Friday, February 1, 2013

Thoughts on Cleaning Up Skin Care

Avoiding chemicals in our personal and beauty products is just as important as avoiding chemicals in cleaning products or in food and water. Honestly, though, this seems to be a bit harder for people to accomplish, and with good reason.  First and foremost is cost.  Most products that I would consider to be "clean" are typically so high priced that I don't even bother looking.  The second thing that, in my opinion, stops people from making changes is the way the products themselves function so differently than what we are accustomed to, making us think they aren't working as well as the cheaper, chemical-laden versions. So...what to do? Well, for me personally changing my skin care, hair products, etc, has taken a few turns. I learned from each thing I tried and seem to currently have found what works for me.

To start off, I'll share with you a list of ingredients you'll want to avoid.  This list is by no means exhaustive, so keep that in mind when you are shopping around for product.  Check out the list here (Dirty dozen cosmetic chemicals) and then check your own products to see if they contain any of these ingredients.  Chances are, they do.  Also a great reference is the Skin Deep Database from EWG.  Here you can enter thousands of products and find the ingredients rated.  This truly is important, since most people use so many different products every single day. Add this to the environmental toxins and chemicals in food and that equals a whole heck of a lot of chemical exposure that all adds up.  The unavoidable truth is that Americans are incredibly unhealthy, struggling with exhaustion, stress, obesity, infertility, and rampant disease. I recently read a study that ranked Japan as the healthiest nation.  The US???  I believe we were somewhere around 30th place. Unacceptable.

As I said in another post, I tend to jump right into things and getting rid of chemical filled beauty products was no exception. After lots of trial and error, product research, and funny homemade flops, I have gotten a few things figured out that work quite nicely.  I'll start with skin care.

Knowing that my kids use products that are safe matters a whole heck of a lot to me.  It makes every minute spent learning or researching worth my while.

After reading about a gazillion different books, articles, blogs, and after trying more traditional (but nontoxic) skincare products, I decided to try the oil cleansing method (OCM).  I've been using it for the past 3+ years and have no reason to change. There's quite a lot of information about OCM on the internet, if you are interested.  Basically, the idea is that only oil breaks down oil, so I use a combination of castor oil (this is what actually removes dirt, impurities, etc) and another oil like olive or avocado (my favorite), mixed in a small pump bottle.  It is ridiculously inexpensive and I only have to do it every couple of days or so. On days when I don't oil cleanse, I simply steam my face with a hot rag, wipe it gently and use coconut oil as a moisturizer.  I cannot remember the last time I had a breakout and can say in all honestly that I almost never, ever get a zit. Thank goodness! Being 40 and having pimples is frustrating and no fun at all.

For a moisturizer, I use organic coconut oil. It's the same oil I use in toothpaste, for eating, for makeup removal, for cooking and for baking.  What a wonderful, versatile substance is coconut oil! It's good for you...inside and out. Simply keep a small glass jar of it in your bathroom.  It's pretty darn fantastic. You'll find it works for all dry skin problems and you can even rub a tiny bit on your hands and then use it for soft, shiny, static-free hair. Just so you know, we all use coconut oil--even the teenagers who tend to have oily skin.

Random note...Try to always use glass jars, etc, rather than plastic.  Plastic leaches chemicals and is also a petroleum product. Every time you choose glass over plastic, you are making a healthier choice for your family and for the earth.

Another note...If you've been using products containing chemicals, it is likely that your body will detox once you stop using them. This could be something you don't even notice much, or it could mean something like a skin break out.  Everyone reacts differently, but if you are patient your body will clean house, making you feel better and be healthier in the long run!

Aaaaaaand a final note...In the next post I'll show you some great products that we use that don't break the bank! 

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