Health & Beauty

Just add water: Plastic-free eco-friendly body wash bars

Self-care. We all need it. And given current events, more so than ever. Life is hectic but not in the way it was a couple of weeks ago. If you’re lucky enough to be staying healthy, it’s a different kind of hectic.

Now it’s more important than ever that you take time to step back, pause and relax. The shower is one of the best places to do this. Research shows that the combination of dopamine release in the brain, relaxation and distraction a shower brings can activate your creative sides. This helps your conscious mind to wander and allows your unconscious mind to problem solve. This can give you greater mental strength to cope when the going gets tough.

With that in mind, today’s post is all about a great eco-friendly body wash and the great company behind it. For a while I’ve been searching for sustainable, ethical bath and shower cosmetics that really perform, as well as smell great and don’t cost the earth (in any sense). As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this market has been growing steadily in the last few years. Panic-buying aside, there are loads of options out there to try.

I first noticed Ethique (pronounced with a silent “h”) when browsing in my local Holland & Barrett about six months ago. Based in New Zealand, the company was set up in 2012 by a biologist called Brianne West. Brianne’s starting point was to create solid shampoo bars and this sparked a wider aim to help rid the world of plastic bottles. And she is doing amazingly. Ethique calculate that they’ve stopped six million plastic bottles from being created and destined for landfill. They’re aiming to make this 50 million by 2025.

I’d never really thought about it before now but Ethique point out that an average bottle of shampoo or body wash contains around 80% of wonderful H₂O. And conditioner contains around 95%. And to keep them from going mouldy, these products are often full of harsh preservatives. So why not cut these out?

It’s a no brainer. Water can be added when you’re using the products and as they’re in bar form and dried out in between uses, most don’t need any preservatives. For the few that do Ethique say these contain a very small concentration of benzyl alcohol and dehydroacetic acid which they say is a “very safe preservation system based on natural sources and prevents fungal and bacterial contamination of products”.

My first purchase from Ethique’s range was the Lime & Ginger body wash bar. It costs £5.49 but you can often find Ethique products on offer so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out if you like a bargain.

As the photo above shows, the bar is an uplifting bright green. It’s very sturdy too and can withstand dropping from height without falling apart. Good to know, if you’re clumsy like me.

The bar lathers up easily and luxuriously. Ingredients-wise, it contains sodium cocoate (fatty acids derived from coconut oil), sodium olivate (derived from olive oil), mica (responsibly sourced) and lime and ginger essential oils. Because it’s all natural, the scent is subtle – you can notice the lime and ginger but the smell’s not over-powering. As for afterwards, your skin will feel soft and nourished. Not to the point where you won’t need to use an oil or moisturiser but no worse than after using any other body wash.

With daily use, I’ve found the body wash bar lasts around 3 months but I did apply with a loofah and held it under water a fair bit so probably wore it away more quickly than if using on its own.

Ethique say on their website that some customers have reported bars lasting as long as 12 months! I expect that’s for products that aren’t used daily. Even so, the body wash bar is good value for money.

All 40 products in Ethique’s range are 100% plastic-free, palm oil-free and certified cruelty-free by three independent organisations: CCF, PETA and SAFE.

Every ingredient used is naturally-derived, plant-based, ethically sourced, sustainable and biodegradable. Ethique’s website has a handy A-Z list of ingredients used in the range and how these are sourced. Definitely worth a look if you’re thinking of trying any of the products. It’s also an interesting resource in itself if you’d like to know more about natural ingredients generally.

As for storage, after using the bar you can just pop it in a soap dish and leave to dry. The key thing is to do this in between washes.

Unlike Lush, Ethique don’t sell any tins to store the body wash bars in. They do make in-shower containers for their hair and conditioner bars – these are fully compostable (made of corn starch and bamboo fibres). But these containers are too small for the other bars.

Ethique have their packaging nailed. The bars are housed in cheerful cardboard boxes printed with soy inks. The cardboard is made in New Zealand from PEFC-certified paper from sustainably sourced forestry. As no plastic or laminates are used in the cardboard, the boxes are fully compostable.

As a certified B Corp, Ethique have a wider social cause and seek to balance profit with purpose to be a force for good in society. The more I find out about B Corps, the more in LOVE with them I fall! Watch this space for a post all about them in the near future. True to this identity, Ethique genuinely look after their own staff. They also ensure the living wage is paid throughout their supply chain and take care to ensure fair-trade sourcing. And for the cherry on top, every year Ethique donates 20% of their profits to animal rescue, community education and environmental conservation charities.

Finally, if you don’t like a product or wish to return it, Ethique offer a 28-day 100% money-back guarantee for products sent back to them within 28 days of purchase. They’ve also blogged about some fab ways to make sure you use every last bit of your bars.  Zero-waste, quite literally.

It really seems like Ethique have thought of everything. I think they’ve set the bar very high indeed (sorry) for sustainable, natural, green cosmetics.

When the world is less crazy and all the panic-buying madness has subsided, I’m going to try a lavender and peppermint bodywash bar as well as a Jasmine & Ylang Ylang butter block. I can’t wait to test a body lotion in bar form. I’ll let you know what I think.

Ethique also make cute heart-shaped minis which is a great way to sample the range or if you’re after some smaller bars for travel (when we’re all able to do that again).

If you’re not sure where to start you could try a trial pack of four mini bars: shampoo, conditioner, bodywash and body lotion.

Ethique also do a pet range which I’m looking forward to trying on my dog, Winston. So if you have any furry friends, might be worth a try for them!

If you’ve used any of the Ethique products, I’d love to know your thoughts. Please do feel free to share in the comments below or drop me a line.

Ethique, Lime and Ginger bodywash bar, 120g £5.49. Available instore and online from Holland & Barrett and Boots in the UK. Also available online at Ethique’s website (free shipping when you spend over £45).

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