Written and Photos by Erin Blankenship
The actual numbers are widely debatable, but the average woman is known to come in contact with around 300 chemicals daily, 80 of those before breakfast! Common offenders include our candles and other air fresheners, cleaning products and for sure skin care. If you are like I was three years ago, you might be completely oblivious to the fact that the products we use on ourselves, in our home and on our children, could be the very things that are contributing to why we are sick, have ongoing health problems, and even struggle emotionally.
Just to give you a small glimpse into what might be lurking in your everyday products:
– You know those foamy suds you get from your cleaning products and body care? It’s called sodium laureth sulfate (SLS,) and it is just tricking your brain into thinking things are getting clean. SLS is often contaminated with toxic manufacturing impurities and just not necessary. This chemical can be damaging to the skin as well as disruptive to immune and hormonal health.
– Let’s talk Formaldehyde. Yep, the same stuff they embalm with at the morgue – it’s also the main ingredient in candles and smell good sprays and is known as the number one cancer causing chemical. Organ system toxicity and irritation to skin, eyes and lungs are just a couple of this ingredient’s claim to fame.
– Many baby products as well as just about any skin care product contains the ingredient “fragrance” or “parfum,” which unfortunately is just a broad category that can hide thousands of harmful chemicals behind that one word. Seemingly harmless, but companies don’t have to disclose what exactly “fragrance” is, leaving consumers in the dark about potential dangers including respiratory distress, negative effects on the reproductive system, allergies and dermatitis. Yuck.
Constant exposure to these chemicals causes a buildup of toxins in our bodies called “bioaccumulation.” This simply means that the more we expose ourselves and our children to these toxins, the harder it is for our bodies to break them down. Even if you feel seemingly healthy now, the use over time can cause lasting impacts on your health down the road.
How do I know if my products need to be tossed?
There is a long list of ingredients to watch out for; even in products that claim to be “natural” or “green.” To make it super simple, download either the Environmental Working Group (EWG) or Think Dirty app to research the products in your home. EWG is a comprehensive site dedicated to giving you want you need to know about what is in your cabinets and beauty bags. Search for a product or specific ingredient, and the site gives you a toxicity rating of 0-10 and a breakdown of the ingredients in that product. 0 meaning angels probably made it and 10 meaning, please for the love of all things, TOSS IT.
Now that you have scanned all your products and are a little freaked out, hang with me. Is this all a little overwhelming to think about conquering? I GET IT. I get the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start, even being a little skeptical.
After a personal health struggle, my family went on a journey to start replacing the harmful things in our home. Not overnight, but one product at a time, and before long we looked around and could feel really good about every item in our medicine cabinet, every cleaner under our sink, and every product we put on our little girl’s skin. And even cooler, we felt better, got sick way less, and that health issue? Totally managed naturally. Knowledge is power, and well, once you know, you just can’t go back.
Soooo, what can I use instead?
Hear me out. One. Thing. At. A. Time. You can do this!
Let’s start easy and toss the candles first. Grab a diffuser and some quality essential oils from a company who owns their own farms (we love Young Living,) and don’t look back. The right diffuser and essential oils can work as your home purifier, emotions balancer, and crazy kid calmer all in one. Switches that do more than one thing make top priority in our home!
Next, focus on your cleaning products. This stuff gets in your air and is on every surface of your home. Most of which you may have children crawling on, and let’s be honest, licking. There are a few common natural ingredients you can introduce in your home for cleaning such as vinegar, unscented castile soap and baking soda. Google a good all-purpose spray recipe and soft scrub, and you’ve already replaced SO much in the cleaning department. Not into DIY? Seriously check out Young Living’s Thieves All-Purpose Cleaner. One bottle has replaced every cleaner under our cabinet; and it’s super concentrated; so it really lasts. Oh, and my personal favorite – it smells like Christmas every time I clean.
Lastly, and maybe this should be first, but skin care. Did you know that our skin is our largest organ? Anything we put on our skin has the potential to end up in our bloodstream. Face wash, moisturizers, body lotions and makeup all need a good hard look at the ingredient list before making it into your skin care routine. Below is an easy and gentle measure and dump recipe you can start with. But again, if you aren’t into DIY, check out Young Living’s extensive skin care line plus clean mineral makeup, Savvy Minerals that has so many women looking for natural options throwing up praise hands in 2018.
DIY Foaming Cleanser:
1/4 cup castile soap
1 cup distilled/purified water
1T sweet almond oil
Clean, glass foam dispenser bottle
5-10 drops pure essential oils (optional, but encouraged – hello skin supporting oils!)
Ok, let’s recap! Unfortunately, products we use every day, often even things that are marketed as safe and “all natural,” can be toxic to our bodies and detrimental to our overall health! Now that we know, we have a responsibility to do better. Go ahead and download the EWG or Think Dirty app to check out the current products you are using, filter any new ones you might want to incorporate through these lenses (don’t just trust the labels here!) and begin ditching and switching one by one. Air fresheners, cleaning products and skin care are all great starting places that can eliminate a lot of chemicals quickly. Getting a grasp on these three areas of your home is a start you can really be proud of. * I mention Young Living in this article a few times; so let me explain a little. This total body wellness company has a Seed to Seal standard that is unmatched, offering ethical farming practices and rigorous product testing. Having a one stop shop for all our goods has made the process of switching and ditching with our busy lifestyles totally doable. I love coming alongside others to make healthy lifestyle changes; so please reach out if you need some direction switching out your products or just want great support for the journey.
Find me on Instagram @erinvblankenship or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy ditching and switching!