As part of the Healthytarian lifestyle, I take what I put onto my body as seriously as what I put into my body. Today, there are thousands of ingredients in our personal care products that are far from good for our body, our health, or the Earth. To be accountable for our health, we need to be conscious of all of our choices, including what products and companies we choose to support. We have greatly deviated away from nature and what is best for our hair and skin, and got caught up in modern day consumerism that is proving more harmful than helpful to our health, via the overwhelming amount of personal care products.
Oftentimes, I get asked what natural products I use as part of my personal care routine. Ultra simple and natural options from local individuals or small businesses are always my first choice today. It is also my intention to one day create some of my own products for my personal use, like lip balms. Therefore, I recommend for people to discover what local treasures are in their area first and foremost. Additionally, numerous high-quality, naturally-oriented companies exist today that can provide us with all of our personal care needs.
There are two key actions I live by, and teach, when it comes to smart personal care today:
- The first action is to reduce the amount of products we use in quantity and frequency.
- The second action is to invest in the purest, simplest and most natural, high-quality choices we can for any personal care that we need.
Personal Care Basics
The most integral and basic cleansing ingredient is water, and we need to use that water in a smart way, both for ourselves and our Earth. Unless one is engaged in vigorous physical exertion during their day, a daily shower, especially one that includes common cleansing agents is not a good idea. It strips the natural and protective barriers of our skin and hair, and wastes our time, and environmental resources. Not to mention, it adds an unnecessary chemical load to our body if we are using conventional products and chlorinated water. We can easily save ourselves from dry or irritated skin by simply changing our showering habits. This does not mean becoming unsanitary or unkept, but washing based on a more consciously balanced routine.
Most of the personal care items I use these days are either unscented or gently scented with natural essential oils. My first choice is almost always an unscented product. An amazing part of this journey has been seeing how much sharper my sense of smell has become, and how much more appreciative it is of nature’s natural scents. In fact, I find it very unpleasant today to be in the presence of any strong, artificial scents or prefumes.
Soap & Shampoo: Since 2008, I’ve been using natural soaps and shampoos. Common brands I regularly depend on include Green Beaver (a natural, local, Canadian company) for my shampoo, and Dr. Bronner’s, for my soap bar. At some point I’d like to experiment with the no poo method, where hair is simply washed with water and at certain intervals with baking soda and/or apple cider vinegar. (My husband has been doing it since December 2015 with fantastic results.)
Moisturizing: In the early part of my life, like most people, I fell for the daily moisturizing with a lotion routine, until I realized how unnecessary, wasteful, and even harmful this habit was. The health and quality of our skin is created from the inside out, based on the diet we eat and water we drink. No external product is going to fix a poor internal environment. Worse yet, conventional lotions are based on synthetic and drying ingredients, which cause the very problem they are marketed to fix. When we stop using these, our skin starts to naturally balance itself. If we live in a harsh climate or feel our skin could use some extra help, we can help support it with protective and effective moisturizers, like natural oils (ex: virgin coconut or almond oil, or shea or cacao butter). Today, I rarely use any kind of moisturizer on my skin, aside from the odd natural oil, and natural lip balm.
Facial Care: Luckily, I have avoided the bulk of the facial products that are marketed to women all my life. For years I have simply relied on soap and water to wash my face, which it did perfectly well without over-drying it. In recent years, I decided to invest in a natural foaming face wash from Consonant (a local, Canadian company). I moisturize my face sometimes, typically after a shower, with pure oils (as shared above) or a wild-crafted natural carrot cream made by Sigrid (a local, Canadian artisan).
Makeup: Although I was never a heavy makeup user, my use of makeup has still significantly decreased in the types, amounts, and frequency of use over the past 8 years. I enjoy wearing some eye makeup, and today, it is good to know that there are so many choices for safe, natural, and cruelty-free makeup. My occasional makeup routine takes less than 5 minutes and consists of eye makeup only. (I do not wear any foundation, powders, blushes, or lipstick.) My top current choices are liquid eyeliner from Zuzu, eye shadow from Nvey Eco and mascara from Mineral Fusion. In the past I’ve also enjoyed mascara and eyeshadow from Real Purity.
Oral Care: As of 2008, I stopped using conventional toothpaste, and any toothpaste with fluoride, SLS, and other undesirable ingredients. My primary toothpaste choice since then has been Green Beaver’s mint toothpaste. In recent times, I have also incorporated occasional oil pulling (with virgin coconut oil) in the mornings and rinsing with xylitol before bedtime. Flossing is a regular part of my oral care routine with a natural, vegan-friendly floss. (I never use any mouthwash or tooth bleaching agents.)
Under-arm Care: When it comes to deodorants, over the years I weaned myself off of anti-perspirants and switched to natural deodorants, then tried the crystal rock, and by 2010 was completely deodorant-free. I have been loving this personal care liberation so much that it now seems absurd to me to consider applying anything to my armpits. After all, these are one of our main detox pathways and to block them with anything goes completely against our body’s natural functions. And the best part is that there is no problem with body odor! When we detoxify our body, eat a clean, whole-food, plant-based diet, exercise, and live in a more natural and harmonious flow of life, our bodies reflect this, where neither excessive perspiration, nor foul odor is any kind of issue.
Sun Care: Another liberating experience on my journey was re-establishing a healthy relationship with the sun to support my health and not block its beneficial and healing power. Even though I was never a heavy sunscreen user, up to my mid 20s I succumbed to the conditioning about the necessity of sunscreen products. After that, thanks to extensive research and my awakened return to a more natural and balanced way of life, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that synthetic sunscreen products cause more harm than good. Since then, I prioritize a healthy relationship with the sun via regular sun exposure in a smart and balanced way, along with a nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich diet which offers further support and protection. I am mindful and don’t abuse my time in the sun, and in turn I don’t burn, or fear sun exposure. I simply use clothing as needed to enjoy the sun responsibly, and in very rare cases (i.e. uncovered/prolonged time, especially near Equator) I may use a natural zinc oxide sunblock on exposed areas. My top choices have been unscented sunblock from Badger or Green Beaver.