So we’ve talked about going shampoo-free, and we’ve talked about using oil to clean your face naturally. But a few of you have asked — what about the rest? What about soap, toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, and the like?
I’ll be the first to admit that going natural with my toiletries and cosmetics is new to me. This isn’t something I’ve done for years, and am just now dispensing my experiential wisdom. Switching to homemade or natural is something I’ve been doing just over the past six months, so I’m learning as I go.
I do know that the more I learn about what ingredients are in conventional toiletries, the less comfortable I am in spreading them on my largest, most porous organ. But I’m not an alarmist, so we’re doing this gradually, as we run out of the stuff we’re already using.
Here are the remaining product choices we make in our family, tweaking and adjusting as we go.
Typical ingredients for conventional shower gels are detergents, preservatives, fragrance, and foaming agents. None of these things are toxic in very small quantities, but they do enter the bloodstream from our pores, and they’re technically not necessary to get clean. So I figure — why bother using them if I don’t need them? And they’re extremely dangerous in larger quantities.
Many people make their own soap, but I don’t. I just don’t have the time right now. So for us, we use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. It’s concentrated, so just one bottle will last ages. There’s nothing in it but pure castile soap and essential oils (if it’s scented).
Once you start using pure and simple castile soap, you’ll realize the film that traditional shower gels leave. Dr. Bronner’s is cost-effective, long-lasting, and serves many purposes. My husband actually washes his hair with this instead of the baking soda and water rinse that I use.
Not only can you wash your body and hair with castile soap, you can also use it as a household cleaner, as dish soap, as a produce rinse, as laundry soap, and even as toothpaste.
Most conventional toothpastes have dyes synthesized from petroleum, sodium fluoride, foaming agents (also used in engine degreasers and strong household cleaners), and a myriad of other toxins.
There’s something about the fact that it’s used in the mouth that makes me squirm when I read about the nitty gritty ingredients in toothpaste. If you’d like to learn more, head here for more information.
I recently started making our own toothpaste, and I’m still tweaking the recipe. My husband isn’t crazy about the baking soda flavor, but I like it. Admittedly, if I had access to natural toothpaste brands like Tom’s of Maine, I’d probably stick to buying that. But since I don’t, here’s the recipe I’ve tried.
Basic Homemade Toothpaste
- 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons of baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon of Stevia powder
- a few drops of pure peppermint extract
Mix it all together until it resembles toothpaste.
Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees Fahrenheit, which means this toothpaste feels more liquidy during warmer weather. It doesn’t change its effectiveness, though.
The Stevia provides a bit of natural sweetness, making the toothpaste palatable, as does the pure peppermint extract. You could try a variety of flavors to your liking.
Right now, I’ve got this toothpaste in a small lidded jar, and I scoop out a tiny bit with a tea spoon onto my toothbrush. But you can also get empty squeeze tubes, often found among camping supplies at stores.
Lotion and Moisturizer
Caramel Pecan Double Vanilla Bean lotion from Verbena Custom Blends on Etsy.
Right now I’m using a deliciously divine lotion a friend here made from me. I watched her melt the ingredients together in just a few minutes over the stove, then whipped together in the blender to make a rich, creamy lotion. She used lemongrass and lavender essential oils together, and it smells heavenly.
There are a wide variety of homemade lotion recipes; it just requires the ingredients. Most ingredients are easily found in health stores or online, so don’t let finding these things stop you. If you’d like to make your own, Brambleberry is a popular and reliable source for lotion ingredients.
Lotion is simply a mixture of water, oil, emulsifier (which blends the water and oil together so that it doesn’t separate), a thickener (the most common is stearic acid, found in cocoa butter), and a natural preservative.
You could also support homemade and buy from an Etsy shop — there are thousands of options there.
In warmer months, I don’t need a moisturizer with the oil cleanser I use on my face. But as the weather cools, I find I do need a touch of moisturizer in the morning. I use straight up coconut oil, easily found in major stores. A tiny bit goes a long way, and since it’s also a common ingredient in other natural toiletries, a jar of this stuff really comes in handy.
Photo from Diaper Ware
There are also lots of easy recipes for homemade lip balm and salve, but I use 100 percent lanolin. Yep, it’s the same stuff you use while breast feeding. In fact, I’m still using the tube I used when I was nursing my son a year ago! This stuff lasts forever.
It doesn’t dry out my lips like manufactured wax-based products, and a little lasts me almost the whole day. Lanolin is simply an ointment secreted by wool-bearing animals to protect their coats from water. So yes, it is essentially sheep sweat. But it’s not gross, I promise.
We’ve got a guest post on the way about making your own deodorant, and later, we’ll discuss using natural makeup, so stay tuned.
What tips do you have for making homemade toiletries or using natural ingredients?