Since my diagnosis I’ve been thinking (and reading) a lot about all the toxics we are exposed to as part of our day to day living. These range from pesticides in food; chemicals in cleaning products and parabens in beauty products.I started looking into this after becoming increasingly aware that cancer is caused by a lowered immune system, often associated with ‘toxic’ life style choices. As a regular excerciser, who ate healthy, had never smoked and rarely drank alcohol I began to question what other toxins I’d been exposed to that I hadn’t even considered.
Well, all I can say is that I’m shocked! I had no idea how many harmful toxins are common place in the modern household. The more I researched the more shocked I became until a few months ago I reached tipping point and went round my house with a cardboard box and filled it with every cleaning and beauty product. These ranged from kitchen sprays to shampoos (not that I need them now anyway!) to foundation to washing up liquid.
Next I used my research and new found knowledge to buy natural alternatives. Here I’ve tried to provide you with an overview of some of the swaps I made and my verdict.
I removed so many cleaning products from my home – furniture polish, bleach, kitchen spray, bathroom spray, washing up liquid, antibacterial spray, floor cleaner…the list goes on.
Now I only use ecover products. They are all natural and also non toxic to the environment. They can be a bit pricey so I bulk purchased their multi purpose spray, washing up liquid, toilet cleaner and floor cleaner on Amazon to save done cash. My verdict – they are all brilliant! In particular the multipurpose spray which can, for example, be used on everything from the cookerhood to polishing furniture and mirrors!
Shower & Bath
At first I started using cowshed shower gel but I was still concerned about the long list of ingredients..most of which I didn’t recognise the names of. Your skin is your largest organ and absorbs whatever comes into contact with it so I wanted something more natural. Basically my now view is that if I can’t ingest it then I shouldn’t be covering my skin with it!
So I now make my own shower gel using organic liquid Castile soap and essential oils. My preference are peppermint oil and frankensense oil so I’ve made up one of each by adding the oil straight to the soap. For this you want to use about 6 drops of essential oil per 30ml of soap.
These shower gels smell great and lather just like any ‘normal’ product. They also work great in the bath – just add one capful under the running water.
Washing Powder & Fabric Softener
As with the household cleaners, I switched my clothes wash to ecover products. These worked brilliantly and my clothes smelt amazing, however the products were pricey…although you do need to use much less than other more conventional brands so they do last longer.
About a week ago we started to explore the idea of using eco eggs vs soap nuts – two products I’d heard a lot of good things about but had never used. As luck would have it, whilst still doing my research, a friend bought me soap nuts for my birthday and I am a total convert! They work amazingly, our clothes smell fresh and the soap nuts are 100% natural! Also you don’t need to use fabric softener! Bonus!
My husband has eczema and sensitive skin and they have caused no ill effects proving just how gentle they are! I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Similarly to shower and bath gel I wanted to use a natural moisturiser. Also, because chemotherapy makes your skin very dry I wanted to use a really nourishing moisturiser.
A friend recommended coconut oil and I started to do some research. I’d used it in cooking but was still to be convinced of its moisturising ability! However there is loads(!) of information available online listing all of the possible beauty uses of coconut oil! So, I thought I’d give it a go…and you know what?…I am a total convert! I mean this stuff is actually amazing!
I now have four jars on the go…
- one for cooking
- one I’ve added frankensense oil to
- one I’ve added peppermint oil to
- one I’ve left ‘natural’
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature so to add essential oils I let the jar of oil float in the bath until the oil has melted and then add the appropriate amount of essential oil – again you want about 6 drops of essential oil per 30ml of coconut oil. The oil will solidify again at room temperature, only now it has the added benefits of your chosen essential oil. When using it I either take a lump from the jar – it melts when rubbed on your skin – or I run the jar under the tap to melt the oil before applying it to my skin.
Make Up Remover & Skin Cream
Coconut oil is also an incredible make up remover – it even removes waterproof mascara! It also makes a great face cream – even under makeup! This is what I keep the ‘natural’ jar mentioned above for. This is because essential oils can be too harsh for the sensitive skin on your facw and, in particular, around your eyes.
To use it on your face just take a lump of solid oil and rub it all over, then wipe it off with a cotton wool pad. Alternatively you can melt the oil, again my running the jar under a hot tap, dip in a cotton wool pad and rub over your face and eyes.
This is a hard one for me. I LOVE makeup and, let’s be honest, chemotherapy doesn’t make you look the most attractive so it’s now an essential part if my routine if I am to leave the house! However, I didn’t realise that a lot of make up products contained parabens, or the associated health risks, until I read about it in ‘cancer is my teacher‘[anither excellent cancer book I recommend]. This is especially important to women with oestrogen dependent cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer. So, in short, I needed to find natural makeup alternatives fast!
Fortunately I have a friend who is a rep for Tropic Skincare and after doing some research I decided that this was as natural as I was going to get when it came to makeup. I bought a range of products and I’m very pleased with my purchase – they are way to apply, revise great coverage and so far are offering great value for money.
Perfume & Deodorant
I don’t use either perfume or deodorant now. After considerable reading, I decided these are just unnecessary, harmful chemicals being sprayed directly onto my skin. Instead I rely on the use of essential oils and, I hope, I don’t smell like a gym locker! My husband habit said anything anyway!
I have stopped using fluoride toothpaste and now use an organic, natural collendula toothpaste. Although it tastes great, it is very different from my old toothpaste, with a weird texture that doesn’t foam. This is one change I am yet to be convinced on but I continue to use it to see if I can get used to it.
There is a mixed debate on candles. Many reports view them as carcinogens, whilst others say that natural candles, such as those made with bees wax, are fine to use. I love candles so, in compromise and because I have loads of candles(!), I now only use them I n the garden as it is well ventilated and it means that I can still enjoy them.
Instead, in the house, I use an aromatherapy oil defuser which uses just water and oil to fill our home with a relaxing aroma. It also has a lovely LED light which gives a nice glow, similar to that of a candle.
I can imagine all of these changes may seem a little overwhelming to many and I’m not suggesting that they are for everyone by any means. They are, however, right for me. Chemotherapy is a toxin and cancer is, in part, caused by environmental toxins and so I believe that making these changes will help to support my body during my treatment and afterwards. Also I feel, and hopefully look, a lot healthier since switching to these products and although some are more expensive than what I used to buy, some are also much cheaper and so, on the whole, it’s not costing us any more money.
If I were to recommend just one change it would be the use of coconut oil. It is a great all round beauty product, it smells amazing and it’s easy to find and use. Even Aldi sell organic coconut oil now!
As with my post about quitting sugar, I hope this post inspires readers to make small changes in detoxing their environment and body.
Love and light, Fi xx