Ready to switch out some of your personal care for better options? Use this as a guide for tips on where to start plus recs for both budget and luxe swaps for some most-used items like body lotion, deodorant and more.
It’s definitely a shock to the system when we discover that everything from our lotions to our toothpaste to our deodorant is formulated with health-compromising components.
It’s even more maddening when we have to find out the hard way by overcoming cancer or debilitating eczema or watch a loved one go under again and again and again for a reoccurring brain tumor (totally speaking from experience here).
I mean, it’s hard enough to keep your head on straight through life threatening illness (or even sometimes, life in general) but to expect people to go home and start to make long-term lifestyle changes? We all need help with that.
A friend reached out to me after her brother’s mother-in-law was just returning home from her first round of chemo. She wanted to gift her some nontoxic personal care items to support her and set her up for success at home.
I love what my friend is doing. There are several gaps in our healthcare system so supporting and educating the people we care about is truly an act of love.
Where To Start
If you’re just starting to switch out your personal care items or looking to gift a loved one, I recommend starting with the items that stay on your skin the longest. Switching those out first will have a bigger impact than switching out products used less often. A few points on why this is impactful:
- Personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system or known to disrupt the endocrine system (EWG.org).
- The FDA has no power to review cosmetics (under federal law, skin moisturizers are considered cosmetics) before they hit the shelves and companies do not have to list all the ingredients in their products on their labels.
- The average adult uses 9 personal care products each day with 126 unique ingredients.
- Since the 1970s, more than 87,000 chemicals have been approved for commercial use. Yet of those thousands upon thousands of chemicals, only just over one thousand have been formally examined and graded for their carcinogenic potential.
Nontoxic Personal Care Starter Kit
Instead, we can choose better personal care products. I’ve included options for 7 different categories but you don’t have to get overwhelmed and swap everything all at once.
Determine what you use most, and switch those products out FIRST. This will look different for each person.
I’ve also added options at different price points because #access and #healthforall.
There are definitely cleaner deodorants that work to keep the stink at bay. I should know—I’ve tried and tested them like it’s my job…oh wait 🤔😂. The one thing that cleaner deodorants won’t do is keep you dry, because they lack aluminum and its antiperspirant effects that conventional deodorants employ to stop the sweat.
That being said, determining if a deodorant works is very personal and often dependent on your body chemistry. Because of this, I’ve included a couple of options in each category. These are recommendations that work for me and that I’ve got positive feedback from readers on over the years.
- Cleo + Coco | $18 – Comes in a stick, glides on easily and even delivers a dose of magnesium which most women lack! (Sensitive skin options available too.)
- Agent Nateur | $26 – Keeps me a little bit drier than most, comes in a stick and smells incredible. (Sensitive skin option available too.)
- Schmitts | $15.89 for 2 – This is my husband’s personal fave. He literally goes to the store and buys it himself. Their fragrance-free option is TNK approved. (Sometimes you can find this for as little as $3.99 at stores like T.J.MAXX and Marshalls.)
- Type A | $24.99 for 3 – This one also works for me, easy application, gender-neutral and available on Amazon.
My personal qualm with hand creams is most of the time, they are too greasy. I hate touching my hair (or anything really) after applying for fear that I’m staining the furniture and anything I come in contact with. These picks deliver moisture without being too greasy!
Luxe Hand Cream:
- HENNÉ Luxury Hand Cream | $25 – A fast-absorbing hand cream that also retains moisture, this hand cream gets the job done. Comes in Blomma or Citrus.
Budget Hand Cream:
- Weleda Skin Food Light | $18.99 – A light, fast-absorbing hand cream that won’t leave you feeling greasy.
Luxe Body Lotions:
- CV Skin Labs Body Repair Lotion | $36 – Recommended for people who need some extra skin love from dry skin, chemo treatments, eczema and over-washing. Fast-absorbing and deeply hydrating.
- Free + True’s Body Prophet | $48 – My top pick for body lotion, this cross between a lotion and a serum goes on light, soaks right in and retains moisture like a BOSS. Smells beautiful too and love that it’s packaged in glass.
Budget Body Lotion:
- All Good | $15.99 – A great family option. Easy to apply and fast-absorbing. This lotion is made with organic ingredients, reef-friendly and B Corp too. Comes in fun scents like coconut, lemongrass and lavender.
In addition to avoiding the aforementioned components, I also like to recommend products that offer a little something special via their formulations.
Typically the first ingredient in a lotion, face cream or hand cream is water, but it’s extra special when you see a brand subbing that for a botanical hydrosol or aloe vera juice for example, like in this Ursa Major pick. These hydrate just like water does but in addition, they also deliver more actives.
Luxe Face Cream:
- Ayuna Cream II | $210 – A rich, botanical-infused cream to quench even the driest of skin types.
- Ursa Major Recovery Cream | $48 – Great for men or women, this medium weight moisturizer is fast absorbing. A real crowd pleaser.
Budget Face Cream:
- Weleda Sensitive Care Facial Cream | $24.50 – I knew this one was a winner when my mom asked for a refill! Great for day or night and can be scooped up for as little as $22 on Amazon.
One of the easiest ways to identify better lip balms is to look for formulas that do not contain mineral oils. Mineral oils are prepared via naturally occurring crude petroleum oil can also be listed on labels as: liquid paraffin or paraffin oil.
Fatty acids from petroleum are absorbed through the skin, stored in our adipose tissue, not metabolized, and not excreted. Mineral oil snuck into food and cosmetics has led to it being the largest contaminant in human tissue.
A similar effect can be achieved using vegetable waxes (candelilla and jojoba) and animal-derived waxes (like beeswax and lanolin). Look for these ingredients instead!
Luxe Lip Balm:
- Beneath Your Mask Lip Remedy | $22 – This formula is INTENSE. It’s designed to moisturize, condition, soften and protect—and it does all of that, with a hint of lavender.
- HENNÉ Luxury Lip Balm V2 | $19 – A certified organic, fragrance-free, lux lip balm that comes in a sleek black tube for finger-free application. Medium consistency with a light, creamy finish.
Budget Lip Balm:
- HURRAW Lip Balm | $4.99 – An all-organic lip balm that comes in several flavors like lemon, mint, grapefruit…also available with SPF, too. Goes on smooth, is super nourishing and smells amazing! Comes in a traditional application tube.
RELATED: Kinda Obsessed – Organic Lip Balms
A couple of things I would recommend avoiding in toothpaste are SLS which can cause irritation, artificial flavors, which can contain unknown substances, and artificial dyes, which have been connected to ADHD. I would also recommend making an informed decision about fluoride too.
- Davids | $9.95 – Fluoride free, SLS free, no artificial flavors, preservatives, etc…this is a mild, minty toothpaste that gets the job done. Love that it comes in an old-fashioned metal tube with a push roller included to make sure you get all of the product out.
- Uncle Harry’s Peppermint | $10.95 – And if you prefer a FIREY-FRESH finish, then it’s Uncle Harry’s all the way. This clay-based formula will give you fresh breath for dayz.
Kids Toothpaste Rec:
- Earthpaste | $7.99 – Made with 5 natural ingredients that all come from the earth.
When it comes to picking out a better sunscreen, zinc oxide is still the safest, most effective barrier to use to protect against the sun.
Be sure to avoid questionable chemical barriers like avobenzone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octocrylene and of course fragrance. More how to read sunscreen labels here.
- Love Sun Body SPF 30 | $23 – Love how easy and consistently this one applies. Comes out white and rubs into clear. Has a bit of a tacky finish, which I prefer on beach or pool days as opposed to something that’s drying. Fragrance-free or lightly scented vanilla options.
- All Good SPF 30 | $49 – This is for all the moms who are looking for that big-ace bottle of sunscreen. I like that this is a water-based (aloe) formula because it spreads easily but it also dries down matte. Pumps out white, rubs into sheer, has a natural shea butter scent.
High-performance makeup typically isn’t 100% “natural,” meaning oftentimes we see synthetics introduced to achieve a certain texture, wear time or color. This is not inherently “bad.”
But, when it comes to makeup up, I would recommend avoiding carcinogenic formaldehide-containing ingredients like: Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, MDM Hydantoin and Quaternium-15. Also good to skip: strong allergen preservatives with fast dermal absorption like neurotoxic methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. And 1,4 dioxane containing ingredients like PEGs, SLS, SLES and polysorbates. As an added measure, a great question to ask makeup brands is if they test for heavy metals.
Here are a couple faves to choose from…
Medium Coverage Liquid Foundation:
- Vapour Soft Focus Foundation | $54 – Hands-down my fave foundation right now. Great for mature skin because it goes on even, has medium coverage, and a dewy, healthy finish! I love blending it with a foundation brush like this.
Light Coverage BB Cream:
- Inika Certified Organic BB Cream | $45 – A light-weight, barely-there BB cream that blurs imperfections and pulls any look together.