I have spent the past 10 years on a personal journey related to improving my overall health, wellness and well being.
It began in 2003 when I was pregnant with my and realized I had this imminent responsibility for another human being. That realization made me look outside of myself for the first time probably ever. I think this is one of the biggest things about parenting – the self absorption has to step aside to make way for another being, one that will need and rely on you 24/7 for the foreseeable and possibly forever future.
I started by looking at my environment and began making some changes to my it including removing all toxic chemicals and cleaners from my home (except bleach as there are times when only bleach can whiten!). I started to educate myself about toxins in our environment and made a list of the things I wanted to do to make my home a wellness home (better air, water, food, light, etc).
When my son was about 4 I had my first “holistic” experience with a doctor. This first visit led to a series of changes for me related to diet, exercise, lifestyle, supplements and eventually even my livelihood today. One of the proactive steps I took was a series of what I felt were baseline tests, including food sensitivity and heavy metals offered by the holistic doctor.
When I received my heavy metals test results, I was shocked to find out that my lead reading was off the charts! I thought mercury may have measured high, a result of all that delicious Vancouver sushi consumption (it was elevated) but I would never have guessed lead. The question then became, how and where did I get this?
In my research, I discovered there could be a variety of culprits including: exposure to lead gasoline and paint as a child; lead is often found in silver jewelry (I used to wear a lot of silver from Mexico) and frying pans (I ditched my cast iron pan).
Around this same time I won a book from the Suzuki Foundation entitled “Not Just a Pretty Face” by Stacey Malkan who is involved with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group. This book opened my eyes to the world of nasty ingredients used in our personal care and beauty products. Here is a video of Stacey on ABC News discussing her book and the problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF9qazMRCjg.
I read one of Stacey’s blog posts and was appalled to read about the common problem of lead in lipstick. I found my likely culprit! I used to wear A LOT of YSL lipstick! Wow, I could not believe it! I was livid for a number of reasons. First that they had the gall to make these products (profit first thinking) and secondly that these companies produce these toxic products and then promote their involvement in women’s health causes such as breast cancer, etc. This is called “pinkwashing” and to me it is outrageous and unethical. Companies need to be congruent and have some integrity.
For me it raised the question, how many other women were in the same spot as me, poisoning themselves with toxic makeup, potentially lead containing, and not even know it? I fear it may be A LOT!
The frightening side of this also is that I did not have any major symptoms of lead poisoning other than the odd flare up of eczema (which I had mildly as a child). So why was it important I do something now to treat the lead poisoning? Well as I learned from my doctor, if I didn’t do something about the issue now it could lead to major health problems down the road including dementia and Alzheimer’s.
So my journey over the last several years has involved getting the lead out of my system through a natural chelating approach that involves the use of supplements (namely chlorella, homeopathics and EDTA), vitamin IV drips, lymphatic drainage, “sweating” and moving as much as I can meaning exercise, sauna, massage, a rebounder, etc.
The more the realization of the lead poisoning news sunk in, the more livid I became in relation to the notion that harmful ingredients in cosmetics may be responsible for this predicament. This notion turned into a quest to share and educate the public about these issues.
In 2012 I opened my holistic skin care practice, Derma Bright Clinic, in Vancouver. It is housed in what used to be my holistic doctor's offices. Talk about a full circle moment! Our mission is to provide holistic skin care and slimming services using “clean” products and services, and refer to holistic practitioners when it makes sense; I have 4+ other practitioners onsite with us now.
My message is really about knowing what you put in and on your body. A helpful tool for skin and beauty products is using the Skin Deep Database; here you can see how your current skin care products rate on a scale of 1-10 for toxicity in the database. Also, the David Suzuki Foundation has its Dirty Dozen Campaign which is designed to raise awareness of this issue.
Today I am the “Queen of Living Clean” and I am on a mission to educate the general public about toxic ingredients in our personal care products including cosmetics, skin care, hair and body products. I speak and write about this and work to get the awareness out there.
And we are happy to report that we have now launched our online store designed to promote clean skincare & beauty products as well as supplements and learning products; the site is www.myskinsalon.com!
My message is twofold: get tested for heavy metals and pay attention! Read your labels, know what it all means, make changes and support companies who are doing things “right” with values such as an ethical approach, transparency, sustainability and not just profit motivated. You have a choice and a voice – use them!
Estrellita Gonzalez is the owner of Derma Bright Clinic (www.dermabrightclinic.com) and My Skin Salon. She can be reached at 604.306.7718 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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