I like to think of a cleanse as a concentrated time to rethink our habits and let our bodies rest. The obvious habit to start with is usually our diet. Whether you are having only fresh juices for your cleanse or are just attempting to “clean up” your diet, a cleanse can provide the motivation to test out new ways of taking care of ourselves for a finite amount of time. I often find at the end of a cleanse, no matter how simple or intense I make it, I’ve always let go of some old poor habits, usually involving that special treat after a meal that has become not so special or rare anymore, the relaxing glass of wine (or several) at the end of the day, too much take out, too many tacos, etc.
We all have our little vicey habits.
During a cleanse I let go of those habits and I usually pick up some great new ones such as eating more fresh organic fruits and vegetables, having a daily green juice, making sleep more of a priority, drinking more water, etc. Something else I like to do each time I cleanse is take a look at what I’m putting on my skin, in my home, and on my clothes.
Part of the goal of a cleanse is to eliminate accumulated toxins in the system. The obvious entry of these toxins is through what we eat and drink, but they are also entering our systems through the air we breathe, the beauty products we use, the chemicals we use to clean our dishes and our homes, as well as our sheets and clothes. Obviously, you can’t stop breathing during a cleanse, and for an urban dweller, it’s not always possible to go do the cleanse in the country air (which is just as toxic sometimes due to farming pesticide drift).
What we can do, however, is look for ways to reduce our exposure in our daily skin routine and household products. Take a look at the list below and start paying attention to your product labels. Choose a few products (perhaps the ones that are already running low) each cleanse to start removing from your lifestyle and replace them with products that do not contain the ingredients below.
Eventually, you’ll be living a life of lower toxin exposure and enjoying a healthier, cleaner body all year round.
PARABENS – often found in cosmetics including lotions, hair products, diaper cream; endocrine disruptor.
PTHALATES – found in plastic products, lotions, cosmetics, nail polish and fragrances; can leach into the skin or into food that is microwaved or heated in a plastic container; endocrine disruptor.
DIOXINS – (including PCBs) dangerous because they accumulate in animal fat. Byproducts of industrial processes. Known to cause cancer, infertility, compromised immunity and more.
PESTICIDES – found on all nonorganic produce, cotton products, roach/pest repellant; non-organic flowers, especially cut flowers; endocrine disruptor.
BISPHENOL A (BPA) – preservative in canned goods and until recently in baby bottles; a recall occurred for baby bottles due to the harmful nature of this compound, but it is still in the majority of canned foods; endocrine disruptor.
HEAVY METALS – such as aluminum found in deodorant, mercury in farm raised fish, lead paint, etc.
TEFLON – coating on non-stick pans; carcinogenic, endocrine disruptor; may affect fetal development.
FRAGRANCES – in perfume, dryer sheets, laundry detergent, air fresheners, candles, soap; endocrine disruptor.
CHLORINE – bleached products including tampons (may also contain dioxins), paper towels, toilet paper, bleach cleaning products, tap water; may cause birth defects, miscarriages, and cancer.
TRICLOSAN – a synthetic antifungal and antibacterial used in toothpaste, antibacterial cleansers and other household products. Registered by the EPA as a pesticide, this toxin can disrupt hormones, fertility, and may produce birth defects.
PETROLEUM BASED PRODUCTS – these chemicals give off fumes (called “off-gassing”) for sometimes years after production. Found in carpet, polyurethane foam, paint, finishes, mattresses, vinyl; perchloroethylene is a specific one found in dry cleaning solvents; endocrine disruptor. Petrolatum is found in cosmetics and contains two well-known carcinogens called Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. Mineral Oil coats the skin and is meant to moisturize, but instead acts like suffocating saran wrap, preventing the natural absorbing and excreting function of the skin. It can also slow cell regeneration, causing the skin to age more quickly.
POLYBROMINATED DIPHENYL ETHERS – used as a flame retardant in furniture, carpet, and some plastics manufactured before 2005 (when this product was banned). These compounds take years to breakdown and can cause neurological, reproductive and behavioral problems.
OXYBENZONE, NANOMATERIALS, and RETINYL PALMITATE – in sunscreens; may cause cancer, may also negatively affect the immune and endocrine systems.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE AND SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE – a common surfactant that combines with other ingredients to form potent carcinogens. Found in makeup, shampoo, conditioners and toothpaste.