When shopping for home and body products, I continually struggle to find products that possess both integrity and the ability to perform.
A couple of examples where I find it challenging to satisfy both desires:
I'm sorry. Tom's of Maine just doesn't work that well. Plus, I get self-concious about my teeth getting yellow, and I don't trust anything natural to be able to whiten as well as the synthetic stuff.
Again Tom, I"m sorry. Your deodorant just doesn't work that well. I've tried a few other natural deodorants, and they are pretty similar. I admit it. I really, really like anti-perspirant, enough that so that even when I think about the parabens and the cancer forming under my armpits, I'm still happy that I'm not sweating. If someone could invent a powerful natural antiperspirant that doesn't stain my clothes, I'd be first in line to buy it.
3. Styling products (gel, hair spray, mousse, etc)
The synthetic hold of drugstore / salon hair products is hard to beat. I've tried a few natural hair products, and they were all super sticky on my hands and sort of crunchy. I've been using Aveda products, but I don't think of those as natural. I think of those as smelling very nice through the help of SOME natural ingredients.
4. Eye Cream
I have dark circles under my eyes, and I see the wrinkles and crows feet looming around my eyes. I recently purchased a drug store eye cream with retinol and oh my gosh, it makes such a difference. For the first time, I started to understand the appeal of botox. Is there anything natural out there that would caffeinate my skin cells with the same effect? Unlikely.
5. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Nasty grimy brown toilet rim, I spray you with Ecover toilet bowl cleaner, and you smell better but you don't look any better. Do I need to use bleach? Are you going to make me?
6. Shower tile/grout cleaner
For day to day, I think it's fine to use natural cleaning products on your tub and tile, but when you move out of an apartment, things need to sparkle and they need to be white. I think of Lois Gibb's children dying as I use Dow Scrubbing bubbles and I feel bad, very very bad. Will anything natural out there kill mildew and mold?
Products I have no problem with
1. Dish soap.
Ecover rocks my socks off. I heard that it took years to develop their formula. The suds, the smell, the price, I'm in domestic Whole Foods bliss.
2. Body Soap
My skin doesn't react that much to different soaps. It doesn't take much to de-stink me. I generally pick bar soap. It lasts long, and you can often buy it without a wrapper or handmade from your local farmer's market.
3. Recycled paper towels.
They do the same sopping as their virgin counterparts. I don't need the bounty strength for most jobs. I know rags are better, but emergency spills and super nasty cleaning jobs (like the trash can) are perfect for the natural paper towels.
I do my best to "vote with my dollar," but sometimes I break down when the conventional stuff just-works-better. There is a really great salon article written by a woman who had to resort to lots of DIY stuff because her husband decided to take a lower paying job. The article "I am a Radical Homemaker Failure," discusses things topics like baking your own bread or reusing containers. All of this nice when you have the ability to make the choice, but at the end of the day, she was tired and if she had the choice, she would have taken the fat 401K and the disposables.