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I LOVE MY BUBBLE BATHS! HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE BAD FOR MY HEALTH??

I LOVE MY BUBBLE BATHS! HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE BAD FOR MY HEALTH??

Most of us would agree that a little self-pampering is a good form of stress relief. Some would prefer soaking in a bath full of bubbles in candlelight, others might opt for having a massage or a facial… Either way a little “me time” and a treat to yourself feels quite luxurious – what’s not to like??

 

But what if I were to point out that this experience might actually be UP-ING your stress levels? If I were to say that:

  • many bath products on the market are full of industrial chemicals.
  • candles can contain almost as many toxins as cigarettes [click here for more].
  • parabens in facial products MAY be hormone disruptors and may be highly detrimental to human health.

…would you think again?

 

Granted, there is a lot of scaremongering out there on this one. It can be confusing reading the endless articles in the media on the subject, and there are many grey areas where more research is necessary. HOWEVER, my logic says to me that it’s really quite simple: why use products which MAY be seriously damaging to my health when there are other, natural alternatives…?

 

 

 

THE FACTS

  • our skin is a complex structure, and often works as a very effective barrier. It was brilliantly designed to protect us from the daily onslaught it received from the environment, BUT that was the environment of yester-year. In today’s world, toxins are far more rife, so the barrier doesn’t always work so efficiently…
  • our skin is the largest organ of the body and is exposed to endless chemicals on a daily level. Whilst some of these are never absorbed into the system, others are. Equally, the oft-made claim that “all cosmetics enter the bloodstream” is NOT true. However, it is true to say that some do…
  • The skin’s ability to absorb is affected by many factors: skin type, age, ethnicity, environment, seasonal change, extant skin conditions…
  • 90% of the chemical ingredients used in self care products have never been fully evaluated for safety.
  • Many of us use endless cosmetics without even consciously realising it. On a daily basis we may use deodorant, toothpaste, shower gel, hand wash, shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, cleanser, moisturiser. In addition there are those products which we perhaps use less often: facial masks, exfoliators, bath products, hair masks, hair gels & oils, foot balms, antiseptic creams… Surely then our choice of self-care products matters just as much as our choice in nutrition?

I am NOT here to tell you that you will get breast cancer if you use the wrong deodorant, nor that your paraben-loaded facial cream will slowly kill you: it is just not as simple as that. What I am saying however is that much of the research IS worrying: surely if there is a possibility that these chemicals are detrimental to our health, and there are other options on the market that

  1. don’t contain these toxins
  2. actually contain ingredients that are BENEFICIAL to our health

…then it is worth re-vamping our bathroom cabinets to contain these?

 

 

WHICH PRODUCTS MATTER MOST?

There are various factors to consider here:

  1. Our face and scalp absorb 5-10 times more quickly than other parts of the body, so facial and hair care products immediately have more potential for damage.
  2. Hair products are absorbed into the scalp, AND then wash over the rest of the body. Consider also that reading the label on a “typical” shampoo bottle, “you may see as many as 20 ingredients, many of which have been synthesized in the lab”.
  3. Generally speaking, those products which we wash off will have less chance of penetration. Some products spend much longer on our skin: consider body creams; hair and face masks; deodorants; moisturisers, make-up.
  4. Deodorants used on the armpits are relatively close to the breast. Aluminium is a common ingredient in deodorants, and can clog lymph nodes in this area. Aluminium has been found in breast tumours so using such deodorants MAY present cause for concern.
  5. When it comes to our children’s skin, we surely want to avoid all toxins: consider the sheer quantity of creams, powders and oils we often drown our babies in… A particularly worrying example is eczema creams which often contain steroids (and this is made more poignant when we consider the belief – held by many – that numerous of the chemically laden moisturising creams on the market are one of the chief causes of eczema in the first place). 

 

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that many of these ingredients are harmful and may produce long term health issues, though more research is needed to substantiate this. I would still insist: why encourage chemically derived products that your body simply doesn’t recognise and cannot synthesise when there are other natural options? I know with surety that I would rather not use bath products which contain petroleum, or deodorants containing aluminium, when other products do not include these potential toxins, and in addition they DO utilise ingredients which enhance my health…

 

 

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

 

 

1. If I am soaking in a bath it may seem wonderful to watch those large, soapy bubbles around me, but these are typically created by a surfactant or detergent (usually containing petrochemicals). Try instead a product containing coconut oil, which will produce bubbles whilst also offering a host of health benefits. It’s naturally antibacterial and anti fungal, so as well as being an effective, natural moisturiser it will boost your immunity too.

2. If you don’t feel the bubbles themselves are such a necessity, then how about going for a bath oil instead? There are many natural bath oils on the market, or you might choose to create your own. If you’re getting creative, it is important to help your chosen essential oil(s) to disperse by placing them in a base or carrier oil: this will also avoid any possible skin irritations from direct contact oil-to-skin. In addition, a carefully chosen base oil will help to naturally moisturise and nourish the skin. Examples are apricot oil, safflower oil or olive oil. [N.B. some essential oils will irritate skin and/or mucous membranes so should be avoided in bath creations – e.g. clove, cinnamon, spearmint. Try starting with some of the milder options which are definitely kind to skin, such as lavender, rose or chamomile].

3. The fragrances typically used in cosmetics can also emit endless pollutants: in a world so heavily populated by cars (meaning that burning of fossil fuels – and therefore air pollution – is ever on the increase), surely it makes sense to replace chemical fragrances with a more natural alternative where possible? Try products containing essential oils, which will produce a wonderful fragrance (opening a bottle of lemon or orange essential oil is EXACTLY like cutting the fruit in front of you & drinking in those wonderful scents). Additionally, these oils are derived from nature, and if used carefully can offer a myriad of benefits for both mental & physical health. Many are naturally antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and they are also believed to balance mood, to help boost immunity and influence hormones… Why oh why use chemical fragrances when you could choose essential oils which will genuinely enhance health holistically?

 

 

4. Our 21st century mania with keeping “clean” to avoid picking up bugs and viruses seemed innocent enough, and certainly explained soaring sales of anti-bacterial hand washes. Since 2017 however, when the American Food & Drug Administration (FDA) pointed out the potential health risks these gels and liquids present, many of them were banned in the US. The two ingredients that were deemed especially worrying were triclosan and triclocarban, but there were in fact a total of 19 suspect ingredients. Washing hands WELL in plain soap and water is actually just as effective and far less damaging, but if you’d like a further boost, guess what my fave suggestion might be? Oh yes, it’s essential oils!! So many of these oils are anti-bacterial, and by using them you will of course reap many other health benefits. Click here for more.

5. Anti-ageing creams would seem to be another 21st century mania.  Yet again, many potential risks have been at least anecdotally connected with these creams. Why not look instead for a natural alternative? At the risk of becoming repetitive, essential oils step in once more. There are many oils which possess anti-ageing properties, whilst also enhancing health on so many levels. Just one example is frankincense:

“…a cytophylatic oil which means it aids the process of skin cell regeneration. Tonifying and rejuvenating, it’s one of the most important oils for improving skin tone and treating aging skin as well as reducing scar tissue.”

6. If you use exfoliators this should be looked at both in terms of your own health and that of the planet. Most commercially produced scrubs contain microplastics which are massively damaging to our planet and by default to ourselves. Alternative options might be oats, apricot kernels, ground rice, crushed seeds, or sea salt (for a body scrub rather than for more delicate facial skin).

 

IN CONCLUSION…

This really is a post which could go on forever, but I feel I have covered those self-care products which I feel most strongly about, and those which come up in conversation with clients most often. Taking on the task of switching ALL your products may seem like a mammoth job, so do be realistic and try making the change bit-by-bit. Similarly overwhelming is the job of deciding which products to change to, especially when labelling is often less than helpful in this sector. For a reliable guide to more ethical and genuinely natural products click here.

If it does all seem a little insurmountable, try to see it as a fun process: the chance to explore new products that will smell & feel fabulous as well as being good for you! And hold on too to the fact that you are making a decision which is powerful on so many levels. You will be reducing your own stress levels, enhancing both your physical and mental wellbeing, and encouraging the health of our beautiful planet as well: surely that is a decision worth making. So go on, take the plunge and start to make that change…TODAY.

 

POLLUTANTS ARE DESTROYING OUR PLANET & OUR HEALTH…WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

POLLUTANTS ARE DESTROYING OUR PLANET & OUR HEALTH…WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

Unless you never listen to the news, pick up a magazine, or scroll though social media, you are likely to be aware of the many environmental issues faced by our society. From global warming and acid rain to climate change and plastic pollution…and sadly, the list seems to be growing all the time.

On a more positive note, awareness is growing too, and this is an absolute MUST in the world we live in.

 

A DOUBLE-EDGED ISSUE

The problem is surely twofold. On the one hand we are watching our planet’s decline as natural resources are increasingly depleted:

“Over the last few decades, the exploitation of our planet and degradation of our environment have gone up at an alarming rate…our actions have been not in favor of protecting this planet…”

On the other hand, these changes also have an immediate effect on our own health. “Stress” is a huge factor in modern living: whilst some of this is due to factors such as work ethics and the monumental influence of technology, environmental stressors also play an increasingly large role:

“Environmental stress refers to how people or animals respond to physical, chemical and biological features of their environment. These stressors may include exposure to natural disasters, electromagnetic radiation, pollution, climate change, or noise. They can be pathogens that invade the body, causing a stress response, or features of your workplace like an uncomfortable chair. Whether one-time or long-term, environmental stressors cause strain on the body and mind.”

So surely we should be tackling this as a double-edged issue, and should be doing absolutely all that we can to protect both the future of our planet AND ourselves?

 

 

WHAT EXACTLY ARE THESE STRESSORS?

Actually listing the environmental stressors that are regularly affecting us paints a glum picture:

  • climate stress
  • air pollution
  • chemical stressors
  • plastic pollution
  • energetic stress
  • ergonomic stress
  • biological stress

CLIMATE STRESS may refer to those changes that only last for a season, or to an overall shift such as global climate change.

AIR POLLUTION is caused chiefly by the burning of fossil fuels. Pollution emitted from vehicles produces vast problems in this area.

CHEMICAL STRESSORS affect us on many different levels: the remains of pesticides found on our foods, ingestion of antibiotics, and chemicals found in cosmetics, air fresheners and cleaning products all contribute to chemical overload within our (already stressed) bodies.

PLASTIC POLLUTION is frighteningly abundant. Plastic is affordable and remarkably strong: it is a hugely prevalent, ever constant image in our “disposable” society. It is estimated that 500 billion plastic bags are used globally every year…

“whenever they are disposed, [plastics] take hundreds of years to decompose and their continued stay in the environment does great harm. When burnt, [plastic] pollutes the air, when disposed in the landfills it causes land pollution, and when dumped into the water it pollutes the waters”.

ERGONOMIC STRESS increases as our weekly working hours continue to go up. Endless hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer, over-doing manual work, too little physical exercise and bad posture all contribute.

ENERGETIC STRESS is caused by the various different wavelengths we are subjected to, from exposure to mobile telephones to use of microwave ovens…

“invisible but very real, energetic stressors can cause disturbances to the body and mind. The earth contains many different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that travel through time and space…all of these invisible rays can have an impact on our health and well being. 

BIOLOGICAL STRESS refers to any illness or allergic reaction we may encounter. As the years go by, it seems these are increasing, from incidences of eczema to a vastly increasing list of autoimmune conditions. Could this be a result of our body trying to fight the many other environmental stressors it faces?

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

In a generalised conversation about the welfare of our planet, it can seem incredibly daunting to try to do ANYTHING to better the situation. The facts are grim, and can seem insurmountable…

 

 

If however we break things down, and we realise that some of the above issues in fact overlap, then we can start to explore what simple changes we might make on a day to day level…

 

10 TIPS TO PROTECT BOTH YOUR PLANET AND YOURSELF:

1. Conserve energy: unplug electronic devices when you’re not using them; use warm (not hot) water for washing; use energy efficient light bulbs; consider replacing household appliances with more energy efficient models.

2. Reduce petrol pollution: walk or cycle to avoid using petrol consuming vehicles; at the very least use buses or trains to reduce petrol emissions from endless cars.

3. Avoid plastics: utilise reusable or recyclable packaging wherever possible; try (reusable) fabric bags for shopping; use paper straws; purchase a re-usable non-plastic water bottle; avoid plastic based wraps such as “Clingfilm” (which can leak toxins straight into our food). Click here for a great reusable, biodegradable, chemical-free food wrap.

4. Eat natural, organic foods as much as possible: this will reduce exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Some studies also suggest that organic foods have higher levels of omega 3 fats, antioxidants and minerals.

“Scientists theorize that when plants aren’t coated in chemicals to help fight off pests and insects, they develop stronger compounds to protect themselves”.

By ingesting these foods we too will benefit from these disease fighting compounds, and therefore be in a better position to stave off environmental stressors.

5. Check labelling for presence of (plastic) microbeads: these are typically found in shower gels, exfoliators, toothpaste, cleaning products. The tiny plastic particles:

“can have a damaging effect on marine life, the environment and human health…due to their composition, ability to absorb toxins and potential to transfer up the marine food chain”.

[It is reassuring to know that since recent revisions in the UK, legislation has banned the use of plastic microbeads in the manufacture of some cosmetic and personal care products. Click here for more]

6. Aim to use NATURAL cosmetics: always try for those which don’t include chemical “nasties”. Take a moment to consider how many cosmetics you and your family use daily to realise the true power of this one, and consider how everyone of these is absorbed into the body. Cosmetic labelling is nowhere near as well regulated as food labelling, so it can be very confusing. Click here to access a simple and reliable chart of recommended natural products.

 

7. Avoid chemically fragranced products: body sprays and air fresheners are often rich in chemicals. Aim instead for natural fragrances such as essential oils, which actually provide health benefits. Also be aware of scented candles, some of which:

“produce smoke laced with almost as many toxins as those produced by cigarettes”.

Click here to learn more about the potential health risks connected to candles.

8. Consciously reduce “screen time” for all the family: aside from the impact on our mental health, theories on “energetic stress” are increasingly worrying. Studies suggest that constant exposure to the radio-frequency waves emitted by mobile phone radiation may be hugely detrimental to our health. Click here for my Top Tips to Detox from Tech.

9. Think posture, posture, posture: aside from creating muscular aches and pains, postural mal-alignment can be detrimental to digestion and respiration, and can even enhance chances of cardiovascular disease.

10. Let nature be your doctor: taking care of both physical and mental health by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and putting in place those stress management techniques which are relevant to you will minimise the need for (often chemically laden) antibiotics and medicines as you allow your body to live as it is supposed to.

 

OUR HEALTH AND THAT OF THE PLANET…

In terms of our own health, this last one is perhaps the most important message. The closer we adhere to the sort of life we were designed to live, the more able we will be to deal with those toxins that do creep in. Our bodies are meant to be constantly “detox”–ing, but in today’s society – where the overload of chemical stressors is rising day by day – our organs often don’t operate as efficiently as they should, and so struggle to rid themselves of these toxic substances.

Meanwhile, in terms of the wider issue of our planet, isn’t it time to sit back and take a good look at ourselves and the world we live in – the world we are creating for our children and grandchildren? By selecting  just one of the above pollutants, we can see the sheer enormity of the problem. Plastic waste is choking our oceans and is releasing toxic chemicals into our soil and into our air. Wildlife on both sea and land are affected by this constant flow of pollution from a vast array of plastic materials that many of us use daily: by default, we – and our children –  are suffering too.

There are so, so many small ways in which we can help, and even if each of those makes just a tiny difference, we have to hang on to the hope that a small effort from each and every one of us on this beautiful planet will be the start point for saving both the planet and ourselves.

 

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