Cutting down on cosmetic consumption

One of the ways I’ve been trying to reduce my consumption and trash production has been by limiting what cosmetic products I use. Before moving to India I used to wear mascara, eyeliner, lipstick or lip gloss, and blush on a daily basis. After moving here I would only use mascara and kaajl (kohl). I’ve now cut out mascara as well. It’s not just the plastic, which is not significant, but it’s also the removal of the product at the end of the day, which often requires additional makeup remover and cotton or Qtips. This way I am able to cut out several things at once. Kaajl, especially if it’s homemade, which is not at all hard to do, is beneficial (you can also purchase the SoulTree brand as it is made only with organic ingredients like ghee and promises to be lead and petroleum free and they don’t test on animals!). I long ago gave up nail polish on my hands–not only because of the toxic (here is a list of 20 toxic chemicals that one can find in cosmetics) pieces that can easily enter your mouth while eating. Tearing myself away from the summer pedicure was a bit more difficult to do, but I compromised with myself and continued to do it without all the extras like polish and polish remover. Trying to consume less, of whatever you’re trying to cut out of your life, is necessarily an act of making your life less toxic especially given how much is packaged with plastic. With cosmetics you can also add the other problems associated with it like testing on animals or producing products that pollute during the manufacturing process. For those who cannot imagine giving up colour on their fingers and toes, mehendi (henna) is a great alternative, which also is medicinal in a variety of ways as so many ancient beauty practices are. Having just returned from Kerala–land of the women with the most gorgeous hair in the world–I learned how to properly take care of my hair with homemade coconut oil, which one should leave on the hair and not rinse off entirely if you want your hair to grow and strengthen. To wash it off, at least in part, ground green gram dal is ideal (and you can add essential oils or spices if you want to enhance the smell). The Bangalore-based website The Alternative has run some interesting stories about various cosmetic products, much of which is produced locally. You can read more about some options if you can’t or don’t want to make these things at home (and if you do shop in stores for products please consult this guide for chemicals to avoid). Here is one on natural ingredients that are beneficial to hair and skin. Here is another that shows various natural products you can find in India (none of these are products I have tried yet). Finally, remember that ultimately it’s important to reduce–especially when it comes to plastics, including those darn microbeads one finds in toothpaste and face wash. This recent Story of Stuff animated video says it all:

If this inspires you, perhaps you can follow in the footsteps of this Montreal teenager who is trying to ban microbeads in Quebec!


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