By Natural Beauty Contributor Kristen (@basikorganics)

When I first decided to 'go clean' with the products I was using on my body and in my house almost five years ago I had no idea where to begin.

To say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement.

The ingredient list on most products I was using may as well have been written in a foreign language. I couldn't even pronounce most of them, let alone begin to understand what they in fact were.

All I knew was that surely this crap couldn't be doing me any good. 

The clincher had to be when I found out that our skin absorbs around 60% of what we put on it. That meant most of the ingredients in those extensive lists on the back of my products were being absorbed straight into my body. 

Once I made the decision to start to change things I began by eliminating the most basic toxins that I thought were the easiest to ditch - the key ones that I knew were reportedly linked to things like hormone imbalances, skin irritation, reproduction issues and even worse, cancer. The ones that the majority of my products contained. 

Sigh.

Yep, I binned expensive foundations that gave me a dewy glow, face creams that promised to give me a youthful appearance, mascaras that supposedly made my lashes look twice as long, and pretty much everything else in between.

As a former total beauty junkie it wasn't exactly the most pleasant of things to do. But I knew I was doing the right thing.

Over time I have found I've been able to cut out a large amount of these nasties in my everyday make-up and personal care products. 

Natural make-up can give you great coverage and actually make your skin glow, unlike many chemical-filled ones that can actually make your skin dull and lifeless

Natural make-up can give you great coverage and actually make your skin glow, unlike many chemical-filled ones that can actually make your skin dull and lifeless

While cutting out 100% of the toxins in your products may seem a little daunting, there are a select few non-negotiables I would recommend.

Here's a quick run down of my 'must-avoids' if you're thinking of cleaning out some of the toxins in your bathroom cabinet and household, but are not quite sure where to start.

Parabens

A preservative commonly used in make-up, moisturisers, hair care, liquid hand soap and shaving products.

You'll find it called methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben.

It can cause skin irritation, dermatitis and is a suspected endocrine disruptor. Put simply, it interferes with hormone function and has been detected in human breast cancer tissue, suggesting a possible link between parabens and cancer.

Phthalates

A family of chemicals often derived from petroleum. 

It's found in plastics, cosmetics, baby products, hair spray, lotions, nail polish and perfumes.

Studies have shown that they may adversely affect human reproduction or development.

Take a look at the ingredient list on the back of your products and chances are you'll struggle to pronounce most, let alone make sense of what they actually mean

Take a look at the ingredient list on the back of your products and chances are you'll struggle to pronounce most, let alone make sense of what they actually mean

Bisphenol A

Chances are you've heard of Bisphenol A in recent years, or BPA as it's more commonly known.

BPA is an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics and resins. 

Research has shown that BPA can seep into food and drinks stored in containers that are made from BPA.

Exposure can lead to possible health effects on the brain, behaviour and prostate glands of foetuses, infants and children.

Look for 'BPA free' on plastic bottles, containers and toys, and aim to reduce your use of canned foods as most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.

Fragrance

Found in many products including air fresheners, cosmetics, laundry detergents, candles, 

Quite possibly the winner of the 'most sneaky' award, this nasty toxin accounts for over 500 potential chemicals that can be found under the name 'fragrance'.

Effecting the immune and nervous system, along with causing irritability, fatigue, skin irritation, headaches, dizziness and asthma, this is a must-avoid.

Look for 'fragrance-free' on products, and if you're a candle lover look for ones made with essential oils and not fragrances, as you'll simply be burning and inhaling the toxic fumes.

So maybe I have a slight addiction to natural foundations...

So maybe I have a slight addiction to natural foundations...

Sulfates (SLS)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a detergent and surfuctant used in many shampoos, toothpastes and cleaners, and is used to create the lather that we're all oh so familiar with when washing our hair.

It is widely used as a skin irritant when testing products used to heal skin conditions.

It's been linked to eye irritation and poor eye development in children.

While at first it can seem overwhelming, and deciphering the ingredients on your products may seem impossible, just remember that cutting out even one of these nasties is a positive step forward. We all have the power to make positive changes for ourselves and our families, and even small, simple changes can make the world of difference.

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