In my latest DIY post on how to make a body wash for sensitive skin I wrote about toxin-free living.
Nowadays almost all my body care and household products are either from natural brands or I make them myself.
Today I will talk about how coconut oil can replace toxic products, which other natural ingredients I use and how to make your own natural products.
I often speak with people who say they would like to use more natural products, but that they don’t know where to start. So I thought I will share some of my personal story with you.
Back in the days
My body reacts almost instantly to something it doesn’t like, so I had to learn to listen to it from an early age.
Whenever I didn’t (and it took me a while to really get it) I would notice the difference.
I was born with eczema, allergies and asthma which lasted throughout my childhood and teenage years. The first two continued -although less intensely- during most of my adulthood.
Being so sensitive to everything can be really challenging, especially when you don’t know what causes your body to react this way.
Allergy tests didn’t do much and doctors said I had to learn to live with it.
They prescribed hydrocortisone creams, which come with their own health risks.
I wasn’t willing to live with it, so my search for a real cure continued.
The first major change came twenty years ago when I started going to a naturopath. His acupuncture treatments combined with herbal medicine started to stabilize my health slowly. I also had to make radical diet and lifestyle changes.
There was still a long way to go for me yet, but at least I understood better what triggers my body.
I remember I would get these seemingly out of the blue eczema attacks all over my face. Nobody likes that, but as a teenager when you’re so conscious about everything related to your looks, it’s really challenging.
Fortunately, nowadays things are very different.
I’m still very sensitive and need to consider everything I put in or on my body.
This means being mindful about nutrition, body care and cleaning products. I also need to be careful around furry animals, avoid certain environments and swimming pools with chlorine.
I used to feel frustrated about it when I was younger, but nowadays I’m grateful because it made me more aware and sparked my passion for healthy living.
And that’s such as core part of who I am and what I do.
There are many reasons to embrace a toxin-free lifestyle: health, environmental considerations, animal rights etc.
When I started to look into products like toothpaste and deodorant, I was shocked to learn how many toxins they contain. They can range from allergy causing substances to carcinogens, which can lead to cancer.
Ingredients such as parabens, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, mineral oil, mercury, lead and others have no place in our body, but are unfortunately still used in many products.
Luckily, nowadays there are more and more natural body care products available. They are made by brands with beautiful ideologies using good quality ingredients.
These are the kind of companies I like to support. Not just for my own health and beauty, but because I care deeply for our planet, animals and for human rights.
Understanding the essence
Another big lifestyle change happened to me a few years ago.
I was living relatively healthy until I started studying at a demanding design academy.
The many sleepless nights, slacking with nutrition and lack of exercise caused a lot of stress on my body.
I started to have serious sleep issues that lasted for months. My hair was falling out and the eczema had appeared again.
My body was giving me all the signs, but I was too caught up in presentations and deadlines.
In 2012 I took a trip to Costa Rica, much in need of recovery from a very intense academic year.
The first few weeks I stayed with a good friend who lives a very healthy lifestyle.
He wakes up everyday at 5.30, goes surfing, has a healthy breakfast, does some photography and editing work and has lunch. If there are good waves he goes surfing again. He then returns to work, does yoga, has dinner and sleeps by 10 pm.
He is vegetarian, doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke, practises kung fu and is a passionate nature photographer.
The amount of energy he has is truly inspiring.
Slowly the impact of a healthy, natural environment, rest, exercise and proper nutrition started to show. My sleep cycle began to stabilize again, my skin and hair had improved.
On my birthday me and 3 girlfriends climbed mount Chirripo, Costa Rica’s highest mountain of 3,821 meters / 12,536 feet high. It was the most amazing and intense hike I have ever done in my life.
The two months in Costa Rica got me back on my feet again. I realized that I can’t take my health for granted and that it requires ongoing dedication.
I started using natural shampoo of a local Costa Rica brand that did me very well and gradually I began to switch to natural products.
How coconut oil can replace toxic products
When I returned home I couldn’t go back to regular bodycare products anymore.
Someone special introduced me to Dr. Bronner’s soap, a natural castile soap made from pure, organic ingredients.
You can use it in at least 18 ways for your body and your house. I’ve been using it ever since!
It was around that time that I started incorporating coconut oil in my life, not only for nutrition, but also for topical use.
Discovering a product that is so versatile and good for you was life-changing.
Coconut oil moisturizes, strengthens the skin tissue, repairs damaged hair, has anti-aging properties and helps the body detox. It also supports healthy teeth and gums, has strong antimicrobial properties, fights inflammation and more.
I learnt how coconut oil can replace toxic products and stopped using one chemical product after the other.
Do it yourself
Since it’s such a multi-purpose product, coconut oil can save you a lot of money as well.
Plus storage space, which is especially valuable when you’re packing for a trip.
Coconut oil works very well to condition wooden cutting boards and cast iron pans with. It’s a much healthier, naturally anti-microbial, eco-friendly alternative to chemical conditioners.
I make my own laundry soap, dish soap and detergent to clean my house using castile soap, soap nuts and essential oils.
Baking soda and vinegar are other natural cleaning agents that work great.
Going toxin-free is a process; all these changes happened over the years, which is fine. I want to do what feels good to me and enjoy it.
I fully switched to organic makeup, stopped using regular nail polish and only use tampons and cotton pads from organic cotton.
At the moment the only real non-natural product I’m using is my perfume. It’s been my favorite scent for 25 years and I’m happy using it for now. It’s not about perfection, it’s about conscious awareness and finding a good balance.
The availability of products such as coconut oil makes a big difference. This is how I like to use it in my self-care routine:
I started making my own deodorant with coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils. Not only is it made entirely of clean ingredients, it also works better than any other deodorant I’ve tried in my life. I’ve tested it during many big workouts from inline skating, rock climbing to yoga and it has never let me down!
Exfoliating your skin helps remove dead skin cells, so that the new skin under it can appear.
It also helps with the absorption of products such as moisturizers and is essential for healthy looking skin.
I like using this 3 ingredient sugar body scrub.
It’s very gentle on your skin, yet takes all your makeup off easily. Apply a small amount of coconut oil to a cotton pad and gently dab until all the makeup is gone. Rinse your face afterwards and optionally use a natural tonic.
Coconut oil softens and protects your skin. Its anti-aging, nourishing properties rejuvenate your skin, while the antimicrobial properties help keep it clean.
Just add a few tablespoons to your bathwater, optionally with some Epsom salt and essential oils.
Coconut oil is great for massages, it moisturizes your skin, absorbs well and has anti-aging properties.
This Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil in your mouth removes toxins and bacteria. It promotes healthy, clean teeth, fresh breath, healthy gums and helps the body detox.
Coconut oil is a especially good for oil pulling due to its antibacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and antiviral properties.
You can use regular virgin coconut oil or make your own coconut oil pulling cubes with essential oils.
Coconut oil does wonders for your hair. It penetrates deeper than other oils, working from the inside out where it repairs protein loss. It stimulates hair growth, strengthens the hair fibre, reduces hair loss and protects against heat, chemicals and climate elements.
I love using it as a weekly hair mask.
A list of my essentials
These are some great products to create your own cosmetics, cleaning products, dish soap and detergents. You can usually find them in health food stores or buy them online:
Dr. Bronner’s castile soap
Apple cider vinegar
Tea tree oil
Aloe Vera gel
Activated coconut charcoal
Magnesium bath flakes
Vitamin E oil
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Looking for more ways to use coconut oil?