In this article, we are going to give you some ideas for homemade or simple body care, and household products that will support your healing and won’t expose you to more harmful chemicals. We also give you our favorite resource for how to select safer store-bought options for body care and household products so that you can choose with confidence!
But first, let’s talk a little bit about toxins and their role in GAPS conditions.
GAPS and Detox
You’ve heard about “detox” and perhaps you’ve also wondered whether it was a myth. The short answer is, no. In Melanie’s article, “Is Detox a Myth?” she answers that and many other questions about detoxification (there’s even a free pdf GAPS Detoxification Quicksheet at the bottom of the post!).
Detoxification of your environment and your body is one of the pillars of the GAPS diet. It is why it works so well to heal a myriad of health conditions. The importance of this topic for GAPS people cannot be overstated, because-
GAPS people are, essentially, people struggling with toxins.
One of the most common mistakes people make when implementing the GAPS diet is leaving out the detoxification piece (click here to get a free pdf where Melanie describes the Top 5 GAPS Diet Mistakes and what to do instead!).
Missing this essential piece of the diet can delay or prevent complete healing and make one feel terrible! It is one of the reasons the GAPS diet doesn’t work for some people (for more on the different versions of GAPS and why it might not be working for you see this article).
Is it Really that Bad?
Unfortunately, yes. We are bombarded by toxins in our modern age, in the name of “beauty,” “cleaning,” “disinfecting,” smelling “good,” and “safety.” Not to mention chemicals in vehicles, urban air quality, and toxins in the workplace. Often, we can’t control what is in our outside environments, but we can control what we use in our own house and put on our bodies.
This article in Today’s Homeowner is a good list of ALL the toxins that can be found in our homes & personal care.
Commercial body care and household products are major sources of toxins. Parabens, fragrances, preservatives, colors, disinfectants, and emulsifiers used in the commercial cosmetic and household cleaning industry cause health problems ranging from hormone disruption to joint pain, to dermatitis, to cancer. Women are more exposed to these toxins as a general rule through the use of cosmetics and also because they do the majority of the housecleaning. In fact, it is shocking how unregulated the cosmetic industry is.
One chemist stated in this article by Vogue, “The cosmetic industry is destroying women’s cells.”
Your Skin is NOT a Barrier
Some amount of everything that touches your skin is absorbed. The CDC states that chemicals absorbed through your skin can damage your organs. The same is true of your mouth tissues, which is why you can administer tinctures and homeopathic medicines under the tongue.
So, basically, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your body! Or in your mouth.
Ideally, body care should be edible. Not that you would enjoy eating it, but you could eat it because the ingredients are food-grade ingredients.
OK, so that was the bad news. Here’s the good news!
Detoxification is Possible
If you have tried GAPS and feel like you are still stuck, maybe there is some missing piece in your lifestyle that will make a difference for you. It is common to focus on the diet part. And that’s a great place to start! But oftentimes, without changing one’s lifestyle to include more rest, support detoxification processes, get away from toxic environments or relationships, and harmful chemicals in your household or body care products, complete healing can’t happen because your body is still overwhelmed with toxins.
A basic principle is, the more severe and long-term the disease, the more radical and long-term the healing and change process needs to be in order to reverse it.
If you are eating a nutrient-dense diet- you will certainly benefit! You have removed (most likely) the largest source of toxins from your life and started to give your body the nutrients it needs to heal.
If you are looking for more transformation, especially for a condition that is advanced or persistent, it may be time to consider your lifestyle in more areas than just the kitchen.
Upgrading your body care and household products might be the missing piece you need to heal. That’s why we put together this list of *not* “to die for” body care and household products.
Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of changing all your body care and household products at once, replace just one item per week. Choose items that you use daily and apply your body first, working your way out to the products used less often for things around the house. Use protective gloves and lots of ventilation if you are not already doing so with household cleaners, until you replace them all with safer alternatives.
Have fun making some of the body care recipes or shopping for your new favorite self-care item!
So, without further ado, here’s the list!
Body Care and Household Products
Body Care List
To the best of my knowledge, the options for each category are listed in order from safest/simplest to commercial options that are less harmful. Most homemade or DIY options are going to be safer than commercial alternatives.
However, you can find out how safe different products or ingredients are by going to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website, EWG.ORG. They have a fabulous database and search function so you can find out if the “natural” product you are interested in is really safe. EWG Verified™ provides a list of recommended products. They also have pdf quick guides that are extremely helpful!
- Note: tooth integrity and oral health are related to nutritional status and the microbiome. Cavities and other dental concerns will be helped overtime on the GAPS diet.
- Dr. Natasha’s toothpaste. (This is the method I use) “Have two different dishes in the bathroom: one with olive oil and another with bicarbonate of soda; dip your brush into the oil first and then into the soda. Brush your teeth, as usual, rinse; then brush again with a clean wet brush and rinse again. Bicarbonate of soda is deadly for fungi/yeasts. Oil will soothe and feed the gums, remove any fat-soluble toxins produced by the yeast, and neutralize the abrasive qualities of the soda. You can brush your teeth this way every day and they will stay white and clean.” Dr. Natasha recommends using the soda only once per day. The oil can be used as often as desired. I use a dropper for the oil and a soapstone container for the baking soda. Sometimes I add a small amount of essential oil to the olive oil.
- Tongue Cleaner. I use this each morning.
- Waterpik. Clean your gum line and hard-to-reach areas with water (not a substitute for brushing and flossing but it is a good addition!) I have one similar to this.
- Silk Floss. Dental Lace is a refillable option that’s also aesthetically pleasing, Radius is an option available in many health food stores.
- OraWellness Shine Toothpowder. This is what Melanie likes:)
- Earthpaste. Another good option that Melanie recommends.
- Tooth Soap. I haven’t tried this but Cara at Health Home & Happiness likes Rose of Sharon Acres’ Tooth Chips- Soap for Teeth. She says in this post: “I’ve been using tooth soap (researched and wrote about it here, other dental posts here) for about a month, and have passed a tube on to a friend to try too. I honestly love it and I don’t plan on going back to other regular toothpaste ever.”
- Natural Hair Care Instructions. Gives instructions for egg yolk hair wash, hairbrush, and detoxifying your hair from Be Well Clinic.
- Washing Hair with Baking Soda and Vinegar. This how-to was explained by Cara at Health Home & Happiness.
- Hair Color. Use natural henna without any additives.
- Hair Growth Support. Melanie recommends two options- Rocky Mountain EO and Black castor oil.
- Homemade Shampoo. Recipe from Mommypotamus.
- Radiant Life Olive Oil Body Soap and Shampoo.
- MoroccoMethod Shampoos & Conditioners.
- PermaEarth Animal-based shampoo bar.
- Everyone Brand Hair Care.
- Alaffia Hair Care.
- Note: As toxins decrease in the body and the microbiome is re-balanced, body odors will gradually improve. In my experience, different deodorants work for different people, it seems to be an individualized thing to some extent. So if one choice doesn’t work for you, try another natural deodorant until you find the one that works best for your body.
- Use kefir to populate the skin with beneficial microbes.
- Homemade Natural Deodorant from Health Home and Happiness.
- This Humble brand deodorant is the one I use when going out (I don’t use deodorant every day).
- Lume Unscented is clean, with good reviews.
- Pretty Frank Deodorant
- Weleda’s Sage Deodorant spray -You can get even cleaner options, but this one works really well. I like the rose-scented spray too.
- Mineral Fusion. Foundations, mascara, blush, etc.
- Noyah Lipstick. Melanie’s favorite color is Empire Red! 🙂
- Cliganic lip balms.
- Badger lip balms.
- Badger Mineral Sunscreen. The unscented baby sunscreen is the one we love! Spending time in the sun is great for detoxification and Vitamin D production. Use only the amount of sunscreen you need to keep from burning for the best sunbathing benefit. For example, I use it often at the beginning of the summer and almost not at all towards the end. Use shade, hats, and sun shirts as well to protect your skin from burning.
- Melanie’s Homemade Tallow Balm. This lovely, rich cream made with tallow is skin food! And it is easy to make. I use it for all my lotion and skin cream needs and I like to use geranium, lavender, frankincense, ylang-ylang, and vanilla as fragrances. My husband likes it too.
- Moisturizers. I would recommend all the moisturizers in our Eczema article, here.
- Caroline’s Dream has various body care products.
- VT Prime Emu oil. Lots of people swear by emu oil, especially for delicate facial skin.
- Toner. Thayers Witch Hazel or T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel (also available at grocery and drug stores).
- Cleanser. Try just plain warm water (preferably filtered/chlorine-free) first. Dr. Natasha does not recommend soaps for the skin, as they strip it of natural oils which protect against microbes and dryness. But, we know there are times you need soap, so…
- Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile or bar soap is a good option. Melanie likes peppermint the best, I like to use unscented for my kiddo (and boy does he need it sometimes!).
- Vermont Organic Soap. They also have household cleaning products.
- Mother Dirt. is a brand that actually adds beneficial bacteria back to your skin, etc.
- May Lindstrom Facial Products. High-end products- perfect if you want to pamper yourself! Recommended by one of Melanie’s clients. The website explains each ingredient and its origin in detail.
- Browse a wide variety of all-natural body care products from Three Stone Hearth, including oral, skin, and hair care.
- While doing research for this article, I found this book, Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self by Stephanie Tourles, which includes recipes for just about every personal care item I could think of! I’m looking forward to checking it out.
- Kettle Care Organics. I have been ordering from this company since I was a teenager and I love their lotions, day cremes, and lip balms. They also have hair care products. The peppermint foot creme feels amazing! A small Montana business founded by a couple- he is a chemist and she had sensitivities to conventional products.
Non-Toxic Household Products
To the best of my knowledge, the options for each category are listed in order from safest/simplest to commercial options that are less harmful.
Once again, EWG comes to the consumer’s rescue with an extensive database of household products and their safety ratings, so check out your favorite brands and see how they compare to EWG’s Verified™ products.
- Soapnuts. I haven’t tried them, but they are probably the most natural option out there. Here’s Cara’s experience at Health Home & Happiness. She also found a commercial liquid detergent made from soapnuts here.
- Country Save Laundry Detergent. This is what I used when I was washing lots of cloth diapers since it doesn’t damage them or leave a residue. It is much safer than many commercial alternatives, however, it still contains a couple of problem ingredients. You can get it at Walmart and Amazon, my local natural food store carries it as well.
- You really can do most household cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and essential oils. Here are some recipes to get you started:
- 12 Homemade Cleaning Recipes and ALSO what to buy! from Mommypotamus. Vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, etc. Homemade and store-bought dish soap options.
- Dish soap. If you or your little one is super sensitive, here are some things to keep in mind: Dr. Natasha recommends hand washing over dishwashers, as dishwashers leave a film of soap chemicals on your dishes. If you or your little one is sensitive, wearing gloves and rinsing dishes thoroughly is important while washing dishes. Dr. Natasha also recommended using mustard seed powder for dishwashing rather than soap. I did try it for a dish or two. I didn’t continue though because 7th Generation Dish Soap works much better and is cheaper. However, it does contain SLS and other questionable ingredients. See the EWG website for other handwashing dish soap options.
- Homemade Soft Scrub. Also Mommypotamus. My mother-in-law made something like this one for me and it was awesome!
- Vermont Organic Soap. They have a variety of household cleaning products.
- 7th Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner. I use this for glass cleaning too!
- 7th Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner. I’ve used this and like it, it gets an “A” from EWG.
- Pumice Stone. You can get pumice bars like Pumie at Home Depot. There are other brands on Amazon, etc. Just make sure they are just pumice. They remove hard water stains, rust rings, and even sweater pills. Great for toilet bowls with stubborn stains. Be aware that it can scratch some surfaces (and it probably does cause small scratches in porcelain but when your toilet is old and needs hard water stains and rust stains removed, you be the judge!) so test it first.
So there it is- the list of body care and household products that are better than the rest! Please put your favorite brands, questions, or DIY options in the comments! We would love to hear from you.