In my second Plastic Free July post, you’ll read about my bathroom & body care swaps! Cutting down on single-use plastic waste when the market is so saturated with products in plastic packaging can be really difficult, but I’m slowly learning that it thankfully is possible! In my bathroom, I’ve made quite a lot of changes already and some of them have saved me a lot of money and are much more convenient! Here are my bathroom faves:
Shampoo & Conditioner
A notoriously tricky swap, many end up ditching shampoo bars and going back to the bottle after weeks of dealing with sticky, knotty hair in what’s described as the “transition period” from conventional shampoo, or resort to trying to rebalance their hair with smelly cider vinegar and bicarbonate of soda rinses. However, after only one failed attempt with a soap-based bar that didn’t quite do it for me (plus a vinegar rinse to boot), I have discovered three awesome plastic-free brands that leave me with happy hair, without the icky phase or the faff. All of these products are soap-free, which I think is the key to their success, as this helps to keep the pH levels of your hair and scalp nicely balanced.
- Ethique: These were the bars that changed the game for me and convinced me that switching to solid hair products didn’t have to be as difficult as I initially thought it would be! Ethique is a New Zealand-based company that make all manner of solid beauty bars, from haircare to skincare. I currently use the Pinkalicious Shampoo and The Guardian Conditioner, which are priced around £13 each; their shampoo bars are equivalent to three 350ml bottles, whereas their conditioner bars are equivalent to an astonishing five 350ml bottles, meaning that I could save a lot of money over time using these compared to what I was previously spending on salon-quality shampoo, even when I was buying it in bulk! My favourite things about these Ethique bars are the delicious scents, as well as the fact that the shampoo lathers up extremely well, so is the closest-to-conventional experience I think you’ll find with any shampoo bar on the market. If you’re UK-based like me, you’re currently best off purchasing your Ethique bars at either Holland & Barrett or Boots rather than direct from the Ethique website to save on shipping costs from New Zealand, however I hear that Ethique are planning on opening a UK warehouse soon, so watch this space!
- KIND2: A gentler alternative worth trying are KIND2 bars, which are sulphate-free as well as soap-free; they’re also a UK-based brand, so great if you’d prefer to keep it local! I have recently been testing out ‘The Hydrating One’ Shampoo and ‘The Restoring One’ Conditioner (both kindly gifted to me by the brand), which range from £12.50 to £15.95 each; they are equivalent to two 250ml bottles each, so are estimated to last an impressive 60-80 washes! Because it’s sulphate-free, this shampoo bar doesn’t lather up in quite the same way as the Ethique bar, so I found that it took a little bit more getting used to in terms of feeling confident that I’d used enough product to clean my hair, especially as mine is so thick. However, once I got my head around this, these bars worked an absolute treat and even cleared up a bothersome dry patch on my scalp almost as soon as I started using them! I also found the conditioner bar really effective as an improvised shaving bar – same with the Ethique conditioner bar – which is an added bonus!
- Beauty Kubes: Not exactly a shampoo bar but a great plastic-free alternative nonetheless, Beauty Kubes are solid mini cubes of product that you crush and mix with water to form a paste. I tried their Shampoo for Normal to Dry Hair, which comes in the pink box and is usually priced at £9.50 for 27 cubes, making it a pricier alternative to shampoo bars, being that each cube = one wash (unless you have particularly thick and long hair, in which case you may need two cubes per wash). However, they’re an excellent option for travel as you’d only need to pop a few cubes into a soap tin with your body soap and you’d be set for a week away! Beauty Kubes also make conditioner in cube form, however I didn’t actually use a conditioner after using their shampoo and still found that my hair was just as soft as it would usually be if I had done! Beauty Kubes are available from many plastic-free online shops; I picked mine up for half-price in the sale at Smug Store.
I have tried a variety of natural deodorants over the last few years, but none have quite ticked all of the boxes; many didn’t work at all, many caused itchiness due to my sensitivity to bicarbonate of soda and the one I found that did work well for me came in single-use plastic packaging! I had admittedly reverted back to conventional roll-on deodorants for a while, until I came across Wild. I was initially reluctant as it does contain bicarbonate of soda, however I contacted the company who told me that it contained a much smaller amount than other deodorants, so it was unlikely I’d experience any sensitivity with Wild and that if I did, they would offer me a full refund… I decided to take the plunge and I’m so pleased I did! Although the outer case does contain recycled plastic, this is reused and refilled with compostable cartridges, so no single-use in sight! I joined their flexible subscription service, selecting the Coral case and the Orange Zest scent for my first cartridge, which has the most gorgeous citrus sherbet smell. I love how stylish the case looks on my dressing table and how long the refill cartridges last… I’ve been using this deodorant for almost two months and am only just coming to the end of my first cartridge! Like most natural deodorants, this is not an anti-perspirant so you will still sweat, but you won’t smell… this might take some getting used to if you’re not used to using natural deodorants, but is a much healthier way for your body to function! For 20% off at Wild, use my referral link.
I switched to a safety razor a couple of months ago, choosing the Rose Gold Zero Waste Club Razor from Plastic Freedom. Plastic disposable razors and razor heads are not only incredibly harmful to the environment, but the cost can really add up over the years compared to what you’ll pay for replacement blades for a safety razor, making the switch to one of these a total win-win! I absolutely love my razor both for the way it looks in my bathroom and the shaving experience while using it; it does take a little bit of getting used to in order to get over the fear, but it didn’t take me long to get comfortable with mine and I haven’t cut myself once yet! I’ve been recommending to several friends and family and even bought the Metal Grey version for my Dad for Father’s Day! I hope that this will be an item that I can keep for life!
Believe it or not, toothpaste doesn’t have to come in a plastic tube! I’ve recently switched to Georganics dental products, which are packaged in glass bottles with aluminium lids; all of these products were purchased at either Plastic Freedom or Smug Store. Here are my thoughts:
- Natural Toothpaste in Spearmint: I really wasn’t sure about this stuff at first, however I now think I prefer it to conventional toothpaste, having switched back for a couple of weeks while visiting my parents! This is nothing like conventional toothpaste; the texture feels very strange at first and the taste is much more subtle, but I feel that it cleans my teeth really well. My only complaint with this would be the price (£8.90 for 120ml) as I seem to be going through the jar pretty quickly, however paying a little more than usual is unfortunately sometimes a side effect of using natural products and I think I have likely been using more than I should while I’ve been getting used to this!
- Mouthwash Tablets in Spearmint: Georganics’ answer to everyday mouthwash comes in tablet form, which you dissolve in water. These have an interesting fizz to them and a very subtle flavour but I actually find them very effective; again, they do take some getting used to as the taste is very different to conventional mouthwash. You can also purchase refill packs, so that you can reuse the glass jar over and over again!
- Oil Pulling Mouthwash in Pure: I would prefer this oil pulling mouthwash in one of the minty flavours, however this unflavoured version is not unpleasant to use! If you’ve not heard of oil pulling, it’s an ancient remedy that claims to whiten your teeth and improve your overall oral health. I use this around once a week and swish for 10-15 minutes at a time; I don’t think I’ve seen any major benefits as yet, however I will keep on with it and see if I notice whiter teeth!
- Natural Dental Floss in Spearmint: The Georganics floss is biodegradable, unlike traditional dental floss which is often made of nylon that takes hundreds of years to decompose! Like the mouthwash tablets, you can also buy refills for the floss and reuse the glass jar, making it even better for the planet!
One of my favourite things about having a plastic-free bathroom is how much prettier products in glass bottles look on the side of my bath! I have recently been enjoying the Nathalie Bond Bloom Bath Salts, which were kindly gifted to me by Kind Origins. Infused with Rose Geranium and Patchouli essential oils, these have the most beautiful and relaxing floral scent. They are handcrafted in small batches in the UK and are free of synthetics, parabens and SLS!
Switching to reusable period products was something I actually did a few years ago when I first started using clean beauty products, as I was so shocked by the statistics on waste created by the use of tampons and disposable pads! Along with their packaging, disposable menstrual products generate over 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, most of which is plastic that ends up in landfill or pollutes rivers, oceans and beaches. These are the alternatives I use:
- Menstrual Cup: I have used a Mooncup for around three years now and I absolutely love it. I bought mine from Boots at the time, however there are now even more supermarkets and high street stores that stock menstrual cups, as well as even more brands to choose from than just a few a years ago! I find using a menstrual cup endlessly convenient; it usually doesn’t require any attention all day, so it’s easy to forget you’re even on your period! It does definitely take some getting used to and the first few months of using it might feel a bit strange, however once you get used to it, you will never go back!
- Washable Cloth Pads: I bought some of these not too long after I switched to a menstrual cup, in order to offer an extra layer of security or to wear on lighter days without my Mooncup; I use EcoFemme pads and have had the same ones for a few years now, which have held up really well. I chose these pads in particular as the brand run a programme called Pad for Pad, which helps young girls in India get access to education about periods as well as donates reusable products to them. If I were to buy any more washable pads, I would probably choose some where the absorbant side of the pad is in a black or dark coloured fabric, as the pads I have are light coloured and often require a lot of stain removal.
- Period Pants: Something I’ve wanted to try for a long time but have only just got my hands on are “period pants”, which are knickers that essentially have a built-in absorbent pad, so are washable and re-usable in the same way as cloth pads. I was kindly gifted two pairs of period pants by Aussie brand Love Luna; the Bikini Brief and the Midi Brief, both of which can hold 2-3 tampons’ worth. As my periods have gradually become much lighter since getting an IUD a couple of years ago, I’ve not reached the full range of absorbency wearing these knickers, however I certainly feel very secure and confident that they won’t leak while I am wearing them, plus they feel very breathable and much more comfortable than a pad! I also LOVE their cute packaging, which has little smiling tampons and menstrual cups on the side! Love Luna are now available from various UK stockists, including Sainsbury’s; it’s really awesome to see another sustainable period product become more mainstream, plus they are also very affordable at around £10 a pair.
What are your favourite plastic-free bathroom & body care swaps? Let me know in the comments below!