Before I left for Thailand, I had a habit of spending 45 minutes in the shampoo aisle of my favorite box store. Leaving. Researching. Going to my favorite small grocery store, spending 15 minutes studying the 3 shampoo brands they offered. Researching. And buying at a hippie all-organic shop near my home, sulfate free, on sale, ethically sourced.
Then I moved to a country, where even after I’d learned to get around verbally, I was still illiterate. Try as I might, and as many times as I spent 45 minutes accidentally pouring shampoo all over the floor of drug stores, I never DID find perfume-free, organic or sulfate free shampoo. I bought a brand I knew. I bought a brand that looked all-natural (it was not). I bought from box stores, small stores, women at the market. No matter what, though, I was never entirely sure WHAT I had bought. Even if it was an American brand, Thais often retyped the ingredients in Thai and put that sticker over the original label.
The other issue at work here is that while there IS a lot of money in Thailand, it hasn’t trickled down to the middle classes. People have to have a savings account, and a plan for the future, before they start planning enough for the future to worry about the long-term consequences of what they’re using to paint their faces. Thailand is very developed in many ways, it’s incredibly stable. As yet, there isn’t an outcry for chemical-free cleaners, organic apples, NO MSG, etc. All of these things are available, for a price, and if you know where to look. I didn’t have the language abilities to hunt down my eco-friendly.
Now I’m in a place where I can read EVERYTHING. All of it. Going into the cosmetics aisle still feels like a stimulation overload. It’s also incredibly empowering.
I was offered a job yesterday. It’s not in Interior Design, but I won’t hate it, and I will pay my bills.
In my free time these last few weeks, and there HAS been a lot of free time…I’ve begun obsessive researching. When I find a banana face mask, I know where to get oats to turn it into a face scrub. Finally. Peanut butter doesn’t cost $5 for a small jar. Coconut oil won’t melt in my unheated shower. And I can read the names of all the toxins I’ve been slathering myself in for the last 26 years.
Call me a hippie (I also dye my own hair with henna, coffee, cloves and red wine), but this is one of the best perks of being home: Going all crunchy again. Aside from a personal fear of strong chemicals (I’m still researching the statistic that we absorb 60% of everything we put on our skin), I have some skin sensitivities that make using whatever no-brand item off the shelf extra scary. I’m making a little archive of things I think I could recreate on my next overseas jaunt, things that require few ingredients that are common the world-over. Not everything on these lists meet that criteria, but I doubt all of my readers have quite the same level of wander-lust that I possess.
Some of the websites I’ve been using to feed my addiction:
– – Face wash. Every country has honey. Or yogurt. Or rice and water. Totally travel-friendly, chemical free face wash solutions.
– – Face toner. I don’t usually use a toner, but for those that do, these seem like simple solutions.
– – Spot cream. Everybody wishes they had this, at some point in time. Don’t lie. And again – LEMONS and HONEY, completely attainable world-over(ish). I’ve used a few of these ultra-hippie solutions, some are on my to-try list.
NOTE: I’ve never had bad acne, and I can’t speak for those that do, but I have had more than one friend with lifelong health problems from using strong acne medication. In my, inexpert, opinion – avoid it at all costs! Another friend was able to clear up her acne by discovering that she’s allergic to onions. This is after spending thousands of dollars on expensive medication throughout high school AND college 😦
– – Moisturizer: Coconut oil at night, and in the morning…my skin isn’t that dry and I don’t have a solution yet.
Do NOT use olive oil, as the molecules are larger than your pores and your skin cannot absorb the moisture. Instead, you will coat your skin but the skin itself will remain dry.
Shampoo worries me for travel, because it’s a major skin irritant trigger for me, and I have no idea how to find the Castille Soap if I don’t speak the language. For now, though, these two seem like good recipes:
Conditioner. I had egg in my hair today. How about YOU? Every country I’ve ever visited has had an ample supply of eggs, beer, honey and lemons. Healthy hair- CHECK
Hairspray is a straight-haired girl’s best friend. I kid you not. And wouldn’t you know, my current no-chemical, all-herbal, expensive brand is causing me to itch. Also, every country has sugar and water. Every country.
Make-up is always going to be an expensive issue, I think. Here’s a blurb, and link, to what looks to be the healthiest option out there.
For the actual makeup go to Everyday Minerals.
Cleaning products. I don’t know about you, but scrubbing my house is enough of a chore that I don’t want to worry about burning my own skin off in the process, too.
That’s it, that’s my greenest, crunchiest post and perhaps the beginning of a new direction for this blog. We’ll see. One day I will explain the other 50 reasons that I avoid chemicals when given the opportunity.
I’d love to hear if you begin implementing any of these chemical-free solutions! Don’t be a stranger, drop a note.
*Disclaimer 1 – The suggestions and opinions here are those of the author only, the links are not affiliate links. I am not paid or otherwise rewarded if any of my readers follow these links, use these methods or otherwise change their lifestyle based upon the information contained within this blog.
**Disclaimer 2 – The author is not an expert on any of these subjects. The research contained within this post was collected over several years, mostly spurred by personal interest and curiosity. These solutions have worked for the author, and individual results will vary.