Say Goodbye To Beauty Products (Not To Beauty)

By Jane Mountain | January 21, 2012

Beauty Products

I’m running out of shampoo. And conditioner. And daily SPF moisturizer, night cream, toothpaste, hand soap, deodorant, mascara, mouthwash… I think you can see where I’m going with this, right?

What products are in your bathroom right now? Go ahead and look. I’ll wait. Take a long hard look in your shower, your medicine cabinet, your bathroom drawers.

It’s shocking how much stuff we can gather in the smallest room in the house, isn’t it? It seems like every part of our body needs at least one product all to itself.

Eye cream? Check. Cuticle oil? Check. Elbow buffer? Uh-huh.


I need all my products to be my best self!,” we scream.

Really? Or have we just been subjected to so much advertising that we don’t know where we end and decades of slogans begin?

The Heavy Hand of Marketing
Quick, name the brands:

  • “Because I’m worth it”
  • “Maybe she’s born with it”
  • “That’s my style”
  • “Easy, breezy, beautiful” (what the hell does that even mean?)

Most beauty companies spend around 25% of their budget on marketing and we eat it up, to the tune of $160bn a year worldwide.

That’s $160bn worth of plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, and bags, most of which ends up in landfill. Not to mention a whole host of harmful chemicals and some well concealed animal-testing processes.

Even if you only buy the expensive “all-natural”, “organic” brands from your fancy health food store, chances are you still have a pile of stuff you don’t use or don’t need to use. One British study (to be fair, it was by Vaseline, so not exactly objective) found that women waste 75% of the beauty products they buy.

What Do You Really Need?
Take another look in your bathroom. What stuff is there because you need it and what stuff is there because someone on TV told you they could make your cellulite disappear and that your eyelashes are too short?

Even the most ubiquitous products might not be right for you.

For example, my husband stopped using shampoo. He didn’t replace it with anything. He just stopped washing his hair. Didn’t tell me for months.

Guess what? I didn’t notice. His hair is the same as it always had been, except that where he’d once had problems with a dry, flaky scalp, now his scalp is just fine. The industry had convinced him he needed their specialized dry scalp remedies and he tried them all. None of them worked because all he really needed was to stop using their products entirely.

Now, I’m not saying we should all stop washing and grooming and wander around like apes. I like smelling nice just as much as the next girl.

But I have slowly been cutting products out of my life. Things I thought were necessities are now gone, with no perceptible change in my level of beauty — I’m still astonishingly gorgeous ;).

One Less Product (At A Time)
I’m running out of shampoo. This weekend, instead of buying a new bottle (with all the plastic and weird chemically stuff that involves) I’m going to get a nice bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap and start using that for my face, my hair, my cuticles, between my toes, and everywhere else.

Here’s your challenge. Pick one of your products and just let it run out. Don’t replace it. See what happens. Do people look in horror upon your ghastly countenance? Or do they not notice a damn thing?

Share the results of your experiments below!

Got a few more minutes? You might like these:

Hi, I’m Jane, founder and chief blogger on My Five Acres. I’ve lived in six countries and have camped, biked, trekked, kayaked, and explored in 50! At My Five Acres, our mission is to inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.


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  4. Comment by Mel

    Mel Reply February 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Jane-just found your blog through Grist!! Thanks so much!

  5. Comment by LV

    LV Reply February 4, 2012 at 10:42 am

    It’s amazing what you can accomplish – around the house and on your person- with salt, sugar, oil, vinegar, baking soda and lemon. I do love Doc Bronner’s soap, BUT it does leave my skin very dry. Easily resolved with coconut oil (yum!) but it was something I noticed and had to rectify quickly.

  6. Comment by JaneM

    JaneM Reply January 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    It’s amazing how often saving money and saving the planet turn out to be the same thing! I’m glad you’re making out well even on a tightened budget.

  7. Comment by JaneM

    JaneM Reply January 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Thank you for your great tips. We will definitely be trying some of these out at home.

  8. Comment by chispa

    chispa Reply January 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    careful, the doctor b’s burns down there!!

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM January 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Ha ha. I’ll watch out for that. I think I’ll stay away from the one with peppermint oil. :)

  9. Comment by Julie

    Julie Reply January 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    The other day Scott and I were comparing all the marketing words on our separate bottles of body wash. We got a kick out of all the science/engineering words on the men’s bottle and the flower/smelly words on mine. The funny thing is that it’s all just the same liquid soap.

    I tend to have few beauty products, and I multi-purpose things, but when I got married a bunch of people gave me fancy lotions and potions and somebody convinced me to buy Clinique clarifying toner. For me, the fancy lotion didn’t do much different than my generic facial sunblock, and the $15 bottle of clinique crap was exactly the same as my $1.49 bottle of witch hazel. Let me know how the Dr. Bronner’s soap works for your hair!

  10. Comment by Lucy Woesthoff

    Lucy Woesthoff Reply January 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Thanks Jane…this article is spot on. I’m ordering Dr Bronner’s soap now!

  11. Comment by Ann

    Ann Reply January 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Hi, Jane

    My son and I haven’t used commercial shampoo/conditioner since April 2011. We make our own toothpaste, too. I am right on with your path and hope it works out well.


  12. Comment by Allison

    Allison Reply January 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I actually am doing this right now. I can say I am about 99% homemade, chemical free with all my cleaning products (still have to make the laundry soap) and boy did it feel good today while I was cleaning and my 10 month old wanted to help. I didn’t have to worry about it being around the cleaning supplies or touching it … it was all natural :)

    I am in the process of working my way through all the bathroom products too!

    I took all my chemical cleaning supplies to work to give away and everyone looked at me like I was nuts – yet sadly, they all scooped it right up!

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM January 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      That is amazing. Especially with a ten-month-old in tow. I still need to start making my own products. It’s on the list.

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM February 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Great link / post! I am still in the process of figuring this stuff out, so I need all the instructions I can get. Thanks for sharing.

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