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.