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Zero Waste Personal Hygiene & Beauty

December 22, 2018

Eliminating, substituting and reducing the waste from our daily hygiene, body-care and beauty-enhancing activities.



While walking through the supermarket aisles, one can actually get overwhelmed seeing the confusing array of shower and beauty products, all promising to make your hair shiny, your skin smooth, and your armpits fragrant. There are products specifically for the oily hair or skin, which is different from the one for dry hair or skin, which is also different from the one for curly hair or itchy skin…


Because I am the absolute worst at proper decision-making, I used to be swayed by the fragrance, rather than the quality or the chemical content of the product. My biggest dilemma was whether to get the citrus-smelling one or the strawberry-smelling one. 


Nowadays, however, I have ditched all such products and no longer need to walk down those aisles at all. 


Instead, I’ve opted for much simpler, more natural substitutes, cutting out the chemicals and products for my personal hygiene down by a significant amount. Best decision ever. 





Shampoo & Soap


Eliminate: No-Poo


If you are up for it, try completely ditching the shampoo. This is an actual movement happening worldwide, called the No-Poo (an unfortunate name, but basically a short form of No Shampoo rather than actual, you know, poop). Instead of store-bought shampoo, baking soda is used to wash the hair, followed by Apple Cider Vinegar for a rinse. 



Two ingredients to go No-Poo with your hair. Source.


Results have varied among different woman - some found it to be a heaven-sent alternative for healthier, fuller hair, while others found it dried out their hair. This regime worked well for me while in Malaysia or in the tropics, but not so much when abroad due to the drier environment. It highly depends on the type of hair you have, and the only way to know is to try it out and see if it works for you!


Instructions: Keep a 500 mL cup or jar, a pot of baking soda and a bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar by the shower. Fill the jar with water, add 2 tbsp of baking soda, and stir to dissolve. Pour over wet head and scrub into hair. Then pour 2 tbsp of Apple Cider into the same (now empty jar), and fill with water again. Pour over your hair and rinse.



Eliminate: Packaging-free shampoo & soap


A number of stores (check out The Hive and Lush) sell handmade soap and shampoo bars naked (with no packaging), making it the best alternative for those of us with no intention of joining the No-Poo movement.



These can be a bit more pricey, particularly artisan soaps, but typically make up for the price by lasting for a very long time. Lush shampoo bars can last for months (depending on the volume of hair and frequency of use) and are easy to travel with. They are also more luxurious and naturally fragrant, and can definitely elevate one’s bathing experience!


I myself use this option, and highly recommend it!



DIY: Make your own soap & body scrub!


Take it to another level and become a soap artisan yourself! I’ve seen plenty of workshops around Kuala Lumpur offering to teach soap-making, and in fact, I attended one myself a couple of years ago. 


The process itself is simple, and you have leeway to add whatever you want into your soap, and to design it based on whatever shape and colour that strike your fancy. It can be a very fun process, and one session can yield you a massive hunk of soap to last you almost forever. If you’re the generous type, you can also give them away to friends as gifts.


Body scrubs are even simpler to make: grab some granulated sugar or sea salt, add some olive oil or coconut oil along with essential oils of your choice. You can even get creative by adding other ingredients to spice it up: oatmeal, mint leaves, coffee grounds, lemon, etc.  



Yummms~ I kind of prefer for this to be in my stomach than on my skin though... Source.



Refill: Reuse the same packaging for refills


If you prefer shampoo and soap in liquid form instead of bars, then using a refillable bottle is preferable. Stores like the The Hive encourage you to bring your own containers, and even take back their containers to be reused with other customers. 



BYOB: bring your own bottle. Source.


You could also opt for those refill bags rather than buying a whole new bottle of shampoo or soap, however this m