You may have picked up from previous posts that I’m trying to eliminate harmful chemicals from my personal care routines. My chronic illness limitations mean I’m like a canary in a coal mine for these types of issues. For me this information gathering is therefore a necessity, but I encourage you to take this more seriously for all sorts of reasons related to health, environmental concerns and ethics.
When my partner got a full time, professional job after a phase of household austerity, I assumed an energy efficient response to this issue was simply to buy some organic products and throw money at the issue.
Recently I have become more systematic at actually checking ingredients online before buying. Our organic products don’t necessarily come out as less personally ‘toxic’ than some cheap, mainstream products. It certainly isn’t a magic bullet for issues such as skin irritation. All products are made of chemical components after all, it’s just that some are manipulated by humans more than others.
I thought you might be interested in my findings, seeing as I know many of you who read my posts have similar health concerns and a very tight budget.
This resource post is concise and structured, not a chatty review. I haven’t necessarily used all these products yet (if I have bought something I’ll indicate with a * and you can ask me about it in the comments section).
I’ve found 3 affordable products and a homemade option for each section for you. You can buy these products online from Amazon, iHerb and/or Superdrug. I don’t include postage costs per item: Superdrug has free UK postage if you sign up for reward points with no minimum order; iHerb postage can be around £7 but can be free if you spend more; we have Amazon Prime so per item most Amazon postage is free for me, but you might need to buy more to get free post.
I don’t have any affiliation with these products or sites. I’m not adverse to this, or receiving products (hint, hint!) but I received no incentive for mentioning the products listed below.
Use these tools to check for yourself:
1) CosDNA is what I use most and almost all the suggestions here are using this. You can search for products or enter a list of ingredients. Your personal cut off is up to you, I allow for an occasional 6 but try to buy products all 4 or less. An example here is the Honeybee Gardens hairspray vs the famous but more toxic L’Oréal Elnett hairspray:
2) EWG Skin Deep is easier to search for types of products, though UK products don’t seem to be well represented.
3) Think Dirty (shop clean) app will let you scan barcodes to check ingredients.
DIY: start to work out which chemicals you personally react to and which ones you prefer to avoid. I react to sodium lauryl sulfate (and similar) so I check for that and I try to avoid parabens. Baby products are an easy place to look for simpler ingredients.
2) Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Body Wash £6 (also in Superdrug)
3) Dr. Woods, Almond Castile Soap with Fair Trade Shea Butter £2.80
DIY: maximise washing with plain water, perhaps wiping makeup off with almond oil*.
1) Crystal Alum 100% Natural Organic Deodorant stick * £5.65 (basically a rock of salt, it lasts longer than standard deodorant).
2) New Bionsen Caring Touch Aluminium Free Roll on Deodorant* £3.19 (but contains BHT and linalool)
3) Naturally Fresh, Deodorant Crystal Spray Mist, Body Deodorant £1.56
DIY there are plenty of recipes for deodorant eg this Wellness Mama one.
1) Yes To Cucumbers Volumising Shampoo £3.33 (also in Superdrug)
3) Noughty Detox Dynamo Detox 2-in1 Shampoo & Conditioner £6.99 (Superdrug)
DIY there are homemade shampoo recipes too (though I remain unconvinced), eg these from Don’t Waste the Crumbs
1) Faith in Nature jojoba conditioner currently £2.73 (Superdrug, also fragrance free is OK and other variations may be too)
2) Yes to cucumbers conditioner currently £3.29 in Superdrug (also Amazon)
3) Beauty Without Cruelty Lavender Highland currently £1.79 on iHerb.
DIY: I just use a little bit of almond/olive/hazelnut oil on my hair for a couple of hours before washing, or cider vinegar as a leave in conditioner.
1) Murray’s Superior Hair Dressing Pomade currently £2.67 plus post
3) Giovanni, Natural Mousse Air-Turbo Charged, Hair Styling Foam £5.60 iHerb (also Amazon)
DIY: make your own hairspray with sugar water I use this Wellness Mama recipe. You can also use sugar water on damp hair as a setting lotion for curls*
1) Organic Hair Dye – Herbal Hair Colour Henna Red by It’s Pure Organics* £10 (but more of a DIY experience)
2) Logona Colour Cream around £15* (I was annoyed this didn’t include the colour fix conditioner, I’m going to use soon)
3) IROIRO Premium Natural Semi-Permanent Hair Color £10
DIY: I like strong herbal tea tints such as hibiscus* see my previous post
1) Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Liquid Foundation eg Ivory* £7 (Maybelline is relatively good in general for a mainstream brand eg also Dream Wonder Fluid Touch and Dream Liquid Mousse)
2) Lottie London All About That Base, Matte Foundation Stick £7
3) Bourjois Une Skin Matt Foundation* £10ish (I bought from eBay and it stings on my skin, could be a fake or an idiosyncratic reaction, the Une subsidiary of Bourjois (?) uses almost entirely natural ingredients)
DIY you can make your own foundation from kitchen cupboard essentials, though this may create more skin irritation than these mainstream brands see my post here
1) BWC Super Cover Cream Concealer Pencil* £7
3) E.L.F. Cosmetics, Beautifully Bare, Lightweight Concealer Stick £3 from iHerb
DIY: I haven’t come across a convincing DIY concealer
With products where the colours or fragrance varies considerably in the particular range, it is best to check each version. For the shades I’ve checked, these are quite low in toxins:
1) Revlon Super Lustrous or Matte lipsticks* around £5-8 eg Cherries in the Snow or Pink in the Afternoon
3) Une lip toned lipstick £8
DIY you can create lip tints from things like hibiscus powder, coloured lip balms are relatively achievable too, see Wellness Mama again
1) Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara* Black £7.50
2) Avon SuperShock Max Mascara £5
3) 95% Organic Mascara by Dizao Organics £10
DIY mascara looks a little tricky and expensive to make at home but it’s possible
1) Freedom Pro Lip Liner Nude £2 Superdrug
2) Magnetic false eyelashes eg £10 (so no glue, not sure what to make of these!)
3) Rimmel London Insta Conceal and Correct Palette*, £6.50 Superdrug/Amazon
DIY blusher, bronzer and eyeshadow can be made from food, such as spices* (but be cautious about skin reactions some spices can really sting)
I hope this has convinced you that it is possible to buy affordable, relatively low toxin products from high street chemist brands. If you’ve checked out good products please let me know.
Feel free to ask me about the * products I’ve tried. Have you ever used any of the options I’ve listed? How did you find the product?
If you liked this post you’ll probably want to read
My recent post with Spoonie and Pinup Beauty tips
A post about haircare
A post about homemade makeup
A post about cheap products which make chronic illness a bit easier
Or perhaps something a bit deeper like Epistemological Crisis in ME?