Some of you may recall this popular GOOD post from my darling cowriter Siobhan. But because we have so many new readers (welcome!), and some of you are indeed men (yay! welcome!), and also because a few of you specifically requested a repost, voila: the original post for the boys (and the women who love them). Have you (or your boyfriends, besties, husbands) tried these recommends? Coming soon: A real-live guy will review his favorite boysturizers.
Gentlemen, listen up. Whether you think you do or not, most of you use an average of six personal care products a day, which sounds like a lot until you get out your fingers and count: Deodorant, shampoo, cologne, and shaving cream all count—and so does the moisturizer you steal from your girlfriend. With each of these products containing anywhere from 10 to 40 unique ingredients, it’s worth your while to think about what it is you’re actually using every day, and whether those products are even doing your looks any favors—especially when some of it is so toxic it’s getting fines for air pollution in the state of California.
When, in February 2010, Axe Body Spray’s parent company was fined $1.3 million for air pollution, it sounded like an Onionesque joke. Except that it wasn’t, because in California, progressive environmental laws limit the amount of certain chemicals used in consumer products. According to the California Air Resources Board, the fragrance was in violation of the volatile organic compound limits for aerosol deodorant.
So here’s a primer on the stuff in your everyday products, plus what brands and products to buy instead. If you don’t want to do it for the planet, or yourself, do it for your sperm.
Cologne: Most conventional colognes (and “body sprays”) contain a host of synthetic chemicals that can affect your little swimmers. Phthalate metabolites in male urine was shown in several studies to be linked to sperm DNA damage, a lower sperm count, and less mobile sperm. Unfortunately for all of us, synthetic fragrance is used in just about every conventional product on the shelves of pharmacies and Sephoras, so weeding it out can be a bit of a bear. That said, naturals have gotten really sophisticated, and there are countless lines that are either synthetics-free or at least phthalate- and petrochemical free. Diptyque, a high-end candle and fragrance line, makes gorgeous scents for men (and women) that are paraben-, petrochemical-, and phthalate-free. Intelligent Nutrients, Tsi-La, and Honoré des Près also make amazing woodsy fragrances for guys.
Deodorant and Antiperspirant: Most antiperspirants and deodorant contain some if not all of the following: triclosan, aluminum salts, BHT, penetration enhancers, and artificial fragrance. Many of these are problematic from an environmental perspective, and none of them are good for your health. And yet deodorant is a must for modern living, so try a natural one from Soapwalla, a small Brooklyn company that sells on Etsy, which makes a unisex deodorant cream that works like a charm. For store-bought, look for Tom’s of Maine long-lasting deodorant, which is relatively clean and can be found at most drugstore chains.
Shaving Cream: Besides the propellants and butane in many shaving creams, there is also diazolidinyl urea, which is a formaldehyde releaser, triethanolamine, which is often contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines, parabens, which are weak estrogen mimickers, and synthetic fragrance. (See the slide on cologne for a reminder on why that’s not desirable for your health.) Instead, we recommend using organic oils, such as olive or coconut, if you can get past the whole oil-on-face thing. For a store-bought option, try Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shave Gel, which is 100 percent free of synthetics. If you break out, get the one with tea tree oil. Weleda also has a nice one.
Aftershave: Most aftershave contains alcohol, the toxicity of which is less a concern than the fact that it can dry out your face when it needs moisture. Cold water is sufficient to close your pores, and a nice organic cologne is a better bet if you are using aftershave as your cologne. Fill up the sink with cold water and put in a few drops of a woodsy scent like cedar, or something minty if that’s more your speed, and splash your face with that instead. That said, if you like the antiseptic sting of alcohol (who doesn’t, really?) go for a natural alternative with other ingredients to soothe your skin. Jurlique’s Calendula Lotion is soothing on freshly shaved skin, and so is pure aloe. For a splurge, Living Nature, which is an amazing line out of New Zealand, has a great one with antibacterial manuka honey, soothing calendula, and witch hazel, and Dr. Hauschka’s spray-on toner is another favorite.
Shampoo and Conditioner: Our scalps are one of the most porous parts of our bodies, and are easily penetrated by the products we lather onto them—which is counterintuitive, because we tend to think of hair as something separate from our skin, and we think shampoo must wash down the drain too quickly to do any harm. Not so. Shampoos and conditioners are both loaded with skin-, earth- and hair-unfriendly ingredients that dry out our locks, necessitating more products, like leave-ins. Instead, try a sodium laurel/laureth sulfate-free shampoo that won’t lather like a traditional one, but gets the job done without stripping your hair. Alaffia, Giovanni, and Aubrey’s all make nice affordable clean shampoos and conditioners. On the higher end, you can’t beat John Masters Organics. If you have dandruff, find a natural shampoo with tea tree or neem oil, or get JMO’s Zinc and Sage Shampoo With Conditioner.
Moisturizer: Whether it’s your body or your mug you’re slathering in cream, this is an important one to make sure is clean—mainly because you probably use it daily (which ups exposure to whatever is in there) and over a large surface area. Instead of a 30-ingredient lotion filled with silicones, penetration enhancers, fake fragrance, and petroleum derivatives, go for something simpler like a pure body oil (coconut from the health food store works well), or pure aloe vera. For a store-bought lotion for your body (and your face, if you aren’t picky or prone to breakouts) Everyday Shea lotion from Whole Foods is just over $10 for 32 ounces. Dr. Bronner’s, which is also shea-based, is another affordable all-over lotion. For your face, there’s the high-end Dr. Alkaitis, which is a unisex celebrity favorite, and Organic Apoteke, which is light and doesn’t smell like girls.
Read other posts from our GOOD series here.
Here’s the latest from GOOD:
Cosmetics companies just love to sell you on the idea that each new season calls for an arsenal of new products. And why wouldn’t they? It means you’ll ditch your half-finished current bottle of snake oil in favor of one that comes with the same crap on the inside and different claims on the out. Cha-ching.
Of course, it’s true that cold weather and even clock changes can have serious side effects for skin. But if you’re the sensitive type, switching out your entire regimen—i.e. risking reactions to new products—right when the temperature is dropping, is likely to do more harm than good. In fact if your skin is at all finicky, we strongly advocate sticking to routine in this area.
So how to beat your winter skin woes? Click “Next” in the slideshow for tips that will matter most for winter skin.
Illustrations by Brianna Harden
How often do you shower? When we asked you all the question the other day we were surprised to find your answers were all over the map. We were inspired, of course, by that recent New York Times story about attractive people who don’t like to bathe (or, in some instances, wear deodorant). And as you all know, any time we can encourage people do buy and use fewer personal care products, we do.
So as the seasons change, and people start reaching for their magnums of synthetic-filled moisturizer, we have another idea: Just shower less. There are surprising benefits, from healthier, clearer skin, to higher sex appeal. Click through our GOOD post an explanation.
As promised, this week we’re getting a little deeper into Ayurveda. I wrote about it for our GOOD series—but be sure to take the quiz and tells us what your dosha is! From the post:
Despite being the world’s oldest holistic healing system—predating even Chinese medicine—Ayurveda is only now gaining traction on this side of the globe. Hailing from India, where some 70 percent of the population ascribes to its philosophy, the tradition emphasizes daily rituals, nutrition, and lifestyle. The word itself translates loosely as “the knowledge or science of life.”‘
According to the tradition, there are three main types (called doshas)—Pitta, Vata, and Kapha—and each of us is some combination of these, with different doshas dominating the others. Figure out which you are (handy quiz here), and then follow the advice to keep yourself in balance—from getting enough sleep and sleeping better, to better skin, digestion, and performing better at the gym and at work. Simple as that!
There are no silver bullets with Ayurveda, precisely because it is based in the principle of whole body balance between the physical, the mental and the surrounding environment. Some Ayurvedic medicine has caused controversy, but we advocate focusing on lifestyle and nutrition as the best medicine—some of which is garnering scientific support for its effectiveness.
Are you open to Ayurveda? Click through the slideshow for its best tips.
Illustrations by Brianna Harden
I imagine it’s the season change, but I am feeling a little extra sleepy these days. Sleep is a subject that I find endlessly fascinating. From why we need it to how much we each get to why some of us require less than others—it is both completely mysterious and completely common. It’s something we all do, yet know so little about.
So here’s your pop quiz! (Please answer in the comments section and I will tally results.)
1. How much do you sleep a night?
2. What time do you go to bed / wake up?
3. Do you have trouble sleeping?
In my recent GOOD post about sleep, I also mentioned the Ayurvedic day-cycle theory. Here’s a quick explanation (and I promise to go further into Ayurveda later this week): This ancient Indian medical system believes that all things are dominated by three doshas (or energies that are themselves made up of the five elements): Pitta, Vata and Kapha. Still with me?
Anyway, the day itself is also broken into these energy cycles and some cycles lend themselves to rest and others to activity. This random site offers a pretty good breakdown. Ayurveda strongly encourages early to bed and early to rise, and I have to say that the more that I experiment the more I find that to be true. For instance, waking up at 5:30am is easier than 7:30am. Weird.
OK, I’m excited to hear your answers so that we can come up with some fun, non-controlled, non-scientific deductions! Get to it…