For the past 3-4 years, I have tried to find natural, non-toxic alternatives to all the household and personal products we use. It has been a lot of trial and error, further complicated by my sensitive skin and the fact that I’m allergic to so many things, especially natural products, ironically enough. Some natural skincare products made my skin look great (Dr. Alkaitis is one example), but I ended up with migraine-like headaches because I was allergic to something in them. Sadly, my body seems to tolerate chemicals much better than fruit.
One disturbing thing I discovered when I started reading labels on everything closely is that many brands that portray themselves as natural or organic still can contain many “bad” ingredients. Be especially wary of products containing DEA and TEA – in combination with preservatives they can form nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer in numerous studies (according to the Environmental Working Group, one in every 10 products contains ingredients that can combine with others to form nitrosamines.). Lesson learned: it’s not necessarily a non-toxic product just because they’re selling it at Whole Foods.
Here’s a good example. It is from a liquid soap that I think most people think of as natural and good for you.
Compare those ingredients to my list of Toxic Personal Care Ingredients. Not a product I want to use, that’s for sure.
But I was (and am) determined to find non-toxic products that worked for me, and I have! These are my favorite natural soaps and moisturizers:
I absolutely love the products from Keys Soap, a small company started by a husband and wife after she was diagnosed with skin cancer and the treatments left her with super sensitive skin. When they were not able to find products her body could handle, they invented their own. All their products are so mild you can use them on babies and pets. They are completely free of chemicals, gluten free, vegan and not tested on animals.
Keys’ Island RX Foaming Facial Cleanser. For years, I used to use a soap I could only find in Sweden (and had to stock up whenever I was there) for my face, and thought it worked great. Then I read the ingredients and realized it was full of chemicals. I switched to this and noticed a difference overnight. My skin is so much softer, smoother, and I don’t have nearly as many breakouts as I used to. It also smells great – a refreshing light orangey smell. And look at the ingredients: Purified water, saponified natural coconut and olive oil, avocado oil, blood orange EO, clary sage EO. That’s it! Compare that to the label above…
We also use their Galleyon Spearmint soap as a shower gel. It’s minty, naturally antibacterial and comes in a self-foaming bottle.
|South of France|
In the kitchen, I like to use South of France’s Lemon-Mint liquid soap. It’s unfortunately not organic, but it has all natural ingredients, a fresh, very subtle smell, and they don’t test on animals.
Keys Soap Eye Butter. We both use this, and love it. It’s really rich but not so greasy that it melts into your eyes; however, I only use it at night, because it does make my makeup run a little bit. But it works great, makes your skin so soft.
Keys Luminous Moisturizer. This one is intended for use on the face and neck; I use it on my neck and as a body lotion and hand cream. It makes my face break out, it’s too rich for me, but it’s fantastic as a body lotion.
Santaverde is another great company with lots of fantastic products. They are based in Germany and use their own, organically grown (in Spain), aloe vera as the base for all their products, (unlike most other moisturizers which are water-based) so even though they feel very light, they really moisturize and calm the skin. They all smell wonderful as well, very subtle, but so fresh and good. And they don’t test on animals.
Santaverde Aloe Vera Body Lotion. This one is wonderful, not as heavy as the Luminous so it’s perfect for the warmer months. It’s on the pricey side though, so I only buy it occasionally as a special treat.
Santaverde Aloe Vera Crème (rich and medium) for the face. Wonderful facial moisturizers, light (but still gets the job done) with a nice, almost candy-like smell. The medium one is a great anti wrinkle cream as well.
Santaverde Aloe Vera Eye Crème. Another great product, it’s very, very light, so for me with my super dry skin, it’s not so good in winter, but in the warmer months, it’s perfect.
Swiss company Weleda is another of my favorite skin care companies and they take things a step further by using not just organic, but biodynamically grown ingredients from their own gardens in Germany, Switzerland, France, UK, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil and New Zealand.
In biodynamic growing, you do not use any pesticides or chemicals whatsoever, as opposed to organic, which still uses some, but fewer and less toxic than in conventional growing. Biodynamic farming has its roots in the anthroposophy movement, which began with philosopher Dr. Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Read more about biodynamic growing. Weleda do not test on animals either.
Weleda’s Skin Food. This super-rich cream is perfect for dry feet. It sinks in fast, makes your feet baby soft and it has a really soft, refreshing smell. I can’t really pinpoint what that smell is, but the cream has violet, chamomille and calendula so it must be one (or all) of those.
Weleda’s Almond Intensive Facial Cream. Another favorite for face and neck. Not too heavy, not too light, works great any time of year. It doesn’t smell much of anything, maybe vaguely of almonds.
Weleda’s Body Oils in Wild Rose and Citrus. At first, I was a bit hesitant to put oil on my body – wouldn’t I be greasy all day long? Turns out they sink in really fast and wow do they make your skin soft! Neither scent is so strong it’s overpowering, just a faint hint of it lingers on your skin, and you can’t even smell it after a few hours. I love the Wild Rose in winter, I find it very warming and soothing, and the Citrus in summer, it’s so refreshing.
Weleda Everon Lip Balm. The best product I’ve ever tried for dry lips. It’s inexpensive, smells great (faintly of vanilla) and can heal chapped lips overnight. I also use it (a separate one!) around my nose overnight when I have a cold and have been blowing my nose until it’s raw, and on my fingers when they get so dry the skin cracks. (I have very dry skin).
Dr. Hauscka’s Lip Care Stick is another favorite. It’s a bit pricey, but works great and looks kind of like a lip gloss. I use it when I’m going out and want to look extra fabulous!
I hope this has been of help when it comes to picking out better alternatives to products we use every day. In my next post, I will talk about more favorite natural body care products such as organic schampoo, acne remedies, sunscreen, deodorants, etc.