Welcome to Texas Tallow’s Detox Your Skincare series! We’re going to be walking you through five steps you can take each week this month to progressively eliminate the toxins that you’re exposing your skin to.
First things first, why is our skin so important to our health?
Skin takes in information about our environment and sends messages to others about our internal health. Just looking at our skin tells us about our nutrition, liver health, fertility and more! Our skin protects us from ultraviolet radiation, microorganisms and is our first line of immune defense. It also works in tandem with the liver to excrete waste and toxins from the body. On the other hand, it’s exposed to a large number of toxins that can be absorbed into our body.
While cleaning up your diet is certainly important and pivotal to your health, most people stop there and overlook the impact of what is entering their bodies via their skin. When you eat something, your body does have some systems in place that can help eliminate toxins before they enter your bloodstream. When you apply something to your skin, however, it skips some of these safeguards and can potentially enter the bloodstream directly. Detoxing your skincare is an important step towards your overall health and wellbeing.
So let's get started! Here are five steps you can take this week to detox your skincare.
Step #1 : Say no to fragrances
Perfumes and fragrances are found in a wide array of products. Chemicals used in artificial fragrances can disrupt hormone production, affect the release of hormones, promote cancer, and even cause an allergic reaction in many people. Companies aren’t required to disclose the ingredients they use to add fragrance to their products, meaning loads of chemicals and known carcinogens are disguised behind the word “perfume”, “parfum”, “fragrance” and even “natural fragrance” in the ingredients list. Regardless, our desensitized noses are drawn to these strong scents. The first thing we do with new skincare or haircare products is smell them. An adjustment away from over-scented products is a transition that may take some time and adjustment. Read a blog post about our personal philosophy on scented products here.
While it’s wise to scrutinize all the products you buy for this sneaky ingredient, an important starting point is to eliminate the ritual spritz of perfume from your daily routine. Spare yourself and those around you from common allergens and hormone disruptors by eliminating the cloud of fragrance that follows you around. Instead, why not spritz yourself with a refreshing floral hydrosol?
Other things you can include in this category are candles with synthetic fragrances and other toxic ingredients that can be transferred to the air and inhaled. Why not make your own candles with some beeswax and essential oils of your choice? It’s also wise to do away with any form of air fresheners. Why not simmer a few slices of citrus fruit on the stovetop to scent your home or burn a homemade candle in the bathroom? Your guests will thank you that they’re not walking into a room full of toxic fake flower fragrance. Even smelling someone else perfume can cause an allergic reaction and disrupt hormones, it’s a change our society needs to make as a whole.
Step #2 : Switch laundry detergents
Speaking of products loaded with artificial fragrances, laundry detergents and softeners are major culprits. Even many baby laundry detergents are chalk-full of fragrances, chemicals and other irritants. In fact, if you have frequent skin outbreaks it would be no surprise if your laundry detergent was behind it. It’s something we assume just washes off and doesn’t affect us, but detergents adhere to your clothes and bedsheets, which are up against your skin all day and night. Additionally, if your laundry liquid is blue, pink, green, etc. - you know there’s some major synthetic substances at work - harmful dyes, thickeners and foaming agents.
The easiest way to escape the heavily chemical-laden detergents is to choose a cleaner brand. However, some of these still have unsavory ingredients. One natural option that my family employs is using soap nuts in combination with washing soda for each load. Additionally we use white vinegar in towel loads to kill smelly bacteria and hydrogen peroxide on our cloth diapers to fight stains. We’ve been using them for well over a year and have no complaints about the cleanliness of our clothes.
Step #3 : Ditch the commercial deodorant sticks
It’s become increasingly popular to opt for natural deodorants, but a majority of the population still hasn't made the switch. Commercial deodorant sticks contain ingredients that can potentially lead to developmental and reproductive issues as well as cancer. One such ingredient is aluminum - which is a toxic heavy metal once it enters the blood stream. Scientists argue that it’s safe because it’s not penetrating the skin deep enough to enter the blood stream. But as we well know, the skin readily absorbs what you put on it, debunking that myth (these are also the scientists who recommend getting botox injections under your arms to stop sweating if you're allergic to commercial deodorants).
With so many natural brands on the market, you have plenty to choose from. We recommend looking for brands that are baking-soda-free, because it can irritate some people’s skin. There are other moisture-absorbing ingredients that do the job just as well - such as arrowroot powder or bentonite clay. We also highly recommend looking for magnesium hydroxide on the ingredient list, we’ve found this essential to the “odor-eliminating” quality of the formula. Additionally, most will contain essential oils to help eliminate bacteria growth - which you may opt to avoid. We craft our own deodorant formulas with infused oils of lavender or a citrus fruit peel to produce similar results while being much gentler on the skin.
Step #4 : Look for mineral-based sunscreens
Sunscreens are a major headache for chemical-conscious consumers. While they claim to prevent cancer, it’s actually more likely that they cause it. They contain chemical filters that are known to pass through a mother’s breast milk to their infants! You definitely want to avoid spray sunscreens, which can be inhaled and cause even more damage!
Luckily there are mineral-based sunscreens available on the market. But before you slather up yourself and your kids with it, remember that some daily sun exposure is healthy and can actually help build up your skin’s tolerance to the sun’s rays. Also, many natural fats and oils can offer mild SPF protection which may do just fine if you’re not in the sun for extended periods of time or having a beach day. Judge for yourself what precautions you need to take for sun safety based on your own skin sensitivity and lifestyle.
Step #5 : Use natural fats & oils to moisturize
When it comes to moisturizing, many turn to lotions. However, lotion is water-based, meaning it doesn’t penetrate and moisturize your skin cells as effectively and it promotes microbial growth over time. So, unless you’re making your own lotions and using them within a few days, you can almost guarantee they are chalk-full of preservatives to make them last. Additionally, most lotions are plant-oil based. Plant oils aren’t as shelf-stable, meaning they go rancid easily and increase free radical damage on the skin.
We recommend using a fat-based skin salve or body butter. Fats penetrate cell walls, providing moisture and essential fat-soluble vitamins to nourish and repair skin cells. Fats are much more stable and can be formulated into body butters without preservatives. Using fats and oils on your skin may even act as a barrier that protects your skin, helping it to retain moisture and modulate skin inflammation.
Stay tuned for week two of Detox Your Skincare!
Regarding the use of anti bacterial soaps, etc., what is your advice for those who work in healthcare settings and are required to sanitize before and after entering a patient’s room?
I’ve recently seen ads for magnets for use in the washing machine to take the place of detergents. Do they really work? If so they would seem like the ideal way to wash clothes.