Thursday, February 23, 2012

My 10 Steps to Natural Living // Step Seven: Wash Away Chemicals

One of the areas in which I want to live more “naturally” is with my bath and beauty products. This is primarily because many of the conventional products are packed with chemicals that can do one or more of the following:

1) Disrupt the body’s natural oil production or self-healing processes
2) Perpetuate skin irritation and/or acne
3) Act as carcinogens 

Personally, I have experienced numbers 1 and 2…and while I do not live in fear of number 3, I believe in being wise with my choices. 

I actually started the process of choosing natural body-care products a couple of years ago:

I switched to mostly mineral make-up (Everyday Minerals) and Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Mascara. With fewer irritants on my face, my eyes have been allergy-free and my skin is healthier.

I also started using Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean face wash. This is definitely the best face wash I’ve found for my oily/combination skin. It is great for reducing breakouts due to external triggers (but hormonal breakouts require a little help from my diet it seems).

I’ve also noticed a reduction in skin irritation when I use “natural” body washes and lotions. The products I use are still somewhat conventional though, containing mostly natural ingredients with a few sketch chemicals thrown in. My skin is not entirely happy yet, so I am on the hunt for solutions that are purer still.

I think the hardest part of this process is changing your mindset. For some reason we think clean and healthy can only be accomplished using store-bought products. It was hard for me to even think that products from the earth or from food are actually acceptable as cleansers, moisturizers or beauty aids (especially natural oils). But they are! This simple sugar scrub helped convince me of it:

I found the recipe for it linked on a blog, and decided to make a bunch of scrubs in different flavors/scents as Christmas gifts. The only ingredients are some kind of oil (I used sunflower), sugar (brown, white or both) and a flavor/scent (easiest to use are essential oils).  I made pumpkin spice, vanilla, lemon, eucalyptus and lavender scented scrubs. 

I was so surprised at how great the scrub feels! The sugar exfoliates while the oil moisturizes the skin. I used it in the shower and found I didn’t need lotion on my skin after using it. My skin was softer than from any chemical-based lotion I’ve used. Perhaps natural oil is a good thing after all!

Since then I’ve learned that natural products can not only make skin look and feel good, they can cleanse too. Natural oils help strip away dirt without disrupting your body’s natural moisturizers (like chemical based cleansers do which causes the body to produce more oils than it should). Tea tree oil and honey both have anti-bacterial and healing properties that make them ideal for cleansing the skin. Even baking soda can be used as a scrub to rid your body of unwanted grime without damaging anything.

Over the past couple months I have been pinning ideas from blogs onto my Pinterest boards about homemade natural body care products. I’m starting with the simple ideas and working my way to the more complex. However, no idea I’ve found is that difficult. Many homemade products use items from the pantry and are as simple as following a recipe! 

As I try more and more ideas, I will be sharing them here. I’ve already started on one big change replacing a couple of items in my shower. I’ll reveal it in a couple of weeks. ;-) I will also be exploring the world of homemade face masks and lotion bars. (I love the ideas on this Crunchy Betty blog!)

In the meantime, if you have any recipes or tips, please share!