After making a conscious decision to "cut out the crap" (see first blog post here) in our pantry and fridge, it then seemed the natural next step would be to cut a swathe through our other cupboards. Like the bathroom cabinets.
This meant turfing all my moisturisers, shampoos, sunscreens, hairsprays and all the bottles, containers and jars of goo.
Staring at the beautiful labels of my beautiful Clarins products that were oh-so-beautiful was a little sad. I pulled a sad face a few times when I thought about ditching my beautiful and expensive skin care.
But if that's the worst thing happening in my life, I'm pretty lucky, right? Yeah, so I stopped feeling sorry for myself over such a stupid first world problem and decided to view this as an opportunity to find some really yummy potions and lotions.
Mmmm. Here we go.....
Okay, so unquestionably the most difficult product to replace has been deodorant. I've had my eyes & ears shut regarding the evils of aluminium in deodorants because it suited me not to sweat or smell. I told myself all the evil ingredients wouldn't affect me. I've been quite head-in-the-sand about this issue for years and it's because, deep down, I've known that it's virtually impossible to find a natural product that will stop one's sweat glands from effectively operating.
Perhaps fortuitously, hubby developed a nasty allergy to the deodorant he'd been using for years, just before I went through this exercise. He broke out in a horrible red, angry and itchy rash and only ditching the deodorant for a mineral salt stick cured the rash. It doesn't stop the sweating but he doesn't smell.
Armed with this information I bought quite a few natural products to test the waters, so to speak.
The results have been alarming, interesting and varied.
The most alarming aspect of this whole experiment was something that hubby & I both experienced: when ceasing the use of aluminim-filled deodorant, it took 10-14 days for the stuff to entirely leave our armpits. Ergh! "So effective you can skip a day"?? I think not. So effective you can skip 2 weeks because that stuff will coat your armpits for much longer than you care to imagine.
Because I'm clearly very paranoid about the issue of moisture and smell, I use the mineral stick and then when that's dry, I spray Natural Alternative Deodorant Spray on top of that. Because I'm mental. But I like the idea of spraying some essential oils (vanilla, bergamot, patchouli etc etc) into the area to add that bit of pong-protection. It works! On really hot days I do get a bit moist, but I can actually handle it because I don't smell.
Sorry I don't have the name of the crystal deodorant. It comes in a stick thing that you push up through a cylinder and the label was attached to the blue foam-covered cylinder which I removed, so I have no idea what brand it is. However most good health food stores sell variations and even some big pharmacies. They're good.
Another one I'm trialling which I really like is MooGoo. It's an Australian company and makes safe products. The roll-on deodorant is milky in appearance and the inclusion of magnesium hydroxide (or milk of magnesia) makes it quite absorbant so you'll find it will stop some sweating.
The packet claims its safe enough to drink, but then a little disclaimer says that drinking too much will have a laxative effect. Amusing since magnesium hydroxide is a common ingredient in laxatives and ant-acid products. I don't know about you, but I'm not accustomed to drinking my deodorant, so I'll just roll it on my armpits :-)
This is another difficult one to completely replicate with natural ingredients. Or should I say, replicate with something that is thin and non-ghosting.
Wotnot make a 30 SPF natural sunscreen which contains a lot of zinc oxide, so its quite thick and greasy. I try to use as little as possible and wear hats and long sleeves. But when I can't do that, I just lather it on and feel like a bit of a greasy chip, knowing that it's better than lathering my body with chemicals and nano-particles.
Soleo also make a natural sunscreen which I haven't yet tried but a friend of mine says it too is quite thick. Sarah Wilson has done a lot of research on the topic and is a fabulous read, you can read her blog post on sunscreens here.
Face moisturisers, serums & goop
I had recently read a post on Mama Mia about rose hip oil and how its the best thing for aging and skin care. Being *cough* of the "over-40" variety of lady, I was particularly interested in the anti-aging properties of rosehip oil. There are several organic rosehip oils available, but I bought a two-pack of A'kin Organic Rosehip Oil, which comes with an eye dropper in the lid. You only need about 4-6 drops to cover the entire face. And it smells pleasantly like a cross between fresh cut hay and pencil shavings. I quite like that.
Mama Mia recommends using a moisturiser over the top (like when you use a serum), so I use the A'Kin Rosehip and Shea Intensive Moisture Anti-Oxidant Complex at night time over the top. It's incredibly concentrated so will probably last me a year, if not more. During the day I don't need anything on top during summer, but I will remain open to a lighter moisturiser during winter.
Just using these 2 products I'm quite fond of A'kin. The products are 100% natural and contain no nasties, no artificial colours and 100% vegan. The range is lovely, smells and feels good and the packaging is attractive. For more product details, click here.
Sukin also manufacture organic rosehip oil and a beautiful range of skin and hair care products. And they're Australian! Had I realised this fact earlier I would have sought them out with more vigour. Next time I guess.
Body washes, lotions and oils
The best thing to use on skin straight after a shower or bath? Organic coconut oil. I bought a jar for the shower and a jar for the pantry. It really is amazing stuff, can remove makeup and you can put it on your face too if you wish. In winter I think I may need to add some body lotion on top, but for summer time it's perfect. It doesn't smell like that 1970's suntan lotion Reef Oil, which is a slight shame, but on the plus side it has very little smell at all, which is great for cooking (its the best oil to use for cooking as it has a very high smoke point and doesn't turn rancid on heating like olive and other vegetable oils).
When I don't feel like oiling up with coconut oil, I use Sukin's Botanical Body Wash and Hydrating Body Lotion which are both divine. A word on body washes: as they're plant derived they don't foam like products containing sodium laureth sulphate (sls) and sodium lauryl ether sulphate (sles). SLS's and derivitive products are used in industrial cleaners and engine degreasers, as well as domestic cleaning products. They are the ingredients which make our soaps foam like crazy. Whilst links to cancer have been claimed and possibly not proven, sls and sles are known to be skin irritants and generally quite harsh on skin. Check out the Sukin website here.
Shampoos & conditioners? I'm using Bod Ecology shampoos and conditioners, which I actually prefer to the conventional hair care products I was previously using. Luscious is one word I'd use. Mmm. Bod Ecology Website. Aussie brand too (yey!).
Natural Alternative also make lovely natural shampoos, conditioners, room sprays, body washes, hand washes and the like. And they do an Anti-dandruff shampoo too. Another Aussie company. Woot.
In relation to hair spray, don't buy Aveda's Pure Abundance if you are after something natural, because it's FULL of chemicals with a medium to high hazard rating on the EWG Skindeep Database (a fantastic resource, by the way). See my other post on this topic. Poo to you, Aveda.
So I'm still searching for a natural hair spray. Will post later if I find one.
Puretopia. They have a fantastic Eye Rescue Roller which delivers very cooling anti-puffing eye gel via a metal roller. Ahh. Perfect for first thing in the morning. And another Aussie company (although this information was a little hard to find and should have been more prominent on their website).
Face scrub: Try Natural Instinct Natural Facial Scrub or for something slightly gentler, Puretopia Gentle Exfoliating Face Scrub.
Hair Oil: Give that Moroccan Oil the flick (have you seen the ingredient list?) and buy some pure Argan Oil. Argan Oil is the key ingredient in Moroccan Oil that is good for hair. I bought some Zwena Argan Oil which is 100% Argan Oil. Easy peasy.
If you're interested in learning about more natural products, have a gander at Jess Aincough's blog, Wellness Warrior. She discusses the best natural body brands here.
All of these items were available in health food stores and in some instances, Priceline and bigger pharmacies. Priceline have an awesome range of natural skin care products, some I haven't tried but am figuratively itching to try. Like Grown, for instance.
If you don't live in a city with large pharmacies or health food stores nearby, many appear to be available online, if not through their own website, then through other beauty/skin care websites.