Here’s a familiar morning routine: You stumble into the shower, lather up your hair, massage in conditioner, soap up your body, and possibly get foamy with a shaving cream. You rinse off and step out of the shower. Then you moisturize your skin, mousse your hair, and deodorize your armpits. You might also apply makeup to your face and spritz on some fragrance.
You emerge from the bathroom, clean and gorgeous, thanks to about 10 personal care products. But according to the watchdog Environmental Working Group, you’ve likely applied approximately 120 unique ingredients onto your skin—and most of these haven’t been tested for safety. While no one suggests you shun your morning shower, it is possible to stay fresh as a daisy—naturally.
Getting clean can be a dirty business, and you’ll want to do some label reading to be sure your body wash or soap doesn’t run afoul of safety. Some of the leading brands contain ingredients that have been linked to cancers and deemed unsafe in infant products. Instead, give your skin some therapy with gentle soaps like castile soap, a natural cleanser made from olive oil and salt. Myriad formulations for cleansers are available, but look for the simplest one you can find, made with natural ingredients and minimal or no synthetic preservatives and other additives.
Protect Your Skin
With summer sun, wind, and water, skin needs some extra TLC. Nongreasy natural creams and oils are perfect for this time of year. Almond oil is a light choice. Also look for neem in body care products for its antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, and skin-nourishing properties.
Stay Odor Free
As temperatures rise, so does perspiration. Sweat itself doesn’t have an odor, but when it combines with toxins and bacteria on your skin, you can smell the result. Antiperspirants are designed to prevent perspiration by causing sweat ducts to close so the perspiration can’t escape.
The active ingredient in antiperspirants is aluminum, with particles small enough to enter the bloodstream. Some studies have suggested a link between these aluminum compounds and Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Other research suggests that aluminum chloride and aluminum chlorhydrate may interfere with healthy estrogen function.
It’s wise to select a natural deodorant that allows your body to perspire—but blocks the metabolic pathway of odor-causing bacteria. A glycerin-based formula helps stop bacteria in its tracks. Look for products containing antibacterial essential oils including lavender, rosemary, and lemon. To soothe irritated underarm skin, try aloe.
While talc has become an unwelcome ingredient in personal care products due to its association with lung problems when inhaled, sometimes we like the added security of an absorbent powder to keep us feeling dry during summer’s dog days. Happily, talc-free body powders are now available. Absorbent ingredients like rice starch, cornstarch, and oat flour help protect against excessive moisture. These ingredients are even safe for babies!
Don’t Overdo It
Nothing ruins summer fun faster than sunburn—unless it’s windburn. When your skin has been overexposed to the elements, it tends to become dehydrated, inflamed, and uncomfortable—desperate for relief. Avoid products containing alcohol that may further dry out and irritate damaged skin. Instead look for moisturizers that contain the anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid GLA and skin-essential vitamin A. Shea butter helps trap water in skin, and aloe vera works to help calm inflammation and itching.