Cheaper chooks - How to reduce the cost of feeding chickens
Declutter your Christmas

Pantry pampering - Do you really want your family to bathe in carcinogens?


There are a whole lot of chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products that I’d prefer to avoid. There’s lead in lipsticks, mercury in mascara, and cancer-causing chemicals in bath products for babies and kids.

Even so called ‘natural’ products contain ingredients best avoided.

I checked out the ingredients of a major brand of ‘pure and natural’ face moisturiser against the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database. I discovered that of the 25 ingredients listed, two are considered a ‘high hazard’. There are a further seven (including the main ingredient) that are considered ‘moderate hazard’. Just because something is advertised as containing ‘ingredients of natural origin’ doesn’t mean that it’s safe to put on your skin.

I’ve gradually detoxed and simplified my personal care, replacing each product as it ran out with a safer and simpler option.

More of often than not I found this safer and simpler option in my pantry. I figure that if something is safe enough to eat, slathering it all over my skin and hair won't hurt either.


It may sound crazy – but I wash my face with honey. I place a little honey on a face washer, wash, and then rinse with water. Using something so sticky to wash your face seems counterintuitive – but it works. Honey is apparently great for any skin type and is antibacterial and incredibly moisturizing. I love that I'm washing my face with something that’s simple, natural, package-free, renewable, inexpensive and is made by my very own bees.

I moisturise with almond or coconut oil and a locally made moisturiser with ingredients so simple I could make it myself.

My daughter and I also enjoy regular pantry pampering sessions. Pantry pampering can be messy - so after my daughter mixes up the ingredients, we usually head outside and sit on a towel under a tree.

Here are few of our favourite kid-friendly pantry pampering recipes.


Honey and wheat germ face scrub: Mix a tablespoon of each.

Super moisturising hair mask: Mix a tablespoon of honey and olive oil with an egg yolk. Apply to wet hair and leave for at least half an hour before thoroughly washing out.

Nourishing and moisturising face mask: Mash and combine half an avocado, half a banana and a tablespoon of yoghurt.

If you would like to learn more about chemicals in cosmetics, watch the Story of Cosmetics and visit (edited to add - and read the just launched free e book Less Toxic Living - see note below). 

Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 16th November 2013.

Less Toxic Living - How to reduce your everyday exposure to toxic chemicals:  An introduction for families

Kirsten McCulloch of Sustainable Suburbia recently launched Less Toxic Living - How to reduce your everyday exposure to toxic chemicals: An introduction for families

The book is full of practical tips for reducing your family’s exposure to nasty chemicals. For example, the Cosmetics and Skin Care Chapter includes articles on ‘What are the main chemicals to avoid in cosmetics?’, ‘What is in our products: A brief look at Parabens’, and ‘Nanos and sunscreen: Are shade, shirts and hats the safer option?’. 

I’m finding the book super useful and am thrilled to be one of the contributors

The book is available to purchase as a paperback or an e version of the book can be downloaded for FREE!.