Saturday, July 24, 2010

Slippery Slope: Natural Bodycare Goes Beyond Pooless

Once you start thinking about the absurdity of slathering your body with a daily dose of chemicals, it's hard to stop thinking about it.

Ditching shampoo was, for me, a gateway drug. I've moved on to eliminating most conventional skin care products from my routine, including soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and makeup.

Soap: I've used less soap than most people do for quite some time. What's wrong with a good, old-fashioned water rinse? The little soap (or soap-like substances) I use is mostly for shaving. I like Lush products, but it's worth checking them out on a site like Skin Deep because despite Lush's effective branding, some of their products are more "natural" than others.

Facial cleanser: My complexion, which improved dramatically upon removing grains and reducing dairy in my diet, looks even better now that I only cleanse my face once a day, typically to remove mascara. I use Lush for this, too.

Toothpaste: When it comes to dental health, diet (grains and sugar again!) is a significant factor. I recently took the additional step of switching from sweetened, chemical-laden Aquafresh Sensitive-Teeth Whitening to Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil & Neem toothpaste. I really like the mild flavor, and tooth sensitivity has not resurfaced as a problem.

Deodorant: This was the biggest change, for me. I've resisted natural deodorants for years for reasons similar to those that delayed my going pooless: I have a professional job that requires the wearing of professional clothes. Women's professional clothes, as you may have noticed, aren't generally well-suited (punny!) to antiperspirqnt-free living. I have yet to find a natural antiperspirant.

But, having achieved success on the pooless front, I finally consented to give it a go. Rather than trying a pre-fab natural deo, I mixed up my own based on a recipe posted by a reader on the womens' blog Jezebel. This is really easy. And cheap.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup baking soda
2 Tbs coconut oil
15-30 drops essential oil (Lavender and tea tree are recommended for their antimicrobial properties.)

The mixture is silky and snow-white. I keep it in a small, lidded container and use a fingertip to apply a pea-sized amount after showering. This stuff is seriously amazing! I've put it through long, summer days including farm work, heavy lifting sessions, laying out in the sun, and all manner of other sweaty ventures. No odor. None. For 24+ hours.

My commercial deo couldn't do that. And honestly, I'm not sure the commercial deo was doing a much better job on the antiperspirant front either. Plus, I swear my body has down-regulated on the BO front -- not that it's ever been a real issue for me, but these days, I can go a whole weekend on the farm with no deo at all, and no odor. Huh.

The only problem I'm having is that the homemade deodorant tends to give me a red, itchy, bumpy rash for about 12 hours after application. I suspect this is from the lavender oil and will be mixing up a batch later today without the oil, to see if that solves the problem while still working as effectively.

Makeup: I've never been a heavy user, but lately I've dropped the use of eye shadow, blush, and face powder. I keep a bottle of Lush's tea tree toner spray in my desk drawer for oily moments, but rarely need it. Mascara is my one holdout -- I just like how it looks. We'll see how long that lasts.

Moisturizer: I rarely need moisturizer these days, and have taken to telling people who comment on my "beautiful skin" that I moisturize from the inside by eating plenty of healthful fats. When I do use something, it's typically another Lush product. When I run out of that, I'll probably try the much-recommended coconut oil instead.

Okay, folks. What am I missing? What natural bodycare concoctions have you tried? Did you stick with it? Why or why not?


darius said...

I must agree with you about complexion clearing with avoidance of grains and legumes, and increased saturated fat consumption. My skin is so much better after just 3 months, but still a long way to go.

I gave up make-up along with corporate drag many years ago.

Anonymous said...

Instead of shampoo, you can try using baking soda. Just mix some with a few drops of water into a paste then massage into your hair and rinse out. If you need conditioner, try rinsing with apple cider vinegar (don't worry, it won't make your hair smell like vinegar!).

If you want to try an alternative deodorant, a natural salt rock could be worth a go. It won't reduce perspiration but will reduce odor.

Rosehip oil is a good natural moisturiser. Pure cocoa butter (comes in blocks and melts on contact with skin) or shea butter is a great body moisturiser.

When buying soap, I prefer handmade soaps that are palm oil free (palm oil production leads to destruction of rainforest).

On a tangent, most household cleaners can be replaced with baking soda and/or vinegar.

Here are a few recipes to try:

Clothes washing powder - 1 bar sunlight soap, whiz in food processor, add 1kg washing soda, whiz again. Use 1 Tbsp per wash.

Dishwaster powder - 1 cup washing soda, 1/4 citric acid, 2 tbsp salt, 1 cup baking soda. Mix in food processor and use in powder dispenser. White vinegar can be used for a rinse aid.

Toothpaste - mix together glycerine, baking soda & salt (1tbsp each), with a few drops of peppermint essential oil (or clove and orange)

Anonymous said...

Whoops, commented before reading earlier blogs - you're already up with the baking soda/vinegar hair wash routine ;-)

Have you read Michael Pollan's books? (An Ominivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Food Rules) - they're mostly common sense but include a lot of interesting info about the modern diet and healthier alternatives. (see:;

Hannah said...

I use ACV and distilled water as a facial cleanser before going to bed at night. I use 1/4 cup ACV and about 2-3 cups distilled water.

Aaron Curl said...

I work outside 10 hours a day and run a couple of miles every other day. I stopped using soap when I realized my sweat didn't stink as much as it used to (due to eating REAL food). We have been raised in a society based on "conventional wisdom" for way to long. I have never believed in following a structured system, which is what current society is. My uncluttered and unbiased mind is what led me to a paleo lifestyle and the best health I have ever been in. It's a very liberating experience when you take control of your life instead of letting society tell you what to do!