As Clinical Nutritionist, studying at a holistic university opened up my eyes to the phenomenal amount of chemical we're exposed to each day. Prior to my degree, I hadn’t even thought about chemicals and preservatives being in my food and cosmetics because I hadn’t realised that that would actually be something I would have to worry about. Sadly, the cosmetics industry in particular isn’t subject to much testing or regulation at all, meaning just about anything can be placed in our products.
Let’s get a little sciencey…
Our skin is our first line of defence, acting as a barrier to the outside world. 60% of everything you place on your skin makes it’s way into our bloodstream. That includes the tar in your mascara (yep, the same stuff that makes our roads), parabens in your deodorant (the same chemical found in cancerous breast tissue) or the sodium lauryl sulphate in your cleanser (linked to everything from UTI’s to hair loss). It’s a scary, toxic world out there. What’s even scary is that all this happens around 26 seconds after you apply it too your skin. It works that quickly !!
These chemical have a HUGE impact on our overall health. So much so that we may not even realise it. Let’s have a look at the various ways we may be experiencing toxin overload.
Every chemical, preservative, paraben and artificial ingredient that we come into contact with must be detoxified by our liver. Every single chemical!! Can you imagine the incredible pressure and strain that we place on our detoxifying organs each day simply by consuming a refined breakfast or applying a moisturiser. There are 2 phases of liver detoxification: Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 breaks down the food, chemicals and preservatives we consume into small particles to then be excreted by Phase 2. A heavy consumption of chemicals, additives and preservatives makes our livers job much harder - leading to potential a toxic build up when we can't keep up with the constant load. Nausea, headaches, skin conditions, fatigue and weight gain are all common symptoms of toxic overload.
Our hormones are detoxified by our liver – it’s also our main organ for eliminating harmful waste. It’s our livers main priority to rid our body of toxins like chemicals. So when our liver is preoccupied with processing the many chemicals we consume, it doesn’t get around to taking care of our hormones. As you can imagine, this is problematic. Irregular levels of progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol can be linked back to a chemical laden lifestyle. Irregular cycles, PMS, mood changes, weight gain, GIT disturbances and cravings can result.
Our skin is dramatically affected by the chemicals that we consume and apply to our body. In fact, our skin is our largest organ and every single thing you apply to it is absorbed directly into your blood stream. The average female applies a staggering 515 chemicals is to their skin each day. Every one of these chemicals again must be detoxified by our liver. As I mentioned above, our hormones are often affected by increased chemical consumption/ application due to the excess strain on our liver. And of course, when our hormones are out of whack, often our skin reacts too. Breakouts, redness, dry or oily skin are all symptoms of poor detoxification in our body.
Reducing the amount of chemicals we consume/ apply takes a strain off our liver, working to balance our hormones and reduce skin irritation.
Natural skin care is one of my favourite topics. What we put on our skin is so very important and since I learnt about how the health of our skin is so dramatically affected by what we put on it, I slowly began to cut down on the chemicals I applied each day. Now, I don’t use any chemicals at all on my skin and I haven’t for years. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make simply chemical free swaps!
Before you feel overwhelmed remember, this isn’t a one day job!
You don’t have to run to your skincare cabinet and throw it all in the bin. Do it gradually over time. Run out of your regular cleanser? Head into a clean beauty store like Conscious Kin and replace it for a chemical free alternative.
All out of shampoo? Perfect! Pick up a chemical free one at your local health food store.
Before you think that you’re going to be spending millions of dollars and it ain’t worth it – it is. The more the natural beauty market grows, the more the cost of natural skincare goes down. I found that I’ve even saved money in some cases – my Inika foundation lasts longer and is cheaper than the MAC one I used to buy! Plus, once you change over to natural skin care, your skin really does change. I was sceptical about this at first, but it wasn’t until I started buying good quality, chemical free skincare that I noticed changes in my skin. It took me a really long time to grow out of buying ‘natural’ $4 cleanser at woolworths (just because it says it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s true), but hey, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
I really encourage you to do this for yourself and your health. Buy proper toxin free skincare. There is something about having beautiful, natural cosmetics that feels like a ritual in itself. Knowing that what your putting on your face and body is actually working to heal it is a great feeling. Try it!