Questioning The Need

We have been blinded by advertising in so many ways, from what we eat to what we drive, but one of the biggest wastes of our money is on health and beauty products.  Take for instance facial cleansers.

from Google images

from Google images

We are told that our faces are sensitive and need extra care.   Actually the skin on our face is no different from the skin on the rest of our bodies.  Sure the skin around the eyes is the thinnest area on our bodies,  the bottom of our feet and hands are the thickest.  The reasons for this make perfect sense, we need thicker skin on the area we walk on to protect us, same goes for our hands which we use all day long, you should see my hands after a day of sanding.

But skin is skin.  Our faces were made to deal with a lot.  In the winter, we cover up the rest of our bodies, we wrap scarves around our necks, gloves on our hand and even warm boots to protect our feet, but we have no protection for our face.

I was sold for years on using special products on my face, I was a trained cosmetologist.  By the middle of my senior year in high school I was already licensed and working in the field.  What we were taught wasn’t about what our skin needed but how to push products and services on the public.

I began to ask questions after a few years and started experimenting to see if I really needed special washes, masks, astringent and so on.  What I learned is that my skin really only needed a way to remove the residue from living, or from makeup, but plain soap and water, or even a paste of baking soda and water did the job just fine.

No matter what the season our skin will protect us in ways no man-made product ever could. I know you are saying “but my face gets so dry from the winter wind and cold temperatures”.   Is that the only part of your body that gets dry?  For me my legs are drier than my face this time of year.

So if we look at our bodies and think about which parts get more use and wear it would be our feet and hands.  Yet do we buy special soap made just for our feet?  No, but we do buy special hand soap to sit next to the sink and then special facial soap. Why?  Because we never question it. We see the products, hear the advertising and believe we need it.

You can get by using the same soap on your face you use on the rest of your body.  If you happen to be like me and have dry skin add a little aloe or coconut oil to add natural moisturizing and healing.

Do you think your grandparents who made all their own soaps and cleaning products before they were available to buy in a store made special soaps just for their face?  Mine didn’t.

We were born with a very intelligent body, it knows how to take care of itself and only needs us to give it water and nourishment and to wash the grime off, but it doesn’t require specialty products to do so.  Let’s learn to ignore the advertisements and question what we really need.  Enough with bombarding us with needless products to throw our money away on.

One rule of thumb I follow today is to never use something on my body I wouldn’t put in my body, our skin absorbs everything that goes on it like a sponge.  So ask yourself would you eat it?

Do you walk through a store and stop to question if the products you always bought are products you really need? 

43 thoughts on “Questioning The Need

    • I definitely agree with water helping. I used to hate water as a child. Our water was from the city sources and came out of the tap cloudy and smelly. When filters finally became available and affordable I started to drink more water and saw huge improvements in how I felt and how my skin responded.

  1. Great post! I will have to try the coconut oil for my face. I don’t really use much any more. Soap and water for the most part. I did no-poo for a year but now am back on shampoo and conditioner, refilled at a zero-waste store. Occasionally I wash it with Dr. Bromners.

    • Hi Stephanie, how are you? Why did you stop washing your hair with baking soda? I love the coconut oil, but from the responses it sounds like any kind of natural organic oil works similarly.

      • I’m doing well. Life is as crazy and chaotic as usual. That’s normal I guess with working FT, two kids etc… You?
        I have color treated hair and after a while it seemed to be damaging it. So I gave up for a while. I think using a baking soda paste instead of shampoo every few washes would work well.
        I have used olive oil to remove eye makeup. It worked well.

        • I’m doing well too, just waiting for winter to end so I can get back outside, I’m missing being out all day. I never thought about how color treated hair would react. I quit coloring my hair a few years ago, it never covered the gray any way so why add all the chemicals to my body and down the drain was my thinking.

          Olive oil to remove eye makeup, that’s a good idea.

  2. great post! i’m in the process of paring down my products, in both the interest of simplicity and a desire to get rid of unnecessary chemicals. i’ve been using almond oil to moisturize for the last couple of weeks, and my skin feels so much better than it ever did when i used expensive facial treatments and fancy moisturizers. it’s sad to think about how many skincare products i bought and was disappointed by because they promised a certain result, and instead of questioning the product or the marketing trickery that led me to buy it, i would just go look for another product with better promises. if almond oil and coconut oil had the kind of ad campaigns that most cosmetics companies employ, everyone would be using them.

    • Hi Andrea, I haven’t tried almond oil, it’s hard to find in my small town and only in the last couple of months has any one carried the coconut oil, but I’ll have to get some when I see it and see if there is any difference. I too went through all kinds of products, before giving up. When you work as a hairdresser you need to look your best and my skin never looked its best to me. The money I spent is probably very similar to what you have. There are so many things that could benefit from better advertising. One example was my hearing that kiwi has more vitamin C than oranges. It’s just that the orange industry has more money.

  3. I appreciate this post so much! I haven’t made the plunge yet, but I have been doing a lot of reading on natural skin, teeth, and hair care lately. I am a strong believer that we were created with a body that can heal itself. There is a certain amount of wear and tear involved with day to day life and climate and whatnot, but the idea of chemical treatments makes me cringe. My skin has changed a lot the past few years, become really dry and irritated and I have started wondering if it may be all the chemicals in the products on my bathroom counter. Consumerism and greed have left us in a very scary place, full of chemicals and unhealthy additives. :(

    • After reaching the age of 40 I realized my skin was drier, but I do believe it’s a normal thing to happen and haven’t worried about it too much other than to moisturize regularly. I started with aloe and now alternate between aloe and the coconut oil and have had no further problems. Of course the only time it’s a problem is during the winter months at least for me. It can be really freeing to let go of all the cosmetics and chemicals in our beauty routines. My bathroom now contains a container of baking soda and salt for my teeth, a stick of deodorant (I haven’t liked any of the homemade ones yet), my toothbrush. I keep a small tin which holds my keeper, a couple of razors and some cotton swabs (plastic free). It is such a far cry from what I used to have in my stash of beauty products.

      • I would love to get to that point. I think I am going to start with the toothpaste (because I have done some reading on the negative effects of our current dental care products), and slowly move from there taking out one product at a time. I think my biggest struggles will be deoderant, and finding some way to “control” my curly, frizzy hair :) but I’d rather have fuzzy hair than the negative effects of chemicals, fuller landfills and an emptier bank account than necessary.

        • I think we all started out one step at a time as we learned more. You’ll get there if you take your time and don’t make too many changes so quickly that you become overwhelmed by it. My biggest struggle is deodorant as well. I still use my Tom’s of Maine, it’s the only thing I’ve found I like. As for frizzy hair, try rubbing a little oil between your hands then run your hands through your dry hair, unless the shaft of your hair is very tight it will absorb the moisture and should leave it less frizzy. Let me know if you try that and if it works for you.

  4. I find ‘normal’ soaps too drying. I use Cetaphil on my face (gentle, non drying), and otherwise ‘leftover’ suds from my solid shampoo bar from Lush for my body. I’m not sure I’d eat either of these two, but if I was made to, I think I could! With short hair now, I’ve also cut down how often I wash my hair. Speaking of ‘eating’ ‘cosmetics’ – some at home waxes are almost 100% sugar – tasty I tell you!

    • I haven’t tried any of the at home waxes, but sugar is something I don’t want to eat too often. I’ve never heard of Cetaphil. One scrub I have made in the past that really worked was honey and sugar but I wondered if it would clog the pores over time as honey is pretty hard to wash off, without really warm water.

  5. Lois, this is so true! We use baking soda and then vinegar and rinse with water for our hair and bodies here. Our veggie-based soaps are for truly soiled areas. Tea tree oil and coconut oil work for just about everything else. People are surprised that we are not in tatters, but we believe that our bodies will balance things out given the opportunity. I do love my lip color, but that is easy to make. In fact, I just posted a recipe for muscle balm today. But it could mimic that lip-plumping product that is popular down here. How do I know? Well, since my concoction was all edible ingredients, and smelled so good, I tasted it:)

    • I love when you can actually not fear tasting your lip balm! I have another post coming up soon about baking soda, I really do think it is the one must have next to vinegar in the home, those two ingredients are enough for just about any household cleaning chore you might have. Sure you can add essential oils and other things to them, but it really isn’t needed if you don’t want to spend the extra money. It has been great hearing how many other people are turning away from store bought cleansers for each part of the body.

  6. I don’t even use soap any more except for hands and the obvious smelly spots. And my complexion has never looked better. Seriously, no more dry skin with zits. Our skin can really take care of itself if we let it. 😊

  7. To wash my face or take off makeup i use a drop or two of dr. bronner’s teatree soap on a flannel, or i use a solution of baby wash, baby oil and cooled boiled water. I have acne-prone skin and both of these options have been working just fine for me. To moisturise, currently I do use a natural-based but commercial moisturiser (with SPF) and this is an expensive one that I will not be buying again. Because of my acne-prone skin I don’t tend to change too much in my routine all at the same time, but am slowly phasing out a lot of the commercial products one by one.

    • I feel for you. I never had problems with acne but my eldest son has. Thanks to his time in the military where they had to dry shave during combat he now has scars on his skin, it breaks my heart. I have read recently that a slice of garlic rubbed on a spot will heal the problem but I have never had the opportunity to try it. When I wore makeup I simply used baby oil to remove it. I’m at a point in my life where after questioning so many things one of them was why women are sold make up and not men. If the men are good looking enough to be accepted without makeup then I should be too. I stopped wearing everything but mascara. Today I wear mascara maybe 2 or 3 times a year, the rest of the time you get the plain me.

  8. Advertising is designed to place an individual in a state of need to make them feel inadequate then offer the solution to that inadequacy via purchase of the product or service. I have rebelled against the idea of making people feel inadequate in order to buy a product or service, instead creating something that promotes the beauty of self and then offering something to build upon that beauty. In other words the hidden negative is replaced with the hidden positive, it is subtle but the difference is huge.

    • Yes, advertising is all about maximizing the profits and nothing to do with what we need. I think your solution to turn the negative upside down to find the positive is a great approach. There is a Swahili Proverb that summed it up perfectly for me. It says: “A good thing sells itself. A bad thing is advertised” After I read that I realized that seeing the adverts, even for the local grocery store, had me putting things on my list to buy of things I never would have bought if I hadn’t seen it in the ad. The problem was, none of those items were things I needed. I no longer look at the ads.

  9. I don’t use many products either. Soap is soap. And if you ever read Consumer Reports or some similar testing reviews, the products don’t usually do what they claim.
    Also, I’ve used baking soda to brush my teeth, although not all of the time. It can be overly abrasive to you teeth and gums if used all of the time and could be harmful with long term use. So it would be good to discuss with your dentist how often you should use it. And the answer could be different for each one of use as we all have different teeth and gums. I guess the same goes for all of the rest of the stuff we put on our body. One size does not fit all.

    • It is true that not all things work for all people, but I think a little experimentation with natural products we can each find something that will work for our body and be able to eliminate all those different bottles we currently buy. I had one experiment which turned out horribly. I usually use Tom’s of Maine deodorant, but thought I would try Jason’s. I put the Jason’s on my skin and it reacted badly with my natural scent, within moments I was in the shower a second time as I stunk and couldn’t stand the smell.

      I have been using a mixture of baking soda and salt for a while now and have had no problems with it. My gums which used to bleed no longer bleed. I did forget to take some of my mixture with me once when visiting my son and decided to use his toothpaste. He had Arm and Hammer baking soda with peroxide. The minute I opened the tube my eyes began to burn and the taste was disgusting to me. I have never forgotten my container of “toothpaste” again.

  10. Completely agree. I am down to 3 products – 1 soap, 1 body moisturizer and one inexpensive face moisturizer (because the best body one leaves my face very shiny). I had tried a lot of face and eye creams and was always alarmed by how many of them hurt my eyes. I decided not to use any product that would make my eyes sting – I thought they must not be very good for the rest of me, either.

    • You are doing great, 3 products is so much less than most people. When you run low try some coconut oil just a dab on the tip of a finger, about an 1/8 the size of a dime or your equivalent in Canada is all it takes to do the entire face, next and even a few spots on the hands and it won’t hurt your eyes. I even rub it on my lips in the winter as I don’t mind if I end up eating some of it.

        • I’d love to hear what you think after trying it. the first time I tried I pulled out a spoon for feeding infants and had the tip full of the oil, I was desperate to figure out where else to use it as I had way too much. I did my face, neck, hands, feet, ankles, knees and still had more left I then did my elbows and finally rather than toss it out I rubbed the rest through my hair. You really only need a dab:-)

  11. Great post Lois. I’m a working hairstylist and ask my clients to use vinegar to remove buildup on their hair and always tell them the about the miracle of baking soda for their skin, or teeth, etc.

    • You are amazing to teach your clients about natural ways to care for their hair and body. Do you ever get in trouble for not pushing the products your employer wants you to sell, or are you fortunate to own your own business?

    • 12! That’s so young to become aware of all the pressure to buy. I’m so sorry you are going through this, I do remember still how hard it was to stick to what I believed with a child who wants something different. My eldest son has said his daughter will not wear make-up until she’s at least 16, secretly I know he’s going to have lots of arguments from her before 16.

  12. Well said Lois! I like to use olive oil on my dry hair and almond oil on my skin and they both work just as well as lots of more expensive lotions and potions. It’s a bit scary when you read the ingredients list on some moisturisers.

    • The ingredient lists are so long and like you said scary. I’ve never tried oil on my hair, but now that I am letting it grow out from a really short cut I will keep that in mind if it ever feels dry, thanks.

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