Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
31 Jul

25 Safer Alternatives to Common Cosmetics

Natural CosmeticsTwo weeks ago, I introduced you to five cosmetics ingredients you should avoid. These are chemicals you’ll often find in things like shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sunblocks, and makeups – you know, the stuff you’re covering yourself in everyday. Cosmetics manufacturers use these ingredients to improve their product’s ability to clean, moisturize, beautify, or improve an odor, but they often do lots of other bad stuff in the process. So the question is, do these products need these chemicals to work like we want them to, or are there alternative products that manage to use more natural and/or less harmful ingredients while still getting the job done? Indeed, there are, and today I’m going to share my findings with you.

Now, it’s fairly common for people to switch over to a Primal lifestyle and find they just don’t feel the need for all the lotions, creams, concealers, and other body care products they used to wear. Some even ditch shampoo, deodorant, and soap altogether. Still, though, that’s not everyone. I regularly received reader requests for safe cosmetics recommendations. So let’s look at some of these safer alternatives. I’ll try to include every possible category that falls under the “cosmetics” umbrella, but if I miss anything, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comment board.


When I say makeup, I refer to all those products people put on their faces, around their eyes, on their lips, and beside their noses. Powders and rouges and those sorts of things. Can you tell I know what I’m talking about? Anyway, the following brands are guaranteed to be free of the problem ingredients mentioned last time (plus most others).

100% Pure – They produce makeup and other cosmetics using food-grade plant-based ingredients (it’s safe to eat, so it’s probably safe to put on your body). They’ve also come up with their own preservative system to replace parabens, using a complex blend of herbs, vitamins, and antioxidants in place of industrial antimicrobials.

BiteBeauty – I like their mission – to create lipstick that you can safely eat (because women and the people who kiss them do eat a fair amount of lipstick) – as well as their propensity to quote Oscar Wilde. BiteBeauty uses great ingredients like argan oil and Manuka honey, and they even had their lipstick tested to ensure it was free of gluten and almost free of lead (total and utter elimination of lead is hard because lead is everywhere, including the food-grade ingredients they use).

Josie Maran – Argan oil-based makeup. They also use food-grade ingredients like avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and mango seed butter.

Scotch Naturals – Many nail polish companies claiming to be free of phthalates actually aren’t, as a recent study revealed, suggesting that phthalates truly are hard to resist for nail polish makers. Scotch Naturals, however, is one of the only companies making truly non-toxic nail polish (that also happens to work really well).

Lavanila – They specialize in fragrance-free fragrances.

Pacifica Perfume – Another maker of safe fragrances.

Skin and Body Care

You’ve got your lotions, your creams, your face washes, your moisturizers, your body washes (isn’t that just a fancy name for soap?), and anything else that goes on your skin.

Skin Care for Athletes – Certified organic, paraben free, fragrance free and more. SkinCare for Athletes is a socially conscious company with the certifications and ratings to prove it. They’re also a trusted sponsor of PrimalCon.

Weleda – Weleda grows the bulk of their ingredients in their own biodynamic gardens. All in all, they’ve got acres of gardens scattered across the world, including Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, New Zealand, and Argentina. This allows them to grow hundreds of species of medicinal plants from a variety of climates.

Dr. Bronner’s – No, it’s not Dr. Bonner’s. It’s Bronner, and it’s made with all organic ingredients, mostly oils, including coconut, olive, peppermint, and jojoba. I don’t think you need much else other than this stuff. You can use it as regular soap, hand soap, shampoo, and even toothpaste. Just be careful with the liquid peppermint soap on the, ahem, sensitive areas of your body. You might want to dilute it. Dr. Bronner’s slightly crazy tendency to rant and rave on his bottles also makes for fantastic shower reading.

Suki – Drawing on an impressive list of plant-based ingredients, Suki makes “skincare systems” for every skin type.

Indigo Wild – They’re best known for their Zum Soap, made from goat’s milk, but the rest of their rapidly expanding skin care line is safe and effective.

Primal Life Organics – This is a skincare line made by a Primal/paleo adherent who’d been making personal care products for years before she decided to make a business of it. Everything is paleo, gluten-free, and vegan.

Trillium Organics – Trillium Organics is organic, obviously, with a line of non-toxic body care products, but they also make treatments for specific conditions, like acne, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, and diaper rash.

Speaking of soaps, what about replacements for anti-bacterial handsoaps containing triclosan? As I said last time, triclosan actually is quite effective at targeting bacteria. If your hands are crawling with roving bands of disease-causing microbes, then, yeah, a triclosan blast will take care of them and leave you “better off.” Problem is all the other terrible stuff evidence suggests it does to our health. Luckily, we have this stuff called “soap and water” that does a fair job at cleaning our hands when they’re dirty.

Research shows that triclosan-containing hand soaps are “no more effective than plain soap at preventing infectious illness symptoms and reducing bacterial levels on the hands,” even when you’re talking about something as pernicious and deadly as C. diff. There’s also that fact that triclosan kills the bacteria, thus providing a powerful selective pressure for future evolution of antibiotic resistance, while soap and water wash the bacteria off your hands and down the drain. Unless it begins selecting for clingier bacteria who can hang on to human skin better, there’s no danger of antibiotic resistance developing from basic hand washing with regular soap. Overall, basic soap is still best. Since some bacteria exposure is important for health, you probably don’t want to kill it all outright.

Hair Products

There’s an argument to be made in favor of going entirely without shampoo, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Some folks need/want shampoo and conditioner, only without the parabens and other toxic chemicals. People, even Primal people, also have the funny desire to style their hair into shapes, to stand in front of the mirror, tousle it and puff it up and make it stay in place. To look good, in other words (and not just naked). If you’re spraying your entire head with a mist of potentially toxic liquid to do that, you definitely want a safer option. Here are a few companies making hair products you can also use to style your hair, clean your hair, and make a good salad dressing.

Acure Organics – Acure offers face and body care, but they are best known for their organic shampoos and conditioners. The Moroccan argan oil and argan stem cell shampoo gets particularly high marks for being effective and non-toxic.

Yarok Hair – All the regular bad ingredients are absent from their line of shampoos, conditioners, and hair styling products.

DIY hair wax – This recipe uses beeswax and coconut oil to create a styling, moldable hair wax free of any toxic or unpronounceable ingredients.

Men’s Products

All of the cosmetics I’ve already mentioned can technically be used by men, but the average male won’t be applying much lipstick, mascara, or age-defying lotion, however edible and natural it may be. They are more likely to use “men’s products,” however. By men’s products, I refer to shaving products, beard care, cologne, and skin care targeted at men.

Eco-Beauty Organics – Men’s products are not their main focus, but they do offer a nice selection of aftershaves, lotions, and shaving creams.

OM4 – Organic Male makes organic skincare for men. This is a nice change of pace, since most other completely non-toxic men’s products are an afterthought for companies who focus on women.

Etsy – You can find some decent men’s colognes (plus other cosmetics, for that matter) on Etsy, like this one.

A decent homemade alternative to shaving cream, I’ve found, is a half teaspoon of really good extra virgin olive oil. The dogs (and Italian food buffs) you meet will, however, attempt to lick you.


The alternative to chemical UV-filters are physical filters. You’ve got shade – umbrellas, clothing, hats, a roof over our head, that sort of thing that we all know about – and then you’ve got the physical filters that we apply to our skin: zinc oxide. These are the white shmears you see on beach-goers’ skin from time to time. You might have just thought they were really, really bad at rubbing in their sunblock, but they were just avoiding oxybenzone by using zinc oxide.

Zinc oxide is the most effective and safest UV-filter. It’s a purely physical filter, meaning it sits on top of your skin and prevents UV damage, acting as a physical barrier. It’s just as effective as a chemical filter like oxybenzone without the side effects. If you’ve already got enough unfiltered sunlight for the day’s vitamin D needs and want some UV protection, zinc oxide is your best, safest bet.

Some might worry about looking silly with white streaks all over their face and body. But, if you go the zinc oxide nanoparticle route, you can get a zinc oxide sunscreen that disappears on your skin. There is some concern that these nanoparticles of zinc oxide are absorbed transdermally and can cause health problems, but the evidence seems to weigh heavily toward the “all safe” side. One study found that while zinc oxide does penetrate some of the outer layers of the epidermis (more so when the skin is sunburnt), it does not achieve transdermal penetration for systemic distribution. Another concern is that some people have allergic reactions to zinc oxide.

Badger Balm – All their products are good, but the sunscreens are the most renown. They are very thorough with the science behind their sunscreens, and they run regular tests to confirm the safety of their zinc oxide formula. Best of all, they’ve managed to minimize the whitening without increasing the potential for toxicity.

Raw Elements Eco Formula – Active ingredient is zinc oxide. It’s thick, but stays on well even with water exposure and activity. Not too whitening, either.

Kabana Skincare – Another good sunscreen source that uses zinc oxide. They’ve even got a formula with added vitamin D, presumably to make up for the UVB you’re blocking. Not sure if that actually works, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Mexitan – They don’t just make non-toxic, zinc oxide-based sunblock. They also offer recommendations for beach resorts and produce safe self-tanner.


Some folks claim they can go without anything under their arms as long as their diet is “clean” enough, but I don’t know. I’d say it’s good practice to have something on hand, just in case your confidence turns out to be hubris. If you don’t want the aluminum, artificial fragrances, and other nasties found in regular products, you’ve got plenty of choices.

Primal Pit Paste – The best deodorant ever. It’s coconut based, so you can probably eat it in a pinch.

Thai Crystal – They’ve got a spray and a roll-on. Your choice. There’s some concern over whether it contains aluminum or not, but I don’t think it’s a huge issue unless you’ve just shaved your armpit and thus opened up a route for transdermal absorption.

Barring a product, you can also throw together your own:

Coconut and baking soda – Mix roughly equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda. It’s a bit goopy, especially in warm weather, but it gets the job done. I hear that adding some arrowroot flour or cornstarch will reduce the goopiness.

Obviously, this is far from being a complete list of all worthy alternatives. The demand for non-toxic cosmetics is only growing, and new companies are constantly emerging to address it. Be sure to leave your personal favorites in the comment section so that others can check them out.

If you’re curious about the products you use, or a new one that you’re considering, enter it on the Skin Deep database to learn about the safety (or toxicity) of its ingredients.

Thanks for reading!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. My husband and I cut out the middle man for shaving products and just use an aloe vera plant – cut off leaves when needed, perfect, regenerating gel :)

    Elizabeth wrote on July 31st, 2013
  2. My neighbor has a company called Red Apple Lipstick which is also in this gluten free, non-toxic . I provided a hyperlink in my last comment, and I’m guessing that is still why it is in moderation.

    Anyway, just wanted to add one more name to the list. Nothing in it for me personally.

    Christopher Wilson wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Yay! A Red Apple Lipstick shout out! : ) I agree that they are totally awesome!

      Ashley Teague wrote on July 31st, 2013
  3. I have stopped using anti-bacterial soap, deodarant and face wash. I found out that the anti-bacterial soap was actually contributing to body odor!!! EW !!! No thanks. I now use what I call “whiskey pits” for deodarant. I keep a bottle of cheap vodka under the sink, put a little on after my shower, a schmeer of coconut oil, a dusting of baking soda mixed with a shelf stable probiotic. Works well so far.
    For face washing I’m using some crystalized honey. I use the coconut oil for my face after washing as well.
    Have been looking for some good mascara and self tanners, so thanks Mark, I will look for the ones you mentioned and see what’s available in Oregon.

    2Rae wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • I just switched to using vodka as deoderant, since baking soda can be irritating. Used it for a week now and it has about the same odor killing power as the baking soda/coconut oil combo.

      Tiff wrote on July 31st, 2013
  4. I’ve cut out soap and replaced it with…nothing. A good old fashioned scrub in the shower is all you really need. Dry brushing areas of rough skin occasionally before getting wet helps. A dusting of baking soda on the pits and voila, clean. I also used to use coconut oil like bath gel. Like oil cleansing for the whole body. But I found that I don’t need the oil anymore. My body knows how to take care of my skin and I don’t like to disrupt the pH or beneficial bacterial biome I have going on. Being primal makes life so much easier :)

    Kate wrote on July 31st, 2013
  5. Arbonne’s promise is to provide pure, safe and beneficial products which are botanically based. The company is 33 years old and has never faltered to the above promise.

    KP wrote on July 31st, 2013
  6. Hats!!!! You’ll have protection and attitude!! They go a long way towards protecting face and neck. And……if men knew just how insanely attractive they look in hats (No, I do NOT mean dopey baseball caps), they’d wear them for sure. Copy the Texans or wear a camo wide-brimmed, stiff-brimmed fishing hat.

    Jason “healthy mouth” toothpaste is good.

    Sun spots are a problem. I don’t think they’re age spots because they only occur on sun-exposed skin. What to do?

    maidel wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Try a lactic acid solution with Koji acid. Use carefully. It helps slough off the spots if you use it weekly. Sun spots and age spots are the same thing.

      Pure Hapa wrote on August 1st, 2013
  7. Awesome post. Long before Pit Paste, there was Pit Putty which is made by Bubble and Bee Organic (and works better for me). They have a entire line of organic products. Check out her ‘Chemical of the Day’ blog (she’s a chemist) which has a searchable database of ingredients and how safe/unsafe they are.

    Also Griffin Remedy. Love their hair and lotion products! Their motto “what goes on your skin goes into your body”.

    Tracy Hall wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Agreed! Bubble and Bee has the best organic products I have used!!

      Dani wrote on August 31st, 2013
  8. I like Red Apple Lipstick for lipstick and eye shadow. The lipstick feels really nice. I believe it’s shea based.

    I make my own soap with coconut, olive, shea, and castor oils. My skin is happier for it.

    Katherine wrote on July 31st, 2013
  9. Question:
    I’ve been using colloidal silver gel for deodorant & it works great. My own idea, do you guys think it’s safe?

    momupthecreek wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Probably depends on what makes it into a gel. The silver itself is pretty safe. There was a guy in the news a couple of years ago who turned blue from drinking large quantities of colloidal silver, but I think otherwise he was one healthy blue guy.

      Mantonat wrote on July 31st, 2013
  10. Mark, I know you totally don’t understand, but posts like this make my heart beat faster, kinda like chronic cardio, and create an uncontrollable urge to get out my credit card and order up pretty much everything. I may be primal, but you’ll have to pry my mascara wand out of my cold dead hand…hopefully a primal mascara wand…

    Siobhan wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Amen sista’
      With blonde hair for eyelashes (read invisible) and “fish belly white” skin (read translucent skin that you can see the dark blue blood vessels in my face – strangers come and tell me I got ink on myself – uh, no, that’s just my see thru skin)….. This means I “tan” my face with enough make up powder to distract people from looking thru it and use mascara so that when I bat my eyes at people it has a remote chance of working.

      2Rae wrote on July 31st, 2013
  11. Essential oils work great for perfume and have many beneficial elements. Make sure the ones used can be taken orally and are pure. Many of the oils sold in “health food” stores aren’t pure even though they state they are because they aren’t distilled properly and have carrier oils. If it states don’t ingest don’t buy it. Young Living make some great blends and the lemon or mint can be added to a homemade toothpaste.

    leslieh wrote on July 31st, 2013
  12. Plain white vinegar for as anti-deodorant. It won’t stop the perspiration but does stop the odour. It changes the ph of your armpit and keeps the bacteria from forming and causing odour. I find it lasts all day.

    cath wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Thanks for saying that about white vinegar as an effective dedorant Cath. I’ve been using raw apple cider vinegar and was wondering if it was necessary to use that type. There’s a sweetness to the odor that I’d rather avoid. I assume you use it straight? (I have a 50/50 vinegar/water solution handy with a couple drops of lavender and peppermint oil that I use as a hair rinse so it’d be nice if that worked.)

      Diane M wrote on July 31st, 2013
  13. As far as makeup I have started using RMS Beauty and I LOVE IT! All of the products are completely natural ingredients and feel great. And all but one of their tints are completely natural minerals. You can use the cheek stuff on your lips, eyes, whatever. Its pricey but lasts forever and even the free samples I get last me for a long time.

    Amy Cook wrote on July 31st, 2013
  14. I have started using SheaMoisture for hair and body…does anyone have an opinion of this company? They seem awesome…organic and natural ingredients, none of the stuff Mark says to avoid!

    ashley from georgia wrote on July 31st, 2013
  15. I use coconut oil as a deodorant, it seems to take a few days for your body to adjust and then works perfectly. Coconut oil is a great all over body moisturiser but was too rich for my face, but a minimal amount of almond oil was just right. I have natural curly hair and I use bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) for washing and after towel drying, spray 50/50 water and vinegar as a leave in conditioner, my hair has never looked better. You realise you don’t need any of the toiletries you used to buy, after some adjustment time the body just takes care of it self.

    Cassandra wrote on July 31st, 2013
  16. Thanks Mark, this is helpful! Do you know of any companies that specialize in hair/body products for babies and young children? I’m looking for a safe, chemical free shampoo for my toddler. I usually get artisan home made soaps (goats milk and such) but shampoos are hard to find!

    Julie Seguin wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Since shampoo is just hair soap, could you use the same soap for the baby’s hair, just diluted a little? Is there anything specific about no-tears formula baby shampoos other than that they are just not as concentrated?

      Mantonat wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Check out FABULOUS products with a super-delicious and totally non-toxic baby/kids line. They have a 3-in-1 wash that you can use as a body wash, shampoo and bubble bath! I use it myself for all of those, and it’s the best cleanser to remove makeup!

      Shellster wrote on August 2nd, 2013
      • P.S. – the Clementine Shampoo is also a really good makeup remover and body wash, and can be used for bubble bath too – great for kids AND adults!! I think all their body wash products can be used for the above too….

        Shellster wrote on December 5th, 2013
    • Check out, they have FABULOUS baby and youngster products…..their “flavors” are out of this world!!!

      Shellster wrote on December 5th, 2013
  17. A good source for a wide variety of sun-protective outback hats is
    Stylish, very high quality, very wide range of types and styles. With a great hat you’ll need much less sunblock, maybe none.

    maidel wrote on July 31st, 2013
  18. sorry. but the best shampoo, body soap
    is the land of Moroccan or Syrian -ghassoul-

    raffa wrote on July 31st, 2013
  19. Thanks for this listing. Of course, as per usual, the make up/cosmetic offerings, are for skin tones far paler than my own. Guess we browngirl will have to wait another 35 years for folks to catch up to the thought that maybe WE’D like to have natural products AND healthy skin, too. Imagine!

    Nia wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Check out sheamoisture <3

      Ashley from ga wrote on July 31st, 2013
  20. If the primal pit paste link doesn’t work for you, go here:

    Deanna Kate wrote on July 31st, 2013
  21. I guess my own experience has been really different. Maybe after four years of primal, I still have some detoxing and balancing to do, but as far as cosmetics goes, I rarely find that the natural stuff is as good, particularly the purer it gets. I wash my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, I use coconut oil for deodorant, and I actually like beef tallow for Chapstick, but baking soda for toothpaste made my gums raw and the best cleanser for my skin is Cetaphil. As far as actual makeup goes, some mineral stuff works, and some just doesn’t look or feel as nice as some more synthetic stuff. I try to meet in the middle and choose mineral-based makeup, but some of the facial stuff ends up being a compromise. But that’s my take. I also just like makeup!

    Deanna wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Deanna – I have been contemplating the ACV route as I have dry scalp and have read that it can help. I have also read that it strips color from hair….do you have any experience with this? Thanks for you time :-)

      Carol Nathan wrote on July 31st, 2013
      • I don’t know if it strips color from commercially-colored hair. I had been dying my hair various shades of the rainbow for years, but since I finally settled on red for a while, I’ve been coloring with henna. ACV has not messed with it all. If I wanted to change color, it would have to all grow out!

        In the end, ACV is the only really super-natural homemade cosmetic thing that I prefer over commercial products. As for the dry scalp, I can’t really speak to that. My skin tends more toward oily, and I found that because of that, I need to use greater amounts of baking soda and ACV than most websites recommend to get good results. I would guess, though, because of that, it would be really good for not stripping natural oils from your hair. It took me a while to find the right balance, though: the wrong proportions and I ended up with greasy hair or I ended up with greasy hair that had baking soda in it. Not fun.

        Deanna wrote on July 31st, 2013
  22. For sunscreen, try Elemental Herbs sunstick. Unscented, just zinc oxide in a base of various plant oils, none of which are canola. It claims to be coral reef safe too. A little oily, but hey, no parabens or oxybenzone.

    KitC wrote on July 31st, 2013
  23. Got any opinion on chlorophyll as a natural deodorant?
    I took chlorophyll tablets for about a year and it seemed to minimize all bodily stench, including morning breath, and I didn’t use any external deodorants. It can get pricey, which is one reason I stopped, but I”m considering going back.

    dgm wrote on July 31st, 2013
  24. Great fond of Lush products

    almost everywhere in the EU, you can find it in the US as well – check

    Max wrote on July 31st, 2013
  25. Check out the honest companies products
    Jessica Alba’s book The honest life has a lot of great information about all the chemicals in well pretty much everything and offers good alternatives for everything from home decorating to the clothing you wear to make up. It’s scary enlightening. For example, flame retardants on my son’s pajama’s. She takes all the research she’s done on creating a safe, toxic free life for her children and puts it in the book. Great for parents! Non-parents too!

    Bridget wrote on July 31st, 2013
  26. Vodka in a little pump sprayer works just fine for deodorant…you can always add a few drops of essential oil if you want. I added rosemary to mine.

    Coconut oil is great hand lotion, so is EVOO.

    Baking soda and water for shampoo, apple cider vinegar and water for rinse. Sometimes I use my godchild’s home made glycerine soap instead of shampoo, too.

    Honey spread on the skin and allowed to get tacky, then patted all over makes your skin come alive! Rinse off and look great…

    I haven’t used soap on my face for 40 years…just warm water gets the job done!

    No need for expensive cosmetics here…

    Kate (Cathy Johnson) wrote on July 31st, 2013
  27. Any opinions on Mineral Fusion? I want to make sure that it’s safe for my hair!

    Emma wrote on July 31st, 2013
  28. I’m a fan of the products at Chagrin Valley Soap (

    I don’t use deo either, and it’s fine – as long as I’m very careful with my diet. Once I slip up (if I even have coffee) then, man, it’s bring on da funk! HA! That’s usually incentive enough to get me to watch what I’m stuffing in my pie hole!

    SuziQ wrote on July 31st, 2013
  29. I recently have been having horrific allergic reactions to more “natural” products. I personally don’t use any natural products at home, other than just buying the cheap CVS brand hair products that don’t have parabens or sulfates. However, I have been watching my friend’s baby a lot recently and she uses everything natural in her home (basically just any alternative product that whole foods sells). I used the baby safe, natural sunscreen and broke out in welts everywhere I put it. When I slept over, she had freshly laundered the bedding in some kind of “natural” detergents, and I woke up in the middle of the night with a swollen face and my throat feeling constricted. I have a lot of food sensitivities, so I am aware that my body isn’t very tough.

    Anyways, the point of all of this is that I’m wondering if it would be safe to convert over to using more natural products such as the ones listed above with my history of sensitivity? I know allergic reactions are always a risk when trying new products, but it seems that products claiming to be more natural are the only ones that are giving me such severe reactions.

    Also, does anyone think there is something natural products use as an alternative substance that is supposedly safer for normal humans, but maybe I’m just allergic to that? Was wondering if there was an easy answer.

    Thanks xoxo

    StevieZ wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • It’s tough if you don’t know exactly what’s causing the allergic reaction. You could do a similar approach to an elimination diet, only with cosmetics. Pick one that appeals to you and has a minimal list of ingredients and try it. If you have a reaction, try to find one that has two or three of the same base ingredients. Keep sampling until you get a good idea of what the most common ingredients are and how they affect you. Otherwise you may need to get a skin test from allergy specialist. But there’s no point in suffering, even if it means avoiding those “natural” products.

      Mantonat wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • I had a reaction to the lavender in a lot of those natural products. I avoid lavender completely now, don’t get the rashes and stuff like I used to. And I stay away from “preservative free” water based products. That’s just asking for trouble.

      Also, just because something claims to be natural, doesn’t mean it is good for you. Crude oil is natural, doesn’t mean you should swim in it 😉

      KD wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • I would recommend learning how to muscle check your self. That way, when you want to “test” some item you can do it in the store before you buy it. It’s just a positive (good/ok for you) or negative (bad for you) response your body does. That might save some you some money both in the allergy/tolerance testing by a MD as well as buying, trying, tossing expense.

      2Rae wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • My mom is allergic to everything botanical and animal under the sun. If she uses sunscreen or puts on a lotion with plants extracts in it, she gets itchy and rashy.

      Similarly, my own breakouts seem to get worse when I use natural products, and I wonder if that is my own allergic reaction to botanical products. After four years of Primal, I know that dairy sets it off, I know that sugar sets it off, and I know that even if I don’t eat those, my skin isn’t always awesome. The next experiment for me is trying some less “purely natural” face products and just going for sensitive skin products to see if they at least calm things down. Natural soaps, and especially the oil cleansing method, are a disaster for my face. So I’ve been wondering the same thing.

      Deanna wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Hi Stevie,

      Have you tried the brand Original Sprout? It is literally free of any type of allergen you can think of including Lavender oils, honey, peanut oil and gluten. My whole family has been using this for a month now and our skin and hair have never been more luscious. I really recommend it to anyone, as my daughter is allergic to a lot of things and my husband has psoriasis, so if it works for them it could work for you. The website is

      Eva wrote on August 1st, 2013
  30. Jane Iredale cosmetics score very well on the EWG website for being free of common nasties. Not cheap, though, which is why conversion of my “face toolbox” is a gradual process.

    Kimberly Robinson wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • That’s what I’m going to be using for my wedding! I *adore* Jane Iredale products, but they are very pricy – you’re not kidding!

      Holly J. wrote on July 31st, 2013
  31. Love this post. So useful. Thanks, Mark!

    I especially like that you’ve included the names of brands and products. I’ve seen quite a few posts and articles filled with general ingredients to try to find (or avoid), which makes for a ton of search work on the readers’ part.

    Especially cool that you’ve mentioned Weleda. I especially like their salt toothpaste, and I’ve just tried out their citrus deodorant, which is quite good and way cheaper than the Clarins one I’d been using.

    Olive oil is so useful for more than eating it. Great idea to try it for shaving. It’s the best ever hair conditioner. You can leave it in anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. The few-days approach works especially well when you’re at the beach and no one really cares what your hair looks like. My hair is pretty long, so I like to completely douse all of it with olive oil and tie it back for a wet beach-y look. After a few days of that, when I wash it out, I have the softest, shiniest hair ever.

    A very well done post! (Oh yeah – one more thing: A great natural teeth whitener is baking soda, made into a paste with a bit of fresh lemon juice – really works well for a once a week treatment. More than that may not be good for your enamel, so I read.)

    Susan Alexander wrote on July 31st, 2013
  32. For teeth, I highly recommend oil pulling (google it – there’s a bunch of information and even a free ebook online). I use olive oil mostly but coconut oil sometimes; then I floss and brush using hydrogen peroxide. My teeth have never been whiter!

    SuziQ wrote on July 31st, 2013
  33. is where I buy my shampoo. It is a raw, vegan, and gluten-free company.

    Aimee wrote on July 31st, 2013
  34. Try Terressentials –

    The only 100% truely all natural, all organic, zero chemicals added products I’ve ever found. They’re made in Middletown, Maryland.

    Geri wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • Check out Blissoma it’s a skin care line based out of St. Louis completely natural herb based and mostly organic skin care line!! There are more lines out there that can make the same claims but they are usually smaller and have less money for marketing. I love this line!

      Lauren wrote on July 31st, 2013
  35. My favorite natural product line is KEYS. There are very few ingredients in them and I especially like the skin care products. The creams are excellent.

    Karen P wrote on July 31st, 2013
  36. Concerned about a product – use the cosmetic database.

    Dulcey wrote on July 31st, 2013
  37. I use Moo Goo products, especially their deodorant which is edible and smells so good from the essential oils. They explain on their website why they choose to use or leave out ingredients. Good Australian small business :)

    Juli wrote on July 31st, 2013
  38. I have a friend who sells Lemongrass Spa products. All natural and made in small batches. Great stuff.

    Also, I just decided to stop coloring my hair and go natural. I think the more women who decide to go naturally grey, the more accepted it will be.

    Sarah wrote on July 31st, 2013
  39. I am loving Primal Pit Paste but I can’t seem to shake the redness and irritation under my arms from using it. No odor, just a rash. Any suggestions? Great product otherwise.

    Goddess wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • I had ongoing irritation problems with the otherwise fabulous ‘baking soda/coconut oil + other things’ deodorant mix. Waiting and hoping it would stop didn’t work (well, I lost patience after 10 months).

      First, it’s easy, satisfying and cheap to make yourself.

      Second, I would say always use arrowroot instead of cornstarch.

      Third, Crunchy Betty has a fantastic recipe, which involves infusing dried calendula and chamomile flowers in sunflower oil and adding that to the other ingredients (i added a vanilla pod for extra fragrance). Google it. She explains why this works.

      Lastly, many of the popular essential oils can be quite irritating for some people, including lavender, lemon and lime. I’ve settled on sweet orange and LOVE it.

      Primal Lee wrote on August 1st, 2013
    • Switch out some or all of the cornstarch to arrowroot. Plus wait an hour after shaving to put it on. Worked for me. :)

      Tx Kel wrote on December 4th, 2013
  40. Piggy paint is another good nail polish!

    Jc wrote on July 31st, 2013

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