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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Big Trip Preparations: Health and Beauty Aids

Why yes, a post about toiletries!

As a man without health problems* and an aversion to colognes and hair products, my personal grooming needs are minimal.  As someone who's traveled extensively over the past decade, I've had a bit of practice in figuring out what I need and works.  I've whittled down my toiletry needs to a few basic items.  I pretty much use the same items whether it's at home or on the road.  So what do I use, and why?

If at all possible I bring things that can be used for multiple things.  That's why I am an enthusiastic fan of Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps in liquid form. They're organic and not tested on animals. Dr. Bronners comes in many different "flavors", but the one I usually use is Peppermint.  While the basic use is body soap, the greatest thing about Bronners is its almost infinite versatility.  I've found at least five uses for it while traveling: body soap, shampoo, shaving cream, laundry soap, and dish soap. (Use for birth control not recommended anymore.)  All in one! All one!  And of course the second greatest thing about Bronners is all the crazy writing all over the bottle!

As an aside, I've also become a convert to Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap.  Yeah, it's got that "manly" musky tar scent, but I like it.  Blame Grant Peterson for this new find.  I'm going to leave this one home, however, just because Dr. Bronners is more versatile and portable.

I could just forgo shaving on the trip, as some guys who've biked cross-country have done.  While not worrying about shaving is tempting, I follow the template of Dad and only grow beards during the winter months.  As for razors, I've used basic disposables in the past while traveling since they're easy to find.  This time I'll bring my Preserve safety razor instead.  As for "cream", I've used Bronners in the past, but I just discovered shaving oil. It lubricates the skin instead of foaming like a cream. The particular kind I got is from Pacific Shaving.  The idea is 5-7 drops will be enough to cover the shaving area.  And the bottle is tiny so it won't take up much space, while lasting a long time!  I've tried it a couple times, and it works just fine.  I wouldn't necessarily say it's better than cream, but it does the job.

I've used Tom's of Maine typed hippie deodorants in the past, but just switched to Crystal, which is basically a big lump of mineral salt.  The basic idea is these salts neutralize the bacteria that causes stink. After a few weeks of usage, I conclude that it works, though I can't say if it's better than the other hippie deos I've used.  What I will say is better is that it lasts a long time.  I haven't noticed any depreciation in "the rock", whereas normal deodorant would be a third to half gone by now.  It's supposed to last up to a year, so this bar should last throughout the tour.  One less thing to worry about.

Nothing too special here: Toothbrush of the travel variety for tour, a Tom's or knockoff for the toothpaste, and some floss.

And that's it for the basics.  Other add-ons will be:
Handi-wipes (very useful for cleaning oneself between showers)
Hand sanitizer
Bug spray (even though we'd rather not, we'll be using Deet based insect repellents, since the hippie ones do  jack shit.)

What do you folks use out there?  Any tips and tricks?

*that I know of


  1. You can use Dr. Bronner's on your teeth. I prefer a real toothpaste, but it works and it's one less tube of goop to bring along.

    The shaving oil is probably a good solution. Shaving creams, especially the common stuff in the can, don't have much in the way of lubricants in them. I prefer a shaving soap with glycerin, but that takes up some space and requires a brush.

    I've had a lot of problems with stick deodorants clogging the pores in my pits. It's rather uncomfortable. So I stick with aerosols. But I may try the Crystal. Thanks for mentioning it.

  2. Yeah, I know that you could use Bronners as a dentifrice. But something about that doesn't appeal to me. Soap in mouth and all that.

    What I really need to find is Dr. Duck's Super Secret All Purpose Sauce. (If you are anyone other than Heather Andrews and get that reference, I admire you.)

    The Crystal doesn't feel "cloggy" so maybe it'd work for ya?

  3. Ah...I seriously gave some thought to buying some Dr Bronners Magic soap today (Lavender variety)...but alas...all the writing and instructions in ounces put me off.
    I'll try it one day.

    In regards to deodorants...they are an absolute must when the weather starts to warm up...but in the cold of winter...I just don't bother and never seem to perspire much (if at all). So that kind of solves all clogged up underarm pores for the winter at least.

    Good luck with your trip though. Sounds great...and epic. :)

  4. WT--Oh, you need not worry about the ounces! Or the incomprehensible writing! You just need to know to Dilute! Dilute! OK! OK! (And I say give it a shot the next time.)

  5. Ha ha! Michael Nesmith fans in the hizz-ouse! I am so honored that you thought of me. : )

    Slightly uninteresting anecdote: I bought my first Crystal Stick in about 2001, and it was serving me quite well until a couple weeks ago, when it fell out of its container and shattered as it hit the tiled floor in my bathroom. While I wasn't using it every single day during those ten years, I did use it a LOT, and upon its death, it was only about half-gone.

    A slight lesson to be taken from this: for the purposes of your trip, if you can find one of the travel-size ones, that might be a great way to save space.


  6. I've been so much happier since getting off the Crystal after years of use. In fact this Thai stuff is indeed an aluminum product, albeit of more natural origin, but most importantly, it's a rather effective Anti-Perspire-nt. It clogged me up like nothing else.. took me years to realize that it was the Crystal that was making my sweat glands hurt.
    But to each their own, I just wish it was advertised as being more than just a deodorant.
    -Josh G,

  7. Josh, thanks for sharing yr experience with Crystal. So far it's working, but good to know that there can be problems with it. I think in the end there's issues with any deodorant, and I don't really like deodorants to begin with.


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