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Washing your body, brushing your hair, and applying deodorant are all essential to our daily routine, but it’s important to be mindful of what’s in our bathroom products — especially when we use them every single day.
In case you’re looking to make some changes to your roster of personal care products, we’ve gathered five top tips to make your personal hygiene routine a little bit healthier.
Switch up your showers
Most of us probably shower or bathe every day as part of our routine, but it turns out that you might not need to. According to an article published by Harvard Health, our immune systems require “a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures” in order to create protective antibodies and “immune memory.”
For a long time our skin has been thought of as our protector or first line of defence against viruses, but there are new studies showing it might actually be the microbes on our skin that help fight off unwanted viruses. Which means that not showering actually has some potential to allow your immune system to do its job even better.
When it comes to the temperature of your shower, it might be time to ditch the hot water. A recent study by The North American Journal of Medical Sciences found that cold water helped with relief from pain, inflammation and helped almost every system in the body. Other studies have shown that cold showers might even help to significantly improve mood, relieve anxiety, and even increase productivity.
Improve your water quality
In addition to water temperature in the shower, water quality can also have a major impact on your health. We often forget that our skin is our largest organ, and hot water makes it easier for chemicals to be absorbed into our skin and breathed into our lungs.
Unfiltered water can contain heavy metals and chemicals like chlorine, which can kill some of the good bacteria that lives on your skin. Chloramine (a combination of ammonia and chlorine) is also found in the water supply, as it’s commonly used during the filtration process. Shower filters with Vitamin C are a great option to improve water quality at home, as they filter both chlorine and chloramine, which traditional filters have a harder time removing.
Pay attention to the ingredients
Soap and body wash are the ultimate shower companion, but they may be doing your skin more harm than good. Many formulas contain detergents that strip our skin of healthy oils, as well as ingredients like parabens that can mess with our hormones.
Let’s not forget about the term “fragrance” either, which is often found in personal care products. When listed as an ingredient, fragrance can actually be considered a collection of trade secrets. It may look like one ingredient, but can contain anywhere from 50 to 300 distinct chemicals.
So what should you look for? Try to find bar soaps that are made from a vegetable oil blend and use essential oils for scent, or multipurpose castile soaps that can be used on everything from hands to dishes.
Cut down on waste
A 2018 report by Statista showed that 163 million consumers in the US used disposable razors, but many recycling programs won't take razors, leading to excess waste in landfills. A safety razor is a low-waste alternative to disposable razors, which are also said to reduce irritation as there’s only one blade.
While they are more costly upfront, blade refills end up being cheaper in the long run — saving you money over time.
Get a fresh take on deodorant
Once you’re all fresh and clean, most of us probably reach for our deodorant or antiperspirant. What you may not realize is that many conventional deodorants contain potentially harmful ingredients like aluminum, phthalates (endocrine disruptors that can wreak havoc on your hormones), formaldehyde and parabens. As a general tip, it’s worth looking at the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” database, as they evaluate the toxicity of commonly used products.
Opting for a natural deodorant is one way to make a healthy change, but if you have tried to make the switch before and found that natural deodorant didn’t seem to work, there is a reason why.
Our bodies typically undergo a detox period where you might stink a little more than you are used to, but the transition period doesn’t often last more than two weeks. Some people suggest using a clay mask on your armpits to help with this detox period, especially if your natural deodorant could use an odour-fighting boost.
So what are you waiting for? Turn on that new filtered cold water, hop in that shower and get better at personal hygiene.