Natural Bodycare: Save Money, Look and Feel Better
If you regularly buy things like shampoo, conditioner, shaving lotion, and skin care items at your local supermarket, you’ve probably noticed a few things. For one thing, those products aren’t cheap and add a considerable amount to your grocery bill. Also, if you dare to read their ingredient labels, you’ll see a long list of unpronounceable, unfamiliar chemical ingredients. Would you like to read about some less expensive, better-performing alternatives, with more natural and fewer synthetic ingredients? Welcome to today’s blog post, all about natural body care alternatives.
The natural products industry has been making excellent alternatives to drugstore and supermarket body care products for decades. And an increasing number of health-conscious consumers are turning to these products just as they’ve turned to more natural foods and healthy ways of eating.
But for a variety of reasons, it’s not always easy for these consumers to find the products they need or to use them with confidence:
- Natural brands and product lines are unfamiliar to those new to the genre.
- Natural products haven’t completely shaken off the mistaken notion that they are inferior to drugstore and supermarket brands.
- Natural products contain ingredients that consumers aren’t used to seeing in body care products.
- Natural brands aren’t supported by multimillion dollar advertising and marketing campaigns and aren’t in the mainstream drugstores and supermarkets.
- The health food and natural products stores that carry natural body care products still tend to merchandise body care items in the vitamin and nutritional supplement section - instead of giving them a dedicated aisle or space as drugstores and supermarkets do, and as shoppers are used to seeing.
Yet body care products are one of the fastest-growing segments of the natural products industry and there’s no shortage of good products. Here’s an overview of some great, natural body care products that may save you money but definitely have a more body-friendly ingredient profile than national brands.
Soaps and Body Washes:
NOW Foods, who have a vast and very well-respected product line, makes a terrific Shower and Bath Gel that’s under five dollars and has a fantastic scent thanks to the organic lavender oil it includes. The whole family can use it as a body wash or as a shampoo. Desert Essence, who specialize in natural body care, also makes a great body wash in an antibacterial version and an exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid version (red grape).
Shampoos and Conditioners:
NOW makes a great natural, detergent-free shampoo in three versions: A volumizing formula, a moisturizing formula and and a repair formula for damaged hair. Consider pairing these up with NOW’s natural conditioners for best results.
Desert Essence’s organic hair conditioner with natural oils is here.
For very young children, Burt’s Bees makes a natural and safe, tear-free baby shampoo and body wash.
Drugstore, supermarket and fancy department store skin moisturizers are typically chock full of synthetic chemicals like dyes, fragrances, preservatives, etc. They’re also among the most ridiculously overpriced body care products of all.
You’re crazy to spend that kind of money on a moisturizer. All the skin you can see is dead tissue, and there’s a real limit to how much you can improve dead skin, no matter what you put on it or what claims a product makes (more here).
This isn’t to say nothing can be done to improve dry or weathered skin – it’s just that you’ll get as-good or better results with purer, more simple and natural moisturizing products:
Jojoba oil is a natural and safe plant oil already widely used in the natural body care products industry. A light, odorless oil that absorbs well, jojoba oil can be added to bath water, rubbed directly onto skin after bathing or mixed with some shampoo to condition hair while you shampoo. Small amounts can be combed through towel dried hair for incredible detangling and defrizzing effects while imparting a healthy luster. Jojoba oil is very inexpensive, especially when you consider that you need only use only a very small amount each time.
One of the lightest plant oils, jojoba oil also works fantastically well as a shaving lotion and makeup remover.
Coconut oil works very well as a moisturizer for skin and hair. Coconut oil is usually in solid form at room temperature, about the consistency of refrigerated butter. To use coconut oil as a moisturizer, simply liquefy a small amount by rubbing it between your palms before applying to dry skin or through towel-dried damp hair. Like jojoba oil, coconut oil can be used as a lubricant lotion to give you an extremely close shave and leave your skin feeling and looking great.
An even more emollient plant oil, shea butter, is good for extremely dry skin such as windburned, chapped or chaffed skin.
Then there’s NaPCA spray. Here’s a great product that needs a catchier name. NaPCA spray derives its name from its active ingredient, which is the same moisturizing factor found in human skin.
And while we tend to think of oils and lotions as necessary to re-moisten and rehydrate skin, it’s actually water – not oil - that keeps skin moist and supple (oils just inhibit the unchecked evaporation of water from skin) NaPCA is a compound that actually pulls moisture (water) out of the air and into skin.
For a few reasons, NaPCA spray is a great moisturizer for men in particular. For one thing, it’s an odorless, colorless, watery spray. Since men tend to have hairier arms and legs than women, this is preferable to lotion-type moisturizers. Lotion can be smoothed into hairless skin easily enough, but on mens’ bodies, lotion moisturizers tend to coat hair shafts also; hair doesn’t absorb skin moisturizers well, so the lotion stays there, leaving arms and legs with a greasy feeling and attracting dirt. None of the problems occur with NaPCA spray which also contains aloe vera.
We might be heading into winter, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about protecting your skin from the elements, especially if you ski or snowboard or are often outdoors. Sunburns, wind burns and chapping are all common in the winter, and often made worse by the combination of cold temperatures and very low humidity.
Burt’s Bees makes a natural, chemical-free sunscreen with an SPF of 15.
After a skin-withering day on the slopes, drink plenty of water and use their After Sun Soother to soothe and rehydrate skin.
In warmer weather, the NaPCA spray is a better after-sun treatment. Aloe vera in combination with NaPCA makes this product a great home remedy for sunburned or windburned skin, especially if pre-chilled in the fridge. It goes on cool and comfortably, instantly soothing sunburned skin.
Lip care: Whatever is bad for your skin, is even worse for your lips. You may want to avoid using petroleum as a lip balm, as ChapStick and most leading lip balms do. For a non-petroleum solution try a bit of coconut oil or use Burt’s Bees lips balms, which come in medicated and moisturizing versions.
If you’ve ever felt weird about putting mass market God-knows-whats-in-this-stuff bug repellent on yourself or young children, you’re not alone. Wouldn’t it be great if there were natural alternatives? For a long time there weren’t any, but there are a few now, which use pleasantly-scented natural essential oils to mask human odors and keep the bugs away. We used to carry a few types, but NOW Bug Ban was the clear best-seller, with lots of repeat orders, so it gets our vote.
Teeth and Gums:
We prefer xylitol toothpaste to the drugstore brands as it has a much more natural formulation and includes a key ingredient – natural and effective – that the drugstore brands don’t, for whatever reason. Xylitol, besides being the perfect alternative to sugar, also serves dual purposes in a toothpaste. First, it sweetens the taste and secondly, it has the ability to ‘starve’ decay-causing bacteria on teeth, inhibiting their growth.
For those with acne, Desert Essence makes a great product, a tea-tree oil based blemish stick that lets you apply its antimicrobial plant-based formula directly to blemishes to minimize their appearance and speed healing.
Natural body care products are growth industry right now, which testisfies to the broad demand for these products. You can expect the same or better results with these products as you would with mass market brands. We invite your comments about natural body care products, including product reviews and new product suggestions.