Living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to go around being dirty and smelly all the time because every personal care product will harm you in some way.
If you are comfortable living like that then I admire you for your choice!
I admit, there are times when I let my personal hygiene take a back seat. Like that summer I lived in Vermont and worked on a dairy farm. As long as I cleaned up good once a week I felt accomplished since the shower was grosser than the manure I walked through.
Then there was that other summer I lived in Colorado and worked on a beef ranch. I showered more frequently just because it was relaxing but I only washed my hair once a week if I was lucky. That could have been partly due to the brittle, arid climate I lived in as well.
In any case, I’m not a super clean freak who has to shower twice a day nor do I make my husband suffer through foul odors emanating from me.
Avoiding toxins and endocrine disrupters in personal care products is a challenge. I definitely didn’t switch all my products at once nor did I like every product or method I tried. I picked one personal care product at a time to switch.
Shampoo and Conditioner
These were the first products I tried switching years ago. Normally I have really long, frizzy hair so I always struggle with caring for it. I tried $9 a bottle organic shampoos and conditioners. I felt like they just built up on my hair and left it heavy and matted.
Once I tried Wen products – the shampoo that isn’t really a shampoo. It was okay, but I couldn’t see myself keeping up with the cost at the amount I had to use for each washing.
Then I got so fed up I tried the “no poo” method for almost a month. I would rinse my hair with plain water every two or three days. My hair got several shades darker from all the grease! Everywhere I read said be patient during the adjustment period. Yeah, I gave up. Hmmm, maybe I should’ve tried that when I was working with animals all summer and not having to interact with people in a business setting…
Another time my cousin convinced me to use vinegar dilution as a conditioner. “You won’t even smell it after it dries,” she said. “No one will ever know,” she said. So I switched in mid summer. And my cousin was right, I didn’t smell it after it dried. But let me tell you, I sweat. A lot. Especially in Missouri temperatures. The minute I started sweating I would smell vinegar all around me. The heat from my scalp let it release. As I sweat more I would just wreak of vinegar. No go for me.
My last attempt was washing with baking soda mixed in water for shampoo and my rinse or conditioner was diluted lemon juice (vinegar works, too, as a neutralizer, but see above). I carried on with this routine for the longest of all my attempts. My hair felt wonderful. At the moment. As time went on my hair became dull and looked to be graying. It also got brittle. Apparently the lemon juice didn’t neutralize the soda enough.
And this is where one dirty little clean secret comes in. I use Pantene Pro V Smooth and Sleek. Yes, I know there is all kinds of junk in it. I also know that I’m not overloading my body with toxins from my other personal care products so I depend on my body’s detox systems to take care of it. Plus I only wash my hair two or three times a week so my exposure is limited.
Fail on the natural personal care routine here!
As I mentioned earlier. I sweat. A lot. Even when I’m not doing anything. Even when I’m sitting in class. Ok, enough with my sweating. When I was a teenager mom would buy me the “all natural organic” deodorants and antiperspirants. They did not work for me. Usually they made me smell worse than my own body odor. So I used conventional deodorants for several more years sweating my way through by noon and always reapplying three or four times a day.
One summer I decided to let my pits detox by not wearing any deodorant or antiperspirant. After several months I tried the classic deodorant stone. No luck.
I switched back to conventional.
Once I bought that super-duper-powerful-72-hour-prescription-strength junk that you have to put on at night and you might die in your sleep. I used this for more formal events where I didn’t want to spend my night hiding my half moons under my pits. It worked great!
But at what cost to my health?
I’m proud to say that three years ago I found a deodorant recipe that works for me! I’m not saying dry pits all the time, but dry pits most of the time. I apply it at 4:30 in the morning when I leave for the barn and it lasts all day. One day this summer I had to reapply around 5pm. That’s it!
I was so skeptical of this deodorant at first, just waiting for my body to “get used to it” and quit working. It’s been three years and I still love it. I found the recipe from Mommy Potamus.
This is one of those things that I’ve only become aware of as my wrinkles have gotten deeper. Looking at the store shelf there are all kinds of solutions for wrinkles that cost $22 an ounce. And who knows what’s in them.
I gave up on my wrinkles.
Until I heard about argon oil from my sister-in-law. She has eczema and has to be careful about fragrances and such on her skin. She said she uses argon oil for her face. So I decided to try it.
My sister-in-law was right! Argon oil is light and soaks right into my skin! Because it is pricey I use this on my face and neck only.
This one is tricky because it’s hard to find a homemade lotion that doesn’t leave me feeling greasy. After trying several recipes I settled on Wellness Mama’s recipe for whipped body butter. Except I found it too greasy so I whip in a 1/2 cup of aloe juice to lighten it up a bit and it adds another nourishing ingredient!
Another dirty little secret is that I still keep a travel size lotion bottle (like from a hotel) in my purse. I can’t carry my homemade lotion with because it will melt and make a mess if it gets too warm. With long, cold Wisconsin winters I just can’t be without lotion on the go.
Update: I was recently gifted some sheep milk lotion from Maple Hill Farm. Oh. My. Goodness. I love this lotion! And it comes in a small size for my purse!
Most liquid hand soaps contain triclosan, a harsh antibacterial that even the FDA is having second thoughts about now. I like the convenience of liquid soaps at sinks and in the kitchen.
My solution here is to buy Dr. Bronner’s soap and dilute it with distilled water in my foaming dispensers. Dr. Bronner’s is organic and fairly affordable. One bottle lasts a long time! It is important to dilute it with distilled water so that funky bacteria don’t begin to grow in your foamer. I buy the unscented Dr. Bronner’s soap and add 10 drops of lemon oil.
Bar soap can be a little trickier. Because I grew up with homemade soaps that my mom made, I thought that was the best and only good soap to use. What I realized after I had to start buying my own homemade soap is that it is expensive!
One day at the grocery store I came across this plain labeled bar soap called Kirk’s Original Coco Castile. Curious, I picked it up and read the label. Only five ingredients and no scents! After looking into the ingredients further I was sold. I use this soap in the shower, by the bathroom sinks and in my homemade laundry detergent. And it’s more affordable than homemade soap.
Toothpaste is one area of my personal care routine I have not experimented a lot with. I buy this flavor of Jason’s toothpaste and am quite happy with it. My main goal in toothpaste is to avoid fluoride.
My [Mostly] Natural Personal Care Routine
There you have it – a peak into my personal care routine! I hope this list gives you ideas on how to eliminate a few harmful ingredients found in mainstream personal care products.
Please don’t feel overwhelmed at having to change it all at once! This has been years in the process for me and I’m sure I will continue to change my preferences. If you’d like to improve your personal care routine, pick one product and start there.
What one product are you going to switch out for a healthier option?