Having healthy skin is a very important part of your overall lifestyle health. Your skin is the largest organ of the body and has the most exposure to the elements. It is a barrier and provides protection from the environment and toxins. As flexible and resilient as it is, thought, it also absorbs a lot of what is put on it. So just as we should pay attention to what we put in our bodies, we should be as careful about what we put on them. We shouldn’t be putting things ON our bodies that we don’t want to put IN them. But sadly, like many of the foods we eat, many of the products we use everyday that come into contact with our skin, are becoming more and more toxic. These chemicals are absorbed and stored in our bodies like those unwanted additives and preservatives and can lead to health as well as environmental issues.
Some of the questionable products we use that warrant a second look are shampoos, conditioners, body washes, deodorant, hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, and fabric softeners. Not only are they potential toxins but they also can produce a negative impact on the environment. The chemicals used in some of these products have been known to cause cancer, affect hormonal balance, and cause respiratory, kidney and liver problems. Chemicals like formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and benzene. They are not only absorbed through the skin but can be released in the air and absorbed in the lungs. They are found in our waterways and soil, ruining the ecosystem and causing a lot of extra garage in the landfills.
One of the barriers I feel that people face when thinking about using more natural products is the standards society has placed on what “clean” is. We’ve all experienced being around someone who didn’t believe in using deodorant or didn’t wash their clothes often enough. We think that if it doesn’t have that highly chemical fragrance smell that it’s not clean. For years, I loved the smell that my detergent gave to my laundry room. Now I know better, that what I perceived to be a sign of cleanliness was fairly toxic. But we can learn to be fresh and clean without all the artificial fragrances and toxic brighteners and boosters if we take the time to educate ourselves on finding better products.
I have recently started making some changes in my life to reduce the amount of potentially toxic products in my home. I’ll share with you some alternatives that I have found work for me and might be worth looking into for yourself.
I am currently using something called soap berry or soap nuts for doing my laundry. It is a natural alternative to chemical laundry detergent. They are dried berries that grow on a tree that release a low sudsing, soapy froth. The cleaning properties of these berries have been utilized for hundreds of years. They even contain natural softening properties that, when combined with wool dryer balls, can eliminated the need for fabric softener as well. They are usually sold with a little drawstring, muslin bag that you use in the washer to contain the shells, as they fall apart in the wash cycle. I have found that soaking them in 1/2 cup of really hot water for 10-15 minutes helps to releases the saponin (soap) more effectively in even cold water washes. They can last through several loads so are fairly cost-effective AND the shells are 100% biodegradable. I have read that you can used soap berries to make your own dish soap and other household cleaners as well. I haven’t tried it yet but I will. To purchase some for yourself, you can click on the picture below it will connect you will Amazon. Please read my Affiliate Disclosure.
I have also switched to using wool dryer balls. To me, they are much better than the plastic ones that are out there since it has been discovered that heating plastic puts off toxins into the air. And using reusable balls is a better environmental choice than the disposable dryer sheets. My clothes feel soft and so far I haven’t had an issue with static. I sometimes add a few drops of essential oil if I want a touch of fragrance. Clicking on the picture below will take you to Amazon where you can purchase some for yourself.
Another change I have made is what I use to bathe and wash my hair with. Soon after starting my website, I was looking around at some of the other writers out there and I happens upon Ruth. The name of her site is “Soap! Don’t Eat It!” and I was intrigued. She makes home-made lye soaps amongst many other things on her farm. Her philosophy about soap is that she doesn’t put anything in them that you wouldn’t eat. Many of the herbal types are made with ingredients she’s grown and harvested herself. I was sold and had to try some of them. I love them!! Especially the Hair Care Soap. I have dry hair and have always needed conditioner to keep it from feeling like straw. Not so with Ruth’s hair soap. I’ve done a little research into lye soap. Lye IS caustic but when mixed properly with the other ingredients by a skilled soap maker, the lye chemically changes and is no longer caustic. Lye soap it GOOD for your skin. Another use for lye soap is as a laundry pre treatment, like a stain stick.
I am providing a link to Ruth’s store if you are interested in purchasing some for yourself. I also encourage you to check out the rest of her website, she has a fascinating, down to earth lifestyle and shares stories about life on her farm. Click Don’t Eat It! Soap and Skin Care
If you are interested in finding out how some of the products around your house rate, the app “Think Dirty” is a pretty good tool to use. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s totally family friendly. Here are a few screen shots from the app store:
I have used this app and find it very helpful. I does give naughty points for things like potential skin irritation that aren’t actual health issues and not everyone has problems with. So some products have worse scores than maybe they should and it’s not a perfect system. But it IS a good tool to use to help you become more aware of the products you are using. Learn to choose health, hygiene and cleaning products that are skin friendly.
Other important things we need do to make sure our skin is as healthy as it can be is to stay properly hydrated, eat well and take steps to keep the skin from becoming dried out. Well hydrated and nourished skin will do its job better. Water is essential to our health in so many ways and it’s role in healthy skin is no exception. Drink plenty of water. The nutrients in our food are necessary to keep our skin in it’s best condition. Eat good food. Dry skin is not healthy skin. If you need one, pick a moisturizer by how good it is for your skin, not how much you like it’s fragrance.
It’s hard, if not impossible to eliminate all the potential toxins we encounter everyday. So all in all, it once again comes down to just being more aware of how you are taking care of yourself. Each change you can make for the better, no matter how small, is one more step to having a smarter and healthier life…..naturally.
Be good to your skin, you’ll wear in everyday for the rest of your life….