What Naturals Do You Buy At the Drugstore?
A little over a year ago we did a very amusing interview with a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. The story never saw the light of day (hey, these things happen all the time in publishing), but the exercise was super fun. His idea: Take the clean girls to Walgreens and send them loose in the aisles to find clean alternatives to common products like Nivea body lotion, Secret deodorant, Pantene conditioner, Tressemme shampoo, Neutrogena face wash—you know, the stuff everyone uses, every day.
This was our first big newspaper interview, and we were pretty caffeinated, and I’d just landed in L.A., and we’d just gotten an email that the TIME article about our book was out, and we were together, and and and—you get the picture. It was such a great day!
But as we wandered the aisles, we were shocked at the dearth of truly natural products. (Maybe that’s why the article didn’t work?) There was garbage in every green-leaf-adorned bottle and tube, to the point where I remember feeling kind of bad for the writer. “Is this one bad too?” he’d ask.
“Uhh, ahhh, I mean… Sorry!”
At one point I picked up a bar of Dove soap that I’d used on and off years ago. It had green tea and cucumber in the name and there was a green leaf the box, so I flipped it over and read the ingredients for what was, I’m pretty sure, the first time. Here they are:
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate or Sodium Palmitate, Sodium Stearate, Water, Sodium Isethionate, Lauric Acid, Sodium C14-C16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Dipropylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate , Blue 1, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5.
Heh. No cukes, no tea. Nevermind that cucumber and tea don’t make a ton of sense in a bar of soap anyway—it sort of became a symbol in my head of how much we’d learned, and how little we knew before, without even knowing we didn’t know it.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a major pharmacy for anything other than bandaids, so I thought it would be instructive to explore again. I hit a Walgreens, a Duane Reade and a CVS. Here’s what I found.
I was especially surprised to see a lot of Lavera products, including the sunless tanner Alexandra loves and the sunscreen I lived by last summer. I saw Dr. Bronner’s, a brand that continues to expand in a way I find inspiring (let this be a model for more mainstream expansions, yes?). There was a great selection of the Yes To line, which isn’t as clean as we like, but at the price point and availability, OK in a pinch. There was some Alba, Giovanni and Aubrey (the gateway-brand triumvirate, also better than many in a pinch) and—gasp—100% Pure! They had my sunscreen! I also saw Natracare organic cotton tampons for less than at my health food store, Organic Wear, tons of three-free nail polishes—and each of the three stores had almost all of these on offer.
Bottom line: There was a lot to choose from, and it wasn’t half bad.
So it got me wondering: What, if anything, do YOU buy at the drugstore? Anything? And have you seen any of our beloved lines expanding to major retailers? Share, share.