In my last blog post, I talked about how stress and toxins take a toll on our bodies. In order to minimize these effects on our bodies, we need to focus on what we can control. One thing we can control is what products we allow into our home. By swapping out harmful products for safe alternatives, we can reduce the amount of toxins we absorb and calm our bodies’ stress response.
The first step is understanding what types of common household items are toxic.
Here are some harmful toxins commonly found in cosmetics and skincare:
Parabens, phthalates and phenols. These synthetic chemicals can have a significant effect on hormonal health. Phthalates are used in certain plastics, such as PVC. They are also found in some cosmetics. Parabens are preservatives found in makeup and skincare products. These chemicals can alter puberty timing and may be linked to birth defects, cancer and other health problems.
Heavy metals. Heavy metals are all around us: in the ground, in the water, and products we use. In small quantities they don’t cause serious problems, but high levels of heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic can lead to health issues. Health issues that can arise from heavy metal exposure include neurological effects, headaches, cancer, and kidney and lung damage. Because you will always have some level of exposure to heavy metals in the environment, it’s important to limit your exposure to them in your household products.
Fragrance. Fragrances in products are usually a synthetic concoction containing phthalates and synthetic musks. These chemicals can be allergens and also hormone disruptors. Products often list “fragrance” as one ingredient—but the truth is that fragrance may include any number of over 3,000 stock chemicals that are not required to be listed. Tests of fragrance ingredients have found an average of 14 compounds per formulation.
Sodium lauryl sulfate: This chemical is used to create a lather in products like shampoo and soap. But sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is also used in clinical studies to IRRITATE skin, so researchers can test healing solutions. SLS is a corrosive chemical that eats away at the protective barrier on your skin. Not only is it harmful for your skin, but significant amounts of SLS can disrupt hormones and cause imbalances in the endocrine system.
Cosmetics aren’t the only products that can contain harmful chemicals. Household items like cleaners, detergents and certain plastics also contain materials that are harmful to your health.
Be Mindful of These Toxic Household Products:
Nonstick pans: Many nonstick pans are made with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies. Stick to cast iron or stainless steel pans. I also like Green Pans for a safer alternative.
Air fresheners: Plug-in air fresheners and aerosols often contain phthalates and other harmful chemicals. Opt for an essential oil diffuser instead.
Cleaning products: Many cleaning products also contain phthalates and chemical surfactants, which are toxic to breathe in or absorb. Choose natural cleaners like vinegar, lemon and hot water, which clean effectively without harming your health. I also love Branch Basics and if you are local to Hampton Roads check out Yoo Clean.
Plastic food containers. Plastic breaks down over time, and this can result in the chemicals getting absorbed into your food. Glass containers are the safest bet for food.
Fabric softeners: These products work by layering your clothes with chemicals that may be harmful, such as quaternary ammonium salts. These chemicals can irritate the skin or cause respiratory problems and headaches. Instead opt for wool dryer balls with essential oils.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the household products that may contain harmful chemicals. If you’re curious about the safety of the products in your home, check out EWG.org for consumer guides to all types of products.
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The content found on Integrative Counseling and Nutrition Consulting platform is not intended to be a substitute for professional therapeutic advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, therapist or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.