Recycled Interiors Podcast 0018: Reducing Toxins in Your Home & Skincare

Liezel Barnard is the Naturopath and Trainer at Weleda Australia and has been with the company since 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Naturopathy and has more than 11 years experience in the natural health industry, including private practice in multi-disciplinary clinics. Liezel has a special interest in skin and digestive health. Liezel’s passion for naturopathy was ignited by her search for solutions for her own health problems having suffered from allergies, dry skin, dermatitis and blepharitis for most of her life. Liezel has been able to manage these conditions with a healthy diet, lifestyle and Weleda’s beautiful products. Today we are chatting about what you need to look out for in your home and beauty products, to ensure you are not exposed to toxins and unhealthy environments.

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Things you will want to remember from the episode – there is a lot so listen to the end!

  • Phthalates – these are the things you do NOT want in your products!
  • Phthalates are plasticiser compounds found in many skin care and cosmetic products. One of their functions is to make fragrances last longer. Any fragrances in products that are not from natural essential oils, are synthetic and usually contain phthalates. Phthalates are not fat soluble and for that reason don’t stay in the body for very long, however studies have shown that daily exposure to these compounds can cause some serious health problems such as infertility, testicular dysgenesis, obesity, asthma and allergies, as well as breast cancer.
  • Look for “fragrance” and where the source is – unless it says from natural essential oils it will be phthalates – includes room deodorisers etc as well as creams, perfumes and lotions
  • In general with toxins, the risk is more on anything you eat or put on your body
  • Most hair care, nail polish and lipstick will contain phthalates
  • Look for products in health food stores or natural beauty stores where there are more options for products without them
  • When it comes to hair care – you can take your own products to the salon and ask them to use those for you
  • Also look for PEG compounds – polyethylene glycols – used in cosmetics as moisturisers and thickening agents
  • These may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1-4-dioxane which are known human carcinogens
  • Usually producers will strip the product to remove them, but there is no way to know it is gone from the packaging or label – research has shown it to still remain in many products
  • Use products without PEG compounds as far as possible – if you do choose something with it in, make sure it is a very reputable brand as they are more likely to have stripped the 1-4-dioxane from the product
  • Alternatives to these chemicals are natural essential oils for the fragrance – this means the fragrance does not last as long but you can simply reapply as needed
  • Natural thickeners can such as seaweed and xanthan gum are used in natural products – they also have a therapeutic effect on the skin -anti inflammatory and soothing
  • Most natural products have quite a few uses – eg almond oil is moisturising, has anti inflammatory properties and soothes the skin
  • Microbeads are a massive issue – they have been banned in America – this is being phased out in Australia by July 2018 in personal care products – listen here to our chat about microbeads
  • Recent research shows 60 – 100 particles of microplastic in 100 ml (less than half a cup) of water in Sydney Harbour – among the highest levels in the world….
  • If you eat seafood about once a week, you ingest 11,000 pieces of plastic a year
  • Chemical pollutants accumulate on the surface of the microplastics, the fish ingest it and then these leech into the body of the fish, which makes the toxin load even higher…..
  • Just use natural products that state what they use to avoid microbeads
  • Parabens – widely used as preservatives, they are suspected endocrine disruptors (your hormonal system)
  • Stay away from those – most natural products use a small amount of alcohol instead
  • The way the products are packaged helps to avoid the need for parabens – hence the use of metal tubes by Weleda – this protects from oxidation
  • Dark glass bottles are also best to prevent this and make the product last longer
  • Expiry dates are also important – many commercial products do not have expiry dates, whereas natural products will have these  – usually have a shelf life of 2 – 3 years
  • Skin care regime recommended by Liezel
    • pollution accumulates on our skin every day. Cleansing helps to remove this – prevents bacterial infections
    • use a mild cleanser, not a soapy one, you do not want to remove all the natural oils from your skin
    • stay away from scrubs or anything that foams
    • moisturiser is the other thing you should use
    • As we age a lot of us do not make enough skin oil, especially if you have sun exposure over time. Dry weather also adds to this
    • It depends on your skin as to when you need this, some children need moisturiser, particularly if they have eczema – it stops your skin from holding onto moisture and so daily moisturising is needed – this helps to prevent eczema from getting worse
    • if you have a lighter skin the third part is sun protection – you should use this every day if you are outside
    • in particular moisturise and protect the face, neck and hands
    • it will also help reduce the signs of ageing
  • Another thing that can help are anti oxidants (Vitamin A, Vitamin E and fatty acids) that we find in plants such as rosehip oil – this has been shown to even reverse some sun damage
  • Anti Bacterial products – last month America banned triclosan and triclocarban– these are very strong antibiotic preservative chemicals found in washes and soaps – it should happen here soon
  • There are a few issues here:
    • also in antiperspirants and toothpaste
    • household products like toys, garbage bags, mattresses, laundry detergents – anything marked as anti bacterial
    • this is an endocrine disruptor and it is not always declared
    • it also kills all of the good bacteria – this means you are more prone to infections and may be damaging to the immune systems
  • It is like gardening, if you use pesticides the good plants die and the weeds come back up stronger – this is leading to bacterial resistance – triclosan causes this to occur in humans
  • This is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed – safety and effectiveness have never been proved – soap and water are fine for hand washing
  • Stay away from anything anti bacterial and go for natural ones if you can
  • Natural deodorants usually have essential oils which are slightly anti bacterial – eg sage and wild rose are used in Weleda deodorants – the fragrance also overpowers the sweaty fragrance
  • Weleda has complete control over the life cycle of their products – this means they can ensure they are ethically produced. They have more than 100 fairtrade partners across the world. They teach the communities to grow in organic and biodynamic ways  eg the Damask (wild) Rose project in Turkey – these are now the most organic roses in the world. They are harvested and distilled in the same town which ensures a superior product and helping the community
  • Arnica is another example – this herb helps with bruises and sore muscles – this can not be cultivated and needs to grow in the wild. Weleda work with the community to guarantee they will take a certain amount each year
  • Preserving the biodiversity of the area in which ingredients are grown is another important part of the process  – looking at the whole impact of the environment in which you are doing business

Additional notes from Liezel


What is the most worrying to me is the proven negative effects of phthalate exposure on the sexual and neurological development of human foetuses and their subsequent impact on our future generations.
In summary, look out for phthalates in:
• All synthetic fragrances in personal care, skincare and cosmetics
• Most haircare products
• Most nail polish
• Many lipstick brands

PEG compounds
PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are used in cosmetics as moisturisers, thickening agents, emulsifiers and solvents. It would be difficult to produce many commercial cosmetics without them. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane which are known human carcinogens. 1,4-dioxane can be removed from cosmetics during the manufacturing process by vacuum stripping, but there is no easy way for consumers to know whether products containing PEGs have undergone this process.  In a US study of personal care products researchers found 1,4-dioxane as a contaminant in 46 of 100 products analysed.

Parabens – endocrine disruptors

Environmental impact of personal care products
Microbeads in face and body scrubs. At Sydney Middle Harbour, scientists have found 60-100 particles of micro plastics in 100 millilitres of sediment which is among the highest levels in the world. Scientists estimate that if you eat seafood in Australia on a weekly basis you ingest about 11 000 pieces of plastic a year. Researchers also have shown that chemical pollutants accumulate on the surface of micro-plastics, then fish eat these micro-plastic and then the chemical pollutants leach into the body of the fish. Microbeads in face and body scrubs have been banned in America. The Aus federal government has reached an agreement with all states to phase out microbeads by no later than July 2018. But until then billions more microbeads will be released into the environment.

Pro-bacteria not anti-bacteria on our bodies and homes
Triclosan is a powerful preservative and antibacterial agent used in antiperspirants, soaps, hand sanitisers and toothpaste. Outside cosmetics, it’s also used in a wide variety of household products like toys, garbage bags, fabrics, mattresses, laundry detergents and any other products that are marketed as “antibacterial”.

Triclosan can be absorbed through the skin and is a suspected endocrine disruptor, meaning it can interfere with our hormonal and reproductive system. As a powerful antibacterial, triclosan will kill both beneficial and harmful bacteria resulting in a disturbance in the bacterial ecosystem on the skin and in the mouth when used in toothpaste.
Research also shows that there is a link between reduced exposure to beneficial bacteria and the rise of allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Another concern is that the extensive use of triclosan contributes to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Just last month the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) banned the use of triclosan and triclocarban as ingredients in anti-bacterial soaps and washes, because they have not been proven to be safe nor effective. Nicholas Coleman, senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Sydney, said there was compelling evidence that bacteria grew resistant to the chemicals used in domestic antibacterial products, and called for a similar ban in Australia.  “The scary thing is that they also become resistant to a whole range of other products, including serious antibiotics that are used in hospitals,” Dr Coleman said. “It’s hard to emphasise enough how serious this problem is: many of our antibiotics are failing, there are infections now we can’t treat that used to be treatable and we’re not making new antibiotics fast enough to keep up with the rate at which bacteria are evolving.

Effect on the environment – The European Union classifies triclosan as irritating to the skin and eyes, and as very toxic to aquatic organisms, stating that it may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.



1 million women link re microbeads

Please head to iTunes to subscribe and leave us a review if you love the show as it helps us to get it out there and make a difference. You can also listen on Stitcher and leave a review over there, or just sit back and listen on the blog. Thank you for being here.

Helen xx


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