Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Basic Body Products

What started out as a comment to Meredith's great previous post on EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database just needed more room. This is such an important subject! You can eat real food, drink pure water, take pains to avoid environmental pollutants, but still swamp your body with a slow drip of toxins because of what you smear into it.

Thanks to a friend, I discovered Skin Deep several years ago and was hooked at first glance. I've been slowly transitioning to safer body products, for the good of both my body and the earth. Based on Meredith's categories, here's some of what we currently use:

I think my very first post on this blog was for our homemade deodorant. It is the best stuff I've ever tried, and that's coming from this potentially smelly girl! Keenan uses it too, and we both love it. Among other things, women's antiperspirants contain aluminum, which was the big worry that propelled me to a natural deodorant. If you can only face making one change to your hygiene bag, start with this one. You don't want to be rubbing a heavy metal (among other things) into one of the most absorbant areas of your body, right by that precious breast tissue.

My current favorite toothpaste is Jason Sea Fresh paste, which is not on Skin Deep (the gel version is, but some ingredients differ). When checked individually, the ingredients on my box all rank very low. I love the taste, but I was mostly drawn to it because it doesn't contain fluoride, and because it sounded like fun.

Truth be told, I often use straight coconut oil for this purpose. If I shave my legs (yes, if...), I just rub in a little coconut oil afterward and never have a problem. I tend to blame my red hair for my sensitive rash-prone skin, so if this works for me, it will work for anyone. One of the beauties of coconut oil is that it absorbs 100% into the skin, not to mention its myriad other benefits. Become an addict.

You might also try this great homemade lotion recipe, which doubles as an unrivaled diaper cream. Keenan uses this very similar homemade aftershave.

The only make-up I wear is mascara. I used to use Maybelline (which only gets a 4 on Skin Deep, better than I thought), but one time I visited home for a couple weeks and had to borrow Meredith's mascara because I left mine home. That worked out fine, but when I went back home to my Maybelline, I got a persistent red rash around my eyes (??). I finally threw out the mascara, which solved the problem. Since then, I've been experimenting with various mineral mascaras: more expensive, but much lower on the hazard scale.

We love Dr. Bronner's castile soaps! We love them in the bottles and we love them as bars. The Baby Mild is one of my favorites, both for the kids and for me!

This deserves a post of its own one day. Long story short: last year I stopped using shampoo and conditioner for about 8 months. Instead, I did a baking soda rinse followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. I felt like I was cleansing my hair. I also stopped having to wash my hair nearly so often. Whereas before I had to wash it every other day, now I only use shampoo/conditioner about every 10 days, often with a baking soda/vinegar rinse in between.

When I do use poo (sorry Mom), I alternate between a Trader Joe's brand and Desert Essence Red Raspberry. I was surprised to find that the latter gets a 4 at Skin Deep. When I first bought it, it wasn't on their site, so I looked up every ingredient individually before purchasing. Most of the ingredients were very low, maybe one was as high as 3. Apparently, they stay very up-to-date, so keep checking back on the products you use!

I used to use Aubrey Organics, which rates between 2 and 4, depending on the flavor. :)

I also stumbled on Katie Kimball's thorough review of sunscreens, and since last year have used mineral-based Loving Naturals. It works great, but it's a little hard to rub all the way in. Katie mentions this in her 2012 update on the product (talk about staying updated).

As our bodies are strong and resilient, they are also delicate and vulnerable, and must be cared for mindfully. I feel a vigilance and urgency to keep out anything that might harm, and I'm grateful we've made some progress over the past few years. I have become an avid, even obsessive, ingredient-reader. But since it's nearly impossible to stay on top of everything going into products these days, I am happy for a resource like Skin Deep to help us along in our quest toward wholeness. Along with the reading Meredith recommended from their site, I recommend their Top Tips for Safer Products.

Isn't it great to be in this together?


  1. Wonderful post, Nonie! I confess, I haven't tried your deodorant recipe yet, but I think about it every day :S I need to get on that!

  2. Since Jayson started working for Melaleuca I have become increasingly aware of the types of ingredients that are being put into beauty/body products. They present themselves as a company that provides products that are safe for you, your home, and the environment. I haven't done a lot of personal research into their claims, however they do a lot of backing it up with their own research, which of course always has to be taken with a grain of salt since every company wants to make themselves look good :) I have however been really impressed with a lot of their products so far. I love that they have just a deodorant (instead of antiperspirant/deodorant), which doesn't contain aluminum! I was getting really bad rashes from my old deodorant and I am convinced that antiperspirant is a total crock anyway. Seriously, does anyone really not sweat when wearing it?!

    Since you mentioned mascara I looked up the ingredients in their mascara on Skin Deep (none of their actual products are on the website since they don't sell their products on store shelves). All of the ingredients in it scored a 0 or 1, with the exception of one 2, and two that got a 3/4 - but were pretty low on the ingredient list. So I am feeling pretty good about that! Here is the link to Melaleuca's mascara

    I am impressed with your diligence in researching all of this and that you make so many products on your own! You amaze me!