3 Steps to Ease Your way into Truly Natural Personal Products

Written by contributor Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship.

I‘m a chronic baby stepper.

I subscribed to the “use it up and then switch over” philosophy for adding in real foods and natural products to my routine.

I would rather live with my in-laws for five months than rush into buying a home.

I even made myself wait an entire week before deciding that dating my husband-to-be was a good idea!

It can’t just be me. I’m guessing that for many people, setting small, manageable goals that baby step toward a bigger end game is often the way to go. January is the perfect time to set some goals for the month, and hopefully you’d like to make your life a bit more eco-friendly in 2012 than you managed in 2011.

If you glance in your medicine cabinet or under your sink and see popular brand names, chances are you still have some weeding out to do when it comes to nailing all-natural personal and cleaning products.

I recommend taking it one step at a time:

1. Pledge to avoid the worst offenders

Triclosan, responsible for anti-bacterial properties of products and a host of problems related to bacteria including bacterial resistance and simply being ineffective anyway. Found in hand soaps, antiperspirants, deodorants, toothpaste, and more. (More on the dangers of triclosan.)

Bleach, used for cleaning and sanitizing but also linked to respiratory distress, headaches and other health problems. It’s a rare day in a normal home that requires bleach to do the job; you can find all sorts of natural alternatives to bleach, probably in your cupboard right now.

There are plenty of others to consider: aluminum, petroleum jelly, the ever-popular DMDM hydantoin (and about nine others I memorized as “evil” at one point), ammonia, and other chemicals that smell bad or give you a bad feeling about the whole deal.

Parabens: I mostly left parabens alone until this week, even though I’ve known for quite some time that they’re no good for anyone. Now that we’ve been unpacking some things I haven’t seen in a year or even two years, parabens have become my new measuring stick. I just can’t imagine exposing my kids on purpose to a potent hormone disruptor.

I’ve pitched things from lotions to pretend “bathtime” shaving cream to Huggies baby wipes. This only worked for me because I have natural substitutions in place for every item, bringing me to step two:

2. Try something new

Maybe you buy or make some natural lotion, put homemade deodorant on your list, or try no ‘poo shampoo. Find something you’ll enjoy switching over, and most importantly: Do one thing at a time.

3. Put a reminder in your calendar for next January

Will you be ready to throw out all the chemicals in your house? It took almost six years of slowly making changes for me, from thinking that anything in Walgreen’s that said “natural” was a good choice for my baby to learning how to really read ingredients.

Educate yourself, seek out natural options, and take it slowly if you have to. Better to move forward inch by inch than to stand still surrounded by chemicals!

We’ll be talking even more about personal products and some specific suggestions for “greening up” your cupboards next month here at Simple Organic.

What is your “no way!” chemical? Or, what product gives you the hardest time finding a green solution?

 

About Katie Kimball

An at-home mom who is passionate about food, her two kids, the good green Earth and her faith, Katie Kimball blogs about all that and more at Kitchen Stewardship.

Comments

  1. Yeah… It took quite some time for me, too. I started with the bathroom and then moved on to the detergents etc. My absolute no-go chemical when I started out, was everything that could alter my hormones as I was desperately trying to get pregnant at that time. Then I kept that up, of course, when I did become pregnant, to protect my baby.

    The hardest thing was finding a deodorant that actually would work even after the conventional one was out of my armpit (scary that it takes so many days!). I finally found a recipe for a homemade one, over at Wellness Mama I think, and that works perfectly.
    Jeanette´s latest post: My Green Dreams for 2012

  2. such a great reminder. we’re working on it – slowly. i’m not sure my husband will ever totally be on board, but he did ask me to make some natural soap again, so who knows? in truth, he’ll use whatever’s available. and i’m happy to say that i’ve fully switched to homemade deodorant and lo and behold, it works better than antiperspirant ever did!
    brie´s latest post: a collection of thoughts.

  3. I have almost made the switch to 100% natural cleaning products, and then I’ll be ready to tackle this list. (Huggies baby wipes? Ouch!)

    Thanks for the resource, Katie. Checklists like this work great for me :)
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy´s latest post: Weekend Giveaway: Rodan + Fields

    • I have been in love with my Huggies Baby Wipes for the last three children. Now that # 4 is on the way and I have done a lot of researching on what I have unintentionally been exposing my children to, I made the switch to homemade disposable wipes and (aside from not being as soft) I love them. Not only are they much, much cheaper than Huggies, but I feel better knowing I’m only putting water and organic baby soap on my little ones’ tushies! The only non-green item I’m having a hard time parting with is my disposable diapers…still working on that one! :-)

  4. I have a friend who adopted a 6 month old baby and is feeding him soy formula. The baby is always gassy and fussy. Do you have any recommendations of what to feed him. I am sorry there isn’t a wet nurse for him like in olden days…

  5. After I had my first child I cleaned the bathroom that was right next to her bedroom and I was aghast by the fumes that I smelled. From that day on I stopped using traditional cleaning products and started making my own. Here are a few of the recipes I use: http://delicious-nutritious.blogspot.com/2011/02/do-it-yourself-household-cleaners.html and I plan to add more to my site in the coming months.

    We have many more things in our house though that need to be changed – thank you for this list, very helpful!
    Jamie´s latest post: Who Needs a Date?

  6. We have switched over all of our cleaning products to home made items, as well as my body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and my husband’s shave oil. I am working on an aftershave for him and developing some things for our upcoming baby. I wear very little makeup (eyeliner, shadow, and mascara only) but I have not moved to more natural ones yet. They are SO much more expensive than the ones I use. Do you have any recommendation for contact lens solution?
    Jackie @ Crest Cottage´s latest post: Citrus Rainbow

  7. Bernadette says:

    Maybe it’s because I didn’t do it slow and easy but jumped into things that I’ve gotten frustrated and reverted back to some “e-vell” products. For example, what do you use to get grease stains out of clothes? I was just suffering with it, but found way too many clothes are ending up in the gardening work pile of clothes. I ended up asking myself is it really saving resources if I’m buying more clothes?

    BTW, I had quit buying regular disinfecting wipes for my diabetic mom and started buying the Clean Well wipes so she can use them if she needs to disinfect her hands to check her blood sugar. I see it’s pictured in your photo along with all the other “e-vell” products. Is the Clean Well line not green?

  8. “Chronic baby stepper”…I love that:) This is a great list Katie. And you are right on! No one just arrives at natural living, it’s definitely a process:) I must say one of the easiest transitions has been to make our own household cleaners. With just a few, easy-to-find ingredients you can revolutionize your cleaning closet!
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable´s latest post: Day 8: Learn To Control Impulse Spending

  9. I’ve started using more natural cleaning products but have yet to take the step to throw away the ones I’m no longer using. Sounds like a good weekend baby step…
    Steph´s latest post: A Step Towards Contentment

  10. I feel like I’m good on the household cleaners and laundry stuff — I don’t have anything yucky there anymore. My downfall is beauty products. I’m good on the natural soap (scented chemical ones give me headaches) and I am pretty good about picking more natural makeup, but I continue to fail on the other beauty products (deoderant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion…). I flop back and forth between the good and the bad. I’m going to try your advice of trying to avoid the a few big, bad chemicals and step forward from there.

    • Check out iherb.com and Aubrey Organics (online). Their personal care products are awesome and there is full ingredient disclosure as well as customer reviews on every product. I made the switch and am loving it! :-)

  11. I am slowly making changes. The most recent? Using coconut oil in other places than for cooking. It is a great moisturizer for my dry legs after shaving!
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life´s latest post: 9 posts for the overwhelmed and overworked

  12. Our household pretty much cleaned out all chemicals over two years ago. It presented no big problems really. We now use all natural/mineral make-up, coconut oil for body lotion, mineral stick deodorant, organic/all natural bar soaps, natural toothpaste, etc – and households cleaners have all been replaced with earth-friendly solutions (I also make my own all-natural laundry detergent). The only problem I do have (because I can’t find a satisfactory solution) is whitening all our white towels and dish/washcloths. Especially when the dish cloths get stained; the only product to get them really white again is chlorine bleach. Lemon juice, white vinegar, and sunshine just don’t work nearly well enough.

  13. Emily @ Random Recycling says:

    Im still trying to find a replacement for some of my drugstore finds like
    Emily @ Random Recycling´s latest post: Step Back in time and Visit Pompeii at the Museum of Science

    • Emily @ Random Recycling says:

      Continued…my staples include Pantene and lots of styling products that I haven’t found great alternatives yet. My avoid list includes SLS despite claims that it’s “naturally” derived.

  14. Do you know the exact names that the parabens will be labeled as?

  15. I started by changing out deodorant, toothpaste, “face wash” & cosmetics. Then I went for the dish detergent, laundry detergent & household cleaners. Now I only have 2 items I for which I don’t have budget friendly replacements: mascara and shampoo. I think I’m going to try no ‘poo this summer when it is more humid and my hair isn’t static-y. This has been done over about 6 months, but my goal is to have my home 90% natural before we have a baby.
    Holly @ Faithful Womanhood´s latest post: Sugar Free for 31 Days: Half way & What I’ve Been Eating

    • Hey, Holly, do you have a Trader Joe’s in your area by chance? In our home we all LOVE their Tea Tree Oil shampoo and conditioner. All natural (!) and gentle ingredients. Nice scent but also not strong. Costs less than Aubrey’s or other more expensive brands – and very concentrated.

  16. This is an excellent access of information. I just got interested with your creation on how you explicate even the most simple details regarding with the all natural bar soaps. Thanks for sharing such informative one. Keep posting.

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