By Shruti Sunderraman Jan. 20, 2020
Almost a year ago, I made a decision that my essentials will no longer involve 50 first dates with plastic. Thanks to the winding rabbit hole of the zero waste YouTube universe, I figured out ways to ensure that my skin was plastic-free. Now I make my own shampoo, soap, and face-wash. You can too.
I often vent about the pervasiveness of plastic to my cat but one fine day of peeling yet another plastic cover from a dishwashing bar had me at the end of my tether. At this point, everything from our toothpaste to food containers to cleaners to bags are in plastic. In fact, that toilet cleaner you bought last week? Chances are that it will outlast four generations of your kids. Talk about being blessed with a long life.
Today, as we delve deeper into the world of climate crisis, I cannot stress enough on how important it is for every single one of us to put pressure on our governments to guarantee that their policies are not only environment-friendly but that they also question corporate giants on their practices. And while we send emails about this to our elected member of parliament every week, doing our bit could also involve looking at the amount of plastic we end up using for something as simple and essential as skin care and finding healthier alternatives for it. After all, we are what we buy into.
Almost a year ago, in June 2019, I made a decision that my essentials will no longer involve 50 first dates with plastic. Thanks to the winding rabbit hole of the zero waste YouTube universe, I figured out a pretty easy way to ensure that my skin was plastic-free. Now I make my own shampoo, soap, and face-wash. You can too. The clincher? You could prepare all of them under 30 minutes at home, using easily-available ingredients. I’d suggest buying them in bulk, given that bulk buying also means less plastic consumption.
1. Low-waste shampoo
- Reetha or soap nuts (25) (Reetha is a very mild, great cleanser.)
- Water (2.5 – 3 litres)
- Glycerin (1 cup)
- Xanthan Gum – a vegan thickening agent. (½ teaspoon)
- Tea tree essential oil + any other essential oil of your choice
Create liquid soap base by boiling 25 soap nuts in 2.5 to 3 litres of water. Then, sieve out the reetha. To this, add 1 cup of glycerin and 1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan gum. Blend this mixture with a blender to create a frothy consistency. Then, add 3 drops of tea tree essential oil
Optional: You can also add peppermint essential oil.
Bonus: This can also be used as a body wash.
After all, we are what we buy into.
2. Low-waste body soap
- 1 kg of castile melt & pour soap base (Can be found in soap shops or online.)
- Old food delivery boxes with molds.
- Ground oats.
- Honey (optional, if vegan).
- Two Essential oils of choice – I choose tea tree and lavender oil.
Melt the solid soap base in a thick-bottomed vessel with a glass of water. Add ground oats, 7 drops of each essential oil, and honey to this mixture.
Stir well. Pour this mixture into food delivery box molds, and refrigerate for one hour.
When it is solid, remove the soap from molds, wrap them in paper and store in a cool, dark place.
3. Low waste face wash
- 2 tablespoons of besan or ground flour
- 1 tablespoon of ground oats
- 1 teaspoon of citrus powder or ground dry lemon peel or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
- 2 drops of any essential oil.
It’s pretty simple here, folks. Mix all these ingredients and store them in plastic or glass container or reuse an old face wash tube.
P.S: All these recipes are catered to my skin and body composition, and you can always mix and match with ingredients you know to work well for you. The base of these recipes, however, are gentle. As we should be with our environment.
Shruti Sunderraman is an independent journalist, and the Executive Editor of Current Conservation. She lives in Bangalore in her garden, with her cat.