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.
So, this is actually a repost of an article I wrote last year for GOOD. We’ve never done a repost before, but because several people have sent us emails about their winter skin woes I thought it could be helpful to those who had missed this one—and a reminder to the rest of us. Even to moi, the advice doller who woke up this morning with dryer-than-usual skin and serious lip crackage. Also? Awesome excuse to post a picture from Dr. Zhivago.
How do change you beauty routine, diet, and routine in the winter?
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” above to read the tips that will matter most for winter skin.
1. Moisturize. Yes, it’s the most boring advice in the world, but there’s a reason people say it so often. Moisturizing does exactly what it implies: It helps keep moisture in by replicating the skin’s natural barrier function. It’s simple science, and you don’t need to use a different one for every season. Find a good clean moisturizer that you love, or get with the oil program, and just do it consistently. If you’re out and about in the winter keep a to-go version in your bag for some extra application.
2.Wash less. We’ve covered this in the past, and the merits of this advice are doubly relevant for winter. Over-washing strips skin of its natural protective oils, robs it of healthy bacteria, increases exposure to harmful and/or irritating chemicals, and generally aggravates skin conditions like rosacea and eczema—the very same ones that are exacerbated by seasonal changes. So as the air gets cold and dry, and you’re less likely to be a sweaty mess, do yourself a favor and get with the dirty program.
3. Avoid the acids. You don’t have to agree with our no-acid rule, but even proponents of stripping and peeling should dial back over the winter. Whether you use AHAs or BHAs, go for chemical peels, get microderm abrasion, or just subscribe to a heavy scrubbing routine, we reallyreallyreally think you should slow down. While you may be less at risk to sun exposure over the winter, burning off that top layer of skin will make you all the more vulnerable to the chafing, drying and cracking effects of cold air and gusty winds. While you may think this is reducing fine lines, we think over the long haul it’s speeding up the aging process.
4. Get your fat on. Ever notice how you crave more fat in the winter? While the diet set will offer tips on how to counter that impulse, we think that the body has an innate intelligence when it comes to such things. Healthy fats, especially omegas 3s, are key to maintaining hydrated, glowy, happy skin. Winter’s a good time to up your intake on these and as an added bonus it will help satisfy that appetite for grease the healthy way. Foods like salmon, sardines, olive oil and walnuts are chock full of omegas, but we’re not opposed to taking a supplement on top of that. Just make sure it’s a good one.
5. Improve your digestion. Your tummy is talking to you, and what it’s saying can often be read on your skin. While we don’t think you need different products every season, we do think you need different food. In past posts about Ayurveda we’ve explained how important it is to eat with the season. Winter calls for warm, calming foods and the previously mentioned healthy fats. Sorry salad girls, but your skin needs something a little bit more substantial and heat-producing to face the winter months. Instead of eating your veggies raw, make a soup or stir fry with them instead.
6. Dose up on D. Vitamin D has emerged as something of a miracle worker in the last few years. While research is ongoing, there is promising evidence that it could help prevent cancer, raise immunity, and lower the risks associated with all kinds of diseases. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, and you know that that means. Because the sun is a primary source for vitamin D, and because most of us are deficient, we’re going to suggest that you look to increase your intake of this wonder vitamin during the winter. It is available in certain foods, like fish and fortified milk, but it’s hard to get enough through those sources. As with fish oil, we think it’s a good idea to take supplements too.
7. Get a humidifier. One easy way to counter dry air is—ding, ding, ding—to add moisture to it. Some advice from the experts at the Mayo Clinic:Be sure to keep your humidifier clean, because a dirty one is an amazing place for bacteria to thrive. Also, try to have your humidifier where you spend the most time, since you’d need several to change the air quality of a house or large apartment. We suggest you put it by your bed when you’re asleep: That way you’ll wake up with happy, hydrated skin.
Worried about the economy? Yeah, us too.
By the time you read this post the market will already be reacting to Friday’s news that the U.S. lost its AAA credit rating. But whether The Dow dips or dives, one thing seems clear: These are uncertain economic times, and we all need to make smart (and sustainable) choices as consumers.
With that in mind, I thought this might be a good moment to remind people that cutting back on meat can be a real money-saver.
Siobhan wrote about this for GOOD a while back. Here’s a repost of that in case you missed it:
Here’s an interesting chart from LearnVest that breaks down the daily costs, in dollars and cents, of different diets: meat eaters, pescetarians, vegetarians, and vegans. According to their tallying, vegans have the least expensive diets, and meat eaters have the priciest, which certainly flies in the face of the arguments that vegetarianism is a choice limited to the hippie fringes and the bourgeoisie.
I like the message, but I take issue with some of the numbers. For instance, I don’t know where they are getting their yogurt, and I know New York is expensive and everything, but I can’t find a single serving of healthy yogurt for 80 cents anywhere I do my groceries, and a tuna cheddar melt for just over a buck seems unrealistic. There are a few other prices that had me scratching my head, but overall this is an interesting look at food prices that goes against the conventional wisdom that healthier, and more vegetarian diets necessarily cost more.
What do you think about this chart? Would you cut back on meat to cut costs?
Have any of you heard of this guy? His real name is Brian Manowitz—and according to the Washington Post he’s just a nice Jewish boy from Florida who somehow took a wrong turn on the road to becoming a neuroscientist. Instead he morphed into a no-meat-cooking-heavy-metal-makeup-wearing phenomenon. The first installment of his Vegan Black Metal Chef show on YouTube, where he instructs how to make paid thai, through song and snarls, already has well over a million views. From the Post interview:
He had tried making vegetarian cooking videos before, but they never really went anywhere — there was just too much other food-related stuff out there, clogging up the arteries of the Internet.
There was not, however, other stuff out there that involved custom-made rubber body armor and blast beat drumming.
It goes on:
Note the utter appropriateness of this combination. There is no group of people who are so intent on protecting their bodies from the influences of a herd-mentality society as vegans — except black metal fans. There is no group of people who are as indignantly self-righteous, as comically misunderstood or as regularly mocked as black metal fans — unless it is vegans.
Kinda true! While black metal makes my head hurt, if Mr. Vegan Black Metal Chef is getting more people to try meatless meals with this gimmick, we’re all for it. In case you need a reminder of why it’s so important for everyone to cut back on meat, read this great piece from GOOD: You Can’t Be an Environmentalist and Eat Factory-Farmed Meat.
As the world population grows, and developing nations get richer, meat consumption is poised to wreak even more havoc on the planet—it’s simply not sustainable. Have environmental concerns played a role in your meat consumption?
Our friends at GOOD (meet them above—we dare you to not be charmed!) have launched a new 30-day challenge for the month of June: go vegetarian, vegan, or just cut back on meat in a way that feels right to you. From their post:
It’s fast becoming a well-known fact that eating less meat is good for the earth. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said that “in terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, [people eating less meat] clearly is the most attractive” way to fight climate change.
He makes a strong point. And if our vegan challenge was a tad too hardcore for your tastes, we encourage you to get with the GOOD program instead.
What does your version of vegetarian look like? Could you cut out a few meat meals a week? Go vegan until six, as Mark Bittman does? Or maybe you’re ready to go all the way…