Here’s a little secret about me. I can’t stand perfumes.
Synthetic perfumes in soaps, shampoos, hand sanitizers, cleaning products, laundry detergents, air “fresheners”, perfumes… all of it. Perfume makes my skin crawl and my head ache, literally. Perfumes make me sneeze, sometimes I wheeze from them (if they’re really strong), and if they get on my skin I get itchy. This is not a newly acquired this-isn’t-natural-so-I-don’t-like-it Paleo thing, either: I’ve been like this for years.
Why Go Natural?
The reason my body–and maybe yours too–doesn’t like these overly scented scents is because they’re unnatural chemicals; they’re toxins. Sometimes I wonder how many people who are plagued by headaches and other conditions are just cozying up to blankets awash in fabric softener and spraying too much perfume on their bodies every day…
I’m of the opinion that you should be able to eat just about every beauty and household cleaning product you use. I mean, why would you want to touch something, wear something, or spray something near you that is poisonous to your body? Your skin is a very large entry point into your body, and so are your lungs, so I try to treat them as I do my mouth. Needless to say, I have to pick my beauty and cleaning products carefully, or make them myself.
7 of My Favorite Natural Household and Beauty Products
I only use body soap to shave my legs and wash particularly dirty parts of my body. Otherwise, it’s just hot water for me. I find that soap dries my skin out a lot, so I try to avoid it.
But when I do use soap, I’ve been really happy with the Whole Foods 365 Brand Unscented soap, which is made out of vegetable glycerin and saponified coconut oil. It lathers up well, makes me feel clean, and doesn’t stink.
Shampoo is one of those things that I actually like to smell, but only if it’s scented with essential oils. The trick to finding a good shampoo for me is to look at the very bottom of the ingredient list and look for “perfume” or “parfum” or something resembling that.
If it’s not on the list, then I look at the rest of the ingredients and see if it has all kinds of weird things in it – things I don’t recognize. Or wheat products. I don’t like putting wheat on my skin.
I’ve experimented with very simple bar shampoos, like the one pictured here. That particular one is called Soap Nuts Shampoo by www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com. It’s made with the following (and here’s the link to the sales page).
Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil; Organic Sunflower Oil; Organic Babassu Oil; Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Organic Soapnuts (Aritha) Water; Sodium Hydroxide*; Organic Cocoa Butter; Organic Castor Oil; Organic Rosemary Oil Extract (a natural antioxidant)
I was actually surprised that it worked. It lathered, cleaned my hair, and didn’t make it look dry or oily. Those ingredients are simpler than almost any other shampoo I’ve ever found, so I like it.
Just plain raw shea butter is actually amazing. It’s not necessarily great as an all-day moisturizer because it looks a bit oily on your face, but I put it on at night before bed, and I swear it makes my wrinkles go away! I found a bag of it at a local herbal apothecary in my town, but you can buy it on Amazon, too. A little bag lasts a very long time!
I can smell normal dish soap across an entire house. That stuff is STRONG! We use Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile Liquid Soap Baby Mild Unscented. It’s made with the following.
Ingredients: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut & Organic Olive Oils (w/ Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.
No perfumes – woohoo!!
You can get Dr. Bronner’s scented soaps, too, if you like a fresh smell. They’re just made with the ingredients above with essential oils added to the mix. Dr. Bronner’s works just as well as other soaps, except it doesn’t leave a soapy residue that takes ten minutes to rinse off. It just cleans stuff off (including oils), and rinses away immediately. You can buy Dr. Bronner’s at almost every health food store, on Amazon, or at Vitacost.com – they always have great deals on everything.
If I sleep on a bed with sheets and pillowcases that are full of laundry detergent perfumes, I itch all night and often wake up in the morning with a headache, so this one is really important. We use Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent 4X Free & Clear.
No, this product is probably not edible, but the make-it-yourself kinds of laundry detergent (here’s one from WellnessMama.com) aren’t either. These ingredients, in my opinion, are much better than the alternatives, and they don’t give me headaches or make me itch.
Ingredients: Water, laureth-6, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium citrate, glycerin, oleic acid, boric acid, sodium sydroxide, calcium chloride, protease, amylase, mannanase, methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone. No phosphates.
You can buy this stuff at your health food store, at Target now, and online.
Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants really freak me out with all their unidentifiable chemical ingredients. There are a gazillion lymph nodes in your armpit region, precariously situated right next to your breasts, which are cancer magnets if not treated with the utmost care. So I’ve been into natural deodorants for quite some time now.
I actually make my own deodorant now because 1) I’ve never found a natural deodorant that actually deodorizes 2) it’s really easy to make deodorant yourself, and 3) even “natural” deodorants have a whole lot of unpronounce-able ingredients in them. I make mine, in Neely fashion, by the seat of my pants. I use 3 ingredients: coconut oil, baking soda, and tea tree oil. But I just mash it all together in various amounts, throwing hazard to the wind, so I’ll let WellnessMama.com tell you how she makes hers using similar ingredients. I put my concoction into an old deodorant container for easier application.
One thing: MAKE SURE YOU GET ALUMINUM-FREE BAKING SODA! Or you’re missing one of the major points of going natural with your deodorant. Aluminum has been linked with Alzheimer’s and who knows what else, so we want to stay away from it.
For a long time, my feet itched at night in bed. It would get so itchy sometimes that it’d wake me up. It was particularly itchy between my toes and on the soles of my feet, and there was flaky, inflamed skin on both of those areas. Then one day it occurred to me that this was not normal, so I looked it up and found that I might have athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot on mwah?!? Gross!
So I went out and got myself some tea tree oil and dabbed it on my toes and feet every night with a Q-tip. I swear, on the very first night the itching was gone! It was incredible. I kept putting it on every night, and it just went away and the skin healed up.
1. Tea tree oil is very drying, so while it was killing the fungus, it was also making my feet very dry and a little tender. I ended up putting the tea tree on my foot and then adding some coconut oil (also a great anti-fungal) with my fingers. That combo worked really well.
2. The second note is that you MUST wash your hands really well with warm water after handling the tea tree oil. I must’ve gotten that stuff in my eyes 5 times before I learned my lesson. It stings a lot.
Alright, that’s it for now! I use all kinds of other strange concoctions and natural products, but this is a good overview of the basics. I hope this gives you some ideas for how you can change your own household and beauty product collection!
Do you have any suggestions or additions for the list?
Sign up for our Newsletter
Keep up to date with Paleo Plan news, recipes, and blog posts.