Friday, May 9, 2008

Living Organically, Part Five: You are What You. . .Wear?

Heck, I didn't know what to call this one.

First, sorry for being MIA for more than a week. I had to go to Denver this week for a client meeting and then drove home Wednesday night in a blizzard. Seriously, I thought I was going to be spending the night on Vail Pass in my spring clothing. Of course, I had all of my winter gear in the back, but it was pretty bizarre that when I left Denver, is was 79 degrees. On top of the pass, at nearly 11,000 feet, visibility was zero because of the driving snow. I was unamused. I did console myself with the fact that if I did indeed get stranded, I was accompanied by two dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts I was taking back to Tara, Craig and Garvin, and Declan, Finn and Eamonn. So there's my confession for the week--I let my kids eat doughnuts. And the next day they had sugary cereal because they wanted the Indiana Jones goodies from the box and I bought it. A fine example of healthy living, right there.

Second, for Anna in Illinois, the type of spray bottle I use for the vinegar. . .I started with those small personal care size bottles, but I was refilling them so often it was driving me crazy. So at WalMart, in both the cleaning area or the automotive area, they sell large plastic spray bottles. Now I have several around the house--one for each bathroom and the kitchen. I've had no problems with them malfunctioning so far! Sorry it took me so long to answer and leave you hanging with your rusty bottle.

Chemical Free Body
OK, so the next thing I wanted to talk about is the kinds of chemicals we put on our bodies, and how to avoid them. I read an article that said the average woman puts about 150 chemicals on her body a day through things like soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, makeup and verious and sundry moisturizers.

Again, one of my fave sites is the Environmental Working Group at www.ewg.org. You can go to their site and run reports on different products to see what they rank the top and bottom of the list. I need to do that for sunscreen because the products change so quickly.

Anyway, all of the body products were one of the last things we changed. I hadn't given it much thought. But don't they (who is "they" anyway) say that your skin the biggest organ of the body? Pretty much everything we rub onto ourselves gets absorbed, doesn't it? And so, since we were changing all of the other things in our lives--the food, the chemicals, etc.--it just seemed natural that we should go ahead and do all things health and beauty-related, too.

A lot of the "healthy" grocery stores put out a publication called Better Nutrition, or its equivalent, and you can pick up the magazine for free at the store. Raisin Rack in Westerville always had some freebie mag that had good info in it. Vitamin Cottage had a new copy when I was in there a few weeks ago and it just happened to be a special "beauty" issue. I'm going to post pictures of the various products I use, but I still switch around somewhat. Sometimes I'll get attached to something only to be unable to find it the next time I go to the store (that probably won't happen if you have access to a bigger store like Whole Foods though). So I'll try something new. So what you'll see is what I'm using right now. It may be different next week!

But first, here's a list of the stuff you should try to avoid. This was, again, a learning process for me. I'd throw something into my cart only to discover it still had some objectionable ingredient in it. I still have to remind myself to stop and read the labels. It will probably always be like this because I'm just a forgetful person. Just ask Eamonn.

So, avoid products with:
-Diethanolamine (DEA)
-Momoethanolamine (MEA)
-FD&C color pigments
-Imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin
-Polyethylene glycol
-Propylene glycol
-Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and soidum laureth sulfate (in most toothpastes)

I probably spelled some of those wrong. Basically, I adopted the same attitude towards stuff for the body as I did for food: If I didn't recognize an ingredient, I steered clear of it. Or I went and looked it up online first to see what the heck it was. Because there are actually totally inocuous things that have crazy names. But the bottom line was--we didn't want to put any chemicals on our bodies. And so we don't. Except for those times I roll around in the Krispy Kreme box.

Hand Soap, Sower/Bath Gel and Lotion
I've used the Jason brand of products for many years now. It's one that I've stuck with pretty consistently.

I like their consistency and they're pretty reasonably priced. Also, our local grocery store carries them and I don't have to make a special trip anywhere.

One thing I have noticed about "natural" soap products, things like bath/shower gel and dish soap, is that they aren't as foamy--the bubbles don't stay around as long. This is because they don't have whatever chemical it is that makes the super foamy reaction. So that was something to get used to.

For shampoo and conditioner, I've used Nature's Gate Organics for awhile. I like the consistency of the conditioner, especially. It keeps me from getting too frizzy!

They make all different "flavors." I usually like lavender for various body products, but sometimes I have to take what I can get.

Right now Eamonn is using Avalon Organics tea tree oil shampoo--helps control any flakiness (hope he doesn't mind me saying that in public). If you haven't ever heard of tea tree oil (which I believe is the basis of most of the Melaleuca products because I think Melaleuca actually means tea tree oil in some language), it's a marvelous thing. For example, if you have, not to be gross, a toenail fungus, don't take any of those crazy oral drugs that cause liver damage. Nope, get yourself some tea tree oil, I actually have Melaleuca oil, and dab it on your toenail. It takes awhile to work--the nail has to regrow, but that would be the same for the oral drug, too. It's not going to cure an existing bad nail--you grow a new good one. So why not do it the natural way is my train of thought these days.

The point of all of this is: For every chemical out there, there's a natural solution, that probably existed before the chemical was even invented. It probably works as good as, if not better than, the chemical, it's potentially cheaper, and it's not going to kill you, which rates highly in my book.

I know I already talked about laundry, but here is a picture of the Melaleuca laundry detergent and fabric softener. Several of you e-mailed about this to order (Lisa, I still haven't heard about the international ordering issue) it, so here's what you'll be getting.

This is Lemon Brite, also from Melaleuca. Apparently I use more Melaleuca products than I remembered. Anyway, it's a dish soap and one of the better natural alternatives because I feel like it keeps its bubbles well. I like bubbles. I also like the way it smells.

For the dishwasher, I use powder from Seventh Generation. I forgot to take a picture of it and I'm too lazy to go do it now. Picture a box with one of those little pour things on the side--just like Cascade, except the box is white and the product won't put chemicals all over your dishes. Apparently using natural automatic dishwashing powder is especially important for cancer patients. I don't know why though. It's something "they" say, you know. So I do it.

Next up: Toothpaste

We haven't used floruide toothpaste for a long time. Heck, maybe that's why I got my first cavity, although the dentist says probably not. He said, "You're just getting older." I'm never going to him again. Anyway, there are varying beliefs about flouride. Google it, check it out and draw your own conclusion. I can't have your cavities on my conscience. I've got my own to worry about. Well, just that small one anyway.

Of all the things we've changed in our lives, the toothpaste was the hardest for me. I was a diehard Crest girl and when you've never had any cavities, why mess with perfection? But I switched us anyway. At any rate, for a long time we used Tom's of Maine, and we still have some of that around. But I'm about 99% sure that Tom's has the dreaded SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate) in it. I don't know a ton about SLS except that the FDA has suggested manufacturers stop using it--but it's not mandatory to stop.

So what we're shifting over to is, drumroll please, Melaleuca. I really like their toothpolish. I like the way it feels and tastes. I'm a big fan.

This what the boys use. Also no flouride. We also don't do flouride treatments at the dentist. They think we're crazy. I can imagine some eye rolling from here. But, everyone has to do what they think is best for their family. Apparently in our house that means eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and then brushing with non-flouride toothpaste. There are probably a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from that situation right there.

This is what I use for the boys' shampoo: Earth's Best. This was another one that was hard to change because who doesn't love the smell of Johnson's Baby Shampoo? It smells so good you want to nibble on their toes. But then I looked at the ingredients. . .

This is Eamonn's shaving cream and I think he was relieved when I bought this brand. Tom's of Maine makes toothpaste and shaving cream. . .in nearly identical packages. And there was that one horrible morning that Eamonn tried to brush his teeth with his shaving cream. Someone at Tom's needs to rethink their packaging stragegy.


I hate my skin. And I feel like I'm always looking for THE thing that's going to shrink my gigantic pores and get rid of my wrinkles. Let's face it--it ain't happening. Quite frankly, my most hated part of the day, right behind trying to decide what's for dinner every night and realizing that half of the ingredients I need are either frozen or on the grocery store shelf instead of in my cupboard, is washing my face at night. Oftentimes, if I haven't worn makeup, I just skip this step. I hate it. I don't know why. But for those times when I do wash my face, these Avalon Organics products are my current faves. I've tried a bunch of different stuff, but this seems to work best right now. Until I get a new batch of wrinkles and have to move on to something else.

But, speaking of wrinkles, I used to look and look for some sort of special under eye cream to put on at night in addition to moisturizer. For awhile I used a product from Arbonne,which is supposedly all natural, but they used parabens, one of the big chemical no-nos. And then I was talking to a friend and she said, "I use. . ."

Yes, that's coconut oil(also called coconut butter). Well, heck, I had that in my pantry. And that was that. I started using it at night and I'm quite pleased with it. Eamonn actually uses it, too--he comes from a wrinkly stock of people and was getting paranoid he'd turn into a Sharpei any day now. And the good thing about the coconut oil is that it doesn't clog your pores. I had problems with these little things called milia--little white bumps I'd get under my eyes where moisturizer was clogging my pores. I have no problems with the coconut oil. Plus, if you're getting ready for bed and you're hungry, you could eat it. Do a search on coconut oil--there are tons of health benefits from it. Erin even makes her popcorn in it.

And finally, the natural replacement product that I'm most psyched about. . .

The Crystal. Hats off to Paige for finding and road testing this. I had seen it in magazines and in the stores before but I always thought it was some crazy gimmick. You use this instead of deoderant/antipersperant. Antipersperant is one of the most alarming things we put on our bodies--all of that aluminum and other chemicals right onto a very sensitive part of your bod.

My entire antipersperant-wearing life, I've had a rash under my arms--heck, I know this is probably way more than you ever wanted to know about me. Tell you what, I'll go on about the armpit issues and spare you the tampon discussion and we'll call it even, OK? So, where was I? Right, my armpit rash. So let's see. When did I start wearing antipersperant? Maybe 6th grade, 12 years old? So for 28 years, I had a rash. I thought it was normal. Then I started hearing more and more disturbing things about the stuff. Then my sisters stopped using it. So I did the same. And I stunk. But my rash went away. I went back. Rash. Stopped. Stunk. What's a girl to do? I began experimenting. I tried all sorts of natural deoderants. I stunk. They might have worked on a 20 degree day where I did nothing more than drive around in the car. But last through something like a workout? Forget it. Stink. Stank. Stunk. As the Grinch would say.

After spending the boys' college funds on my Great Deoderant Experiment, I figured I was destined to a life of rashes or stinkiness. Then along came Paige who, just like those girls at Glamour magazine, did a road test and gave a thumbs up. I dove in and bought the Crystal, too. It uses natural salts to stop you stinking. And it works. It worked all winter and it even works during a workout. It will be interesting to see how it pans out during a hot summer. I'm still in testing mode. But for now, it's a thumbs up. Eamonn also uses it. I don't smell him and he doesn't seem to smell me (or maybe he's afraid to tell me), which is, I hope, a huge relief to those of you who were VERY disturbed by my earlier posts where I said we no longer wear deoderant.

And as for makeup items, don't laugh, but I use those Bare Minerals that are always on the shopping channel. I love them. I need to do more research on them, but I think they're pretty clean. Anyway, lots of companies are coming out with mineral-based makeup lines and you can get them at places like WholeFoods. Again, too lazy to take a picture.

I also forgot to say what bar soap we use: Melaleuca, Platinum. Love it.

I know there are tons of typos, but I'm going to bed!

Next topic: Homeopathy. Ooooo, we're really getting into the voodoo now!


utahsweeney said...

ok, I'm back to being overwhelmed again. I'll try the deoderant for starters. Good post - that took you some time.

Anonymous said...

I am the one who uses vinegar on sunburn and even though we don't have any more sun in Minnesota (it's raining-again, at least it's not more snow)I am going to buy a huge jug of it tomorrow. We just finished painting our kitchen and the floor was nasty disgusting and full of sheetrock mud dust. I cleaned it today with vinegar and water and it ROCKS! I still haven't decided which would be worse though, using up all the nasty cleaners I already have or just throwing them away. Have to think about that one awhile.
Thanks Natalie!
Sheila in Minnesota

1dreamr said...

Great post. I'm fascinated by the "crystal" stick -- I've seen those and always wondered if they worked. Now, am I brave enough to try it myself?? :-)

Elizabeth said...

I guess I must be Miss Chemical for all that I rub into my skin. What do you do for sun screen?

Mountain Mama said...

Way to go girl! We use most of what you use. I have loved the Jason products. I have tried the Crystal and it did not work for me. However, I still haven't found a great solution. Maybe I should try it again. great post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm using the Seventh Generation soaps for both hand-washing dishes and in the dishwasher, and I'm perfectly happy with their performance. Hopefully I can get some of those big bottles the next time I visit Wally-World, and then I'll be on board the vinegar wagon! :)

Anna in IL