The Instagram logo

Personal care

We use toiletries every day and yet many of us don’t stop to think about their harmful ingredients. Now there is a natural alternative to every product in a health store near you. By Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at health store Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway

Body and face washing

Natural soaps and body washes are an eco-friendly alternative to the usual personal care items which may not be offering the best ingredients for your skin. Sodium lauryl sulphate and other harsh foaming agents can leave skin feeling clean initially, but can also cause dehydration or skin conditions such as dermatitis. Natural soaps are kind to the skin, using coconut and olive oil derived surfactants to ensure the skin’s natural oils are not stripped in the cleansing process.

Natural shower gels and body washes are now available in a bar so the plastic waste is removed, making them even more environmentally friendly.

Hair care

Shampoo is an interesting one as there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. Whether your hair is curly, thinning, silver, oily (or all of the above!) there is a shampoo out there to suit your needs. The main issue with shampoo lies with the ingredients added to them to make them foam – usually petroleum derived SLS or SLES which over time can build up on the scalp leading to dandruff, irritation and even skin conditions.

Natural alternatives include eco-friendly shampoo bars for all types of hair, or traditional liquid shampoo and conditioners made with gentle, natural, beneficial ingredients that eliminate the need for silicones and other plastics. Give your hair a natural shine with ingredients like jojoba and argan oils in your shampoo, and shea butter based conditioners. For oily hair try a clarifying shampoo to reduce shine and remove product build up on the scalp. Clarifying ingredients include lemon, orange or apple cider vinegar.

Wipe it clean

The issue with wet wipes is that the wipes themselves are usually made from polyester or another cheap plastic which, as we know, is not biodegradable and so remains on our beautiful planet indefinitely. Too many people are guilty of flushing these wipes down the toilet, and even if they are disposed of correctly, they still end up in landfill. Make-up remover wipes can be saturated with a plethora of unpronounceable chemicals.

Natural wet wipes are made with cotton or bamboo, sustainable materials which biodegrade after use. These are then soaked in natural ingredients, which vary depending on use.

Make-up remover wipes usually include an oil for ease of make-up removal, as well as nourishing and hydrating ingredients to prevent skin from drying out after use.

And most importantly any and all ingredients included are biodegradable and ocean friendly.

Sanitary products

Sanitary products are a multibillion euro industry which 50% of the population use on a monthly basis. When you consider the amount of waste this produces a year, natural alternatives become a real contender. Common sanitary products include pads, tampons and panty liners, all of which contain plastics and in some cases perfumes.

Natural tampons, pads and liners are made with organic cotton, no chlorine, no bleach and no perfume. They are biodegradable to reduce their impact on landfill, and still as effective as the chemical laden alternatives.

Or why not go one better for sustainability and ditch the disposables for good? Period cups, reusable pads and even period knickers are now widely available in a range of sizes, colours and prices so we can all do our bit in reducing our monthly waste production.


Natural deodorants are increasingly popular now that people are becoming more aware of the ingredients that go into their personal care products. Aluminium chloride is the ingredient in antiperspirant deodorants which stops the body from sweating and keeps the user dry and odour-free for hours and hours. The only problem with this is that our bodies need to sweat. When we sweat our bodies are eliminating toxins. When we interfere with this process the toxins build up in our pores as they have nowhere else to go.

Natural deodorants do not prevent perspiration. They use ingredients like bicarbonate of soda or salt to neutralise the bacteria that is responsible for the bad smell, and many use arrowroot to absorb excess moisture. Essential oils are then added for a pleasant smell. If you decide to make the switch to a natural deodorant, please be patient with your body. If you have been using conventional deodorants for years, your pores will take a while to excrete the toxins which have accumulated because of the aluminium. Bear this in mind and go for a strong scented deodorant to get you started.

Articles from our latest issue...