habit shift: plastic-free bath and beauty.

July 7, 2022

We’re at my mom and dad’s house for the week before heading off on our two-week camping adventure in the Adirondacks. In between beach swims and rinses in the outdoor shower, I thought it might be nice to round up a few of my current favorite plastic-free bath and body products; Plastic-Free July, etc. Some of these are old standbys that I love. Some of these are special little luxuries that were sent for me to try. All of them are what I’ve been enjoying lately. Feel free to share your own favorites in the comments!

Razor:

It’s been two solid years since I first started shaving with my grandpa’s 1947 safety razor and I’m glad to say I have absolutely zero regrets. I’m mostly just annoyed I spent so many years buying expensive cartridges with so much plastic waste. Safety razor blades are ridiculously inexpensive and in my experience they’ve been entirely intuitive to use. Since I first wrote about shaving with it a few years ago, I’ve switched to exclusively shaving with whatever bar soap I have in the shower—no oils or special creams etc. Ten/ten recommend, no notes.

Bar Soap:

Right this minute, I’ve got a lovely bar of soap my nephew picked out a Vermont general store and gave me for my birthday. I work into a nice rich lather and use it shave my legs and generally keep other bits clean. My two other go-to sources in the past two years have been Terra-tory and Even Keel. The soaps are rich, effective, delicious smelling and thoughtfully crafted. I adore them and stand by my contention that lovely soap makes the very best gift.

Shampoo and Conditioner:

Its now been about six months since I started using Conscia’s solid shampoo and conditioner and I’m firmly hooked. For summertime, when I feel like everyone’s scalps and sun-bleached hair could use a little TLC, we switched to their HEAL formula and it’s been terrific. We’ve been using our stones in my mom and dad’s outdoor shower all week. (Lucky you: For 15% off your next purchase, use the code ERIN15. Good through July 31, 2022.)

Moisturizer:

I’ve got a few inches of Jao Goe Body Oil left in my tube to enjoy this summer. For a plastic-free all-body moisturizer though, I’d highly recommend the Kate McLeod Body Stone. I was given a stone a few years ago when I was pregnant with Calder and it was a real joy to use to say nothing of how well it took care of my stretching skin.

Skincare:

About a month ago, the skincare brand Apo.Ge reached out asking if I’d like to test-drive their new line of honey and hemp skincare. So far, so lovely, and for anyone looking for a luxury skincare experience to indulge in, I’d heartily recommend. I’ve been using the Essentials Set. I tend not to be much of a face washer, but I’ve found the cleanser to be an extremely gentle and nourishing addition to my routine. The brand prides itself on being plastic-free so their dropper-free face oil was a bit of a learning curve for me, but I’ve gotten the hang of it and am no longer spilling the precious face oil! (Lucky you again: If you’d like to try Apo.Ge for yourself, use the code ERIN10 at checkout for 10% off. Good through August 7, 2022.)

Lip balm + Solid Perfume

After daydreaming about their Jasmine Botanical Perfume Balm in a recent Make-Believe post, Earth Tu Face sent me a shell-full to try along with their Lavender Mint Lip Balm. Heaven. Who doesn’t want a shell-filled compact of botanical goodness? For folks looking for a plastic-free lip balm that’s a little less precious, I love keeping a handful of Kobees Lip Balms around for good measure and moisture! The small size is perfect for using up before the oils turn. I love the original beeswax balm the best.

Other things:

Four years later and I’m still using my OrganiCup. (Finally trimmed it a little more and it’s even more comfortable.) I did also try a different style of menstrual cup meant to sit at the base of the cervix. It didn’t work for me, but it’s encouraging to see so many low-waste options for menstrual care.

As long as I remember to order it, we’re still using David’s Natural Toothpaste, but it does sometimes feel like a spendy everyday item and I’m open to alternatives that aren’t tabs which I can’t trust my kids to not just eat.

One thing I haven’t landed on: A plastic-free sunscreen that isn’t responsible for the degradation of coral reefs or my last nerve. I’m extremely picky but suggestions, welcomed!

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49 Comments

  • Reply Jay July 7, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    I think posts from your Habit Shift series are some of my all time favorites! Thank you for these wonderful recommendations.

    3
  • Reply Emily July 7, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    Love these ideas! Curious if you have plastic free solutions for holding all of the things.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE July 7, 2022 at 2:06 pm

      Do you mean like for travel? I put my razor in a little cloth drawstring pouch and use a glass jar for shampoo/conditioner.

      4
  • Reply marion July 7, 2022 at 1:31 pm

    “I’m mostly just annoyed I spent so many years buying expensive cartridges with so much plastic waste.” 100% agree !!!

    5
  • Reply maggie July 7, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    i’m not sure the particular sensitivities of your last nerve (my own of late is a powder keg) but maybe: https://www.zocalotion.com/collections/shop-all/
    paperboard tube has a sticker and aluminum tube version has some plastic but zoca details it all on their packaging page and it would allow for use of tube wringer

    3
    • Reply ERIN BOYLE July 7, 2022 at 2:25 pm

      Oh!! V promising! You know I love any excuse to pull out the tube wringer!

      4
  • Reply Sarah July 7, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    All these are so helpful! FWIW Badger Clear Zinc sunscreen comes in a small tin. I like the formulation pretty well for rubbing in (much less white and greasy than regular Badger) and the little flat container is easier to carry and use than a tube anyway. Just one idea!

    4
  • Reply Anna July 7, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    I
    Love
    Habit
    Shift
    Posts!
    For those who wear deodorant, I’d had rashes with every zero waste option I’d tried until switching to native (all cardboard packaging) earlier this year.
    I am not as practiced in reading the labels as some, but it’s certainly zero waste and aluminum free! Pricey, but I find one or two swipes does the trick.

    3
    • Reply Emily July 7, 2022 at 10:28 pm

      Fat and the moon makes a sensitive pit cream that works great for me, comes in a glass jar.

      3
    • Reply Grace July 8, 2022 at 8:21 am

      I use a deodorant cream that comes in a little glass jar from Little Seed Farm! I love it.
      https://littleseedfarm.com/

      1
      • Reply dee July 8, 2022 at 2:26 pm

        Ditto. Love it ❤️

        • Reply Alice July 10, 2022 at 11:08 pm

          Thanks for the recommendation! I’m delighted Little Seed Farm does free samples- if I can manage this unholy stink that would be such a relief. None of the other natural deodorants I’ve tried have been able to handle it.

    • Reply Audrey July 8, 2022 at 3:23 pm

      Your rash may be coming from the baking soda!! It took me soooo long to realize this with natural deo’s. Meow Meow Tweet has a basking soda-free option that comes in a recyclable glass jar!

      1
    • Reply Sara July 21, 2022 at 10:49 am

      I switched to a deodorant crystal a few years ago after reading about it in Zero Waste Home and both my husband and I LOVE it. He’s always the tough sell. Package Free sells one now I believe. I hit ours from the evil empire and it has tons of great reviews. Basically you wet the crystal and it puts a layer of good stuff on your skin that keeps you from stinking. 10/10

  • Reply M July 7, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    I switched to fabric pads and I adore them. They work well, are super easy to clean, and I always have a supply. I purchased about half a dozen of them four years ago and it has been all I have needed since then.

    3
    • Reply Anna July 7, 2022 at 4:20 pm

      I use cloth too! I made my own many years ago now, and they’re still going strong! I just wash them with my cloth diapers, so pretty much zero extra work for me !

      2
    • Reply Sara July 21, 2022 at 10:46 am

      I started using my kids’ small cloth diaper inserts and can’t believe I didn’t try it sooner! They’re so absorptive and comfortable.

  • Reply Veronica Holroyd July 7, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    Big fan of these posts! Thank you. I have the same style of razor and I found that if I run the razor up my leg and then back down my leg, with the grain so to speak, all the hair on the blade comes off better than when I try to rinse it in between passes.

    1
  • Reply Anna July 7, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    Happy vacationing, Erin! Enjoy your time away from the city.

  • Reply Sarah July 7, 2022 at 8:57 pm

    For the shampoo and conditioner, does this work for all types of hair? I have thin, curly, frizzy hair that gets dried out very easily, and so many of the products I’ve tried zap my hair of all moisture and my hair looks like a dandelion. If not, can anyone recommend something that comes in a bar that works for the aforementioned hair type?

    1
    • Reply Libby July 9, 2022 at 6:10 pm

      I love Ethique Curiosity shampoo and conditioner. The conditioner can be used on its on it’s that good!

    • Reply Vasia July 9, 2022 at 8:21 pm

      I have super long, thin curly hair and never thought Conscia would work for me but the hydrate series has been amazing, not drying at all and actually less frizz. I also have super sensitive skin when it comes to scents and decided to try using the unscented stone option they have as a leave in conditioner to sort of style my hair with instead of other leave in conditioners to which I am usually allergic. That has also worked well for me.

  • Reply Emily July 7, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    Badger makes a nice zinc sunscreen that comes in a tin!

    3
    • Reply Hannah July 8, 2022 at 8:18 am

      I second this! The Badger one works well and feels good—I like that it’s a solid butter. I also like the All Good zinc sunscreen for the same reason—I have a small tin of it that I keep with me. Thanks for another great post, Erin!

      • Reply Leah August 6, 2022 at 1:41 pm

        +1 for the AllGood tin of sunscreen. If you’re not sensitive to Zinc, highly recommend!

  • Reply Nina July 8, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    I’ve had ‘toothpowder’ from this UK company before, although it looks like they’ve stopped doing the flavourless version I had a while ago, and I’m not sure if it works out any cheaper than your toothpaste: https://georganics.com/ Have you considered using… nothing? I’m allergic to mint and pretty much any other flavouring they put in toothpastes, so I was cleaning my teeth with just a soft toothbrush and tap water for a long time, and the dentist noted that my teeth were extremely clean. The only reason I’ve now started using toothpaste (had to track down a flavourless one from Australia!) is to get fluoride to prevent cavities – but if you don’t want to use fluoride, I’m not sure what the advantage of toothpaste is.

    1
  • Reply rachel July 8, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    Erin, do you wear make up? I’ve worn at least mascara every day since 7th grade, and have been perusing cleaner options… but it seems like maybe the best thing is to indulge in moisturizers and soaps and give up on make up. Becoming a mom has made me bold and I am trying to get used to my face without it.

    • Reply Erika July 8, 2022 at 9:04 pm

      I haven’t made the shift yet, but search for mascara “cakes.” They usually come in a tin and you can use a washed off spoolie to apply. Fellow mom, and you do you when it comes to makeup- I’m sure you look great <3.

      1
    • Reply Melissa July 8, 2022 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Rachel! I wear makeup and exclusively use Elate Cosmetics – https://elatebeauty.com/. I love that you just buy small tins of powder/blush/concealer etc that you pop into your reusable bamboo compacts so the waste is very minimal! I also wear their mascara which has a bamboo casing you can crush and compost, while the rest they say to clean and recycle. After looking at their site it does look like they moved away from the small single compacts I have to a larger compact that you can magnetically put multiple items. Hope this helps!

    • Reply B July 14, 2022 at 12:09 pm

      I found eyelash tinting a nice half step here. When my friend became a mother she introduced me to it.

  • Reply Christie July 8, 2022 at 1:22 pm

    I’m going to echo everyone and say thank you for this post. I rely so much on your suggestions. Thanks for being the guinea pig for us!
    I’ll second menstrual cups. I do a lot of running, hiking, and other sweaty outdoor activities, so I can’t deal with pads. Love my Lunette cup. I bought my first one around 2015, and I just this summer replaced it with a new one. 7 years! Imagine how many tampons I didn’t flush and how much money I saved!
    Second David’s. We have the subscription, but it is super pricey. We have tried lots of different tabs, but my kids wet fingers in the jar caused them to dissolve and then mold. So back to the toothpaste. My big problem — I never get around to cleaning them for recycling so we have about a 100 used tubes piled up.

    1
    • Reply Sara July 21, 2022 at 10:53 am

      Same with the menstrual cup! So good! I second David’s. Cleaning that metal yup after it’s all smushed up is kind of intimidating. I didn’t realize about that either so sent many to the recycling or terracycle dirty. Who knows if they ever made it to my good intention. Boo. I’m test driving toothpaste tabs but I don’t know if they’ll be good for our three kids.

  • Reply Lauren July 8, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    You’ve might have tried these already, but my favorite plastic-free sunscreens so far are these:
    https://www.rawelementsusa.com/collections/all/products/tinted-facial-moisturizer-30-spf
    https://www.rawelementsusa.com/collections/all/products/baby-kids-30-tin-zero-waste

    I mix the two to get the right color. Like lots of mineral sunscreens, I don’t trust it not to stain (probably wouldn’t wear with super nice clothes), and it also probably wouldn’t be great for really oily/acne-prone skin. But it’s good for everyday playing outside! It’s also pretty thick which I like.

    Another similar one (that comes in tinted and regular) is this:
    https://www.target.com/p/all-good-tinted-sunscreen-butter-spf-50-1oz/-/A-76486064#lnk=sametab

    The tinted is a slightly different shade than the Raw Elements…I don’t like it quite as much for my skin color, but could be good for someone else!

    3
    • Reply Kellyn July 19, 2022 at 6:41 am

      We use Bite toothpaste for the kids (4 &5) and a different tab toothpaste that I can get at our local no packaging store (shoutout to Cleenland in Cambridge, MA!) for the grownups.

    • Reply Gigi July 30, 2022 at 8:19 am

      I love Raw Elements too. Did you see they have some sunscreen in cardboard tubes now?

  • Reply Lois July 9, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Plumscreen from Le Prunier is the best I’ve ever tried.
    https://leprunier.com/collections/le-prunier-oils/products/plumscreen-spf-31-sunscreen-pa

    I’ve head good things about Surfer’s Barrier Stick 30SPF from Avasol.
    https://avasol.com/collections/surfers-barrier-stick/products/v2-surfers-barrier-stick

    Thank you for Reading My Tea Leaves. You are a gem. Happy vacation.

    2
    • Reply Alice July 10, 2022 at 11:21 pm

      Has anyone found toothpaste tabs or toothpowder made in the midwest or east coast?

    • Reply Sara July 21, 2022 at 10:59 am

      Thanks for these recs! I haven’t found one yet that works for our three kids. The best I’ve managed is three out of four with SuperGoop Everyday: safe for us, the reefs, and easy to put on. I’m pummeling them with plastic free requests! And will test these in the meantime. A problem I find is that they’re often quite expensive and then if they’re annoying to put on or gloopy too then I’m annoyed WAY more. This had been my toughest one to find a full switch for so far.

  • Reply Sarah July 11, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    I returned to shaving my legs (at least in part) this summer after ~8 years of no shaving at all, and I returned to your post about safety razors, then invested in a tiny travel size one (partially for cost, partially for cuteness), and despite being years out of practice, and never being particularly handy with a razor to start with — the safety razor was immediately easy to use and the best shaving experience I ever had. Could be because I’m shaving less real estate than I did when I was younger, but lord, it worked so well right away and I do not razor burn myself, which I did all the time with plastic razors (even spendy ones). Very much appreciate your research on it all!

    For body oil, I have become hooked on Maven Made Every Body Oil. A friend gifted me a small bottle, and I loved it so much I invested in the large size. (plastic pump on a glass bottle)

    For soaps, I love Body Truth Bar (out of Lawrence KS). They made my favorite skin care, too, but I think have transitioned away from that line.

  • Reply Posey Pop July 11, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    Erin I’ve been following you for years and love all your content and posts but I’m a real sucker for the beauty, minimalist wardrobes, and kids ones, so this was such a pleasant surprise as those categories are slightly less frequent of late! Not that I haven’t enjoyed all the new simple stuff and DIY ones, but as Christie said above, I really rely on your recommendations!

  • Reply Linda July 12, 2022 at 11:05 am

    Hi Erin, for sun screen I really like Sunbutter, an Australian brand that is friendly to the waters. It comes in a tin can so plastic free! Growing up I never wore sunscreen because everything would react to my sensitive skin. As an adult I’ve tried several different physical sunscreens and found this to be my favorite so far. I noticed other folks also mentioned Badger which is also a great option and similar in texture and consistency to Sunbutter. Badger didn’t work on my skin unfortunately because it uses beeswax and my skin is somewhat allergic to it. Either way those are two solid options if you’re looking for something earth friendly. It’s creamier than your average sunscreen but goes on smooth and doesn’t leave a white film like other physical sunscreens. Good luck!

    1
  • Reply Lydia July 12, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    So, for the past decade, my plastic free sunscreen is a hat. I always wear a hat (denim bucket hat) when I go outside (and I am outside a lot, birding in my local park, gardening, walking to my local co-op grocery, walking on the beach).
    Since I am in SF, I always wear a cardigan or light jacket and jeans. So my skin is protected.
    Hats are seriously underrated in this country. They are effective and minimize waste. And you don’t have to put all that sticky gunk on your skin (and then have to scrub it off later).
    I am very fair (Norwegian) and my skin is always protected.
    When I travel to warmer regions, I wear a wide brimmed straw hat for air flow and light cotton overshirt or jacket (to protect my arms) and light cotton slacks.
    Ditch the sunscreen!

  • Reply Jude July 20, 2022 at 8:52 pm

    I’ve enjoyed this reef-safe, plastic-free packaging tinted sunscreen for years. https://www.rawelementsusa.com/products/tinted-facial-moisturizer-30-spf
    Although the consistency is a bit heavier, I like that the medium tint makes you look less like a ghost, and doesn’t require a lot of time to blend in. I think it would work on all but the fairest skin tone. I also believe the product is palm oil free (it’s vitamin E – a common palm-derived ingredient – is sunflower-based).

    1
  • Reply Manuela July 22, 2022 at 10:45 am

    I just LOVE your Habit Shift series…

  • Reply Erin July 24, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    I also recommend Raw Elements sunscreen. We have it in a tin and a cardboard tube. We’ve used it for a few years now. Not quite as easy to apply as lotion sunscreens but they work. Easier now that the kids are older.

  • Reply Lis July 30, 2022 at 7:57 am

    Thanks Erin and EVERYONE for all these tips. It’s hard work to have low impact and stay healthy, it’s so good to see so many people putting in the work. It shouldn’t have to be this hard, but that’s another story… I want a personal shopper to find me all the sustainable products that I need and set up subscriptions so I can spend my time on other things. That would be a good job.

  • Reply Catherine August 6, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    Catching up on posts and I love reading about bath and beauty brands to try. The lip balm sounds amazing because I have very sensitive lips and have resorted to using Blistex Sensitive, but it’s all plastic. I 100% agree about lovely soap being the very best gift. I love wrapping a beautiful bar in handmade paper for gifts. Want to recommend Osmia soap, too. They are in Colorado and do wonderful seasonal scents. The bars are BIG, so you can cut them if needed, but they last a very long time. A new bar of soap in my morning shower is one of my very favorite things.

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