I think it’s amazing these days seeing the prevalence of cancer amongst seemingly “healthy individuals”. How many times have you heard someone say “yeah he passed away from cancer but it makes no sense, he was the healthiest guy, always eating the best foods and exercising regularly”. It is my belief it all comes down to the products we are applying externally and surrounding ourselves in daily that are endocrine disruptors (or hormone disruptors). See Wikipedias definition here.
A few years ago I never used to care for what I was putting on my skin, in my hair or brushing my teeth with until I dated a highly passionate vegan. I hadn’t even heard of the concept of chemical beauty products, all that mattered was that it smelt pretty, moisturised, left a minty taste, smoothed or untangled. A simple internet search of unpronounceable chemicals contained in my favourite deodorant or moisturiser revealed some pretty disturbing results.
I started exploring alternative options and visiting speciality health food stores and paying more money for natural products. This was certainly trial and error as I found many products were not effective and I had to go through many brands until I found one that suited. For example finding a natural deodorant that actually worked took quite a few months and quite a few dollars, but I was so happy when I finally found a reliable brand and have to this day stuck with it.
The biggest misbelief people follow regarding everyday skin care products you find at your supermarket is “if it’s so bad how can it end up in the supermarket and why would these companies want to harm your health?”. The sad truth is many companies want to find the most cost-effective option for manufacturing their products, with very little care for your health but total focus on how much profit they can make.
The use of animal products
This involves using multiple animal by-products which include ground up intestines, hormones from adrenal glands and proteins obtained by boiling ligaments, bones and skin. For a full list see peta.org’s animal ingredients’ list here . The reason companies decide to use animal products is because they are cheap and usually by-products from the meat industry. Also animal skin oils etc are most closely related to our skin, therefore giving a smooth texture upon application, especially in moisturisers and makeup.
The use of chemical products
Again the main reason companies (including big names) use chemical products which are harmful to your health is because of the low cost involved. Have a look at the top chemicals to look out for in your personal skin care products here. You will see listed many chemicals which can affect internal organs, lead to skin allergies, cause chest pain, nausea, affect your immune system and the worst- cancer.
So the issue is not if you use these products once or twice or even for a few months at a time. Rather it is the long term exposure to these carcinogenic chemicals that will do the damage. Of course your skincare routine is engrained to your daily habits- my main tip is don’t change your entire beauty product range overnight- it’s just too overwhelming, trust me I tried! Once you start looking at the ingredients of every bathroom product you will find toothpaste, shampoos, moisturisers and all hair products contain some kind of toxic chemical or ground up animal part. Start with just one and go from there. It took me almost a year to almost fully change my beauty products to natural options. It is also a process of simplification- for example my everyday hair wash I just use diluted apple cider vinegar and for moisturiser face and body I use coconut oil.
The problem with remote regions
Luckily in countries like Australia there are regulations and bodies in place to measure what makes a product “organic” or “vegan-friendly”. Many remote spots just haven’t been educated on the dangers, therefore I’ve found products are much worse off than Australia because of a largely unregulated industry. In Thailand there are entire sections in supermarkets that claim to be organic but a simple scroll of the ingredients will reveal anything but. Small villages in Indonesia, Polynesia and Philippines that I have lived in all rely on toxic products as there is no other option.
Herein lies the importance of bringing your own beauty products on your surf trips. You could say you’re only living in these spots for less than a few months but once you are aware of just how bad most supermarket products are, it’s hard to go back. Again simplification wins. You don’t want to pay for excess baggage because of all the products you’re going to bring to last a few months.
The lesson learnt is not to only evaluate what you put inside your body but equally as important, be aware of what you’re exposing your body to and the long-term effects on your health.