Sun Block Homemade

The following information is for guidance only. None of the following recipes or tips have not been tested on anyone other than me. I strongly advise you do your own research and proceed very carefully as sunburn is not only painful and aging but dangerous.

That said the following has worked for me. And I have no melamine at all. Which makes me well skilled in the art of tanning without burning and even more so in the art of hiding from the sun. But this knowledge was not easily won.


There is lots more information about sun protection here. Do read up before you decide to make your own.

A Tannning History

Growing up as I did I in the 70s in the north of England sun tan lotion was something of a mystery. If it was mentioned at all it was as an expensive and rather pointless luxury talked about in the more expensive women’s magazines. My Granddad was a window cleaner, a man out in all weathers, and he never used anything more than a flat cap for protection from the elements. Even my mother who had been to Spain and had a French pen friend scoffed at such nonsense. Vegetable oil she claimed was all any one needed for tanning. On the few occasions we did see the sun we would lie like chips frizzeling in the heat – till the oil ran out. This usually happened within the first few days as we never had much of anything in our pantry. My mothers housekeeping skills were not of the best.   But even in the short time it was available, I soon came to realise that oil offered  absolutely no protection from the sun.

Having run out of oil mother now claimed that even that was unnecessary. Her latest theory was that you had to burn blistering hard once. Then, when you finally emerged from your darkened room having painfully sloughed the destroyed outer layer skin, you would be immune to the destructive power of the sun. For ever after at the first hint of summer, you would tan a beautiful golden brown. Needless to say this didn’t work either. I burnt and shed but never actually tanned. Lucky we lived in Manchester where Summer, at least one with sunshine, was a rare beast and I only had to suffer this infrequently. But I have come to realise that even if you do build up an immunity to the sun you can still burn – Even people with tans.

I was 15 before I saw real sun. We went to France and a tube of sun tan lotion was bought to celebrate. However it was so expensive that it was severely rationed and we all ended up blistered and peeling and my faith in suntan lotion rather compromised. Most people it seems do not apply enough lotion. You need to be liberal which can be difficult if you are on a budget. And sun tan lotion used to be very expensive and though there are more budget options now, cost can be a consideration.

So I went over to the pale and interesting school. Which involved a lot of covering up. Again fairly easy in Manchester where we hardly ever disrobe.

But then I started backpacking. Maintaining a pallid complexion is hard work when you spend a lot of time outside, snorkelling or mountaineering. I minimise the risk with sensible hats and long sleeve shirts but beaches demand less clothes and swimming of course is always more dangerous with the risk of forgetting the time. Somehow because I am cool in the water I think I am safe to stay out just a little bit longer. And even a short walk up that blazing beach can leave me red and painful. But also and this seems
Really unfair, even cloudy days can lead to burning.

I realised that I needed sun tan / block lotion and lots of it. And it needs to be applied regularly. Even in cloudy weather. I came to this conclusion just as I was giving up plastic. So not only did I have to learn to use sunblock and had to learn how to make it. I have been using zinc based, home-made sun block lotion for about 5 years now. I know it stops me from burning because I burn when I don’t use it. Obviously it has not been tested in a lab and I cannot guarantee results. I still try to limit my exposure to the sun but I feel this cream definitely helps me. I offer this personal account for discussion only. If you do decide to make your own lotion please do more research.

Why Sunscreen
Sunscreens help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin.
There are two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB
UVB is the chief cause of sunburn and linked to sun cancer. UVA rays, penetrate the skin more deeply, and contribute to photoaging.
You need a cream that protects from both.

Sun protective factor provided by cream is measured in SPF
SPF factors only measure protection against UVB. You will need a cream that also protect from other kinds of rays.

SPF4 filters out 75% of UVB
SPF10 filters out 90% –
SPF15 filters out 93%
SPF25 filters out 96%
SPF30 filters out 97%
SPF50 filters out 98%
SPF100 99%

Zinc Oxide
I have settled on zinc oxide as the active ingredient in my sun block.
This is a fine white powder easily available on line.
It coats the skins and so reflects the damaging and burning rays of the sun.
It protects the skin from UVA, UVB and UVC. According to website (where you can buy zinc and get advice on how to use it), It is one the oldest and most effective sunblock and
It can be easily added to base lotions and oils.

No to Nano Zinc

So zinc is great BUT it is a white powder and stronger mixes can sit on the skin like a pasty mask. Make your lotion too strong and you look like Marcel Marceau. You don’t burn but you look freaky. To counter this some suggest using nano zinc.
Nano or micronized zinc oxide is zinc oxide that  has been ground to a very fine powder to reduce the size of its particles. Anything with a particle size smaller than 100nm is considered a nano particle. This means it spreads more easily and does not leave a white sheen on the skin.The worry is that particles this size may be able to enter the body.
Because of that I use normal zinc. In stronger concentrations it does leave a slight white sheen. It can also leave white marks on dark clothes. Wear white linen is the obvious answer to this. Or work on your locked in a glass box mime.

Using Zinc In Homemade Sun Block

There are claims that certain oils like coconut oil have a natural SPF. This may well be true but I strongly advise not to rely on this.
None of the below have been tested in lab and you have no accurate way of knowing  what SPF your lotion has. Proceed sensibly!
If in doubt Make your lotion stronger then dilute as you tan.
Too much zinc and you end up with white clown makeup. In this case you may have been overcautious.

You can add zinc to
home made creams and lotions (if you want to make a lotion there are some recipes here)
ready bought lotions
a base oil such as coconut oil.

20% zinc oxide  will give an approximate SPF of 30. That is by weight. So you weigh your base say 100g of cream then you add 20% or 1/5th of zinc. Which is 20g of zinc.You can see from the ratios below that SPF 15 is not half of SPF 30 so you cannot use that scale to work out your SPF factors.
For SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
For SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
For SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
For SPF >20: Use 20% zinc oxide

These ratios were taken from DIY Natural. They have not been tested in a lab proceed with caution


Masking Creams
Thicker cream
Very strong and thick. To be used on vulnerable areas that burn easily.

First I make my own rather thick cream and then add the zinc at 20% ratio. This makes a super thick cream which is difficult to rub on large areas but great for masking specified areas. I use it to protect my great big nose and around my eyes.
For general application it is too tough and sticky.
Find out how to make cream here

Oily Cream
You can thin the above thick cream down by adding oil. N.B. You cant use water for this. Add water and your cream starts to separate when you try to rub it on.
Oily cream goes on way more easily but obviously the more you dilute is lower the SPF factor.
The advantage of this cream is that it is thicker than oil so easier to apply – less dribbling.
It does not separate.

Sun Block Oils
Oil – I have used both coconut and rice bran oil

More recently I have cut out the middle man or rather the cream and started adding zinc directly to oil. It would seem that my mother was half right!
Which Oil?
I guess you could do this with any oil but I prefer a lighter oil less gloopy than say olive oil.
I have usually used coconut oil as a base because it is light and easily obtained in glass jars. Some claim that coconut oils has an ability to deflect burning rays but the claims made for coconut oil are prodigious. Do not rely on coconut oil alone.
The problem with coconut oil in the UK at least, it solidifies below a certain temperature. This sun tan lotion needs to be liquid and well shaken before use because the ingredients separate. So if you use coconut oil, warm and shake it before applying.
More recently I used rice bran oil which is much cheaper and easily available. At least that is the case in Thailand. It is a light oil and does not solidify.
The ingredients separate so the lotion must be well shaken before use. If you are using an oil that solidifies like coconut you need to be sure it is liquid and well mixed before use.

Advantages Of Oil
Oily creams and oils are great for the beach because I feel they don’t wash off so easily in the sea as home made lotions do. And the oil itself seems to act as an added protection against the general drying effect of salt water and heat. My skin doesn’t feel as itchy. But then I am only using two ingredients no fragrances, no preservatives.
They give your skin a rather nice sheen.
And it is As Cheap As Chips
Adding zinc to rice bran oil is super cheap which means you can liberally apply this lotion. Very good if you are on a budget. Plus I get to use the oil for other things.
The disadvantages? – well it is rather… oily…

Non OIly Sun Block
This is a work in progress

But oily sun block is, well, oily. Anywhere near the hairline and it has the disastrous effect of making my locks all greasy. Not a problem on the beach where my hair is normally wet and again the coconut oil help protect it from going madly dry. But in town not such a good look.
Until now I have been adding zinc to a very thin, homemade lotion. It makes the lotion much thicker and I find it rather heavy to wear.

Since the oil zinc success I have tried adding zinc to neat vegetable glycerine. It seems to work fine but this is a work in progress.
The resulting lotion feels a bit sticky when you are applying it but that soon wears off.
It is much lighter than zinc creams.
The ingredients tend to separate so it needs shaking.
It is very very easy to make.

Store Bought Creams
Apparently you can add zinc to a store bought cream to make a suntan lotion. I have never tried this as I gave up shop bought years ago. But considering the success off adding it to oil I can see no reason why this wouldn’t work. Do remember that zinc makes your lotion thicker and much whiter. It might be a good idea to use a thin lotion as a base.
Apparently it helps if you warm them first.
Let me know how you get on!

Applying Cream
Sunscreens are unlikely to be fully effective after 2 hours
According to the skin cancer organisation  “you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle. Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.


There is lots more information about sun protection here. Do read up before you decide to make your own.

Travelling Plastic Free For Months
This discovery massively reduces your plastic when travelling. I carry all my own home made plastic free toiletries with me to avoid creating plastic waste which can present something of a problem. A years supply of sunblock is a lot to carry. So now I compromise. I take my own zinc and buy coconut oil (or rice bran oil) while travelling. I mix the zinc into the coconut oil to make a sun tan lotion great for the beach.

Microfine Titanium Dioxide

This is another product you can use to make your own sun block.

“Microfine Titanium Dioxide is accepted as a safe Sun Barrier all around the world. This is because it is inorganic and has a record of having no adverse reactions to it. This makes it ideal for products used on a daily basis.
It can be used in Sun Screens, Moisturisers, Powdered Make-up, Lip and Baby products and virtually any Skin Treatment product.
Adding 5% Microfine Titanium Dioxide to a product gives it a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of approximately 10 and protects against 90% UVA/UVB and UVC radiation. Adding 10% gives it a SPF of 15-20.
Add during the heating of the Vegetable Oil in the Fat Stage of making your product.”
The following information is from the website.

< span style="color: #ff0000;">Fragrance
Many recipes on line suggest adding essentials oils. In my opinion there is no real benefit to be derived from this as
they may make your skin more sensitive to light;
essential oils are resource hungry, have a large environmental footprint and should only be used on special occasions.
You can read more here


You can buy zinc on line.
It will come in a plastic bag- booo.
The best you can do is ensure the bags are polythene and so can be more easily recycled.
As I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients, I consider it a worthwhile compromise.


Creams & Lotions – Recipes

It is so easy to make your own creams and lotion that once you start you will never look back. The advantages are huge; you get to control what goes on your skin, be way more eco-friendly and save a whole load of cash. You can make almost anything the cosmetic companies sell but without the palm oil, dodgy chemicals and weird colours. Though you can have all those too if you want.

Lotion and cream is basically a mix of oills,waxes or butters with water combined using an emulsifier. Lotions are thinner, cream more solid.

Do you really need to make a cream? Many times you can use an oil or butter neat. But sometimes they are just too oily.

Many commercial creams including E45 use mineral oil. That’s derived from the same gloopy black oil we use to make petrol.


To make cream or lotion you will need

Oil, butters & waxes.
There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you. Generally speaking the richer the oil the heavier the cream, the more water you put in the lighter the lotion. There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.  See my guide to oils here.

There is much talk of using distilled water but I use tap.

Cooking thermometer
VERY useful .

Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.You have to add other ingredients to turn what is basically salad dressing into lovely thick cream. So in addition to oils and water you will need an emulsifier.

Optional. Oil on its own does not go off – there is no water for bacterial to feed on. Once you have added water to oil then it can. Now your creams are vulnerable to bacteria. Preservatives will help “keep” you r cream. I don’t use it as it can cause skin irritations. And I find cream without I less itchy on my skin. I have had a few pots of cream go mouldy but we are talking maybe 5 in the years I have been making my own creams. You can read up and buy preservatives here Aromantics

to put your cream in.

Notes On Emulsifiers

The most complex ingredient in cream is the emulsifier. The water and oils are simple enough but this is what makes them bind together.

There are a few completely natural emulsifiers  but they  do not give consistent results.
Most commercially used emulsifiers are manufactured. They are most often derived from coconut oil and palm oil. More recently, rapeseed has been used.
But some are produced from pig fats. Check what you buy.
I have tried a few with varied success BUT
A combination of VE Emulsifier, MF Emulsifier and Cetearyl Alcohol works every time and can be used to make a wide range of products from thick creams to thin lotions.

VE Emulsifier or Glyceryl Stearate is a vegetable-based emulsifier
Cetearyl Alcohol is a vegetable based emulsifying wax
MF Emulsifier or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate  can be fermented from lactose (milk sugar)but more commonly comes  from nondairy sources such as cornstarch, potatoes and molasses.

Palm Oil
Please note that all the above also may be derived from or include palm oil. Be sure to buy from a good practice supplier. For example there should be something this note on Aromantics VE emulsifier “The Palm oil that is used in both in MF/VE emulsifiers comes from suppliers that are either members of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil or a subsidiary company or who are members of FEDIOL which supports sustainability. FEDIOL is a European industry federation based in Brussels”.
You can read more about palm oil here.


Heat the Fat Stage ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal pot on hot water) until above 75°C. Use a thermometer to check.

Boil the water add the MF emulsifier and other Water Stage ingredients to 75°C.

Take off heat. Now pour the Fat Stage into the Water Stage in a slow steady stream before they drop below 75°C.

Mix well – I use a hand blender.

Allow to cool. Whisk occasionally to achieve a nice creamy consistency. As the mixture cools it becomes thicker and more creamy. It will reach its thickest consistency when it has cooled down to room temperature.

When the temperature is below 40°C you can add active ingredients
perfumes or essential oils and other magical things to make you look years younger.

You can also add specialist ingredients to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Put the Cream into jars and label.

Take Care

That everything you use is clean, very clean.
Make sure you have enough pots to store your cream in.
That you label it – and date it. Believe me you will forget!

Recipes & Kits

Here are some sample recipes.

Supermarket Cream (My recipe)

You can buy all these ingredient from the supermarket.  I cut the olive oil with the lighter almond oil because I find it rather heavy.
Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

Fat Stage


  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil Tesco’s or Asian Shop
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 20g coconut oil Tescos or Asian Shop
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Fancy Aromatics RecipeTo be honest I think this recipe has way to many ingredients but I like this company, I have used their products many times and think that this will probably make a nice cream. It is also useful to have a recipe that lists by percentages.

    You can experiment and use different oils, or even less oils. Just make sure the percentages stay the same. For example you can cut the thistle oil and use 10% Apricot Kernal Oil.

    By percentage
    Fat Stage (above 75°C)
    2% Cocoa Butter
    3% Macadamia Nut Oil
    7% Apricot Kernel Oil
    3% Thistle Oil
    2.5% VE Emulsifier
    2% Cetearyl Alcohol

    Water Stage (above 75°C)
    4.5% MF Emulsifier
    69% Boiling Spring Water
    2% Glycerine

    Third Stage (below 40°C)
    1% Preservative 12 or Eco
    1% Vitamin E Simulated Natural
    2% NFF Complex
    1% Essential Oils of your choice

    From Aromantics

    Rich Tropical Delights Cream (My recipe)

    Much easier far fewer ingredients. I cut the olive oil with Almond because I find it rather heavy.
    Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

    Fat Stage

  • 25 g VE Emulsifier
  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil
  • 30ml Coconut Oil
  • 20g Shea butter
  • 10g Cocoa butter
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Design Your Own
    You can adapt the mix of oils for the above recipes based on your personal preference.
    If you want to design you own cream from scratch, follow these guidelines…
    style=”font-size: medium;”>Emulsifiers 5-8%
  • Oils 12-20%
  • Water, Additives, and Botanicals to 100 %.


Trouble Shoot
Cream too thick? You cannot add more water once the mixture has cooled. This ruins the cream – it will not rub in. You will need to make a thinner lotion and mix your creams to achieve the desired consistency. You can add more oil and mix well. This of course makes your cream more oily.


If you want a thinner cream add more water at the water stage.


If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

Anti Aging, Sun Tan Lotion & Fake Bake
You can add  specialist ingredients to your base to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.


Aromantics is a good and ethical supplier of ingredients but expensive. I buy a lot of stuff in bulk from other suppliers. Ebay is a good source. Prices vary so do shop around.

I store my creams in old jars but for display  I have bought some glass jars with metal lids.

Plastic Spoiler

Most plastic base ingredients come in plastic bags but I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

Making Personal Care Products 

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on  toothpaste and other products  
and making other stuff – here.

Making creams while travelling

You cannot carry a years supply of home made cream in your rucksack so here are some ideas about making your own home made creams in hotel bedrooms.

If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.


Inhalers Homemade

Seems you can buy refillable inhalers. You soak the cotton wick in essential oils of your choice, put in the inhaler and sniff away.

If you live in the States you can buy these rather nice ones in glass and aluminium from  3.5 inches x .75 inches, outer shell is aluminum.

If you live in the U.K. you have to make do with these ugly plastic ones from Ebay. Yes, I know, plastic – but reusable rather than disposable.


To clear stuffed noses try Eucalyptus oil

Find more #plasticfree personal care products here



Eucaplyptus Oil

Replace plastic inhalers with a bottle of eucalyptus oil – but be careful, very careful how you sniff!


Essential oils concentrated and so should be used with some care.

Do not apply neat to the skin.

It is probably good practice to do an allergy test and do some further research.


If you are happy to bumble along with me and are aware of the risks of listening to someone who

a) doesn’t have any training in this field,

b) most of what they know comes from Google,

c) but has used essential oils for a long time with no ill effects…..

Welcome aboard but please, proceed with caution….

So thanks to the beastly cold I was waking every hour of the night unable to breath and feeling like an anvil had been rammed up my nose with a sledge hammer. The day was spent choking on my own thick, green, glue-like secretions and panting heavily through my mouth. Thankfully being in Thailand meant being close to chemists that sold medicines I could work with. By which I mean stuff I knew what to do with and recognized as medical aids not bats in a cage or some kind of incomprehensible mushroom. I love China but it can be hard to find a normal looking medicine.

The Big C supermarket has a chemist shop called Pure. It sells Eucalyptus oil which is made (extracted?) from the leaves and twigs of eucalyptus trees. It comes in a cute little glass bottle with a metal screw top lid. I have never tried it before but I had vague memories of it being used to clear noses. And, whoa, it sure does. It has a powerful strong smell  and after only a few whiffs  I could feel the mucas retreating and my nasal passages drying out. It was wonderful.

In no time at all I had developed a  full blown dependency and was acting like a badly-stressed, over-laced Victorian with her smelling salts. Every few minutes I would rummage desperately in by bag,  pull out the small, decorative bottle and sniff away.

While extremely effective, this method of application is not without its disadvantages. First the hotel staff looked a more than little startled as I snuffled past, pasty-faced and watery-eyed, a bottle jammed firmly up one nostril. Secondly I would occasionally miscalculate and get oil on my sensitive nose red and tender from days of vigorous blowing. It stings. a lot! Do not apply this oil neat to the skin.

So at night rather than rub it one my chest (winces at the thought), I liberally spattered my jim jams with dollops of the stuff. Phwoar!  I slept peacefully enfolded in a nostril-clearing, buzzing haze of fumes. Sure I smelt like an old folks home and woke up with a dry and scratchy throat but it was a small price to pay for an almost undisturbed night.

Google claims Eucalyptus oil is good for pain and swelling (inflammation) of respiratory tract mucous membranes, coughs, bronchitis, sinus pain and inflammation, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and respiratory infections. It works as an expectorant to loosen coughs, antiseptic, fever reducer, and in vaporizer fluids. Other uses include treatment of wounds, burns, ulcers, cancer, genital herpes, and nasal stuffiness, as an insect repellent, a fragrance in perfumes and cosmetics, a mouthwash, antiseptic, liniment and ointment, and in toothpaste, cough drops, and lozenges.

Web MD states that “Though eucalyptus is used medicinally for many purposes, there isn’t enough scientific evidence so far to rate it as effective for any of them.” It also states quite firmly that “eucalyptus oil should not be taken by mouth or applied to the skin full-strength. (!)

I don’t advise you use it for treating serious medical conditions. If I had cancer or gential herpes I would be looking  for something with a better proven medical track record. But I can certainly suggest Big C Eucalyptus oil as a plastic free way to alleviate nasal stuffiness.

You can buy refillable inhalers which would be a more discrete and safer way to self medicate.

Inhaler featured

Cold gone and  I still have almost all a full bottle of oil left so  I will be looking for other uses.

Dental Floss

I think that the floss dispenser itself might be plastic though the floss is biodegradable silk. Any one know?

1 x Radius Floss, handspun Silk Floss Waxed with Candelilla Wax 30 meters
1 x Radius Floss, handspun Silk Floss Waxed…

Online from Amazon as above or Big Green Smile

This is the blurb from the website…

  • “Radius Biodegradable Silk Floss is made from all natural, pure silk coated in candelilla wax.
  • This is not a vegan product.
  • Radius Silk Floss is the only certified organic fully bio-degradable floss. It is made from 100% pure silk farmed by a Columbian Fair Trade Co-op.
  • Radius Silk Floss is completely compostable.

I have never used it so I don’t know how plastic free the whole product actually is – is the box plastic wrapped? I would assume so. What is the silk wrapped around? But the floss itself is plastic free. Two steps forward, one back I would guess.

Any input gratefully received.


Condoms & Lubricants

If all goes well on Valentines day you may well be planning some intimate moments. Time to check out condoms.

Condoms come in the following materials….

Latex: made of latex rubber from rubber trees a natural and therefore biodegradable. Which has led to claims that that latex condoms are biodegradable. Which is hotly debated! Latex condoms contain addatives to make them (amongst other things) stronger. Many people say that even if they do eventually decompose, (not proven),  it takes such a long time as to make any claims of biodegradability  misleading. Certainly the anti-balloon camp do not consider latex balloons to be biodegradable despite what the balloon industry say. So, for the time being, lets leave latex on the shelf for further study.

Synthetic materials: polyisoprene, polyurethane and silicone. All of these are non- biodegradable materials.

Lambskin: sheeps intestines – no good for you vegans out there but definitely biodegradable.

Lets find out more

Here is some blurb from the British Condom shop about Trojan NaturaLambs, the make of lambskin condoms they sell

“These condoms are made from a natural membrane and while that may sound strange at first, they are one of the most comfortable, intimate, and largest condoms on the market. Most notable is their ability to transfer heat.

NaturaLamb condoms also have the exclusive Kling-Tite draw string at the base for added safety.

NOTE: These condoms do NOT protect against STDs, only unwanted pregnancy!”

Some more….

I am sure the packaging will contain plastic elements but then so will all the others. This appears to be the best option for condoms you can compost. The next question is would you want to?


Lambskin condoms can be used with both water-based and oil-based lubricants. However most commercially produced lubricants come in plastic bottles and many contain paragons, a preservative that causes some people concern. If you want something completely natural, go for for coconut oil. If you like this blog you know we love coconut oil – but don’t take our word for it, read this is a great write up about coconut oil in the bedroom.

NB If you find the smell overwhelming you might like to buy an odourless coconut oil. In Yorkshire? – you can buy coconut oil here

If you want to go for a traditional product here’s a good write up on what is available in the world of lubricants.

Buy From Amazon

Trojan Naturalamb Luxury Non Latex Condoms (10 Pack) Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
Trojan Naturalamb Luxury Non Latex Condoms …
Made from sheeps intestines
Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1


Amazon Products

Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source. But sometimes you can’t buy local so I have put together an Amazon catalogue.

Yes we do get an affiliation fee for this, and no we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.



Toothbrushes – bamboo

I have tried natural toothbrushes and I am not that keen. They quickly go kind of pulpy and I didn’t feel  they are up to the job. So have gone back to my electric toothbrush consoling myself with the thought that
a) the heads are half the size of a normal plastic toothbrush
b) I make my own toothpaste and
c) these are my TEETH.


When I first started my boycott you could only buy bamboo brushes on line. Now you can get them from many health food shops and even Waitrose.  I haven’t tried them for the above reasons but here are two makes I have used.


After months of vigorous scrubbing my plastic tooth-brush  had come to the end of its working life. Greatly excited I got out my wooden and natural bristle, completely biodegradable toothbrush .
These brushes are made by Cebra and they say in the blurb…

  • wooden toothbrushes – made from sustainable wood (beech)
  • with natural (as opposed to acrylic) bristles
  • can be disposed off easily and in an eco friendly way
  • superb cleaning power and very gentle on teeth and gum
  • lasts as long if not longer than a plastic toothbrush

Sad to say it didn’t work for me. There was not enough in the way of friction. The bristles quickly got soft and pulpy then started to disintegrate.
But maybe they will be good for you. If you fancy trying them you can get them here.

Save Some Green

James of Save Some Green Uk sent me some bamboo brushes to try I was hesitant. Eager to give the natural toothbrush another chance, worried in case I didn’t like them and so upset James. But James will be happy to hear the interim feed back on the all natural brush. This has a bamboo handle and natural fibre bristles described on the website as follows
“These toothbrushes are made from bamboo which will rot down to nothing, causing little impact to the environment plus they are BPA free.
I have been using it in conjunction with my electric toothbrush for the above reasons. Now I tend to be an enthusiastic scrubber. I use the electric brush to scour my mouth so vigorously it hurts. So it is nice to have a softer option. This partial use also gives the bamboo brush time to dry out which I thinks helps keep it firm.
I have been following this regime for over 3 months now and the brush is holding up well.
I am assuming that packaging is all biodegradable but the white internal wrap has me baffled. I have asked James for some more info.
You can get them on-line from . This online shop is aware of problematic plastic misuse and have a great packaging policy. Tell them you want no plastic packaging and you will be heard.

More #plasticfree dental care can be found here

You can find lots more beauty tips here – plastic free of course!


Tampons with applicator – plastic-free

Much as I love the Mooncup ( an internal, reusable, menstrual cup ) there are times when it is just a little bit, well, hands on! Occasionally you need to use disposable internal protection but the impact on the planet, and possibly your body, weighs heavy on your mind. And quite rightly so!

Step up Natracare who realising that “Most applicator tampons are made from 100% rayon or a mixture of rayon and conventional cotton, overwrapped with polypropylene, a by product of the petroleum industry. The applicator tubes of many brands are often made from plastic.”  have brought out a completely compostable, organic cotton tampon with cotton cord. It has a biodgradable cardboard applicator. The tampon comes wrapped in paper and packed in a cardboard box. “They are non-chlorine bleached and women can be reassured that they do not contain synthetic materials, such as rayon, or chemical additives such as binders or surfactants. Certified organic cotton removes the risk of direct exposure to residues from chemical pesticides and fertilisers used on traditional cotton.”


I was given some to sample which I dished out to the laydeez. I and they can confirm that they work as well as any other. But over here at PIR we test rigorously and I did the bag test. You know the one where you carry round your emergency tampon that gets jumbled up in the bottom of your bag Yes for sure some people out there have special little wallets – I don’t. So here’s a bit of news for the rest of you bag sluts: the paper wrapper lasts just as well as plastic. Weeks later a bit battered but still fine. You can see the full range of Natracare products  here ,  and stay tuned to PIR for more reviews. Coming up next – pantyliners (how I hate that word) You can find lots more plastic-free, menstrual products here

Non Applicator Tampons – massively plastic reduced

While the actual tampon is as above and plastic free, the wrapping is plastic. “Our non-applicator tampons are wrapped in polypropylene due to obligatory medical device regulations!”


You can buy these products in shops. If you want to get them on line try Ethical Superstore or Amazon 

More plastic free menstrual aids here


Body Butter

One of the joys of living plastic free is that you have all kinds of useful base ingredients in the cupboards so should you OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAever forget anything, like a birthday say, you can easily remedy the situation with this fantastic bodybutter / intensive repair cream, any old guff to suit cream…. in minutes!

Here’s my recipe for super-fast, super-creamy body butter

60 grams coconut oil – hard
60 grams shea butter

5 grams oil – any oil

Mash it up with a spoon then whisk with a hand whisk to make lovely,fluffy body butter.

I Never Forgot Essential Terry’s Chocolate Orange Love Mousse.

Add some Cocoa and some Sweet Orange essential oil to the body butter

Because this is meant to be used fast, I put it in a hand decorated, compostable, paper/PLA pot from Vegware. Being paper, these are easy peasy to draw on so you can quickly personalise your pot. Few hearts and kisses later, pop the lid on, top with a card and tie up with hairy string. For sure the drawings could have been better but I only had a Sharpy, a fluero highlighter and time was against me.

NB go steady on the cocoa, too much and there is a chance you will end up looking like a politically incorrect, 70’s song and dance troupe. This can work against you in the romance department.

I Never Forgot Rose Essential Hand Repair.

Something for Mum? Here I added some colour and rose essential oil to make. I put this is one of my posh pots – glass with a metal lid….classy!

Base ingredients

I love aromantics and buy most of my stuff from them but there are loads of good guys out there

You can get Coconut oil locally


Pots, bottles and closures




Shaving is a big part of almost every adults life wether a beard or a bikini line. Back in the day razors were reusable items now of course they are plastic and throwaway. Obviously something has to done about this. Both the husband and I have trialled the razors on the market. Heres a quick synopsis of our findings:
Not shaving:
Electric reusable razor – plastic but long lasting – my preferred option.
Metal safety razor with a reusable body and a disposable metal blade – did not work for either of us:
Metal cut throat razor with a blade you can sharpen – way too scary for us:
Disposable razor – the husbands preferred options but he has found ways to extend life and reduce use:

Not Shaving…Happy Days Of Hairy Legs

Razors always gave me a horrible shaving rash so  I stopped shaving my legs. This was back in the 80’s when I was a student. In those days and social circles it was perfectly acceptable to stomp round in D.M.s, proudly sporting fuzzy legs. How I miss them. But times change and so do bodies. Now everyone is depilated to within an inch of their labia and with age my leg hair has got thicker and blacker. While I would never go for a Brazilian I did feel the pressure at work to shave my legs. And I gave in. It was that kind of job and office.

Electric Shaver

But age did not change my extreme reaction to razors so for a long time I waxed. Then one day I tried an electric razor. Wahey. No shavers rash at all. I know that an electric razor is made from plastic but my battery operated Phillips has lasted years and is still going strong. I appreciate that shaving your legs is not absolutely essential but there is a strong social pressure to do so. I think a reusable plastic shaver is plastic fairly used. What do you say?

A Dry Shave Is A Greener Shave
PLUS an electric shave is a dry shave which cuts down on your hot water use. Apparently the most carbon intensive part of your shave is the hot water used. Wet shaves are way less green. You can read more about this here.
You can read more about the plastic we use here….

Metal Safety Razor  razor personal

This has a metal body and takes double sided, disposable metal blades which you have to replace.
Husband being a tightwad he bought a rattly old thing from an Indian bazaar. he hated it. I spent ages trying to persuade him to give the metal razor another go. My argument is he bought a rubbishy, cheap thing and paid the price. His argument was TWENTY FIVE QUID FOR A RAZOR. And yes they are expensive. But that said you  save loads on the blades over time and of course cut your waste. Finally I made and executive decision and went and bought him one.

Using A Safety Razor
Well neither of us could get the hang of the safety razor. Hubby still cut himself to bits I still got a  revolting shaving rash But there are others out there who swear by them. Check this out

After posting about our close shaves with a razor in some of my favourite zero waste groups, I got loads of positive responses. FYI   I have quoted  some below. Thank you for taking the time guys….
“I love my safety razor i use it with my homemade coconut oil soap as it lathers well. (On my legs and underarms) yes i do shave slightly slower but have never cut myself (well not so far!)”
Others say that you have “to get the angle right when shaving, and it is a difference since you don’t need to apply any pressure to the handle. I just let it glide along the skin and it works great, the one and only cut I got was when I turned the angle too sharp and pressed down by accident.”

I got  a Merkur Razor. It is a metal razors with disposable old style double-edged blades  from our local hardware (Huddersfield) shop which is wonderful.

But I could have got him a Mutiny Box Shaving Kit. These guys are ” Anti-corporate! Anti-plastic! Anti-animal testing! Vegan friendly! Carbon Neutral! Yoghurt-knitting! Lentil-weaving! Tree-hugging! Wet shavers!” 

And they sell a shaving kit which as long as you don’t mind the synthetic bristles (plastic) in the shaving brush, is almost plastic free. I haven’t used them so cannot judge the quality but I like their style.
mutiny shave featured

And at 24.99 very reasonable indeed. Check out the website…


You can also get razors, and the replacement blades, on Ebay.

Blade Plastic Spoiler

Sometimes the blades will come in a plastic box but it is possible to get them in cardboard. I quote from Facebook here: “I’ve been buying blades from they have free delivery in the uk. I bought a package of different kinds of blades since I wanted to try them out and they all came in cardboard and individually wrapped in paper.”

Straight Razor

Seems the hard-core, zero-waste find the safety razor too easy and have moved on to a straight razor which, (I think), is also known as a cut throat razor. Yes one of those Sweeney Tod things.

For the love of pies why?

Because “it gives me a closer shave and cause I don’t have to change a blade.” Rather “you just have to sharpen it every once in a while and use a strop at home before each use to align the blade.”

And not just for the gents but “a small Dovo made for women that I adore, it’s great for getting to the back of the knee and the bikini.”

Any one fancy guest posting on the straight razor? I would love to know more but I am never, ever going to try myself. I say I am clumsy is to understate. Currently got two fingers wrapped in plasters from a rather nasty paper cut! Quite frankly I would prefer to look like a monkey then return of the mummy.

Disposable Razor

Husband went back to disposable blades limited his use of them by growing a beard. So on trend!

For the few bits he still has to shave he used a Gillette  blades with the reusable handle. Being, as already stated, careful in the wallet region he hoards those heads and uses them for ever.

Read this Indestructables post on how to keep your blade sharp for months .

Or you could invest in a Razor Saver  “The Stay Sharp Razor Saver keeps your blades clean and free of hair, skin and soap buildup that lead to dull blades and uncomfortable shaves. Patented friction technology cleans and sharpens to make you feel like you’re shaving with a brand new blade, every day! Works with all men’s and women’s blades including cartridge, disposable and double edge blades, and guaranteed to extend the life of your razor up to 6 times your normal use.”

You can further cut your plastic by getting a “Beautiful, Oiled Beechwood Handle, Fits Mach3 Blades” They also do oak and olive wood.






Jars & Pots

After you have made your own home- made creams and lotions you need to store them in something. If you have
nothing else, you can use your PLA deli pots – they seem to last just fine, and then you can compost them.

Old glass jam jars are fine for storing the excess but you  want to think twice before using glass in the bathroom what the hard tiles, slippery hands, bare feet and  shattering  potential.

Nope this is a case for an unbreakable product. Plastic bottles  are good in the bathroom. You can see what you have and they are totally safe. The greenest way  is to reuse the pots and bottles you  already have – my old shampoo bottle is still going after  5 years of refills

Pretty Bottles

bottles jars

But when it comes to bottles that can be seen,  I  am shallow and I like the bathroom to look good. So I recycled all my old bottles and  bought some  funky  plastic that look nice. Also some rather swish  aluminium  bottles.   Please note – all the suppliers I use line their products  with a resin ( plastic) liner.

In the boudoir (a marginally less  dangerous environment), you can  use glass, by far the nicest product. Once again the uber green amongst can reuse jam jars  however I went out and bought simple  glass jars which I matched with aluminium lids.

You can get all sorts of closures for bottles from simple screw caps to flip lids,  pumps and sprays. It really depends on the nature of your product. You can get plastic lids but I use aluminium caps and  lids because they look the best and can be easily recycledt.

Please note that all closures  almost always have a small plasticised paper disc inside.

I have been using my bottles jars and lids for years now and they are still looking good and working well.


You can buy all the above from naturally thinking



Believe me you will forget what is in your bottles and you will have to label them. You can write on the bottle with a waterproof pen though in my experience the writing does eventually wash off. You can buy plastic labels from the supplier below for a very reasonable rate. Apparently they last for five years so you might think that this is fair trade off. Or you can use wooden or aluminium  labels ( try garden stores or craft stores), or even cardboard tags and tie them onto your bottles.


For more on home made beauty products check out keep pretty plastic free



Antisceptic, tooth whitener and mouthwash …

Bought a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from Big C Supermarket in Thailand. The bottle is glass the cap is metal. Plastic free you might think?  well, apart from the plastic lid liner and plasticised paper label. However it is  massively plastic reduced. You can also buy it Boots in a plastic bottle.

It is my choice of  antiseptic for my travel medical kit. I use it to clean cuts and grazes.

But, as I hardly ever cut myself I also use it as

A mouth wash and  to help whiten the teeth. But only occasionally because there are lots of conflicting reports on the healthiness of such activities. This is a useful read 

Mouthwash Mix: 1 part hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 part water. Rinse mouth, then spit out. Discard and left over solution or use it as extra solution.

For another great mouthwash recipe try this blog

or this one for lots more

And don’t stop at the mouthwash, there are lots of wonderful sounding things in there.

Bleach Hair

Use a 3% solution to bleach your hair

Ear Wax

Soften and loosen the earwax with warm mineral oil or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal amount of room-temperature water. Place 2 drops of the fluid, warmed to body temperature, in the ear twice a day for up to 5 days. Be sure to warm the fluid because cold fluid can cause pain and dizziness. Web MD

And there are lots more things you can with hydrogen peroxide here.


Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% - 500ml Care 200ml Hydrogen Peroxide 6 Percent Solution
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – 500ml
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – 500ml

You can buy Hydrogen Peroxide on line from Amazon and other places. You can find more online products and read our Amazon policy here,

NB may come in a plastic bottle – you will have to decide if this represents a plastic free saving. I think so  because I get to do so much with it.

Other plastic free beauty products can be found right here.

Want to find more travel related plastic free tips? Check out the travel category