Tips for Men's Gym Bag Essentials

Some weeks it’s hard enough finding the time to exercise. The last thing a guy wants to think about on a busy morning is what to put in his gym bag or backpack. Still, men are increasingly becoming aware that whatever they put on their skin counts, since a product’s ingredients can enter the bloodstream. More than 200 potentially harmful ingredients—including parabens (preservatives with estrogen-mimicking properties), phthalates (endocrine-disrupting plasticizers), sodium laurel sulfate, petroleum products, and artificial colors—are commonly found in mainstream personal care items. In response, companies are releasing men’s lines of products made from natural and organic ingredients. Not all labels may read “For Men” but many items help with problems guys typically run into—insect bites, scrapes, and rashes that are byproducts of summer sports and hiking trips. We’ve highlighted some key ingredients to look for. Consider them must-haves for men on the move. Shower Time After working up a sweat at the gym, hit the shower with a gentle soap and shampoo. Pressed for time? Use multitasking products, like a shampoo/conditioner combo or a soap that can be used as a facial cleanser or beard softener. Choose a cleanser containing vegetable glycerin, a natural humectant and emollient that helps skin retain moisture. Neem leaf extract is another effective natural cleanser. Jojoba, shea butter, and aloe vera can help prevent skin from feeling dry or tight. Those showering at home may appreciate the pick-me-up provided by aromatherapy shower tablets. When water from the shower hits a tablet, essential oil vapors cling to the hot steam and fill the bathroom with an invigorating or relaxing aroma, depending on the scent chosen. Be sure to wear flip-flops in public showers to avoid athlete’s foot. If you contract any fungal infections, look for products containing tea tree oil and/or oregano oil (both possess natural antibacterial and antifungal properties). If you’re an outdoorsman and find yourself covered with rashes or insect bites after weekend forays into the wilderness, turn to tea tree oil in anti-itch lotions. Thanks, I Needed That When getting ready for the gym, be sure to pack shaving cream and aftershave products. A good shave cream soothes the skin, helps the razor glide smoothly over the face, and cools and tightens pores. Look for aloe vera, chamomile, calendula, and natural oils from fruits, seeds, wheat germ, and nuts such as avocado and macadamia. Reduce post-shaving skin bumps with flaxseed lignan extracts. Good toning ingredients include witch hazel, menthol, or eucalyptus. From Morning to Night Good oral hygiene doesn’t stop with toothpaste and floss. Mouthwashes containing plant extracts and essential oils help prevent plaque and cavity formation, ease gum inflammation, and freshen breath. Not a bad addition to your daily routine! Look for ingredients like neem, peelu, Indian licorice, pomegranate rind, Persian walnut, sarsaparilla root, cinnamon, cardamom, and mint. Seals to Look For How do you make sure the products you’re using adhere to natural standards? Look on the label for some of the following certifications: • The USDA Organic Seal means the product contains 95 to 100 percent organic materials produced without pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. • The Natural Products Association Natural Seal certifies that at least 95 percent of a product’s ingredients are natural and present no suspected health risks. • An Ecocert Seal certifies that a minimum of 10 percent of a product is made with organic ingredients and that 95 percent of all plant ingredients are organic. • NSF International, a not-for-profit, non-governmental agency, recently adopted an American National Standard for made with organic personal care products. With this new standard, personal care products containing 70 percent or more organic content can use the “made with organic” claim. • No Animal Testing and Cruelty Free