Inspired by this book, Health and Beauty the Natural Way: Simple, Safe Recipes to Nurture and Beautify, I have tried out some natural alternatives to conventional toiletries. I picked my copy up at the library, but on Amazon a used copy will run you about 50 cents. My desire to switch comes solely because of the chemicals in traditional makeup, but natural beauty recipes are also better for the environment and generally incredibly less expensive.
Besides make-up I use around 10 different beauty products often and many more occasionally. All are store-bought and all have a myriad of chemicals, most of which have been proven to be harmful. For example I use a clarifying shampoo every 2 weeks or so and my favorite is Tresemme Deep Cleansing. Here is its ingredient list:
Water (Aqua, Eau) , Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate , Cocamidopropyl Betaine , Ammonium Chloride , Fragrance (Parfum) , DMDM Hydantoin , Disodium EDTA , Citric Acid , Butylphenyl Methylpropional , Limonene , Amyl Cinnamal , Green 5 (CI 61570) , Polysorbate 20 , Propylene Glycol , Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein , Hydrolyzed Keratin , Citrus Medica Limonum Peel Extract (Lemon) , Tocopheryl Acetate , Panthenol , Ascorbic Acid , Citrus Grandis Fruit Extract (Grapefruit) , Niacinamide , Biotin
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate: “…It has been shown to causes severe epidermal changes to the area of skin to which it was applied. Other studies found heavy deposition of the detergent on the skin surface and in the hair follicles; damage to the hair follicle could result from such deposition.” (Source)
DMDM Hydantoin: Although this chemical by law is found at a low percentage in cosmetics it along with other similar chemicals release formaldehyde and “exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. It can also aggravate coughs and colds and trigger asthma.” (Source)
Disodium EDTA: “…binds metals required for normal cell division, some studies indicated that these compounds were weakly mutagenic. Some studies showed reproductive and developmental effects following oral exposure to large doses of metal chelators” (Source)
Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Amyl Cinnamal and Fragrance (Parfum): “Clinical observation by medical doctors has shown that exposure to fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes.” (Source)
Quite a few of the other ingredients and all the ones I listed above have been proven to be more harmful in larger doses. Which if you are using multiple products with the same ingredients everyday these chemicals can be building up. Here is an excerpt from a 2007 article by Paul Stokes on the advisability of using chemical heavy toiletries:
“Dependence on cosmetics and toiletries means that a cocktail of 4lb 6oz of chemicals a year is absorbed into the body through the skin. Some synthetic compounds involved have been linked to side effects ranging from skin irritation to premature aging and cancer. Richard Bence, a biochemist who has spent three years researching conventional products, said: “We really need to start questioning the products we are putting on our skin and not just assume that the chemicals in them are safe.”
If you need more proof you should ditch your traditional shampoo, because shampoo acts as detergent the more you use it, the more you need it. If you shampoo everyday your hair’s oil layer is stripped away causing your hair to produce more oil, which you need to strip away and so on. Although I have yet to find a really good recipe for an everyday natural shampoo, I do have a fantastic alternative for a clarifying shampoo.
The super simple alternative to a store-bought clarifying shampoo is… drum roll…
Just like a regular clarifying shampoo, using baking soda will remove the build up that comes from using lots of hair products. It couldn’t be simpler to do either.
Pour baking soda in a bowl, and mix enough water in to make a paste. I used around 3/4 of a cup of baking soda which amply coated my shoulder length hair. Get your hair wet and coat with baking soda. Some people rinse it out right away others leave it in for 10 minutes. I have been rinsing after 2-ish minutes. That’s it, style normally.
I have very fine hair, and product build up makes it even more limp and lifeless than it is normally. After using baking soda, it is fuller and takes styling much easier.
This baking soda recipe should only be used as a clarifying shampoo, that is only used every 2 weeks or so. When used to often it can be to harsh, and dry out your hair. However if you want to transition into using it everyday check out Simplemom.net which will tell you how to do it. Also note if you have colored hair baking soda shouldn’t hurt your color, but it could shorten how long your color lasts.
This is just one of the many recipes I will be trying out, and from now on I won’t add the alarmist, preachy, guilt-trip section about how we are slathering ourselves in chemicals in front of the actual recipe. Just keep it in mind.