How to Fix the Twofold Problem in Your Bathroom
Plastics in Bath and Beauty Products
One of the places in your house that is full of plastic is your BATHROOM! This is the first place I started making green swaps. Every single one of your makeup products is probably in plastic packaging. Your shampoo and soap are also probably in plastic packaging. Your toothbrush may be plastic. Your toothpaste container might be plastic. Your tampons have plastic applicators. Plastic everywhere!
Toxins in Bath and Beauty Products
Besides these products being wrapped in plastic, think about the ingredients in all your products as well. There are toxins in many bathroom products. Some of the common ingredients in these products are known endocrine disruptors. Parabens mimic estrogen which causes increased breast cell growth. Phthalates cause a variety of problems, especially for your reproductive system.
Fragrance is another tricky one. Companies are allowed to put a proprietary blend of who knows what in their products and call it fragrance. Because we use essential oils in the products we sell, I can tell you that if a company is putting the term “fragrance” in their ingredients list, it is very likely these are synthetic ingredients. Synthetic doesn’t always equate to dangerous, but when the company doesn’t disclose what exactly is in their “fragrance,” how can we fully know and trust that it’s safe? Essential oils are my preferred fragrance.
The chemicals I mentioned could possibly cause infertility, cancer, or prolonged disease. So many bodily issues are idiopathic, but what if the elimination of these chemicals was the true answer? Over a thousand cosmetic ingredients are banned in Europe, but the United States has only banned 11. So if these dangerous ingredients are still allowed in our products, what can we do?
Read your ingredients list. If it sounds like a chemical, it almost always is. The safest products will have ingredients you’ve already heard of. If you’re new to reading your ingredient labels, google it and decide for yourself if that’s something you’re okay with putting on your porous skin. It will absorb what you put on it.
Our problem here is twofold. Bathroom products are all packaged in plastic, but they’re also full of toxins. I knew I needed to change out my products, and as you’ll see, I have made some radical swaps through the years.
Here is a list of bathroom products I use and how I swapped them out for a plastic-free/eco-friendly, non-toxic alternative:
SHAMPOO: I stopped using shampoo almost completely. I washed once a week with bar soap. I still got my hair wet quite often and scrubbed my scalp as if there was soap on it. My natural hair oils were still distributed this way.
CONDITIONER: I started using Apple Cider Vinegar. It detangled my hair like nobody’s business. And trust me, I have VERY TANGLY hair. Don’t worry, it doesn't leave you smelling like vinegar at all.
BODY WASH: I started using bar soap and eventually Harry started making it. And now we sell it.
LOOFAH/BATH POUF: I use a washcloth or a bar soap holder that my mom crocheted.
FACE WASH: I do the Oil Cleansing Method instead. I use HK & Sons All Over Oil.
FACE MOISTURIZER: The Oil Cleansing Method does not dry out my face, therefore I don’t need a moisturizer on a regular basis. If my skin feels dry after I wash my face, I will put a very small amount of HK & Sons All Over Oil on my face.
HAND SOAP: Bar soap again!
TAMPONS: I switched to a menstrual cup.
TOOTHBRUSH: I switched to a bamboo toothbrush.
TOOTHPASTE: I started making my own toothpaste.
MAKEUP: I started making most of my own makeup and wearing less in general.
MAKEUP REMOVER: I started making my own.
COTTON BALLS: I used to use these to remove makeup, but I switched to baby washcloths (they’re really soft and small).
LOTION: I started making my own lotion. Sometimes I use an oil instead (almond, jojoba, etc.) or I use the HK & Sons All Over Oil.
LIP BALM: I started making my own. Buy it here.
DEODORANT: I made my own in the beginning, but I didn’t like the results. I’ve used various non-toxic deodorants and some companies actually offer a plastic-free version.
HAIRSPRAY: I made my own. I do not recommend this because I ended up with ants. I’ve since stopped using hairspray completely and I just let my hair be natural.
Now that you’ve read about swaps I’ve done, at the time of this writing, I am not currently doing all of these. After I had a baby, my hair seemed like it needed more than ACV. My postpartum hormones were causing me to lose a lot of hair, and it was feeling very dry. So I started using Honest Shampoo and Conditioner. It has been the only brand to properly detangle my hair. Like I said before, it is very tangly. The Honest Shampoo and Conditioner is not as natural as I’d like. I have tried a few other natural brands but I really haven't loved anything yet. We have extremely hard water (past the "safe" level according to the EPA) and I know it's doing a number on my hair. I can say with full confidence that ACV absolutely works when you don't have new hormones coursing through your body or ridiculously hard water.
Deodorant has been a hard one to swap for me. I was a dance teacher for a long time, and I needed to smell good while sweating. Like I said, I have made my own deodorant in the past, but over time I switched back to “bad” deodorant. When I first switched back to a natural one and it was definitely a stinky journey (there’s a detox phase when you switch to natural deodorant). I have tried a few natural deodorants since then. I really like Humble deodorant and Crystal deodorant. Humble has a traditional texture whereas Crystal is literally a block of salt. I like them both and will likely continue to use these brands.
Making everything myself has also saved us a lot of money. It’s great to be able to simply reuse bottles/jars and just whip up another batch rather than have to keep buying more and more. I know you might look at that list and think, “Wow she’s nuts, probably smells bad, and likely looks weird with homemade makeup on.” And right now I do smell bad because my armpits are detoxing. But in reality, I started doing all of these things about five years ago and nobody has ever said a word about it. So I think we’re fine. I certainly feel more accomplished in making my own products than buying them from the store.
So there you have it. Look around your bathroom and decide what you really need. As you can see from my swaps, I was able to combine a few things, which resulted in less waste. In my hippie opinion, it’s unnecessary to use a thousand toners and serums for facial care. We’re all going to get wrinkles someday regardless. This is why I like the Oil Cleansing Method. It allows you to cleanse your face the way it’s meant to be—cleansed and moisturized simultaneously. Traditional face washes often use salicylic acid or alcohol. These dry out your face and can remove too much oil from your face. This causes you to NEED a face moisturizer. But the face moisturizer you use may also be clogging your pores. So you enter into a cycle of NEEDING both a very strong face wash (salicylic acid or alcohol) and a moisturizer to keep your skin nourished. If you just cleanse your face with oil in the first place, you eliminate these problems.
If you’ve read this and realized that you don’t need all of your bathroom products or you want to swap them out for a better alternative, give yourself time. It’s taken me 29 years to be okay with the way my face looks without makeup on and 25 years to ever hear about a menstrual cup. Your body may not like these natural swaps right away. Keep trying. Eventually, your body will adjust to not needing these products and you will be thankful in many ways for that.