Now that we’ve waved goodbye to January it’s likely a lot of us have also filed away those ambitious New Year’s resolutions, like the juice cleanses that Gwyneth Paltrow raves about on her fabulously out-of-touch blog. Rather than adding unrealistic goals to your life, why not look at some of the negative things you can remove?
The Weekender spoke to two industry experts about the alarming toxins that we use on our bodies and in our homes every day.
How often do you read the ingredients on the back of your moisturiser? Perfume? Toothpaste? Many of the cosmetics and hygiene products we all use on a day-to-day basis contain a frightening amount of high-powered industry chemicals, which Herne Hill beautician Fifi Kabe believes is directly linked to the increasing rate of cancer, particularly among women.
Isopropyl alcohol is a poisonous substance that’s found in hair colour rinses, hand lotions, after-shave lotion, shellac, fragrances and many cosmetics while Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), which is used in making cleansers to dissolve oil and grease is often used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners. As for Propylene Glycol (PG), there is no difference between the PG used in industry and that used in personal care products like most cosmetics, hair products, lotions, after-shaves, deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpastes.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) the major ingredients in cosmetics, toothpastes, hair conditioner and about 90 percent of all shampoos and products that foam is possibly the most dangerous of all ingredients in personal care products. Meanwhile many of the compounds in fragrance, which is present in most deodorants, shampoos, sunscreens, skin care, body care and baby care products, are carcinogenic or otherwise toxic.
It’s alarming stuff, so what can you do? At her businesses Organic Beauty Salon in Herne Hill and Brixton, owner Fifi uses all natural products and says education is key. “People want brand name products but they don’t realise they’re full of chemicals,” she explains. “Women consume more products, and thus more chemicals than men, which is why I think so many women are increasingly being diagnosed with breast cancer”.
This is one reason Fifi uses Vita Liberata organic tanning for her spray tan services unlike industry favourite St Tropez. “With spray tans your whole body is exposed to whatever you’re putting on your skin; it’s obviously not good for your body to absorb that many chemicals”.
Exposing your skin to these chemicals from a young age will cause wrinkles and increase effects of ageing and cancer risks, Fifi claims. “Women come to me with wrinkles and expect miracles but you have to start when you’re young and prevent the damage in the first place,” she says. “Natural products are good for your well-being and for your skin in the long term”.
Clean & green
When Shane Boothe started up his eco-friendly cleaning business Eco Boothe last year he took inspiration from his Nan who taught him the secrets of making sustainable, chemical-free cleaning products at a young age. Not only are these home-grown formulas as effective for cleaning as chemical products, they’re also cheaper and better for your health, he says. “For this world to carry on we need to be sustainable and it’s so important for businesses to think about the environment on a day to day basis because the way this world is going if we don’t make changes we’re not going to be here for much longer,” Shane says.
For every problem, nature leaves clues and remedies, Shane insists. “There are no chemicals in nature and there are natural formulas to deal with whatever your problem is,” he explains, adding that lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar and bicarbonate soda are all natural disinfectants while lavender and peach oils can be used to remove odours. A number of fruit and vegetables that we consume can also be used for cleaning purposes, he adds naming coconut extract as an excellent germ killer. “You can even make your own deodorant and toothpaste from natural ingredients; people don’t realise how many chemicals are in these products,” he says.
The health risks associated with using chemicals for cleaning your home are undeniable, Shane says. “You might not see the effects immediately but over ten, 20 years you’ll start to feel the effects and it will take its toll on your health,” he says. Shane’s Nan is a shining example of this philosophy. “She’s in her late 70s but has the energy of a 50 year-old; she’s very fit, healthy and strong because she looks after herself. She eats right and she avoids chemicals in her cleaning products and in general life”.