We all have one of those friends. You know the one I'm referring to...the one that obsessively tries their hardest to live a healthful lifestyle. They exercise regularly and implore their family to do the same. They watch what they eat, perhaps cutting calories, cleansing with raw juices, shopping for only the highest quality, local, and organic produce. Perhaps they meditate, attend weekly yoga sessions, journal their emotions while forcing down that morning lemon juice and cayenne. Maybe they attend regular outings with friends or spend time on social media boasting about the amazingly healthful meal they just prepared in less than an hour. No matter what, they find the time to make themselves feel whole. And don't misread me here, these are all amazing things that one can incorporate into their lifestyle. I praise these folks highly! However, there may be a dirty little secret hiding quietly in there somewhere....
One morning your friend hops into the shower after that five a.m. spin class, only to slather themselves with bright pink shower gel or big brand bar soap (which isn't really soap, but more on that later...). They step out of the steaming shower to pile on the products. Perhaps some heavily perfumed body lotion from a chain store that can be found in any suburban mall. Or maybe they douse their locks with chemically-concentrated goop meant to control the frizz. Running late? Maybe some spray-on shampoo out of an aerosol can will do the trick!
But here's the thing, your friend may be living a double life. While they eat all of the right things and nourish their body from the inside, they may be doing catastrophic damage to the outside (which ultimately impacts the inside as well.) Our bodies really weren't meant to process so much toxicity. Ancestrally speaking, our fore-mothers never used anything with sulfates (found in body wash AND industrial cleaners), parabens (found in shampoos and conditioners), pthlalates (found in nail polish, hairspray, and plastic), or petroleum (found in lip balm). It has only been in recent times (1920's and later) that Americans have adopted this love affair with hygiene and chemically-enhanced personal care products. (Ever hear the old DuPont tagline, "Better living through chemistry?") Prior to this time, folks only bathed as necessary. But over time, irregular bathing became associated with lower-socioeconomic classes and poor morals. Thus it became essential for Americans to not only remain clean, but to erase many of the characteristics that make us mammalian (hair removal, etc). And of course in perfect timing, the big brand corporations (such as Colgate and Johnson and Johnson) swept in with mass advertising campaigns and discounted products, constantly reminding citizens of what it meant to be a good, clean, American. Unfortunately as time has progressed forward, we really haven't altered our thinking that drastically. Many people still believe that scrubbing down once or even twice a day using the most toxic and harsh chemicals is the best way to keep healthy. (Which has been proven unhealthy in itself.) They wash their clothes in nasty detergents that smell of artificial rain storms and grassy meadows. They brush their teeth with blue toothpaste (blue!), and paint their nails with formaldehyde.
So what about all of those products? The stuff we drench ourselves with daily because we are paranoid of smelling funny, or looking too natural, or even to fight off germs? Just know that we aren't doing anyone any favors save for the giant conglomerate we are helping to keep in business.
Our skin is amazing! It really doesn't need any of that extra stuff! Plain soap made the old fashioned way, with real ingredients can work magic and wonders. If we truly do advocate for a healthy lifestyle, politely enlighten that friend...Their body will thank you for it!
Written by Meghan Wright, owner of Figs and Feathers Farm