Healthy Hygiene

Know what you are slathering on your skin

From detergents to deodorants to diapers, there are natural solutions for keeping the family clean.  Pharmacist, author and mom, Sherry Torkos, has developed these quick and easy steps your family can take to have a naturally clean home. Her number one piece of advice for everyone:  read the labels of all your hygiene and cosmetic products.

Here are her top five hygiene ingredients to avoid: BHA & BHT, phthalates, parabens, siloxanes, and sodium laureth sulphate.  Below are four suggestions that can help you avoid exposure to the above chemicals and many more:

1. Stick to natural personal hygiene products

We don’t hesitate to “go natural” when keeping baby clean, but remember that natural health and hygiene extends to the whole family.  While cuddling, any residue on our skin from deodorants, detergents and perfumes can literally rub off on our children. One study found that the average woman is wearing over 500 chemicals by the time she leaves in the morning.  By using natural hygiene products for the whole family you can effectively reduce your overall exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

2. Use coconut oil to keep clean

Coconut is an excellent skin conditioner, containing naturally occurring fats which deeply penetrate and moisturize, and also act as a protective barrier against the elements.  It is rich in antioxidants and bursting with the natural microbial and antibacterial agents, caphrylic and capric acids.  Coconut’s ability to smooth the skin and infuse it with antioxidants makes it a perfect natural moisturizer for all ages.

3. Be selective with hand-me-downs

Hand-me-downs are helpful when a new family is getting started.  Toys, clothes and baby supplies can not only save precious funds, they also keep them out of landfills.  However, it’s important to recognize that some hand-me-downs might come from a different era when products hosted dangerous chemicals such as plastic bottles with BPA, baby toiletries with harmful chemicals, or lead in toys.  In these cases, be selective and look closely at the labels before accepting these items.

4. Be kind to your face and skin

According to a survey completed by the David Suzuki Foundation, the majority of cosmetic products in Canada contain at least one of these toxic chemicals which have been linked to cancers, may disrupt normal hormones and have been found to be harmful to wildlife.

1.       BHA and BHT – these nasty numbers commonly found in cosmetics and moisturizers may disrupt endocrine function.

2.       Dibutyl phthalate – often found in nail care products, these “plasticizers” might affect reproductive systems.

3.       Parabens – these chemicals are the most widely used preservatives in cosmetics, but they easily cross the skin barrier and might interfere with proper hormone function.

4.       Siloxanes – these silicon-based products make cosmetics and deodorants smooth but might impair fertility and disrupt hormones.

5.       Sodium laureth sulfate – this product makes shampoo gloriously foamy, but it’s possibly carcinogenic due to contamination with 1.4-dioxane.

Natural personal care products are an important way for you to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.  Many health food stores provide natural alternatives to the chemical feasts of conventional cosmetics.  Check with a natural health retailer for recommendations or try making your own chic, chemical-free deodorant or moisturizer.

5. Natural Beauty Recipes

Hair Moisturizer/Mask:

1 1/2 cup raw shea butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

4 tbsp avocado oil

20-25 drops of favourite essential oil (or try one of the blends below)

First, whip the shea butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the coconut and avocado oil and continue to gently mix.  Once it is creamy, stir in the essential oil of choice. Spoon the creamy mixture into a glass container for storage.

Massage a small amount through freshly washed, damp hair.  Comb through with a wide-toothed comb, paying attention to the ends. Allow to moisturize for 5-30 minutes, depending on desired conditioning.

The natural oils can make your floor surface quite slippery, so be careful while washing the mask out of your hair.

Store at room temperature and use 1-2 times per month.  Recommended for dry hair types.

Body Wash/Scrub:

2 cups pure Castile soap

1 cup melted organic coconut oil

1 cup organic grapeseed oil OR sweet almond oil

OPTIONAL: for an exfoliating scrub, add 1/4 cup of organic granulated sugar.

40 drops lavender essential oil

-OR-

Add any of the following blends of essential oils:

Blend 1: Citrus

10-30 drops each of: Bergamot, Lime, Grapefruit

Blend 2: Earthy (mens)

10-30 drops each of: Sandalwood, Cedar, Patcholi

Blend 3: Floral

10-30 drops each of: Geranium, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Create a “double-boiler” by placing a glass or metal bowl on top of the pot (but not immersed in the water). Turn off the heat now – the water will stay hot enough to complete the next steps.

Gently melt the coconut oil.  Once it is completely melted, add the grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil. At this point, it will be a lovely light-gold and translucent.

Now add thecastile soap and mix well with a large spoon.  As the oils interact with the soap, the mixture will turn opaque and take on a creamy-white colour.

Now add your essential oils.  Add them 10 drops at a time until you reach your desired fragrance.  Mix well.

Use a funnel to transfer your body scrub into a clean, re-used soap container.  Enjoy naturally clean and nourished skin.

Deodorant:

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup shea butter OR cocoa butter

1/2 cup solid bees wax

2 1/2 tbsp baking soda

1/2 cup arrowroot powder/starch

2 tsp Vitamin E oil (Optional)

30 drops tea tree oil (or other essential oil blend)

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Create a “double-boiler” by placing a glass or metal bowl on top of the pot (but not immersed in the water). Turn down the heat now to keep the water simmering.

Add the bees wax to the bowl and stir until it is melted. Once the bees wax is melted to a golden honey colour, add the coconut oil and shea butter (or cocoa butter).  Next, add tea tree oil or other essential oil blend (tea tree oil is a natural anti-microbial).  Mix by stirring well.

Next, mix in the baking soda and arrowroot powder.  Stir well until it is evenly dispersed and there are no lumps.

The bees wax will cool and solidify very quickly once removed from the heat.  Pour your mixture into an old (but clean) deodorant stick or pour into muffin cups. Allow to cool until solid.

Optional – for a lovely speckled look, try blending some tea leaves and stirring these in just before pouring.  To avoid the leaves settling to the bottom, allow the mixture to cool slightly – 3-5 minutes.  Keep stirring until a thin paste forms that nicely distributes the leaves.