Do you have cleansers, creams, lotions, serums, sprays, perfumes, deodorants, and cosmetics packed in your bathroom drawers and cabinets? If so, you’re not alone. A 2004 Environmental Working Group (EWG) survey found that the average adult uses nine personal care products, containing 126 unique chemical ingredients, each day.
These products are expensive. More alarmingly, according to the EWG, many of them contain toxic substances like mercury, lead, pthalates, parabens, and petroleum byproducts.
But the best reason to ditch them? The vast majority are completely unnecessary.
That might sound crazy. Millions of advertising dollars are spent convincing us we need an arsenal of products to maintain proper hygiene and make us look younger and more attractive.
However, in the last five years, I’ve pared down and sought out pure, natural alternatives. And I’ve been shocked to discover that in almost every case, the simple non-toxic replacements work better. And trust me, you don’t have to be a chemist to make these.
Here are some easy substitutions to try if you’d like to simplify your personal care:
- Instead of under-arm deodorant
Try brushing on:
1/2 cup baking soda mixed with 1/2 cup corn starch
Or for a product closer to what you buy in the store, mix the baking soda, corn starch mixture with coconut oil and a few drops of essential oil, and put it in a recycled deodorant dispenser. (Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees. So in the summer, you’ll want to keep it in the refrigerator.)
- Instead of mouthwash
Try gargling with hydrogen peroxide. (Bonus: it whitens your teeth.)
Or a salt water solution.
Or a mint herbal infusion. (Steep 1 oz. dried herb in 4 cups boiling water. Refrigerate. Lasts several days.)
- Instead of shampoo and conditioner
Try using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. This combination works much better than the most expensive natural shampoos and conditioners I used to buy. I wrote about it here.
- Instead of dandruff shampoo
Try an infusion or decoction of aloe, burdock, cloves, lemongrass, nettle leaf and root, peppermint, rosemary, or willow.
(You can read more about natural herbal hair rinses in this Herb Companion article. It includes more herbs to try for dandruff, as well as herbs for dry scalp and oily scalp issues, and a how-to for making infusions, decoctions, and vinegar extracts.)
- Instead of hair dye
Or to darken hair, try a sage infusion.
Or to lighten hair, try a chamomile or calendula infusion.
(You can read more about natural hair dyes in this Mother Earth News article.)
- Instead of lotion
Try olive, almond, or coconut oil.
(Tip: It’s usually cheaper to buy oils in the food section of the grocery store than in the health and beauty section.)
- Instead of facial moisturizer
Try jojoba oil.
Or aloe vera.
- Instead of facial cleanser
Try castile soap.
Or a mixture of castor oil and jojoba or olive oil. You can find information about the oil cleansing method here.
Or Rosemary Gladstar’s “miracle grains”:
- 1 Cup finely ground Oats
- 2 Cups White Clay
- 1/4 Cup finely ground Almonds
- 1/8 Cup finely ground Lavender
- 1/8 Cup finely ground Roses
I haven’t sworn off all store-bought personal care products. But when I buy them, I look for a short list of ingredients that I’m familiar with. For example, the Badger Nutmeg and Shea body moisturizer my friend gave me for my birthday contains Organic Shea butter, Beeswax, Castor oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Nutmeg, Seabuckthorn berry, Rosehip, and Rosemary. Those are the kinds of ingredients I look for.
Do you have a favorite personal-care recipe? Have you discovered a simple, non-toxic alternative that works?