I have not given much time to toiletry and beauty products so far in the blog which seems strange as this is one of the easiest ways that you can reduce your exposure to synthetic chemicals. It is also one of the first areas that I tried to tackle but due to the complexities of trying to decipher all of the chemical names it is also one that I am still trying to get to grips with. I have already shared the first changes that I made in my posts on switching to natural deodorant and using coconut oil as a beauty product but there are a huge array of other products which we routinely use for our skincare, bathing and make-up and I wanted to share some of the simple philosophies which I now follow when choosing my products.
Switching to a Natural Beauty Regime
When I first started to look into this it was the campaign run by Breast Cancer UK which caught my eye. Ditch the Junk is easy to understand and identifies which synthetic chemicals to avoid to reduce the chemical load on our bodies and the associated risk of cancer. The key chemicals picked out within their guide are parabens, phthalates, triclosan, synthetic musks and formaldehyde and their guide has now led to me looking out for labels such as this when I am choosing a new shampoo or skincare product.
Don’t get me wrong, these products still have a list of undecipherable chemicals but a lot more of them are natural and they exclude the ones which have been associated with health risks. Most of the main supermarkets or pharmacists will stock at least one brand which contains majority natural ingredients but you usually find them tucked away at the end of a shelf so it takes a bit more looking.
Simple Product Swaps
Due to a lack of time I have concentrated on simple product swaps for the time being although ultimately I want to explore making my own products using natural ingredients as this seems to be the surest and cheapest way of knowing what you are putting on your body. At the moment the reality of this seems a little way off, especially with the summer approaching and the call of the outdoors.
One of the things that frustrates me the most is that buying more responsibly and making choices which are better for your health seems to come with a higher price tag unless you have lots of time to shop around or make your own products. This seems to be the wrong way around to me and I hope that it will start to change in the future. However, that being said, I don’t actually think it is costing me more to switch to more natural products.
In the main part this is due to a change in the way I am using my products since I have been spending more on them. This is probably best illustrated through my use of shampoo which I have always bought fairly cheaply, not worrying about how much I used as it was cheap enough to buy another bottle. This rapidly changed once a bottle of shampoo started to cost over £7. I found that I subconsciously started to use smaller amounts and as a result I think that my shampoo now lasts me three times as long, actually making it cheaper. Obviously, this wont be the case for you if you already use your shampoo sparingly.
One thing I would say is don’t be too hasty to get rid of your current products until you have explored the ingredients list and the Company’s credentials. I had been buying Aveda styling products as they seem to ‘tame’ my unruly hair. I made the mistake of automatically assuming that these would have to go but after talking to my hairdresser I realised that Aveda use mostly natural ingredients. On top of that all Aveda products are formulated without parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulphate – Result!
The switching of my products to natural alternatives has also become entwined with the plastics agenda for me and I have started exploring solid bar beauty products made from natural ingredients. I have already switched to solid bar deodorant, facial serum and shampoo, all of which I love. The only one that didn’t work for me was the solid bar conditioner but I think that may be more about my hair type then the conditioner itself.
So, What Do I Use?
Whenever I write a post like this I always get asked which products I use. This is difficult to answer as I am still not settled into a completely new routine yet and I am still exploring which natural alternatives work as well as my former products. However, I have shared the brands which I currently use, most of which I am happy with and the only ones which are likely to change in the near future are the shower gel and conditioner.
- Deodorant: Aromaco solid bar deodorant from Lush;
- Cleanser: Organic Coconut Oil from the local supermarket;
- Facial Serum: Full of Grace solid bar from Lush;
- Toner and Moisturiser: Beyond Organic Skincare;
- Shampoo and Conditioner: I keep switching but currently a solid bar shampoo from Lush and conditioner from Kind Natured;
- Deep Conditioner: Organic Coconut Oil;
- Hair Styling Products: Aveda range;
- Shower Gel: Currently Original Source but I need to explore this further;
- Body Moisturiser: Organic Coconut Oil from the local supermarket.
Other then making my own, the next thing I plan to do is put the onus back on the manufacturers. Take Original Source shower gel for instance. I know that it is made with 100% natural scent and that none of the ingredients are tested on animals but what proportion of the other ingredients are natural and of those, which are synthetic chemicals and are any of them harmful to my health? I don’t know the answers but I plan to write to Original Source and ask them. My reasoning for doing this is that I don’t want to switch to alternative products if I don’t need to and rather than spending hours trying to decipher the ingredients why not just ask the people trying to sell me their product…
I’ll let you know how it goes!
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