Natural beauty made simple and with minimal landfill waste

Posted on October 7, 2011 by


Lemons for glowing beauty

Lemons for glowing beauty

When I decided to make the commitment to live sustainably I set down a few ground rules that helped shaped my purchasing decisions and therefore my beauty regimen. One of these rules is to avoid single-use disposable containers. Therefore plastic bottles were significantly reduced. That means no shampoo bottles either. Another rule is that it has to be friendly to the earth by being non-toxic and biodegradable.

So what to wash my hair with? What to cleanse, tone and moisturize my face with? What to use for deodorant? What to use to remove makeup?

Through trial and error I’ve found that the solutions I arrived at were often better than what is commercially offered.

First of all, no beauty product, no matter what they promise, is going to help you if you are washing in chlorinated water. Get a water filter shower head. It doesn’t cost much and is easy to install yourself. I got one from for about $42.

Second, what I’ve replaced standard beauty products with are so much cheaper and also less toxic.  The Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database has a comprehensive list of beauty products and their toxicity levels at By and large, every product listed here has some degree of toxicity. This is because they all contain some type of preservative to maintain shelf life, and/or fragrance, and/or color, and/or stabilizer to prevent the ingredients from separating and other additives that can be carcinogenic or disruptive to our systems in a variety of ways. The reason most commercial beauty products aren’t made of strictly natural ingredients like the ones I’m about to suggest, is that they are perishable and don’t keep on the shelves well.

So without further ado, here is my list of ingredients for my beauty routine: coconut oil, aloe vera leaves straight off the plant, bar of soap, baking soda, yogurt, honey, lemon, apple cider vinegar. The first one, coconut oil, I use the most.

I use coconut oil to cleanse my face and remove makeup the same way people would use a cold cream and it works great! I also use it to remove makeup from my makeup brushes followed by lathering with soap and rinsing in warm water. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer (blot excess with towel – dry or warm, damp).

I also use coconut oil as a deodorant. If I am especially smelly I will first bathe the offending area with baking soda and lather. This works really well.

I also use coconut oil as sunscreen. If it was good enough for the Melanesians living on the equator, it is good enough for me. I don’t know if I’d recommend it for those who insist on baking in the direct sun. I tend to stay out of the sun when it is very hot out. Studies have confirmed that coconut oil helps skin convert the sun’s rays to vitamin D, which is good for us.

I keep an aloe vera plant and once a week, break off a leaf and use a 1 inch section to rub the juice on my face and neck as a toner. I put the rest in the fridge for the next day.

I wash my scalp with bar soap. It matters what kind. I like JR Liggerts Shampoo Bar, but I’ve also used Bronner’s Castile soap bar. Then I rinse my hair with a vinegar rinse (a tablespoon of vinegar in 2 cups water). You can adjust the amount of vinegar until it feels right. I admit that I keep a bottle of shampoo for when I need to clean my whole head of hair and not just scalp. The point is that I use it sparingly and therefore use fewer bottles in the long run.

I brush my teeth with a toothbrush dipped in baking soda. I do sometimes use Tom’s of Maine toothpaste when I need a break from that. Tom’s recycles their tubes.

For a special face mask I mix yogurt with lemon and honey (about a couple tablespoons yogurt, a few drops lemon juice, a teaspoon of honey, proportions can vary) and leave it on my face for about 20 min, then rinse with warm water and blot dry. It makes my skin really dewy. I chose this mixture because I get my yogurt in a refillable glass jar. If you really want your skin to be dewy and baby soft, drink lemon water every day. It also whitens your teeth.

It has been awhile since I’ve used perfume. I’ve become really sensitive to it. These days I’m happy to rub the leaves of a lavender plant between my hands. Lemons, lemon verbena and other herbs are also nice.

This is the total of my beauty routine. Honestly, I often don’t do much more than rinse my face with water and shower with soap when I’m really busy. I really love the guilt-free simplicity of it.


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