#selflovejanuary is coming to an end, and I hope you have implemented some of the daily tips on Instastories, have taken some time to yourself to relax, restore, and feel energized for the rest of the year. I have talked a lot about little rituals to include in your day (like a warm Epsom salt bath before you go to bed or turning your phone off after 8pm). I have shared super simple nourishing recipes with you to make you feel alive from the inside out (like this veggie split pea soup or the warming winter energy balls). The time has come for us to talk about how we care for our body from the outside.
Let's talk about the make up, the body lotions, and all the other products we slather on ourselves. This is like opening a can of worms, a topic that can be super overwhelming. Just think of all the products you have standing around in your bathroom: cleansers, lotions, toners, moisturizers, serums, creams, sprays, and all that gorgeous colorful make up! The average woman uses 16 beauty products every morning. That adds up to over 150 unique chemicals coming at you before breakfast. While not all ingredients are a problem, there are definitely eleven ingredients we should all be avoiding due to their carcinogenic properties, their influence on our hormones, fertility, and irritating our skin.
Our skin is our biggest organ, and it's not actually just a layer of dead cells surrounding us. It is very much alive, breathing and exchanging products with its environment. Everything we put on our skin will end up in our blood stream. If we slather on some coconut oil to moisturize, our body will know this ingredient, and will know how to break it down, and use it. However, if our lotion has 20 chemicals our body doesn't know, it has to work hard at eliminating these - or in other words, detoxing them out of our system, so they don't cause harm to our organs, our blood system or our brain. A healthy body doesn't have a problem breaking down these chemicals in the liver, and then eliminating them through our urine and stool. Sadly, most of our bodies are less than pristine in the toxin department. Imagine all the chemicals that come at us throughout the day, be it from the air we breathe, the food additives we eat or the skin products we use. Our livers are completely overloaded, and often can't keep up with detoxig our body. This is when toxins start to build up in the blood stream, in our fatty tissue, and in our brain. This results in us having brain fog, feeling tired, exhausted, and just not like ourselves.
Supporting the liver every day is vital for having good detoxing systems. Lowering the toxin load on the liver is the second vital step. And this brings us back to our beauty products. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is your best database for learning more about how your products rank on the toxins scale. Not only does the EWG compile the dirty dozen list for produce, but they have also compiled over 70,000 products, looked at the ingredient lists, and ranked the products according to newest research in their Skin Deep Database. They have done all the work for you! Download the app for super easy access to the database while you are out shopping.
Now don't be scared. Once you start to input your products in here, you will just freak out at all the potential problems your products may be causing you. So here I have compiled my top six tips to do ease yourself into this process:
1. Don't go cold turkey
Some people may just feel disgusted, and want to replace everything they own at once to more natural products. However, the reality is that for most of us that is just not possible. Replacing every product in your bathroom can be very costly, and require a big time commitment to find better alternatives. Instead I always suggest to replace one product at a time as they run out. For example you have run out of tooth paste. Spend 5 minutes looking at the database to come up with a product that is easy for you to find. Done. Do this slowly and over time with all of your beauty products, and by the end of 2018 you will be on your way to more natural beauty!
2. Reach out to your local health and wellness people
I know that the EWG database can be difficult to use when you are living outside of the US. Sites like iHerb do ship internationally with a lot of products you may want to try. On top of that, I always suggest to follow people in the health and wellness space in your area. This could be massage therapists, nutritionists, yoga teachers or any other wellness practitioner you can find. Ask them what kind of products they use. Maybe they have tips for locally made products that are safe and friendly to your body.
3. Limit the products you use
Have a reality check with yourself, and think whether you really need to use all those products. I know it's hard to part from your favorite foundation, a hair spray that works really well, and to ditch lipstick. I am not asking you to give up everything, simply re-evaluate what you really need. Is it possible to go without eye shadow, and just use a natural mascara instead? Can you opt for healthier lip balm than colored lipstick? Is it possible to have a make up free day on the weekend where you just let your skin breathe without anything on it? The less products you use, the more you will limit your toxin exposure. It's as simple as that.
4. Be patient
Not every natural product you will buy will be a hit - but I do feel the same way about conventional products. Sometimes you need to try several brands until you find something that feels and acts the way you want it to. So be patient, you will find the lipstick that makes you feel like you are ready to take on the world! There is a more natural product out there for everything.
5. Don't get fooled by labels
Just like when it comes to food, don't be fooled by labels on your natural beauty products. "Natural", "gentle" or "plant based" don't mean anything in the beauty industry. So turn that product around, and check the ingredients.
6. Use this infographic the next time you shop
Other than actually finding a product in the EWG database, you can also use this convenient infographic to evaluate a product yourself. Limiting your exposure to all of these ingredients (or as many as possible) is super helpful. They are linked to cancer, hormonal disruption, they effect your reproductive health, your metabolism, and can cause allergies. The US government doesn't require any testing of beauty products and their effects on our health. Beauty companies have their own "standards", which basically test one chemical at a time for safety. This is a huge problem, because we are never exposed to one chemical at a time, but a storm of chemicals comes at us with every product. So choose wisely.
Remember, this is a can of worms. Don't feel overwhelmed, take one step at a time, and choose the best you can in the moment you are in.