It can be difficult to know where to start, when you begin learning about potentially toxic synthetic chemicals and want to stop using them. Some people are able to just blitz their cupboards of anything containing suspect ingredients, ditch the lot and restock with more natural products.
I wasn’t one of those people and I know I’m not alone. I’ve been a teenage mother. I’ve been a working-on-a-low-income mother and a stay-at-home mother. I’m currently a mum-of-many-children mother. All of these things can bring financial challenges and, lets just say that we are, like very many, on a strict budget. If I was just starting out finding out about potential toxins and wanting to #DitchTheJunk, I wouldn’t be able to simply empty all of my cupboards and buy all new.
However, I’ve been doing this more natural product thing for a while now and so I have a few tips. Leaving aside alternatives to common household cleaning products (which I hope to cover in another post soon), I do have some great recommendations for basic buys if you’re a family on a budget.
Avoiding potentially toxic chemicals
Many synthetic-filled cosmetics are cheaper than more ethical and natural brands. This is often because many of the chemicals that I am trying to avoid are used as cheap fillers to maximise the profit of the brand. Chances are these chemicals have also been tested on animals at some point. These same ingredients may have been sourced solely based on their cost vs the profit that they make, rather than any consideration for the wider environmental and social impact.
It is this attention to the sourcing and cultivation of good quality ingredients, plus a commitment to producing products that are free from petroleum-derived ingredients; GMOs; synthetic chemicals, preservatives and fragrances; that have not been tested on animals; that can also make more conscientious brands, such as Weleda, appear more expensive than some synthetic alternatives.
However, what really makes me baulk is how much MORE expensive some well known mainstream brands are when you realise that their ingredients are predominantly synthetic and potentially toxic! A quick trawl through the internet (or your local supermarket, chemist, etc) and you will find day creams that are easily £40 or more. Compare that to the Weleda Calendula Face Cream, featured in a Marie Claire article as one of their best moisturisers for under £10 (please note that since the Marie Claire article, a few of years ago, there has been a price rise to £9.50 – but still under a tenner!)
Suddenly more natural and ethical companies such as Weleda start to look a whole lot more reasonable!
So what do you do?
Now, it is bluntly true that I could choose to not use any bought cosmetics at all. I have made quite a few of my own cosmetics in the past: homemade deodorant actually worked well (but, in the long run, bicarb really isn’t the best thing to put by your acidic skin). I have also tried the “no poo” thing and just used things like bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar to “wash” my hair. But, chances are, you may not want to go all out crunchy and skip everything you are probably used to using. The thought of doing so probably brings the majority of people out in a cold sweat. You want to move away from those potential nasties hiding in your bathroom cabinet and make-up bag, but you’re on a budget and you want to know where to start.
Pare it down.
- What are your must haves?
- Any specific skin issues?
- Do you have children to buy for as well?
Start with the basics and add in one thing at a time.
My Top Five Basic Buys for a family From Weleda
In no particular order, based on my own family’s basic cosmetic and personal hygiene needs.
You will likely be wanting to wash yourself and the Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash is a two-in-one product suitable for all the family. Made with extract of organic Calendula and organic Sweet Almond Oil, this shampoo and wash is gentle and light-smelling and good for sensitive skin. Also available are the Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo and Bodywashes coming in three fragrances: Very Vanilla, Happy Orange and Lively Lime.
In time you could maybe look at Weleda’s dedicated shampoos and there’s a fantastic range of body washes and also a few bar soaps, but if money is tight and you need to double-up, you really can’t go wrong! It’s my shampoo of choice for my very sensitive scalp and I could wax lyrical about the difference it’s made to my comfort for quite some time! It’s also suitable for vegans.
Children’s Tooth Gel £3.75
Unless you’re a fan of making your own toothpowder, you will be wanting a toothpaste of some sort. Weleda do a range of toothpastes, but if you have children, you might want to start with one specifically for them that can be used by all the family. Fluoride-free Children’s Tooth Gel looks after new and developing teeth and provides natural protection. With “extract of organic calendula flowers to keep gums healthy, silica for thorough cleaning and natural flavours of fennel and spearmint” there are no ingredients that could cause harm if swallowed.
In practice here we have both the Children’s Tooth Gel and “adult” toothpastes. I favour the Salt toothpaste (but admit it is an “acquired taste”). My teen, pre-teen and partner favour the Plant gel. My partner says that it tastes more like how he thinks toothpaste “should” taste, i.e. minty.
Yes, this is becoming a bit of an ode to Calendula, but please bear with me, it really is an excellent first port of call! Weleda offer a gorgeous selection of body oils and lotions, but Calendula Baby Oil is suitable for the whole family. Simply made from organic sesame oil with extract of organic calendula flowers, it is simple, unfragranced and suitable for sensitive skins. If you prefer a lotion, the Calendula Baby Lotion is a light, gentle lotion, formulated to care for delicate skin and perfect for all the family!
Almond Facial Oil £17.95
Just in case you thought I was having a solely Calendula love-in in my Top Five Basic Buys, here’s something from a different range. I’ve been using almond oil on my skin for well over a decade now. It’s simple, multi-purpose and a little goes a long way – so that £17.95 for the bottle is going to last and last! You can cleanse and moisturise with it. It makes a good eye make up remover for teens who favour heavy black eyeliner and mascara as well (I speak from personal experience). It is the oil I use when doing facials and I really cannot recommend it enough. Personally I stick with it just on my face, there are more economical oils to use for moisturising the rest of you!
Almonds are packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals and are high in unsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E (a known anti-oxidant that fights free radicals that age the skin). Perfect for nurturing and protecting even sensitive skin, the Almond Facial Oil is gentle and suitable for family to use (from 40 down to toddler). Yes, I also have a favourite cream I use, but my bottle of almond oil is still in regular (usually daily) use. In past difficult years, whether financial or the blips I have had with my skin being very sensitive and dry, almond oil was my skin saviour when I had to simplify!
I write more about the Almond range in this article: Almond :: the Best Choice for Sensitive Skin:
Citrus Deodorant £9.50
I’ll let you into a secret, I was a big fan of home-made deodorant, but since learning more about the skin’s delicate acid mantle and the effect that bicarbonate of soda (a common constituent of homemade deodorant) upon it, I started to look around for other options. I’ve tried a few different brands and Weleda came out tops for me. This is where the Citrus Deodorant comes into play as it’s useable by all deodorant-using family members (ie the three oldest here) without affecting any gender preferences.
October 2017 edit: Roll-on deodorants are now available – you may not be as keen to share! They’re a fab choice – my teens love them!
Deodorants are rather notorious for containing some nasty ingredients, but with Weleda deodorants you can rest assured that they are formulated without aluminium and all the ingredients are certified natural by NaTRUE. (See Breast Cancer UK’s excellent #DitchTheJunk campaign, link at the end of this post).
After the Basics, What Next?
All of the featured products are in regular (and in the case of the toothpaste, daily) use in my house. Having covered what I consider to be the basics for my family, ie washing, teeth, moisturising and deodorant, what would I go for next? I’ve chosen three further products that you may find useful as a family.
Skin Food £10.95
It had to appear in here somewhere! I have dry skin that isn’t helped by me needing to wash my hands a lot during the day. Small children, various pets and a preference for gardening without gloves all take their toll on my hands. My partner has a fairly manual job and gets very rough hands, so also uses Skin Food to counter this.
It’s also fabulous on cracked heels and any other areas prone to dryness. In cold winter weather it makes a great barrier cream on any exposed parts of your body (although Weleda do produce a Weather Protection Cream) and is fantastic for preventing chapping. I’ve heard stories of people putting it on the ends of dried out hair and as a make-up primer (I’m sure there’s more!)
What’s more, it’s also a multi-award-winning product that has stood the test of time. Having celebrated its 90th birthday at London Fashion Week in 2016 – it’s obviously doing something right!
Shaving Cream £10.50
Not just for men, great for anyone who shaves. Anecdotally I’ve heard the body washes are also creamy enough for helping with the shaving of body parts if you don’t want to buy a separate cream.
Calendula Nappy Cream £6.95
Not just for sore bums! This is the first product from Weleda that I ever bought. Desperate to find something to help with my eldest daughter’s awful nappy rash when she was a baby I tried the nappy cream when it was recommended by a number of people online. The same, now teenage, daughter uses it on her spots. It is also good for any area that is itchy and sore. Winter chapped thighs, I’m thinking of you!
Not a cosmetic product, but a basic in this house. Perfect for those inevitable bumps and bruises. This is another Weleda product of longstanding in my household and well worth adding to a basic kit. I will be writing a further blog post on the various health and medicinal products available from Weleda, but out of all of them, this is the one most commonly used here!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the suggestions. They constitute what I consider are good basic recommendations for a family on a budget to start with. However, every family is different and you may find other choices more suitable. In my family we have various other products that we use in addition to the above depending on the person – which I will save for another article – and of course, in time you can build upon any basic buys.
What are your favourite Weleda products? What would you recommend?
NB: prices subject to change, but correct at time of writing. I endeavour to update them, but may miss the occasional one if there’s a price rise. Quotes in quotation marks are taken from my webshop.
With thanks to Weleda for all product images