Challenge #41 ~ Healthy Bathrooms

Read the blog post on the December Theme – HEALTHY HOMES

Photo by Camille Brodard on Unsplash

In the monthly blog on Healthy Homes we introduce the concept of a healthy home to create a toxin free environment at home to be safe from nasty chemicals. 

What can go wrong in our bathrooms? Oh boy, so many more things than we possibly realize or want to believe. Can a daily swipe of deodorant really be the culprit for breast and testicular cancer? Would you expect to find an industrial cleaning and degreasing agent in your shampoo? 

This week’s challenge will help us keep our bathrooms and personal health care products clean of hidden toxins in common and not-so-common places, using practical common sense to identify the biggest culprits and how best to avoid exposure.

In our bathrooms we use and store a lot of products that come in direct contact with our skin and bodies, from cosmetics and personal care/hygiene products to medicine, toilet paper, and household cleaners that impact our health. Skin is the keyword here. The skin is our largest organ, and is designed to shield and protect all underlying muscles, bones, ligaments, and internal organs. Healthy skin shines naturally and wards off microbes and bacteria; whereas skin irritations and eczema are not only indicative of unhealthy skin but can actually signal an allergic reaction to certain toxic ingredients, or even more significant internal health problems. 

What we put on our skin in the form of personal care/hygiene products and cosmetics is absorbed into our body. So, ingredients of products matter. That food and diet affects our health is widely understood by now. However, consumer awareness about health risks caused by toxic chemicals and additives to personal care/hygiene products and cosmetics is still quite underdeveloped.

‘Fragrance’ is a corporate catch-all for ingredients that may or may not have to do with scent. Due to an antiquated trade-secret laws, brands and products are not required to disclose what is in this ‘special sauce.’ According to Kate Black of Magnifeco, “The word ‘fragrance’ can indicate the presence of up to 4,000 different unlisted ingredients.”

Most of us shower once a day, perhaps twice, because of sweat and dust. Because the skin on our body and skull produces a protective film that also keep our skin hydrated, both are easily rinsed off with water only. There is really no need for industrial-strength cleaning and degreasing agents. The less shampoo we use in general, the healthier and shinier our skin will be, because we leave the natural protective film intact.

When we reach for a cough syrup in our medicine cabinets, artificial flavors and food colorings are added to make medicine look and taste like candy. That’s counter-productive on so many levels. Prevention is best. Rest. 

The personal motivation to avoid hidden toxins in our personal care products is our own health. However, the added benefits are that we no longer contribute to their circulation in the environment and more importantly, as consumers we provide important feedback to the manufacturers. 

Get started with these tips:

  • Learn the top ten toxic chemicals to avoid, including Parabens, EDTA, DEA/TEA, BHT, SLS, Glycoles, Phthalates, toluene and formaldehyde, Petroleum, Mineral Oil, Silicones, Polyethylene/PEGs, Artificial colors, Aluminum 
  • Know the labels. Read the labels! Choose brands without the top ten toxic chemicals to avoid exposure.
  • Skin Care – shampoos & conditioners, shower gels, body lotions, sunscreen: Use products free of Parabens, EDTA, DEA, BHT, SLS, Glycoles, Phthalates, toluene and formaldehyde, Petroleum, Mineral Oil, Silicones, Polyethylene/PEGs.
  • Choose non-aluminum containing deodorants to reduce risk of breast cancer, equally important for men and women. Yes, breast cancer is a real thing for men!
  • Choose cosmetics that are free of coal tar, and other chemicals of concern to treat yourself to safe cosmetics.
  • Avoid personal hygiene products with fragrances – whether feminine sanitary products like tampons and pads, or condoms, products used in sensitive areas 
  • Use non-toxic bathroom cleaners and drain openers – the easiest way to cut toxins and cost is to prevent clogging of drains. In bathrooms, the culprit is hair. An easy way to keep hair out drains is to use a drain sieve/strainer that collects hair before it goes down the drain. In case of a clogged drain use the old-fashioned white vinegar, baking soda, citric acid (for example pure lemon concentrate) for drainpipe opening.
  • Limit use of anti-bacterial gels. Washing hands properly after using the toilet is essential, however the overly sterile, antibacterial germ-killing craze is counterproductive. Exposure to some bacteria from pets for instance is beneficial to boost our immune system. 
  • Keep bathrooms dry from standing water and well ventilated to prevent mold from growing. When mold appears on the rim of bathtubs and sinks, do remove and reseal with silicone.

Just like within our kitchens, identifying unexpected sources of hidden toxins can easily get overwhelming. Remember, eliminating toxins in the bathroom is a work in progress. It takes time to become more aware of recurring ingredients, and to learn and understand health impacts. Priorities and actions may be different for everyone depending on the frequency and amount of use.

By eliminating hidden pollutants and toxins in our bathrooms, we also reduce our carbon footprint through personal choices and actions, addressing SDGs #3 Good Health and Wellbeing; #6 Clean Water and Sanitation; #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth; #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; #12 Responsible Consumption and Production and #13 Climate Action

Yes, you, too, can make a difference in the world, one person at a time.

Bonus Recipes

Easy and Quick Natural Skin Scrubs

Natural Skin Scrubs make great holiday presents.

Pomegranate Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

  • Pomegranate kernels
  • Organic lemon skin grated
  • Course brown sugar

Directions:

The unique combination of natural fruits such as pomegranate, a deep cleansing antioxidant, and lime mixed together with organic brown sugar allows the body to gently exfoliate. Not only does it have a cleansing effect, it also removes the stresses of our daily living. Coarsely grind pomegranate kernels with organic lemon skin and mix with coarse brown sugar. Fill in a small glass container and decorate with a festive ribbon as a present for yourself or friends. 

Revive the body and discover your ancient soul. An exotic exfoliation ritual to invigorate and revitalize the senses, the blend of exotic pomegranate, lemon skin, and brown sugar deeply cleanses, polishes and softens the skin to perfection. Enjoy the divine state of well-being. 

Aloe Vera and Mint Gel Scrub

Ingredients:

  • Aloe Vera gel
  • Mint

Directions:

Aloe Vera is an antiseptic, naturally cooling lubricant with healing and hydrating properties. When mixed with the nutritious benefits of mint, it gently exfoliates, softens and nourishes the skin leaving the skin cool and refreshed. Take a few aloe vera leaves and fillet them. Wash off the yellow sap from the leaves. Place in a food processor with a few drops of fresh lemon and a bunch of fresh mint leaves. Mix and fill into small glass containers and prepare as presents for yourself and/or friends. 

Oatmeal – Cinnamon – Honey Face Scrub

Directions:

Mix together equal amounts of coarsely ground dry oatmeal (uncooked) and ground cinnamon. A few teaspoons will usually suffice for the face. Add a few drops of honey then rub mixture gently into your skin with fingertips in circular motions. Use as a mask for 20 minutes or leave on overnight to treat acne. Rinse with lukewarm water. This works at a fraction of the cost of commercial preparations.

The anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties of cinnamon make it useful against acne and eczema. 

Sea Salt – Essential Oil Body Scrub

Ingredients:

  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Organic cold-pressed Rapeseed Oil
  • Virgin unroasted Argon Oil
  • Essential Oils

Directions:

Fill a small glass container with coarse sea salt. Add half rapeseed oil, half argon oil and a few drops of essential oils of your liking, such as lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree by themselves or mixed. Decorate the container with a festive ribbon as a present for yourself or friends. Use a small amount of the scrub to leave your skin refreshed, exfoliated, and invigorated.

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