Toxins are Everywhere – Five Tips to Dramatically Reduce Your Exposure
We are exposed to a myriad of chemicals every day, often unconsciously, but also toxins that we are fully aware of and which we choose to ignore. Many of these chemicals carry serious health risks. They can act as hormone disruptors or in some instances be carcinogenic. Furthermore, there is the potential for these toxins to be stored and bio-accumulate in our adipocytes (or fat cells), where there is no mechanism for them to be easily excreted from the body. Whilst a toxin on its own may be relatively harmless, when combined with other toxins and stored for years, serious health concerns may ensure. The key concern we have is that there are some exceptionally large household brands that are still using these chemicals in their products and hiding them within their ingredient’s labels. Some chemicals are so well hidden in products being marketed as “clean and green” that as consumers we can be forgiven for thinking that they are perfectly safe when in fact they are quite the opposite, an activity now termed as “greenwashing”.
A perfect example of this is when you look at your ingredients labels and come across words like “fragrance” or “parfum” – this could mean a multitude of different things and is often placed on a label to mask nasty chemicals, as many as 500! Then of course there are those other ingredients that are listed and are known to be dangerous. We are talking about xenoestrogens. These are known hormone disruptors. Not only are they responsible for early puberty, but they could also be interrupting your hormone production, causing irregular menstrual flow and even harming fertility. In this blog post, we give you the insight into what Xenoestrogens are, which ones to avoid, and how you can dramatically reduce your exposure to these dangerous toxins.
What are Xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens are known endocrine disruptors. In other words, they are a chemical that alters the normal function of hormones. When xenoestrogens enter the body, they increase the amount of oestrogen in our bodies, which can have particularly damaging effects on hormone sensitive organs such as the uterus, as well as immune and neurological systems, and human development.
Which xenoestrogens should be avoided?
Cyclomethicone is found in numerous cosmetics, possibly many that you already have lurking in your make-up bag or bathroom cabinet! It has been proven to interfere with hormone production. Cyclomethicone is commonly used in sunscreen, gels, creams and liquids, it is harmful and toxic, and often causes skin irritation.
Parabens are widely used in make-up and hair care and have had their fair share of bad press. They are well known to interfere with hormones and have also been found in the tissue of breast cancer patients!
SLS (Sodium Laureth or Lauryl Sulphate)
SLS is the foaming agent commonly found in shampoos, shower gels and water-activated cleansers. You should know that this ingredient is also used in household detergent and causes irritated skin, interruption to hair growth and even hair loss. It is also known to alter liver function. If you use it to wash dishes you wouldn't want to use it to wash your face, so save it for the kitchen sink, not the bathroom sink!
Triclosan is used in soaps and soapy textured products. It is a very harsh ingredient and strips skin of natural oils. Triclosan has been shown to inhibit the effectiveness of antibiotics in animals, and while this is not yet proven in humans, it can’t possibly be good for you!
As mentioned earlier, no-one really understands what ‘Parfum’ means. The word is used in product labels to mask what is really in the ingredients! The skincare regulators don’t keep a good enough eye on what these ingredients are because there is no protocol to follow. Some of the ingredients masked as ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ have cancer-inducing properties and cause skin irritation such as dermatitis and eczema.
Polyethylene oxide, or PEG, is believed to be contaminated with a product known as 1,4-dioxane which is thought to potentially cause cancer. You’ll find this hidden in hair conditioners, deodorants and moisturiser products.
Dibutyl Phthalate is found in nail varnishes. It is dangerous to the reproductive system and disrupts the function of hormones.
BHA AND BHT
BHA and BHT are ingredients found in make-up and moisturising creams. It is believed they can cause cancer and disrupt hormones.
How to reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens
Now that you know which xenoestrogens to look out for, you may be a bit stumped as to how you can avoid them! Below are five tips that you can easily implement to dramatically reduce your exposure to common toxins and xenoestrogens.
Needless to say, we are ambassadors for natural beauty. All of our products are cruelty free, vegan-friendly, safe for use during pregnancy and we only use natural ingredients along with the kindest possible preservatives, keeping you and your body safe from chemical nasties.
- Go organic
If you’re not buying organic food already, we recommend that you become more conscious of where you are buying your food from now! Supermarkets are packed full of fruit and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic or coated in waxes which contain chemicals. Buying loose fruit and vegetables is a great start, however this type of produce has been sprayed with insecticide and pesticide which contain xenoestrogens.
Explore local farmer’s markets and independent grocers for your fruit and vegetable supply. Alternatively, you could even consider growing your own if you have the right environment. Not only is it kinder to the planet, healthier for you and your family, it’s also immensely satisfying to literally see the fruits of your labour!
- Be mindful of your household products
There’s no doubt that if you buy shop-bought household products, they are bound to contain a host of chemical nasties! These chemicals may be great for getting your sink to sparkle, but they’re releasing harmful fumes into your home’s atmosphere too. Avoid anything with phthalates or parabens and always read the labels! Look for eco-friendly household cleaners or better still, make your own. Vinegar and lemon juice are excellent cleansing products!
For more information on detoxing your household cleaning product, read our blog post here
- Watch how you shower
It is well-known that shower gels and shampoos contain the foaming agent SLS (sodium laurel sulphate or Sodium Laureth Sulphate). A foaming agent is certainly not necessary for an effective shampoo or shower gel! SLS is also commonly used in your household cleaners, so why are we using it on our body and in our hair? Not only is sulphate nasty, it clogs up pores and can even result in hair loss! Another dangerous toxin commonly found in shampoos and shower gels are parabens. You can easily avoid sulphates and parabens by buying organic and/or natural shampoos and shower gels, or better still toxin-free shampoo and soap bars, and of course, always read the label!
- Look at your beauty routine
Any cream, gel or lotion you put on your face should be as natural as possible because your skin is ingesting it. In fact, our skin ingests up to 60% of what we put on it! If you wouldn’t eat these chemicals, why are you putting them on your skin?
A healthy complexion requires vitamins and antioxidants (just like our bodies do), so look for skincare and makeup rich in Vitamin A, E and C, and one that derives its ingredients from naturally occurring products such as fruit, plants and herbs.
The Edible Beauty range is a pure, botanic range which uses the highest quality of ingredients, derived from botanicals to deliver an intensely therapeutic experience without the need for unkind chemicals!
Shop our natural skincare range here.
- Reduce your exposure to plastic
Plastic is full of chemicals and plastic packaging is causing so much harm, not only to our health but also to our ecosystem. Landfills are piled high with plastics, they take thousands of years to decompose and much of it ends up in the sea, harming wildlife. Sea creatures are swallowing harmful pieces of plastic and dying because of it, the chemicals are filtering into the oceans, poisoning fish to the point that there are many species that will become extinct if we don’t act fast. Start with using a glass or steel drink bottle! When going shopping, take time to look at the products in your basket and question the amount or type of packaging used. Opt for paper-based packaging, cardboard, and recyclable packaging. Avoid packaging which has a shiny varnish as this is not recyclable! Don’t microwave food in plastic containers as doing this can release harmful toxins which we end up ingesting. Avoid plastic wrap for food storage and never use plastic that has been heated up in the sun, again it releases toxic gases. If a plastic water bottle or container has heated up to a very high temperature, throw it away.
As a final note, be aware of all the toiletries, household cleaners, packaging and cosmetics you and your family use for a safe and better future for you and the planet.
We would love to hear what you’re doing to reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens!