Your skin absorbs everything you put on it. Chemicals and synthetic compounds in your conventional body-wash and shampoo are absorbed into your body, and the chemicals that aren't absorbed run down the drain and out to our rivers and streams, where they accumulate over time and pollute the water.
The solution? Buy better alternatives, or make them yourself!
A few years ago, I decided to give my beauty routine an all-natural make-over. Throughout this journey I've learned that making your own cosmetics is cheaper and prevents unnecessary packaging/plastic, and I've also learned that simple, natural products can work better than their conventional counterparts--if you find the right products. I can't tell you how many natural toothpastes, deodorants, lotions, and shampoos I've tried! But I've narrowed it down to the best of the best. Now, everything I use is either homemade or a carefully curated all-natural product, and I've never been happier with my beauty routine!
In the past I've used Mychelle Clear Skin Cranberry Cleanser, and I've just started using Nourish Organic Moisturizing Face Cleanser. Mychelle is certainly more expensive, but it works well and they're a reputable company. Nourish is a new discovery for me, but I'm already hooked since their products have perfect, natural ingredients for a slightly lower price than other natural skincare lines like Mychelle and Dr. Haushcka.
Another new discovery is this Aloe Vera and Calendula Soap Bar, which also has soothing, natural ingredients. And, as a bonus, it's plastic-free! I'll probably try it out sometime in the near future.
Tea tree oil works wonders on acne. Just use a q-tip to apply a small dab of tea tree oil straight to your blemish. Be careful, though; tea tree oil is strong stuff, and too much of it could potentially irritate your skin.
A gentler alternative is this Aura Cacia Tea Tree Stick which is diluted with jojoba oil. Likewise, you could try this Desert Essence Facial Blemish Stick with tea tree oil, witch hazel, calendula, lavender, chamomile, wintergreen, and a ton of other blemish-fighting, skin-calming herbs. I've tried both, and the latter is stronger. It's based in alcohol rather than jojoba oil, so it's also more drying than the Aura Cacia stick. If your skin is extra sensitive, I'd go with Aura Cacia, but the Desert Essence stick seems to work slightly better. Both come in glass roll-on bottles--hooray for minimal plastic!
I make my own toner out of witch hazel and calendula, based on a recipe that my naturopath gave me. It's easy to make and will feel so good on your skin! The witch hazel helps balance oiliness, while the calendula soothes redness and reduces inflammation.
Fill a 2 oz glass spray bottle with witch hazel. Add 8 dropperfuls of calendula succus extract and shake well. Spray on your face after cleansing but before lotion!
At night, I use Trader Joe's organic argan oil. I use 5 drops on my t-zone (forehead, cheeks, nose, chin) and 5 drops on my cheeks. It's beautifully moisturizing (and comes in a glass container!) but it does leave me a little shiny when I first apply it. That's why, in the morning, I use an all-natural lotion. I've used the Mychelle Grapefruit Lotion in the past, and I've also used Dr. Haushcka's Quince Day Cream. I'm going to try using Nourish's Organic Lightweight Moisturizer soon; just like the Nourish face wash, it has perfect ingredients, and I'm hoping it'll leave me less shiny than the straight argan oil.
Sometimes I get a bare spot in my eyebrow; I apply castor oil with a q-tip and it helps the hair grow back faster!
Cleanser and Hand Soap:
I use plain old bar soap! It's plastic-free, inexpensive, and all natural. It's easy to find hand-made, locally produced brands as well. My favorite is Molly Muriel. I keep one bar by the sink as hand soap, and one bar in the shower as body soap.
I use jojoba oil as a body moisturizer. At the end of my shower, I apply it and then rinse off the excess so it doesn't get on my clothes. My skin is softer than it's ever been! I buy jojoba oil in bulk and then refill a glass pump-bottle that I keep in the shower. Less expensive alternatives to jojoba oil include sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil. You can also use coconut oil, but it is a bit messier since it's solid at room temperature.
Did you know that the moisturizing part of lotions is usually oils, anyway? So why not just cut out the fluff and go straight to the source? Oils are the simplest, most effective, and most natural moisturizers out there. I use jojoba oil because it's closest in composition to our skin's own sebum (AKA oil) and so it works especially well to keep our skin from getting dry.
There is no better deodorant out there--natural or chemical--than Piper Wai! It keeps you smelling fresh all day, it doesn't leave stains on your clothes, and it has pristine ingredients. The secret is activated charcoal. I've tried a lot of natural deodorants (maybe all of them...) and nothing even comes close to Piper Wai. Plus it comes in a glass jar! Bonus!
I make my own shampoo out of Dr. Bronner's castile soap and water. Just fill half a 4 oz glass jar with liquid castile soap, and then fill the other half with water. Shake it up before each use. It's thinner than traditional shampoo but lathers up and works just as well.
I use apple cider vinegar as conditioner! Just add 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to a 4 oz glass jar, and fill the rest with water. Shake before each use. Like the shampoo, it's thin and watery, but it works well even on my thick, curly hair! It helps me comb out tangles, and it leaves my hair just as moisturized as a conventional conditioner does.
Some people use oils as leave-in conditioner. I haven't tried this yet, but I plan to in the future. For now, I've been using Dr. Bronner's Lavender and Coconut Hair Styling Creme. It's nice and moisturizing and has great ingredients!
Of all toothpastes I've ever tried, Uncle Harry's is the best! My mouth has never felt cleaner and fresher. It's a clay-based toothpaste that you dip your toothbrush into, and it's full of bacteria-killing herbs like oregano, clove, and wintergreen. The ingredients are perfectly natural and--to top it all off--it comes in a glass jar!