Caveman Grooming

I made these combs myself from discarded coconut husks. No I didn't.

Before I went Primal, I had already begun the process of transitioning to all-natural personal care products. But since going Primal, I’ve stepped up my efforts.

Why? The main issue for me was the prevalence of phthalates, often disguised as “fragrance” on a label. Because companies are not required to disclose the ingredients in their fragrances for proprietary purposes, these nasty little hormone disruptors sneak their way into hair care products, cosmetics, moisturizers, and perfumes. Which means we douse ourselves with them everyday. The research is still pouring in, but phthalates are suspected of playing a role in such ills as obesity, precocious puberty, allergies, male genital defects, and even autism. While I’m neither a tin-foil hatter nor an extreme tree-hugger, these possibilities were enough for me to limit my exposure. The Environmental Working Group has an excellent website with more information on this and other concerns (click here for more on phthalates).

In order to avoid becoming a walking superfund site, I started out by replacing my shower soap with unscented Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, which then also became my face wash and shaving soap. Its simple ingredient list includes organic and fair trade olive, coconut, hemp, and jojoba oils. The next step involved trying to find out whether there was a natural deodorant that could tame my stanky, sweaty pits. I may look like an unassuming little woman, but I sweat and smell like a 300 lb. boxer working out in Mississippi. In July. With no air conditioning. I wasn’t sure if Tom’s of Maine could handle the job, but I use their long-lasting deodorant and I haven’t had to look back. I’ve made sure my shampoo and detangler are phthalate free. Moisturizers proved somewhat difficult, something about those petroleum products are just superior at repairing dry skin. I found a locally-made hand cream at my Farmers’ Market with shea butter as its foundation, but I’m still looking for a suitable facial moisturizer.

My latest campaign is to transition to natural cosmetics. A direct benefit of going Primal for me is that my skin is clearer than ever, so less is needed. I’m experimenting with some products now, but the main problem is that the natural mineral make-ups everyone loves so much magnify my pores by at least a magnitude of three.

The main issue—and your healthy Paleo/Primal skepticism will benefit you here—is that companies and advertisers have sold us for at least the last 100 years on how bad we look, smell, taste, and feel. They’ve created solutions for imaginary problems we didn’t know we had. Granted, many of the chemicals and substances they’ve invented do indeed work, but more often than not, they are merely masking a totally normal human phenomenon. Which has led me to decide that its our expectations (My curly hair must be straight! I want my girlfriend to be hairless!) that are out of whack and have distanced ourselves from our humanness. Wanting to feel clean and not smell like a compost heap is perfectly natural and there are great natural ways to accomplish simple hygiene. Thankfully there are options so we don’t have to walk around smelling like Hawaiian Raspberry Waterfall Angel Coconut Bliss.

Has going Paleo/Primal made you reevaluate your personal care products? Have you gone shampoo-free or stopped shaving? What are your favorite purchased or homemade natural care products?

*EDIT: I should say that I realize it’s possible to go even further on this tangent and avoid purchased, corporatized products all together. I’m not sure if I’ll find myself making my own toothpaste or not, but if I do, it will be a natural progression from here.

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3 Responses to “Caveman Grooming”

  1. I found tea tree oil toothpicks at the store today! I’m such a dork, I can’t wait to use them. :)

  2. I don’t know what your skin type is, so not sure what to recommend for make up but in personal experience, witch hazel is a freaking gods-send for ‘tightening’ pores and clearing the last stubborn acne bits off.

    Also, the tea tree oil toothpicks are damned addictive–the husband used to get them all the time and I’d steal them shamelessly.

    • I have very oily skin, and I’m trying some new make-up right now. I found an awesome site that ships samples so you can try them out before committing to the (often steep) full price.

      But thanks for the reminder! I have some witch hazel but had forgotten about using it as a toner.

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