About a year ago, I wrote a post on Getting to Know Your Personal Care Products Personally, an info piece on identifying and understanding the ingredients in common products we use everyday. The average woman uses twelve products daily - from makeup to soap to shampoo to antiperspirant. This constant exposure to chemicals and toxins can take its toll on the body, especially if the products we're using are packed with things the body can't break down or eliminate. Toxic build up puts stress on the body. When the body is stressed out, our immune function decreases, we hold onto extra weight, we don't sleep well and we can experience everything from breakouts to breathing problems to hormone deregulation. Long term exposure can mean even more serious long-term consequences.
In the spirit of prevention, we can limit our exposure to chemicals by incorporating more real ingredients in our personal care regime. Remember that 'natural' is not an indicator of a product's quality; it is not a regulated term and could be used to describe sawdust. Or arsenic.
I have been on a mission over the last two years to reduce our toxic load at home: the kitchen spray, laundry soap, bathroom cleaners and (especially) the paint and wood finishes have all be subject to my massive overhaul. Most notably, our 'crappy' personal care products have been swapped out non-toxic options. I've switched all of my makeup and shower supplies to mineral-based, essential oil, plant-based brands, and have started making my own products wherever possible.
Because I use exfoliant every day, I figured it would be a good place to put my energy: it's also really expensive to buy! Have you noticed this?!
I was a long-time user of St. Ives Apricot Scrub, until about 18 months ago when I gave the tube a thorough read. For a product that claims to use "100% natural exfoliants", it sure contains a lot of decidedly unnatural things. Check it out. I've highlighted all of the ingredients that make me say, 'What the hell...'?
INGREDIENTS IN ST. IVES APRICOT SCRUB:
Fair: their 'exfoliants' are 'natural' (walnut shell powder), but what is the rest of that stuff in there? I'm not confident I want all of that absorbing into my skin, so... I think I'll pass. Instead, I'd rather throw edible things together that accomplish the same thing. Something about being able to eat my personal care products, if I wanted to, assures me that it's cool if they're being absorbed into my being.
I posted this DIY sugar scrub last summer, which is especially awesome for the shower and for the bottoms of flip-flop damaged feet. I also love it as a facial exfoliator!It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that the canister of unused - but opened and probably very bitter - espresso in our pantry could make a great scrub, too... and so this little recipe was born.
It combines two of my favorite things (espresso and coconut oil), both of which are beneficial for the skin. Coconut oil is highly moisturizing. What's wild: it's a saturated fat, and as animals, our fat is also of the saturated variety. The molecular structure of coconut oil is quite similar to a human fat cell, which makes it especially usable for the human body. Plus, you'll smell like a pina colada. Bonus.
Apart from being a great scrubby texture, coffee contains caffeine, which constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation. I would recommend using a finely ground espresso, as opposed to a coarse grind: you don't want this to hurt!
Putting this scrub together is super easy: just mix your coffee and room-temperature (solid) oil together until they form an even paste. Use two parts coffee to one part oil. I like to mix up about 4 tbsp of coffee at a time and keep it in a glass jar: I find this amount lasts about 2-3 weeks, but you may use more or less.
Simply wet your face, use a small dollop of scrub, and massage gently. These are coffee beans, so keep in mind that you may experience a stream of, erm, coffee off your face. If you have white floors or really clean tiles, heads up: it can be a bit messy, but totally worth it. :)
You may wish to brush the scrub off into a litter basket or use a paper towel to collect the grinds off your face before rinsing. I would suggest putting a piece of mesh over the drain if you're using this in the shower or over the sink.
Take a look at your personal care products this week. Does anything have crazy ingredients on the label that you can't identify or pronounce? What can you toss in order to reduce your toxic load?