We’ve all heard about the dangerous chemicals lurking in our homes, and some of us might already be replacing harsh household cleaning chemicals with more natural solutions. (Yay! Way to go!)

But lately, phrases like “hormone disruption” and “cancer” are being linked more and more often to personal care products. Chemical exposure has been linked to rising rates in breast cancer, asthma, autism, reproductive problems, and other health issues. And, no wonder! Our skin being our body’s largest organ after all! When substances are absorbed through the skin, they bypass our digestive system, so many of the chemicals we put on our skin are being absorbed directly into our bloodstream on a daily basis. Unfortunately, much of the time they just keep accumulating.

Though awareness is growing, we still meet a lot of people coming into Healthoholics with questions! It’s not always easy to tell which ingredients are dangerous — or how to make a change.

So, if you’ve ever caught yourself thinking this way yourself (or if you have a family member who doesn’t quite understand, and you need some help explaining) this article is for you!

Today we’ll cover three common misconceptions surrounding personal care products, and some quick and easy tips on making a change to more natural products.

Misconception #1:
“Chemicals are only harmful if they’re ingested, not applied topically.”

Don’t be fooled by this one!

Consider nicotine patches and birth control patches — effective doses of drugs are administered via the skin, in lieu of an oral pill or gum, which effectively help people either quit smoking, or avoid becoming pregnant. To give another example, many topical products are legally required to advise expecting mothers against using them, since toxins can make it all the way through the skin, to the umbilical cord, and affect the developing baby.

So, what do we think happens when we slather chemicals all over our skin day after day? Yuck! It’s easy to see how our personal care products (and the chemicals they contain) can become a problem.

Misconception # 2:
“If they’re dangerous, they wouldn’t be allowed on the shelf!”

Unfortunately, a great many things that are terrible for our health are allowed on store shelves. An easy example to pick on, is cigarettes. Although known to be a leading cause of heart disease, stroke and cancer — cigarettes are still sold everywhere, and are easily accessible to the public, regardless of their hazard! Only recently have we started to see small steps towards reducing our exposure to the harmful chemicals in cigarettes…decades after we found out about the dangers.

The same goes for personal care products — just because they’re allowed on the shelf doesn’t mean they are safe. In fact, of the estimated 84,000 chemicals used each year, only about 1% of them have been tested for safety.

I think most of us intuitively understand that most of the chemicals we come into contact with are potentially damaging to our health. However, we’re also fed the idea that there’s a “safe” threshold for exposure. The question we need to ask is:  while one chemical ingredient may be deemed “safe” on it’s own and in small quantities, what happens when we start combining chemicals, or using them for frequently than “normal”? Many chemicals are exponentially more reactive in the presence of other specific chemicals. Just think of the childhood favourite science experiment, the volcano, that uses simple ingredients (baking soda and vinegar) to create a volcano like reaction.  

There’s strong evidence that many of the most researched chemicals in personal care products are harmful. That’s proof enough to start considering alternatives! Let’s not wait 20 years until the scary side effects become official!

Misconception #3:
“Everything is bad for you these days… there’s not much you can do about it.”

Every day we are exposed to yet another new piece of information that concerns our health — it can all seem overwhelming! Add to that, in this era of excess, we have so many personal care products. In fact, the average person is exposed to more than a hundred chemicals from cosmetics, soaps, and other personal care products before leaving the house in the morning.

So fellow Healthoholics, what can we do? Use natural alternatives!

Whether it’s deodorant, toothpaste, moisturizer, nail polish, mascara, or shaving cream — there are safer products out there! A great first step, is reading the ingredient label, instead of the front of the package. If there are ingredients you don’t understand, leave it at the store. Look for products that use natural oils, herbs, and salts rather than chemicals.

At Healthoholics, for the month of June, our monthly “theme” is Clean Beauty Care (don’t worry guys — we’ve got some new products coming for you too!) Pop into the store, shop online, or find us on social media — we’d love to help you transition to healthier personal care products!

Veronica Qubrossi

Veronica is a Holistic Nutritionist and Managing Director at Healthoholics, where she directs clinic operations, leads educational initiatives including our Holistic Weight Loss program, and manages our marketing efforts.