It’s that time of year again – resolution time! If you are like me your resolutions involve working to improve your health. A huge and often overlooked part of our health is our exposure to toxins. We usually don’t think of our cosmetics as a source of toxicity but the average woman is exposed to 168 chemicals EVERY day (men are exposed to about 85 chemicals daily).  

I invite you to start your resolutions early and join my #ditchdecember challenge!

Use the list below and the resources provided and take a closer look at your cosmetics. Share on your social media outlets what you have learned, what products you are ditching, what new products you are hoping to try and use the hashtag #ditchdecember. At the end of December I will be randomly picking a photo that used the hashtag and that person will win a Lifetime of Love/Pacha Mama Body Care Lavender Room and Linen Spray and Lavender Lip Balm.

5 TOXINS TO DITCH THIS DECEMBER

1. Fragrance (aka Parfum)

You know when you walk into an elevator with someone that has bathed in cologne and you instantly get a headache? Ya, that’s “fragrance”, and it’s damage goes beyond just headaches. 

Fragrance has been associated with allergies, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.

Scientists have recently started referring to fragrance as the new secondhand smoke and if you’ve ever experienced that elevator example you’ll understand why. Unfortunately fragrance can be found in more than just cologne and perfume. You will find it in shampoo, conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent and body creams – basically any scented product. The cosmetics industry is allowed to use the term “fragrance” to encompass over 3000 different chemicals, providing a loophole whereby manufacturers are able to protect “trade secrets” by not being required to fully disclose what is meant when you see “fragrance” on a label. This makes it impossible for consumers to fully understand what they are exposing themselves to when they consume these products. ​

You know when you walk into an elevator with someone that has bathed in cologne and you instantly get a headache? Ya, that’s “fragrance”, and it’s damage goes beyond just headaches. 

Fragrance has been associated with allergies, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.

Scientists have recently started referring to fragrance as the new secondhand smoke and if you’ve ever experienced that elevator example you’ll understand why. Unfortunately fragrance can be found in more than just cologne and perfume. You will find it in shampoo, conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent and body creams – basically any scented product. The cosmetics industry is allowed to use the term “fragrance” to encompass over 3000 different chemicals, providing a loophole whereby manufacturers are able to protect “trade secrets” by not being required to fully disclose what is meant when you see “fragrance” on a label. This makes it impossible for consumers to fully understand what they are exposing themselves to when they consume these products. ​

#DitchDecember

Ditch products labelled with fragrance and opt for a more natural alternative that relies on pure essential oils for an aroma. Bear in mind, however, that pregnant or breastfeeding mothers may need to take special care when using certain essential oils. ​​

2. Phthalates

Phthalates are found in products such as nail polish, hair spray, perfumes and lotions. 

They are known endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, increased risk of liver disease, early breast development in girls and reproductive birth defects in males and females.

Phthalates are used to keep plastic flexible so you will find this chemical lurking in more than just your cosmetics. Be conscious of plastic bottles, toys for babies (especially anything that goes in their mouths!) and plastic food containers.  Ditch this toxic chemical and look for phthalates free products and avoid plastic containers as much as possible.

#DitchDecember

Ditch this toxic chemical and look for phthalates free products and avoid plastic containers as much as possible.

3. Parabens

Methylparaben, propyparaben or ethylparaben are all chemicals called parabens that are used as a preservative in cosmetics such as makeup, body wash, deodoransts, shampoos and facial cleansers. 

The issue with parabens is that they can mimic the action of estrogen in the body causing endocrine chaos, increasing the risk of breast cancer and impairing normal estrogen function. ​

Parabens also interfere with male reproduction function by acting as a xenoestrogen which is bad news if found in too high amounts in a male body. Ditch this toxic chemical! Look for labels that say paraben free. ​​

#DitchDecember

Ditch this toxic chemical! Look for labels that say paraben free. 

4. Triclosan

Triclosan is a widely used for its action as an antimicrobial. If a hand soap says “antibacterial” on it’s label it most likely contains triclosan. You can find it in other products such as toothpaste and deodorants. Unfortunately this chemical is a known endocrine disruptor – meaning it interferes with the normal functioning of of our endocrine system including the thyroid and reproductive hormones. Studies are also showing that triclosan contributes to antibiotic resistance, fostering the rise of “super bugs”. There also isn’t enough evidence showing that triclosan is any better then regular soap and water. Ditch that antibacterial hand wash and stick with good old fashioned soap.

Studies are also showing that triclosan contributes to antibiotic resistance, fostering the rise of “super bugs”.

There also isn’t enough evidence showing that triclosan is any better then regular soap and water. 

#DitchDecember

Ditch that antibacterial hand wash and stick with good old fashioned soap.

5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) /
    Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

We have become accustomed to shampoo and soaps with a nice silky smooth lather. Unfortunately this foam is usually formed using a chemical foaming agent called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. 

It can be found in 90% of personal care products (shampoo to mascara) and are known to be skin, lung and eye irritants.

 A major concern with SLS is the potential to interact with other chemicals to form nitrosamines (a carcinogen) leading to issues such as kidney and respiratory damage and endocrine disruption. 

#DitchDecember

Look for shampoos, toothpastes and other personal care products that say “SLS free” and ditch this toxic chemical. ​​

If you would like to know where your cosmetics and personal care products stack up or would like to learn more about reading cosmetic labels please check out Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep This site will grade your current personal care products and provide recommendations if you are looking to ditch any and make the switch to a more natural alternative. Another great resource is David Suzuki’s Sustainable Shopper’s Guide – this wallet sized card lists the dirty dozen ingredients to avoid in your cosmetics. Perfect to print and carry around in your purse to use when out shopping. To get in depth information on the dirty dozen ingredients you can check out https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/dirty-dozen-cosmetic-chemicals-avoid/ ​I can’t wait to see what changes you make or what products you are already using that you love! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #DitchDecember and be sure to also tag #pachamamabodycare and #lifetimeoflovedoula!


Naomi Higenbottam is a Registered Nurse, Holistic Nutritionist and owner of Pacha Mama Body Care. She has a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, a Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree from York University and a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of Waterloo. She has also completed certifications from The School of Herbal and Aromatic Studies Herbal Academy and Vintage Remedies.

Naomi is currently working as a Public Health Nurse with York Region in their Healthy Babies Health Children program. She also runs a private nutrition consulting business; Bloom Naturally where she helps women to reach optimal health prior to and during pregnancy. In 2015 Naomi started Pacha Mama Body Care – an organic herbal body care company in the hopes of providing people with natural and sustainable products that are safe for humans and the environment. Naomi hand makes all of the products and grows the herbs on her 1 acre property in Caledon, ON. Naomi is a mama to 1 beautiful boy and lives with her partner and a dog, bunny and 3 chickens. ​​

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