Recently I’ve re-ignited my drive to eliminate unnecessary toxic chemicals from my life. Back when I was in high school, I was all about natural living. I grew up in a family that embraced ‘alternative’ methods of caring for our bodies and homes, so I was already used to a lot of this stuff. But I embraced it even more in high school, when my motto became that I didn’t want to put anything on my skin that I couldn’t also put in my mouth and consume.
After moving into my first apartment by myself almost 3 years ago, I somehow started moving away from a lot of that and started using chemicals everywhere, down to spraying my shower after every use with a shower cleaner.
I admit that, looking back, I embraced these chemicals mostly because I felt like they were making my life easier. But they were also making my life more toxic. And ease does not need to be totally compromised in healthy living. I can have the best of both.
So right now I’m focusing on two areas: 1) I want to rid my home cleaning supplies of chemicals and switch to natural, home-made cleaning products, and 2) I want to rid my body care stuff of chemicals, including my makeup.
This is going to be a process, because I need to first figure out what’s going to work and then actually start testing alternatives and see what happens. Some things that I’m going to try I’m sure will be misses and I’ll have to experiment, but I’m hoping to cut down on those misses as much as possible by doing thorough research beforehand.
The easiest part is actually switching my body care routine, because I’ve done it in the past.
So today I went out and spent about $10 on buying some skincare essentials. For $10 I was able to buy a new face wash, a new toner, and a new facial exfoliator. All natural, chemical free, and effective.
I didn’t have to buy a ton today because I already own a lot of stuff I’ll be incorporating or that I already use:
- Not skincare related, but I ‘ve been using Dr. Bronner’s peppermint bar soap to brush my teeth on and off for the past 13 or so years. Every time I decide for whatever reason to try regular toothpaste again, I regret it after the first day. My teeth feel grimy halfway through the day and my teeth never feel clean if I use it over a long period of time. Once I switch back to my Bronner’s soap, teeth are feeling squeeky clean and fresh and healthy again. I’ve already switched again to my peppermint bar soap for my teeth. I think the only reason I’ve ever gone back to toothpaste in the past was because I wanted that long-lasting fresh breath feeling. But it’s not worth the health of my teeth and gums, honestly. Toothpaste you buy in stores is not healthy for your teeth – you’re being duped. If you’ve got dental problems, consider switching to an oil-based real bar soap (NOT CHEMICAL STUFF! DON’T PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH!) and see what happens. Your dentist will not approve, so don’t bother asking. Just do it, and see how your next dentist appointment goes.
- I’ve started using my Bronner’s now for body wash and am working on figuring out a good routine for my hair. In high school I had dreadlocks so hair care wasn’t a big issue for me. I was introduced to Bronner’s once I got dreadlocks, because it’s a great soap to use on locks. I tried to continue using the Bronner’s on my hair after I cut off my locks, but it made my hair too dry and stringy. Now I found out that I need to rinse the super alkaline soap out of my hair and then follow up with a more acidic rinse using either lemon water or apple cider vinegar (ACV) (which is an AMAZING hair conditioner!!). ACV is still pretty alkaline though so I think rinsing with lemon water and *then* ACV will be my best bet. I also tried washing with baking soda recently and that worked amazingly well. I did not use a conditioner. I’m just concerned with my scalp becoming irritated over time with the harshness of baking soda. So I might try to mix up a concoction, in which case I’ll update when that happens.
- I also think it’s worth mentioning that since I switched to Dr. Bronner’s in the shower over a week ago, my dry skin problems have vanished. I live in northern Illinois and the winters can be harsh on skin. With my old wash I had started covering my body in body lotion after every shower because my skin was so dry. Now I don’t need the chemical lotion anymore because the bar soap does a great job of not washing away all my body’s natural oils, and sealing in moisture. On the couple of occasions where I’ve felt like I needed a little moisturizer, I just patted on a little extra virgin olive oil.
- Raw, organic honey. Great to use in face washing, face masks, etc. It’s a little pricey but I typically just use it to lightly sweeten my tea. I plan to start mixing it with oatmeal water for face masks/washes.
- I stopped using regular deodorant about 4 years ago. I’ve switched back a couple of times because I don’t like to shower every day and having regular deodorant around was useful on those non-shower days. I prefer to shower every other day, or every third day if I can manage it, but in that case I still usually splash some soap and water in essential areas. Anyway… deodorant. I switched a while back to salt stick deodorant. It is approved by the breast cancer foundation. It is literally just a huge chunk of salt that you apply to damp underarms. It is NOT an antiperspirant like regular “deodorant”. Regular deodorant has chemicals and metals that stop your body from sweating, thus helping stop the smell, and then also mask any smelly sweat that does occur with chemically produced scents. Sounds healthy, right? So, you will still sweat with this stuff (which is good!) but you won’t stank. The salt stuff actually works and I’m happy to say that you can find it at a lot of grocery stores now, on the bottom shelf where you usually buy your deodorant. It’s called Crystal and it comes in a pink bottle. They also sell the SAME EXACT PRODUCT in a blue-black bottle that men might feel more comfortable using if they’re put off by using a pink product (heh). They have a roll-on one that doesn’t work as good IMO, but that’s all I could find one time so I got it and now that I have my chunk of salt back I just use the roll-on as my moistener and then apply the salt chunk over it. Usually if you just have the salt chunk then you’ll just dampen with water first, or not fully dry out of the shower. Once my roll-on runs out I’m going to buy the spray. The spray and chunk make a great combo – it’s what I used when I first started using the salt stuff and it’s flawless in keeping me smelly free even on hot summer days. I guess they have the spray in different scents, but I’m personally not interested – my skin has reacted very badly in the past to scented natural deodorants.
And that’s basically it. I got rid of my chemical-laiden hand soap and use Bronner’s as handsoap in the bathroom. For now I’m just using my peppermint bar soap ( which I cut into pieces) because I’m on a budget, but after I run out of that I’m going to try and make a Bronner’s based foaming hand soap for the bathroom.
Today I bought these items:
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), $1.69. This I can use, like I said, as a hair rinse, but I also plan to use it as a facial toner occasionally in conjunction with rose water.
- Rose water, $2.99 for a 10.5oz bottle. Might be available for a better price but they only had one brand. I got it in the natural foods section, by the baking stuff. This is excellent for the face!!!! Cannot be overstated. Also plan to use on my body as a moisturizer. Can also be used in the hair but my main concern is finding healthy skin care right now so my hair is taking a back seat. I had dreadlocks for 6 years – I’m not overly concerned with my hair.
- A bar of Dr. Bronner’s hemp rose soap, $3.99. This will be used specifically for washing my face. I have mild rosacea (undiagnosed officially, but I’m 90% sure it can’t be anything else after tons of research) as well as mild adult acne that I’m trying to treat and rose stuff is going to do good for both.
- Quick oats – I got a 42oz. container of quick oats for 2.29! I still can’t believe it. I feel like I got away with robbery. I’m going to use the oats to make a mild face wash by soaking the oats and draining the liquid to use, or a mask/exfoliator by grinding the oats in my mortar and pestle and combing with water and essential oils.
I’m focusing a lot on my skin right now too because I want to get to the point where I feel comfortable wearing no makeup again. I didn’t start wearing makeup until after I cut off my dreadlocks after my 2nd year of college, and it was the worst mistake I ever made. It messed up my skin big time and I’ve been paying for it ever since. Now with my #1 concern being my health, I want to not feel like I need to poison my skin with chemical-laiden makeup.
I do plan on still wearing stuff like mascara even after I get my skin in check, but I plan to make my own makeup at home. I already have a great recipe for mascara set aside that I can’t wait to use, and blush should be a no-brainer as well. Then all I need to do is come up with a decent foundation recipe to even out skin tone or whatever and I’m set.
Ideally I want to record the progress my skin makes as I switch to these alternatives, but I tend to be lazy about stuff and procrastinate, so I don’t always make time. But I’ll try to at least snap some photos when I remember so I can have this to look back on or to show others how these methods work.