I’m not one of those New Year’s resolutions people, but I do like to begin each year as a time of reflection, to build off past successes and to learn from previous mistakes. To set new goals and to build upon my values of caring for community, environment, family and for myself.
So during this brutal snap of cold weather Wisconsin is experiencing, the care starts with eco-friendly skin treatment. As long as I’m reflecting on years gone by and what’s yet to come, I’m proud to say that with time comes awareness.
In my 20s and early 30s, my bathroom was stocked with almost every fruity, flowery scented skin and hair care product available. But it wasn’t until later into adulthood that I started to question why pure lavender essential oil is clear, but the lavender-scented body wash I used was tinted deep purple. And really, how can a large corporation succeed in trapping the fresh scent of the ocean into a bottle?
The answers were in the paragraph-long lists of unpronounceable ingredients on the back labels. I gradually learned to screen those marketing gimmicks aimed to sell skin care products chock full of synthetic scents and artificial colors that can actually dry the skin (to sell more lotion?) and cause sensitivities.
These days, I’m a minimalist when it comes to body care products, and many ingredients right in my own kitchen provide nourishment for not only the inner body, but also for the outside. Pure coconut oil makes an excellent moisturizer. Just dab a little right from the jar and blend into any dry areas on the skin. I use it around my eyes, on my legs after shaving, and on my hands. Coconut oil has immensely helped soothe my dry skin during winter.
Olive oil also works well. It’s a little more greasy than coconut oil, so just swipe a tiny bit from the lid of the bottle and massage it under the eyes or on the back of the hands.
A raw whipped egg mixed with 1 teaspoon olive oil works great to moisturize dry hair. Just massage the mixture into damp hair after a shampoo, let it sit about 20 minutes, and rinse clean. I’ve been doing this since my teens, which garnered a lighthearted mocking of “egghead” from my mom.
Liquid Castile soap can be a base for just about anything – body wash, shampoo, hand soap and more. It is mild and won’t dry the skin and scalp like some commercial soaps. I like to reuse empty shampoo or pump bottles by filling them with liquid Castile soap, adding a couple tablespoons distilled water, and several drops of your favorite essential oil.
I have also used unscented dish soap in the bathroom hand soap dispenser. Again, just add a little essential oil to produce the scent you desire.
Soap is often just soap, regardless if it’s packaged specifically for the hair, hands, or as a body wash. With time also comes more clever corporate marketing. But these days when I walk through the health and beauty sections of larger stores, I wrinkle my nose at the harsh scents wafting from the purple “lavender” shower gel or the bright blue “ocean” scented body spray.