With all of the educating I do (or “preaching” as some of my friends and family like to refer to it as) about what and what not to use, what’s healthy, what’s harmful, what’s best, etc., it can often leave some people feeling deflated / dejected / frustrated / overwhelmed. Let’s face it: there is a TON of garbage products out there lining the shelves from shampoo to fondue that is more of science experiment than something you’d want to put on your body or in your mouth. I have spent an insane number of hours researching and checking out different products (and homemade alternatives) that are healthier and better options than many of the things most people are currently using. I must disclose that a mere six years ago, I was using many, if not most of the products that I am now encouraging you to seek alternatives for. It was through my education and research that I learned there are better alternatives out there. Another thing I realized is that most companies are out to make a buck, not protect your health or well-being…and the FDA is just as much to blame with its heavy industry pay-offs and corporate political influence, so don’t just assume that just because something is sold on the shelf that it must be safe and OK for us to use. There are over 85,000 chemicals (many of them toxic to our systems) used in everything from food to healthcare products, so it’s OUR job to be smart, savvy consumers. I have written other articles here on MySuperFoods addressing the topic of toxins and products to be aware of:
This week, I’ll share a sampling of things I have made a concerted effort to eradicate and/or change and the products I now happily use (as broken down by category). I HAVE NO AFFILIATION WITH ANY OF THESE COMPANIES, SO MY ENDORSEMENTS ARE STRICTLY FROM LOVING THEIR PRODUCT(S):
– No more Tide, Bounce, bleach, and Clorox 2 for us. I love: Ecos Detergent, good old distilled white vinegar (acts as a great odor control and fabric softener), Borax (for tough stains or disinfecting), Molly’s Suds Detergent, Charlie’s Soap, and baking soda. You can even use a few drops of essential oil(s) for disinfecting and/or odor control. I have never tried it, but I have friends that use castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) as laundry detergent, too. If you really want to use fabric softener, I have tried Seventh Generation and Ecover and both work well without all of the dyes, perfumes, and toxic chemicals like what’s found in Bounce, Snuggle, etc.
– Instead of blue-dyed Windex with tons of chemicals, I just use distilled white vinegar, filtered water, and a few drops of fresh lemon juice in a spray bottle. It works great, isn’t toxic, and is cheaper.
– Stain scrub – just use baking soda and some distilled white vinegar with a cloth to remove stains. You can also use ½ of each of distilled water and white vinegar in a spray bottle with castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s or some essential oils).
– Anti-bacterial/all-purpose cleaner – did you know that all of the chemicals in “disinfecting” sprays really don’t do that great of a job, not to mention the chemicals in them can be more harmful than the bacteria they are trying to clean? Try making your own mix in a spray bottle with 1 cup filtered water, 1 cup white vinegar, 2 tsps. Rubbing alcohol, and 10 drops of an essential oil like Thieves, thyme, clove, oregano, tea tree, cinnamon, or lavender.
– I also like the BabyGanics line of dish soap and multi-purpose sprays…they don’t use harsh chemicals and natural. They also do a great job cleaning. Other friends have used Seventh Generation, BioKleen, and Ecover and have liked them.
– I am very cautious about the dishwasher detergent I use: I am currently using a natural-based one by Seventh Generation and it does a great job. Just think: those chemicals in harsh dishwasher detergents get coated all over and then baked onto your eating surfaces…and you ingest that with each bite, drink, and lick off of everything washed. Remember not to wash plastic food containers or anything for kids and babies in the dishwasher, as research shows an alarming rate of chemicals released by the heat and washing process, which then gets washed over everything else.
– Instead of using tons of paper towels all the time, try using reusable and washable cloth kitchen towels. You’ll save a ton of money, paper, trips to the store to replenish, and the cloth I find cleans messes better (and has better absorbency than paper towels).
– DITCH THE NON-STICK! Teflon and the like have to be some of the worst offenders of off-gassing of chemicals. I love my GreenPan non-stick pans that are ceramic-based….there are other brands like GreenPan out there, but stainless steel, ceramic, and cast-iron pots and pans are also great alternatives. Be sure to steer clear of any products that use questionable “glazes” or finishes….
– Toss the Tupperware (or any plastic ware for that matter). I used to buy Tupperware like it was going out of style. I mean, who wouldn’t want a container for every scrap of food in your kitchen? The only problem is, all plastics use petroleum and an onslaught of chemicals to be produced, which all get leached in some form or another into your food. I don’t care if it says BPA-free…there are still other chemicals that were used to create that plastic. I switched everything to glass for storage: glass jars from IKEA (or you can also try Anchor Hocking, Fridgeoverre, Pyrex, or Ball Mason jars) and I got a great glass storage set from Costco for $20. Glass does not leach anything into your food, and it cleans up very well. Plastic tends to hold particles of food and never really gets “clean.”
– For dusting, I use either citrus oil or almond oil to protect wood. Even better, I use my vacuum to dust most surfaces and then I don’t need to worry about a dirty rag afterwards. Some people report having great results with just a wet rag.
– For home fragrance, I don’t use Renuzit sprays or harsh air fresheners… instead, I either use a food-grade wax and essential-oil mix in a warming element or an essential oil diffuser and Thieves oil is my favorite.
BEAUTY & DENTAL PRODUCTS
– I no longer wear commercial perfumes. The amount of chemicals that can POISON you (literally) are astronomical…and thanks to a loophole by the FDA, companies are not required to report their chemicals in perfumes and other products. My thyroid was so out of control when I used to wear perfume; it makes sense since I sprayed it right on my neck where my glands are and it was immediately absorbed. Instead, I love just rubbing some essential oils on my skin and they smell fresh. I use Aveda essential oils, and I have clients who love DoTerra or Young Living essential oils. You want to make sure they are from a reputable source, and preferably organic, as they are concentrated extracts.
– Lotion has made a radical transformation in our house, as I used to buy things like Eucerin, Aveeno, etc…until I researched and realized it’s all garbage I was slathering onto my skin that was getting into my body. And all the face creams and products that people use for acne, blemishes, wrinkles, etc.? I could go on and on about those how terrible they actually are….it’s savvy marketing that gets people, for most of the chemicals in these products do more harm than anything and create more issues. I switched to organic coconut oil for lotion most days, but I LOVE the company Earth Mama Angel Baby for organic body oils, lotions, and washes. This company is AWESOME and uses the best ingredients that are all SAFE. I have never had softer skin and my son’s skin is beyond soft and clear from anything. I also love Weleda products – they make great calendula oil-based products, and I am a huge fan of calendula oil for moisturizing and clearing up skin irritations. California Baby is another one of our favorites and I have never had any problems or reactions. You can also make your own whipped coconut oil body creams by taking organic coconut oil (hardened), a few drops of essential oils, and whipping it in a stand mixer for several minutes until it’s soft and fluffy. I also had great luck using Jojoba oil to moisturize. Dr. Bronners makes a great body lotion, too.
– For facial skin care, I used to use benzoyl-peroxide and salicylic acid based products, but no matter how reputable the name or price, there are harsh and harmful chemicals in these products. I now make sure my skin care regimen uses Vitamin C, as this is a natural anti-oxidant. I really like MyChelle and Jurlique for toners, moisturizers, fruit enzyme scrubs/cleansers. I also have no problem using Dr. Bronners castile soap to wash my face.
– Body wash? I can cringe at the list of fragrances, additives, preservatives, parabens, and harsh chemicals that go into these artificially colored and smelling toxic lathers (I know I sound dramatic, but that’s what they are). One simple switch for us: Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castile soap. It works awesome, our skin feels awesome, and it gets you super clean and smelling great. I even use it on my 21-month old son when he doesn’t use Earth Mama Angel Baby wash.
– Shaving creams are known for their foamy, smelly goodness, right? Well, it’s the same story – chemicals, chemicals, chemicals…and they dry your skin out more than anything. Either use castile soap like Dr. Bronners to shave or use a natural cream-based actual shave cream like Alba Botanicals.
– Shampoos and conditioners catch as much slack as the rest of these products and well, it’s because they’re made with the same sketchy ingredients that you DON’T want to be putting on your skin. Not only can they enter through your skin, but you inhale them each time you shower. Some great alternatives are: California Baby, Hugo Naturals, John Masters Organics, and even Trader Joes carries a line that is less harsh in the chemical department and animal-cruelty free. I have heard good reviews from Aubrey Organics and Beauty Without Cruelty.
– For toothpaste and mouthwash, you would think that these would be super-regulated for their ingredients, but no, they aren’t. It’s scary to me to read the ingredient list on some major brands like Colgate, Crest, etc….just because they have claims up the wazoo on their label as to how great it will make your teeth and breath, you have to wonder how good putting straight-up chemicals into your mouth can be. I don’t need blue or green toothpaste with all kinds of artificial colorings or flavorings to boot. I am psycho about my teeth – my entire life I never had any dental issues or cavities, so you better believe I really researched my stuff. I floss every day, make sure I take my Vitamin D, and switch on-and-off with a natural fluoride and fluoride-free toothpaste (the fluoride issue is something for another topic, as many people are on the fence about it). I love Vita Care natural whitening toothpaste, Kiss My Face natural whitening toothpaste, The Natural Dentist mouthwash, and Jason mouthwash. I used to be a religious user of Listerine…however, the chemicals contained are ridiculous and it’s so artificial. I went out on a limb trying these natural products, but after using them for 6 months and then going for my regular cleaning at the dentist, my teeth and mouth actually got the best report in years. These natural products use aloe vera, silica, and natural extracts like moss, olive leaf, and tea tree oil to effectively clean and naturally disinfect. I will never go back to traditional brands. You can actually brush with straight-up baking soda, and that will clean your teeth enough, believe it or not. For my son, I am a die-hard fan of Weleda tooth gel – it’s all natural, fluoride-free (kids should not be using fluoride until they are old enough to not swallow ANY), and my son loves it. It keeps his teeth super clean.
– Last but not least, I just recently switched out all of my make-up, for this is a product that has been overlooked for years as being a toxic concoction that sits on people’s faces for a MAJORITY of the day. We are all concerned about wrinkles and aging, but yet millions of people slather products that contain formaldehyde and other cancer-linked chemicals onto their faces….and think that they are making themselves look good (maybe for the fleeting moment, but all of this chemical damage adds up over time and actually adds to the aging process, not to mention the chemical cocktail flowing through your body). The average woman wears about 500-800 chemicals a day between facial products, make-up, soaps, and perfumes. Um, scary! So… I did my research and found an awesome company, Tarte Costmetics – and I tossed all of my old makeup (and I was a huge fan of MAC). So far, I am so happy I switched, for while I loved the colors and wear of MAC cosmetics, I always had itchy eyes and redness at the end of the day on my skin. Tarte uses natural ingredients, especially in their eye and lip products, which is huge since these are the easiest ways into your body and linked to major organs. Others have reported really liking Coastal Classics Creations, Juice Beauty, 100% Pure, and Faerie Organics.
In Part II following up, I will cover food and supplement products that I love and use. While not perfect, I hope this list is somewhat helpful to you if you are looking to switch out to healthier alternatives. Please feel free to share any natural & safe alternative products that you love, use, and stand by!!
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more:http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:firstname.lastname@example.org.