Are You In a Toxic Relationship?

I find my greatest epiphanies come while performing the most mundane tasks. For me, it happened while in a health-food store -- the realization that I’m in a toxic relationship with my hair and skincare. But, making educated choices in changing products turned out to be harder than I thought.

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and yet so often we neglect it. In the yamas of yoga, the first niyama is saucha, or cleanliness. Taken literally, you may think you’d be practicing this just by taking a shower before class and I’m sure no one will complain when you show up smelling like wildflowers or rainforest! But, how is what you are putting in or onto your body serving you and your practice?

If we are trying to cleanse our body with toxin filled products which our body then has to work harder to cleanse us of, are we practicing saucha? And, with so many companies marketing products full of chemicals as natural, it can feel pretty daunting to achieve.

That’s why on my day off I found myself staring at bottles of shampoo, trying to replace my old one, feeling lost. Because even in a health-food store, not all the items on the shelves are actually good for you.

As more people try to navigate as conscious consumers, big businesses find new ways to lure us into buying the same old products with new, health buzzword marketing. These products tout “natural,” “organic, “paraben free,” but labels alone hold little merit and are often meant to lower your guard so you don’t think to check into other elements of the product like “natural fragrances,” or “alcohol.”

Often, too, these products will contain ingredients which make us need to use the product more and more frequently to achieve the desired result. This past winter, I bought a natural, paraben-free hand lotion only to find that it contained alcohol, an ingredient which dries out the skin. Similarly, I’ve bought “natural” shampoos which contain sodium laurel sulfate, a harsh detergent which strips hair of all the natural oils your scalp needs to stay healthy.

You may know some buzzwords like parabens, sulfates, phthalates or carrageenans, but I can attest that discerning and deciphering in the moment feels difficult. I ended up buying a new shampoo that seemed fine, but when checking, a website which rates products based on toxicity, I found it actually had a worse rating than my old shampoo.

Luckily there are many resources, including friends who already have established non-toxic recommendations, or databases to help.

When switching over to non-toxic products, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. While it would be nice to toss all the old shampoos, body washes, makeup and skincare bottles at once, this can be costly and may not be a feasible option for everyone. Instead, think about what products you use the most and start there. And if you want to avoid wasting money on a not so natural product, as I did, do your research before you hit the aisles.

Over time, these choices will start to feel natural, and not in the buzzword way. Because yoga doesn’t just mean committing to asana, yoga is about committing to yourself and living your best existence mind, body and soul.

Rachel MusserComment