Beauty at what cost? Learning to minimize toxic exposures…

hairI don’t go to salon’s anymore due to the chemicals just floating about in the air. It’s noxious the minute you walk in even if you don’t apply anything to your body or head. ¬†I instead take care of my hair at home. I use organic unscented shampoo and conditioner and nothing else on my hair. I even stopped coloring it and let the grey come in.

I actually also started cutting my own hair, which I pleasantly discovered isn’t all that hard. I was forced to learn because I was bedridden and then homebound for a long time. Now I’m quite thrilled by the fact that I can do it myself. Not only do I control my haircut, I save a lot of money. I also really love my hair for the first time in my life. There is no way I would have believed I could do this a few years ago. I actually learned by watching DIY (do it yourself) youtube videos.

Minimizing toxins that we are exposed to can be done in a myriad of ways with things we CAN control…there are so many things in the environment we cannot control so I go for maximum on that which I can control.

I’ve come to believe that my protracted withdrawal issues are, among other things, the compounding of many years of toxic chemical exposures…it’s not just the psych drugs. For me it started in childhood with the overuse and abuse of antibiotic drugs. All of us are exposed to a contaminated food and water supply too. We get toxins in the air we breathe from cars and industrial pollution and then more with the products we use on our bodies. The list goes on and on of course. ¬†It’s well worth considering how we can minimize our exposures. We can’t avoid all environmental toxins but we sure as heck can reduce them greatly and that will support our general well-being.

In refusing toxic products we also send a message to industry that they might stop making the products that not only harm us individually, but also poison our only home, planet earth.

From Women’s Voices for the Earth:

On a daily basis and often for long periods of time, salon workers are exposed to chemicals such as formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, methyl methacrylate (MMA) and many other chemicals that are used in dyes, glues, polishes, straighteners, acrylic nails and other salon products. Many of these chemicals are linked to cancer, allergies, respiratory, neurological and reproductive harm…

…Women‚Äôs Voices for the Earth supports the¬†Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act,¬†which is a bill that would phase out harmful chemicals in salon products and retail cosmetics. Until we pass stronger laws like this one, one of the things you can do is arm yourself with the information you need (like WVE‚Äôs resources & factsheets) to protect yourself from harmful chemicals.

Not a Salon Worker?

If you’re not a salon worker but are concerned about what chemicals you may be exposed to when you go to a salon, download this fact sheet and bring it to your salon to ask your stylist or manicurist if any of the chemicals listed are in the products she uses on you. If yes, maybe you can start a conversation about switching to a safer alternative, both for her health and yours. After all, sometimes the price of beauty just isn’t worth it! (read more)

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Aging gracefully: allowing the gray part 2

Close to a year ago I wrote a post entitled: Aging gracefully: allowing the gray.¬† Since it’s relatively short, I’m including it in full below before I make additional comments based on now having grown my gray hair!

This is Emmy Lou Harris, not me! I’ll share a photo when my hair has grown out!

I am growing my gray hair in. I did this a couple of years ago, but it was by default. I wasn’t well enough to wash my hair regularly, forget dyeing it. So when it was done growing out I was not only just able to start leaving my bed, I was GRAY…and I felt like I’d gotten old while bedridden. It was a disquieting moment and really too much for me to adjust to at the time.

Now, it has become an active choice that I’m embracing. Aging brings maturity and wisdom why not let the way I look reflect the life my body has lived? I am excited now to see the gray hair I have earned by living my life the best I know how on this wondrous planet we have been incarnated on. My hair is long now and healthier and fuller than it’s ever been…my recovery strategy is clearly working!! Even while still sick some systems of my body are healthier than they’ve ever been my whole life!

Anyway…many many years ago, I swore I would not ever dye my gray away it seemed false and unnecessary, like most plastic surgery. The thing with me was that I was dying my hair for fun since I was about 18 years old. So when the gray started coming in I just kept dying my hair. In any case, ¬†it gets harder and harder to keep it looking nice. Especially if you have a graying pattern like mine with SOLID WHITE STRIPES at your temples!! Ha ha! Yes! The rest of my hair really has not much gray in it…but the temples!! Oh my.

Also,¬†I’ve cleaned my diet from toxic substances as well as what I put on my body.¬†All clean and non-toxic now. Most hair dye is highly toxic and carcinogenic! Even the stuff that claims to be natural and organic. The only exception are plant based dyes like henna and indigo, which I did start using after I went gray the first time. The thing is they’re hard to use and make a major mess AND don’t give consistent coverage, they also made my scalp itchy for 24 hours.

I’m happy I’ve let go and will just now go gray!

Lots of women are coming to the same conclusion and with an aging baby boomer populace those of us who are following  have it a little easier. Some of our big sisters are Celebrating Gray Hair.

So, mostly I’ve enjoyed this process this time around. But it sometimes gives me pause too. I wrote the little below blurb to share with girlfriends recently.

Me with the Beyond Meds kitty and my white stripe
Me with the Beyond Meds kitty and my white stripe

Before I got sick I was still mistaken to be in my 20s pretty much routinely. The last time I got carded was the last time I was in a bar at age 42. Now at 48…having grown out my gray hair and having been largely homebound for the last 5 years…on the occasions I see people I find that I’m dealt with totally differently…and younger people will refer to my age in a way I never experienced prior…as though I’m not like them…ouch.

My skin and face still look young…this is just about the hair. I don’t want to dye my hair but I miss being treated like a young person…yet I feel that learning to embrace my role as a mature woman with gray hair may be even better once I get there.

Still I have been so removed from people while sick and homebound that it’s all strange and weird now…as I get used to it…as I am able to get out into the world a bit more.

We live in a youth culture and I find it stings to be viewed as old…because there is a sort of implicit dismissal…still, I think there must be a way to embrace it and that won’t matter so much…

And I promised photos when my hair grew out and some people are asking for them. So there is one with my Beyond Meds kitty, Jezebel…highlighting the white stripe. I guess you can’t really tell from that photo by most of my hair is still dark. The stripe is just right there at my temple and in this photo it’s what you see. If I comb it down I almost look like I have no gray still.

So when talking about how it’s different to have gray hair I often think about and refer to one of the many memorable scenes from the HBO TV series Six Feet Under in which the ¬†character played by Kathy Bates is friends with the mother of the family in the show. They are women in their late 50s or early 60s. Kathy Bates gets the mother to join her in a shoplifting adventure. Her rationale for such behavior is that women of this age are invisible and therefore one should take advantage of such invisibility. I appreciated it then even 10 years ago, but now I really grok, it…for better or worse…this is how it’s going be. I imagine there will be legal ways of taking advantage of the invisibility too. I will be on the look out for them. I think being a calm witness of all that goes on around us can be one of those ways. Maybe not as glamorous, reckless or romantic as shoplifting but it will be a way to grow in the world and tread lightly through.

on real beauty

The media and cosmetic companies have it all wrong. This is how you can really be beautiful. (Hint: you already are.)

Another really lovely video and post celebrating women all over the world:  I am a full woman

A celebration of life


I filmed my daughter every week, from birth up until she turned 12 years old and then made this time lapse edit in FCP.

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