A toxin-free life is what we all strive for, but do you actually know how harmful chemicals are entering your body? We've found them out, so you can cut them out...
1. Detox your skincare
Get clued up about what’s in what. We apply around 200 chemicals to our skin every day, so knowing what to avoid is important. If in doubt, check for the Soil Association approval seal of approval.
The experts say: ‘What you put on your skin is as important as what you eat’, says Rob Sexton, CEO of Soil Association.
We recommend: Go organic when it comes to beauty. We love the Organic Pharmacy range.
2. Toxin-free nails
Go natural when it comes to your nail polishes. Though in the past, toxin-free formulas haven’t been particularly hard wearing, a new formula is set to change things. Watch out for the 3 big nasties; plasticiser dibutyl phthalate, toluene (a solvent) and formaldehyde, which is used in nail hardeners.
The experts say: ‘Nail brands are reacting to fear about potentially toxic substances,’ says Anna-Marie Solowij, co-founder of BeautyMART. ‘Now, many offer the 3-free formula.’
We recommend: There’s a lot of toxin-free nail varnishes out there, like Nars, Butter London and Zoya.
3. Mineral Make-Up
Give your face a break from chemical and synthetic pigments by using mineral makeup which is easy as effective as its harmful counterparts.
The experts say: ‘Pollution can cause inflammation and premature ageing of the skin, but protective cosmetics can help,’ says skin guru Lee Garrett.
We recommend: bareMineral’s is a real industry and dermalogist’s favourite, especially the Mineral Veil.
4. Don’t Stress
Two harmful chemicals, adrenalin and cortisol, are released into the blood stream each time we experience stress.
The experts say: ‘Stress can produce 10-25% of toxic build-up in the body causing us to retain fluid,’ explains beauty therapist, Deborah Mitchell.
We recommend: Try a relaxing bath, using ESPA Detoxifying Bath Oil, £26.50.
5. Better Your Bedroom
Toxins can interrupt your sleep too so make your bedroom into a chemical-free sanctuary by keeping your window ajar, and moving all perfumes and room fragrances to another room.
The experts say: ‘A lot of air fresheners contain nerve-deadening agents to stop you detecting smells, or they use chemical fragrances,’ says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible For Women.
We recommend: Burn essential oils or try natural room fragrances that don’t contain toxic fumes like Neal’s Yard Essential Oils, from £6, Neom Organic Room Mists, £16 and Neom Organic Room Mists, £16.
6. Watch Out For Metals In Food
In excess, heavy metals like mercury, which we ingest, can be poisonous. The body can’t get rid of them so end up settling in our vital organs, such as kidneys, liver and brain, as well as our bones hair and nails.
The experts say: ‘Fish absorb toxic chemicals from decades of metal being dumped into the water […] The big fish varieties (such as tuna and salmon) eat the smaller fish and there for have higher levels of heavy metals in their systems,’ explained Dr Marina Silvia Castiglioni.
We recommend: Load up on coriander. It’s a natural chelator, which are the substances which get those harmful metals out of the body.
7. Cut Out Chemical Cleaners
Air can be up to five times more polluted inside than out, even in urban areas, due to the chemicals in cleaning products.
The experts say: Berkeley professor Dr William W Nazaroff has found that domestic floor cleaners react with the ground level ozone to create formaldehyde air pollutants, which are pretty toxic and can cause short breathe, stinging eyes and headaches.
We recommend: Keep your home well ventilated by opening the window or investing in an air purifier, from £49.99, and use a non-toxic range of cleaning products such as Method.
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8. Don’t Exercise In Pollution
Exercising is good, but not in polluted areas. The negative effects pollution has on your health increases if you are performing any aerobic activity.
The experts say: ‘Our bodies are made to exercise but not in a polluted city,’ says James Duigan, personal trainer to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. ‘If you run or cycle to work, don’t use main roads and avoid rush hour, as air quality is worse.’
We recommend: The park is the best place to exercise as the trees act as a filter as they absorb the harmful gases. If you don’t have green spaces near you, invest in a Respro Sportsta Mask, £34.99.
9. Purify Your Hair Regime
Until now, it’s been hard to find hair products without chemical foaming agents like sulphates.
The experts say: ‘Cuticles are transparent, like fish scales on a fish’s back,’ says Daniel Galvin. ‘If hair is blighted by pollutants and chemicals, particularly from living in the city, your colour will look foggy.’
We recommend: Get a Detox Miracle Solution, £17, at Daniel Galvin once a month and the natural vitamin C-based formula will dissolve the chemicals under the cuticles, leaving it looking freshly coloured.
10. Ditch The Plastic Bottles
Plastic toxins, from our bottles, can leak out into the water. According to a US study, bottles numbered one, two and four on the bottom are the safest, but avoid any with the number seven.
The experts say: ‘Research on a plastic-softening chemical called phthalate indicates it acts like a hormone in the body, and has been linked to infertility,’ says naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib.
We recommend: Use a Bobble Bottle when you’re on the go.
11. Eat Right
Sounds simple but eating healthily can make the world of difference.
The experts say: ‘Stimulate, boost and protect your kidneys and liver – the two main glands of detoxification,’ says Kim Pearson, clinical nutritionist at EF Medispa.
We recommend: Include more grapefruit, artichoke, garlic, lettuce, cauliflour, cabbage, broccoli, apples, lemons, limes and tumeric in your diet.
12. Combat Pesticides
Pesticides, which we get on fresh fruit and vegetables, can interfere with your thyroid, which regulates your metabolism.
The experts say: ‘This means it becomes difficult to lose weight, or you could gain weight unexpectedly,’ explains nutrionist Vicki Edgson.
We recommend: Try to eat organically, peel off skins or buy from the Good Natured Fruit section, which is free from pesticides.
13. Fibre Up
The fastest way to remove toxins from your body is by drinking plenty of water and eating a diet rich in soluble fibre, like fruit, vegetable, grains and pulses.
The experts say: “They bind to toxins and are removed from the body, rather than flooding our system,’ says Victoria Cooper, head of colonics at EF Medispa.
We recommend: Try Purifyne Beautifyne Cleanse, which clears the system in three days, or The Organic Pharmacy Detox Colon Cleanse & Gut Repair Capsules, £29.50.
14. Get Away From It All
Book an annual detox break.
The experts say: ‘A year of stress, stagnation and city smog can lead to toxic build-up, causing problems ranging from digestive to gynaecological,’ says Dr Marina Silvia Castiglioni. ‘It’s about clearing your mind and throwing out your emotional waste, too.’
We recommend: Henri Chenot has been hailed as the king of Italian detoxing and his Palace Merano Hotel has a loyal following. During your stay, you’ll have a medical assessment, then allergy and blood tests, vitamin drips and treatments prescribed by a doctor, as well as relaxing hydrotherapy baths, mud wraps and massages. You’ll leave feeling fabulously energized, and with a much flatter stomach.