In my quest to eliminate extraneous chemicals from my life over the years, i have tried more than my share of “natural” products. I was less than thrilled with most of the results. Lately, tho, there have been a slew of advances in natural products, brought to us by advances in science. Go figure. As the scientific community bridges more and more of the gaps between the old arts and the newer needs and discoveries, natural products improve tenfold. Because of that, i have found some things that truly work, and still fulfill my quest to not unnecessarily poison myself, my children, or the environment.
To note: I phrase it that way because there are certain harmful chemicals, some strong medications, for example, that are sometimes necessary to correct problems. And i have yet to find a natural remedy that does indeed keep bugs out of the house – And i promise you, i have tried them all. (Please don’t bother to suggest that i learn to live with the bugs and share my space. Not gonna happen.) But other than that, i have been able to eliminate quite a few known culprits in the toxic wars.
First off, i do make some of my own stuff. I have a balm that i make of cocoa butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, evening primrose oil, glycerine, vegetable wax, and essential oils… And i use it on EVERYTHING – It goes on my skin, on my lips, in my hair (It makes a great pomade). I make sugar scrubs. And i make my own perfumes. But there are some things that i don’t make, for various reasons: Cost, time, availability of ingredients, etc. And i wanted to share some of the products i’ve found with you.
One of the easiest switches i have made is from liquid to solid shampoo and conditioner. I had tried many types over the years, but i had never been satisfied. Most are soap based, which leaves a bit of a film. You can wash it off with vinegar if you wish, but that’s kind of a pain in the bum to me. And because i have terribly coarse hair, leaving a coating on it just makes it even more wiry. So tho it left my hair clean and smelling good, it wasn’t an option for me. Then i did a little research and found a solid shampoo that is made with a mild, environmentally safe, synthetic detergent. No, it isn’t truly natural, but thru science, it gives me the low-residue clean i desire without harming the environment. (If you dye your hair, SYNDET is safe for color-treated hair.) Most solid shampoos and conditioners also come with minimal and/or recycled packaging, which is a plus. And it is easy to use: Wet your hair, run the bar over your hair three times or so, and rinse. The conditioner goes on similar, except it doesn’t lather. It is just a mix of more soluble oils that leaves my hair soft. (Side note: The conditioner bar also doubles as a shaving bar in a pinch.) If you travel a lot, this will save you space in your allowed liquids for air travel, and no more worrying about bottles leaking in luggage. The ones i have found that work great for me are from Scenter Square. I’m in love with the Dragon’s Blood scent, but she has many that are less gypsy and more mainstream. Give it a shot.
Next on the list: Natural deodorant. First off, to attempt making this change means to accept the fact that humans sweat. (I admit, i’m still getting used to that concept.) This is because, tho there are some who still argue the research, it does appear that aluminum is a likely contributor to many diseases, including cancer, (Since my mother died of breast cancer when she was my age, this hits especially close to home for me,) and aluminum compounds are the active ingredient in antiperspirants. That being said, it doesn’t mean we have to stink. I had tried all kinds of different natural deodorants in the past: The crystal sticks, the baking soda sticks, the clay sticks, the witch hazel sprays… I even tried making my own at one point. All of them were a bust. I smelled like a 19th century bear trapper by noon. The one that finally worked for me, i’m a bit miffed to admit, came to my attention thru an ad on Facebook. I forget what it was about the ad that made me look, but i did. And the concept piqued my interest. It contains Acidophilus. Yup, yogurt culture. Good bacteria to eat the bad, stinky bacteria. Now, it advertises 24 hour protection. Not on me. But at least i’m not stinky, except up close, in the morning if i don’t reapply. Of course, everyone’s body chemistry is different, so i can’t guarantee that what works for me will work for you. But the one that is working for me is Native Deodorant .
Something that i did learn about transitioning to natural deodorant that might be helpful… Before your first use of a non-antiperspirant, use a sugar scrub on your pits. It helps unclog all the skin and glands and makes the transition go faster. It still takes a few days for your body to get used to sweating again, and then it kind of learns to deal with it, and you don’t sweat quite as much. I have also noticed that when i don’t drink enough water, my sweat smells stronger and the deodorant is a bit less effective (Makes sense when you think about it.) An extra perk: Even tho i sweat, my clothes don’t stain. This is because the staining culprits aren’t actually your sweat, they are the chemicals in your pit stick. Anyway, if you are trying to reduce your absorption of aluminum, give it a shot.
Next: Makeup. Yes, we women should be comfortable without it. Yes, all artifice has its price. But i do enjoy coloring myself up a bit, even if it isn’t to the Cyndi Lauper / Boy George heights of my youth. And while it is true that there are a number of natural makeup companies out there now, there is one that i am partial to because they actually customize colors as well as having an extravagant choice of ready-mades. Elea Blake is a cosmetics company that is truly unique and a whole lot of fun. If you enjoy color and color theory, this is heaven. That perfect shade of red lipstick that you have been searching for? I promise you, you will find it here. They even have these cool lip (and eye and cheek) drape kits where you can test different tones of the same color to see which spectrum you fall under. But my favorite part of their products is the versatility. All of the powders (Which are talc free) are made to the same standards, so they can be used anywhere on your face. And you can mix them together to create your own colors. (You can tell a true EleaBlake fan by the fact that we all have small mirrors on our makeup tables that look disturbingly like something you’d find at a coke party, but are actually for blending bits of color for the distinctive look of the day.) I have even added some of the powders to my homemade balm to add sparkle to my hair or skin. And those of my sisters who have skin colors that rarely show up at the department store? I promise you, EleaBlake has your color. And if they don’t, they will make it. Just for you. And you will be surprised how affordable it is, especially considering that, because their powders are pure minerals, they never go bad. Oh, and one more thing about this brand…
If you ever didn’t believe that the beauty industry ignores us seasoned women, try finding an eyebrow color for someone with grey or white hair. You might as well look for a chicken that speaks Greek. But there is one company who has a color that matches. I don’t care if your hair is the color of chrome, or the pale strawberry of a baby Viking, they either have it or will happily make it. And it makes a huge difference.
Soaps, scrubs, lotions… I am a sucker for good bath products. There are lots of great local companies who make these things. And if you have one local that suits you, i urge you to bring them your business. If you don’t have one local, i will suggest my friends at Divine Purity . Cassandra makes some lavish products with care and love that are free from toxins. And she’s a wonderful and inspirational person to boot. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. Plus, small businesses like hers are important, politically, socially, and karmically. Purchase from them when you can.
Some final thoughts: If you have ever tried to make your own toiletries, etc, you know that ingredients aren’t cheap, so very often, these natural products are more expensive than the mass-produced stuff you get at the superstore. And believe me, for budget reasons, i still buy a lot at “regular” stores. Ok, some of it is for vanity, too…. I mean, what if this really IS the miracle cream that will take all my wrinkles away??? And if that is the case with you as well, that is ok. No one is a perfect eco-consumer. At least no one with a normal income and/or the usual unreasonable beauty hopes. But do what you can. Every little bit makes a difference.
I have many more moves to make in my quest to find products that help me make peace with my own wellness and the wellness of my environment. (My next foray will be with Dropps , a company that makes eco-friendly laundry and dishwasher detergent pods. If you have tried them, please let me know what you thought!) But i feel like i am on my way, and every little bit helps. Reusing bottles, cleaning mostly with vinegar mixes, buying locals meats and produce… Each a step on the road towards clean living. And all these little steps, they make me feel…. They make me feel… They make me feel like a nat-u-ral wooomannnnnn…..