I started scratching my skin until I bled when I was little. My parents would rub me down with body oil, straight out of the bottle on a washcloth, and put me to bed with socks on my hands so I wouldn’t scratch myself while I slept. That’s how I became a lotion addict. I’ve always had a very diverse stash of lotions in my bathroom to combat my every skin need. Shelves full of product ranging from Bath and Body Works to Avon Moisture Therapy to Gold Bond Anti-Itch.
When I was in college one of my roommates and best friends used free and clear detergents to wash her clothes. When she explained it was because of her sensitive skin I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes and thought something about how “sensitive” really meant “over protected.” (I’m not always the most sensitive person.) Plus, I was in love with scented detergents and couldn’t figure out why you’d wash your clothes so they smelled like nothing.
When we got married I was constantly begging Noel to scratch my legs, back, and arms. He suggested I should avoid fragranced lotions and detergents, but I shrugged off his advice and told him to scratch harder. I figured he just didn’t understand the burden of dry skin I was forced to carry. Then when I was pregnant with Cooper a couple of things happened. First, my sister-in-law kindly gave me a jar of cocoa butter lotion after hearing of it’s magical stretch mark prevention. Every time I used the lotion on my growing belly I broke out in a rash. At first I didn’t see the correlation and just thought my skin was so itchy from being stretched. Besides, the lotion wasn’t labeled as being any sort of scent, so clearly Noel’s theory was wrong. Or so I thought. Taking a break from the lotion made the rash go away and I discovered the vague ingredient “fragrance” upon a close reading of the packaging. The second thing that happened was I bought free and clear detergent to wash baby things in. Some of my clothes made it into the wash too and I noticed that when I wore those clothes I didn’t itch as much.
About a year ago, my friend, Lina, told me about the website Skin Deep. A lot of you already know about this, but it’s a database put together by the Environmental Working Group that ranks the chemical safety of a wide variety of cosmetics. The lower the ranking the more chemically safe a product is, the better it is for the environment, and surprise, surprise, the better it is for you. Since discovering the database we’ve made some changes in the products we use. We’ve switched out our lotions and soaps, bought new toothpaste, and opted for lower ranking deodorant (shortly after the change Noel’s mysterious armpit rash went away). The database has a ton of products (makeup, sunscreen, and even some baby wipes) and is constantly being updated. For the products that aren’t yet in the database (or that they don’t rank, like detergents), they have tips for label reading and even have a wallet guide you can print out to have handy at the store. Not all of the products at our house have excellent scores, but overall we’re doing much better and so is our skin. Today I’m a far less itchy person, except when I’m stressed, but that’s another story. I’ll leave you with some of my favorite products that I’ve discovered. (Keep in mind, I’m not getting paid for these suggestions, although I should be . . . )
California Baby Diaper Rash Cream. It’s cloth diaper friendly and doesn’t smell too shabby. I got mine from Target.
Bella B Nipple Nurture Butter. A great nursing find.
Ecco Bella Mascara. This doesn’t bug my eyes and is great for everyday use. I still use “evil” mascara for special occasions since those happen like twice a year around here 😉
Trader Joe’s Honey Oatmeal Soap. This soap smells great and is mild enough to shave with. I stock up when I visit states w/ TJs and have sent TJs a very earnest letter that will hopefully convince them to build here 🙂
Nature’s Gate Deodorant. They have some manly scents that Noel approves of and the product seems to be long lasting. I’m going to try one of their more feminine scents once my Tom’s of Maine Apricot runs out. (The Tom’s of Maine has been pretty good, but I’m hoping to find something that doesn’t have to be reapplied as frequently.)
Aveeno Lotion. This is amazing, but can be kind of pricey (at least to my cheap mindset). I’ve been buying the Target knock-off in hopes that the formulas are close enough. Recently though, I discovered Costco carries it and just stocked up.
Seventh Generation. They make a lot of products that I like including dish soap, diapers, laundry detergent, etc. If you don’t want to make your own cleaners, their line is a great option.
Boulder Detergent. It has a nice citrusy smell. A bonus for us is that it’s also a local product. I’ve been picking it up at Costco.