Detox Your Home: Ingredients to Avoid + Brands to Use

Detox Home Cleaning Brands

I’ve used non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products on and off, but having recently moved into my own place in London, I decided to go all-out and use ‘clean’ cleaning products across the board in an attempt to make my little home healthier.

An alarmingly high number of people don’t realise that cleaning products are ‘dirty’ and that we are ironically using poisons (no exaggeration here) to make our homes ‘healthier’.

Clean eating has caught on. Clean, natural skincare has caught on. Finally, ‘clean’ cleaning is becoming more mainstream too - and without you having to cover your bathroom in vinegar and baking soda to make it shine.

The Impact of Dirty Cleaning Products

Typically, natural and organic cleaning products have been promoted as alternatives that will save the environment. This is definitely the case - some cleaners have terrifying effects on the environment and animals within it. But, have you ever thought about the impact that they have on you, too?

The effects of different ingredients on your body (and the environment) vary from one to the other.

To give a brief overview, some ‘dirty’ ingredients can cause mild skin irritation, while others have been linked to antibiotic resistance concerns and hormone disruption.

Research by the US Environmental Protection Agency puts this into perspective:

“EPA studies have found that the concentration of organic pollutants is 2–5 times higher inside homes than outdoors in cities. Many of these organic pollutants can come from conventional cleaning products, spread in thin layers around the surfaces of the home.”

Method Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Dirty Ingredients to Avoid

There are a large number of ingredients that have a variety of proven or suspected links to health problems. Here are just a few that really stood out to me:

Triclosan

This ingredient is used in products such as toothpaste, hand wash and body wash. It has suspected links with antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption and, as it accumulates in the body, it can even be present in breast milk.

2-Butoxyethanol

This ingredient goes by many other names. It is used in many cleaning products (as a degreaser) and can also appear in liquid soaps and cosmetics. It is an irritant, harmful by inhalation and linked to organ toxicity.

Ethanolamine

Often abbreviated at ETA or MEA, this ingredient is typically found in laundry detergents, floor cleaners and other degreasers. It is an irritant, asthmagen (links to asthma risk) and may damage the respiratory tract.

Phthalates

Phthalates have been linked to abnormal development, low birth weight and asthma, and are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors. They are widely used in ‘fragrance’ in cleaning and cosmetic products.

Brands to Try

There are lots of traditional natural cleaning methods that involve using ingredients such as baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar as healthier cleaning products. However, I struggle to make time to experiment with messy concoctions like this, and would rather invest in something that will do the job conveniently.

Probably, you are in the same boat. So here are my favourite brands that avoid these harmful ingredients:

Method Cleaning Brand Detox

Method

I love the method brand. When I first saw their product packaging in the aisles of Waitrose, I was infatuated. Since then, I’ve spent hours learning about the brand on their super sleek website and have even got my hands on their book - the method method.

They also have a downloadable toolkit which outlines a little more about the brand’s healthy business practices as well as clear overviews of the ingredientss that they do and don’t use in their products.

I’m fully-converted.

Not only are they making clean cleaning possible, they’re doing it stylishly, always keeping product design in mind. They realise that products traditionally positioned as dull commodities doomed to a life under the sink are actually a really important part of a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Since I’ve been using these products, I’m no longer paranoid that I’ll die from neurotoxin exposure when cleaning the shower (slight exaggeration, but I actually do know of people who have been quite ill from this). Plus, they look so cool that your boyfriend will actually want to clean the kitchen. Need I say more?

My favourite method products are the air freshener* and multi-surface sprays. The scents are so fresh and crisp - especially french lavender and clementine.

Ecover Cleaning Products Brand Detox

Ecover

Ecover is the parent company of method. However, the companies differ in that, where method seek to make sustainability desirable, Ecover have a vision to make sustainable natural.

I’m a long-time user of their washing up liquid and I also love their laundry detergent gel. I assumed that the laundry detergent wouldn’t have a fragrance, but surprisingly my clothes fill the flat with a gorgeous smell when they’re drying!

I also really like that refills are available for this brand at stores such as Planet Organic and even my local greengrocers!

Method Clean Air Freshener

My Verdict

I hate using products knowing that they’re bad for me.

For as long as I can remember I have loathed aerosol sprays of any kind. For starters, did you know that some aerosol sprays use chemical propellants to diffuse the contents of the can? Sprays using air propellants are a better alternative.

I think people really just need to be educated on how toxic and damaging apparent ‘hygiene’ products can be, and know that there is a really appealing alternative available.

I’m buying eco-friendly (and me-friendly!) home products wherever possible. As well as giving me peace of mind, they’re so much more pleasant to use and to see around my house every day.

Were you aware of the dangers of cleaning products? What steps do you take to ensure a healthy home?

Perfect Legs Retreat at the Bulgari Spa

There are very few things that can get me out of bed at 5.30am, ready to brave London's commuting rush hour, but the opportunity to experience the new summer season retreat at the Bulgari Spa in Knightsbridge was an offer I couldn't refuse.

I arrived at the Bulgari Hotel and Residences around 9am where I was guided to The Spa, five storeys below the bustle of the city - a hidden sanctuary. Stepping out of the elevator was like stepping into another, serene universe.

After checking in at reception I was shown to the relaxation suite. Sometimes I get a little nervous about 'relaxing' and feel that I need to (somewhat counterproductively) plan relaxing activities - buy magazines, update my iPod, download some podcasts - but I could have happily stayed here all day doing nothing more than sipping on chilled coconut water and inhaling the heavenly aroma that fills the two-storey complex. Unfortunately, that would have meant I would have missed out on a 'Perfect Legs' treatment...

'Perfect Legs' is a 1, 2 or 3 day retreat at The Spa, where you can choose from 2 of 5 treatments each day, as well as enjoying the beautiful spa facilities. The taster treatment that I experienced included body brushing (which I've previously advocated here) and invigorating massage to detox and aid lymphatic drainage, helping to eliminate issues such as cellulite and fluid retention. I was really impressed with the treatment and the attention to detail throughout was second-to-none, from the luxurious detoxifying body oil that was selected, to the towels that were warmed for comfort.

Other impressively high-tech treatments available at the 'Perfect Legs' retreat include technologies such as Radio Frequency, Micro Needle Therapy, and Pure Flow, which uses the principles of counter-pulsation technology and compression to improve fluid movement in the body. I find the treatments so fascinating and am really impressed with The Spa's genuine focus on wellness.

Also worthy of mention is the beautiful pool complex, which features a 25m swimming pool and a gold-leaf tiled vitality pool. The Spa also has a steam room, sauna and ice showers, which I wish I'd have known about after spending a couple of hours in a  30°C poolside cabana. I know, I know... poor me...

For more information or to sign up for 'Perfect Legs' for summer, contact The Spa on +44 (0) 207 151 1055, or email london-spa@bulgarihotels.com, and be sure to let me know what you think!

Meet Celest of Cityogi - Prepare to be Inspired

At a lovely event in London with Birchbox and Lululemon, I met this beautiful lady, Celest Pereira. Celest is a wonderful yoga instructor and founder of Cityogi. After enjoying a lovely yoga session with her, we spoke for a long time about health, nutrition and wellbeing, and she totally inspired me. 

Celest is such a sweetheart and I feel blessed to have met her. So now I’d love for all of you to meet her too!

What is your ethos, Celest?

My ethos is always, do no harm. I’m vegetarian and I don’t wear leather and because of this everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I just love life. I love seeing animals, people, all living things thriving. I never ever want my actions to knowingly contribute to another’s suffering.

And what motivates and inspires you?

Wow, this is such a hard question because there are so many things. But if I had to say one thing, I’m really inspired by other people’s stories. When you really get to know people and they tell you about their lives you realise just how much each of us as individuals has had to go through to get to where we are now. That is why you can never judge another person, you just don’t know what they’ve been through. One of my favourite sayings is, “everyone does the best they can with the information they’ve got.” That saying has helped me in many instances not to get upset when other people do hurtful things. They very rarely mean it.

At the Birchbox & Lululemon event, you spoke about the battle you’ve had with your skin. Could you please briefly recap for TBE readers the issues you had and how you moved forward, taking control of them? 

From my teens and well into adulthood I had horrendous skin. I was really embarrassed and so went to seek help with GP’s, dermatologists, skin specialists, I went to them all. It cost me thousands. I had no results. The worst part was I developed IBS from all the medication doctors pumped into my body and in addition to this I had extreme tiredness. I would sleep eight to ten hours a night and to get through the afternoon I would sleep 2 hours after lunch everyday.

When I reached the depths of my depression and frustration a book was given to me, The pH Miracle by Dr. Robert O. Young. This book outlined that one of the first steps one should take to regain health is go for a live blood analysis. I decided to do this and I discovered there was an extreme overgrowth of yeast in my blood. Yeast I learnt, secretes waste into your blood stream and for some people your body eliminates it through the skin. The yeast lives off of sugars, and even releases a chemical that causes extreme sugar cravings. This shocked me because doctors for years had been telling me that diet has nothing to do with the health of one’s skin.

As soon as I knew this I went on a juice fast, cut out sugar and started eating an alkaline diet. My skin transformed! My IBS cleared up and my tiredness vanished.

During the chat, you stressed that people should take more control over their own health. How would you suggest people begin to educate themselves best?

My life made a 180 degree shift. Conventional medicine doesn’t have all the answers and that is why our health is in our own hands. It’s up to us each and every day to make sure we’re eating healthy food, drinking water and getting enough sleep. It’s this and not drugs that will make you healthy.

These are simple steps that anyone can do. The thing that stands in our way is our ourselves. The book that helped me really get over my own limitations was The Thought Gym by Hari Kalymnios. This book made me realise so much about myself and got me to take massive action. Without it I’m not sure I could have stuck out the direction given in the pH Miracle.

So, having struggled with your skin in the past, what skincare do you currently use to keep it looking so beautifully flawless?

I love Melvita for my face. But actually I make lots of my own products. Recently my friend and I decided it’ll be quite cool to share what we know, so we set up a YouTube channel that teaches others how to do the same thing.

What would you eat on an average day?

>> First thing in the morning I drink as much water as my tummy can handle. Sometimes I add lemon too. I then get ready to give my body a chance to process the water.

>> Breakfast is a veggie smoothie - again, everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I love it! I put whatever veggies I have in a blender with avocado, nuts, seeds and green powders. Green powders are a mixture of vegetables, grasses, spirulina etc. They’re super good for you and tend to give you a sustained energy boost for hours.

>> For lunch I usually grab something on the go. I like a warm lunch, so I pop into itsu, Leon or Pod. I usually get a veggie dish with rice. For snacks I grab hummus and rice cakes, fruit, nuts, seeds, salad, anything that will feed the cells of my body.

>> Dinner is a variety. I love cooking dishes from Mimi Ikonn’s cook book called Healthy and Delicious. But the pH Miracle also had some awesome recipes. I’m really lucky because my boyfriend is an awesome cook and he is super healthy. I work late most nights and whenever I get home he always has dinner ready for me. Thanks babe.

You mentioned how much you love your Vitamix – do you have a favourite recipe?

I love making home-made ice-cream. Frozen bananas and raw cacao powder! Boom! The most delicious thing on earth :)

What is your favourite healthy snack or quick and easy recipe?

When I’m really busy I boil quiona and steam veggies with lemon and olive oil. It’s so fast, tasty and healthy. It’s just the best thing to eat when I’m pushed for time.

Despite being super-healthy and avoiding sugar as much as possible (smart girl!), are there any naughty treats that you just can’t resist?

YES! hahaha, Booja Booja Truffles... Ah! They are incredible. I also really like Om Bar Chocolates. The new coco mylk flavour is to die for.

On your website you describe how it was when you were first travelling that you discovered your desire to make a difference by doing what you love. Where are your favourite places in the world, and why?

I think every place I’ve been to has something incredible to offer. But some of my best memories have been in Brazil. I love the joy in the people there. The way you can hear music and laughing around each street corner. The way people will go out of their way to help you and support you. And the scenery never fails to leave me spell bound.

I was lucky enough to enjoy an amazing yoga session with you at Lululemon, but for what reasons would you recommend that people take up yoga, and what is it that you enjoy so much about it?

What I love about yoga is that there is a style to suit everyone. There are so many variations of the art that if you look long enough you’re going to find one that speaks to you. This is the most essential thing about exercise, you have to find something you love or there is no way you’ll stick to it. In our modern lives we move so little and our bodies waste away.

Perhaps now while you’re young this is not an issue, but remember you will not be young forever. One day when you’re older if your body is weak the chances of you falling, hurting yourself and ending up in hospital are increased massively if you don’t move enough while you’re young.

When I worked as a physiotherapist in the community I had to rehabilitate a number of house bound elderly people and it broke my heart. That is why I am so passionate about getting people to use their bodies to their fullest capacity.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t teaching or working out? How do you like to unwind?

I love reading. Books are incredible, because what took someone else years to learn they compile in a book that you can read in a few days or weeks and then all that knowledge is yours. It’s a short cut to awesomeness.

If you'd like to catch a yoga class with Celest, take a look at her timetable, here.

Celest is also running a detox retreat this year. She is bringing in an NLP specialist, nutritionist, massage therapist and will be teaching yoga. The idea is to create a platform for lasting transformation so that after the retreat you will have the tools and the motivation to move forward with a healthy lifestyle and stick to it. It’s happening in Turkey 29th Sept - 6th October 2014. Get more information, here.

Celest is also this month’s Birchbox crush, so don’t forget to head over to the brilliant Birchbox blog to find out more! Spoiler alert (I couldn’t resist sharing this little gem!): When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, Celest’s response was “The more people you help succeed, the faster you will succeed”. So inspiring!

Time For A Digital Detox

I, like many, am sometimes guilty of describing my life rather than just living it and fully engaging with experiences. Yes, my iPhone is rarely out of my reach, I photograph my food, I have been known to scroll through my super-important (irony) Twitter feed during a conversation and I mindlessly unlock my smartphone every five minutes just to check err.... absolutely nothing.

I have had some problems with stress the past few months and I know that digital-addiction definitely plays a part in it. I just never seem to switch off! I am a do-er and like to 'get things done' so when I don't feel super-busy for 5 minutes, I seem to mistake this sensation (calmness? silence?) for boredom. Most people would forgive me for reaching for my phone ten times during Keeping Up With The Kardashians (yawn...) but it's sad that even when I go for a relaxing walk, I can't resist the temptation of extra brain-stimulation. Last month, I even found myself not only reading work emails on a short family holiday, but replying 100% of the time because it was 'urgent'. Stress aside, I even notice a massive different in my eyesight when I spent more time staring at screens. It is just so unhealthy.

I do however pride myself with being pretty self-aware and I am pleased that I can try to get into better habits. I know that my digi-issues aren't that bad compared to some, for example I am often nagged by my girlfriends for not uploading photos to Facebook soon enough (read: ever), but even so, I have been trying really hard to minimise the amount of time that I spend senselessly scrolling. Last week, I had twenty minutes spare before I had to leave the house one day and there were other times that I was begging family to tell me 'what am I usually doing right now?' because I could have sworn I was forgetting something with all this time I had spare. All I had done was make a list of things to do and stick to them

without distraction

. If I finished what I was working on, I would go and make myself a drink or have a stretch rather than open 8 different social media tabs in Safari.

So, here's what I'm going to do about it:

+ No social media after 9pm

Hopefully this will help my brain wind-down ready for sleep and avoid the time-wasting that causes late nights.

+ No morning media

I have a nasty, nasty habit of checking my emails, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before I even get out of bed in the morning. I rarely wake up feeling alert so I tend to think that concentrating on something will help my brain start to function but in reality, it's just a time waster. What do you do to help you get up and going in the AM?

+ Always leave my phone in the locker at the gym

I tend to do this anyway and intend to carry on.

+ Turn my phone off at university

I would often get distracted by buzzing in lectures and seminars last year so when I return to uni at the end of September, my phone will always be untouched during important study time.

+ Be mindful

When I reach for my phone when it hasn't beeped and isn't ringing, I am determined to interrupt the thought and stop myself.

+ Keep adding to a memory jar

At the beginning of the year, I started to fill a jar with little memories which I will then open at the end of the year. Next time you're tempted to Facebrag (verb: updating your Facebook status to 'brag' about what awesome things you're doing), grab a pen and paper and preserve the memory in your jar instead, it's much more rewarding!

There's a great article, 'Are you a slave to your smartphone?', in Zest Magazine this month which documents Catherine Gray ditching her mobile phone for a week and is definitely worth reading. Do you think you could do it?

Detox Body Brushing

I have purchased a Botanics Detox Brush after lusting after one for quite some time. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I was so keen to own a body brush or what originally drew my attention to them but I have certainly heard some great things about body brushing which I will endeavor to outline for you here.

This brush is really lovely. It looks very simple and clean. It is very comfortable to hold and the natural bristles are neither too stiff and scratchy, nor too delicate.

Body brushes seem to range massively in price. This Botanics one costs £6.00 but depending on the size, whether they have a strap or a handle and, of course, the brand, the prices can vary massively.

As I mentioned, this brush is marketed as a Detox Brush. The word 'detox' has itself become a marketing buzz word in our society where we are forever interested in the latest fad diets, fitness crazes, cutting-edge cosmetics and ground-breaking ingredients.

There are many different ways to help your body to detox, from cutting out alcohol, to changing what you eat. Several of our internal organs are responsible for keeping our bodies cleansed, from our liver and kidneys to our lymphatic system. Lymph is a fluid in our bodies containing white blood cells and is essential for a healthy immune system. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn't have a pump to keep it moving. Instead, it's movement is dependent on OUR movement. Lymph is stimulated by the movement of our muscles and joints (which is why exercise is a great aid to the detoxification process), deep breathing (hence why holistic practises such as yoga are also good) and, you guessed it, body brushing. When you dry brush, so long as you do it correctly, the light pressure physically helps to aid the movement of lymph.

Using a body brush each morning can help to improve the efficiency of your lymphatic system, not to mention your circulation. It's also great for gently exfoliating your skin. You should brush towards your heart, generally in an upwards motion, and repeat each stroke around 7 times.

+ Start from your feet, remembering the soles, and sweep upwards to your ankles.

+ Brush your calves and thighs, concentrating on the backs of your knees and inner thighs where lymph nodes are prominent.

+ Repeat the process of upwards brushing on your arms, not forgetting the palms of your hands.

+ When you reach your shoulders, change from long strokes to circular movements, still moving towards the heart. Continue this motion across your chest, tummy and sides.

+ If you want to brush your back also, you may need to get someone to help or select a brush with a longer handle.

+ When you reach your neck, brush in downward strokes.

You can concentrate more on your thighs and buttocks if you wish as it has been suggested that this may help improve cellulite.

Remember to keep your brush clean but never use it when wet, or on damp skin. It is a good idea to have a warm bath or shower after body brushing.

I'm really glad that I spent the time to learn and understand why dry brushing is so good for your body. I knew beforehand that you should brush in upwards motions but I never understood why!

I personally really like body brushing. I find that it makes my skin smooth and it is quite invigorating.

If you are interested in any more information on detoxing, I found this website, 

How To Detox

,

to be  informative.

Are you more likely to try body brushing after understanding why it's so beneficial? Have you tried it before? Let me know what you think!