Now that summer solstice has occurred and mid-atlantic temperatures are creeping up to the 90+ degree range, I thought I would make a sister-post to 2007's winter beauty suggestions.
I had hoped that by now I'd be making all my own beauty products, but it probably won't happen until I win the lottery and buy a farm and grow all my own food and ingredients, so for now I do my best to read labels and avoid certain chemicals in manufactured products, all while trying not to donate my whole paycheck to Whole Foods. There's possibly nothing the U.S. hates more than regulating its industries, so until someone in a position of power admits that it isn't okay that babies in this country are born with 200 different chemicals present in their umbilical cords, we'll be on our own in terms of eschewing stuff that doesn't belong in our bodies. (Recent Washington Post article about this very topic.) So for now, if I need to buy a product that I'm going to use on my skin, I do my best to avoid long lists of ingredients, and especially those containing things like aluminum, parabens, and sodium laureth sulfate.
First things first:
Earth Science Liken Plant deodorant
Having been raised by health hippies (our household medical book contained drawings of naked people that you were supposed to color in according to your aura, as well as instructions on how to give your friend a pelvic exam), I did not really appreciate the value of deodorant for a long time, and I still think it's silly for people to obsess over body odor. However, since sweat glands are working over time in summer, it may be necessary to put a thin layer of something on your armpits once or twice a day. I personally have tested every single "natural" deodorant on the market, and this liken plant stuff is by far the best for my particular chemistry. The ingredients list is short and contains none of the offenders that I usually look for, plus the unscented version is truly unscented and, as long as you tread lightly, it won't leave a major white residue on your pits (though care when pulling on dark clothes is advised). Plus, the packaging is surprisingly sleek for deodorant, if you care about such things.
Nature's Gate Sundercover sunscreen, SPF 30
Sunscreen is one of those products that I smugly balked at for years as totally unecessary, especially as a daily application. I underinformedly agreed with my father when he declared that sunscreen "causes cancer." Now, there is probably some truth to this statement, with parabens (common in skin products) having been linked to breast cancer and good old fashioned sunshine (in the form of vitamin D) serving as a protector against certain cancers. However, skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and of course excess sun causes spots and wrinkles galore. For an upcoming trip to the beach I searched high and low to find a paraben-free sunscreen and Nature's Gate Sundercover provided it. It does contain a sunscreen called Parasol-1789, which makes me think I might be better off just using an actual parasol like people did in 1789, but for beach and pool excursions this summer, its going to have to do. Plus its consistency is light and non-goopy, and the slim, lightweight tube travels well.
I'm not sure why the Aztecs tried to keep it a secret, but I'm glad the word got out...jobjoba oil (pronounced "ho-ho-bah") apparently has a chemical structure that is very similar to that of your skin's natural oils and even though it seems crazy to apply oil to breakout-prone skin, this stuff really does work! It has a nice feel and smell and, if applied sparingly, seems to help clear up problems and impart a healthy-looking glow. According to the ancient Aztecs who bottled it, it will also make your hair manageable and luxurious. Especially if you spend a lot of time getting dried up indoors by air conditioning, a daily dab of jojoba may be just what the medicine man ordered. (Yes, I have fake plastic ivy in my bathroom.)
Jason Sea Fresh Tooth Gel
Pearly whites look good all year round, plus the name makes me think of salty summer breezes. When I visited the dentist after using Jason Sea Fresh gel for a year or so, he told me that I had no plaque on my teeth. My dentist's office may double as a jewelry store on the weekends, but I see no reason not to believe him. Be warned that this tooth gel, which contains sea algae, is a little pricey and not to be confused with Jason Sea Fresh toothpaste, which is cheaper but doesn't seem to work nearly as well. Unlike most commercial dental hygiene products, this one doesn't contain sodium laureth sulfate and has a pleasant, not sugary-sweet, taste. And p.s., your teeth will really feel clean after brushing with it!
Last, but certainly not least...
The Neti Pot! The power of nasal irrigation is not to be underestimated as part of one's daily beauty routine! It helps prevent nasty winter colds but is just as useful for summer--the neti pot helps rinse out all the gritty city stuff you breathe in every day and moisturizes your over-air-conditioned sinuses. My advice: Use a non-heaping 1/4 teaspoon of neti pot salt (sold separately), mix extremely well in 1 cup of lukewarm water, lean over the sink at a 45 degree angle, then tilt left or right depending of which side you're doing. I know this one has nothing to do avoiding topical chemcial applications to the body, but it may help keep some environmental chemicals out. In any case, its positive effects cannot be overstated to anyone who suffers sinus problems year-round.
Happy summer, everybody!