5 Clean Products You Can Make Yourself & Some Simple Switch-Outs

// Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This simply means that I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, when you make a purchase using my link. // 

Like everything else these days, beauty products are getting more expensive. Women typically use a lot of products daily: skincare products, deodorant, sunscreen, makeup, hair products, toothpaste etc.  It all racks up quickly when you total it.

The thing is, women consider most of the items they use necessities. I love a simplified life, but I also like to look nice too.

But here’s a scary statistic circling the internet that you might’ve heard: Women apply approximately 168 chemicals on their bodies daily, most of it all before breakfast.

Thankfully there’s been a lot of buzz about what’s actually in our products and WHY it’s important to look into ingredients.  In general, concerned people are getting the word out that there are better alternatives for the things we use every day.

Sites like SafeMama.com, WellnessMama.com and a few others have given me some of the tools and knowledge I need to make smarter, more informed choices. It wasn’t until after I gave birth to my son that I went into full-on mama bear mode and did a lot of research about the products I was going to be putting on him. This had a positive ripple effect which lead me to research other products I had been using.

// I have fortunately already been using great products to clean & disinfect with as smells have always irritated me. Synthetic smells (i.e. plug-in air fresheners, candles, harsh cleaners with a scent, etc.) all bother me terribly…so much so that I will get a headache within minutes of them being turned on or used.  Yuck! //

This reaction in my own body leads me to contemplate why so many people (women in particular) struggle with serious health issues. Autoimmune diseases, infertility, cancer, endocrine issues, foggy brain, fatigue of all kinds, etc. For some people there are definite correlations between what they put on and in their bodies and how their bodies react to those things.

The sad reality is that most people just buy what’s convenient to them and, at times, “cheapest”, although most products are WAY overpriced any way. And the “cheapest” items out there are full of fillers & chemicals. Ick!

The overpriced dilemma in women’s products, partly has to do with this thing called ‘The Pink Tax”. It might be a new term for you but it’s basically the fact that mega companies know that women are the largest majority of consumers in the market and so they drastically hike up prices of women’s items solely because they know the pretty attributes are going to attract their eye (pink, pretty packaging, fancy fonts). Crazy, right?

Seriously, let’s chat about shaving cream for a second.  If you compare, let’s say, the pretty Skintimate container to the “manly” Barbasol one guess how much the difference in price is: 4.37 compared to 1.29 and they do the SAME exact thing.  Insane!

And when you start to do the math and research, like me, you stumble across the fact that you really are only presented with an illusion of choice. Just take a look at this infographic displaying the 10 major companies monopolizing the food and beauty industries (this hasn’t been updated recently & some changes have since taken place, ex. buy-outs):

Does this seem like you have much of a choice when you are purchasing products at grocery giants? Also, most of these companies bombard the media with their commercials & ads. They pay big bucks to get big representation (Super Bowl, Mass Media) and nobody is ever checking in on what goes behind the scenes.  They all just see dollar signs.

Not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here, or maybe I am? However, there is a lot of corruption high up in some of these companies.  They lose sight of the fact that certain ingredients are harming their demographic. But if they keep making the money why do things really need to change?  As much as they claim to have the customer in mind, a lot of times they don’t…it’s really just a ploy to tug at your “human-ness”.

Part of my heart behind this post is that I want more people to become smarter consumers.

The best example I can give of this supply and demand phenomenon are puppy mills.  Oprah blew the roof off of that despicable industry years ago, but people are STILL purchasing puppies from the store in the mall, or the puppy place down the block that has 8 puppies stuffed in a clear box.  If you don’t purchase from them, they won’t stay open.

The other option that people often want to partake in can be a hard reality. Most families are not made of money.  Some of the companies that make wholesome, organic products that are reputable charge a small fortune (rightfully so, because they’re growing, sourcing and using pure-grade items NOT junk).

Here-in lies the dilemma, but it doesn’t always have to be!

Do some research.

One of my favorite apps is Think Dirty. I don’t use it all the time, but I whip it out when purchasing new products, especially for my son. It’s important to me to check on the ingredients in that item and what those ingredients may disrupt or affect. They rate each item in their database on a scale from 1 – 10. Another good source is EWG Skin Deep which is another go-to of mine to keep informed about all of the toxins that we come across daily, and not just in beauty products. These 2 sources aren’t the be all, end all for purchasing something but they get you processing what actually is in all of our stuff. And they break it down in a way that is easy to understand.

At the end of the day, you know your families issues, what bothers you and what might be a problem area for you. If you’re concerned about something…look into it! Getting a lot of headaches? Look into your fragrances or cleaning products! Baby has a never-ending rash? Look into your detergent or their diaper cream!  Need to purify your stale air? Look into purchasing a natural air-purifying plant!

If you’re overwhelmed, start by looking through your cabinets and figuring out what would be most important to you to switch out.  Some things are low on the “dirty scale” (with a 1-2 rating).  I often will keep those items, or even purchase them again if I like them. The items that rate high (5+) have a lot of chemicals in them that go straight into your blood stream and body.  We all know that our skin is the largest organ and everything we put on it seeps into our body in some way. But, I also think that people sometimes forget this, use what’s convenient and at times, reap horrible consequences because of it. I’d ditch those products immediately, especially if the ingredients are very questionable.

A tip to keep in mind: the term ‘fragrance’ on the back of a product is a dangerous little word meaning the company can sneak in any and every form of synthetics and chemicals to preserve the shelf life of their product, and MASK the smell of something not so good. Once you start checking ingredients in items, you will be shocked at just how many contain this nasty little word. The craziest part for me is that there are no regulations for “fragrance” which means it could be ANYTHING.  The Honest Company does a great job explaining this further. Check it out here.

Even if you don’t switch for yourself (trust me I get it, stuff is expensive), but you’re using something on a baby and it says ‘fragrance’ somewhere in the ingredients…please rethink! Children are up against a lot these days so let’s clean up one area for them that they can’t control anyway!  I am a sucker for fancy smells too, believe me, but I also know that my son’s skin is super sensitive so I have to be careful what I put on him.  The Weleda brand has been our go-to when purchasing skin products for him.  And it smells delicious with calendula as the main ingredient.  We use their Shampoo/Body Wash and love it.

A simple switch I personally made for myself about 5 years ago was to go from aluminum-based deoderant to aluminum-free.  I started to become concerned when I began experiencing strange pains in my breast tissues (not being a hypochondriac here just being vulnerable), as well as burning, itching and irritation immediately after application (not normal). I told my husband who also became somewhat concerned and then I headed to the internet to research a bit.  That was the first time I heard buzz and read about links between metal/toxins and breast cancer, amongst other things.  I began having great conversations with other girlfriends who were making the switch too.  I threw out my aluminum-based deoderant and never looked back. I have tried almost every natural deodorant out there, some were ok, some I hated and a few get a big stamp of approval from me.

That original switch gave me so much peace and would you guess I haven’t had any strange pains since, apart from that time of the month and early pregnancy :). This story isn’t meant to scare or panic people, or make people feel bad for using the deodorant offered in main-stream stores. It’s to inform you and make you aware, so that you can safely decide what is appropriate in your home and what is not.

Take a look at some simple switch-outs you can make for things you are probably already buying!

Simple Switch-Outs:

  • Facial Toner (pore minimizer): Thayer’s – Witch Hazel (Rose <3) – I swear this minimizes my pores so well, also Aloe Vera Gel [I purchase the AV from good ol’ Trader Joes]. You could also simply try the amazing ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) as a toner as well (it does a whole lot of other great things too).
  • Deoderant:  – The key here is to look for aluminum-free! Native [Coconut & Vanilla scent] is my favorite right now, and I have tried almost EVERY natural deodorant under the sun. Some of the organic ones smell great but do not last long on my body. Here are a few more you could try: Lume [this is my next brand to try], Schmidt’s Deodorant ,  LaVanila  (also on my list to try!), Tom’s of Maine” , Jason , or make your own!
  • Make-up Remover: USDA Organic Jojoba Oil [I buy mine at my favorite store: Trader Joes]. This goes on so smooth and I don’t ever wash it off because it’s meant to moisturize the eye area.  It’s recently gone up in price, so to make it last longer try to use just a dab on a cotton pad.
  • Dry Shampoo: I am a lover of a good dry shampoo and have tried a few brands (found out that they are high in toxins).  The aerosol component always made me uncomfortable – it gets sprayed into the air and then I breathe it all in, doesn’t seem too great. If the ingredients are iffy then this obviously isn’t good for our respiratory system, especially if you already struggle with asthma, reactive airway or allergies. I often use plain old baby powder.  This can also get inhaled so make sure it’s a solid brand without talc like California Baby Organic Powder ! P.S. you can also make your own! See below for a recipe I tried!
  • Shampoo/Conditioner: For this you can easily do a baking soda rinse and ACV as conditioner.  Both of these will level out the pH of your scalp and help with build-up too. You could also be daring and forgo shampoo altogether and join the ‘No-Poo’ crew. I debated it years ago, but was too chicken! Let me know if you’ve done it.  *If you’re thinking of trying it, here is a good place to start.
  • Nail Polish: I LOVE me some nail polish…always have! I have been painting my nails since I’m around 6 years old! However, I recently discovered how many dangerous chemicals are in most nail polish – formaldehyde, toluene and DBP.   Check out this post to see a more in-depth explanation as to how harmful these can be. The easy switch would be to buy a toxin-free brand like: Piggy Paint  or SOPHI(this line has a lot of options!) Right now I am giving my nails a break because I paint them myself all the time. When I am ready to use nail polish again I will be trying out the SOPHI line!
  • Baby Powder: Just use cornstarch or arrowroot starch (if you are paleo)! Want a scent? Add some drops of essential oils (check thoroughly to make sure it’s safe for baby’s skin and DO NOT use oils on babies under 3 months old). Lavender is a go-to for me!
  • Sunscreen: For a child use this Baby Sunscreen Cream  by Badger brand!! I have loved the products of this line for a long time.  They have a regular sunscreen you could also use for yourself, but it’s thick.  If you’re wanting something else for you try  The Honest Company  aerosol brand.

See below for some items you can try to make yourself!

Make These Yourself:

Tip #1: Re-use empty containers from old products! This is the best advice I can give, and when my husband asks me why I have 10 containers saved up I have the perfect answer for him. I then proceed to proudly show him my homemade product!

Tip #2: Invest in good buys that go a long way & can be used in multiple products such as some essential oils, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, baking powder, distilled white vinegar, cornstarch, ACV etc. If you have some of these staples on hand at all times you can easily make anything you need.

Tip #3: Switch out what you use OFTEN enough that it could be harmful if you don’t. For example: deodorant, dry shampoo or a specific piece of make-up (ex. foundation). If you apply it every day, it may be smart to look into exactly what the ingredients are!

  1. Brown sugar face/body scrub – sugar scrubs are so easy to make and the key is to use what you have on hand!  1 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. oil of your choice (olive, coconut or even grapeseed), 1/2 tbs. vanilla extract and if you have on hand a few drops of Vitamin E (I popped open some capsules I had in my cabinet and squeezed the goodness out)  *These make great gifts too!
  2. Simple body wash – You can just use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (my favorite). There are a wide variety of scents you can purchase, including an unscented one.  This is highly concentrated though so a little goes a long way.  People will often dilute it with other things to make it last longer.  1/3 c. Castile soap, 1/3 c. raw local honey, 1/3 c. oil of your choice. You can add in essential oils if you prefer, but I like to keep things simple.  Depending on the size of your (repurposed!) bottle use measurements according to your liking.
  3. Baby Soap – hover over each image for a brief description. *Be careful with essential oils as they can burn tiny eyes! Just omit if you get nervous!
  4. Baby Wipes– hover over each image to read brief description. These were moisturizing for little hands and smelled great! Add a few drops of essential oil into your mixture!
  5. Dry Shampoo – this one I just made and really like! Pour together 2 tbs. cornstarch + 2 tbs. cocoa powder.  I added in a few drops of essential oil and whisked it all up in a pyrex measuring cup.  I then transferred it to an old, plastic salt/pepper shaker I wasn’t using! Works great and blends into my hair well.  If you have light hair skip the cocoa and just add in more cornstarch.

Essential Oils: I have used a few brands but fell in LOVE with Young Living! I am a distributor and my member number is 16601125. You can get to my site by clicking here: oilwith.me/amber

**Diffusing oils into the air is the BEST advice I have to switch from the very toxic plug-in air fresheners, they smell amazing and are good for us to inhale! Win-win!

Wow, thank you for sticking around all the way to the end of this post.  You’ve probably figured out that I love words and writing [I even cut out some fluff because I could go on and on about this] haha! Anyway, I hope you got something out of this post. Know that you are in charge of what you consume as a buyer.  Be smart, make informed choices and always look into what’s in your stuff, especially if you or someone in your family is experiencing health issues!  ❤

Be well,