Getting Greener, Part 3: Natural Body Care

I don’t have a huge wealth of information on this topic as we have recently (in the past six months) started making changes here. But it so important, I can’t believe we waited so long! If you think about it, your skin is your body’s largest organ and it is porous, absorbing everything you put on it. You can make yourself cynical and crazy researching the dangers of chemicals in beauty products and the FDA’s lack of oversight. If you think your products are safe, natural and wonderful, you’ve probably been viewing a lot of advertisements lately. Did you know that the US has outlawed only 8 chemicals from beauty products while the European Union has banned over 1,000?

My rule of thumb is, if I can’t pronounce the ingredients, I probably don’t want to eat it or slather it all over myself, but this can be a hard rule to follow with body care products. Skin Deep is a great site where you can see how safe your products are. And here is a short list of ingredients to avoid. So, go check your products on the Skin Deep site, you will be surprised at what you find.

Our journey has been short, but we have learned a lot. We started by switching soaps to using Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps for our body wash. It lathers great, smells wonderful and is all natural–you could probably eat it. We love it. You can even use it to brush your teeth, but I just can’t get used to it yet, but I’m going to keep trying.

Our next logical switch was shampoo. I tried to go without it, using baking soda and apple cider vinegar (instructions here), but it was too time-consuming, I was lazy, and I missed my good-smelling shampoos. I made it a full month without shampoo (did anyone notice?), but I really missed it. However, I am a minority, there are many people out there who love it, and maybe I’ll get up the courage to try it again someday. I found a middle road and picked up some Avalon Organics shampoo at the store. It isn’t the most natural, but it is better than our previous choices and ranks pretty well on the Skin Deep charts. I don’t use any other hair products, so I don’t have much else to add there, but I’ve read that honey is a wonderful conditioner.

The main ingredient in antiperspirant is aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex. It is well-known that aluminum is a toxic metal and is found in high levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Knowing this, we decided to replace our traditional antiperspirants with something more natural. Thomas found the amazing Thai Crystal and never looked back. It wasn’t so amazing for this stinky, profuse sweater so I stopped using it after two weeks of B.O. Then I found the secret that changed my problems for good–baking soda! Can you believe it? I haven’t used anything but it (scented with essential oils for a little fragrance) for over a month now. It is s seriously amazing. Here’s my method:

In a small bowl or jar with a lid, mix baking soda with 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil (I am using 5 lavender and 5 orange these days with about 1/2-1 cup of baking soda). Mix with a fork. After showering, dampen your finger tips and dip them in the baking soda. Gently rub into your arm pit area, and enjoy not stinking.

I’ve gone over 36 hours without reapplying and exercising in the end and I still don’t stink. I couldn’t believe it! The only downside is that baking soda is slightly abrasive, so if you apply too much immediately after shaving, it can be irritating and leave some redness. You probably don’t need quite as much as you think and don’t rub it in really hard. If you do sweat (which you will), it dries much faster than when you had antiperspirants, and it doesn’t stain your clothes. I have noticed that I sweat far less now than I did when I first stopped using antiperspirants, so stick with it for a few weeks to let all the junk clear out of your underarms.

Baby shampoo and soap are important natural choices, especially in light of the news earlier this year. We really like Avalon Organics baby shampoo and wash. It has orange oil in it and smells yummy. We also really liked the Burt’s Bees baby shampoo bar. If you are looking for good products, check the Skin Deep site.

I have yet to replace my makeup since it never seems to run out but will be doing more research and replacing it as needed, which I am anxiously awaiting.

As I said before, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of more natural body care. Be sure to read labels as not everything that appears natural really is. For instance, upon closer inspection, the “natural” face wash I have been using contains parabens. Also, read this and know a little about what the ingredient “fragrancemight mean. Remember, there is no regulation for using the word “natural” on your products, so take the time to read labels carefully and do a little research before you shop.

Next up, Greener Eating.

5 Responses to “Getting Greener, Part 3: Natural Body Care”

  1. Aimee says:

    Wow! I’m definitely going to do some more research!!! Thanks!

    And I switched to Bare Minerals make up about a year ago, and it is awesome! Email me if you want more info!

    I ordered my diapers today! EEP!


  2. Rachel says:

    Yeah, Aimee! You’ll have to let me know when you get your diapers and start using them!

    I have heard really good things about Bare Minerals and I want go ahead and order some of the powder/foundation since that is mostly what I use anyway. The only problem is there isn’t a store here in town to buy it and I am leery of ordering makeup colors online without trying them out, you know?

  3. Julia says:

    I was taking a shower today and was wondering about how to replace some of my old standbys -like the clean and clear face wash which has worked really well for me for years. Organic Shampoo and Conditioner never really work in my hair – and I’m not willing to spend a million dollars, so I need a solution there! Thanks for posting the deoderant idea – I’ve been disappointed with several brands, I know stopping the sweat is unhealthy, but I too could not stand having BO!!! Let me know if you come up with a formula for body wash/shave gel – I’ve used Burt’s Bees and Tom’s but nothing ever lathers up enough!

  4. Melissa says:

    I am so inspired Rachel, and a little frustruated learning how harmful the products in my shower are! I really enjoyed your super cleaning recipes and finally got the nerve to clean the bathrooms without using the toxic cleaners I am use to. It made cleaning so much more enjoyable and I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out when I finished -HUGE bonus for the growing baby in my belly! I use Bare Minerals and really like it. Kris actually ordered it for me as a gift, picked the colors himself and they work fine. If you would like to try it out before you order just let me know.

  5. Annie says:

    Some friends of ours, Eddie and Meagan, have a home business called Australian Scent, and you might like some of their products. They sell in local markets in Houston and online. So far I only own their Clay de Magdelene (mask), but Meagan uses all of her products (and never wears makeup) and has beautiful skin; so does Eddie, for that matter!