Conventional wisdom tells us that the key to our health is staying clean and what’s the best way to do that? The shower.
But are showers really the antidote for all of our problems? Do we truly know all of its benefits and detriments? Let’s take a look at three mistakes you’re making in the shower that are damaging your health and how you can correct them.
We live in a sad world sometimes: the yummiest foods are damaging to your health, the most luxurious products are damaging to your bank account, and, of course, the hottest showers are damaging to your skin – often, what you want most is not what you need most.
Many of us crave hot showers for their magically therapeutic ability to relieve stress, induce sleep, clear nasal congestion, and relax muscles. Particularly in the winter months, hot showers are considered valuable moments of pure psychological and physical tranquility amidst our hectic lives. But what you don’t know, is that that those moments are also inflicting serious damage to your skin.
The outermost layer of your skin is called the epidermis, and it’s made up of skin cells of keratin – known as keratinocytes – which is the same element that constitutes your hair and nails. These cells both help to protect your skin and to retain moisture. On top of it, our bodies create a micro-thin layer of oil which helps keratinocytes to preserve our skin.
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The heat from an intense shower, though, melts the skin’s oil and, when combined with soap, removes the layer of oil completely. The hotter the water the quicker and the more severely the oil is uncovered – imagine how hot water removes grease from dishes quicker than cold water. Without the natural oils, moisture is rapidly lost from your skin, leaving you with dry and itchy skin. The removal of oils leads to an imbalance of moisture in your skin, causing redness, itching, peeling, or even rashes.
So how can you fix the problem? Well, the obvious answer is to reduce the temperature of your showers. You’ll drastically improve the condition of your skin by taking cold or simply lukewarm showers a few days a week. If you’re unsure of how much to adjust the temperature, then evaluate the appearance of your skin, and reduce the heat if you have any redness.
Not Using a Filter
The second major health problem in our showering practices is the lack of a shower filter. Not all mistakes are really your fault, sometimes it’s the design of the shower itself which is the problem. In this case, it’s the lack of a shower filter. You’d assume that showers are inherently clean and the water that they dispense is nothing but beneficial, but never make assumptions.
Our water has an unnaturally high concentration of chlorine, and the overly chlorinated water takes a toll on our bodies. Unfortunately, it all relates back to chemistry: the halogens – fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine – compete with one another for absorption; but the higher up on the chart, the more reactive and the more absorbable an element is. So, fluorine and chlorine are the most reactive halogens, meaning that no other chemicals are able to displace them.
Yet, iodine is very important for the thyroid gland, which regulates our metabolic rate and touches every single cell in the human body. Our water is so laden with chlorine that our showers are like bathing in a swimming pool. Basically, all of that chlorine leaves us iodine deficient, which, in turn, negatively affects our thyroid health in a bunch of dangerous ways.
Installing a shower filter is the ultimate answer to the problem. A filter will help to remove nearly all the chlorine in your water and keep your body healthy. On top of that, the filter will help prevent build-up at your roots or extremely dry skin. There are also many minor pollutants and minerals in our water that the filter will prevent from reaching our body. Although the main danger is a chlorine surplus, shower filters are sort of a catchall fix.
We take so much precaution to ensure that we’re eating organic and healthy foods; but why is it then that we so carelessly shower in a ton of toxins? If you wouldn’t eat it, why put it on your skin? After all, the products you put on your skin and hair are gradually absorbed into your body. Research shows that most of the major shower products contain cancer causing chemicals.
Let’s examine which specific chemicals are in our soaps, shampoos, and lotions. Three common but complex-sounding chemicals are DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monothanolamine), and TEA (Triethanolamine). They’re often found in shampoos and soaps, and not only do they all disrupt your hormonal balance but they are also known carcinogenic agents.
Phthalates and Parabens, banned by the EU, are chemicals used as preservatives. They’re commonly found in hair spray, nail polish, and perfume, and have been proved to be carcinogenic and correlated with breast cancer.
Other dangerous chemicals include Sulfates and fragrances, which cover a whole range of products, but their commonality is that they always produce carcinogenic characteristics or other synthetic toxins. Essentially, nearly all chemical shower products have serious health dangers.
What’s the alternative, you say? Well, luckily there are many natural alternatives. Be judicious while shopping and look for soaps that only contain oils and other natural ingredients. For lotion too, look for products that contain natural oils like coconut rather than the synthetic petroleum-based lotions. Shampoo is a bit more challenging, but you can still find simple recipes that use natural ingredients like bentonite clay or honey.
While showers may be great for your health – and more important your smell – they’re not miracle workers all on their own. You must be thoughtful with your shower methods, tools, and products. If this proves too much work for you, then you may want to consider forgoing showers altogether. Your body has a microbiome which functions as a natural cleanser, deodorant, and anti-inflammatory. If you stop using chemical products for long enough, you’ll allow your skin to undergo its natural cycle, and you may never need to shower again!
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