I just went to the Skin Deep website to check up on the ingredients of some of our lotions at home. I have to be honest: It was so disheartening! All of our lotions (and I use them on my 2 and 3 year old kids) have "dangerous" ingredients, even my Target baby lotion. Also, some of the things that I've heard were dubious (like petroleoum jelly) scored a zero on their list. Don't get it. Left me thinking, either that website really nitpicks and nothing is really safe in their eyes, even all-natural ingredients, or I'll be lucky to ever find something completely safe, let alone in bulk size. Pretty depressing. Does any of you have any suggestions for a hand/body lotion that is both affordable, safe, and comes in a bulk-size? I'm trying to get these kind of items in large size containers to avoid creating a lot of plastic waste.
Hi, Andrea. I felt the same way the first time I searched the Skin Deep database and was horrified to find moderately high hazard scores for my (former) favorite shampoo. Needless to say, it got me to take a closer look at what goes into the cosmetics and moisturizers I use everyday.
Overall, I think the EWG’s methodology is sound, and I support their goal of bringing greater transparency to the safety of ingredients found in personal care products. But, as someone who is used to reading scientific research literature, I have to admit that even I initially found Skin Deep's scoring methods to be somewhat confusing (and frightening!). It's hard to imagine, but the site has actually improved in user-friendliness over the past couple of months.
The 'about' page on the website provides greater details into their scoring criteria. Too much detail, you might say at first glance. But it really is worth looking at, at some point, if you want to better understand how they score each product. It will also give you a better idea of the limitations of these scores.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Skin Deep database does not differentiate between natural and synthetically-derived ingredients. So those labels on the bottle that say “all natural” or “100% pure” do not mean anything when it comes to the Skin Deep score. From their perspective, what matters is HOW a chemical affects the body, not WHERE the chemical came from. Health effects are weighted greatly in the scores. This is why the bar graph, titled “Health Concerns of Ingredients,” that you see on the right side of the product description page, gets such prominent placing. The way that I read this graph is to make sure that all the concerns listed are in the “low” range. Anything that sticks out as a greater concern, I scroll down to the ingredients list and read more about the ingredient that is causing the concern.
Another thing to note is that the black box that says “data:( )” that is located below the overall score, can actually be even more important the score itself. That is because this box tells you the amount of safety/toxicity information that is currently available for the ingredients listed. A product can score a low hazard number of 0-2 but still be “dangerous” because not enough information is really known about it.
For brands of lotion, one that I would recommend is California Baby. Their products receive good marks on Skin Deep, are found at stores like Whole Foods and Target, and they are available in larger sizes on the website. Personally, I have switched from lotions to organic sesame, almond or argan oils. Oils usually do not require additional preservatives to keep (bacteria and fungi like to grow in water-filled environments), and preservatives are often the ingredients that cause the most concern on Skin Deep. As a general rule, I’ve been sticking to products that have short ingredients lists, avoiding products that contain so-called “dirty dozen” ingredients, and reducing the overall number of products I use regularly.
Use unrefined coconut oil instead of lotion. I have been using this on my daughter's skin and as a conditioner for her hair for about a year. I use it on my skin as well. My hair is rebelling at the moment (wavy/curly) so I have had to take a break from using it as a conditioner, but it worked all last fall and winter.
You can buy coconut oil at the grocery store (some locations even have glass jars!) A jar lasts for several months or longer.
Thank you Sandra and MtnGirl for the suggestions. It's kinda hard with a husband who is pretty set in his ways. I've been trying to incorporate this new life style without getting too much in his way because otherwise he'll make things a lot more difficult for me. So far he's been pretty flexible, but I don't want to push it too quickly. Went to the CA baby website and their jumbo size lotions are pretty pricey for my budget. Will definitely keep them in mind if I can't find anything else a little more affordable. Will also check up on the coconut oil. Thank you!
You may also want to check out the brand, Everyday Shea. The bulk sizes are more reasonably priced ($14 for a 32 oz. bottle) and the products receive the Whole Foods Premium Body Care seal (WF has its own safe cosmetics program, you can read more about it here).
My husband was a little resistant at first, but now he just rolls his eyes at my conconctions and experiments. He is a little more accepting when I try them on myself first then wax poetic about how much I love whatever it is I would like him to try and how much money I saved!
I use virgin coconut oil for a lot of things nowadays. I buy it on amazon when it goes on sale and do the subscribe and save option for an additional discount (then cancel it, if I don't want more on their schedule). SO MUCH CHEAPER than in any local store I have found thus far. I have also heard that Mountain Rose Herbs sells it in bulk for very good prices.
My DH is amused by my attempts to live healthier and more simply. He joins in a LOT MORE when I keep my experiments to myself and just mention them in passing once in awhile. My quieter, more subtle method has gotten him to become rather involved in this new venture. He likes to cook and doesn't care quite as much about cost savings as other men, so when I whip up a recipe of some kind (doesn't have to be an edible product) he tends to pay more attention and he'll help me out with those sorts of things which leads to him asking me about it more and so on and so forth...
Looking at their website, I sure wish there was a Wholefoods close to home! That lotion would have probably worked well for my home since it was within my budget, but it looks like I can't order online unless I plan to pick up at their store and the nearest one is over 1 hr away. :(
Will have to keep looking... I will definitely check out the virgin coconut oil. Karin, what do you use it for (other than as lotion or conditioner?) Just curious. I'm always into finding natural alternatives for everything. My husband doesn't cook (or clean !@###). He takes advantage that I'm a stay at home mom, but I guess we both benefit in different ways from it. I get to see my two little ones grow full-time and to be a housewife which, is hard work, but I enjoy much. He'll have to pitch in more once I work outside of the home, but then I will probably have less of a say on how things are done at home. He is really hard to trick into doing things differently though, but I did have a serious talk with him about ZW and he accepted my efforts and has been pretty cooperative as long as it doesn't turn his life upside down. Just gotta go with the flow and be smart with the battles I pick. I see him roll his eyes now and then though :) I guess most of us get that from other people :)
This lifestyle change has been a great benefit in several ways: saving $$$, simplifying life exponentially and there's just the enjoyment of the independence you get from accumulation of stuff, etc. No way I'm going back to the old ways! Just gotta take it one step at a time...
VCO uses (coconut oil is solid at 75 degrees and cooler; liquid at 76 degrees and warmer):
~ face "lotion" (just a drop or two on damp skin spreads very nicely and has a bit of sun protection; in cold weather, I use half a nail scraping -- back/top of freshly washed fingernail -- from a tiny container I keep in bathroom)
~ body "cream" (DD uses it more than I do for her body...my skin just doesn't need lotion like she does)
~ cooking oil (VCO is awesome when frying salmon patties and omelets and other foods)
~ as "butter" (VCO is a tasty alternative to butter/margarine on toast and bagels, etc)
~ oil-pulling (google that term; I prefer unrefined sesame oil, but used VCO first; others prefer VCO)
~ gum-healer (I had an abscess on my gum and I applied VCO daily -- along with other techniques -- and it healed)
~ base oil (carrier oil) for many homemade "concoctions" (VCO has an extremely long shelf life, so I use it as the main oil in my homemade insect repellent and lip balm and other such items)
~ hair treatment/conditioner (I've used it on the very ends of my hair and DD's hair...I prefer olive oil for all over our hair, though; others prefer VCO)
~ cuticle treatment (when I use VCO as face lotion, I rub the excess into my fingernails and cuticles...ahhh...best cuticle treatment ever!)
I keep a jar in the kitchen (pantry) and a very small jar in the master bathroom and another jar in my "toiletries" cabinet (bedroom; with other carrier oils and such). I reuse glass jars from other foods we buy once in awhile. The very tiny jar in the bathroom came from an eye cream a long, long time ago.
Spectrum CO comes in glass jars at the hfs. DH bought it once and I like the jar and reuse it, but it is very pricey that way.
Andrea, just wanted to share that Everyday Shea has their own website and you can order the products online through the site (www.everydayshea.com) and have it shipped to your home. You may also be able to find their products at a store other than Whole Foods with the "locate a store" option.
Wow, lots of great uses for the coconut oil! I've had success substituting coconut oil for Crisco in baking recipes, but I didn't realize you could use it as a skin moisturizer. I wonder if it will work for making homemade lip balm. Thanks for the tip, Karin!
It works wonderfully as lip balm, Sandra. I get fancy because I love this stuff and add dried, ground beets for color and castor oil for shine and call it lip gloss, but plain VCO works really well to relieve chapped lips and to prevent them in the first place. I put a light layer of aloe vera (from the plant itself - I have one growing in my kitchen) on DD's lips first and then a layer of plain VCO to seal it in. I mixed in some fresh aloe in my above lip gloss. Feels divine!
Also, there are lots of places to buy good quality shea butter plain. I purchased a butters sample from Camden-Grey recently and received 9 butters (1 oz each), two of which were shea butter (refined and unrefined). Mountain Rose Herbs also carries it and I've been told by many that this one is VERY good quality and reasonably priced.
I've never used shea butter for anything, but got the butters sample for my homemade concoctions to see which ones I like best. Once I decide, I'll buy from MRH.
I love shea butter! It's a versatile skin care product, and I like how it does not leave a greasy residue on the skin. I was lucky enough to find some shea butter in bulk and have been using it as a hand cream and winter moisturizer (great for wind-chapped skin and rough elbows). I've also been mixing equal amounts of shea butter and beeswax to make a moisturizing version of Bea's lip balm recipe. I have to admit I'm not much of an online shopper and didn't know about Camden-Grey or Mountain Rose Herbs. The prices look very reasonable. Do you happen to know what kind of packaging they use for their products?
Karin, I really like your idea of adding color to the mix to make a lip gloss. Do you dry your own beets or can you purchase dried beet powder somewhere?
Thanks for all the input! I'm so glad that Everyday Shea has their own site. Will definitely give them a try, but will also have to keep my eyes open for VCO now that I know about it. I'd like to try it out as well. Thanks again!
I haven't ordered from MRH, so I don't know about their packaging first-hand. From reading their site and second-hand, I believe they are low-waste.
Camden-Grey is the company that sent my goods wrapped in bubble wrap in a box of biodegradable "popcorn". It was the smallest box possible and I felt the packaging was reasonable for what I ordered (lots of tiny glass vials).
We have a CSA and share it with another family. No one in either family, except me, likes beets. I eat what I can, but I am one person! LOL So I dehydrated several in my little oven (oversized toaster oven with convection) and then ground them in a coffee grinder we use for spices (we don't drink coffee). Fun!
Regarding Mountain Rose Herbs: the coconut oil comes in a bucket for the 5lb size. Shea butter and cocoa butter are all in plastic jars. They have a really nice castille soap (l like it better that Dr Bronner's liquid) I use in my foam pump for hand soap, but again in a plastic bottle. Their teas come in a paper bag lined with a thin layer of plastic. It has been a few months since I ordered last, but I believe they used paper or biodegradable popcorn to fill the excess box. I am not sure I will purchase more coco butter and shea butter when I use up my stock, I am really pleased with just plain coconut oil.
I also use coconut oil in my homemade deoderant, lip balm, body butters, and cooking.
Look at Cruncy Betty's website for lots of great homemade product recipes:
Thanks ladies, for the packaging info on the two companies. I've been trying my best to avoid plastic packaging, but I know how difficult it can be to find these products in bulk or glass/metal packaging. Will keep these companies in mind, in case my health food store ever stops selling bulk shea butter. I will definitely check out the Spectrum brand of coconut oil that's in a glass jar. Wonder what the difference is between the refined and virgin coconut oil. Do they taste different? Neat link of homemade product recipes; I've been searching for more recipes like this. I'm also the only one in my family that likes beets. I'll be trying out your beet dehydration method for my next batch of lip balm. Many thanks!
Thanks for the link to Crunchy Betty!!!! I think I am in love... :)
Unrefined coconut oil has a slight coconut smell and more nutrients. Definitely use this version whenever possible, especially in cooking/eating. The scent is subjective, of course. I compare it to the common "coconut" flavors/scents and unrefined is a just a slight scent to me.
The refining process removes the scent and some/most/who knows how much nutrients. From what I have read, this is okay to use in body care products if you really don't want any trace of coconut scent and some of the CO benefits.
Personally, I buy unrefined only and use it for everything. It is just simpler.