One of the areas I have been interested in lately is natural personal grooming products. A few weeks ago, I wrote a bit on natural tooth care, today we are moving on to skin care.

A very popular topic across the globe and a multi billion dollar industry, “skin care” is everywhere and of great importance to many people. I have always been a minimalist when it comes to skin products, using very few products other than the basics. Those have always been mainstream versions up until a few months ago when, after learning of some of the ingredients used in popular skin care products, I decided it was time to explore some better, more natural options.

As I eluded to in the last post, I like the mantra: as a general rule don’t put anything on your body you don’t want in your body. Although your skin is a protective barrier of sorts, it is a semi permeable, multi directional organ and much of what goes on it is absorbed into your body. If you put chemicals on your skin, many of them will end up inside your body. My common sense says that if we can find more natural products that serve the same purpose, we would be a bit foolish not to give them a shot. So that’s what I did in these areas: deodorant, soap, sunscreen, shaving cream and lotion. In general, I think my transition to natural skin care has gone really well.

Deodorant
Kept it simple here, skipped the antiperspirant versions and found a deodorant with pretty minimal ingredients. Works relatively well and it has been pretty consistent. In talking to a few people, the brand I chose (Natural Grooming from Urban Cowboy) is one of the more popular natural deodorants, although I’m sure there are plenty of other brands that would work well.
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** Update June 2013: I chose a different brand (Herbal Care) just by chance to see what it was like and like it much better. Goes on more clear, smells fresher and seems to work better.
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Soap
This was probably the simplest change, as soap is pretty straight forward. The South of France Natural Body Care soap, and another very similar bar, were both nice swaps and felt pretty good. I have used body wash for several years simply for ease but found this bar to be pretty smooth and easy on the skin. Soap should be made of simple and natural ingredients, which is why I liked this one.

Sunscreen
One of the more complicated skin care issues, for sure. This is also a hot topic and very highly debated. My philosophy on sunscreen is to only use it when in the sun for extended period of time. It is pointless for short term exposure and robs us of the opportunity to make some vitamin D. Since the main health issue is being in the sun long enough to burn, very few people need to worry about the sun on a daily basis, particularly those those have slowly built up a tolerance to it in the form of a tan. Shade and clothing can provide plenty of protection for most and when actually in the sun uncovered for long stretches it is then appropriate to use sunscreen. Since most commercial sunscreens and sunblocks are chemical laden and would be considered less than ideal, I like the line from Badger as an alternative. It is made from ingredients I know of and trends toward the more old fashioned “barrier” protection. It does not fully absorb into the skin which is why it blocks the sun rays. Because of this feature it leaves a light white film on the skin so keep that in mind. Personally I don’t mind this but some people will not like how it doesn’t fully absorb into the skin. It’s not as bad as the old white pasty zinc oxide on the lifeguards’ noses from the 1960’s but the concept is the same. Pictured here are the regular sunscreen and a stick for face applications.
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Shaving Cream
I wasn’t quite sure where to start here, in fact I almost went back to the basics with old fashioned Barbisol, but the ingredients turned me off a bit. Instead, I ran across some shaving “creme” by Kiss My Face and gave it a shot. All in all, not bad. I chose a version with bamboo and green tea which was quite refreshing and worked well although it wasn’t as lathery as most shaving creams, instead was more of a shave lotion.
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Lotion
Another simple one here. I am not a big lotion user or advocate. To me, dry skin is a symptom of body function, hormones and hydration. The first place to look is diet and lifestyle when it comes to dry skin. However, for quick relief and treatment, I like plain old coconut oil (I get most of my coconut oil from Tropical Traditions, although it can be found almost anywhere these days). Simple, cheap and easy to use, consider it food for your skin. Just as you would eat nutrient dense food to nourish the body from the inside, your body and skin feeds off what you put on the outside. As a giant permeable organ that exchanges nutrients and fluids in both directions, what you put on your skin matters. Keep it simple here, more expensive and “ground-breaking” does not mean better.
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**I don’t use shampoo or conditioner so I haven’t looked into any options for those products. When I do I’ll update this to include them.

A great natural skin care resource can be found over at Cave Girl Eats’ Body Care page. This goes into way more detail and includes things to watch for when shopping for personal care products.

The Bare 5 Bottom Line on Natural Skin Care:
1. If you wouldn’t eat it, think twice about putting it on your skin.
2. Think of using food to treat the skin from within.
3. Only use it if you need it, particularly in sunscreens and lotions.
4. Keep it simple.
5. When in doubt, use coconut oil.

Thanks for reading, have a great natural skin care day!

P.S. For those of you interested in even more simplicity, you can use coconut oil as sunscreen.

P.S.S. Expeller pressed/refined coconut oil will not have the coconutty taste and aroma that extra virgin coconut oil has.

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