Earth-friendly bath & body essentials
Happy Earth Day!
I’ve got to admit, Earth Day has never been my favorite holiday, and I hold my elementary school entirely responsible for that. Way back when I was probably in first or second grade (so we’re talking, what? Seven or eight years old?) we put on an Earth Day play. I understand the motivation behind it – it’s important to learn about the environment and after all, this was back when recycling was something only tree-huggers did and McDonald’s still used styrofoam boxes. Ok, fine. I think they may have gone overboard though, because I came out of it with the impression that the entire ozone would burn off and the surface of the planet would be uninhabitable by the time I was oh, maybe high school age-ish. It was one of those things that kept my poor little-kid brain awake at night off and on for years.
Fortunately we don’t need to break out our space suits quite yet, but of course that doesn’t mean the problem’s solved. Being environmentally responsible is such a huge and seemingly impossible thing that honestly I still get anxious about it even 20+ years of that terrifying little piece of theater. Seriously, it’s taken me nearly a week to really get started on this post because every time I sit down to write it, it just reminds me of all the reasons I’m a hypocrite for even writing this. Do you have any idea how much plastic is in my makeup drawers? Neither do I, but it’s a lot. I suppose that’s what Earth Day is for though, to get people to think about the issue. By making small changes to our actions and carbon offsetting at www.carbonclick.com, we can start making a big difference.
This is getting a little depressing, so I’ll get to the part I wanted to talk about. Lately I’ve been using a few bath & body things that aren’t just fantastic, they’re also ones that I can feel really good about buying.
I think most people know about The Body Shop – it’s been around since the 70’s. I knew that they’re marketed as being environmentally friendly, but I admit I’d never done any extensive research about them until I received a couple of their hemp products to test out. I was surprised and impressed – not only do they use fair trade and sustainably sourced ingredients, they also run a charitable organization that works for ‘positive social and environmental change’. They’re even researching ways to make packaging from recycled greenhouse gases (mind = blown). There’s too much to talk about it all here, but their Commitment page is a really good read if you want to know more about them.
The products I tried are from their hemp line. Hemp is sort of the new hotness in skincare – perhaps that has something to do with the legalization movement here, or maybe it’s just that hempseed oil is really moisturizing. Why not both?
I was sent their Hemp Hand Protector ($20) and Hemp Soap on a Rope ($12). I have to admit I had my doubts about these at first, because they’re very strongly scented – I could smell them even before I opened the shipping box. It’s not the ‘get you called into the HR office’ hemp smell, but it’s very herbal with a bit of menthol. The soap was stronger than the hand cream, at least at first. I don’t know if I’ve gotten used to it or if the scent of the soap has faded since it’s been hanging in my shower for a while, but it’s not overpowering anymore. I actually think it’s really pleasant. The soap fragrance doesn’t cling to me once I’m out of the shower (I was concerned about that) but the hand cream is noticeable for 30 minutes or so.
Both live up to their reported moisturizing prowess. The soap is a big deal for me because my skin gets dry and visibly ashy if I use regular soaps or body washes with sulfates. The cute little hemp leaf can still come up with a decent lather, and it rinses without any residue.
That hand cream, tho. I think Eucerin Calming Creme still wins out as my all-time favorite body lotion, but the Hemp Hand Protector is my new favorite for my hands and feet. It’s really thick and emollient so my skin stays moisturized for a long time. It works really well for my cuticles too – they haven’t been as cracked lately as they usually get. The only word of caution is it can leave oil marks on paper. I haven’t had any issues with it on my clothes or anything, but if you work in printing, art framing, etc this is probably home use only (unless you wear gloves). I know that’s a weird thing to mention, but I can’t even tell you how many photo mats I’ve ruined with badly-timed hand lotion.
My other eco-conscious bath favorite is from the aptly-named Eco Tools. They’re mainly known for their makeup brushes, but they’ve got bath and hair brushes too. Their brushes are made with synthetic bristles, bamboo handles and recycled aluminum. They also support initiatives like the Girl Project, which provides education to women around the world.
I’ve been using Eco Tools brushes for a long time, nearly as long as they’ve existed, I think. They’re always good quality and very affordable so when I was looking for a dry body brush, the one from Eco Tools ($4.99) was the obvious choice. Now, a thing about dry brushing – if you google it, you’re sure to wade through a river of pseudo-science telling you it’ll get rid of cellulite, eliminate toxins, aid kidney function(?!) and all sorts of other ‘benefits’ that seem pretty far-fetched. The idea is that brushing your skin stimulates the lymphatic system, and..???
I don’t have a high opinion of all that stuff (if you’ve got built-up toxins you should probably talk to your doc about liver function) but I did have a problem I thought it could solve for me: ingrown hairs. I’ve been shaving my legs for my whole adult life and being annoyed that I can still see dark spots where the hairs are. I noticed recently that somewhere around half of the hairs were ingrown. Not infected, but just sitting right under the skin. So that explains that. Obviously once I noticed it I need to fix it right away so I started plotting ways to exfoliate. I didn’t see a lot of progress with just chemical exfoliation, so I thought a dry body brush would be the next obvious choice. And I was right (please imagine my smug face right here). The combination of dry brushing and AHA’s (Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Gel, to be exact) had my leg hairs fixed up in just a week or so. I did my arms too, because why not, and they also feel a lot smoother. I will say that the first time I itched like crazy afterward, which was unpleasant.
I feel like dry brushes are one of those tools where there’s probably not a huge difference between them, but I’m really happy with the Eco Tools one in any case. None of the bristles have shed, it’s not any scratchier than it needs to be, and the hand strap is attached well. It’s built to do a simple job, and it does it well.
What are your favorite environmentally-responsible beauty brands?