This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Would you rub that on your kidney?

As a teenager in the '80s I never met a tanning booth I didn't love.  I religiously went outside every day during the summer between the hours of 11a.m. and 2p.m. with my bottle of baby oil and my Walkman.  I chose sunscreen by its smell, not by SPF (Mmmm, Hawaiian Tropics Coconut Oil....yumm!).  I thought Secret deodorant (baby powder scent) was THE underarm scent to have.   My skin was always broken out so I used anything I could find that promised to reduce breakouts.

As a young adult in the '90s I had less time for sun and tanning because I was working full time.  Instead to abuse my skin I slathered on foundation, pressed powder, and blush.  I was still breaking out so I used harsh benzoyl peroxide and alcohol based products to reduce breakouts.  I loved the new lines of body gels and liquid soaps and used them all liberally.

As a young mother in the '00s I had no time for make up or sunscreen so my skin was always exposed to something, though very little was rubbed into it.

As an almost forty-something looking in her new 10x optical mirror in the '10s I can see the thirty years of abuse, even without my glasses on.  Ooops, looks like somehow I forgot to take care of my skin.

Luckily I am smarter now, and have been for a few years.  Gone are the tanning beds, the lack of sunscreen, and the harsh chemicals.  I now read skin product labels as if I were going to eat them because guess what?  Everything you slather on the outside actually ends up on the inside.  I guess I knew this on some level, I mean after all the nicotine patches and birth control patches have been around for years and they all rely on putting something on the skin and getting it into the bloodstream.  What I didn't realize for 25 years was that products designed to go on the skin could be so...dangerous!

The first culprits are the parabens.  These chemicals are used as a preservative to extend the shelf-life of the product.  They are cheap to make but dangerous because our bodies can't properly metabolize them so they get stored in fat deposits.  Breast cancer tumors frequently contain parabens. 

Next are the sulfates.  We all love the sulfates because of the rich, foamy lather they create in shampoos and soaps.  Unfortunately all that lather comes with a cost:  our poor livers weren't made to handle this chemical so a lot of it is stored in the liver and that causes liver toxicity, or it ends up roaming around the body and causing all sorts of cancers.

Our next contenders are the perfumes and dyes that make our shampoos, lotions, toothpastes, and soaps look so pretty and smell so good.  The problem is that a lot of different dyes and perfumes are usually used to create that 'ocean breeze' smell and that means dangerous levels and combinations can occur.

The truth is that one little paraben never hurt anyone.  It's massaging them daily into your scalp in the form of shampoos, rubbing them into your gums in the form of toothpastes, layering them onto your skin in the form of deodorants, lotions, and make up that causes the problem.    We don't get exposed to one chemical one time, we get exposed to hundreds of different chemicals in thousands of combinations over a lifetime.  The good news is that there are alternatives, they are cheap, they are easy to buy or make, and they work just as well or better.  The even better news is that our bodies are so amazing at detoxing themselves that they'll get rid of all the junk we put in them if we just stop putting it in.

For the rest of this week I'll focus on the natural product alternatives to some of my favorite products.  Today I'll start with deodorant.  First things first: I currently do own and occasionally use Secret deodorant/antipersperant.  It works, it smells good, and there are times when I know I'm going to be nervous or sweating a lot and I want the extra chemicals to stop the sweat.

For daily use I use Tom's Of Maine Natural Deodorant.  I like the calendula scent.  Steve is more of a woodspice man.  Our daughter occasionally uses the lavender.  It is not an anti-persperant.  If you are sweating a lot, you will have wet marks on your underarms.  It is a good deodorant, you may smell your deodorant, but you won't smell sweat.  For most days I am not doing something so strenuous that I need an antipersperant.  When I work out I use the deodorant, but I figure I'm supposed to sweat so wetness isn't a concern.  Another alternative: use a powder puff to apply baking soda directly to your underarms.  Then spray on some tea tree oil (about a TBSP) diluted with 1/4 c. water.  Tea tree oil contains antibacterial properties and it's the bacteria that makes sweat smell bad.

Tomorrow I'll focus on shampoos and conditioners.  Friday I'll blog about lotions and toothpaste.  We'll all be so healthy we won't be able to stand ourselves!


Dr. J said...

Beth, you might consider talking to a dermatologist about a two week treatment with 5 FU for your face. It will prevent future problems and restore the skin. Ask about a 1% solution applied twice a day. This can be made by any pharmacist who compounds. The cost for this treatment is about $12 versus using Efudex cream which can cost $300 for the same stuff. Trust me on this.

Chellie said...

I use Jason's Tea Tree & Melaleuca (sp?) deod. Even though it is not an antiperspirant, I find that I sweat the same amount as when I was using a deod./antiperspirant combo! The same has been true for my hubby. AND, he has fewer sweat stains on his t-shirts than when he too used the conventional stuff. The only thing is that I may have to re-apply it later in the day. I am so happy I switched to a natural deodorant. :)

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I feel healthier already! If you could only see me, sitting here eating my Penn Station sub and drinking my Mt. Dew. Yeah, baby!

Love you.

Beth said...

Dr. J, I am confused: are you talking about 5 FU the chemotherapy drug? If so, I respectfully decline to use toxins like that on my skin. If I am mistaken, please correct me. Thank you for commenting!

Chellie, I can't find the Jason's deodorant in my area, but I'm glad it's working and is a great alternative to the Tom's of Maine. Steve also sweats less using the natural deodorants.

SB, Mountain Dew??? Really???

Anonymous said...

Where are you finding all this wealth of natural info. I love it.

Dr. J said...

Yes, but it's a topical made for repairing sun damaged skin. It kills cells that are growing abnormally and has no effect on normal skin. If you don't trust it, that's OK. I don't give advice unless I feel it's useful, and will do no harm. Years of sun exposure will make you at high risk for skin cancer. This treatment will prevent that.
I'm very alternative treatment oriented, but I also do not just throw out allopathic treatments because they are allopathic. Good luck, I hope you never regret this.

Beth said...

Dr. J, Thanks for the further information. You are right, I am at a higher risk for skin cancer, especially with my dad's history of melanoma. I really appreciate your advice and will do further research on your recommendations. Thanks for the info!