Personal Care

Lotion Commotion

Your biggest organ is your skin. And it is quite absorptive! I frequently prescribe medications that are absorbed solely by applying to the skin. You want to be careful about what you put on your skin regularly. Also, lotions almost all come in single-use plastic containers. Unless the company will take it back to refill it, it is single use.

Many lotions dry out your skin more in the long run. What your dry skin needs more than anything else is water. The purpose of lotion is only to hold the water close to your skin long enough for your skin to absorb water, or to keep water from evaporating out of your skin. Since many lotions are quite liquidy, they actually dry out your skin as the liquid in them evaporates. That makes you need to buy more lotion! For my patients who have severely dry skin, I often find that their lotions are actually making it worse. When you do use lotion, it should be thick in texture and act as a barrier to keep water against your skin.

For info on the safety regulation of commercially produced lotions, watch this video by The Story of Stuff. It says it better than I could.

All this to say, I finally got rid of most of my lotion bottles! There were still a lot considering how many I threw out early this year while Konmari-ing! Most of them were samples and I had thought, “Well…it doesn’t really spark joy, but there is such a small amount so I’ll just use it up first.” That was 6 months ago…. I should have known better! According to Marie Kondo, the lotions and creams in smaller bottles go bad quite quickly. Lots of people save them to use when traveling, but as Kondo points out, is traveling on a vacation really the best time to use expired products? Isn’t that when you should be using your best?

Most of our travel-sized lotions come through freebies. Getting “free” samples feels good at the moment, but these small tubes are especially bad for the environment as the product-to-container ratio requires much more plastic to be created. And if you’re like me, you only use half the bottle and then forget about it–soon having a large collection of expired lotions cluttering the bathroom. Here is the stash I threw out:


One great way to help stop yourself from collecting new items is to get rid of all the extras of that particular item that you already have. For example, now that I have rid my house of every sample tube of product, I am going to find it much easier to say “no” the next time I am in a hotel and am tempted to use their travel size items. Don’t get me wrong–it was quite painful to throw my stash out! “What if I need that oatmeal eczema cream one day!?!” But remembering that slight pain will help keep me from collecting more in the future. I’ll remember how I had to throw it all away and politely say “no thank you” the next time someone tries to sell or give me more lotion.

Sooooooo…Are you ready to make a change? If nothing else you will have a less cluttered bathroom at the end. What do you have to lose? Plan to take about 30-45 minutes and follow these steps:

  1. Take out every container of lotion that you have in your whole house. Every single one! Do you have a few squirreled away in a guest bathroom? What about in a bin in the attic that you always meant to unpack? (Yes, I had some there too!) Don’t forget to check the bedside table drawers and suitcase pockets. It is vital to get every single one.
  2. Don’t try to sort or organize the pile first. Don’t think about how much space you have or make a goal to keep only what fits in a certain basket. You will put it away later. Get out your trash can and put it next to you.
  3. Pick up each bottle one by one and decide if you should keep it. Throw it away if it is expired or if you have had it more than a year. Throw it away if it is travel sized. If you’re into Konmari, ask yourself if it sparks joy, otherwise, ask yourself if you already use it regularly and if it will be empty within the next few months. If not, toss it. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it was expensive and so you should keep it. You will keep buying expensive lotions if you do that!
  4. Toss your rejects directly into the trash. I know, hearing the thump of all that lotion go in the trash is painful! But it can’t be recycled if it has product in it, and many bottles aren’t recyclable anyway (especially the travel sizes because they are too small to sort out at the recycle center). For sure the lids will only cause problems at the recycle center. Promise yourself that these will be the last (or nearly the last) lotion bottles you will ever have to throw away.
  5. Now put away the ones you want to keep in a place you can reach easily when you want them.

I did keep two lotions that are from companies based in Europe where the quality standards are much higher than in America and one that is clay based which I will finish within the month. But when these are gone, we will all go to using the same homemade formula that I use for our 1 year old. She has super sensitive, dry skin and it works wonders for her. It is made with ingredients I can buy package free in Chattanooga. My recipe and instructions on buying the ingredients waste-free is Here. There is also an awesome company in Chattanooga where you can get high quality waste-free lotion in a refillable container called Good Fortune Soap.

It will feel great to only have 1 container of lotion in the house!

Side note: For travel, just bring your lotion with you! Or scoop out some into a small glass jar to fit the airline size restrictions. For guests, they probably brought their own products with them, but you can ask if they need lotion and let them use your waste-free stuff if they do. What a great way to share about how we can reduce the use of single-use plastic!

Final side note: Unless you have eczema or psoriasis, it is also ok to not use lotion! Drinking lots of water hydrates your skin from the inside and works better than most lotions anyway.

2 thoughts on “Lotion Commotion”

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