While we all think about the food that we put into our bodies few of us think about what we’re putting onto our skin. Many of us would apply ingredients to our skin that we would not dream of eating or drinking!
We’re exposed to a staggering number of toxic chemicals on a daily basis and while it’s fantastic that we’re focusing on our health by eating well, it’s just as important, perhaps even more important, to have the same attitude when it comes to our skin.
Products applied directly to your skin can be absorbed into the muscles and fat, and ultimately into your bloodstream…This toxic build up can lead to a wide range of problems including allergies, infertility, birth defects, reproduction problems, DNA damage, and more…
What’s more important than eating well I hear you say?
Well, when you eat food it gets broken down and transported through your digestive system where any unwanted waste (including toxins) will be flushed out of the body, thanks to the help of our liver and kidneys. However, products that are applied directly to your skin can be absorbed through the layers of your skin into the muscles and fat, and ultimately into your bloodstream, transported around your body without any kind of filtering. This toxic build up can lead to a wide range of problems including allergies, infertility, birth defects, reproduction problems, DNA damage, and more…
Have I got your attention now?
Be a Label Reader
Remember when you first dipped your toe into the Paleo-pond? Your weekly food shop seemed to take up an entire day; searching the aisles and reading the labels of countless food items before sighing, replacing said item, and saying to yourself “is there anything in this shop that doesn’t contain sugar!?”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to take you back to that deeply frustrating place one more time…
The Dirty Six
There are countless toxins we need to watch out for in our personal care products but these six groups are the biggest and most common offenders:
- SLS – Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is what makes things foam – whether it be shampoos, hand washes, or toothpastes! This harsh foaming agent is a common skin irritant as it strips the skin of its natural oils.
- TRICLOSAN – Triclosan is a synthetic, anti-microbial agent which is commonly used in shampoos, deodorants, and mouthwashes to name a few. There are widespread concerns that being exposed to this toxin, even a low-level, is contributing to the increase of antibiotic resistance to certain strains of bacteria.
- PARABENS – You’ll find parabens in pretty much everything! Parabens are known to have weak oestrogenic activity which can potentially lead to disrupted hormone level. Parabens won’t be labelled as ‘parabens’ on your shampoo but don’t panic, you can recognise a paraben if any ingredient contains the words “ethyl”, “butyl”, “methyl”, and “propyl” – if you see these within any ingredient then stay well clear!
- ALCOHOL – Alcohol (ethanol/ethyl alcohol) is commonly used as a preservative in a lot of personal care products. This solvent dries the skin out and increases sensitivity.
- PETROCHEMICALS – This is an umbrella term for a huge range of ingredients derived from crude oil, including petroleum jelly, paraffin wax, silicones, and mineral oils. Petrochemicals don’t offer any benefits to the skin and in short, using them is essentially like wrapping your skin in cling film causing blocked pores and irritation.
- SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, & COLOURANTS – These two groups of toxins are the most common cause of skin sensitivities and reactions, they’re found in the majority of commercial personal care products.
The easiest (and cheapest) way to get primal with your skin care is to forget the products completely and just use a natural cloth to cleanse your face and organic, cold-pressed oils to moisturise, my favourite choice is Hemp Seed oil as it’s light and non-greasy but Rosehip oil and Jojoba oil are also great choices. These two humble products will have you skin feeling fresh and clean, without the risk of toxic build up!
Natural Hair & Body Care
Whilst your skincare regime is easy to bring back to basics, cleaning your hair without the toxic chemicals can be a bit of a minefield but luckily there are some great Paleo-friendly brands out there that use completely natural, plant-based ingredients. Green People, Neal’s Yard, and John Masters all offer great natural and organic hair and body products for men.
Switching your regime overnight can be very expensive, which is why I generally prefer to make my own products, as well as being much cheaper I tend to find them more effective too as you know exactly what’s going into them and you can tailor the healing properties of any essential oil blends to whatever you like.
- A blend of Clary Sage, Helichrysum, and Geranium will offer powerful anti-ageing properties.
- Mix together Yarrow, Rosemary, and Frankincense to help fight oily, acne-prone skin.
- Try a gentle blend of Geranium, Lavender, and Jasmine for sensitive skin.
- Experiment with Myrrh, Cedarwood, and Ylang Ylang for dry skin.
Paleo Grooming Balm for Men
The kitchen isn’t just for preparing delicious salads and mouth-watering steaks – you can also create easy primal products that won’t break the bank and will leave your hair and skin looking and feeling great! The recipe below is my all time favourite DIY product for men, it’s great for styling hair, taming beards, and you can even use it as a healing balm for any dry, irritated patches of skin. Plus the combination of black pepper, frankincense and sandalwood make for an irresistible scent!
- 5g shea butter
- 15ml sweet almond oil
- ¾ tbsp beeswax
- 4 drops black pepper
- 2 drops frankincense
- 2 drops sandalwood
- Melt the sweet almond oil, beeswax and shea butter in a glass jar sitting in a small pot of simmering water (not boiling) and stir gently until melted (be careful not to get any water into the mixture!).
- When melted, mix in the essential oils and transfer the mixture into a 50ml tin or jar.
- Leave to set overnight then use as desired.