A few years ago I decided that my skin no longer liked the mass market personal care products I had been buying for years. I was in my mid-20s but still had the occasional zit and dry skin, among other issues. Also at that time various media outlets were beginning to expose the manufacturers’ evil plans to con unsuspecting consumers into buying products we thought were really good for us, but actually had some weird ingredients in them. Over the years I’ve tried quite a few brands, and here’s what I can recommend to you:
- Dr. Bronner’s – for all your skin care needs! Ignore the weird messages on the bottle if they make you uncomfortable and focus on the way the soap smells and lathers (without using sulfates!) I use their bar soaps in the shower, and lotion for after shower. The lavender and almond are my favorites. I can also vouch for the lip and body balms, as I keep one of those in my purse, nightstand, bathroom drawer, etc. We use the liquid citrus orange to bathe the family dog, then the citrus conditioning hair rinse as her “conditioner”. Citrus is a natural flea repellant, and I’ve noticed that the soaps don’t dry out her skin the way pet-store products will.
- Tom’s of Maine – I use their deodorant almost exclusively. There isn’t any aluminum in it, like you’d find in most other brands at the drugstore.
- Kiss My Face – I love KMF products! They make just about everything you need including sunblock and personal care products for kids. The only problem is they can be hard to find in stores, so buy on their website or online drugstores like vitacost.com or drugstore.com. KMF also makes an attempt to use recycled plastic and paperboard and less packaging, in general, which makes your inner hippie happy!
- Seventh Generation – This company’s name comes from their motto, “Caring today for seven generations of tomorrows“, and you’ll find that they strive to make products that are not only good for the environment, but good for the body. At home we use their dishwashing liquid and dishwasher powder, laundry detergent (mmm, real lavender!) and bathroom surface cleaners. A lot of people think natural cleaning products don’t work as well as the ones with chemicals in them, but they really do. Give them a try and I bet you won’t notice a difference, except for the amount of sneezing you do while cleaning! Seventh Generation is also famous for their Chlorine-free diapers and feminine care products.
- Burt’s Bees – This is another essential brand for those with little ones. For myself, I love their lotions and lip balms.
- Organix – okay, okay… this is kinda my cheat. I really like the way their shampoo and conditioner smells, especially the Coconut Milk and the Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Actually, the fragrance is one of the major reasons EWG’s Skin Deep database rates these products a moderate hazard. I use the Coconut Milk line of products, plus the Brazilian Keratin Therapy shampoo and conditioner on evenings after I’ve put curl into my normally straight hair. I figure it could be worse…
- Physician’s Formula – these products boast 100% natural origin, with no parabens. I love their mascara, and currently use the lash boosting version. I’ve also tried the basic version, and it was great, too. The tinted moisturizer was a bit heavy for me, but other than that worked well. I haven’t tried their new CC cream or mascara, but probably will once I can find it at a local retailer. If you’re in the FoodBabe Army, you’ll be pleased to know that Physician’s Formula mascara is also one of her picks.
- Olive oil (EVOO) and coconut oil – keep one container of each in your pantry for cooking and one in the bathroom. These make great makeup removers and body moisturizers. I use the olive oil + a bit of lavender oil in the winter, and the coconut oil in the summer since it’s lighter and makes tan skin look amazing.
To make the switch easier, do it progressively. Maybe you can pick one product at a time to change. Some will be easier to change than others; for some reason my hair products were the hardest for me to give up. After several years of trying I still haven’t been able to convince my husband to stop using his same old deodorant and body wash! In my opinion, if it really pains you to give up one thing you should not beat yourself up over it. If possible, compromise to a healthier product and then don’t beat yourself up over it. The goal for me was to eliminate as many environmental toxins as possible. In our modern world there is no way you are going to rid yourself of all toxins, since some of the worst are in our environment (VOCs, PCBs, and radioactivity). You do have a choice on what personal care products you buy, so make the choice to steer clear of the ones with phthalates and parabens. And remember, you vote with your dollars, so buying healthier products means more of those will be produced for us to use!
When making your choices, be sure to check the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Safety Database, Skin Deep. They rate products based on their ingredients. The more research the do on this subject the less you’ll have to reference the database before buying, and eventually you’ll be able to flip the bottle over to the ingredients label and know whether its OK or not.
The major things you should steer clear of are: parabens and formaldehyde, sulfate-based detergents, propylene glycol/polyethylene glycol, synthetic dyes (anything with FD&C preceding it) and “fragrances“.