Going Natural: Replacing Chemicals on Our Bathroom Shelf

By Piyushi Dhir

An article I read the other day opened my eyes and sent me in shock. It told me that on a daily basis, I was lathering myself with chemicals through an average of ten products. I counted and they were right!

The skin, I read, is super-quick to absorb whatever you apply on it and I was offering mine a healthy dose of chemicals through my soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, face wash, face scrub, face cream, body moisturizer, hand cream and nail paint, not to mention make-up. Some of these, like the soap we use to wash our hands, enter our skin more than a dozen times in a single day.

Handmade Soaps

Handmade Soaps

After this, I did a simple exercise and I urge you to do it too. I started picking up each of these products, turning it around and reading the ingredients’ list. Not the ones at the beginning, but the ones towards the end. The ones with the long complicated scientific names trying to hide the fact that they are actually chemical compounds. The ones that say ‘paraben’ and ‘SLS’ and colouring agents.

I started comparing. I realized that my husband’s Head and Shoulders shampoo had a far more intimidating list of chemicals than my Ducray Extra Gentle Daily Wash Shampoo. And that is not to say that the latter was free of chemicals.

I spoke to my husband and we decided to make a lifestyle change. Trust me, it is not difficult at all. It just takes some awareness and a desire to save yourself from what may cause slow but steady damage to your body and health. I am sharing my discoveries in the hope that some of you may try to substitute the chemicals on your shelf with some of these products.

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  1. Khadi India Soaps

The very first thing I wanted to substitute was the hand and body soaps we were using, since we use these the maximum number of times in a day. I am all for DIY and make-it-with-something-in-your-own-kitchen, but a little reading told me it’s not particularly easy to make soap at home. You need some specific ingredients which I didn’t have and so I decided to buy natural soap.

A lot of organic soaps I found online were super-expensive luxury items. And then I stumbled upon Khaadi brand. Inexpensive, easily available and 100% natural. We purchased this combo of 4 Khadi India soaps, including an Almond soap, a Neem Aloe Vera soap, a Chandan Haldi soap and a Basil Scrub soap. Great purchase! They are perfect for hand wash and for baths. The Basil Scrub was totally unique, with one side acting like a soapy pumice stone.

2. Besan and Haldi as Face Wash and Scrub

Not everything I bought from the market. For my face, I remembered my Mum’s age-old secret. I stored some besan with a pinch of haldi in a box on my bathroom shelf. Every night, I put about a spoonful in a small bowl, sprinkle some water and apply the paste to my face. I leave it on for a minute while I brush my teeth and by that time, the paste has dried so that I can scrub it on my face and wash it off. It is perfect! Far better than those fragrant, chemical-based colourful face washes I have been using all these years.

Turmeric is great for the face

Turmeric is great for the face

3. Vaadi Blushing Strawberry Shower Gel

Well, I will not deny that I do like a little bit of colour on my bath shelf. So while besan-haldi would work perfectly on your body as well, I picked up this tempting bottle of Vaadi Blushing Strawberry Gel. No guilt, since its 100% natural, with strawberries, green apples, papaya, almond oil and coconut oil. Soothing, soft and refreshing, it has a lovely fragrance that lingers on for a good while after one’s bath. And the cute, bright red bottle adds a dash of colour to my mornings.  

4. Egg and Curd Shampoo for Hair

This one is a little tricky since I have oily hair and natural, chemical-free shampoos tend to leave my hair as greasy as ever. I did however find a perfect substitute in nature. Break an egg, add some curd or yogurt and you’re all set. Apply it, wait for about ten minutes and voila, wash it off for some fabulous hair. For those of you with dry hair, be a little generous with the yogurt and do keep the yellow of the egg as well. For those with very oily hair, you can go slow on the yogurt and maybe skip the yellow of the egg entirely.

I will confess that I don’t do this regularly, often relying on my Ducray Extra Mild Shampoo, but a once-a-week wash with egg and curd leaves my hair with so much extra volume. I love it!

Egg and yogurt makes a great natural shampoo

Egg and yogurt makes a great natural shampoo

5. Biotique Bio Berberry Hydrating Cleanser

Finally, despite trying to go chemical-free, I have not yet found substitutes for my make-up kit (do you guys know of any?). So I use them sparingly on rare occasions and then wipe it off with this 100% Ayurvedic recipe based cleanser by Biotique Botanicals, called Bio Berberry. Made with Indian berberry root, lodhra bark, methi seed and almond oil, this lotion has the perfect texture to wipe off a day’s dirt from your skin.

A Few Other Tips:

  • If you apply some natural oil on your body before bathing, you won’t require a body lotion, since the oil gets washed off but leaves the skin soft and hydrated.
  • If you’re worried about grey hair, coconut oil with curry patta (heat the oil with the leaves until they change colour) used regularly will keep your hair from greying.
  • If you already have some grey hair which bothers you, skip the hair colours and try natural henna.
  • Lemon juice and oil are effective for dandruff and far less harsh than most anti-dandruff shampoos.
  • Look for 5-free, 7-free and 9-free nail paints which are non-toxic and save you from a regular dose of formaldehyde, camphor, xylene and ethyl tosylamimde.

If you have any other great ideas, please do share them!

We did not just make changes in our bathroom, but also in our kitchen. And we have managed to keep our baby’s life almost entirely chemical-free. I’ll be back with articles on these topics. Stay tuned.

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About the Author

Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.