Over the past few years I’ve detoxed and simplified my personal care. I wash my face with honey, moisturise my face with a locally made natural cream, wash and moisturise my body with Almond oil, use a natural deodorant, dye my hair with henna, use diluted liquid castile soap in a foaming pump as a hand wash, and no longer use shampoo or conditioner. Every now and then, if my hair or skin is extra dry, i'll use a moisturising body bar and treat myself to some pantry pampering.
Wondering why? Watch the Story of Cosmetics:
All you have to do is change one product at a time
Initially, when I decided to switch to safer more sustainable options, I was overwhelmed. There were toxic chemicals in so much of what I used. How do I know what to use instead?
I've since decided to take it slowly. Each time something runs out I replace it with a safer more sustainable alternative. Make-up lasts me so long that I'm still using a lipstick that likely contains lead and a foundation that is probably full of nasties.
How to choose safer more sustainable alternatives
1. Firstly, I consider whether there's something in my pantry that I can use. I figure that if it's safe enough to eat, slathering it all over my skin and hair won't hurt either. Hence the washing my face with honey and using bicarb and vinegar to wash my hair. I love pantry pampering, or as Crunchy Betty puts it, 'putting food on my face'.
2. I then consider making something myself with ingredients I know and trust. I've found both New Directions and Aussie Soap Supplies are geat sources for natural ingredients.The web provides an endless source of recipes. Simply google whatever you need. For example, 'natural + face wash + recipe' or 'natural + hair + conditioner + recipe'.
3. If the pantry or hand-making doesn't deliver, I then consider purchasing a commercial 'natural' and safe product. This is where I find it can get confusing. There's the embodied energy of the product, it's packaging and it's transport to consider. The confusion increases when you consider words like 'natural' and 'organic'. Unfortunately, these words don't mean a product is safe or environmentally friendly.
As described by Nicile Brijlsma in Healthy Home Healthy Family, 'natural' is a loose term that is defined as 'derived from a natural substance'. Think about it - asbestos, uranium and all of the heavy metals - all of which can kill you, are naturally found in the earth. The term 'derived from' is equally misleading as it usually indicates that the product is synthetically made. For example, 'Sodium Laureth Sulphate' (derived from coconut) is made by adding sulphuric acid to coconut. 'Organic' is just as bad. The cosmetics industry's definition of 'organic' is the same as the scientific definition which means 'any substance that contains a carbon atom'. Genuine organic products will be certified by a credible organisation.
With all this confusion I often resort to brands I think I can trust. You won't find these brands in your local supermarket, department store or chemist. Instead head to your local organic or health food store or an online store that specialises in natural and safe products.
Don't give up
Some changes took me a while to get used to, like using henna to dye my hair. At first I struggled to apply the grainy dark mud-like mix, and ended up with more on the floor than on my head. Now, after some practice, I manage to keep almost all of it on my head.
Other changes involved trying or considering a few products before finding something that suited me, like deodorant. At first I switched to a natural crystal deodorant. It was OK in winter, but not so great in summer. I'd considered making a batch of Angry Chicken's deodorant, as i'd heard good things about it, but hadn't gotten around to making a batch before I tried and fell in love with Weleda's wild rose deodorant. The downside is it's imported and hence comes with a comparatively large transport footprint, but it has plenty going for it to compensate. It doesn't contain any of the nasties typically found in deodorant (particularly Aluminium) and instead uses only pure essential oils and plant extracts. It's packaged in a reuseable glass bottle rather than plastic, it works, and it lasts for ages. I'm only onto my second bottle after using it for well over a year.
Discount and Giveaway from Echolife Australia
I was recently contacted by Ecoholife Australia. In their words, Echolife..."stock a carefully hand-picked range of health products and skin care - we're basically biased towards all natural products that use organic and fair-trade ingredients wherever possible (we think it's the responsible thing to do - and we also like giving as much information as possible about every product we sell, because that's only fair!)."
That sounds fair to me. I've noticed they also offer free shipping for orders within Australia.
5 % discount
Echolife wanted to offer Little Eco Footprints readers a 5% reusable discount, valid on everything in their online store. To claim the discount simply enter 'eco footprints' (without the quote marks) on the shopping cart page or during checkout and 5% will be automatically taken off the total. Contact Echolife if you have any problems with the discount code working. The code is valid for the whole of 2011 and not limited per person per use - so anyone can use it as much as they want.
I noticed Echolife sell the deodorant I use, so I cheekily asked if they'd be willing to offer my readers a deodorant giveaway. They agreed. So available to win is a bottle of Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant.You can smell just like me ;-)
To enter, simply decide upon a personal care product you need to detox, head on over to Echolife to see if they stock a kinder alternative, and head back here and leave a comment sharing your findings. Those of you reading this by email will need to head on over to the blog (by clicking on the title) to leave a comment.
One entry per person, please. Sorry, entries only open to those with Australian addresses.
Entries close midnight (Australian EST) Saturday 16th April. The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced here in this post by Monday 18th. I'll contact the winner directly by email.
Thank you for all your entires. The winner was comment number 38, by Savingplaneta.blogspot.com. Congratularions Clare.