To continue with the theme of getting ready and getting pretty, let’s have a quick re-visit to our “toilette.” The French refer to the “toilette” as the act of dressing or grooming oneself. Daily….we can only hope….
Remember Dear Reader, we are not going for perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. We are looking for better. Better and sustainable, both in product and more importantly, behavior. So looks at these areas and choose one to work on. Make a better choice? Change completely? Don’t forget to assess how much money is going in (or coming back), and don’t forget to assess how you are feeling about each change. The point at which you can say, ‘hey, that change was pretty easy’ is the indicator you are ready for another change. If you rush it, you may increase your anxiety! Slow and steady will win the day.
Toothbrush: It’s very very easy to switch to a bamboo toothbrush. Yes, the bristles are still nylon (some smarty-pants is likely looking into that) but the bamboo handle is an excellent starting point. The average plastic toothbrush takes hundreds of years to break down. Yup. Try to find some with no other plastic on the wrapping, and if you order on-line, you can get them very cheap by the box (share with a friend?). There is a “Humble Brush” which donates money to other social justice projects–no plastic–and many other options found in the health food store/grocery. You can reuse these as little stakes for the garden or re-use as the dog’s toothbrush. “C’mere Bijoux…”
Toothpaste: I have tried the toothpaste in a jar thing and sadly, didn’t like it. The paste was too much like, well, paste, and my mouth did not feel clean. However, I did try the tooth tablets and they are great! Kids like them and they are easy to use. They are truly less waste as you are not paying for the water… There is actually a new Edmonton-based company Change Toothpaste on the scene; you can order direct or purchase in a store. I am waiting for the fluoride tabs–which are coming–but in the meantime, the originals are great: no plastic, easy to use, easy to travel with, and a nice flavor. The package is compostable in 12 months.
As a Physician, I recommend fluoride, and No, in the dose used in water and toothpaste it is not toxic. In fact, it improves dentition so much that dental care is considered a medical determinant of health. Dental caries contributes to increased risks of systemic infections, heart disease and disability. No teeth? Can’t eat. Fluoride changes lives (you hear that Calgary?)
Floss: I have changed to silk floss. It’s good. The two almost no-waste options are Flosspot and Dental Lace. These are available at EGS (Earth’s General Store) and RE-Plenish YEG as well as on-line. The little glass container has a metal lid, and its quite lovely to have and use. There are re-fills available as well.
Mouthwash: Don’t use it. It’s bad. It’s expensive. It’s unnecessary. (See other past posts about antibiotic resistance.) Want a fresh mouth and ultra clean teeth for a penny a day? Baking soda Dear Reader….(really!).
In the Shower
Can we try some unscented shampoo/conditioner products Dear Reader? Or perhaps some that are ‘naturally’ perfumed with essential oils and not synthetics? You will get used to not having a scent very very quickly, and in fact, once you switch, you will likely find it very very difficult to be around fragrances all the time. My children cannot go down the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store because its “too stinky” and it gives them a headache.
Can we try refillable? Use up what you have (!!) and then go to your bulk store and use the container again?
Or is the shampoo bar more your style? They work really really well for some people and have no packaging to worry about. My intrepid and gorgeous DS likes the bars and gets them at Lush on Whyte ave…(and she has great hair!)
The hyped dry shampoo craze seems to be cooling off–I never cared for it myself–but the packaging was often aerosolized or what have you. It did bring the major point forward, however, that it is the soap that you want, not the water (which is what requires the packaging…).
If you are plagued with Malassezia globosa — dandruff –you have an ideal environment for the interaction between normal bacterial flora the above mentioned fungi and sebum (fat) on your scalp. Fret not, Dear Reader, for this is a common issue, and one without any real negative health consequences; it also affects almost half the population. Head and Shoulders, however, is not your only option!
Often dandruff can be confused with just dry scalp. So if this the case, moisturize! Use a very mild shampoo, with a very mild surfactant–the soap that emulsifies or breaks down fat–and see where that takes you. Did you know that the common “soap” used in OTC shampoos is also used to clean your dishes?? Yes Dear Reader, SLS (sodium laurel sulphate) cleans them greasy pans–you can only imagine what it does to your poor scalp!
If it is dandruff, then often people have an issue with seborrheic dermatitis which exists in the folds of the face. This is just dandruff on your face. Fungus needs an anti fungal. The major ingredients in the OTC brands is zinc pyrithione which has a ‘fair’ rating by skin-deep. This is the similar rating to ketoconazole, the more “medically” used anti fungal found in Nizoral shampoo–all of these may be used on scalp and face to restore the balance between bacteria and fungi on our skin. The best way to use these products is once daily for three days (leave on face and scalp x 3 minutes then rinse) and then weekly. In between use a very mild and moisturizing shampoo.
For a natural option, tea-tree oil works apparently… (BMS loves the stuff, right?).
Bar soap (surprise surprise) can be all you need in the shower. Rocky Mountain soap is a nice local option but for something cheaper and just as good, Bulk Barn has Soapworks in bulk with no wrapping…(see past posts for more information). Bar soap can ‘melt’ so find a dish with little bars or something to lift it up to dry it out; the soap will last way longer. My favorite soap dish hacks are:
- find some pottery/saucer/small dish/bowl that you are not using and place smooth stones in the bottom to keep the soap elevated from the water
- use a mason jar lid and put elastic bands that cross perpendicularly to keep the soap lifted (two on each angle)
Make-up removal: Using disposable wipes to take off your makeup? It’s so 2000 and late! There are a number of more sustainable options that are waaaayyyy cheaper, and safer.
And remember “like dissolves like”? Any type of oil will take off foundation etc very easily and safely. Pure oils have been used for thousands of years to clean and moisturize the skin. I like Sweet Almond oil, but whatever is available works fine (in a pinch I’ve used olive oil). Do as the Romans do!
Oil can be used for cuticles, cleaning ears (a dropper of olive oil at night), feet, elbows, and as a great hair conditioner (put some on at night and wash out the next day). Almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil or sunflower oil are great for everyone in the bathroom: easy and cheap.
For your feet use a pumice either before or after your shower/bath. Then apply some oil and wear socks overnight. Then use the foot file. The foot file listed below is the bomb! It is made of wood, is waterproof and is most effective at removing callous and keeping your feet baby-soft. I believe that foot care is health care, especially if you are diabetic, so if you have difficulties getting down there to deal with your feet, go to see a pedicurist (and maybe skip the polish).
Qtips and cotton balls- Cotton balls can be replaced by the above little washable clothes but the q-tip thing is harder. I love q-tips. I first switched from the plastic to the paper, but I think I can go one better. How about a reusable one? At around $12 its a nice gift idea for that hard-to-shop-for person, and it makes sense. These wee, single-use plastics are the ones that are sneaky and hard to keep track of and contain, and will inevitably end up in landfill or water.
Styling products are tough. Fragrant, beautifully marketed, and expensive, hair products are indulgent: I love them. However like makeup, I am starting to react to all that artificial beauty! But do more ‘natural’ and ‘eco’ products make me “feel like a natural woman?” or rather like an explosion in a Shredded Wheat factory? I contacted RePlenish, the newest Edmonton re-fill hotshot and they don’t have any styling products YET, but will expand when possible.
Also my friend SAP, who also has curly hair, told me about a great and easy hack: conditioner. Put in on like a product on dry hair and it get beautiful results!
If you use hairspray could you switch from aerosol to pump? Try some natural brands? What would it take to have you try something better for your health?
And I was told that Echo hair design on Whyte is amazing! I complimented a gal’s hair (curly like mine) and asked her what product she used…she told me it wasn’t the product but the cut, and then recommended Echo. I haven’t been there–I have loyalty to my stylist!!–but their website shows how they are trying to put environment on the menu with more responsible products. A great place to start.
Shaving and the like
Razors: I was actually shocked by the impact of plastic, disposable razors. 2 billion razors get chucked out each year. Each year.
There are many many different brands of safety razors to choose from. Again see my past posts for more information. Many have pivoting heads, which seems to be essential for me and my legs. I bought a cheap safety razor to try it, but the head of the razor doesn’t move. It sucks. SO, if you are going to do it, invest up-front and reap the economic benefits later. They are also quite beautiful and if they come with a stand are like objet d’art…
Shaving Cream: A shaving soap in bar form is going to be the best alternative. Find a cute little dish, get the cute little badger brush out, dip it into your soap, whip it up into a frenzy, and get shaving. Easy right? Well….my husband hasn’t found one he likes yet..so we are still in flux. I have, however, gotten him to switch to an unscented product which is a small victory. I also love the aesthetics of the old shaving brush. It reminds me of my Grandpa Bill. He used to let me “watch” him shave which meant I got to use the brush too– and 8 year-old hilarity ensued….
The shaving brushes are not just for those who shave their faces: works great with bar soap for legs/pits too.
Body Hair: Shaving, waxing, plucking, bleaching (lord help us)…there are a lot of different ways to alter or rid our body of its natural fuzzy protection. Trends and cultural influences come and go, but it seems to be an ongoing concern for people. As a physician I would like to say that although your bits are not my number one priority, leaving them alone should be yours! Armpit hair is easily shaved–or get a laser treatment if you have the coin–but pubic hair is really there for a reason: to protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. I don’t do a ton of clinic work for primary care anymore, but when I was doing it, I was shocked by the paucity of pubic hair. It seemed that every age group was bald down there! Aesthetics aside, its troubling because there is good evidence that keeping your covering can keep you safe. So rock a 70’s vibe; trim if you must, but don’t shave or wax! (and tell the teenagers/young adults in your life).
Face Cream/Body Cream/Foot care
Our climate in Edmonton is super dry, and the winter is super long. How to keep soft and supple is an issue–especially if you have even drier skin or eczema.
Typical body/face cream relies on petroleum based ingredients — like Vaseline–to keep the moisture in, and then chemicals like Disodium EDTA (ethyenediamene tetraacidic acid) to help other chemicals penetrate the skin. These are not healthy for you.
Basically there is not a whole lot you can do about ‘hydrating’ skin using purely natural topical products. But wait, Dear Reader! I am not saying all is lost!
Start exfoliating. Men look really good beyond their years due to their shaving habits. Rascals. Grab a buff puff and some soap and go to town every day or every two days. Once you have exfoliated, add some of your natural products or oils and pat down while damp. Because the upper layers of skin have been removed, the oil/cream will work more effectively. This helps a lot especially at night. You can also find loofahs or natural brushes to exfoliate face and body, which can be found in a variety of stores.
Also drink water, avoid alcohol and caffeine. *snicker*
There are a plethora of other products that use substances called retinoids to chemically exfoliate the skin–and thus bring out the dewy complexion of youth–but to be really effective they are by prescription. These are Vitamin A derivatives that cause you to shed the outer layers of your skin. These are in the same class as Accutane, the acne drug, which dries out the sebum production and clears your acne. You peel, and peel, and peel. So in smaller doses, it will cause the same effect and peel off the upper layers of skin. Be aware however, that Skin Deep lists retinoids as a 6-9 (poor score) due to dangers/toxicity to a developing fetus, so make sure your contraception is up to date–and you have to use a heavy sun screen too!
For face and body cream: why not start at the beginning:
- Use up what you have
- Try to change/replace one thing – choose a better option
- Can we go unscented?
- Can we go organic?
- Can we refill?
- Can we consolidate ie: use one product for many things?
- Then reassess…what is better? worse? and why…?
Oils are easy and relatively cheap – and can be found in glass containers all over the place. Non perfumed, they can fit in to any beauty regime: hair, skin, feet and nails.
Make you own lotion bar or order on line? I have never used these but will try them soon.
Sunscreen is good, right? A no-brainer, right? Sorry folks…apparently its not only not healthy for you, but for the ocean life as well.
Try to go for mineral based sunscreens. In the past these types brought out the “Goth in you” but they are getting so much better. There is also an issue with sunscreens killing off the coral reefs.
A brand that I really love is anything by Badger; they sell lovely balms in metal tins, and they also have a great sunscreen for kids. I use a tinted mineral sunscreen that works well as I am naturally quite pasty…try to find ones with no perfume and you could even make you own…the active ingredient is often zinc oxide or titanium oxide. I don’t know about the titanium but EGS sells zinc oxide powder….Perhaps I will try it and report back! Also in a pinch you can use regular diaper cream–the major ingredient? Zinc oxide….
My middle daughter used to refer to the axillary region as her “arm-kits” which used to slay me. She always wanted to use deodorant the way she saw us use it and I would always tell her she smelled like a million bucks and didn’t need anything. I still think it’s true to a large extent!
There are actually two types of sweat: one from exertion and the other from stress. Exercise sweat actually doesn’t smell bad at all when its fresh, as its full of salt, and it only gets a little ‘ripe’ when left for a long time. This sweat can be found all over the boy. But then there is stress sweat–that nasty pungent musky torrent that explodes from our “nether regions” when we are under pressure. This is usually concentrated in the regions high in hormones: arm-kits and groin. Higher in protein, and lower in salt, our bacterial friends who naturally live on our skin break this sweat down more easily so it starts to smell nasty almost immediately….
Deodorant is distinguished from anti-perspirant by the lack of ingredients that prevent sweating. Many are artificially fragranced which can irritate people’s skin and contribute to allergy.
There has been an ongoing debate about the aluminium in anti-perspirants causing cancer or Alzheimers, but to date there is no real evidence for this.
For high stress days I do use an anti-perspirant in a glass bottle with no fragrance (as things can get a tad heavy from time to time).
However for low stress days, I use a natural deodorant with arrowroot starch and tea tree oil – it is also refillable at EGS!
Again, let’s try to do some unscented as you smell just lovely all by yourself~!
There are some natural perfumes: essential oils. True perfumes still exist in the world and are distillations of a mixture of these natural perfumes to form the most intoxicating and exotic scents. The rest, Dear Reader, are made of lab-created, artificial chemicals.
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing…I am sure my perfume is made this way. However people who are sensitive to scents are MORE sensitive to artificial ones than natural ones.
My Mum is sensitive to scents and can wear a French brand, Fragonard. It is one of the very last perfume “houses” that use actual plant based esters for their perfume. They actually distill plant essences and oils and mix them for truly glorious scents.
Toilet paper is wrapped in plastic even if its recycled. If it comes from Costco, it is double wrapped in plastic. Boo.
Again, Earth’s General Store sells double ply 100%. recycled paper by the box – and although it’s not silky smooth, it’s just fine for the bums in my house. The price is also fine for a box of 48. The packaging is paper, and it’s stored in a cardboard box. It also lasts way way longer than any other brand I have tried. Done and done.
Also, there are some “disposable” wipes on the market that claim “biodegradable” and “flushable” but in truth do nothing but plug up your sewer line. Boo again. A good old washcloth can work wonders, and why not look into a bidet? There are a huge number on the market and the price points go from about $50 to $250. These go on your existing toilet–so you don’t have to get an actual bidet (unless you really want to…and it would be awesome!).
Tushy brand (if you can believe it) seems to have good reviews. Check it out (but maybe not at work…). Its apparently like a spa for your bum. (Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow has one).
Room Freshener: No aerosols please!
The oldest way I know to freshen up the loo after use is lighting a match and blowing it out; easy yes, but potentially hazardous. Please, please no aerosols or articifical air fresheners, ok? They are just, so, ‘not the best you can do’ and the artificial fragrance, again, will contribute to allergy.
As a first step, use up what you have, and then look into a spray bottle with essential oils/water. Spray directly to cover the toilet water prior to use, and then flush as usual. Voila. No bad smell and the bathroom is actually fresher than when you started! I should market this…wait….this is EXACTLY what Poo-Pourri has done! Genius. However, its a bit pricey, and comes in a plastic container….(I think you can do this yourself for way cheaper in a little glass spray bottle that is refillable). Also a lovely gift to the professional pooper in your life!
There is actually a lot of plastic going on with menstruation. Plastic tampon applicators and plastic wrapped pads–to say nothing of what ends up in the landfill–is enough to make any modern women say, “enough!!”. Please see my past post for menstruation options.
There are paper tampon applicators if you are a hardcore fan and reusable pads that you wash (I have these and they work just great). There is also, the menstrual cup. This seems to be a fantastic option for those wanting to use a tampon. You slip it up into the vagina over the cervix and it catches the menstrual blood. You take it out regularly (depends on the flow but I would think at least every 3-4 hours) and dump, wash, and replace. Voila. Made of silicone, it will put you back around $50 and should last a number of years. I wouldn’t use this at night however, and would go for a washable pad instead for long stretches….
Gwyneth Paltrow says I should douche – should I?
No. She is a twit*. Never never EVER put anything into your vagina unless prescribed by your physician. Your vagina is cleaner than your mouth and should be left the hell alone. One of my heroes, Dr Jen Gunter, has an amazing book called the The Vagina Bible. This is an excellent resource for everyone with a vagina, or everyone who loves a vagina…
After all this work of researching…
I found this video. *sigh* I wish I could do some funky graphics like this…Someone is reading my mind!!
*twat. (shame on you ChezMD)