Updated: Feb 28, 2022
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This blog post provides ideas of eco-friendly swap for body products: soap and body wash, body moisturiser, scrub, deodorant, ear plugs and QTips, loofah and even sunscreen.
There are both readymade and homemade options. For easier reference, download all our beauty DIY recipes (and don't forget the cleaning DIY recipes from our cleaning section).
Priority: Switch to Solid Soap
If you change only one thing in your routine: use solid soaps, for handwash and bodywash. The production of liquid soap requires five times more energy for raw material and almost 20 times more energy for packaging production than a bar of soap. So go solid!
Use natural soaps, as others include many strong ingredients that pull the oil out of the skin, doing more harm than good. There are actually many harmful ingredients, for your skin and the environments, in many soap bars - avoid Sodium Lauryl, Sodium laureth, Sodium Tallowate or Sodium Palmitate, Sodium Isethionate, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA and Tetrasodium Etidronate, phthalates, parabens, … More info on brands of soap with Ethical Consumer.
In Clapham, you can find the lemongrass and hemp seed soap at the Source for a gentle soap, that comes with no packaging.
** Use soap scraps ** The Source has little bags for the soap scraps/ end of bar that always seem to end up down the drain or in soggy lumps in the bottom of the shower. Shove all the scraps in the bag and use it like a scrub. Its brilliant!
If solid bars do not work for you, use refillable, eco-friendly options. The Source, the GoodClub, Milk&More and the Body Shop offer refillable options.
BodyShop, on NorthCote Road: Tea tree handwash, almond milk and honey shower cream, British rose shower gel; you have to buy their aluminium refillable bottle the first time, and then just refill.
The Source: Coconut Faith in Nature liquid fig soap, in your own container.
Online: Milk&More offers Fill fig soap.
Online: the GoodClub
Store options: The Source offers a natural deodorant paste in a refillable metal box – works well. If touching your armpits does not feel right, then some more packaging will be involved, but try Salt of the Earth at Holland and Barret, either in a stick (plastic but lasts for months, unscented) or in a spray made of recycled plastic and refillable with 1l bottles (with scented or unscented options).
Homemade version: For a truly efficient deodorant, beeswax and arrowroot are needed; but for a winter deodorant, this recipe works.
You need: 2 tbsp of baking soda + 1 tbsp vegetable oil (e.g. sweet almond) + 2 to 3 drops of an essential oil (palmarosa, grapefruit, orange, or tea tree)
How to make: Mix, pour in a jar with a lid.
How to use: take a small amount with your finger and massage your armpit.
This is the most complex DIY recipe of the list, with a bain-marie.
· 1 cup coconut oil
· 1and 1/3 cup shea butter
· 1tbsp other oil (olive, apricot, sweet almond, …)
· Drops of essential oil (lavender, rosemary, tea tree, …).
Mix all ingredients in a glass jar, and let them melt in a bain-marie, mix well. Take the mixture out of the bain-marie, let it solidify, but before it is fully solid, mix with a fork or a whisk to get a creamy texture - Chantilly-like.
For an even simpler version: Coconut oil and sweet almond oil mixed together make a wonderful body oil. If the outside temperature is below 25*C, the coconut oil will solidify, you can whip the mix to get a cream.
Zero waste: The Source sells a body lotion. But I have not tested it.
Eco friendly and long lasting: Weleda Skin Food. Available in glass jars from Wholefood, in tubes from H&B, Windfall Natural.
Body scrub / exfoliation
Easiest – sugar and oil
You need: 1 cup sugar. (brown, white, or a mix, choose the grain depending on the exfoliation you are looking for) + ½ cup oil (olive or liquid coconut oil) + optional essential oil for fragrance.
How to make: mix and pour in jar. It will keep for months.
Sugar and honey – to avoid oil in the shower
You need: 2 tsp honey with 3 tsp thin sugar (more or less depending on the scrubby grain you wish, and to have a solid rather than liquid paste) + some drops of lemon juice if you wish.
How to make: mix and pour in a jar – Keep in the fridge
You can use a lighter version of these facial scrubs for smooth lips. Go for less sugar or thinner grains, and very gently apply on your lips.
Zero waste option
Use wash gloves instead!
Always use a soft glove when washing, with a bit of soap (it also helps saving on soap), and sometimes, especially when you spent a few minutes in a warm bath or shower and your skin is soften, use an exfoliating glove (best to use it when the skin is softened, after a few minutes in a warm bath or shower). You can also use a wooden bath brush. Whole Foods sells both.
Ear plugs: Switch to reusable, super efficient, silicone-based earplugs. Different models depending on the noises you want to cancel.
Ear cotton swabs / Q-tips: Stop using!
Use soap and pinky finger to gently clean inside your ears while under the shower and washing your hair. The warm water will help soften and get rid of the wax. Please don’t push too deep or get too aggressive with your rubbing – you wouldn’t want to damage your ear canal; and make sure you dry your ears.
If you need more, use a washable, bioplastic oriculi from Lamazuna;
There are also cotton swabs (check the Source) but that’s really when you’ve tested the other options and they don’t work for you!
Ditch plastic shower loofahs for a cotton wash glove (you can buy or make one with an old towel) or a bamboo bath brush.
When using a washcloth, you might not even need to use soap all the time - just scrub gently! Make sure you wash the cloth often.
Most sunscreen causes coral bleaching.
Plastic free option: Shade All Natural SPF 25 Sunscreen is often recommended, available from The Source and PlasticFreedom. Untested – please share your comments when testing.
Mineral based cream, in plastic unfortunately but biodegradable, Lovea (50 for kids) – just make sure you apply it 15 min before going out, as the white surface slowly dilutes and disappears; usually available in supermarkets in summer.
More info: https://moralfibres.co.uk/eco-friendly-sunscreen/