I’ve been a girly girl for most of my life. I started carrying around a purse when I was three, loved dressing up in fancy outfits for school dances and draping myself with my mom’s and aunt’s “treasures and jewelry.” When I came to the United States at nine, my proudest possession was my first real Barbie doll (they were hard to get in Poland), and I got my first “kid” make-up set at age ten complete with pink lipstick and neon blue and purple eyeshadows!
I became obsessed with fashion at age eleven when a wiser friend explained to me the wonders of matching your leggings to your shirts “Red and pink don’t match, but purple and pink are a great combination. Bonus if you could get a coordinating scrunchy” (this was the 90’s of course).
As time went on, I was on top of every suburban teen fashion trend (much to the amusement of my older brother), rocking grunge, gangster, punk, preppy, raver, retro, and hippie, sometimes within the same month!
I loved reading beauty magazines and raiding the beauty aisles of the Walgreens where I worked as a pharmacy technician during high school, undergrad and pharmacy school as I worked towards getting my doctorate in pharmacy.
By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I had caboodles of makeup, perfumes, lotions, hair styling products and every other type of beauty “enhancing” potion and lotion.
I had dyed my hair numerous different colors, trying to determine whether blondes, brunettes or redheads had the most fun.
After I finished pharmacy school, I even dabbled in cosmetic chemistry and was experimenting with creating my own highly effective (read: highly chemical) antiperspirant. I developed the formulation and experimented with raw ingredients in my apartment kitchen. My fiancé Michael, (now my husband) was in business school at the time and even wrote up a business plan for my antiperspirant.
I never thought being a girly girl would be a detriment to my health until I started doing research for the “Toxins” chapter of my book Hashimoto’s: The Root Cause.
This topic has been a sore subject for me, and I find it quite disgusting and upsetting to think about. Although I’ve covered it in great detail in my book, I often avoid the topic in interviews because it gets me so emotional and I always like to be level headed when I speak on a topic.
This is why I’m upset:
In doing research for getting myself better from 2011-2013, I became engrossed in the subject of Hashimoto’s and didn’t have the time for my usual hobbies like shopping, or reading fashion magazines, while I struggled with new habits to get my health back.
After I got my health back and my lifestyle changes became an effortless habit, I went back to my old hobbies… I looked through a fashion magazine and was appalled.
It occurred to me that the beauty magazines are perfectly designed to make us feel inferior.
Most human beings strive towards personal growth and self-improvement… beauty magazines and advertisements exploit that inner drive and are designed to highlight our “flaws” and offer solutions for “improvement.”
Here’s what they’re really saying:
Breakouts? Well, with skin like that, you’ll never be as happy as the models in our ads. But we do have lotions and potions that can help! Try this new acne cream/wash/pads.
Oh, your skin is not as tan as the lovely model in the ad? Well, you’re not good enough, but we can fix that. Here, use a self-tanner and tinted moisturizer!
Would you like to have those big doe eyes like the cover girl with the handsome boyfriend? Your eyes are too small, so you’re not as lovable. But if you use our eyeliner, mascara, and eyeshadow you might have a chance at finding love.
While advertising tactics that make people feel inadequate are upsetting to many people, that’s only a part of the bigger problem. I understand how advertising works and that advertising can be educational and helpful in making people take action and changing something that they don’t know they need to fix. After all, I’m spreading awareness about symptoms (like dry skin, or lackluster hair, or weight gain) that could mean that our thyroid is out of balance and that we need to take better care of ourselves. And I am a big proponent of self-improvement, educating people about taking charge of their health and offering solutions for changing their diet and habits so that they are healthier and feel better.
My problem with advertisements for mainstream personal care products is that the most items marketed to improve our outer appearance, actually diminish our inner health, and in the long run, hurt our outer appearance.
Most commercial personal products are full of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are toxic and wreak havoc on our hormones and health!
I remember using “acne pads” in my teenage years. Every single day, I would use an acne pad to wipe my face in the morning, and again at night. I didn’t have acne; I did have an occasional zit here and there, but it was usually on my nose or chin. I wiped my whole face. And I noticed that after using the pads, my skin actually looked worse, more irritated and dry, and I had to start using lotion to keep the dryness at bay, and foundation to even out the redness on my skin. But the ads told me that as a teenager who wanted to have beautiful skin (and therefore be “acceptable” to the rest of my peers), I HAD to use acne pads. I didn’t realize that I was already beautiful and the chemicals were taking away from my natural beauty…
I can’t go a week while browsing the news to find another article about skin issues clearing up when women dump their commercial personal care products. Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dry skin improve, in some case drastically.
Women, on average, use 12 personal care and cosmetics products per day, which amounts to 168 different chemical ingredients! In contrast, men use an average of 6 personal care products or an average of 85 different chemicals on a daily basis.
While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons as to why seven women develop Hashimoto’s for every one man with the condition, perhaps the use of endocrine disrupting, chemicals may play a role. The use of lipstick, in particular, has been connected to the development of lupus, another autoimmune condition…(1, 2)
I suffered a flare-up of Hashimoto’s from makeup I used in 2014. I have toxicity labs and a 3rd party test to prove it. My symptoms started within 24 hours after beginning to use this particular product. I am not going to disclose the name of the product until I have more distance from the situation so I can act rationally, rather than emotionally, and until I’ve had a chance to consult with a legal adviser so that I don’t get sued by the manufacturer of the product. I will give you a hint: read this report. You can also check out the website http://www.safecosmetics.org/ or search http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php to see how your products compare.
You can search companies to see their overall rating, and also search for individual products. I try to use products with a 1 or 2 rating (lowest toxicity).
EWG’s Skin Deep database is also available as a mobile app, so you can search while you shop.
I’m also not going to go into the detail of the science behind how chemicals in our personal care products cause autoimmunity and thyroid dysfunction or go into detail as to which ingredients to avoid (I’ve already covered it in the updated version of Hashimoto’s: The Root Cause), perhaps I’ll write about them when inspiration strikes, but as I said, this is a difficult thing for me to write about so I may need some distance from it.. but I did want share some practical tips.
First and foremost, beautiful skin and hair come from within, so proper nutrition and a good hormonal balance are key! I’ve written about both quite extensively in other posts. 🙂
Many of you send me emails and ask on my Facebook page as to what specific low toxin products I use. I have spent time trying a lot of products through trial and error, and here are my favorites:
Looking at my headshots on my website or videos I’ve made, you may be surprised to learn that I don’t wear make-up on a regular basis. Most days when I’m running around town, consulting, running my business, writing or doing voice interviews I don’t apply anything to my face. I feel that this gives my face some breathing room, and makes applying makeup a fun treat instead of a daily chore.
Though I appreciate that I live in the real world where women are judged on appearance, so I do wear makeup when I am speaking in public on an important topic or when I attend a formal event (on average once a week).
Women who wear makeup are perceived to be more professional, smarter and more put together. When I do wear makeup, I have a lot of fun with it and like to use brands that are as clean as possible.
- For foundation, I like Annmarie Gianni’s Minerals and bareMinerals. (I really like Annmarie Gianni’s sample pack that allows you to figure out your correct shade when shopping online).
- For eyeshadows, I like bareMinerals.
- My blush is from bareMinerals.
- Mascara and eyeliner from Physicians Formula Organic Wear Line.
- Lipstick from Pacifica.
I wanted a shampoo that was gluten-free and free of the common harsh chemicals, but that also smelled nice and made my hair soft and shiny like some of the commercial shampoos and high-end salon shampoos. I’ve tried numerous shampoos from the internet and health food stores that just didn’t quite make the cut. Some of them made my hair look like straw, others didn’t seem to wash out, and I also had a brief trial with going “no poo” (using apple cider vinegar + baking soda), that made my hair feel like a pile of hay on top of a grease ball.
I was really excited when I came across Acure at my Whole Foods Market (you can also buy online through links below). Their products are vegan, gluten and cruelty-free, and free of parabens, sulfate, silica, sodium chloride, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances. Additionally, they are color safe, smell nice and make my hair beautiful and shiny!
Many people with Hashimoto’s may have hair that’s naturally dry and dull (mine used to be before I stabilized my thyroid), and for that, I love Acure Organics Moisturizing Shampoo and the Acure Organics Repair Conditioner. I will use this combination when I want to give my hair an extra boost of shine or when I want some deep conditioning (plus it smells beautiful!).
For people with tangled hair (often a first symptom of an underactive thyroid), I recommend Acure Lemongrass Leave In Conditioner and the Tangle Teezer brush. These two together did wonders for me when my hair was tangled, and I still like to keep my brush with me at all times, especially when I travel!
Body Wash: Dr. Bronner’s Shikakai Body Wash – Organic and free trade with natural ingredients! I love the scent, the lather and it also does triple duty for me as a hand soap and shaving cream.
Lotions: I was always partial to scented lotions. However, most are full of toxic synthetic fragrances. I love Acure Organics body lotions which are free of toxins, are very moisturizing and have a lovely smell.
Facial care: When I first was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I noticed that my skin became more dull and lackluster, and my dermatologist recommended the Clarisonic device, which I love and use to this day. This is a little exfoliating brush that uses gentle vibrations to remove the dead surface cells on our skin. I noticed an improvement in my skin’s texture immediately.
For facial cleansers, I have liked MyChelle in the past and also enjoy the SpaDr line. Last year I also became obsessed with the whole Annmarie Gianni Skin Care line of moisturizers, creams, and cleansers!
Annmarie and her husband Kevin Gianni, two self-proclaimed health nuts, decided to start the line because they were frustrated with the toxic products on the market! Their overall rating in EWG is between 1-2, which is the cleanest rating I’ve seen for any products. If you want to know more about Annmarie’s products, here are just a few benefits of their skin care products:
- Formulated to even skin tone, reduce sun spots and make your skin look more vibrant.
- Made with researched skin repairing herbs.
- Cruelty-free and no animal testing.
- Truly natural, organic and wildcrafted ingredients.
- Non-GMO ingredients.
My Favorite Annmarie Gianni Products
Aloe Herb Facial Cleanser – this feels luxurious, and my face feels remarkably clean after I use it.
Coconut Honey Face Mask – this is a moisturizing mask I like to use once or twice a week. Partially because it makes my skin soft and dewy, partially because I like to lick it off my face. 🙂 It’s made with edible ingredients like honey and coconut oil!
Their Herbal Facial Oil is a wonderful daily moisturizer, and it smells soft and lovely. I also really enjoy the Neroli Toning Mist to freshen up my face, and sometimes use it as a light perfume.
Best of all, the company has put together 3 different sample kits (depending on your skin type) so you can get to know their line before you invest in a big package. It’s a great, low-risk chance to see if the products work for you. The kits are $10, but they’re shipped to you free, and you get a $10 off coupon for a future purchase.
On top of that, if you get a sample kit you’ll also get their Skin Detox Guide (a $24.95 value) which is a complete ebook that shows you how to get bright, glowing skin (from within) and improve the health and beauty of your mind, body, and skin through food, facial exercises, tapping, affirmations, movement, and more.
Kevin and Annmarie, the founders, gave me a discount to use for the Thyroid Bundle, and so many readers have written in that they love the product line and many of them are still using it almost a year later!
We know that most perfumes have endocrine disrupting chemicals in them, and often, we’re applying them to our neck. I like to use nice smelling essential oils as a healthier alternative. For perfumes, you can mix a blend of essential oils that you like. I really enjoy the smell of frankincense, rose, and lavender, though everyone has their personal preferences.
While I haven’t tested this personally, some of my friends and colleagues like Carrie Vitt swear by using essential oils like Frankincense, Clove, Myrrh, Marjoram, Basil, and Lemongrass to support thyroid function naturally.
Jodi Cohen, a Hashimoto’s patient and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, has also created her line of essential oil blends. My favorite scent is Circadian Rhythm, and she has also created a thyroid-specific blend along with many other wonderful blends.
If you are not an oil connoisseur, you can purchase premade essential oil based natural perfumes like the Aura Cacia Chakra Roll-ons. The “Expressive Throat” Essential Oil smells like my high-end department store perfumes without the added toxins!
In Eastern medicine, the Throat Chakra is connected to the thyroid gland, and suppressing your voice is thought to contribute to thyroid disorders. While I wouldn’t throw away your thyroid medications just yet, applying essential oils on the “Throat Chakra” is not just a healthier alternative to perfume, but also a great reminder to speak out and advocate for ourselves, whether that’s in day to day life or in our health pursuits, for example; “Wow, that gluten-filled pie looks lovely, but I’ll have to pass. This doesn’t work for me”, or “Wow, thanks for thinking of me for this project, but as I’m working on getting my health back, the added responsibility is not something I can handle”, or “No thanks, please don’t spray me with that perfume sample as I’m walking through the department store”.
The Epsom Salts are a natural source of magnesium, and aid with relaxation, detoxification, pain relief and support the thyroid and adrenals (here’s my post on magnesium). Please note, I only recommend plain Epsom Salts, as the ones infused with scents and even essential oils can cause disruptions of vaginal flora when used in large quantities.
These Rejuvelle bath bombs are a fun, fragrant treat to add to the tub, and they were created by parents of a daughter with an autoimmune skin condition and are gluten-free, made with organic materials, free of endocrine disruptors and dye-free.
With the exception of Annmarie Gianni Skincare (which you have to buy online or in their Berkeley, CA shop), you can buy most of these products at your local health foods or Whole Foods, or if you’d like, you can buy many of them on Amazon.
I do believe that everyone is different, and I also like to vary up my routine, for different occasions, seasons, or when I feel like I want to mix things up. I hope these recommendations help to make your personal care routine a healthier one. 🙂
I’d love some feedback from you on your personal care products.
- Did you find this post helpful?
- How did the information in this post make you feel?
- Did you search out the ones you use in the database?
- Have you used any of the products I listed?
- Do you have other favorites?
- Cold F, Health E, Disease H et al. Lipstick, Hair Dyes Raise Lupus Risk?. WebMD. 2017. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/lupus/news/20051117/lipstick-hair-dyes-raise-lupus-risk. Accessed June 29, 2017.
- Wang J, Kay A, Fletcher J, Formica M, McAlindon T. Is lipstick associated with the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)?. Clinical Rheumatology. 2008;27(9):1183-1187. doi:10.1007/s10067-008-0937-6.