I had an interesting realization recently that showed me how important all this chemical free stuff really is. If you haven’t heard of an organization in Spokane called ‘Beyond Pink‘, well, you’re missing out on something so important.
So much of what we consume these days can lead to the development of cancer. Sugar, chemicals in our household and personal care products, processed meats, fragrance – all of these things have links to cancer. While it’s hard to avoid all of them all the time, it’s important to be aware, and make changes as necessary.
Recently, I was attending an event with a group of women who have set out to inspire others by sharing their struggles. The stories we share are compiled on the BuildU Girl Gang blog that is free to view. Our hope is to reach as many women as possible, and that they find something that resonates with them and provides hope for the future. I was introduced to Charlie Brewer, one of the founders of Beyond Pink, at this event. She spoke softly, but with an obvious passion for her mission. She spoke about Thermography and the mission of her organization. At the end of her introduction, she said, “Now I’ve seen all of your faces, so I better see a grant request for every single one of you tomorrow morning!”
Thermography is a medical screening device for breast cancer and other breast disease using infrared detectors, commonly called infrared cameras. This procedure is non invasive and does not use radiation. It is complimentary to mammography and causes no harm to the patient. Beyond Pink is dedicated to providing information on breast thermography, risk assessment, early detection, prevention and ultimately the preservation of the breast and the survival of women. (Source: beyondpink.net)
One thing to keep in mind is that Thermography is not a stand alone examination and cannot diagnose or rule out the presence of breast cancer regardless of the risk rating assigned. It is a fantastic addition to standard breast screenings and diagnostic examinations. When interpreting the images, they look for unusual patterns of blood vessels and warming that can suggest inflammation or unusual vascular activity. Inflammation or unusual vascular activity may suggest risk for the presence of breast cancer or risk for developing cancer in the future.
To say the least, I was intrigued. As I filled out my grant application, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was inspired by Charlie’s call to action, and figured there is really nothing to lose! My grant was approved within a week of application – these ladies are really on top of their stuff! I scheduled my appointment, and patiently waited to see what this thermography thing was all about.
The appointment for my imaging was… a little awkward. I should have known what to expect, but for some reason, I wasn’t prepared for my tata’s to be hanging out for an entire hour. Karla, the technician and co-founder of Beyond Pink, made me feel comfortable and totally at ease – she has done this hundreds of times! In order to ensure the best images possible, you’re first asked to disrobe from the waist up and allow your upper body to cool down. This process takes 15 minutes. Once your body temperature has dropped a bit, they begin the process of taking images. To conclude your appointment, Karla completes a thorough breast exam. After the one hour appointment, Karla prepares your images and sends them to the Beyond Pink provider of your choice to interpret the results.
As part of the grant, each patient receives a 30 minute visit with a qualified Naturopathic Doctor (ND). Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes the prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage self healing. Unfortunately, western medicine does not practice around the idea of prevention. I love that Beyond Pink partners with these types of professionals – you would likely never hear a medical doctor promoting the types of preventative measures that a ND recommends.
When I arrived, we sat down and started discussing my results. Based on the images, you are given two different ratings – Thermal Risk Rating (TH) and Estrogen activity. The TH rating describes the level of inflammation and blood vessel activity in your breast tissue. A higher rating can contribute to your current and future risk. This rating is scored on a scale of 1-5, with 5 behind the highest risk. Elevated estrogen levels have been identified as a significant risk factor for breast cancer. Your results will show your estrogen levels on a scale of 1-4, with four being the highest risk. These two ratings, along with the temperature patterns in the left and right breast, can provide valuable insights into your current and future risks for developing cancer.
The later half of the appointment is spent discussing prevention. The ND will discuss your current lifestyle, and how you can improve in your every day life to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Reducing your environmental exposures can have a significant impact on your overall health. Cleaning up your personal care products, like make-up, deodorants, and discontinuing the use of fragrance are the first recommendations that are made. Talk about affirmation of everything I’ve learned! It was surreal talking with a professional about the true risks of these types of products on long term health! The ND will also recommend a set of dietary guidelines. Limiting alcohol, caffeine, soy and GMO consumption, eating organic, and daily exercise are all important to consider, especially if you’re thermogram shows your high risk. On top of that, considering natural cleaners, glass food containers, and dumping your fragrance plug-ins and candles will help to limit your exposures at home. If you’ve been reading my blog, you can see why my mind was literally blown!
If you have never heard of Beyond Pink, or you have and you have NOT had your Thermogram, I would encourage you to go to their website and complete the grant application! If you are over the age of 20, yes 2-0, they recommend you have one. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, I urge you even more to go have this done! It is free, unless you feel you can contribute financially to the fee. These women are professional, and passionate in their mission of helping women take preventative measures against breast cancer. You will not regret your decision to do this for yourself.
Weight loss is hard, amiright? Health and fitness is truly a lifelong battle, and one I struggle with daily. To be successful, you truly have to make an appointment with yourself every day, and make your fitness a priority. Lately, I have been struggling to do that. I went from a very regimented, consistent schedule, to not knowing what to do when I roll out of bed. By the time I am ready to go to the gym, my clients are getting off work, and I am cancelling my scheduled appointment with myself to accommodate them. I LOVE my clients, and my job, but this is a sign of my lack of discipline, and I am not sure how to build that up anymore.
When I was young, I played softball. That activity kept me in relatively good shape until I quit as a Sophomore. Once I stopped playing softball, I took up weight lifting. I am SO grateful that I took those classes in high school. Without that experience, it would be very difficult for me to approach fitness in my adult life. Of course I never considered myself skinny or fit, although, I was probably in the best shape of my life.
Between the ages of 19 and 20, I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. I was wearing clothing I would never have felt comfortable to wear in high school. I felt confident for the first time really, ever. My favorite jeans at the time were these low-rise True Religions, a size 29. They were skin tight, super comfy, and made me feel really sexy. At this same time, I was obsessed with Abercrombie & Fitch, so I wore a lot of their t-shirts. They were also very form-fitting. I don’t recall a time prior to this where I actually felt good in my clothes.
Looking back, I wish I had appreciated my body, and this time in my life. My husband and I had just moved in to our first apartment. We were so young, and just learning how to live life together. Life was simpler then, and I feel like I didn’t enjoy it like I should have. My negative body image really played into my happiness. I felt like I had gained so much weight since high school. None of my old jeans fit, but again, I was in better shape than I am currently so…
During this time, I left my job as a barista and entered the corporate world. Leaving my incredibly active job for something more sedentary had major effects on my body. Coming off of some pretty traumatizing life experiences, I was soothing myself with yummy, and incredibly unhealthy foods. The weight quickly packed on, and within three years, I would say I gained 50+ pounds. I hardly recognized myself, and was quite frankly disgusted by my reflection.
Knowing I wasn’t ready to take the steps to change my physical appearance, I tried to keep my complaining to a minimum. I continued to grow out of my clothing, bras and underwear. As I felt those things happening, I never once said I was going to get in the gym and change it. I wasn’t motivated to. The last thing I wanted was to get a gym membership, and abandon my plan within 30 days. So I waited… and waited.
At the end of 2016, Conrad and I told ourselves we were going to get back into shape and start eating healthier. He grew up in a home where he ate a lot of healthy foods, foods I honestly wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. It wasn’t unusual for him to eat chicken, rice, and asparagus for any given meal. I grew up eating a lot of frozen foods, and hamburger helper, so it was particularly difficult for me to create healthy eating habits.
In the midst of my weight gain, I spent a lot of time studying healthy eating habits. I knew exactly how to train in the gym for my goals, but food is a completely different beast. I looked up tons of different recipes on Pinterest, I follow more than a handful of fitness influencers on instagram, and tried to wrap my head around what it would look like to create healthier eating habits. Macro counting came up often in my research, and seemed like something I could tackle. Macro counting involves eating an amount of calories that are sustainable for your specific weight, and fitness goals. When you ‘count macros’, you are tracking the number of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you are consuming. While I didn’t strictly count macros for very long, I gained so much knowledge from this practice. If you don’t already, I would highly encourage you to look at the labels of the food you are consuming, and learn what portions of those foods are an actual serving. It’s incredible what an actual serving of rice, or peanut butter looks like if you have never weighed it out before. Taking it one step further, I would encourage you to purchase a food scale. For a short time I actually weighed out everything I ate – I know, it sounds extreme. But it helped me to be more precise with my food intake, and I learned a lot from it!
This brings us to February of 2017. I finally made a commitment to get a gym membership, and clean up my eating habits. It was a small commitment – five to six days a week of doing just 30 minutes of cardio a day, that’s it. I also exclusively ate fruit and protein smoothies for breakfast, and chicken and vegetables for lunch and dinner. I never expected to stick to this plan or even see results from it. Three months later, I had lost 25 pounds. I remember putting on one of my workout tops, and it was seriously a dress. One of my favorite pairs of leggings was falling down while I exercised. My bras were getting to be too big. I was addicted, in a good way.
At that point, I joined an online fitness challenge. It provided me with free workouts, and nutrition advice. I felt ready to step back into the weight room and train the way I really wanted to. I felt so insecure walking into that room. All the mirrors all over the walls just reminded me how far I had to go. But I stayed the course. By the end of the summer, my reflection was a lot different than it was a few months earlier.
This momentum carried me into the beginning of 2018. I was eating the same foods daily, and working out consistently 4-5 times a week. By my one year anniversary, I had lost 60+ pounds. I felt good, I was happier than I ever remember being before I started living this healthier lifestyle. Buying clothing was exciting, and I was constantly updating my wardrobe. All of my clothing that was too big was donated. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I did it. It feels like something someone else did. There’s no way that is MY accomplishment. I am so proud of my weight loss. My outlook on life was completely different as a result. I truly believe it’s the reason I decided to leave my job and become a full time Realtor. The sense of accomplishment that experience provided me made me feel like I could do anything I set out for.
Unfortunately, when life changes occur, it’s easy to lose sight of your other goals. As 2018 came and went, I gained about 10 pounds. Now, most people would say that really isn’t a big deal, but it is for me. As hard as I tried to keep my health goals in sight, it was incredibly difficult. My visits to the gym became less frequent, and I am fairly certain Conrad and I ate out more than we ate at home. This has had an incredible impact on my mental state. Some of you know the severe anxiety I tend to suffer from, and I know a gym routine could help ease that. It’s just not that easy when you’re in it though. You know what’s logical, but that logic doesn’t always help you to see through the fog.
In my line of work, mindset is everything. Any business owner can probably attest to the fact that if you don’t feel good about yourself, your business struggles. Well, we can’t have that now, can we? Even when I mess up, I try to wake up the next day and make better choices. When I find myself sitting at home doing nothing, I try to get motivated to get into the gym. If I can start my day off right with a high protein breakfast, that usually helps tremendously with staying on track during the day. But I certainly have my days. I literally just threw away a cookie as I sit writing this, so that tells you where I am at.
If you are one who struggles, I am right there with you. If you are having a hard time getting started, just keep trying. I really don’t think I could have lost the weight if I wasn’t really ready but keep it a priority and set yourself up for success. Don’t buy the foods that tempt you. Put your workouts in your schedule. Visualize yourself losing the weight; buying new, smaller clothes; feeling more confident. Even when it feels like it’s impossible, just know that you can do it. My best advice of all? Find your WHY. Why do you want to be healthy? Is it for your kids? Is it for your husband? Do you have health risks to be mindful of? For me, it was for my health and my husband. I don’t want to be 60 and unable to do the things I love. I want my husband to be proud to call me his wife. Every day I try to remember that I’m not just working out and eating healthy for the physical aspect. It’s so much more than that for me.
Ultimately, your health journey will bring more joy than you initially set out for. As you scratch and claw to achieve your goals, remember that your return is going to be so much more than you hope for.
If you feel like this resonates with you, I’d love to have coffee! Or if you feel like an accountability group might be something you could benefit from, I’d love to try and put something like that together for those interested!
Anyone ever had that moment where you make a decision, once proposed by your husband and you subsequently ignored him because he was being ridiculous? That moment that follows months or years down the road. He says the words, “I told you that a long time ago”. This happens to me quite often. I love my husband so much, but there are many times where I don’t take his advice to heart. He is so wise beyond his years, and incredibly talented. I guess I have this need to find things out for myself? Who knows.
This not so uncommon occurrence happened recently when I replaced all of our plastic food containers, for glass. Conrad has always HATED plastic containers. They seriously gross him out so bad. Me? I LOVE them. They’re cheap, stack together for easy storage, and I can store all my meal prepped food in them. I can also throw them out if something questionable has been stored in it for way too long. I grew up using plastic containers. It’s an easy choice for me.
Conrad loves to use gallon Ziploc bags to store everything. Yes, it seems like a better alternative because you use it once, and you throw it away. Totally bad for the environment though – not a fan. He just hates that you can literally see the food left over from an overly used plastic container. Conrad whined for years that he prefers glass. Time and time again, I would say, “No, because I have to clean them, and it’s a pain!” Of course, since he wasn’t doing the dishes, we never made the switch.
Then, one fateful day, I watched the documentary The Devil We Know on Netflix. Want to continue life as you know it? DON’T watch this documentary. I question everything I once believed after learning some of the staggering facts about the ingredients used to create plastic and non-stick products.
Yes, I switched all of our plastic containers over to glass Pyrex containers (my husband won!). I will soon switch all of my Teflon coated pans to stainless steel as well. Many companies still utilize BPA (Bisphenol A) in the production of their plastic goods. BPA has also been found in the inner lining of aluminum cans, and many other consumer products. Constant heating of a plastic food container can cause chemicals to seep into your food or beverages. “Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.” (Source: Mayoclinic.org) Maybe this doesn’t sound risky to you, but the switch for me was simple, and why not do it just in case?
If you’re concerned about the possible effects of BPA, you can reduce exposure by:
- Using BPA-free products. Manufacturers are creating more BPA-free products. Labels will now indicate if something is BPA-free. If there isn’t a label, keep a lookout for plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 – they may be made with BPA.
- Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin. I have seen some cans that now claim they are BPA free – especially organic products, so watch out for that as well.
- Avoid heat. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
- Use alternatives.Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
The Devil We Know touches more on the scandal surrounding the DuPont Teflon plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia and how they covered up the risks of exposure to humans. The major story with Teflon is regarding a chemical that is emitted in it’s production, PFOA. Even the smallest exposure to this gas has been shown to cause birth defects, cancer, and even death. Not even being over dramatic. The small town of Parkersburg called Dupont out on dumping chemicals into their water supply, causing farmers to lose 100’s of cattle, among all of the other health effects above. Meeting minutes between Dupont leadership shows that they knew about the contamination of the water supply, and they did nothing to stop it. The chemical is so prevalent, the CDC states that 99.7% of Americans are born with PFOA in their blood streams.
You guys, I’m not joking. This stuff is REAL. I say it every time – I sound like a psychopath. This documentary is no joke though. It’s not some type of biased opinion about something political. These are cold hard facts about a company literally putting millions of Americans in harms way, just to make a buck. Don’t even watch the documentary. Look up PFOA, or Dupont, or Teflon scandal. The information you will find is incredibly alarming, and the stories of deformities, cancer diagnosis, and death are way too real.
I haven’t dished out the cash for my new pots and pans yet, but when you’re buying pots and pans, whenever possible, choose items made from safe, non-toxic materials like carbon steel, ceramic, lava rock, porcelain enamel, or tempered glass. Cast iron and stainless steel are generally okay, though they too can leach heavy metals – iron and nickel respectively – into your food, so it’s generally a good idea to stick to other materials for long-simmering dishes or recipes that contain a lot of acid, such as tomato-based foods. (Source: https://www.organicauthority.com)
See these links for information about Teflon and the health risks they impose.
Moral of this whole story, listen to your husband. He is usually right, you’re just too blind to see it.
YOU GUYS! I am SO excited to share this post! This is truly the moment I have been waiting for.
When I set out on this journey last year, I knew I would need to transition my beauty products at some point. The problem is that chemical free beauty products are HARD to come by. I mean, really hard. Every time I would check a foundation, or body wash on my ‘Think Dirty’ app, I would find harmful chemicals. I have frequently settled for harmful products because of a lack of options. Fortunately, I have found the most AMAZING replacement for most of my products. Before I get into that though, I would like to share a reminder of the WHY behind all of this.
If you haven’t been keeping up with my blog posts, you might not be aware that the cosmetics industry is not regulated by any government body. This means that cosmetic companies, and those companies who produce your personal care products, have no standards to abide by when creating their formulas. The UK bans over 1400 different chemicals from personal care products, while the US only bans about 15 chemicals. This is INCREDIBLY concerning for me. Studies show that over the last 50 years, there has been substantial increases in breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and infertility, among several other auto-immune conditions and diseases. It’s no coincidence that we have also seen a drastic increase in the amount of chemicals used in society during that time.
Even more concerning is the Fragrance loophole. I can’t tell you how many times I have picked up a bottle of lotion or body wash with labeling that seems “clean”, and I find fragrance among the ingredients. Fragrance is considered proprietary knowledge, and companies are not required to share the ingredients they use to create it. There can be 100’s of ingredients within that fragrance, that are not being shared with consumers. This allows companies the opportunity to hide those chemicals thought to cause health concerns.
All of that to say, I have a hard time trusting labels. Even if you go to a store like Trader Joe’s, I think it’s incredibly important to check the ingredients on what you buy. I’ve even asked the ladies at Sephora or Macy’s to direct me to the cleanest products and they don’t really understand what I’m looking for. You truly have to protect yourself as the consumer.
You might be thinking to yourself, “this girl is cray”. I know, I get it. Some people wonder why I care, it’s not like it’s affecting your health all that much. You’re right, and maybe it’s not. However, every thing you put on your skin is absorbed into your body. That should be something we are all concerned about. When you consume something, your body is trying to figure out how to process all of those ingredients, including the chemicals. As a result, your body’s DNA is literally transforming trying to find ways to metabolize what it has just consumed. I deeply believe this is why we have disease, cancer, and infertility. Every tiny bit of chemicals I can cut out of my life, I am going to try and cut out. Our exposure to chemicals is overwhelming and it’s important to be cautious of what we can control.
The Good Stuff
Alright! Let’s do this! I have recently transitioned all of my personal care products to a company called Beautycounter. I am beyond grateful to have come across this company, and 100% stand behind their products and what they stand for. No, I am not a consultant (that has since changed – I am a consultant because I truly believe in this company’s mission!) and I purchased all of my products with my own money. I am OBSESSED.
In the last year, I experienced some pretty severe acne. Trying to combat my constant breakouts, I tried many different products. I tried a few natural products that I found at my local Rosauer’s grocery store, and didn’t find much relief. I was using a witch hazel toner, hoping that making my skin extra clean would help… it didn’t.
Finally my husband said, maybe you need the chemicals to help your skin clear up. It took me months, but I finally broke down and went to Macy’s for some skin care products. When I walked up to the make up counter, I asked for something with the fewest harmful chemicals. They turned me on to a product made by Bare Essentials, a brand I have trusted for YEARS. I used their make up line religiously in high school, and through my early twenties. I felt confident using their products. Most of Bare Minerals products are reasonably safe, but I found that the cleanser and moisturizer I chose had fragrance listed as an ingredient. Every time I used them, I would cringe knowing what I know.
When I started looking into using Beauty Counter, I noticed they sell body wash and lotion as well. It made me curious to know what ingredients were in my favorite Bath and Body Works products. Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find a list of ingredients on BBW’s packaging or their website. Uhhh, RED FLAG.
Looking more closely, I found fragrance among the ingredients of my body wash. Clever marketing stated it’s ingredients derived from plant based products. This may be true, but there is no clear policy stating what is in this company’s fragrance. People are buying these products thinking they are a healthier option, when sometimes, they’re not!
Beautycounter is completely transparent with their ingredients. On their website, you can find a glossary of every ingredient used in their products. They also share about their ingredient selection process. Beauty Counter does not use ingredients known to be harmful, or potentially harmful. Read more about their ingredient sourcing at the link here: https://www.beautycounter.com/transparency
My absolute FAVORITE buy from this BC haul is the Balancing + Charcoal Facial Mask. This product is to DIE for. Within days, I noticed a significant difference in the appearance in my skin. I use this product 2-3 times a week. Such a great little self-care routine.
I had the opportunity to try the Countermatch and Countercontrol skin care lines. My preference is for a sudsy cleanser, so the Countermatch moisture milk cleanser was not a great fit for me. The moisturizers and serums are to die for though! I opted for the Countercontrol line, which is advertised as a blemish-control regimen. I like to keep it simple and purchased the cleanser and moisturizer. The size of the bottles is surprisingly large, and a small amount of product goes a long way.
My other favorite product is the Overnight Resurfacing Peel. I can’t say enough about the efficacy of this product. Using the resurfacing peel with the charcoal face mask has been a winning combo. I use this product 2-3 times a week right before I go to bed, and have noticed a significant change in the brightness of my complexion. It is on the more expensive side, but in my opinion, is worth every penny!
The body wash and body lotion are an added bonus for me. The beautiful scent left me speechless. It smells fresh, without smelling artificial. Using the lotion on my hands has not proven to be super helpful, I was slightly disappointed by that. However, I do plan to purchase the hand cream and hope it will work a little bit better for my dry hands.
Switching to cleaner skin care products has given me so much comfort. If you decide to venture out to the Beauty Counter website, you will find that their products are quite expensive compared to many other companies. Everything I have learned has helped me see the value in spending that extra money on products I truly trust. Unfortunately, finding a similar product at Target or Macy’s will prove to be near impossible. If you are interested in learning more about Beautycounter and their mission, I would encourage you to visit their website! Information about their mission, and legislation on the cosmetics industry is plentiful. Their passion in this mission is a big part of my support for their products. I hope you found this information helpful, and inspiring. Until next time…
I have a love/hate relationship with the season of winter. Wearing a hoodie as often as possible is a definite plus and what woman actually enjoys shaving? Not me! Let me tell you though, I am so sick of looking homeless. As a realtor, I am always out and about showing homes. That means wearing practical footwear, and bulky jackets. There is no way I can actually look professional, and stay warm at the same time. Plus, the constant change in climate always has me sweating like a pig. Yes, SWEATING!
About a year ago, I started trying to transition from aluminum based deodorant to a more natural option. I always used a product that is easily accessible at your favorite store (Target, obviously). When I started dabbling in moving toward a chemical free home, this seemed like one of the easier products to swap out. It’s just one product, right? That line of thinking was hardly accurate. First of all, I don’t think people realize how convenient antiperspirant is. My whole life I always thought, I am not a sweaty person, I never sweat! Well, aluminum based deodorant clogs your pores to keep you from sweating. Of course I wasn’t a sweaty person! Quickly my thoughts changed when I started using aluminum free options.
Why did I suddenly decide to make this switch? My initial understanding was, “Aluminum is carcinogenic, so it’s not safe to use”. No-brainer – I shouldn’t wear aluminum based deodorant. This statement is somewhat true, but I have found there isn’t much scientific data that supports this claim. The American Cancer Society has much to say about the relationship between breast cancer and the use of aluminum based deodorants:
Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants. They block the sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin’s surface. Some research has suggested that these aluminum compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Because estrogen can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancer breast cells, some scientists have suggested that using the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. (Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/antiperspirants-and-breast-cancer-risk.html)
The article goes on to say that there is no clear link between the use of aluminum based deodorants and breast cancer. The whole Q&A left me scratching my head a bit though. Regardless, I feel a heck of a lot better using an aluminum free deodorant and smelling a little bit. The idea that my antiperspirant could be fostering the growth of breast cancer cells really freaked me out.
So my search began. If you can buy the deodorant at the grocery store, I probably bought it. I started out trying Schmidt’s Bergamot and Lime. I didn’t love the smell and I immediately broke out under my armpits. I’m talking full on pimple break out. I kept using it though! After about three months, the breakouts subsided, thank goodness! If you are trying to make this switch, just push through the rash! It is incredibly uncomfortable, but it seems like it happens to a lot of people who switch to a natural option.
Hearing that a different scent might help with the rash, I switched to a different scent of Schmidt’s – Charcoal and Magnesium. There was no change in the rash as a result of that switch. The scent of this one was a lot better, but unfortunately, I was still stinky!
Back to the store I went. I now went with a brand called Love, Beauty, and Planet. I absolutely LOVED the smell, and it glided on much easier than the Schmidt’s did. But then, I realized it had fragrance in it… If you read my last blog, you’ll understand what that means! Putting fragrance straight into your armpits, where it can absorb into your breast tissue – NOT GOOD!
So finally, an instagrammer I follow recommended this brand called Agent Nateur. You can buy it on Amazon, or direct from their website. I’ll be honest, it’s pretty spendy. Once I received it in the mail, it was totally worth it. The lavender scent and ease of application was something I haven’t been able to find. Sometimes I find I am a little stinky, and reapply it. If I am headed to the gym or stop by home, I might give my pits a little extra. (Subscribe to auto shipment and get a small discount on each order: https://www.agentnateur.com/)
Unfortunately, no matter the cost, I think we will all be a little stinky using a natural deodorant. You will know in your mind that you are making a healthier option for your body, and that is what should matter. Air it out girlfriend! I will understand. Let me know if you make the switch, I would love to hear about your experience.
PS – I paid for all of these products myself!
OH my gosh, this is SO much harder than I thought…
As I sit down to write this blog post, I literally feel lost. I sit, type, delete. Whose idea was it to start a blog? AHHHH! I am going to persevere through this though. Sharing this topic has grown my passion even more and I’m so excited to have a platform to share with you all!
I have gotten a lot of funny looks when I tell people I am working to eliminate chemicals from my life. Yes, I know, I sound like a hippie. I’m ok with that though. As I share the WHY behind it, I am shocked to find out what little people know about the products they use every day. Why would anyone question what they’re putting on their bodies? There is surely someone looking out for them and their health, right? Companies have little regulatory oversight, and are free to put their products on store shelves without a thought to the long term harm they are causing to their customers. We are basically test subjects, if I’m being honest.
The turning point for me happened when I watched the documentary ‘Stink!’ on Netflix. Leading up to this point, I had some knowledge about the typical practices in the cosmetics and personal care industry. I follow @Ashnordman on Instagram (I know, I hate saying that out loud but it’s true) who’s health has been heavily impacted by the chemicals used in personal care products, and have learned loads of information from her. ‘Stink!’ really was the confirmation of all that learned knowledge.
I could go on and on about what I learned as a result of watching this documentary, but it’s kind of overwhelming. I would like to briefly explain those topics that really helped me understand what we face as consumers.
EDC’s (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals)
EDC’s are chemicals which interfere with the normal working of hormones and the endocrine system in general. They can mimic certain hormones, affect their production, block them, prevent their movement through the body, or affect how they are metabolized. EDC’s get into the body when we breathe in contaminated air, drink contaminated water, eat food with traces of EDC’s, or if our skin comes into direct contact with them.
The heavy hitter for me is the ability of these chemicals to mimic hormones, including estrogen. Over-production of estrogen is shown to increase odds of developing breast and thyroid cancer in women. This issue is particularly concerning for women because we, on average, use 12 different products in any given day. Those products expose us to 168 unique chemicals, that often include the chemicals I’ll share below.
BPA: This chemical is linked to breast cancer, reproductive problems, early puberty, and heart disease. Avoid canned foods, and plastics, like most reusable food storage containers.
Dioxin: Research shows that low levels of dioxin in the womb and early life can affect sperm quality and low sperm count. Build up of this chemical is shown to affect the immune and reproductive systems. Avoiding this chemical is difficult, as it is found in most American foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and butter. Cutting out your exposure to animal products will help you avoid this chemical.
Atrazine: Atrazine is widely used in corn crops in the US. It has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate cancer. Purchasing organic produce and a water filter certified to remove atrazine are the best steps to reduce exposure.
Phthalates: This is a big one, people. Research shows that this chemical can trigger “death-inducing signaling” in cells, making them die earlier than they should. Phthalates are also linked to hormone changes, low sperm count, birth defects and thyroid irregularities. Phthalates are used in plastic food containers, children’s toys, plastic wrap, and personal care products. It’s important to watch for the word “fragrance” on labels, which can indicate hidden phthalates.
Perchlorate: A component in rocket fuel, perchlorate contaminates much of our produce and milk. Ingesting too much can lead to altered thyroid hormone balance. This is important because thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and are critical for proper brain and organ development in infants and children. To avoid perchlorate in your drinking water, install a reverse osmosis water filter. As for food, you can’t really avoid it, but you can reduce it’s effects by consuming enough iodine (salt).
Fire Retardants: The chemicals in fire retardants are shown to imitate thyroid hormones and disrupt their activity. Their use was so widespread in the 20th century that scientists believe they will contaminate people and wildlife for decades to come. The use of fire retardant has mostly been phased out, but has been found to be used in clothing and furniture production, and carpet padding.
Lead: Research has linked lead exposure to many different health affects, including affects to hormone function. Lead has mostly been phased out in every day use, but avoid further exposure by installing a good water filter. Also, ensure any crumbling paint around your home is disposed of carefully, especially if it was built before 1978.
Arsenic: Arsenic can cause skin, bladder and lung cancer, along with effecting your hormone function. Specifically, it can interfere with systems that regulate how our bodies process sugars and carbohydrates. Reduce exposure by using a quality water filter that lowers arsenic levels.
Mercury: Mercury is a naturally occurring toxic metal that gets in the air and oceans through burning coal. This leads to contaminated seafood. Pregnant women should be cautious, as this chemical is known to cause birth defects in unborn babies. Mercury can also cause hormonal issues, specifically interfering with women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation. Avoid mercury by eating sustainable seafood like wild salmon and farmed trout.
PFC’s (Perfluorinated Chemicals): PFC’s are use to make non-stick cookware. This chemical is so widespread that 99% of Americans have these chemicals in their bodies. Specifically, PFOA has been shown to resist breaking down in the environment. PFOA has been linked to birth defects, thyroid disease, and many more health issues. Avoid this chemical by using high quality stainless steel pans and avoid water-resistant coatings in clothing, furniture and carpets. Watching the documentary “The Devil We Know” was incredibly insightful into this specific issue.
Pesticides: This one is HUGE. Search glyphosate online, and you will get tons of hits on the health affects. Glyphosate or “Round Up” have been shown to effect brain development, behavior and fertility, among other affects to the human body. Avoid pesticides by shopping organic, or locally grown produce.
Glycol Ethers: This chemical is commonly used in paints, cleaning products, and cosmetics. Europe has banned this chemical as it is linked to infertility, or birth defects. Avoid cleaners with 2-butoxyethanol and methoxydiglycol as ingredients. Again, READ THOSE LABELS!
So the gist of all of this? You have to be afraid of anything and everything. Ok, I am kidding… kind of. That’s truly what it feels like to me after learning all of this information though. I am slowly phasing out the products that I use on a daily basis. It’s not easy to just go out and buy new pots and pans, or replace every single item in your bathroom. My advice is to replace things as you run out.
Many people feel that the exposure to these chemicals is so minimal that we shouldn’t be worried. In my opinion, we are using so many different products in our every day lives, and that minimal exposure adds up very quickly. Carcinogenic and hormone disrupting chemicals are building up in our systems with every use, putting our environment, our children, and ourselves at risk. Knowing that alone is enough for me to make a change.
Information provided by www.EWG.org
Regulation of Personal Care Products
The last legislation passed in The United States regulating the cosmetics industry was in 1938. A lot has changed in 81 years, and to think the cosmetics industry has been self-policing all this time is quite frightening. The 1938 act is focused mainly on regulating adulterated or misbranded products, or products that are falsely packaged. However, labeling products as natural or organic does not qualify as misbranding. The 1938 act also does not require the FDA to recall potentially dangerous items or monitor the ingredients used in products (CNBC.com).
Did you read that? I seriously cringed. There is no law requiring cosmetics companies to ensure the safety of their products prior to coming to the market. The FDA does not require a recall for those ingredients found to cause harm! Europe has taken a more progressive approach to the regulation of cosmetics, banning 1400 different chemicals in their production. The US on the other hand has only banned 15. Companies can continue to use of those chemicals that are banned as ingredients in their fragrance as a result of the ‘fragrance loophole’.
The Fragrance Loophole
Look at any personal care product or cleaner in your bathroom, and you will likely find ‘Fragrance’ among the list of ingredients. A major loophole in FDA’s federal law lets manufacturers of products like shampoo, lotion, and body wash include nearly any ingredient in their products under the name “fragrance” without actually listing the chemical. (Source: EWG.org) Companies consider their fragrance to be proprietary knowledge, and do not have to share the ingredients of their fragrance to protect their ‘secret sauce’.
Many companies advertise themselves as clean or healthy. I admit, I have been tricked by clever labels and marketing more than once. Cleaners like Method; Make up like Bare Minerals; Body wash like Aveeno; they all appear harmless from the outside. Each product varies, but my advice to you is to do your research. Look at those labels! I use the “Think Dirty” app that is provided by Smartcosmetics.com. It helps to make sense of those long and confusing lists of ingredients.
I have said it once, and I will say it again – there is no way I could cover every single area of concern in just one sitting. These topics are the ones that have caused me to start thinking about what I am consuming, but there is so much more to be learned. I would HIGHLY encourage you to access these resources I’ve provided below, and educate yourself. Unfortunately in today’s world, we can’t really take the face value of anything. Doing your research will ensure a healthy and long life for you and your family. That is what I want for myself, and for all of you!
www.safecosmetics.org – The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics works to protect the health of consumers, workers and the environment through public education and engagement, corporate accountability and sustainability campaigns and legislative advocacy designed to eliminate dangerous chemicals linked to adverse health impacts from cosmetics and personal care products.
www.EWG.org – The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action.
www.healthychild.org – Healthy Child Healthy World’s mission is simple – help parents protect their children and families from harmful chemicals.
www.bcpp.org, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners – For 26 years, we have been the leading science-based policy and advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Our focus is on the intersection of breast cancer prevention and environmental health.
Documentaries: ‘Stink!’ ‘The Devil We Know’ ‘The C Word’
Life has a funny way of changing your perspective, doesn’t it? Since 2012, my outlook on life has dramatically shifted. In hind-site, I think being in my 20’s is really the cause of that shift in thinking. Your 20’s are truly a time of growing and learning. These years have given me more than I could have imagined, some bad, but mostly good.
Let’s bring you all up to speed – In 2012, my husband and I were just kids. Conrad and I moved in together around the time we turned 21. Not long into our lease, we developed a loathing for paying rent and decided to venture into the world of home ownership. We were faced with more struggles in that journey than we ever thought possible (a very long story for another time). By the end of 2013, our lease was up, we were living with family, and struggling to find the right house. At the same time two of my family members faced major medical issues, and I was also thrown into my new career. We were stressed to say the least. Fast forward to January 2014 – we were closing on our new home and I had just started my new job. Life finally started to settle down and the weight of all the stress was lifted. I found myself in a desk job, comforting myself with nights and weekends on the couch with allllllll the comfort foods. Cookies, chips, soda, pizza, cinnamon rolls – ALL.THE.GOODS. I thought I deserved it. 2013 was one of the worst years ever and I DESERVED to relax and enjoy my comfortable new life.
Well, this new season of life brought comfort, and 60 new pounds to carry. I hardly recognized myself and was incredibly unhappy in my job and with my reflection. I wouldn’t say that out loud though, especially if I wasn’t ready to change it. So, I waited, and waited, and waited until I was motivated to do something about it.
My mental shift started somewhere in 2016. My job at the time didn’t give me a real sense of purpose and I started thinking of what I could spend my time doing that would. I felt gravitated to real estate as a new home owner. It was one of my proudest accomplishments to buy a home and I wanted to help other people feel that same sense of pride. I explored opportunities within my current company, but was told with no prior experience, I couldn’t move into the real estate role I was looking for. So I started exploring the idea of getting my real estate license.
At the end of 2016, some turmoil in my job caused me to start that journey. I felt there was no better time to start working on my real estate licensing courses. January 1, 2017, I started spending all my spare time working on my hours. Around the same time, I finally felt ready to tackle my physique goals. In my head, I felt like there was no way I could do it – I would quit when the going got tough. I waited for that moment when giving up was easier than staying the course, but it never happened. Three months in, I had lost 25 lbs, my clothes were fitting too big and my outlook on life was slowly starting to improve. I had the confidence to step back into the weight room after a seven year hiatus, and that’s when the results really started coming.
Overall, I was down about 60 lbs – something I NEVER thought I could do. I also tested for my Real Estate License and PASSED. I was so excited and thought, I can’t quit now – getting healthy literally changed my life! I truly realized, I could accomplish more than I ever dreamed.
Up to this point, I had many shifts in my thinking that created a positive and lasting impact on my future. Having a new found appreciation for my health had me curious of other ways I could improve in this area of my life. I started watching a lot of documentaries, food and health related. I learned a lot about what we consume and the impacts it can have to our health. This lead me to read studies about meat products, genetically modified foods, and different chemicals that are literally changing our genetic make up and the way our bodies function. This stretches to prescription drugs, cosmetics, cleaners, and even clothing. Most frightening, is that there is no governing body that determines whether the chemicals in our cleaners, or cosmetics, are toxic to us! This is mind-boggling information for me.
I know this sounds completely crazy but I can’t unlearn this information. When I shop, I analyze every product and decide whether the ingredients are harmful. It is so unfortunate to me that this information is so hidden and unknown to consumers. It has become clear that I need to start making changes to the products that I consume. Here are some of the most staggering facts that have lead me down this road:
Europe has banned 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. In comparison, the U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics. Unlike the United States, EU law requires pre-market safety assessments of cosmetics, mandatory registration of cosmetic products, government authorization for the use of nanomaterials and prohibits animal testing for cosmetic purposes. Essentially, there is NO governing body that monitors what ingredients are being used in cosmetics and whether those ingredients are harmful. (Source: www.safecosmetics.org)
Fragrance suppliers are not required by law to provide full ingredient disclosure to manufacturers or regulators. Any product containing “fragrance” – a word representing a secret mixture of up to hundreds of ingredients – may contain sensitizers, allergens, respiratory irritants, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic chemicals, or environmental toxicants. Companies are protected because their ‘fragrance’ is considered proprietary information. (Source: www.safecosmetics.org)
Animals are fed corn, wheat and soy that are grown through intensive industrial farming that use large amounts of pesticides, which can remain in their bodies and are passed on to the people who eat them, creating serious health hazards in humans. (Source: http://www.sustainabletable.org/)
Accessibility is the primary dilemma to using clean, chemical free products and foods. How do you even figure out if something is bad for you? Something sold in a store can’t be bad for you, right? I can go to Target and find Maybelline cosmetics, and Mr.Clean cleaners no problem. Walk into any grocery store and you will find familiar brands like Nabisco, Post, and Frito Lay and an overwhelming selection of produce and meat that truthfully seem just fine to eat. What I have learned though, and plan to share here, are the staggering facts about everything we buy as consumers, and why I just can’t keep going on pretending these risks don’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong, this is will NOT be easy. I still eat things that I know are harmful. I use cosmetics and cleaners that I know are bad for me, too. Education is the first step in changing your habits though. I encourage you to ask questions, read labels, and research these topics described above. What we consume is much of the reason there is disease in our world. Here are some documentaries that I found insightful – some of the studies and information are up for debate if you search them online, but everyone has their own perspective, and I feel that is how we shape our own. The information in these documentaries is a good start to understanding what you consume.
The Magic Pill (Not everyone is a fan of the Keto diet, but the information about farming was really interesting to me in this one)
The Devil We Know
What The Health
The C Word
The “Think Dirty” app is another great resource – scan any product and it will tell show what ingredients could be harmful in a given product. It is a newer app and their database is constantly evolving, but I have found it helpful for understanding those big lengthy labels with the ingredients that are 100 letters long.
Based on my humble beginnings, this might seem like a pretty drastic undertaking, and well, it is. I have decide to ‘Go Big’ in all that I do recently. My goal here is not to overwhelm or scare people. I will not judge if you want to use a product that you love! The reason for this blog is to simply bring awareness to a topic that is incredibly unknown. As I approach the feared 3-0, my health becomes more of a concern for me. Just as my past life experiences have done, this new found knowledge will alter my perception of health. As I gradually switch out all of my products, I will share everything I learn on this platform. I would be so excited if you would follow me along this journey, and I hope I can help you learn a thing or two along the way!