Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Challenge 1: Skincare

The first real challenge arrived a few days ago. I knew it was coming, but I spent several days in denial beforehand, wondering whether I could possibly get away with ignoring it and just buying what I usually do.

I’ve never really used shower gels, but instead for the last couple of years I’ve been washing with aqueous cream. I have a tendency to get patches of eczema, so aqueous cream is great because it’s soft and doesn’t dry out your skin like soap can. Also it’s pretty cheap at only £1.99 for a big tub full. But those nice big tubs? They’re plastic of course.

I struggled for several days thinking about what I could use instead – something moisturising to protect against eczema won’t come back, but that doesn’t come delivered in a plastic bottle, and ideally as packaging free as possible. Regular soap, maybe? It’s easy to find soap in just a paper wrapper, but what effect would this have on my skin? At first I thought about making my own, so I went to the health shelves in the bookstore where I work and found some books on natural beauty.

These books have got lots of interesting hints and tips, but boy does it sound time consuming. And expensive. Aside from getting hold of the various ingredients (whilst trying to avoid the inevitable plastic packaging), there’s a whole list of equipment that you need just to get started. I wound up having a good moan to my friend, C, about it. And she said: ‘Lush.’ And I said: ‘Lush? Really?’ Because I walk past the door of our local Lush store everyday and I have never once been tempted to go inside. In fact, more often than not, I complain about the smell emanating from the doorway. But C said: ‘Really.’

So I went to Lush. And guess what? I was quite impressed. Solid shampoo that doesn’t come in a bottle, lots of nice moisturising soaps and creams, and even solid deodorant. Lots of their products are solid so don’t come in anything other than waxed paper, plus if you do buy something in a tub, you can return said tub when it’s empty and the Lush team recycle them. What a genius concept: so simple, really, when you think about it. Why don’t more retailers do this?

So, I chose a soap, great, but I also came out with new deodorant. I’ve been using the same brand of antiperspirant for a good ten years simply because it’s the one that worked for me so I kept buying it. A roll-on in a little plastic pot. But as soon as I stopped to think about it (thank you, C) I realise what an antiperspirant really is: anti = against, + perspirant = sweat; ‘against sweat’. All these years I’ve literally been preventing my body from performing its natural function of sweating. That can’t be good, surely. The Lush assistant explained to me that by using antiperspirants we prevent our bodies from sweating, which results in a build-up of toxins inside that can’t get out through their normal escape route – and there have been some tentative links made between this and the occurrence of breast cancer. Goodbye antiperspirant, hello deodorant bar.

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