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Toxic Self-care

Before you read this post, pick up a self-care item you own.

It can be a shampoo, hand cream, perfume or deodorant even your favorite lipstick.

Now read the ingredients list to yourself out loud.

Do you find yourself stuttering over some of those ingredient names?

So do I and what is Formaldehyde anyway?

As a health coach I started to notice that so many of us think health is only based on nutrition and exercise.

Most of us fail to see that the world around us also plays a huge role in our overall health. Our bodies are expected to process more harmful inputs such as environmental toxins, processed foods, unresolved emotions, and stress more than ever before!

Today I will only be focusing on environmental toxins. After learning that the skin is our biggest organ and it absorbs everything we put on it I became interested in what I was REALLY absorbing every day. Have you ever thought of this yourself?

I read an article published by the Harvard School of Public Health that stated the average American woman is exposed to more than 100 chemicals from the cosmetics and self-care products she uses each morning! Have you ever thought that the long list of ingredients in your shampoo or lotion may contain chemicals and heavy metals that are known to cause cancer or disrupt brain development? I also learned that many of the “Safe “ ingredients in self-care products are listed as safe in small amounts so we consider this to be ok but if you are using the same product multiple times a day for many years then your exposure is never small is it?

After some research, my natural reaction was to read through all my own self-care products with a lengthy list of potentially harmful ingredients.

I ended up throwing all my products away….

So there I was with zero products and a mission to restock with natural and non-toxic ones.

My next lesson came swiftly, labels such as “natural,” “botanical” or “made with organic ingredients” don’t necessarily mean the products are safe as these terms are unfortunately not legally binding in most countries, I also learned that the cosmetic and self-care industry is not well regulated either so it was up to the consumer to find a brand that they could trust through trial and error.

I found some awesome alternatives and also had to learn to adapt to new ways of using self-care items. I even started to make my owns soaps, face masks, oils and balm so that I know EXACTLY what my skin is absorbing. I unexpectedly fell in love with creating products that I would need daily and use a slow extraction method when infusing plant matter into oil to create each product. My balms and oils take at least 2 months to create! By avoiding quick heating and extraction methods I can generate a high-quality product that works so well for me. I often think that we live in a world of instant gratification but if we learn to be a bit more patient and let nature do its thing we are greatly rewarded!

You can see more of what I make on my website or Instagram .

Below is a list of common hormone-disrupting chemicals found in cleaning products, self-care items and makeup. Keep an eye on my Instagram TV, I have teamed up with Bea from @the_healthy_hormone_club where we will be posting short videos discussing hormone-disrupting chemicals we expose ourselves to daily as well as reviewing what alternative products are available to us in South Africa.

1. Formaldehyde.

Products that use it: Nail polish, body wash, shampoo, hairspray.

Health Effects: Allergic skin reactions and may potentially damage the immune system.

Other names: Diazolidinyl urea, 3-diol Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium-15, Nitorpropane-1, Formalin, Methanal, Methyl Aldehyde, and Methylene Oxide.

2. Parabens.

Products that use it: Deodorants, Shampoos, and Body wash.

Health Effects: Known endocrine disruptors, and they’ve been found in breast tumors.

Other names: Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, and Ethylparaben.


Products that use it: Liquid foundations, Blush, Creams and Baby oil .

Health Effects: Prevents skin from eliminating toxins.

4. Phthalates.

Products that use it: Nail polish, Cream, Perfume, and Hairspray

Health Effects: Known endocrine disruptors and are linked to breast cancer and birth defects.

Other names: Dibutylphthalate (DBP), Dimethylphthalate (DMP), or “fragrance.”


Products that use it: Antiperspirants and some cosmetics.

Health Effects: Central nervous system function.

6. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Products that use it: Most Cosmetics, Perfumes and Fragrances

Health Effects: A listed carcinogen that damages the reproductive system

7. Propylene glycol.

Products that use it: Moisturizers, Sunscreen, Shampoo and Conditioner.

Health Effects: Skin irritations, including dermatitis and hives.

8. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Products that use it: Added to more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products. If it foams it probably has SLS

Health Effects: A carcinogen linked to kidney and respiratory damage.

9. Toluene.

Products that use it: Nail products

Health Effects: Causes immune system toxicity.

Other names: Benzene,Toluol, Phenyl methane, or Methylbenzene.

10. Triclosan.

Products that use it: Antibacterial soaps, Toothpaste, Hand sanitizers, and Deodorants

Health Effects: A known endocrine disruptor linked to damage of the thyroid and reproductive hormones.

This is a good list to start using when “detoxing” your self-care routine. There are also various apps such as "Think Dirty" and "EWG Skin Deep" which you can just scan your ingredients list and it will tell you what is toxic and what is not. I have however found that many of the products in South Africa are not listed there. is also a great resource to go through when starting your "non-toxic" journey.

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