September 5, 2015

5 More Unnecessary Beauty Products we could all Live Without.

Toby Israel not for reuse

Close to a year ago, I published my list of top 5 Unnecessary Beauty Products that we could all live Without.

Some recent comments from readers (thanks, you guys!) reminded me that, indeed, there are many more than just five products one could do without—if we opt to.

These things we think we need? Maybe we want them, maybe we like them, or maybe we’ll turn into grumpy, sagging, terrifying dirt monsters without them (highly unlikely, but maybe).

However, we do not in fact need them, and the sky will not fall if we eliminate them from our lives.

How do I know?

My sky is still hanging in there.

Now, before anyone gets their hater-flag ready, I’m not saying you must live without these products, nor am I saying you should. I am simply saying one could do without them—if one wanted to.

I know, because I do. (That’s me up top. The picture is fairly recent, in case you need proof that I am not a scary dirt monster, who will eat your children and hang chicken bones in my hair. Promise. I might be a little smelly, but hey, I work from home, so that’s a “me problem.”)

Finally, I am (I hope with humor and love) pointing out a difference between preferences and necessities. I need to eat, but I do not need to use shampoo. I must sleep (or I actually do turn into a scary monster), but I do not have to wear makeup.

This bears repeating one more time: The key phrase here is, “If you want.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts,
the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves,
then listen close to me—
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.” ~ Shel Silverstein

And so, here are five more unnecessary beauty/health/wellness products we think we need, but could actually do without:

1) Soap.

Just like shampoo, many (most) commercial body washes are filled with laurel sulfates—those delightful chemicals that make soap sudsy, and happen to strip your skin of its natural oils, too—leading you into a vicious cycle of alcohol-based lotion and dry skin.

The alternatives?

Now, I’ve met people who just don’t use soap at all, and they smelled fine. Their secret is hot water, and lots of it. Personally, I opt for natural, glycerin- and sulfate-free soaps—which you can make at home (like this) or find easily at any natural foods store or farmer’s market (I’ve found the difference in price is rarely more than a dollar from drugstore varieties). They are delightfully sudsy enough for my taste (they do vary, and it may take a couple tries to find one that does it for you), and they make my skin happy.

2) Razors.

Maybe you want to try this whole body hair thing (I hear it’s trendy?)—cool. Maybe you don’t—also cool. Razors destroy our skin, and happen to be stupidly expensive. Plus, another thing to do every day (or, let’s get real, every week)? No, thanks.

Waxing is a great alternative—cold wax (also called a sugar wax), that is, which is made from three ingredients (sugar, water, lemon juice) and, when applied properly, is the kindest and least damaging option for hair removal. You can make sugar wax at home quite easily; based on personal experience I’d caution you against it (if, like me, you’re lacking the necessary skill component, it won’t end well), but many salons offer sugar or other other friendly wax options.

3) Tampons.

Guys, don’t worry about it—you can obviously do without these products all the time. Ladies, you would require alternatives.

I’m a pretty big advocate of the moon cup—a silicon cup that collects menstrual blood and can be left in for up to 12 hours at a time. I also know many women who use natural sea sponges or eco-friendly re-usable pads. All great options.

The bigger point: “Feminine hygiene products” are a business. A business. That means we’re being sold something, not necessarily because we need it and there are no other options, but because we (the world’s women) are willing to spend 15 billion dollars on them annually. Really. So, just so you know, there are options.

4) Make-up tested on animals.

This one speaks for itself. There are plenty of stunning, sexy, shimmery sultry mineral make-up products that, besides not testing on animals, are free of chemical dyes and made from organic ingredients. MyChelle is a lovely line, but expensive. Again, a natural food store will usually have a small (sometimes reasonably priced) selection—the internet, as usual, is a treasure trove.

Of course, going make-up free is the cheapest—and least time-consuming—option.

5) Mirrors.

Mirrors? What?

Yes, mirrors. Do you know when I’ve looked my best? When I’ve been camping, trekking or living in basic housing where mirrors were scarce.

How do I know I looked my best if I couldn’t see myself?

Well, that’s just the thing. As one of my favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Beauty is not in the face…” When I am deprived of my reflection, I tend to stop thinking about it. And when I stop thinking (and worrying) about it, I feel fantastic! Full disclosure, I have never actively chosen to go without mirrors—it’s always happened by default. When my reflection is available I secretly (or not so secretly?) enjoy it. That does not change the fact, however, that these mysterious looking glasses are utterly superfluous.


**Bonus: Yet another five unnecessary products, which I cannot verify from my own experience, but about which other wonderful elephant journal contributors have written, and I bet they’re right—

1. Toothpaste.

2. Shaving cream & wrinkle removers.

3. Drugstore anti-acne solutions.

4. Hair dye.

5. Chemical fragrances.

And to close, I’ll reiterate what I said last time:

I offer this list without judgement for the choices and priorities of others. These are things I have found unnecessary to me and my life, and I hope that their listing might inspire others to evaluate the products they use—and the products that use them.

So, what would you add to this list? What tips would you share for alternatives to the products listed here?

Relephant bonus:


Relephant Read:

Pretty Misleading: Are your “Natural” Beauty Products full of Sh*t?


Author: Toby Israel

Photo: Daniel Zedda/Flickr // Author’s Own


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