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By Chere Di Boscio
It’s a shocking fact, but literally half of all Americans and Britons will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Seriously, that’s an insane number of people. Doctors will try to tell you that it’s because ‘we’re living longer’ and ‘cancer is a disease of older people,’ but that’s rubbish – not only are younger people increasingly being diagnosed with the most common forms of cancer, but our bodies are being bombarded with carcinogens on a daily basis. Wifi, mobile phones and microwaves, air pollution, second hand smoke, toxic household cleaning products, GMO foods, pesticides, and tap water additives are just a few of these, most of which we can’t control. But the good news is: we can control which beauty products we use. And we need to!
For example, every day, the average woman loads her body up with a whopping 168 chemicals – many of which are harmful – just by using makeup and skincare. In America, 89% of the ingredients in personal care products have not been tested for safety by the FDA; rather they are ‘generally regarded as safe’ (GRAS) until proven otherwise. In other words, the FDA’s approach to women’s health is: ‘Meh…whatever. Let them use this chemical ingredient and if a lot of them get cancer, then we’ll consider pulling it.” Nice.
Clearly, it’s up to us to take control of our health, ladies. And it’s easier than you think. Here are 9 easy ways to reduce your chances of cancer by making changes to your beauty routine. What are you waiting for?
1. Avoid mainstream brand toothpastes
Despite what your dentist may tell you, fluoride is not safe. It’s a toxin that has lead to ‘brain sand’ – that’s tiny granules in the brain tissue – as well as myriad other diseases, including cancer. It’s an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels. But mainstream toothpastes almost always include not only this nasty ingredient, but also the detergent/foaming agent sodium laureth sulfate. SLS doesn’t actually clean your teeth – its foaming action only makes you think your teeth are cleaner; it’s the brush that actually does the work. Even more worryingly, some brands include Tryptophan, which is an anti-bacterial. Not only is this highly carcinogenic, but it also kills the good bacteria in your mouth. In short, mainstream brand toothpastes are packed with cancer causing chemicals you put into your mouth.
What to do: To clean your teeth, use a natural toothpaste like Green People’s or one of these and to ensure your mouth is rid of bad bacteria, swish around some coconut oil for 5-10 minutes each night.
2. Never use deodorant or other beauty products with aluminium
Did you know dementia is the number 1 killer in the UK, even more so than heart disease or cancer? And the reason for that is that more and more of us are being loaded with particles of aluminium. This can come from several sources: cooking with pots made from it, those white trails in the sky, little bits of glitter in makeup, and deodorants.
These aluminium particles in deodorants have been associated with cancer, especially of the breast, as they are absorbed into the body more easily through razor nicks from underarm shaving. These substances are said to be deposited in the lymph nodes under the arm, which are not able to get rid of them by sweating, because the antiperspirant keeps you from perspiring. Ultimately, this causes a high concentration of toxins, which leads to cells mutating into cancer.
What to do: Protect your health the best you can by cooking only with stainless steel pots, and never, ever use an antiperspirant or deodorant with aluminium on the label – try a natural deodorant like one of these instead.
3. Never use anything with ‘nano’ on the label
Fact: no one knows what nano particles of anything will do to our bodies in the long run. Even if the particle is something we would normally consider highly natural, like H20, we don’t know how our bodies will react to nanoparticles of water – these particles are so small, they penetrate the skin easily and deeply because they’re far smaller than the pores of the membranes in your body that are designed to keep external toxins out. This also means these particles can end up in your bloodstream, brain matter and bodily tissues – that cannot be good, right? In fact, the links between nanoparticles and cancers are pretty clear, and yet many beauty companies are putting nanoparticles in their products.
What to do: Check all labels for ‘nano’ and if it’s there, avoid it!
4. Reduce the amount of personal care products you use
Every time you layer on a primer, moisturiser, foundation, blush, lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow liner, eyebrow gel, lip liner, lipstick, powder, concealer, etc, you’re using different products which all have different chemicals. This cocktail of ingredients builds up to create what researchers call your ‘chemical load’, and the mixture of the toxins is much more harmful than the singular ingredients on their own.
What to do: Reduce your chemical load by using multi-functioning, all natural products like lipsticks that double as cream blushers, or a BB foundation that’s also a moisturizer and sun block like one of these.
5. Take shorter showers and neutralise your water
City water is full of chemicals – including fluoride (see point 1) and chlorine, which is not only drying on your skin and hair, but harmful to your health in large quantities. The longer your shower or bath, the more of it you absorb into your body, and the more fluoride you absorb from water, the more you increase your chances of cancer.
What to do: The effects of chemicals in the water can be mitigated a bit by adding 1/2c baking soda (choose an aluminum free brand) and a dab or two of essential oil to your bath. Also consider buying a water filter for your shower head like one of these.
6. Use all-natural or organic beauty products only
By now, you’ve surely figured out that the only way to go is to choose natural skincare, makeup and personal care products. There are too many toxic chemicals that go into grooming products to list here, but suffice it to say that even if a brand is thought to be ‘natural’ – it quite often isn’t! See our list of ‘fake’ natural brands here, for example. The only way to know which brands to trust are to look for Organic Certifications on the label.
And don’t think that having an organic shampoo or lipstick is enough – though it’s a good start, it’s kind of like believing that if you eat an organic apple for breakfast, it’s ok to hit Burger King for dinner every night.
7. Don’t forget the beauty salon
Again, let’s turn to the food metaphor: if you’re eating vegan or organic food at home, why would you go to McDonald’s when you eat out? Well, it’s the same with your beauty routine. Maintain your integrity – don’t settle for toxic products just because you’re not at home!
For example, hair dye may not be used every day, but since it packs in some seriously harmful chemicals, when you do dye your hair, make sure you choose the most natural dye possible, like one of these.
Also, don’t drop your natural beauty ethics when you visit a salon: most use highly toxic nail polishes, polish removers, massage oils and creams. Ask which brands the salon is using; check their labels, and if their products are not natural (which they probably won’t be unless you go to an eco-salon), then bring your own.
8. Use an all natural sunscreen
Skin cancer is on the rise, but the good news is that it’s one of the most avoidable forms of cancer. All you need to do is invest in a great, all natural sunscreen. Be sure to avoid anything that has nano particles in it (you know if it doesn’t leave you at least a little bit white before rubbing it in, there’s something wrong), oxybenzone (thought to cause cancer) and also avoid ingredients like octocrylene, which is a chemical that actually prematurely ages your skin. Make sure you cover your face, neck, upper chest and hands every day, and remember: sunscreen is not a substitute for staying out of the sun. If you smother yourself in the stuff and lie out in the sun anyway, you’re asking for trouble. They’re designed to protect you from incidental sun exposure; they’re not a ticket to sunbathe!
What to do: Try a natural sunscreen, like one of these.
9. Get educated
Not sure if a beauty product is clean? Apps like Think Dirty or a visit to the Environmental Working Group’s website will put you in the know about which ingredients in your current makeup bag are harmful. As mentioned in point 6, you should only be using 100% natural, non-toxic beauty and grooming products only, but if you do buy something from mainstream shops, assume they’re full of harmful chemicals until proven otherwise.