Being stuck at home for weeks on end stinks. But it’s necessary to flatten the curve of the coronavirus, so let’s make the best of it.
EWG came up with ways to take advantage of this time of self-isolation with little or no contact with other people besides those in your pandemic “pod.” Here are five ideas to consider that can benefit your skin and your overall health.
1. Pamper your skin.
Since many of us are spending most of our time indoors, now is the perfect chance to pare down your makeup routine and focus on your #skingoals.
Give your skin a break from harsh, pore-clogging makeup and choose a bare-face look. Not only will this give your skin an opportunity to breathe, but it will also reduce the number of products you use each day and, in turn, the number of potentially hazardous chemicals you’re exposed to.
Who cares if you have a breakout or less than perfect skin? There’s no one around to judge. (Plus, Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” feature is perfect for this situation.)
Consider resetting your skin with steps you may typically overlook, like face serums, essences and masks. Remember, though, that not all skincare products are free of ingredients of concern, so use EWG’s Skin Deep® database to find ones without ingredients that may affect your health.
Skin Deep is an online resource that rates more than 80,000 personal care products based on the hazards associated with their ingredients. Check out Skin Deep’s serums and essences or masks category to find better products. If price is a factor, consult our list of serums and essences best bets, which have fewer ingredients of concern and are under $10.
Remember, too, that just because you aren’t wearing makeup everyday doesn’t mean you should forgo your daily sunscreen. Sun protection is essential if your home-office desk is close to a window or if you go for daily walks. Look for safer, more effective sunscreens in our 2019 Guide to Sunscreen (and keep an eye out for the forthcoming release of our 2020 Guide.)
You might also want to consider incorporating facial massages into your routine. These can help relieve built-up tension and stress.
While you’re at it, consider applying this same principle to your nails. Give them a break from polish and/or acrylics. Pamper them instead with EWG VERIFIED™ soaps, hand sanitizers and lotions.
2. Try a natural deodorant.
Have you always wanted to try a natural deodorant but were scared off by thought of not being at your best at work or on a date?
Whether “natural” or otherwise, use Skin Deep to search for deodorants with fewer ingredients of concern. Better yet, choose one of the 24 deodorants that are EWG VERIFIED, which means they meet EWG’s strictest standards for transparency and health.
3. Consider going longer between wash days.
This might be the perfect time to try a new hair-washing routine and experiment with washing your locks less frequently. Some hair stylists and dermatologists claim that daily washing strips the hair of beneficial oil, or sebum, thus making the scalp produce more oil to compensate.
Washing your hair less frequently also means that you’re reducing the number of products you’re using per day, which in turn can reduce your body burden. You might also consider experimenting with new shampoos and conditioners with fewer ingredients that may affect our health or that of the environment. Shampooing less frequently isn’t for everyone, though, so consult your dermatologist if you have questions about your scalp or hair.
If you’re trying a lower-maintenance routine, this is a good time to skip dyeing and/or chemically straightening your hair for a few weeks. Although hair dye has been flying off store shelves since the start of the pandemic, we recommend avoiding or limiting dyeing or straightening hair as much as possible, since a study last year found that its use was linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
4. ‘Marie Kondo’ your personal care products and replace with cleaner alternatives.
Although not required by the Food and Drug Administration, some personal care product manufacturers list expiration dates on their products. As with food, the date is a good indication of the time beyond which these products should no longer be used, whether because of increased risk of bacterial contamination or changes in other qualities of the product.
But not all products are labeled with an expiration date. In those cases, you’ll have to decide whether to get rid of products based on when the product was purchased.
Many authorities suggest disposing of products within a few months to a year after purchase. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that eye makeup, for example, should be replaced every three months to prevent the growth of infection-causing bacteria.
When you throw out products, make sure you follow the recycling and disposal guidelines on the product package.
If you have unused or gently used products that you no longer need or want and that haven’t expired, consider donating them to organizations like Project Beauty Share, or contact your local shelters to see if they’re accepting donations.
Once you’ve discarded your expired products that no longer bring you joy à la Marie, check Skin Deep to find safer replacements.
5. Try some DIYs.
Take this time to try out all of those at-home ideas you always see on social media but have never before had time to try.
Here are a few easy DIYs that EWG staff love:
- Coconut oil for everything
Many of the staff at EWG love using coconut oil in our beauty routines. Coconut oil can be used as a mask for your hair, a deep hand or body moisturizer, or even a makeup remover.
- Easy hand treatment to help hydrate dry hands
With all the hand-washing you’re doing, make sure to keep your hands moisturized. Mix coconut oil and shea butter with a drop of jojoba oil. You can then use the mixture as a moisturizer, or slather it on and leave it on overnight, wearing a pair of cotton gloves, for a more hydrating hand treatment.
- Simple body scrub
Thoroughly combine brown sugar and coconut oil, adding a drop or two of essential oil, if you like. Mix well and then use in your next bath or shower.
- Relaxing bath salts
Combine Epsom salts, coarse sea salt, baking soda and a few drops of essential oil of your choice, and mix the ingredients well. Add a few tablespoons to your next bath for a relaxing soak.
- Avocado face mask
Put one ripe avocado and one tablespoon of honey in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Apply evenly to face and rinse with water after 15 to 20 minutes.
Disclaimer: Before trying new products or DIY mixtures, make sure you aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients in the recipes and consult your doctor or dermatologist. Also, these recipes do not contain preservatives, which are essential to preventing microbial growth in personal care products. We recommend making enough for a one-time use and then disposing of the rest.