Don't Miss!
Home » Beyond Food » Is your soap making you sick and fat? A plea for paleo skincare

Is your soap making you sick and fat? A plea for paleo skincare

are your body products full of toxins?

Are your body products full of toxins?

In prior articles  we discussed troubles with detoxification as a reason for stubborn weight gain.  But more than just a vanity issue, it’s also become a major cause of hormonal disruption, skin issues, depression, chronic illness and infertility for a lot of people.  But where are these toxins coming from in your life?  And what exactly is it we are supposed to AVOID and why is paleo skincare worth your time?  Environmental exposure to toxins comes in so many forms.  Chemical offgasing, smog and industrial runoff, chemical additives in water (both intended and unintended), and especially SKIN AND BODY CARE products make up a nasty list of toxic sludge our bodies have to wade through every day.


Your skin is the largest organ of the body, and absolutely everything we spritz around, rub on, and smear in enters into our system, for better or for worse.  It’s important to remember what we put on our skin has to be filtered through the liver, which has some pretty heavy work to do on a daily basis. Besides the skin, the liver is largest organ in the body, and for good reason. It filters 3 pints of blood EVERY MINUTE, detoxifying the blood, breaking down and metabolizing “pleasure toxins” such as alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs (including OTC, recreational AND prescription drugs-don’t think that just because that pill came from a doctor your body doesn’t have a price to pay), transforming ammonia and metabolic waste, metabolizing and detoxifying hormones, and producing bile for fat metabolism. If we overload our systems with chemicals, the liver gets overloaded and it can’t properly dump the garbage/bile into the gall bladder. That garbage then starts to spill into the blood stream and affects our other systems.

When it comes to environmental toxins, the results on the body can be devastating.  These poisons can become a slow drag on your health, tearing down your immune system, causing hormonal imbalance, digestive distress, blocking your detoxification pathways increasing oxidative damage, aging you before your time and leading to chronic degenerative diseases such as autoimmune conditions, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, insomnia, allergies, infertility and chronic fatigue.

In addition, when these toxins build up and create a burden on the body’s detoxification system (such as the liver, kidneys and lymph system) these toxins are often stored in the body’s fat cells in an attempt to move the harmful substances out of circulation away from the  organs, but don’t be fooled, they are far from “harmless” stored long term in the body.

This not only creates a further long term oxidative stress (and in the case of heavy metals can have serious effects on the body ranging from infertility to altered brain function, resulting in severe depression and other symptoms). Oxidative stress leads to cellular membrane damage, and damage to organelles, hormones and genes within the cells. This is a mutagenic and potentially carcinogenic process that leads to degenerative disease, cancer and athereosclerosis. It can also make fat loss difficult to impossible (the body will downshift metabolism to avoid fat burning in a desperate attempt to avoid introducing the toxins back into circulation). This chronic stress can also lead to cortisol disregulation and hormonal imbalance and all the nasty symptoms associated with that downward spiral.


The story gets even scarier for preggos and women considering pregnancy…Consider the issue of chemicals in the placenta.  According to research presented by the Environmental Working Group, in a study that collected samples of newborn cord blood, as many as 232 foregin chemicals were discovered, 232!!!   We aren’t talking about tearless shampoo here.  Your baby is being exposed to this nasty stuff while it’s precious little body is still being developed!  According to Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai children’s hospital in an interview with CNN, for about 80% of the common chemicals used in the US we know almost nothing about how they might affect the brains of children, immune, reproductive, or other organs of fetuses and children.  That should blow your mind and terrify you, but I’ll bet you’ve never heard that before, it just doesn’t get the kind of loud and outrageous press that we usually reserve for celebrities behaving badly.    Here are just a few of the gifts modern science has brought along to the baby shower that have been found in babys’ systems:  PBDs (flame retardents used in everything from computers to mattresses), BPA from food cans and bottled water, PFCs (used in food packaging and carpets), and phthalates found in children’s’ toys and parents’ cosmetics and body products.



In an attempt to scrub down, moisture up, spice up our scent and put on a new face, we’ve inadvertently been slathering on about 100+ toxic chemicals daily. We have counters full of products containing potentially cancer-causing agents, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors, heavy metals and substances that are damaging to our skin and other organs/systems. Some of these substances have also been linked to infertility, reproductive problems, and birth defects.

To be fair to the chemists creating these products, I am sure they did not get into the mix thinking about how to stuff poison into the population for profit.  On some level I believe they have been responding to a demand for certain textures and absorption, a bazillion fake scents or ‘fragrances’ and of course the necessity of keeping things from spoiling (mold is not something you want to see growing in your face cream!) and all for the lowest price possible.  The sad thing is that what we’ve done is create a demand for the cheapest crap possible.  I am here to tell you that YOU ARE WORTH MORE than synthetic chemicals, rancid oils, dyes and fragrances.  Your body is an amazing piece of machinery, your life is priceless and there are people in this world who need you and your amazing talents.  Please please please do NOT sell your birthright for a strawberry margarita body balm!

It’s important to learn to read labels and get rid of products containing harmful chemicals. The world is full of toxins that are causing an overwhelming burden on our bodies and contributing to health problems and disease. We have control over the personal care products we CHOOSE to put on our bodies. Educate yourself and choose wisely!


Here are a few common toxic chemicals to BE AWARE of that may be lurking in YOUR bathroom right now*:

1) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

What’s it do? Foaming agent/surfactant, emulsifier

Potential toxic effects: Skin and eye irritant, organ system toxicity, potential environmental toxin

Found in: Makeup, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, soaps, etc.


2) Propylene glycol

What’s it do? Skin conditioning agent, product viscosity solvent

Potential toxic effects: Linked to skin and immune system toxicity and allergies, high level irritant to skin, eyes and lungs, organ system toxicity

Found in: Makeup, toothpaste, and deodorant, etc.


3) Phthalates and Parabens (Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben)

What’s it do? Used as preservatives, fragrance ingredient and to extend shelf life

Potential toxic effects: Endocrine disrupters (mimic estrogen in the body), significant wildlife and environmental disruption, strong immune system and allergen response, biochemical/cellular level changes, interferes with gene expression

Found in: Anti-perspirants and deodorants, lotions, soaps, makeup, hair products, toothpaste, etc.


4) Synthetic fragrances

What’s it do? Used to stabilize fragrances.  Terms like “fragrance” “parfum”  can mean one or more of about 200 different chemicals used in cosmetics. Look for scents derived from essential oils.

Potential toxic effects: Wide variety of side effects that ranging from carcinogens, to skin irritation,  to headaches, dizziness, and rashes.

Found in: Cosmetics, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, soaps, etc.


5) Petrolatum, mineral oil, and paraffin

What’s it do? Used for its emollient properties, fragrance ingredient, derived from crude oil

Potential toxic effects: Immune system and respiratory toxicant/allergen, organ system toxicity, potentially carcinogenic, high probability of chemical contaminants, prevents the skin from breathing properly.

Found in: Lip gloss, shaving cream, mascara, etc.


6) Triclosan

What’s it do? Synthetic antibacterial ingredient

Potential toxic effects: High potential for contamination (specifically with chloroform and dioxins-both HIGHLY carcinogenic), skin, eye and lung irritant, high potential for bioaccumulation, endocrine disruption, strong immune system and allergen response, organ system toxicity, potential environmental toxin

Found in: Anti-bacterial cleansers, toothpaste, other household products


7) Ureas (Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea)

What’s it do? Antimicrobial preservatives, works by forming FORMALDEHYDE.  According to EWG, approximately 20% of cosmetics and personal care products contain a formaldehyde releaser.

Potential toxic effects: Carcinogenic, creates multiple chemical allergies

Found in: Deodorant, mouthwash, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps, etc.


8) Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Monoethanolamine(MEA)

What’s it do? pH adjuster, foaming agent, fragrance ingredient

Potential toxic effects: Carcinogenic, strong respiratory toxicant, immune system toxicity and allergen, sense organ toxicity, cardiovascular and blood toxicity, gastrointestinal and liver toxicity, environmental toxin, contamination concerns, deemed unsafe for products that are to be left on skin and not washed off (because, you know, the skin doesn’t absorb that crap when you just rub it on, right, right?!?!)

Found in: Bubble bath, body wash, shampoo, soap, facial cleanser, etc.


If you are concerned about your toxic exposure and are experiencing any signs of toxicity/congested liver (bloating, irritability/mood swings, puffy eyes, dull skin, acne, brain fog, inability to lose weight, sore muscles/stiff joints, migraines) ask your FDN about investigating the state of your liver function.

*You can find more information on all of these ingredients at


Still aren’t convinced? Not willing to throw out all your pumpkin spice body wash?  Or you think “c’mon, we aren’t living in the 1800s where they put arsenic in their face powder, we have science and regulation to protect us” (even though all the ingredients listed above are approved in at least limited quantities for cosmetics despite the scientific data showing just how toxic they are) Well guess what?  According to Heather White, president of the EWG, jump back just a few decades to the ‘70s and many mascaras contained mercury, and that coveted crimson lipstick came with an unwanted dose of lead!  Personal care industry is a SIX BILLION DOLLAR/YEAR INDUSTRY.  On average we use 12 personal care products a day (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, hair products, shaving cream, lotion, etc).  Teen girls use an average of 17 personal care products a day.  If you don’t think that the industry has a reason to try to make a buck off you at your expense, I URGE you to follow the money (but please, wear a hazmat suite, because you don’t want to stroll unprotected into one of those factories!)

Let’s revisit that teen girl issue again.  17 products a day on average…Many of the chemicals used act as synthetic estrogens.   Just imagine what that would do to a developing body still trying to create a natural healthy hormonal balance and production.  Think that’s no big deal?  Well in 1890, the average age of a girl beginning her cycle was 16.5.  Today that age is 10!  And we are seeing the beginnings of puberty starting at age 6-7.  No big deal if you get boobs early?  Well those changes come with a lot more than an early training bra!  Add on increased risk of depression, diabetes, obesity, and potential increased risk of breast cancer (currently affecting 1 and 8 women in their lifetime) to the already tough time that is puberty.  Is that the kind of experience we want to create for our children?

President Obama’s cancer panel stated from their findings that “the percentage of cancers caused by toxic exposure is grossly underestimated…Americans are facing grievous harm from largely unregulated chemicals in the air, food, and water.”  The government won’t (or can’t) protect you.  You need to be your OWN advocate here!


  • Keep toxins off of your skin:

The first step towards supporting your detoxification pathways is to remove the active forms of toxic exposure from your life. Look at your labels and check them against the list above.  You can also check thousands of products, from sunscreen to shower gel, at   If it doesn’t make the cut, it’s not worth risking your health, THROW IT OUT!!!

  •  Seek out gentler, less toxic products and paleo skincare.

If you are interested in finding some premade products that are actually GOOD for your skin, let us know. We are VERY close to finalizing our own line of paleo skincare bath and body products and tutorials to give people a better option for keeping their skin healthy and nourished while easing the body’s toxic burden. Stay tuned for more information!


Additional resources:

Photo credit: eek the cat / Foter / CC BY-ND

Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now for a free Paleo for Athletes presentation, and receive updates when I publish new content!

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.


  1. I am excited about finding this site and getting the information. As a 66 year old male who did not take care of his body the last 66 years and ended up in the hospital for three day in March of this year. I decided to make some serious adjustments to my life, one to relax more and deal with the stress that was overtaking me and two to eat better. Good bye fried foods hello vegetables and grilled meat like poultry and fish, salads.
    I will search this site often and read the blogs as I continue to make the necessary adjusts to a healthier me.
    Thank you

  2. John, I’m so glad you found us. It sounds like you’ve made some amazing progress taking your health into your own hands. As i learned from my dad’s crazy adventures at 80+, it is NEVER too late to do the right thing or to reap the benefits of taking care of yourself. Keep it up and let us know how we can help!

  3. I’m interested in paleo skincare, but something better than the oil based face and body cleansers I’ve found elsewhere. There has to be a way to get some sort of lather without poison and without clogging my drains. Email me if you come up with it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *