The health and beauty aisle of any drug store is extensive (and can be expensive!) Options are seemingly endless and you sometimes need a magnifying glass to read the long list of ingredients, many of which cannot be pronounced.
Unfortunately many of the “care” products cause more harm than “care.” Chemicals in body care products can cause all sorts of side effects, including headaches, sinus congestion, rashes, mouth sores, dermatitis, and even more severe problems including neurological problems and hormone imbalances. Some sunscreens have been implicated in skin cancers, the very condition they are designed to prevent! Parabens, which are widely used preservatives, have been linked to breast cancer, and are common ingredients in popular body care products, including lotions, soaps, massage oils, etc.
The good news is that there are many inexpensive, safe, natural, pleasant and effective alternatives to store bought chemical body care products. Many of these alternatives may already be in your kitchen cabinets!
Chemical Free Face Care Alternatives
Trying to avoid or heal wrinkles, age spots and oil skin is expensive business. But many of the products to help these conditions are very expensive and often not without risk.
Raw, organic apple cider vinegar makes an excellent toner for the face. Mix equal parts of water and apple cider vinegar into a bottle. Use a cotton ball to apply to the face. The vinegar smell will dissipate quickly or you can rinse again with water. Apple cider vinegar topically is also very effective for acne.
Castor oil can be used to clean the face, remove make up and moisturize the skin. Those with oily skin may be surprised to find that castor oil can actually reduce oil production. Gently apply castor oil at night before bed and wake up to smooth and radiant skin.
Shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter and mango butter can be bought in jars. These make effective and nourishing moisturizers. Look for organic and unprocessed varieties. Shea butter is on the earthy side. Mango butter’s scent is very mild. Coconut oil smells quite tropical. Cocoa butter may make you hungry it smells so chocolate-y and delicious! Cocoa butter is very hard at room temperature, but you can melt it with another oil or butter to get it to a consistency that will make it easy to apply to the skin.
French green clay makes a delightful healing mask for the face. Mix equal parts of French green clay and water. Apply to the face and allow to dry for 10 minutes. Rinse. Apply a moisturizer. Clay can also be applied to cystic pimples with quick results.
Many soaps are full of chemicals and can be drying to the hands and even cause dermatitis. Look for a castile soap or a hand crafted alternative at local farm markets. Triclosan, a chemical in nearly every hand pump soap on the market, has been linked to neurological and hormonal problems.
Chemical Free Body Care Recipes:
Vanilla Massage Oil
-2 ounces of vanilla beans
-8 ounces of almond oil
Cut the vanilla beans into one inch pieces. Put the almond oil and the vanilla beans into a glass canning jar. Allow to sit for two weeks in a cool, dry place. Strain out the vanilla beans. The resulting oil makes a light and wonderful smelling massage oil. This also makes a great facial moisturizer.
Lotion bars are easy to make and pleasant to use. They can be made with as few as three wholesome ingredients that have skin nourishing properties.
-2 ounces beeswax pastilles
-2 ounces organic coconut oil
-3 ounces cocoa butter
-1/2 teaspoon peppermint essential oil (optional)
-In a double boiler melt together the beeswax and coconut oil. Add the cocoa butter and heat gently until everything is just melted together.
-Add the peppermint essential oil. Pour into silicone molds or small paper bathroom cups. Allow to return to room temperature. Lotion bars can be used to apply lotion to the skin, or hold the bar in your hands and allow a bit of the bar to melt into your hand, then apply the lotion wherever desired.
These bars smell delicious and would even be safe to eat, though eating is not recommended. Now, that is the kind of body care product to have around!
Where to Buy Chemical Free Body Care Products
If making your own body care products sounds intimidating, check your local health food store for alternatives. Read labels there, too! Everything that is in a health food store is not necessarily healthy. Take time to read labels. If you cannot pronounce the list of ingredients, check out another product. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better. Ideally, you will recognize the name of each of the ingredients.
Check out farmers markets, too. More and more people are making natural body care products with simple and safe ingredients and are marketing them in local venues.