The Climate Crusader discovers that sometimes less is more.
Almost 10 years ago I stopped buying face wash. I had read about somebody's experience with using raw honey as a face wash. I was annoyed by all the skincare products that made big promises but didn't deliver. I had sensitive, combination skin, oily in some places and dry in others and prone to breakouts. I had nothing to lose, I decided, so I tried it as an experiment and it worked. I wrote about it here in 2011. Interestingly, I'm not the only Boother who has given it a spin. Here's another post from 2013.
Was honey a miracle cure for my skin? No. However, it worked at least as well, and in most cases better, than the face washes I'd been buying for years, and at a fraction of the cost. Plus, honey contains no petrochemicals, no preservatives, no artificial colours or fragrances ... just honey. It's completely non-toxic. You can eat it, and I frequently do.
In the process of switching from commercial products to more natural alternatives I learned that sometimes less is more. And then I watched, of all things, an episode of Mad Men that encouraged me to minimize even further. I realize the irony, as Mad Men is a TV show that's all about getting people to buy products. It is definitely not about getting people to cut back. But sometimes you just can't say where inspiration will come from.
In the episode Megan, the woman who later married Don Draper, talked about how her evening skin care regimen involved splashing cool water on her face and that was it. When I ran out of honey I decided to just skip washing my face altogether. I got it wet in the shower, but otherwise, I left my face alone. And you know what? It was pretty much just as good as using honey.
Now, there are a couple of things that are worth mentioning. First, I very rarely wear makeup. When I do, I wash my face with soap. I also use coconut oil to clean the eye makeup, which works well. I do sometimes use a soft facecloth on my face to exfoliate. Also, now that I'm 39 I use a non-toxic moisturizer every day. Or sometimes I use coconut oil to moisturize.
The funny thing to me is that it took me decades of using face washes to even consider the notion that I didn't actually need them. When I got my first pimple as a 12-year-old I bought the strongest face wash that I could find, assuming that it would help. Now, it's true that I got that zit before I started using face wash, but I got plenty of zits after. And for years, I didn't think that maybe the face wash was useless. Instead, I just thought I hadn't found the right one. Marketing messages are so effective that we often absorb them without even realizing it.
According to the Environmental Working Group the average adult uses nine personal care products every day. Taken together these products contain 126 unique chemicals. And 25% of women use 15 or more personal care products every day. Lotions, shampoos, conditioners, soap, face wash, deodorant, tooth paste, toner ... it all adds up. Some of these products contain ingredients that are not good for us. Some of these products are very expensive. All of these products have some kind of environmental footprint as they are manufactured and shipped to us. Do we really need them?
I'm not trying to convince you to ditch your favourite shampoo or face wash. But if it isn't really working for you, you might want to ask: do I really need it? I was surprised to learn that when it comes to my face, the answer is no.