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Rethinking Toiletries: Using Less Saves Both Money and the Planet

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The maxim “less is more” applies well to skin care and personal hygiene. Overuse of products is costly and increases pollution. Both genders are prone to overdoing it when it comes to basic activities like washing, shampooing and shaving. Here are some helpful tips.

Take fewer showers and spend less time in the shower to conserve water. A study by the Water Research Foundation ranks showers as the second-highest residential use of water at 20 percent, just behind toilets, at 24 percent.

Some traditional soaps can strip natural skin oils. Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist in New York City, suggests products labeled as “cleaner”, such as a body wash formulated to add moisture back into skin.

An estimated 2 billion disposable razors are discarded annually in the U.S. Helpful ideas include using a long-handled safety razor to shave women’s legs; positioning it at a 20-degree angle with the proper pressure can significantly increase a blade’s lifespan, saving money and the environment.

To streamline our personal care routine, Treehugger.com suggests we completely use up existing products, resist seasonal fads and new colors, and use products that serve multiple roles. For example, a good oil can serve as a makeup remover, skin and face moisturizer, lip balm, frizz tamer and shaving lotion.

For men’s aftershave, it’s healthier to go natural, avoiding perfumed products that contain petroleum-based chemicals. ChasingGreen.org recommends makers like Weleda, Herbal Choice, Burt’s Bees and Aubrey Organics, which offer skin toners and balms with natural ingredients like sunflower, coconut, lemon, St. John’s wort, witch hazel, myrrh, shea butter, beeswax and essential oils, including organic jojoba seed oils.

Note that some products labeled as organic and natural can include synthetic chemicals when the term organic doesn’t apply to the entire formula.


This article appears in the August 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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