You reach for products like moisturizers and sunscreens to protect yourself. But chemicals found in mainstream products can launch their own assault. Chances are, if you’re using drug-store personal care products, you may be doing more harm than good. Parabens, for example (chemical preservatives used in many popular cosmetics, lotions, and sunscreens) have been shown to mimic the female sex hormone estrogen and might be linked to the development of certain cancers. Artificial fragrances can trigger breakouts and migraine headaches. If you’re choosy about what you slather onto your skin and lather into your hair every day, you can ensure you are using products with healing natural ingredients, and not potentially harmful ones. Here are some tips for choosing wisely:
Conventional sunscreens contain benzophenones, PABA and PABA esters, cinnamates, salicylates, Parsol 1789, and other ingredients that actually generate free radicals, and most are estrogenic (mimic estrogen hormones). Protect your skin from too much sun exposure with natural products instead. There are two kinds of rays to look out for—UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays, which cause wrinkles, dryness, sagging skin, hyperpigmentation, and premature aging. Keep in mind that a product’s sun protection factor (SPF) indicates protection against UVB rays only. To protect against UVA rays, select a natural sunscreen with micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that absorb and reflect rays away from the surface of the skin. Look for the words “UVA/UVB protection.”
Mercola healthy skin natural sunscreen SPF 30 This formula, safe for both adults and kids, offers 100% chemical-free sun protection with zinc oxide. Plus, it contains antioxidant-rich green tea to protect and nourish your skin on the cellular level.
To generate adequate vitamin D, experts recommend 15 minutes of sun exposure per day. Or take 1,000 to 2,000 IU vitamin D per day.
For products designed to keep you clean and fresh, conventional deodorants and antiperspirants are loaded with some pretty nasty ingredients. Most contain aluminum, parabens, and other harsh ingredients that have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, and more.
Natural stick, spray, roll-on, and crystal salt deodorants, on the other hand, use mineral salts or potassium alum and astringents to control odor. Natural deodorants work by controlling bacterial growth with antibacterial herbs, such as tea tree oil, rosemary, lichen, sage, or lemongrass, then masking any remaining odor with pure essential oils. Most also contain baking soda and cornstarch to absorb moisture. And natural versions may contain healing ingredients such as calendula, chamomile, and arnica to calm and soothe the underarm area and prevent irritation.
Weleda Citrus Deodorant Feel citrusy fresh on hot summer days with this non-aerosol, aluminum-salt-free deodorant
spray. The secret ingredient is lemon peel oil, which invigorates and refreshes as it neutralizes body odor.
You want to soothe sun-damaged skin with natural products that will help heal, not slather on harmful chemicals. However, almost all mainstream skin care products contain synthetic substances that are petroleum (chemical) based. Studies have found that oral and topical application of petrochemicals in rodents resulted in anemia, kidney degeneration, and nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord. Some synthetic colors added to lotions and other products, such as FD & C Blue No. 1, are suspected carcinogens.
Alternatively, aloe vera gel, found in the leaves of the aloe vera plant, has been renowned for its healing properties for millennia. Ancient Egyptians used it regularly. It has an immediate cooling and calming effect on the skin, and it forms protective layer that will seal in valuable moisture, preventing dehydration and promoting faster healing.
Millcreek Botanicals 99% Aloe Vera Gel A must after too much sun exposure, this pure organic aloe vera gel instantly cools, plus soothes and reduces swelling with cucumber and comfrey extracts.
The tannins in tea can help heal a sunburn. Brew a pot of black or green tea and allow it to cool. Add to a spray bottle and spritz on skin.
Summer hair needs extra conditioning. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, two foaming agents that are widely used in mainstream shampoos and conditioners, have been linked to follicle damage, hair loss, skin and eye irritation, and allergic reactions. Other problematic chemicals in most mass-market shampoos and conditioners are parabens—sometimes listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, isoparaben, or butylparaben—which are added as preservative to ward off mold and mildew. These chemicals may accumulate in the bloodstream where they can “mimic” hormones such as estrogen, and disrupt endocrine function. The good news is that many alternatives to sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and parabens are available. Mild foaming agents derived naturally from coconut oil cleanse just as thoroughly without stripping your hair and scalp of their natural oils. Citrus seed extract, tea tree, and other essential oils, as well as vitamins A, C, and E are natural preservatives that enhance rather than endanger your health. Look for hair care products that contain wheat germ, jojoba oil, coconut oil, keratin, and vitamins.
Shikai Color Reflect Daily Moisture Conditioner Outdoor elements can strip your tresses of color and shine. This conditioner helps shield against damage while it nourishes with panthenol (provitamin B5) and shea butter.