When we opened the B&B I spent a lot of time exploring complimentary toiletries for the bathrooms. You know those tiny bottles of shower gels, shampoos and body lotions and individual soaps, shower caps and so on. I sent off for loads of samples but couldn’t seem to decide what to do. The issues I had were:
- The cheap ones were cheap but horrible
- The expensive ones were OK but, well, expensive
- Most women bring what they need on holiday
- Most men don’t care one way or another
- The environmental cost of supplying literally hundreds of tiny plastic bottles every year of stuff that no one really needed was unacceptable to me.
In the end I decided to leave hand soap in every room and a note to say guests should just ask if they needed anything and we would do our best to supply.
Recently I have been rethinking my own use of toiletries, makeup, hair products and so on in light of all the stuff that is coming out about chemicals in cosmetics. The recent Trust Me I’m a Doctor programme on Sodium Laurel Sulphate prompted me to overhaul my own use of these products. SLS is a powerful detergent which can cause severe skin irritation and is in just about everything, even your toothpaste.
Read the back of virtually anything you are using in the bathroom, even baby products and so called natural, organic brands and it is scary what we are putting on our bodies and in our mouths. As part of its #ditchthejunk campaign, Breast Cancer UK has produced A Guide to Safer Cosmetics offering the following advice:
- Choose cosmetics free from harmful chemicals; many are now thought to have adverse health effects including links to breast cancer by disrupting the human hormone system e.g. parabens
- Use fewer cosmetics, less often
- Always opt for fragrance free
- Make your own or if you don’t have time use natural products such as coconut oil and sea salt
- Read the labels and do your research – the Soil Association website lists certified organic products as opposed to those which just call themselves ‘organic’
Paul maintains that the only product anyone needs is Coal Tar Soap. The thing is you can’t seem to buy it these days – only soap with ‘fragrance of Coal Tar’ which is full of the same chemicals as all the other soaps.
So now I either do without or use natural products such as coconut oil (great shaving gel or body moisturiser) or organic products (such as Neal’s Yard Remedies). The only exception is actual makeup; I just can’t find good, natural makeup and I’m really not ready to give it up quite yet.
Anyway…next month indoor pollution and giving up cleaning for good.