Thursday, 11 January 2018

Let's visit my Bathroom! You Know You Want To

You were hoping for a photo, weren't you!  It's a relatively nice looking bathroom actually, but not Pinterest worthy.  I wouldn't choose the flooring but it's okay.  I like my shower curtain and the large soaker tub.  I have lots of light from both a window and skylight .  When I bought my home it was painted bright yellow and I needed something more soothing and calm.  I have mixed feelings about how the colour turned out but it will do overall.  As with most paint colours I like it better in some lighting than others.  

Is this a minimalist bathroom?  Who knows?  It's mainly the bathroom I got when I bought this place, with my own shower curtain, rug ( which you can't see ) and a wicker storage thingy added.  I didn't choose the light fixtures and I'd change them if I had the funds but it's not high priority.  

           I should probably trim the label off my towel so that I can be instagrammable.

For those who want to know it's Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray wall paint mixed by local paint company Cloverdale.

Recently I sorted through my bathroom to see what products I have. I have a large bathroom, but not much storage space in it.  My partner and I use separate bathrooms so that helps and I store towels in the linen closet not in the bathroom.  I have a small cabinet in my bedroom closet for storing any surplus supplies acquired if a particular product I use is on sale and I buy a couple at a time, but lately I don't do a lot of that.  With shampoo I'm fairly willing to buy different brands to get what is on sale.  

Confession:  I really dislike the look of mismatched product bottles in the shower so am inclined to buy shampoo and conditioner from the same brand.

It's a long list of products when I look at it all typed out.  I tend to think of myself as fairly low maintenance and minimal but it sure doesn't look that way when listed like this.  How is it minimalist?  It is minimalist in that I am not buying experimental products, not hoarding stashes of unused stuff and then buying more, aiming to be aware of what I use, need, like and to use it all up before I replace it.  I won't force myself to work through a product I really dislike or that causes me a problem but if it's just mediocre I will use it up. 

Perhaps one of the advantages to reaching middle age is greater skepticism about what products can actually do and what is actually needed.  I need and want to be clean and I need a bit of moisturizing on just about every body part!  I like a small bit of cosmetic enhancement sometimes, have certain ideas about how I want my hair styled daily and feel pampered by a nice warm bubble bath. 

I would like to reduce the plastic packaging and bottles but at this point the best way I can do that is minimise the quantity of product and frequency of purchase.


Just so you know, the child in me wanted to call this post A Month with No Poo but I resisted the urge and I know you will thank me.  Actually I didn't get very far with the No Poo method anyhow so there isn't much to report.  For those who don't know what I am talking about, there is a school of thought in which it is asserted that we do not need shampoo, that rinsing with water is enough for our hair, though some variants of this method include vinegar rinses or other household items which are technically not shampoo.  I did find that if I use a boar bristle brush nightly, it distributes scalp oils down through the hair and can extend time between shampoos but for me, three days is maximum before I just look greasy no matter what I do.  I've read that one needs to wait out this period of adjustment and that it takes one or two months but I'm not willing to go through that, just as I am not willing to go forever without anti-perspirant/deoderant, although a day or two without is sometimes doable. 

Why this experimenting?  I haven't given much consideration to the personal care products I use since over a decade when I was vegan.  In that time I became concerned not only about every produce I purchased being cruelty free and without animal ingredients, I also became concerned about sodium laureth sulphate and parabens.  These ingredients are not proven to be harmful though there is a great deal of belief that they are.   Plenty of scaremongering abounds on the internet and amongst the communities of people who are worried about 'chemicals' in general, there are many assumptions that ingredients you can't pronounce, understand or find in your kitchen are evil.  I am not among such people, but I do want to be properly informed, avoiding what is known to be bad for me or the environment but balancing that with some common sense. 

* see links at bottom of post

Sometimes it comes down to whom you choose to believe, and I am not prone to conspiracy theories about big pharma or evil scientists.  Sure, liars and corrupt people do exist-consider the tobacco industry and quite likely parts of the agricultural industry.  There is also the possibility that new information arises.  For now, I am going forward with the assumption that the ingredients in drugstore products are not toxic and my greatest concern is plastic packaging.  Not everyone will agree with me but I am accustomed to having opinions outside of the norm.  Having been vegan, I know quite well how much propaganda there is for any set of beliefs anyone wants to adopt and how statistics can be misused, misrepresented and misunderstood, both by the average person reading an article and by the people using the to support their view.

My Thoughts....

  • Nearly everything is a chemical so just because something is a chemical does not make it bad. Water is a chemical.
  • Arsenic is natural so being natural, does not make it good. Natural chemicals can be just as irritating to skin as synthetic and toxic too.
  • People selling so called 'natural' products are not guaranteed to be ethical, honest, or well informed.
  • Sometimes the vegan, cruelty free, 'natural' product doesn't perform as well as the other product I am trying to replace.
  • Organic products may not even be better or safer but aside from that there isn't label regulation ( enough or at all ) so marketers can say just about anything.
  • So called natural products and many cruelty free brands are expensive and in some areas less available.
  • Just because something was used in antiquity does not make it the best or safest alternative today.
  • I can find no good scientific evidence to support worrying about sodium laureth sulphates or parabens or any of the things currently feared as 'toxins'.

The products people turn to when the drugstore items scare them are not necessarily any better but clever marketing might make us think so, and lack of knowledge leaves us feeling vulnerable.  It's easy to identify what we don't understand as bad, in fact it seems to be human nature to do so.

My conclusion, after researching as best I can, is that I have no strong reason not to purchase and use drugstore products and so I do.  At this point, what I do know is that I am aiming to use minimal product, spend as little as possible while still getting the results I want and to avoid worrying about things I can do nothing to resolve.  I would like it if all health and beauty products were not tested on animals but I am not sure that I contribute to that end by purchasing products that claim to be cruelty free. I am not sure that a handful of people boycotting the big names is enough to put pressure on big companies and I don't know what would actually make a difference.  I tend to think it's a shift in thinking that is going to take time as humanity comes to the conclusion that it is unethical to rub mascara in a rabbit's eyes.

So, having bored you, depressed you or angered you, I conclude that little wordy bit and now take you into my bathroom cupboards.  I use drug store products because they are cheap and available.  I am not convinced you get something better when you pay more and not inclined to feel pampered by an expensive product with a French name.  What I would be willing to pay more for would be my favourite products in unlabelled but attractive bottles.  That is unlikely to happen.

                                                       The Stuff


Currently I use both shampoo and conditioner, which also means plastic bottles.  I've wondered about shampoo bars but the need for conditioner is still an issue.  
Currently using:  Giovanni 2 Chic avocado and olive oil shampoo and conditioner.  
Pros:  Moisturizes nicely
Cons: No sodium laureth sulphate means it doesn't lather well so I have to use more of the shampoo.  This means buying more so more cost and more plastic containers. This is my most expensive item so I'm considering no repurchase.

I have a pot of Garnier Fructis shine/style wax which will last a very long time and some Pantene hair spray for emergencies.  I like the fine mist from an aerosol but  hate the cans.  Aerosol cans are now recyclable in my area
Pros: will last a long time
Cons:  doesn't fulfill my fantasy of being personal care product minimalist 

Body and Face

Bar soaps in the shower and at the bathroom sink are both Dove unscented.  I also really like olive oil soap from Kiss My Face or Jason and am basically seeking moisturizing and unscented soaps.   Dove is cheaper than the olive oil soaps. 

Dr Teal's bubble bath-the one I love is rose and citrus scented.

I like Cera Ve thick cream in a tub and use it on body and face.  I like unscented creams and while Glaxal Base cream works well the smell of it makes me feel ill.  Glaxal Base is fragrance free but not without a scent which to me is quite strong.  Cera Ve is a similar cream but I don't notice any scent.  
Pros: works, unscented, easier to use up everything in a tub rather than pump bottle or tube.
Cons: non really, just that it's stuff

I use a generic version of Glysomed hand lotion also.  The silicon based lotion gives a coating as protection for my hands which helps keep eczema away and allows me to be a bit negligent about using rubber gloves.
Pros: works for me
Cons: I don't think plastic tubes are recyclable in my area

I recently bought Pixi face oil and it is going to last me forever.  It's okay.  I'm neither disappointed nor thrilled by it.  It has a nice light rose scent and is lovely for cuticles as well as on my cheeks.  I doubt I would buy it again but it will probably last me a few years.
Pros:  nice enough, great on cuticles
Cons: not really needed, difficult to spread evenly on my face 

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen
Pros: works as well or better than any, no scent
Cons: plastic tube
Secret anti-perspirant.  There is no evidence of aluminum in anti-perspirants/deoderants causing breast cancer but some people are afraid of this and so choose to buy 'natural' products.  By now you know I'm not one of them.  Been there, done that, decided it's unsubstantiated worry. I favour unscented.
Pros: works for me, comes in unscented
Cons: not recyclable as far as I know

Razor-I have an ancient safety razor by Gillette.   Blades are expensive so I definitely shave more in summer than winter.

Facial cleansing needs to be gentle and I find that I like using micellar water best.  I use the one by Garnier as it's easily available and relatively inexpensive. 
Pros: Simple, gentle, no drying effect
Cons: Still a plastic bottle to recycle and must use cotton pads...wonder if it can be used with washcloths. 

Oral Care

Toothpaste is usually Colgate mild mint but I currently have Arm and Hammer baking soda and quite dislike the taste.  I am using it up and can't wait for the torture to be over.  I use toothpaste for sensitive teeth and gums and really hate gels.  Taste and texture matter!

Floss-often get this from my dental visits but sometimes purchase extra in between visits.  Not fussy about brand but like the tape style floss.

Lipbalms I currently use are Burts Bees Ultra Conditioning stick , Blistex Lip Medix with SPF 20 


I rarely use all of these products together.  Mostly I use under eye concealer, a dab of eye shadow and a bit of lip colour blotted as my basic public face.  Blush is for emergencies if I am looking very pale and want to pass myself off as not possessed of an autoimmune disease.  

I've found wearing the right colours for my complexion far more enhancing than blush.

liquid concealer by L'Oreal True Match W1/2
Annabelle eye shadow single in matte brown
mascara- Pixi Lash Booster waterproof and free of fibres
lipstick-Nars Audacious 'Jane'
powder blush by Rimmel in peach.

Eye makeup remover-Marcelle brand
Pros: works, non irritating, lasts a long time
Cons: Non really other than it's another plastic bottle.  Some micellar water types remove eye makeup so I may not need to purchase replacement for this

Nail polish-too many similar colours ( 3 of them ) all sort of browned peach.  A clear topcoat, remover and emery boards. I only do my toes in summer and these polishes are going to last me a long time.  I'm not interested in any different colours and have learned that when I think I am buying something new it's the same old peach.

Fragrance:  I love the idea of it but can't find something that lasts and doesn't cause headaches.  It seems to be a choice between one or the other.  I have a bottle of 4711 which I love but the scent only lasts about ten minutes.

Paper Products

Cotton pads used for nail polish remover and micellar water, usually the cheapest generic brand I can find.

Feminine hygiene products ( why do I hate that term? ) since menopause has not hit yet although I anxiously await- I still buy liners and tampons, I go for an unbleached cotton type when I can get it and always tampons without applicator.  Currently have OB and Nature's Gate products. 

Medicinal Stuff 

We keep most meds in a kitchen drawer, and some in bedside tables.  In my bathroom I have some lotion for itchy or sunburned skin, mainly because it doesn't fit into the kitchen medicine drawer. 

Going Forward

My current concerns are with the environmental impact of plastic containers.  While I can't find alternative containers for the products I use I can make an effort to use minimally and not buy more than I need.  I've experimented with various kitchen products, for example coconut oil for just about everything, and thus eliminating much packaging, but haven't yet hit on any food or method that works well enough to make me give up the drug store products.  The ethics of a product and its environmental impact do matter to me, but so does efficacy, price, availability and in the case of cosmetics, the colour and formula.  It's a lot to juggle and probably a constantly shifting thing.  For now, this is where I am.  

 Reading of Interest:

This blog post  explains things well, I think.
   American Cancer Society
European Scientific Review 

1 comment:

  1. Hahahahaha, when I read the title of this post I bursted into laughter.
    To be honest, I don't use animal cruelty free products, and vegan friendly or whatever stuff. I had an English teacher that used only natural stuff for body and hair and she smelled like it was the apocalypse.
    For my hair, I usually can stand around 4 days without showering it, but after that time it starts to get very dramatic and greasy.
    I completely agree with you, we can be self concious about the environment without been too crazy about it.


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