My top 9 favorite non-toxic & homemade skin care + household products!
Many people will come to me for health and fitness information. Questions include what I eat, what I do to workout, what skin care products I use and the list goes on. As the majority of my blog is dedicated to health and fitness and what I do, I thought I would share what I use for non-toxic skin care and make-up. Much of it you can get at the grocery store (with the exception of the make-up).
In this post:
- Bug repellent
- Laundry detergent
- Household cleaner
- Air freshener
- Body wash
- Shampoo & conditioner
Look into my fridge. What do you see….
You will find a lot of glass containers, not plastic (just because a plastic bottle says BPA free doesn’t mean they didn’t find an equally toxic chemical to replace it). Our kids plates and cups are stainless steel because glass just wasn’t working out for slippery little hands. You will also see in our fridge local, sustainably raised meats, eggs and veggies and maple syrup among other homemade and organic items. If we are going to go through great lengths to eat healthy foods and use safer containers as part of our long term health care plan, as my husband would like to say, why would I not want that for our skin care, make-up and household cleaning products?
10 years ago I embarked on a quest to find non- toxic household, skin care and cosmetic products. My husband, being a chemical engineer who had worked in beauty care, then pharmaceuticals and now in sustainability, brought to my attention all the toxic chemicals that should be avoided in our life . That not only included what we were eating or cleaning the house with but what I was putting on my skin. Knowing that harmful chemicals and toxins are absorbed very efficiently through your skin freaked me out. These toxic ingredients are used in everything from laundry detergent to make-up to sunscreen. Numerous studies have shown these harmful ingredients can cause cancer and disrupt your normal hormone function. Thus, in 2005, I quested for safer household and beauty products. Don’t forget about the toxic off gassing from your furniture and flooring, but that’s a story for another day.
Upon a lot of research over the internet and visiting two local coop grocery stores that sold beauty care products, I sampled and questioned and came to these conclusions which stuck for a decade.
1) Bug repellent
We have used both spray and rub on and is a must have especially for kids. I find the spray to be most convenient but I usually end up rubbing it in anyway. We even used this on our dog and it has worked very very well in place of those nasty bug treatments or tick collars.
Rub on repellent ingredients:
- Grapeseed or almond oil
- Rose geranium essential oil
In a small bottle, maybe 1-2 ounces, we mix almond or grapeseed oil with about 20-50 drops of rose geranium essential oil.
If you want a spray, try this recipe from DIY natural.com that works very well.
Spray on repellent ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: witch hazel or vodka (find witch hazel here)
- 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, or neem oil (which contains natural insecticidal compounds) – (where to buy these oils)
- ½ teaspoon vodka as preservative (if not already using)
- 100-110 drops essential oils (where to buy 100% pure essential oils). Here is a good essential oils mix:
55 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil (reported by the CDC to be a good natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects, but not recommended for use on children under 3 yrs.)
15 drops cedarwood essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil (if using, choose Lavandula angustifolia– “Lavender (40-42) essential oil” does not have the same insecticidal qualities)
15 drops rosemary essential oil
Add carrier liquids to small spray bottle (3 or 4 oz. works well so there is room for shaking). Add essential oils. Shake well before each use. Natural bug repellent will need to be reapplied every few hours for maximum effectiveness.
2) Laundry detergent
We have used this for years and years but I do, now, have to put some extra soap on the arm pit parts of my athletic clothes while they wait to be washed. Otherwise, the smell festers in there and doesn’t always come out completely (that goes for any detergent I have used). This recipe is from DIYnatural.com
All of the following can be bought from the grocery store, or target.
- 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) shaved bar soap (a homemade laundry bar, Dr. Bronner’s, Ivory, ZOTE, or Fels-Naptha)
- 1 cup borax
- 1 cup washing soda
Thoroughly stir together for several minutes and enjoy the results! You can take this a step further and blend the mixture in a blender or food processor to create a powder that will dissolve easily even in cold water. (Just be sure to let the dust settle before removing the lid of your blender or food processor so you don’t inhale the fine particles.) Store in a sealed container with a small scoop.
Use 1 Tbsp per small load (or 2-3 Tbsp for large or heavily soiled loads).
3) All purpose household cleaner
- 1 c. white vinegar
- 2 T. Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile soap
- 4-6 drops essential oil (I skip this part half the time but its nice to add)
Add vinegar, bronners soap and essential oils to a spray bottle, Then fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water.
I will also keep a separate bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the kitchen and spray both the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect surfaces. Mixing the peroxide and vinegar together in the same bottle causes a loss of effectiveness I have read. Keep them separate but spray together. 🙂
The only downside to this is when I use the vinegar solution in the bathroom tub, I have to scrub my heart out, often. You will want something with a little more strength for that bathtub residue build up over time. Check this link out for a host of homemade cleaners: Keeper of the Home Homemade recipes. I also may use tilex every 2-3 months to really get any grime I couldn’t (or was too lazy to) scrub. Its just so toxic I open the window and stuff towels under the closed door so my children won’t breath it in.
I also use Dr. Bronners to clean the toilet. It really works for a zillion things around the house as does vinegar.
4) Air freshener
I absolutely love, love, love making this. It smells so good and I know its not a nasty fragrance affecting my neurons. Which BTW, if you have one of those automatic air freshener sprayers that sprays when you walk into the room.. ditch it! That stuff makes me itch and double over gagging, especially when its in a small space like the bathroom!
I digress: Here is my fav. recipe from Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth:
- 1 tsp. vodka, optional (cheap kind is fine) ~ It helps to disperse the oils, acts as a preservative and is also a disinfectant and antibacterial. Some people use rubbing alcohol but it is not as natural a choice as vodka.
- 1 drop of eucalyptus essential oil ~ antiseptic, antibacterial and deodorizing
- 2 drops of lavender essential oil ~ antiseptic, detoxifier and deodorizing
- 4 drops of lemon essential oil ~ antiseptic, antibacterial, air purifier
- 1 drop of melaleuca essential oil (aka tea tree oil) ~ antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial
- 1 cup of water (distilled is best but I use tap water) ~ Add to spray bottle after the ingredients mentioned above.
In a small spray bottle, add the above ingredients in the order they appear. Shake and spray around the house.
5) Body wash
Well, this isn’t what you think. I do use soap (either glycerin soap or Dr. Bronners lavender soap) on the “pits, tits and naughty bits” as Boo from Orange is the New Black would say but, other than that, I have always oil cleansed. My fav is to make a sugar scrub of 2 parts sugar and 1 part grapeseed or almond oil. Both are easily found at the grocery store. Other oils that work well are castor and hazelnut oil. I like to make the sugar scrub for gifts all the time! I add a little essential oil like lavender or ylang- ylang and you’ve got yourself a luxurious, exfoliating oil scrub. See more on oil cleansing at Thankyourskin.com or WellnessMama.com
I am usually pretty well moisturized from the above oil cleansing but, if I need a little extra later or the next day I use grapeseed or almond oil (again.. I know, I know! Its affordable and easy to find, and works great!)
But, the only downside is it can leave you greasy for a little while. I will use this on my face and have to blot off the excess oil with toilet paper before putting on my make-up. Or if I wear a dress or shorts or even lean on a table, it can leave some oil marks!!! Got used to it over the years but recently stumbled up upon the most amazing oils to moisturize with that don’t leave me greasy and are not toxic!
My super fav moisturizer picks:
1) Beautycounter Lustro Oil for my face in the summer. This stuff is pure luxury in a bottle people. 1-2 drops and you have more than enough to for luxurious moisturizing. There are three scents available.
2) Beautycounter Everyday hydrating cream for my face in the winter. I will add this over the luster oil for a little extra hydration in the winter as my skin gets really dry.
3) Beautycounter hydrate everyday body lotion or Lustro body oil for summer. Okay, remember I mentioned being all greasy after using grapeseed oil, well, worry no more, this lotion or the seriously luxurious body oil works, they are light, non toxic and I am not leaving greasy stains all over! Score!
4) In the winter, I will use Beautycounter enrich body butter for a little richer moisturizer.
BONUS INFO: Beautycounter also cares about what happens when you rinse these products down the drain. Many skin care and cosmetic products use toxic ingredients that are not only bad for you, but bad for the environment. Check out Beautycounter! Contact me to join the movement.
7) Shampoo and conditioner
I have long hair. My problem with shampoos and conditioner’s was finding a non-toxic product that would actually work. Homemade formulas usually left my hair too tangled to comb through as did many other non toxic shampoos and conditioners. I have used it all and half the time ended up getting the brands Herbal Essence or Treseme so I could actually put a comb through my hair. I have been using Trader Joes shampoo and conditioner because its cheap and works okay… but I recently started using Beautycounters everyday shampoo and conditioner and holy cow! My hair is silky, I can comb through it and it smells amazing!!! WOW! Seriously WOW! Now, I am a Beautycoutner consultant and I signed on as one because I was so amazed by the companies transparency and their ability to make safe products that actually worked… like really work. (And I am NOT a MLM type of girl okay, I have always avoided them like the plague- no lie). But, I can’t say enough about this stuff…. okay, I will stop now. Moving on…
8) Make-up remover
I bet you can’t guess what I faithfully use as eye make-up remover…. guess… okay, grapeseed or almond oil. I use it on a cotton ball to take off my eye make-up before I wash my face and then I might have to do it once more to get the rest of the mascara. But, I have tried so many other make-up removers and many worked well except for the fact that they were super toxic. I always come running back to grapeseed oil because its affordable, easy to find, non-toxic and edible. Sure bet safe.
Make-up, make-up, make-up…. has always been a big challenge for me to find things that are non-toxic but will last the day and perform beautifully. Finding non-toxic make-up was really important to me because you are putting products on sensitive and thin skinned parts of your face like your eye lids.
Foundation, blush and bronzer : For the last ten years, I have used Pure skin minerals and they have worked very well. I tested so many out before deciding on this brand. The problem I started having in the last year with these products was that I felt like they visually enhanced the fine lines that were creepin in on my face!!! The mineral make-up would appear kind of dry and I was ready for a change as my skin was changing. But, along came Beautycounter. After having used Beautycounter’s Dew Skin Tinted Moisurizer spf 20, Tint Skin Foundation, Mattifying Skin Finishing Powder, Color Contour Matte Bronzer and Color Sweep Blush, I was sold.
The Dew Skin Spf 20 and the Tint Skin Foundation (I like both for the added coverage and sunblocking) leaves a dewy finish so that those fine lines are not accentuated and are smoother looking. I then accentuate with the Color Sweep Blush and the Contour Matte Bronzer and top that off with the Mattifying powder to take care of any shine that I don’t want. Let me tell you, it is so humid and damp in MN right now that you need wrestling experience to get out of your clothes. After having traipsed around for several hours of keeping up with my boys outside in this muggy weather, I looked in the mirror to find my skin looking amazing. I didn’t have to touch it up like I normally would! Super wow! I occasionally will use a makeup primer for special occasions for lasting beauty. My favorite is Cover FX from sephora but CVS make-up perfecting primer is ranking well in the Skin deep website and has good ratings. I might have to give this a try.
Eye Make-up: This one is never easy. I have used Mary Kay or Estee Lauder eye liner and mascara for years among lots of random eye shadow products. With any eye make-up, I always use a primer for stay power. Beautycounter Eye Pencil, Brow Pencil and Color Shade Shadows are a must have. Beautycoutner is currently developing a mascara which I am eagerly awaiting and hope it will exceed my expectations being that it won’t flake or run.
Lips: I am a lip gloss girl. I usually use whatever with mixed results but alas, what have I found, a safe, non toxic lip sheer. I just love the feel, glossy shine and ease of application of Beautycounters’ Lip Sheers. They are so pretty!
I am a Beautycounter consultant and am head over heals about their products. See this article from Gwenith Paltrows site Goop on non-toxic products. Many of her recemended safe beauty products are Beautycounter!
Contact me if you are interested in joining the movement!!!!
Skindeep.com to see how your beauty care products rate.
Beautycounters’ never list of toxic ingredient.
Another great site I have used for years is Safemama.com and her cheat sheets.