Plastic Free, Baby!… The Skin and Hair Care Edition

We’ll pick up where we left off from the last post, which was the shower and bath. After we’ve dried off, we all have various routines that we follow, from moisturizing to shaving to make-up. What follows will touch on several of those routines, in no particular order.

First up, Shaving…

which many of us do in the shower or bath, or not at all, in which case, proceed to the next topic!) Disposable razors are one of the most wasteful items in the bathroom, and since the vast majority of them can’t be recycled, they go straight to the landfill. The EPA estimates that 2 billion razors are thrown away each year!!! The best alternative at the moment are old-fashioned refillable metal safety razors, like this one:

IMG_20180624_112444157

New versions can be purchased online by doing a search for “safety razor.” I have not yet seen the new ones in stores, but vintage razors, like the one in the photo, can be found at flea markets and antique stores. The best part- they save sooooo much money in the long run. This vintage Lady Gillette was $20 at a flea market, and a pack of high-quality blades costs around $10 for 100. Because the blades are double-sided, they have twice the life span. The best part… no plastic to be found on any of the components, and if well cared for, they will last a life time.

As for plastic-free shaving cream alternatives, different skin types have different needs, so some experimentation may be necessary. Coconut oil works well to get a close shave, prevent razor burn, and moisturize all at the same time. (Just be careful – it is slippery!) Another option is bar soap with a lot of lather, or better yet, a shave soap bar made specifically for shaving. I’ve seen these online and in local natural food stores without plastic packaging.

Next up is Skin Care…

Now things start to get tricky, as we adults have differing skin-care needs. I’ve been extremely lucky in that plain old coconut oil is all I’ve needed to moisturize both face and body. And I was pleasantly surprised when my son’s dermatologist said that because it has anti-inflammatory properties, it can be good for acne. (Of course my teenage son needed to hear it from a professional- he wasn’t about to listen to his mom!) I buy it in a big glass jar, then transfer some into a 4-ounce mason jar to store in the bathroom. Based on your skin-type, you may need to experiment with other types of oils, such as argan, olive, jojoba, and avocado.

If oils don’t work for you, and/or you are also looking for more facial care and makeup options (I love a little lipstick and mascara every now and then) there are some really great cosmetic companies that are using eco-friendly packaging.  A quick internet search for “zero-waste packaging cosmetics” will turn up great results.

In addition to packaging, I want to add that the cosmetics industry is largely unregulated, meaning that pretty much anything can be in that ingredient list, including potential carcinogens and neurotoxins, and this has a direct impact on our personal health. A great place to research the safety of cosmetic ingredients and brands is the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).

As for babies, less is definitely more when it comes to caring for their skin. Other than treating specific skin problems such as diaper rash, most creams, lotions, and powders are not only unnecessary, but can cause problems with a baby’s natural oil production. So unless there is a specific condition that needs treatment, it’s best to simply bath baby as needed with a natural castille soap, and that’s it.

And finally, Hair Care…

Much like skin care, we all have differing hair types and routines, from simply shampooing and air drying, to lots of products, blow-drying, and styling. I’m only going to cover the basics here to get you started, and you can have fun going down the internet rabbit hole exploring more options if you wish!

At a minimum, most of us need a comb and/or a brush. Affordable, wooden options are pretty easy to find, such as the one below from a local natural foods store.

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Hair products in plastic-free packaging are a bigger challenge, unless you have time to make your own (there are many good online recipes for styling products!) or have access to a store that sells bulk products that you use to refill your own containers.

The good news… according to my hairstylist (and my own further research) is that argan oil, and some other natural oils depending on hair type, work really well at both conditioning and controlling frizz. There are also companies that sell styling products in metal containers… they can be found by doing a “zero-waste hair products” search on the the interwebs.

And if you really want to get every scrap of plastic out of your hair care routine, you can even find plastic-free hair ties and metal barrettes!

I know I’m sounding like a broken record at this point, but my recommendation for hair and scalp care for babies is the same as taking care of their skin. Less is more, and other than washing with a very mild castille soap or natural baby shampoo, nothing else is necessary unless there is a specific scalp condition that needs treatment. Even for cradle cap, the best thing to do is leave it alone and it will usually take care of itself in time.

That’s all for now! I hope you enjoy exploring the many plastic-free alternatives available for skin and hair care, both for yourselves and your babies!

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