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Naturalize your grooming

Like many people, I have allergies. Like some of those people, my allergies include a sensitivity to artificial scents. When exposed to artificially scented products, I have an array of reactions ranging from hives, a headache, a sore throat to puffy eyes.

What’s strange is that, despite having this allergy, it took the better part of my life to remove artificial scents from my personal routines. Through my teens and early twenties, I can still recall hunting through drugstores trying to find just the “right” scented grooming products – ones I thought I could “handle.” From deodorant to hair gel to laundry detergent, it was always a battle to find items that would bother me only a little bit. It went on like this for years.

Then one day, about ten years ago, it hit me: “Why not use unscented products?”

Then another day, about five years ago, it hit me again: “Why not use unscented products that are chemical free?”

Since I’d already eliminated scented chemicals, why not go one step further and rid my life of chemicals suspected to cause bodily inflammation, hormone alteration and the promotion of cancer?

So my journey began, except that it wasn’t entirely straightforward. I found that some products are so automatic in one’s daily routine, that they are not easily spotted and replaced. It’s akin to peeling an onion – many layers are found. Every time I finally removed all the harsh chemicals from my life, another seemingly obvious one popped up. For instance, how could I not have realized that my shaving cream contains tons of non-naturally occurring ingredients? It’s a good question that I don’t have an answer to. It’s something that I wish would have been pointed out to me years ago so I could have made the switch.

In consideration of this, I’ve assembled a personal grooming list that includes a naturally-based product alternative for each (and by personal grooming, I mean anything that comes in contact with skin):

-Soap: Most soap is not soap but a form of detergent. Instead look for glycerin, Castile or olive oil based soaps. Goat milk soap is also good. For a deeper scrub, environmentally friendly dish soap works well

-Shampoo: One of the biggest markets for natural products. There are tons of unscented or naturally scented shampoos. If you’re interested in making your own, combining unscented Castile soap, distilled water and organic essential oils is an easy solution

-Hair Product: Shea butter or coconut oil. It won’t work for everyone but if you have short hair, it does the trick. If you can find a natural hand/body lotion, that’ll work great too

-Face Lotion: Washing your face with soap strips away oils and natural hydration. Scrubbing (lightly) with water helps to decrease the need for face lotion. It takes time but facial skin eventually evens itself out. The same is true for the rest of the body

-Deodorant: Mineral salt-based, crystal deodorant. To have success with this, you’ll probably have to trim your underarm hair quite short. But good news, short armpit hair also helps the area stay dry

-Lip Balm: Try and break free of this. The body will eventually regulate the condition of its lips. If you live in a dry climate and suffer during the winter, try the age-old trick of using oil from your nose or forehead. It really does work

-Laundry Detergent: There’s a wide array of plant-based cleansers in the organic section of the grocery store. Also, one can use the up-and-coming “soap nut” – a nut full of natural soap, that comes from Asia.

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the last revelations I had was in regard to using name-brand, aerosol-based shaving cream. I have yet to figure out a decent alternative, as most of the natural soaps I’ve tried dry-out my skin. Oils such as coconut and olive seem to work but I’m on the fence about whether or not they clog pores. Similarly, I’ve had difficulty switching from harsh-chemical toothpaste. Switching to natural brands – even ones with fluoride – left me with cavities.

If you have any suggestions about shaving cream or toothpaste alternatives, I’m all ears. In fact, if you have any other natural grooming suggestions at all, share in the comments section below.

Having lived on both coasts and smack-dab in the middle of the prairies, Mark believes himself to be quite the well-rounded Canadian. That being said, he sure does struggle with appropriate regional diction. Remind him again: Is it pronounced scallop or skahllop?

4 Responses to “Naturalize your grooming”


1. Simple toothpaste
Inspired by Stephanie Tourles and her DIY beauty bible “Organic Body Care Recipes,” this formula couldn’t be easier. This is for a single-use application, so the adjust measurements to suit the amount you like on your brush.
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
1 drop peppermint, clove, or citrus pure essential oil
A few drops of water

Mix ingredients in a small bowl and combine thoroughly until a thick paste is formed. Scoop it on to your toothbrush and brush as usual.

2. Vegan toothpaste
Many commercial toothpastes include glycerin to help maintain the product’s texture, but unless it is listed specifically as vegetable glycerin, it is of animal origin. If you want a vegan toothpaste that contains glycerin, try this.

2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
4 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
8 tablespoons water
5 drops peppermint, clove, or citrus pure essential oil

Place all the ingredients except essential oil in a pot and cook on low heat, stirring frequently, for five minutes or until the mixture achieves a paste-like texture. Cool, add essential oil to taste, and store in a sterile jar at room temperature. Use as usual.

3. Coconut-based toothpaste
This formula swaps out the glycerin and uses coconut oil instead. The coconut flavor and essential oil should mask the subtle taste of the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, but you can add a few drops of stevia if you prefer a sweeter paste.

6 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide
2 tablespoons coconut oil (warm enough to be liquid, which means above 76 degrees F)
10 drops peppermint, clove, or citrus pure essential oil

Put baking soda in a bowl, add the other ingredients and mix until you achieve a proper paste texture. Add a small amount of baking soda if it’s runny; add more coconut oil if it’s too dry. Taste, and add more essential oil if you want a more flavorful paste. Store in an opaque container (required to protect the hydrogen peroxide) and use as usual.



For teeth, google “Miswak stick”, you can order them online for about two dollars each. Why not try aloe vera gel for shaving.



Flouride is not a cavity fighter it is an industrial waste & pioson.

Cavaties don’t have much to do with the toothpaste your using but with your diet, heridity & the acid balance of your mouth’s ph balance.



    Brandie & Will – I think it’s important to emphasize that fluoride is fluoride. Just as in say, iron is iron. Iron is essential to processes in the body but if one ingests too much iron, toxicity will occur. The same holds true for fluoride.

    The reason I have stuck it out so long with a fluoride toothpaste is because of the relatively low content within. I am a daily green tea drinker and as a result, I am ingesting fluoride in concentrations significantly higher than that of toothpaste. Despite this, I still wish to abandon ‘brand name’ toothpaste as there are additional chemicals I seek to avoid.

    That being said, every time I move away from ‘big brand’ toothpaste, I inevitably have a bout of cavities within six months to a year. I am aware that cavities can result from diet and the acidity of one’s body/mouth. However, the fact remains that I don’t develop cavities in ’bouts’ while I’m using big brand toothpaste. As soon as I switch, they come back. There could be many reasons for this but one of them is definitely linked to abandoning the name brand product.

    Ruth – Thanks for suggesting the Miswak Stick. I’ll look into it.

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