Monthly Archives: March 2018

How to switch to a natural personal care routine

eco skin care, natural skin care

natural skin care

In the early 2000s, natural products were just beginning to become readily available, and I was keen to adopt this lifestyle for the planet and my own health. In the process of experimenting with the early products, I had more than my share of rashes, breakouts and at the worst point my armpits managed to become red and scaly and yet still somehow sweaty. It was not an easy road! Luckily these days the products available are prolific in number and many of them work well. To make things even easier, I want to tell you everything I've learnt about making the switch.

To begin with, there's no need to throw out all your products and buy new ones. That can be overwhelming and expensive. Instead, it's much more manageable to experiment with one product at a time. This way there is no more financial outlay than you normally would spend on products, less wastage; and if it takes a while to find the right replacement product, you won't be battling with a bathroom cabinet full of items that don't work for you.

toxic personal care ingredients

Here are some of the key ingredients to avoid in your personal care:


Found in..

Reason to avoid

triclosan/ triclocarban

soaps (liquid/ bar)

disrupts thyroid and reproductive hormones

Vitamin A/ retinyl palmitate/ retinyl acetate/ retinoic acid/ retinol

skin care

increases sun sensitivity and when exposed to UV damages DNA of skin

SPF above 50


Only slightly improves sun protection but increases chemical load and leads to false sense of safety in sun

aerosol spray and powder sunscreens with nanoparticles, baby powder

spray and powder sunscreens

penetrate the lungs and enter bloodstream, inhaled baby powder hazardous to the lungs of babies



potential hormone disruptor

coal tar derivatives and lead

dark hair dyes

carcinogenic, neurotoxin

formaldehyde/ formalin and chemicals that convert to formaldehyde in the body such as bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidzaolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, methylene glycol

chemical hair straightener

carcinogen, respiratory irritant

toluene, benzene

nail polish remover, nail polish

potent neurotoxic, can impair fetal development, toxic to immune system

phthalates, plasticiser

nail polish, hair spray

may damage male reproductive system and should be avoided by pregnant women

fragrance - non-specific ingredient which could be anything

perfume, and perfumed creams or skin care products, makeup, hair products - almost anything

can disrupt hormones, allergenic



potential carcinogen, causes depigmentation, in animal studies produced liver damage, interferes with thyroid and reproductive system functions

boric acid & sodium borate

liquid cosmetics and as a preservative, thickener or emulsifier in many cosmetic products

hormone disruptors, may harm male reproductive system, long term use may affect kidneys

parabens , propyl-, isopropyl-butyl-isobutyl

preservative in cosmetics

may disrupt hormones

PEG/ cetearet/ polyethylene

base for creams, toothpaste

probable carcinogen, hormone disruption

alpha & beta hydroxy acids/ lactic acid/ glycolic acid

anti-ageing products and facial peels

increases UV skin damage

hydroquinone, mercury derivatives (calomel, mercurio, mercurio chloride)

skin lighteners

can cause permanent skin disease; mercury in overseas lighteners is a poison

petroleum extracts/ mineral oil

moisturisers, hair conditioners, lip balm

often contaminated with carcinogens, organ toxicity

How to make the switch in 6 steps

  • 1
    Place all your personal care items in front of you.
  • 2
    Throw out any that are over a year old or that you don't like
  • 3
    Look at any items that you need to replace or will need to replace soon
  • 4
    Select items that you don't currently have a favourite brand that you can't bear to part from
  • 5
    When choosing a natural option either ask your friends for recommendations, try the ones I use and love listed below  or check out the reviews at (affiliate) Nourished Life for the product you need.
  • 6
    Check the ingredients of new products and look up any ingredients you don't know at and stick to the lowest risk you can find (I aim for a rating of 1-3)

My go-to products (affiliated)

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    Liquid Soap: Dr Bronner's pure castile liquid soap in various natural scents. I usually cleanse my face with this or just water, but I'm experimenting with making my own cleanser from oats. Watch this space! EWG rating 1 (lowest risk)
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    Deodorant: Black Chicken Remedies deodorant paste or No Pong deodorant paste - I seriously can't pick a favourite, Black Chicken has a neutral scent whereas No Pong smells of lemon. If your skin is irritated by either it is most likely the bi-carb, so choose a bi-carb free option by No Pong.
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    Toothpaste: I used to use Jason Powersmile which is fresh and minty and great for a clean feeling and whitening, I most ecently bought Lavera but I have some concern that it contains Limonene which has some evidence of being hazardous so I will be switching to Grants mint and aloe vera toothpaste
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    Teeth whitener: Get ready to make a mess (comes naturally to me!) with the Warpaint Natural Teeth Whitener, which basically involves rubbing charcoal powder into your teeth. The shower is a good place for this activity! 
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    Mouthwash: I occasionally remember to oil pull (gargle with oil such as coconut oil) which is super cleansing to the mouth and provides nutrients for the teeth and gums and keeps breath sweet. I swear by it, but you don't need a fancy expensive product, just any good quality ‚Äčcoconut oil
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    Sunscreen: I love when the product I like is a cheapie, as is the case with this Life Basics SPF 30 Sunscreen
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    Mascara: I love the gentle Ere Perez Almond Oil Mascara, it smudges easily when just applied but works beautifully.
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     Mineral foundation: I was using an Ere Perez one which lasted years but it's no longer available at my online shop so I'll be shopping around for this one
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    Facial moisturiser: When I'm not too lazy my favourite moisturiser by far is the one I make myself. You can find the recipe here.  If I can't be bothered then I look for facial oils that include jojoba and rosehip but not coconut oil, which tends to clog pores and cause breakouts.
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     Lipstick: I'm choosing a colour from the Luk Lip Nourish Tasting Plate. I wear so little lipstick this sample collection is probably all I need!
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    Hair dye: I use a hair dye based on henna. It's a bit of a hassle because it needs to be mixed a few hours before use and I'm kind of a spontaneous person, and it needs to be on my hair smelling like a cow pat for at least 3 hours. That being said it's natural and works pretty well, with good but not perfect grey coverage. The brand is Desert Shadow and there is a good selection of colours.
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    Shampoo and conditioner: My hair is like noone else's so we al have different needs, and I tend to vary my choices. I currently use 100% Pure shampoo and Acure conditioner.
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    Hair gel: I buy this locally, Miessence Hair Styling Gel which uses aloe vera gel as a base and doesn't dry out my hair
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     Menstrual products: I bought a social enterprise cup called Ruby Cup, but there are plenty pf good choices these days; I find these great as they last all day but sometimes aren't 100% so I combine with Modibodi underwear, also great for light days or overnight. For purer versions of the traditionals I use TOMs tampons and pads

Now I'd love to hear from you! I'm still learning all the products out there and as you can tell, while I have some products that are very effective and very pure, I'm a bit less committed to others. Please share any pure products you love in the comments below, so we can all benefit from each other.