This post was contributed by our Health and Wellness Travel Expert, Michael Henri.
I wash my body 5-7 times a month. I should also mention that I do not use ‘traditional’ soap in the shower. Yes, I have a partner. No, she has no complaints about my cleanliness or odor. For comparison, I prefer natural skincare products, while my partner is more into biogenic products like the pink wink expert she uses for her genital parts.
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Hard to believe right?
Alternative Skin Care Solutions
My interest in alternative skin care options was sparked after talking with a close friend who admitted to not showering with products since he was 14 years old. He noticed an immediate relief of his symptoms from allergies and overall improvement in energy and well-being. I began researching, reading and learning more.
I quickly learned that, similar to healthy eating practices, checking the ingredients on body products is VERY important. Unfortunately, big manufacturers do not always have the consumer’s best interest at heart and few create healthy skin care products that are eco-friendly and good for your skin.
It’s not easy to identify which skin care products are good and which ones aren’t, so the best thing to do is to heighten your awareness of the facts and the options so that you can make a more conscious choice every time.
Defining Skin Care Products: Eco-friendly, Green and All-Natural
While there are many names for eco-friendly products, ultimately they all mean the same.
All products that come in contact with your skin are skin care products. These include, but are not limited to, soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioners, laundry detergents, moisturizers, makeup, and cosmetics.
Eco-Friendly: Products that have a low impact on the environment whether in their production, their use, or their disposal. These products help preserve the environment by significantly reducing the pollution they produce.
Green Products: Products that are made with energy efficiency. They are free of Ozone depleting chemicals and toxic compounds and don’t produce toxic by-products or waste. They’re often made of recycled materials or with renewable and sustainable sources.
All-Natural: Products that are composed of ingredients that are from nature and are not artificially made. The problem with this one is there is no regulation for term “natural” and although many skin care products claim to be free from artificial production, they are not.
Effects of Skin Care Products on your skin (and body)
Our skin is one of the most important parts of our body and it is the one most affected by toxic products. Whatever you slather onto your skin will be absorbed into your body and will enter your bloodstream.
Skin care products made with chemicals and synthetic ingredients make them more effective and convenient for use, BUT, they increase the probability of long-term side effects, skin allergies, exposure to toxic aromas and acne & skin irritation.
Exposure to these chemical accelerates the aging process. Those with sensitive skin are even more vulnerable to their effects.
Irregular Side Effects
Parabens are used in health and beauty products as a preservative to extend the shelf life of skin care products. Parabens are not good. They are synthetic and mimic your body’s natural hormones. They can act as estrogen in your body fluctuating hormone balances and can lead to breast cancer.
Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) treats preservatives, like parabens, in cosmetics and skin care products, just like all other ingredients in the product. Common parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Check out this infographic to learn more.
Many skin care products contain a chemical preservative called methylisothiazolinone (MI) that prevents unwanted growth of bacteria and yeast. MI is also used in paint and it is suspected to be a culprit to acute contact dermatitis and redness of the skin.
Although tested as ‘safe’ the constant exposure to chemical preservatives like MI can cause allergies despite being tolerated for years.
Artificial fragrances are designed to cover up the smell of other chemicals used in health and beauty products. The result is a cocktail of chemicals. All those chemical smells can cause headaches.
Skin Irritation & Acne
Chemicals, artificial colors, and fillers in skin care products and makeup can cause redness, irritation, and breakouts. If you experience any of these on your body and you haven’t discovered the cause, consider switching some of your current products.
Effects of Skin Care Products on the Environment
Whether we wash our bodies or our floors, the water run-off contains whichever skin care product we choose to use. If the products contain the chemicals and toxins discussed above, then the environment suffers the same fate as our bodies.
The chemical waste that goes down the drain in your own home eventually spreads back into water sources causing contamination. Rarely will the water be void of all toxins and chemicals, even with extensive filtration systems.
The manufacturing of chemical-heavy products releases chemicals and toxins into the air as a by-product.
Animals and Plants
Animals, humans included, and plants are exposed to these chemicals through the polluted air and water.
How can you help?
There are some simple steps that you can take today to help your body and our environment.
Start by inspecting the skin care products in your travel bag, your bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen cabinets.
Read the labels
See how many of the skin care products in your home contain some of the chemicals and toxins mentioned above. As a general rule, if the ingredients list is as long as your grocery list, then chances are it is not chemical-free.
Replace with locally made green skin care products
Buying local is a great start. It minimizes transportation pollution – global warming – and it supports the local economy. Local farmer’s markets are filled with homemade goodies.
Use These Travel Essentials – Personal care products
Certain products can be made from simple ingredients purchased at the grocery store or at a local health store. When in doubt, use Pinterest for many DIY recipes.
After one year of testing out various all-natural products, recipes, and solutions, here are my partner’s and my travel essentials for personal care products.
Skin Care Products for Her
After testing heaps of different shampoos, her favourite is Live Clean. Good news, it is one of the most affordable shampoos. Her favourite is Argan Oil Restorative Care Shampoo.
It wasn’t long after discovering the shampoo, she found out that Live Clean also offered a conditioner she loved. Her favorite is Argan Oil Restorative Care Conditioner.
Having previously dealt with chronic stinky pits, she wasn’t too confident in all-natural deodorants. And then came Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant. Hallelujah! She detoxed her underarms from all the chemicals stuck in her pores from years of non-natural deodorants and now she only needs to use deodorant before working out.
A go-to in her make-up kit for all that is body. Coconut oil acts as her daily makeup remover, moisturizer, shaving gel, and after-sun care. Use Go Toobs for storing the oil to prevent leakage of harmful toxins from plastic containers.
Essential oils as Perfume
As a great alternative to the traditional perfumes, essential oils come in so many different scents. You can find small wellness businesses that blend them to make perfumes or you can dab a little on your neck or wrist to emit the soothing aroma of your choice.
Over 1 million tons of waste comes from disposable menstrual products. Those waste products inclusive of plastic materials are incredibly harmful to the body and the earth. Menstrual cups are a game-changer and the Diva Cup comes highly recommended.
Skin Care Products for Him
A simple and cost-effective recipe that I use every 2-4 days, depending on how much I exercise, is lemon juice and coconut oil. Only 2 quick sprays in each underarm is all I need.
Ingredients for All-Natural Deodorant
100 ml container
90% lemon juice
10% Coconut oil
Baking soda is used as my soap. Depending on how dirty I get, I will use a little baking soda mixed with water (1-2 ml) to wash once every 1-2 weeks. The other times, I simply use a gentle exfoliating brush and washcloth.
Baking soda, again, is used as my shampoo. Using the same mixture as soap (above), I will rub the mixture into my hair for 2-3 minutes and then complete a thorough rinse with a comb. I complete this process once every 2-4 weeks. Occasionally, maybe once every 60 days, I will use a very SMALL amount of my partner’s all-natural organic shampoo for some extra minerals and vitamins.
Raw Apple cider vinegar is a natural and effective way to condition your hair. Apples are loaded with potassium, pectin, malic acid, and calcium. Fermentation – to make the cider vinegar – fortifies the end product with even more beneficial acids and enzymes. Use 1 cup of cool water and 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar. It works wonders!
Bug spray & Sunscreen
The most challenging, and costly, product to change is sunscreen and bug spray. The reason is because of the quantity of this product that is required to get the desired effect. Here are some homemade recipes from Dr. Axe.
½ cup witch hazel
½ cup raw Apple cider vinegar
40 drops essential oils (eucalyptus, lemongrass, citronella, tea tree or rosemary)
one 8 ounce glass spray bottle
DIRECTIONS: Mix witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and essential oils in 8-ounce glass spray bottle.
Spray over the body avoiding eyes and mouth.
10 drops lavender essential oil
1 tbsp pomegranate oil
3/4 C coconut oil
2 tbsp Zinc Oxide
2 tbsp shea butter
DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients except zinc oxide in a jar.
Place a saucepan with 2 inches of water on the stove over medium/low heat.
Place the jar in a saucepan and stir contents until ingredients start to melt.
Once all ingredients are combined, add in zinc oxide and stir well. Store in a cool place.
Making a shift in products you use can be intimidating. Yet, it is a fundamental piece of a healthy body and cleaner environment. Start with one product so that you don’t get overwhelmed with the change. If you’re worried about the cost – don’t – you’ll end up spending less money in the long term.
Some health stores have a return policy where you can try a product and return it, even after testing it for a few weeks. Whole Foods Market has a great selection of products.
Take the opportunity to experiment and test out new skin care products that work for you!