be sure to find some homemade soaps for sale! You may be paying up to $5-7 per bar, but you won't be poisoning yourself. You can always learn the craft of soapmaking, which is very addicting. Some of my favorite soaps come from Sunshea Homemade Soaps -- they are at my local Farmer's Market back home, but they do ship around the country.
Another thing you may not be aware of is that you don't really need to wash your whole body, every time you shower. In order for your skin to be its healthiest, you want the natural oils on it (sebum). If you wash them off every day, you are going to end up with dry skin that requires you to put back moisture -- (and even more toxins!). It is probably best to wash your private areas (and armpits) only, unless you are actually dirty. A good rinse is all the rest of your body parts need.
LotionProblem. Most lotions are filled with toxins: chemical emulsifiers, aluminum compounds, BHA/BHT, alcohol, and other harmful ingredients, not to mention the fragrances they use. My favorite lotion was Nivea -- before I realized all the ways I was putting toxins into my body and went 100% to homemade or natural products. I still love the smell of the original Nivea, though.
Solution: Make your own! This is so easy with just a few ingredients, and you can have luxurious homemade body butter (which you can even package up nicely and give as gifts!) Other non-toxic options include coconut oil (this is ok but doesn't seem to work as well as the body butter for me, but other people say that is all they need), Miracle II Moisturizing Lotion (I am a huge fan of the Miracle Soap products, and use the lotion on my face in the morning). Sunshea Products also has some VERY DELICIOUS scented homemade lotions.
Shaving CreamProblem. Yes, more toxins in shaving creams. Sounds like a broken record, but the chemicals that are seeping into our bodies just for the sake of "showering" is becoming ridiculous.
Solution:You know what makes an awesome smooth shaving cream? Coconut oil. It works for us women, and for the men, too!
Anti-perspirantProblem. Where to begin with the problems of anti-perspirant? Propylene glycol, aluminum, fragrance, triclosan, anti-perspirants have been accused of causing breast cancer, Alzheimer's disease and more. You don't want to increase your risk, trust me. Especially when there are so many alternative options that work amazing.
Solution: Here are 5 natural deodorant options -- there are also tons of recipes you can make at home with just baking soda and coconut oil or bentonite clay. Sometimes baking soda can be irritating, so you have to figure out what works for you. I was amazed at how well the slice of lime worked for me, because it is something that is so unusual and not something you would think would work to control your "smell".
Perfume & CologneProblem. Yada yada. By now I sound like a broken record. Because of the many "trade secrets" of perfume manufacturers, they do not have to release all the ingredients in their products. But they just add to the barrage of toxins you already have put on since you stepped into your shower this morning. The average perfume contains 14 chemicals that are no good for you, are endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic.
Solution: Essential oils! I love essential oils and don't recommend just one brand, and I don't sell any. I have so many friends who do, and I just buy what I need, when I need it. I have close to 100 bottles of oils in my cupboard right now. I recently made some more perfume as I ran out of the batch I made last year (I made about a dozen different "scents" and felt like a total chemist). Here is an easy recipe to make your own perfume.
We could move on to discuss the horrendous amount of chemicals in makeup and hair products, but I will leave those for another day! Wasn't the list above enough already?
SummaryIt is impossible to live in a bubble. And it can be overwhelming when you see all the toxins we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. If it was just a few things here and there that we exposed our bodies to, then our body's natural detoxification system could probably take care of it. But as your body is constantly bombarded with toxins left and right -- from personal care products, to foods we eat, the environment around us filled with pollution, and even the receipts at the store containing BPA, it gets very frustrating. You may think that it isn't worth it to even try, because there are too many harmful things out there. DON'T GIVE UP.
The best advice I can give is to switch your personal care products to non-toxic, homemade or all-natural versions. Slowly do the switch if a full about-face is too hard. One product at a time. (Start with switching your deodorant and adding in a chlorine filter! Maybe instead of switching perfumes, start by spraying it only on your clothing instead of directly on your skin).
And start using my detox foot pads to clean your body of the toxins you are exposing it to! That should be able to give you relief knowing that while you may not be perfect in avoiding toxins, you sure are taking care of yourself by pulling them out of your body!