Ok, looking at this photo probably makes you think it is some hippy-dippy stuff that just isn’t your thing. 🙂 Honestly, where all the fancy skin and hair products? Instead some funky powders and a metal shaver on top of it all! Right?
But hear me out on this one and give me a chance to show how these products are actually incredible, they are cleansing, nourishing and make you healthier.
The short version
- Conventional cosmetic products contain chemicals that are toxic to the reproductive system, disruptive to the endocrine system, neurotoxins and/or known carcinogens
- Contrary to common assumption the FDA does not regulate the majority of ingredients used in cosmetic products
- The word ‘Fragrances’ in commercial products mean further undisclosed synthetic chemicals
- The word ‘Natural’ in the product name is pure marketing, there is no official certification or standard associated with it. It is 100% unregulated term.
- Even products labeled ‘Organic’ can contain petrochemicals and as little as 10 percent of organic ingredients by weight or volume
- The list of substances banned for use in cosmetics in Europe is over 1,000, while in America it is only 8 substances long
If you aren’t familiar with the EWG.ORG website I highly recommend them as a great resource to learn about various health risks associated with the ingredients of commercial products. Here are three great articles on their website that give a lot of great information on this topic: Myths on cosmetics safety, Cosmetics and your health and this article about fragrances.
Nontoxic and natural body care alternatives
Since we are little children we are brought up using a shampoo, a conditioner, a special tooth paste and so on. We learn to think that those are required for us to care for our bodies and to be clean. So I think it is natural that it may seem unthinkable for us to manage our hygiene and beauty routines without all these fancy products developed in fancy laboratories.
But consider the fact than all the current cosmetic companies are no more than 50-70 years old, at the most. And humanity has existed for many thousands of years. We had most sophisticated and complex civilizations that lasted for much longer than our current one. Do you think that Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, Emperors of China, Rajas of Indian Kingdoms and Rulers of Alhambra palace were any less clean and pampered than we are today?
The truth is there are so many natural way to clean our hair, to condition it to be soft, to nourish our dry skin and clean our teeth. Any hygiene problem you think of people have figured out countless ways to solve it eons before Proctor and Gamble ever even existed.
The simple truth is that removing dirt and grease is not magic, it is basic chemistry. And many plants or minerals in nature poses necessary chemical composition to break the grease and dirt.
On the photo above are my mom and my sons. I’m including these just to show you that our hair looks clean, even though mom and I haven’t used a shampoo in 5-7 years, while my children’s hair never been touched with a shampoo. As a matter of fact, Alexandros is 3.5 and I probably washed his head in total 5-7 times in his entire life. Eleon is 1.5 and his hair was washed may be 3 times so far.
Non-toxic body care we use
So here are the list of things we use that have been working EXTREMELY well for us — adults as well as children.
Skin care (our ‘lotions’ and ‘creams’)
- I absolute love olive oil as my ‘body lotion’. I’ve been using it exclusively of many years and it works wonderfully. I simply use the same olive oil we have in the kitchen — organic, highest quality. The skin is our biggest organ, after all
- Infusing olive oil with herbs: we also like to infuse olive oil with various herbs, such as camomile, lavender, calendula and plantain. It’s fun, smells beautifully and herbs add their nourishing power to that of olive oil
- Shea butter: another incredible product for skin care is Shea Butter. If you aren’t familiar with it Shea Butter is a nut butter made from a seed of the shea tree which grows in Africa. Shea butter for me works best as dry hand skin and dry feet remedy. I can’t imagine living without it. And I love the shea butter by Shea Brand as it comes without plastic packaging and the texture is smooth and silky
- Other oils — we’ve also tried Argan oil, Jojoba oil, Avocado oil and Coconut oil. I loved Argan and Avocado oils, and I couldn’t stand the smell of Jojoba and Coconut oils. Also coconut oil did nothing for me, while I hear many people love it
- Soap nuts: after trying many different ways to clean hair my favorite is soap nuts powder. I wrote a whole post about it and other hair washes I tried here — No-shampoo and zero-waste hair care.
- Baking soda: Recently my mom tried washing hair with backing soda and she really loved it. I tried few times as well and it cleans hair as good as soap nuts, while also leaving hair silky and untangled, which is one drawback of soap nuts.
- I highly recommend visiting the No Poo (no shampoo) & Low Poo Hair Care Group Forum Facebook group, which is the best and most incredible resource for everything having to do with natural hair care – washes, rinses, styling etc. Look at their Files for the information and then ask people in the group any questions and recommendations. They are very helpful and friendly folk there.
- This Liquid soap from Spinster sisters has exceptional ingredients. We noticed that it doesn’t dry our skin even when used frequently throughout the day (we love gardening, right? 🙂 ) unlike many other soaps we tried.
- Bar soap by Dr. Broaner when we need to soap up a brush or lufa
- Hand-made customs soaps — many of the hand-made soaps aren’t at all free of undesired chemicals, especially synthetic perfumes. Read the labels or ask the maker what they used.
You may think you brand is safe and has no bad chemicals. It may be so, but don’t simply assume it. Read the ingredients list and check it on EWG. Be an educated consumer. The corporations or the FDA do not not have our health as their concern.
If switching away from your beloved products may seem scary or even impossible, consider replacing one product at a time. Start with Shea Butter as hand cream for example. Switch to Spinster Sisters liquid soap for entire household. And as far as hair goes — head over to No Poo (no shampoo) & Low Poo Hair Care Group Forum and just see what people do and what seem to spark your interest 🙂