Part of the intention around my podcast is to share impactful and inspiring stories of people who have changed their lives and overcome obstacles.
For me, I was introduced to the idea of toxins by accident 5 years ago.
But for April Heywood, my latest guest on the Toxin Terminator podcast, her introduction to toxins was intentional, starting as a young adult. Her instinct and intuition around toxins was very clear right from the beginning and I’m grateful I could spend some time with her to share her stories, insights and tips.
April is a “Label Looker”
Are you a “label looker”? What I mean by that is, are you constantly looking at product labels and ingredients at the store?
You know who I’m talking about, right? Individuals who take up space in the grocery aisle while they’re squinting at the label on the back of a box of anti-histamines.
Well, April would describe herself as a one of these people!
As a teenager, she recalls reading the labels behind ibuprofen bottles and how she found the contents could possibly upset her stomach. She always had a strong awareness of what she was putting inside her body.
April would take the time to do things like read the back of, say, a box of tampons.
“Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about Toxic Shock Syndrome?”
It was clear to her that it was important to know what you are ingesting and taking into your body. Being in control of her own health was obvious to her and she really didn’t feel the need to follow the crowd.
But, she never considered the idea that there are things OUTSIDE of your body that can have negative side effects too, from skin creams to oil-based candles. It was a surprise to her when she realized this fact.
In our culture, when we think of health and wellness, we think of things like diet and exercise. But what the majority of people are not aware of is that the toxins in our environment have just as much of an impact on our bodies: laundry soap, Wi-Fi signals, scented plug-ins, dryer sheets etc. The list goes on and on!
The shift to toxin-free living
April became passionate about essential oils. She threw away all her synthetic fragrance products like plug-ins, candles and sprays because the fumes they create are toxic to your lungs. She uses oils in her home to create a nice scent and to enhance her health.
As she learned more and more about essential oils and their benefits, April was introduced to a new community of people who had knowledge and experience to share about other external toxins.
“I started learning about the water I’m drinking and the air I’m breathing and it opened up a whole new world.”
She learned about the amount of unnecessary chemicals used in many products we use daily and it really spurred her on to build a life around reducing the toxins in her home and her body.
If you could only change one thing?
Start with deodorant, says April.
It has one of the worst lists of toxic ingredients and it is being used in one of the most sensitive areas on our body!
Your armpits are designed to release toxins from the body, not absorb things like aluminum or parabens! The armpits are key to the detoxification process of the lymphatic system.
So, using good deodorant is important. Deodorant was also April’s first DIY (do it yourself) project.
What dangers lurk in your cabinets?
Try reading the ingredients on your cleaning supplies in your cabinet. You won’t be able to find one because the ingredient list isn’t available! (Watch this video where I go through some products in my cabinet.)
It’s also a myth that we need one cleaner for the toilet, one cleaner for the windows and another cleaner for the bathtub.
When you begin using natural cleaners, you will find that they are easy solutions made with simple ingredients that will clean your entire house! Imagine using one bottle to clean every room in your house.
Not only will this simplify your life, but these types of cleaners are safe for pets and children too. Many natural cleaners, if accidentally ingested, are still safe and not considered poisonous.
You absolutely can clean your home by only using ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. It is amazing when you experience the results.
The laundry room
It was a DIY laundry class that introduced April to the idea of clean laundry detergent. She couldn’t believe how easy and cheap it was to make your own detergent.
But after experimenting several times, she just gave in to the fact that the detergents she was making just didn’t clean her laundry all that well.
With some more research, more trial and error, she eventually found the best non-toxic detergent option. She discovered that without using enzymes, your laundry won’t get as clean. The enzymes help to break down the grease and grime in your clothes.
People are loyal to their dryer sheets. So, this can be a huge challenge for people to abandon their sheets, because we equate clean with smell!
This is yet another myth!
You don’t need a dryer sheet with a scent to make your clothes smell good. And by the way, dryer sheets are very toxic!
What people don’t know is that when you use fragranced laundry products, your dryer emits a larger range of volatile organic compounds, including hazardous air pollutants, than non-fragranced products! (See study here.)
If hazardous air pollutants are leaving your dryer vent, then you can be sure that pollutants are sitting in the closet and rubbing against your skin.
For the dryer, April prefers using wool dryer balls.
You can put essential oils on the dryer balls to give your clothes a scent like lavender or cedar. Or you can even dilute the oil in water in a spray bottle and spray the dryer balls directly. This will really give your clothes a lovely scent!
Hair and body products
Even hair products can create havoc in your body. It’s hard to believe but most hair and body products are filled with toxic ingredients you need to avoid. The regulation around cosmetic and personal-care products is sub-standard.
So, again, it’s really up to you, the consumer, to be aware and take control of the products you are using.
Because April has gorgeous curly hair, she got interested in the Curly Girl Method, which is a way of styling curly hair by cutting out silicones, parabens, and sulfates. She took the program one step further by making sure the products she was using was meeting her toxin-free standard.
Since April is a DIY girl, she decided to make her own hair gel using flax seed oil. It’s super moisturizing, strengthens hair, is incredibly cheap and easy to make.
Check out April’s Instagram page and look at the Curly Girl highlights where she demonstrates her recipe.
The product that has hidden toxins
Make-up was the biggest surprise to April as it relates to toxicity. It was truly an eye-opener!
The USA only bans 11 ingredients that are considered toxic in makeup. The European Union bans over 1300 chemicals. Can you even fathom this difference?
The make-up purchasing decisions you make in American stores are not safe for you. Period.
Luckily, there lots of natural, mineral based make-up options that feel cleaner, less sticky, less heavy and healthier for your skin.
Toxic-free lifestyle has noticeable benefits
April had some digestive issues. Bananas were the only thing that didn’t upset her stomach. And after many visits to her doctor, they weren’t able to figure out what the issue was.
On her own, she started making shakes with probiotics and peppermint oils. After only a few weeks, her smoothie brought her digestive system back into balance.
Another big benefit that April noticed was that she rarely gets sick anymore.
“It’s a testimony to the fact that I just don’t get sick enough to go to the doctor and I also know what I need to do to take care of myself. I know what kinds of things I need to do to support myself and I know what kinds of plants, vitamins and foods that I can feed myself to boost my immune system and to strengthen my body!”
April has truly embraced this way of living and has come to know what her body needs to keep it happy and healthy.
Take it slow and it’s never too late!
It can feel stressful when you begin this path down the toxic-free lifestyle road. There are so many concerns, so many options and so much research on this topic.
April stresses that it’s important to stay the course and not be intimidated!
“Every positive decision you make is a step in the right direction. And it’s never too late.”
It’s also really important to remember that it’s ok to take it slow. Enjoy the journey and the process of discovering new ideas on how to reduce the amount of toxins in your life, without dwelling on your past behaviors and habits.
Remember that our bodies are amazing self-healers and no matter when you start, your body will thank you for it. You are creating a powerful impact on your own life and those around you. You won’t regret the decision to live toxin-free!
Follow April’s journey on Instagram @April_Heywood where she continues to share her tips, suggestions and experiences about incorporating toxic-free living into her life. You can also find her on Youtube.
Watch a short trailer video for this episode below:
The Toxin Terminator