More Green For Less Green

Living more eco-friendly for less money


9 Changes for 2009- #7 Green Toiletries

  1. Cut out commercial breakfast bars
  2. Cut out canned beans
  3. Ditch premade hummus (and all those containers)
  4. Use only environmentally friendly dish detergent
  5. Shop Used First
  6. Use only environmentally friendly laundry detergent

  7. Stick to green toiletries

Green toiletries have an impact on the earth and on our bodies. Remember, all of this stuff goes into the water supply and the truth is that so many products we use without a second thought do have an impact. But, I've talked about that in several previous entries. I'd like to talk about the health impact today. An incredible, eye-opening resource is the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database from the Environmental Working Group. I encourage you to look up your favorite products and make sure you are okay with the ingredients in them. Do be aware of the large data gap in most products. Simply not enough research has been done yet to assess the safety level of all ingredients. Because of the data gap, I think the site is best used to look at ratings levels of the individual ingredient and not the overall "score" of the product. Let's look at one…

My summer standby for daily facial wear Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, SPF 55 receives a Hazard Score of 7, which is not good (lower is better), but there is a data gap of 82%, so not much is known about all the products ingredients. It could be worse or more harmless that they currently think. But, going on what we DO know, if I take a look at the ingredients list I can see the main culprits in this sunscreen are methylparaben, fragrance, and oxybenzone. Methylparaben: I try to avoid parabens, but I am willing to compromise for this products. Fragrance: I am not a fan of artificial fragrance, but plenty of people would not care or see this as a big drawback, this is why you must judge for yourself and not just go by product score. Oxybenzone: No clue what this is so I click on the hyperlink to learn that they can cause photoallergenic effects, something, again, I have never heard of. So, I do some searching and learn that if I had lupus (as my mom does) I would want to avoid this product. Since I don't I am okay with the ingredient until I notice adverse effects. I am now educated on this product and decide I can live with the 7 rating in this particular product, even though most of my products are rated 0-2.

I feel (mostly) okay sticking with a few "baddies" because I have switched so many other products. Here are some reviews:

More Expensive Than Mainstream Products

Aubrey B5 Design Gel
- Much softer than normal gels and not as frizz-controlling, but there is definitely a difference when I use it versus using nothing.

Burt's Bees Color Keeper Shampoo- Very liquidy, but works with the same amount as a conventional shampoo. I do think my hair looks dirtier sooner than with other shampoos (I try to wash my hair only twice a week. This pushes it closer to 3 times per week.)

Tom’s of Maine Unscented Deodorant- Actually has a light, pleasant scent. This worked pretty well for me, even on my most intensely active work days. That said, I didn’t adore it and when the tube ran out, I started trying some other brands (more to come in a future entry).

Cheaper Than Mainstream Products

Dr. Bronner's Baby Unscented Liquid Soap (in the foaming dispenser) -
I mix 1 part Dr. B's to 9 parts water plus a 20ish drops of essential oil and put in a old foaming soap pump. We use this as hand soap in our guest bathroom. This useage us is cheap because you use very little soap in each batch. Straight up Dr. B's is not particularly cheap (but still worth it).

Sweet Almond Oil- I use this as my overnight moisturizer. I apply a few drops to a cotton ball (cotton balls are not green, but I do tear them in half to use less) and rub it around my face. It does a great job of removing grime and makeup (though I wear almost none, so take it for what it is worth). BY the time morning has come it has absorbed or rubbed off, leaving my skin soft. You also can use straight olive oil in the same manner.

Homemade Lip Balm
(tin standing up)- I've made two varieties a liquid for overnight (lemon juice, honey, castor oil) and a semi-solid for anytime (chocolate, coconut oil, vitamin E) from Natural Beauty at Home: More Than 250 Easy to Use Recipes for Body,Bath, and Hair.

Hand-Milled Milk and Honey Soap Bar- I made this soap bar with vegan, fair trade soap (Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Bar) as its base along with milk and honey and essential oils. It is great for bathing or washing hands. This recipe comes from the book Beautiful Handmade Natural Soaps: Practical Ways to Make Hand-Milled Soap and Bath Essentials. This one is probably normal price, not cheaper.


I think mixing pricier products along with dirt cheap or homemade ones makes switching more doable. Green beauty products don't have to break the bank by any means! Eventually I'd like to make all of my toiletries, but finding the right recipe is tough. Failures from 2008 include a hand milled shampoo bar (left my hair looking greasy, but worked great as a shave bar) and using straight up baking soda as deodorant (worked well for awhile, then my skin started to peel as though I had a chemical burn. Yowza!).

One thing you might notice missing is hair conditioner. I gave it up just to see what would happen and so far I don't miss it one bit. That is another way to go green...consume less! Which products can you use half as often? Which products can you go without? We get into the habit of using and consuming without thinking, but giving your product usage a second thought can make a difference.



At April 15, 2009 at 11:44 AM , Blogger Grace said...

I will have to check out that database you posted. I am allergic to Oxybenzone, and unfortunately it is in a lot of products now. I get a scary, angry rash when I use something that contains it, boo.

At April 16, 2009 at 9:10 AM , Blogger Shoebotmom said...

I may have permanently given up shampoo and conditioner.....I no-poo. Sounds weird, but I'm giving it a whirl. I do a baking soda scrub followed by a vinegar rinse. I'm still in what I call the trial we shall see. I don't notice much difference, but I do tend toward dry hair rather than oily.

I'm interested in the almond oil thing....I have pretty dry skin, but have decided I hate putting the chemical lotion on my face every time I wash.

At April 16, 2009 at 1:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Witch hazel is also a pretty good makeup remover & toner. It's really gentle and especially nice after a workout if you can't shower right away. Leaves you clean, cool & tingly.


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