As my mountain of plastic grows higher and higher, as I feel defeated on a daily basis by the challenge I set forth for myself this year, I have to say that I’ve realized some true plastic-free success when it comes to lotion.
At the start of my foray into living without plastic, I bought a product from LUSH called the Organic Therapy Massage Bar. This is essentially lotion in a solid form sold free of any plastic packaging.
At first, I had trouble adjusting to this bar. It was difficult to spread it over my skin, especially if my skin was really dry. And I smelled a little like Play-doh (according to my husband) after using it. What was especially difficult for me was the amount of time it took to apply this “lotion.” Those of you who know me are quite aware that I’m not the most punctual person. I’m always scrambling to get out the door in a timely fashion, and especially when it comes to getting ready for work each day, every blessed second counts. After showering, I’m off like a horse in the races, trying to brush my hair, teeth, eyelashes with mascara in record-setting time. I don’t allow myself the time needed to have a slow, leisurely morning. Thus, the extra two or three minutes it took to spread the lotion bar across my arms and legs quickly became a daily frustration. After a couple of months, I abandoned it. It sat ignored in its oval tin.
Then Christmas came, and I received a second lotion bar as a gift from my mother-in-law. She got me one from Koelzer’s Bee Farm, so I gave lotion bars a second chance (thank you, Betsy!). Immediately, I liked this product. It was a little softer than my first bar, and I loved the smell—the faintest hint of honey. The tin containing the bar also claimed that this lotion could be applied just once a day and wouldn’t fade away with frequent hand washing. I found this, surprisingly, to be true. My skin remained soft for hours, and the consistency made this bar a breeze to apply in the morning.
Already, the Koelzer lotion bar is gone. I used it remarkably quickly.
I’m thankful that this product not only worked but also encouraged me to give my LUSH lotion bar a second chance. Once the Koelzer bar ran out, I reopened the forgotten LUSH tin and unexpectedly had much more success with it on the second go-round. Perhaps I have accepted the added minute it takes to apply this lotion (still longer than creamy, liquid lotions, but not by much), or perhaps my new apartment is slightly warmer than my old apartment, making the bar softer and easier to spread. Or, maybe I’ve just improved my technique: I have found that if I actually use the edge of the lotion bar instead of the flat surface, I can quickly swipe it across my skin, leaving a trail of moisturizer that I can then rub in with my greased-up hands. Probably, it’s a combination of all of these things. Whatever the main factor, I’m glad that I’ve turned a corner with adopting a plastic-free lotion.
Still, lotion bars aren’t quite as convenient as “normal” lotions. I don’t have nearly the same number of choices when it comes to smell or variety. For example, for a while, I was using a really excellent lotion from Gold Bond that works wonders on my dry skin. Frequently, especially in dry months, I get small red bumps on the back of my arms, related, maybe to eczema or allergies. When I’ve used this tub of lotion, the red bumps magically vanish. My lotion bars don’t quite add up to the caliber of the Gold Bond lotion, so spreadable and skin-soothing. But that’s the case with most plastic-free alternatives—limited choices.
I’ve also continued to hear about the power of coconut oils, but I haven’t found any that come without plastic packaging marketed purely as skin moisturizers. Those of you in the know about coconut oil, can I buy just a regular old tin can of the stuff and spread it like lotion? Have you done this with success? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Overall, despite the slight drawbacks of lotion bars, I really do feel I’ve turned a corner with them. With April 22nd on the horizon, the day my challenge will officially end, I’ve begun thinking about plastic-free products and habits that will remain with me after this experiment, about the specific ways I’ll continue to live my life without a dependency on plastic. I think lotion bars might be one of those forever products.