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Toiletries and personal products can be a source of chemical overload in our bodies, but there are natural alternatives available for everything you might need

“There is a natural alternative for all toiletries, from deodorant to hair removal,” says Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. “Natural toiletries contain beneficial, essential ingredients that are gentle on skin. Many are available in recyclable packaging and are made with biodegradable ingredients, so they are definitely more eco-friendly. They leave out harsh foamers and preservatives too – cleaner ingredients mean happier skin.”

“Conventional toiletries are laden with chemicals which could be damaging to our health,” says Ingrid Hume of beauty company Pravera. “There is an effective and healthier alternative to chemical-laden toiletry products. Many contain toxic ingredients such as SLS, sulfates, parabens, silicones and synthetic fragrances and colours which can cause skin irritations, redness and sensitivity and may cause further health problems.”

Should I switch to natural toiletries?

“I definitely recommend switching to a natural skincare routine, even if you just switch one product at a time, you would be surprised at how much your skin will benefit from it,” says Niamh Larkin. “The basic cleanser / toner / moisturiser trio are a good place to start. Taking off make-up or even just washing your face at the end of the day is so much easier with an oil cleanser. Dirt and make-up (including waterproof mascara) glide right off the skin with no need to aggravate the skin by scrubbing. The right moisturiser will leave you and your skin feeling fresh and beautiful! Your skin will absorb 60% of what you put onto it, so applying a natural face cream is absolutely worth your while.”

“A natural and organic moisturiser will enhance the skin’s function," says Ingrid Hume. “With the addition of all-natural ingredients and without ingredients such as parabens or mineral oils the skin will benefit from increased hydration, nourishment and moisture levels. Using a natural and organic bubble bath or shower gel with a mild washing surfactant derived from coconuts will provide a toxic-free experience to your daily shower or bath routine.”

What about hair care?

“There are many natural and organic alternatives for shampoo on the market which work very well on the hair and scalp,” says Ingrid Hume. “Natural shampoos do not include toxic and irritating chemicals such as sulfates, mineral oils and parabens. Natural shampoos use plant extracts to effectively cleanse the hair and scalp and nourish the hair from root to tip.”

“Natural shampoos and conditioners are becoming more and more popular now with people realising the damage that can be caused by long-term use of sulphates and parabens,” says Niamh Larkin. “If you decide to switch to a natural shampoo, make your first choice a clarifying shampoo as these are fantastic for removing pollutants from the hair and also break down any product build-up that occurs on the scalp.”

And face wipes?

“Face wipes are convenient but what is actually in a conventional face wipe?” asks Ingrid Hume. “Many contain plastic and a whole host of toxic chemicals. Natural alternatives are made from soft renewable plant fibres and natural plant extracts to effectively remove make-up and control oil production on the skin.”

“Looking for rubbish-free wet wipes? Why not try wipes that are made from bamboo and soaked in natural ingredients,” suggests Niamh Larkin.

What about tampons and pads?

“Many tampons and sanitary wear contain plastic,” says Ingrid Hume. “Plastic will not allow your skin to breathe and can cause intimate irritation, rashes and itchiness. They also contain synthetic colourants, chlorine, artificial fragrances, plastic-based fibres and dioxins. Switch to a natural alternative which uses organic cotton.”

“Conventional tampons contain chlorine as well as other plastics and chemicals, along with synthetic fragrances and dyes,” says Niamh Larkin. “Natural alternatives are made with 100% cotton, reducing the risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome) and thrush. Several brands and types are available including plastic-free applicators. Reusable sanitary pads made from bamboo, cotton and other fabrics are a much more environmentally friendly alternative to tampons. Reusable period cups last five years, are made from silicone or latex and can save the user a fortune on sanitary products every month.”

What natural products are available to men?

“As with most things that foam, mainstream men’s shaving gels, foams and lotions tend to include SLS as a main ingredient,” says Niamh Larkin. “This cheap petroleum derivative is used to give products a foamy effect. It does not biodegrade and is in the ocean forever once washed down the sink. There are natural and organic alternatives available for men’s skincare – from shaving oils and soaps and even SLS-free foams and gels. Men’s skincare doesn’t end with shaving though, with natural alternatives to moisturisers, cleansers, beard oils and body washes all available from health food stores.”

“There are men’s products on the market which are natural and organic and toxic-free,” agrees Ingrid Hume. “The products include moisturisers, shaving foam and shower products.”

Read the label

Look out for the Natrue and Demeter labels which carry the highest standards. Some other organic bodies considered as trustworthy too include the Soil Association, Bioland, Organic Trust and Iofga.

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