Sometime during college I developed a suspicious armpit rash. The doctor blamed razor burn, but as I’d never had it before, I doubted I would randomly develop it under both arms at the same time. I stopped using deodorant to avoid any unnecessary irritation, and within a few days I realized that I neither smelled nor sweat without it. It got me wondering what other products I used that society made me believe I needed when I actually didn’t.
The average person uses nine products daily. At flirst glance that number seemed too high, and then I thought about it: toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, lotion, shaving cream, causing an exposure to 80 or so unique ingredients to arrive at society’s definition of “clean”.
Add colognes, perfumes, aftershaves and makeup on top, and chemical counts adds up quickly. Perhaps due to gender-biased societal pressures, women especially use countless superfluous products (the “lip” section on Sephora’s website has five sub-sections). As a result the average woman absorbs up to five pounds of chemicals a year, many of which are suspected carcinogens or shown to be toxic to the reproductive and endocrine systems. Even products labeled “natural” or “organic” aren’t risk-free since FDA has relaxed regulations.
Some of the biggest ingredients to avoid: parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, fragrance, sulfites, sodium lauryl sulphates and sodium laureth sulphates, among others
Every other creature on the planet gets by without corporately produced creams and chemicals…why can’t we? Your poor body is confused; it is quite clever and knows how to regulate itself. It just doesn’t know how to react to all the crap you’ve been putting on it. Did you know that shaving creams contain skin irritants, necessitating the use of aftershave? Or that some shampoos cause dandruff and some body washes cause dry skin? Which we then remedy by applying more chemicals. Consider which products you could painlessly cut out of your life (come on, I’m sure there’s at least a few!) and experiment with natural ingredients that work even better than chemical ones.
Skin soother: oatmeal and honey
Skin exfoliate: honey, olive oil and sea salt
Skin toner & brightener: egg white with a few squirts of lemon juice
Lip scrub: honey & brown sugar
Body soap: castile soap with a few drops of your favorite essential oils
Hair shine: soak hair in 1 part water, 1 part vinegar
Pedicure: soak feet in vinegar
Currently, I only use all-natural soap & shampoo while in the shower. I’ve heard of people doing the no-soap challenge, but I’ve yet to try it. I shower every other day, as this works best for my oily disposition, or after any intense work outs. Since college onward I’ve worn make up out of enjoyment. I crave change and make up allows me to alter my appearance to fit my mood, even if I use only a few products (eyeliner, mascara, an eyebrow pencil and sometimes lipstick and cover up). I love nail polish for this same reason; the colors are fun and, like make up, I can remove it when I grow tired of it. Which lets me give my poor hair a rest, since I restyle that practically every season. I cant say for sure, but I feel like if I were a guy I’d probably still use make up. I don’t pluck my eyebrows for the sake of femininity, I just don’t like unruly eyebrows. In my opinion, a universal skin tone looks good on everybody, as do elongated eyelashes. We’ve stuck with this idea that make up is for women, but honestly it would look just as good on guys.
In short, figure out what works for you. Don’t do something just because people or commercials tell you it’s how it should be. If you’re anxious at the thought of leaving the house without makeup, ask yourself why. If you want to wear make up but are hesitant because you’re a guy, remind yourself that only your opinion of you matters. It all goes back to that famous Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Love and celebrate yourself and carry yourself with so much confidence that no one would even think to question your fashion choices.