On March 27, 2012 I checked Amazon’s inventory which included:
- 12,766 body cleansers
- 33,953 shampoos
- 50,111 lotions
- 6,595 toothpastes
- 1,964 sleep aids
- 25,330 perfumes
After diapers, the top selling personal care product (consumable) was whitestrips for whiter teeth.
Body care in the US has gotten pretty complicated. In 1880 there were only 67 Perfume and toiletry goods. By 1900 that jumped to over 262 . Most recently, the Cosmetics Ingredient Review Expert Panel has evaluated 2,650 ingredients to date, that is just ingredients, not products!
Taking care of our bodies doesn’t have to be this complicated, in fact, all these products are just adding more chemicals to our environment. Every time we purchase products we are casting a vote for growth in the personal care industry. Where are you putting your money? You can make this as simple or as complicated as you’d like: (lotion for your face, body, hands,feet,eyes, sensitive skin, pregnant women, babies, etc). There are plenty of options if you’re looking for hope in a bottle.
We don’t spend a lot on personal care items in our home and we keep it pretty simple. I’m glad I don’t have to think much about what fragrance body wash or lotion to buy. When you just cover the basics in body care, you don’t need a lot, it really just comes down to hair, teeth and skin.
For those who just want to stay clean here are 6 essentials for pure body care. And of course, organic is always best. These have no artificial preservatives or a long list of ingredients that you have to research or be a chemist to understand. You’ll most likely find that looking and feeling healthier is a nice side effect of simplifying your daily routine. These essentials are perfect for everyone, babies to adults and takes the fuss out of deciding what products to buy for every age.
1. A simple soap – I like a bar soap because it lasts longer and it is less likely to contain odd ingredients to thicken, color and emulsify the mixture. I try to choose artisan soaps for a couple of reasons. The first is most store bought soaps are just detergents, chemical mixtures to suds and foam, not unlike cleaners for clothes and dishes. Most artisan soaps are made with pure oils that nourish your skin. Other reasons I like to buy Artisan soaps is they can often be bought locally and they are beautiful. When you buy local you can ask artisans about the ingredients they use. I love anything that is Pure and comes from REAL plants and herbs (I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now) When I buy soap I want to choose products that are earth friendly and good for my skin.
2. Body oil – I only use sesame oil or an Ayurvedic oil blend from Banyon Botanicals. I’ve made my own lotion but didn’t want to worry about shelf life and storing it in my fridge, and who wants to put cold lotion on? I put my body oil on before I shower (yes, before). Water and soaps strip away moisture from your skin, when you apply the oil (sparingly, not that you are all greased up) before a shower, you protect the skin from drying out before it happens. Just don’t scrub your skin with soap or you’ll wash away all the moisture. For warmer weather, I just use aloe vera, the next ingredient in our pure bathroom.
3. Aloe Vera – this is not to be confused with the gloppy clear gel sold in pharmacy stores for sunburn. These clear gels often have additives, fragrance and even coloring (you’ve probably seen them in varieties of orange or green which is not natural) Read the labels! The only aloe vera I use is from Aubrey Organics, it contains aloe vera and vitamin E to preserve it. I could use Aloe Vera juice, but I don’t like to put cold things on my body ( unless it’s 90 degrees outside) And while I use many ingredients for body care from the kitchen (like my sesame or olive oil) I’ve tried the Aloe Vera juice on my skin and it just didn’t feel right (maybe it’s psychological as I remember what happens to spilled juices as they dry and get sticky). I’ve also found Aubrey’s brand to really fit with my needs. I use it as a toner after washing, for sunburn and for itchy skin. It’s really soothing after shaving my legs and cools the skin in hot weather. Aubrey Organics is one company I have found that takes care in preparing and selecting ingredients for their line. Combine aloe vera with lavender oil and the anti-inflammatory effect to any skin (even babies) is magical.
4. Baking Soda – makes a gentle scrub for the skin, It makes a super fine polish for glowing skin when you massage it into wet skin. It makes a soothing soak for the bath tub (awesome cleanser for the tub too, no bleach!) and you can even clean your hair with it. I first read about trading out shampoo for baking soda from Good Girl Gone Green. I have not made this a regular habit, but I do use this method once a week and find it really takes any shampoo residue off my hair and gives a lift to my locks. If it works well for you, it can be a significant cost savings. Just keep in mind that if you color your hair, the no-shampoo method with baking soda may strip your color.
You can brighten finger and toenails with a blend of baking soda and fresh lemon juice, simply dampen fingernails and scrub the surface of your nails with an old toothbrush dipped in the mixture. You can also brush your teeth with baking soda. It’s a bit salty, but I find I really don’t like using traditional toothpastes anymore and the mouthful of suds they generate, it reminds me of the “scrubbing bubbles” in a bathroom cleaner for soap scum (ew!)
I’ve even made my own toothpaste which I like. My kids liked tangerine oil in theirs, I opted for peppermint oil. Baking soda is a must have for any pure bathroom, the uses are endless.
- 2 T Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
- 1 T Vegetable Glycerin (make sure you don't use glycerin from the drug store which is made from chemicals. Natural glycerin comes from plants and is considered a "food" product.
- 2-4 drops Essential Oils safe as Dietary Supplements: Peppermint, Spearmint, Clove, Tangerine, or Orange all support natural dental hygiene.
- Mix all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid. Keep a small plastic spatula with it so you can scoop out single servings and keep your polish fresh.
5. Salt – Salt is naturally anti-bacterial so it makes a great addition to a DIY body scrub or toothpaste. It polishes the skin and purifies it at the same time. Toss a handful of coarse sea salt in the tub if you have sore muscles or need to rejuvenate from colds or flu. This tub soak is really therapeutic and will help to gently detoxify your body. If you really want to be restored, add 3-5 drops of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil and use Epsom salts (which aren’t really salts, but I included them here because most people think of them as “salt”) I use Ancient Minerals, which is the most natural form of Epsom salts, most grocery store brands are just manufactured chemicals. The Ancient Minerals brand is high in magnesium and is very soothing to the skin. My youngest had eczema as a baby and soaking in the mineral bath really alleviated the dryness and itching. You’ll get the most benefit staying in this bath 20-30 minutes, followed by a cool shower. You can enhance the effects when you dry brush the skin before soaking and oiling up your skin after.
6. Castille Soap – Liquid soaps are some of the most toxic body products, anti-bacterial soaps contain ingredients like Triclosan and hormone disrupting fragrance. Dr. Bronners is a brand I found that is purest. I use the Baby Mild Soap for everything: body wash, shampoo for the kids, hand soap and general household cleaning. It’s really versatile and I don’t have a cache of body wash for everyone. I don’t use the versions with essential oils in them because I can add my own and make my own scent. This simplifies my routine too because I usually buy the biggest bottle and replenish around the house as I need: one bottle, many uses.
You’re probably thinking that shampoo and deodorant would be good additions, and for most people, they are. If you use a deodorant, there are many safe alternatives, make sure you use one that does not contain aluminum. I scheduled my first traditional mammography appointment last summer (which I later changed to Thermography) and was surprised to be given directions to avoid deodorant or anti-antiperspirant 3 days before my exam. This is because the aluminum particles are absorbed into the lymph glands and can appear as “landmarks” on your imaging. I use a natural deodorant that has 10 different essential oils in it. I get compliments on it all the time, especially after I teach a yoga class. Students have asked me what oil blend I used in the class and that it smells like a spa – it’s just my sweat, nice benefit from a healthy deodorant.
Before you wash your hair again, watch for an upcoming article on choosing pure shampoo.
Simple Baby & Child Care
Babies are big business, and loving parents want only the best for their newborn bundles of joy. While I don’t want to push my agenda onto anyone, I like to give you information and let your conscience and current circumstances help you make the best decisions in your home at any given moment. I do have one bit of advice to new parents, skip the traditional baby care products and start saving that money for college or some other future investment for your baby.
I’ve used this simple kid care routine for over 15 years and it works nicely for newborn babies up to teenagers. Growing bodies and changing skin requires a bit more strategy (including deeper cleansing and healthy diet for teens, which deserves it’s own post). All I use for the little ones is Castille soap for body and hair, olive oil to moisturize and lavender for any skin issues. None of my kids rarely had diaper rash except a couple of them I was nursing, after I ate spaghetti sauce. Poor things got a burn on their bottom which was remedied pretty quickly with some lavender water I applied every hour, keeping them in dry organic cloth diapers in between (I waited to moisturize with the olive oil until I was sure the skin was healed which was only a couple of hours). Another point to consider, the only time (besides the spaghetti sauce episodes) their bottoms got sore was when traditional baby wipes were used.
Diaper care can be so simple! I always used soft, organic flannel squares with warm water for when they were tiny, small washcloths with plain water as they got bigger. If you want to
DIY wipes, skip all the crazy ingredients. All you need is a high quality lavender essential oil and water. Mix 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil in a cup of 8 oz. of warm water. Mix vigorously and pour quickly over a stack of flannel cloths or thick paper towels (I realize this isn’t the most “green” option, but it is much better than any disposable chemical wipes you’d buy) Store them in an air tight container or even a eco-friendly zippered pouch. Lavender is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial so you don’t need to add any soaps or preservatives. Keep it simple! These homemade wipes are wonderful for kids of any age, grown ups too. They make very nice hand and face wipes when you are out around town and can be used to clean soft toys and surfaces that can’t go into the washing machine.
Quality is Essential Make sure you use a Therapeutic food grade lavender which is the purest grade. There is no regulations in the essential oils industry so a company could fill a bottle labeled 100% essential oil with 5% lavender and 95% synthetic fragrance. True lavender will sooth a 1st or 2nd degree within 5 minutes if applied right away, yes heal. I just used this yesterday when my 12 year old burned the inside of her wrist on steam from a tea kettle – the pain and redness was gone 5 minutes after we applied some cool water, then 2 drops of lavender oil – this is a must for any kitchen!). If you put a synthetic lavender on a burn it can actually make it worse. Only time and experience will tell the purity of an oil . If you purchase ready made bath products for your family, make sure you check www.EWG.org/skindeep first to find the safest products.
Oh, and BTW, the FDA has not evaluated my statements and I cannot make any claims to healing or treating and disease or illness. I’m just sharing with you what has worked for me 🙂
There you have it! 6 simple essentials for your Pure Bathroom. What are you using? Do you already use these?
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