Monday, April 14, 2008

The ugly truth about some beauty products

Early last fall, I read the book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. It's a detailed projection of what might happen to the Earth should one day, the entire human race just disappear (not die out, just disappear). Wonderful book, by the way.

A couple things really stuck with me. One, that I talk about here, was that the plastics we create now, will be with us FOREVER. Ok, not literally, but for practical purposes, it could be around for millions of years or until a microbe could evolve enough to use plastics for food. Then Weisman raised a major red flag. It turns out some of the beauty products we use, like exfoliants that have those little scrubbing beads in them, ARE MADE FROM PLASTIC. I immediately made a mad dash to my bathroom cabinet and stood appalled to see "polyethylene" in the ingredient list. Ahh, I'm flushing plastic down the drain every time I wash my face!

That's all it took. I don't use a lot of beauty products anyway, but it was time start looking for alternative, more natural products.

So I did a ton on reading on the internet and started cleaning out the cabinet. I used up what was left of the old stuff (saving the old containers which have turned out to be quite useful) and started replacing it with new. When the eye makeup remover pads ran out, I bought cotton balls and baby oil. When the astringent ran out, I replaced it with witch hazel.

Then last week, that sneaky, plastic-harboring exfoliant from last fall ran out and I replaced it as well. I've been squeezing just a little liquid hand soap on my hand, then sprinkling a homemade mixture of baking soda and sugar that works as my exfoliant/facial scrub. I was willing to try this new concoction for a week to see if I was satisfied with the results. So last night, being about a week into the trial, I turned on the light above the bathroom sink, leaned in close to the mirror and took a good look. Ok. There are some serious lines around my eyes but unfortunately, they've been there a lot longer than the last week. And the, (Ahh!), the GREY HAIR in my eyebrows probably isn't to blame on my new scrub........ Hmmm. Well, I suppose in general, the old gal doesn't look so bad. I mean my skin feels soft and has good color - I was worried that the sugar might too abrasive, but no worries there. So far so good, actually. I'm pleased.

The only big-name product I have left to run out is the moisturizer which I'll replace with either olive oil or aloe gel (I've seen recommendations for both). I'll just have to see what I like better.

Now I still have the plastic that the items come in (baby oil, witch hazel, etc) but they are recyclable (just normal bottles - no weird un-recyclable shapes) and since I'm buying them in larger quantities than the name brand concoctions, I'm using less plastic overall.

And the best part about it? These solutions are super cheap, the ingredients last forever, and no plastic down the drain!


philip said...

Regarding the plastics that things come in...some other cities are starting to see a few more options (even for a few things besides just food) such as:

Unpackaged food in London

Heather: said...

What a great place to shop! Makes me want to open a store here. Anyone in?

Pamela said...

I read that book last year, and I remember that was one of the things that both jumped out at me and stayed with me. I did the frantic dash to the bathroom, too, and was dismayed to find that my scrubby face wash was, yes, plastic. Sigh. It's so insidious. Now I use Philosophy's Purity Made Simple, and it works and feels great, but it has too many unpronounceables, so when it's done, I'm going to switch to something a little more natural.

Heather @ SGF said...

Pamela - That book was a REAL eye opener. Some people find it a hard read. I absolutely loved it. Good luck changing your beauty products over. It was much easier that I thought it would be.