May 2008 – Natural Products

Natural Products

I would like to share information that I have been learning over the past couple years about more natural personal care products.  Most of us show the desire to use more natural products and yet they are hard to find!  Many products are manufactured with cheap options that use chemicals or methods of production that are disruptful to the environment and to us (toxically and hormonally).

First of all I want to take a moment and talk about making choices based on fear or want.  I will mention reasons why you want to avoid aluminum in your deodorant, etc, but I want to share that I don’t choose to use mineral salts for deodorant because I fear Alzheimer’s! But because I like using natural products and living close to Mother Earth—it is what feels right to me, and the Earth does provide everything we need.  I truly feel if we honored that truth and trusted the natural products as nature made them, and respected the ways we take them from the Earth, paying attention to give back to the Earth, we would not be having some of the crises we are experiencing in the news today!

Most Commercial toothpastes contain:
Fluoride – fluoride when ingested actually causes more harm than good, it leads to bone weakness (and some studies have found a link between fluoridated water and arthritis) and tooth decay!  Fluoride does seem to offer benefit when applied topically to the teeth; however I choose to buy toothpaste without fluoride since I have healthy teeth.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – is a foaming and degreasing agent that is made from coconut oil—it is highly processed.  There is much debate about its safety; this is what I have learned “The real problem with SLS is that it is too strong a cleansing agent which too easily strips oils from skin and hair. Because SLS is so cheap and makes such great bubbles, manufacturers tend to use a lot of it in anything that foams or bubbles, the results could be skin irritation.  There are other options available in this same family of degreasers/foamers that are a bit more expensive but more gentle.  TEA lauryl sulfate is considered to be one of these.  (Although it is still processed . . .)

Artificial sugars — Most toothpastes have artificial sugars in, Toms of Maine advertises no artificial sweeteners but puts xylitol in their toothpaste (which is a sugar alcohol that appears to be safe albeit highly processed).

Ayurvedic Recommended herbs for your teeth
Neem and Peelu (known as the toothbrush trees)– neem (known as the umbrella tree), is an astringent that guards against periodontal disease.  The twigs used to be used for toothbrushes!  Peelu is a natural tooth whitening fiber.

I buy my toothpaste from and, it is an Ayurvedic toothpaste that is made with 24 barks, roots, plants, flowers, and oils (including neem and peelu).  They offer a 4 varieties and one of those 4 has no SLS in it.  It is made in India . . . However there is a company in the U.S.A. that makes toothpaste from Peelu and spearmint oil, the Peelu Company.

Toms of Maine used to offer more natural toothpaste but they have been bought out by Colgate, and have become a more “industrial organic” company now (they actually list natural flavors on their ingredients which covers anything from MSG to chemicals.

A great resource for personal care products is the Environmental Workers Group website:

Sweat is good 😉 it has positive medical properties since it contains a natural antibacterial agent, dermicidin, which helps destroy bacteria on the skin.  Sweat is made of water, sodium, chloride, and a little potassium.  As we sweat and move in and out of yoga poses these minerals are massaged into the skin, keeping the skin healthy.
Sweat does not carry odor!  If you have bacteria or hormones on your skin, as your body heat increases it amplifies the odor that was already present—it is not the sweat that produces odor.  The most odor producing hormones come from stress—so if you notice you have body odor, don’t put on deodorant, go relax and de-stress!

Fresh as a chemical Daisy?
Deodorants and antiperspirants use antiseptic and antibacterial ingredients to kill the bacteria on your skin, along with synthetic fragrance to mask odors, and (antiperspirants) use aluminum to close the pores to prevent sweating!

  • The antibacterial ingredient most commonly used is triclosan which can cause dermatitis and it causes strains of bacteria to mutate making them resistant to antibiotics (this is also what is in anti-bacterial hands soaps which I recommend you avoid).
  • Aluminum has been directly related to Alzheimer’s disease; aluminum soaks through your skin and hangs out in your brain where it becomes toxic! Ayurveda believes that closing pores and blocking sweat glands leads to toxins staying in your body where they do more harm.
  • Another common ingredient in antiperspirants is talc; talc’s chemical composition is similar to asbestos, prolonged inhalation to can lead to respiratory problems and bronchial irritation.

There are alternatives to traditional antiperspirants, here are some options:

  • First of all aerosol deodorants are by far the most harmful in regards to inhaling talc and other chemicals so these would be at the top of my avoid list.
  • Deodorants are better than antiperspirants; and there are plenty of natural options available at health food stores that use tea tree oil, lavender, and sage as antiseptics and herbs such as chamomile, rosemary, and extracts of green tea fight bacteria.
  • What I use is the crystal deodorant stone; made from mineral salts that not only kill bacteria but inhibit the growth of future microbes. Minerals salts have a very good antiseptic effect. Deodorant stones are not only effective but also economic, one stone lasts approx. 2 years and cost between $5.00-$7.00!

If you can’t eat it don’t put it on your skin!  (This is what my Ayurvedic Dr. tells me.)
Lotions, cosmetics, sun screens . . .

This one is easy—instead of researching all the chemicals that make up lotions and anything else you put on your skin, just remember if you don’t want to eat it—don’t put it on your skin.  Your skin absorbs what you rub into it much the same way we absorb the food we eat!  Here are some suggestions:

  • Lotions – I only use oil. Coconut oil in the spring and summer, and sesame oil in the winter. Olive oil is OK too. And yes I use it on my face. Oil does not clog your pores, the manufacturers that tell you this are usually trying to sell you a special moisturizer that is umpteen dollars per ounce! Since the signs of aging in the body are tightness and dryness, you want to stay well hydrated. Oil will keep your skin young and wrinkle free. The best time to apply it is just after your shower before you dry off, use long upward strokes on your bones and circular motions around your joints and organs—this oil massage is also very good for the lymph system. If you are still worried about putting oil on your face I did find a company back in the 90’s that makes products based on olive oil, today they have grown and make many other cosmetic types of products as well, but they do make a cleansing oil, an olive oil soap, and a pure olive oil for your face that I like, the company is
  • Sunscreens—actually some of the latest research is showing that we need some sunshine! Sunshine is how our body makes Vitamin D. I make it a point to spend 15-30 minutes in the sun each day (if it is shining!) The only problem with sunshine is if you get sunburn—so if you are going to be in the direct sun for a long period of time I recommend you wear protective clothing instead of sunscreen. Sunscreen is loaded with chemicals! There are manufacturer’s out there who make special clothes with tighter weaves to block the sun (coolibar and solumbra are two), and some of you may need that extra protection (an average cotton shirt is anywhere from 10-20 spf), but for myself I have found just a light cotton, loose, long sleeve shirt and a sarong which I use as a wrap, an umbrella or scarf, a long skirt to cover my legs, or wherever I need to block the sun works well. There are some sunscreens that still use zinc oxide and other natural ingredients—you just have to search (on the web as I could not find any in stores locally) for them and pay a much higher price.
  • Cosmetics . . . well since I have totally stopped wearing make up I don’t have much advice except perhaps to suggest you really don’t need make up either! (The more time I spend in Maui where no one wears make up except the tourists, the more comfortable I get with not wearing it at home.) And I want to share that since I have stopped wearing make up my complexion has gotten so much better! Is it from not putting chemicals on my skin, the oils that I use, or the sunshine?? I don’t know, but the longer I go without wearing make up the more I think I look funny when I see pictures of me wearing it!

p.s. read the ingredients on the asana kisser . . . you can eat them all! So it is possible to find good skin products 🙂

Less Waste
Another advantage to using natural products with less processing is they make less waste!  I do try to be aware of how much waste I create in my own home and life.  “Pre-cycle, think before you buy!”  Which takes me to another waste issue, menstruation products . . . there are great options for women that are more ecologically sound than disposables!  Check out for natural menstrual products including comfy cotton washable pads and “the Diva Cup”.

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