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I plan to make this a regular installment on the blog, and to post a new Favorite Things the first Wednesday of each month. For this month’s edition, I thought I would go with some products that can be used by women AND men.

Trader Joe’s Shaving Cream

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If you’re not already aware that Trader Joe’s carries a number of personal care products, you are missing out. (And if you’re unfortunate enough to live in a place with no Trader Joe’s, I’m very sorry, because you’re really missing out.) TJ’s Moisturizing Shave Cream is wonderful. It’s not a gel or a foam, like most drugstore-brand shaving products. It has a pleasant honey and mango scent, and a nice, creamy texture–a little bit like yogurt. It’s paraben- and cruelty-free, 100% vegetarian, and has aloe and botanical extracts. It will leave your skin soft and moisturized. And it comes in a plastic tube instead of a metal can, which makes it easier to pack for travel. (It only comes in an 8-ounce size though, so it’s not carry-on suitable.) And at $3.49, it’s a steal for something so eco-friendly.

Burt’s Bees Body Wash

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I love Burt’s Bees. Love them. I have so many of their products, it was difficult to choose just one for this post. I feel a personal affinity for them because they’re based in Durham, North Carolina, where I lived for three years. But they’re also just a great company. All of their products are cruelty-free, 98-99% natural, and free of nasty stuff like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and petrochemicals. And they’re made in the USA. We’ve been using the Fabulously Fresh body wash, which has a peppermint and rosemary scent, but I just bought Extra Energizing, which is citrus (grapefruit, orange, lemon, AND lime) and ginger. The scents are powerful and can really jazz up your shower, and they create a great foamy lather that can be hard to come by with some natural products. Burt’s Bees used to be found only in specialty shops, but in the past few years they’ve become much more readily available. Target carries a good selection at a decent price point ($8.79 for this body wash), but I’ve found that most Burt’s Bees products are less expensive at soap.com ($7.99) and amazon.com ($6.39). The only problem with buying from the websites is that you have to meet their $49 and $35 minimums, respectively, for free shipping. (Burt’s Bees website sells it for $8 but also has a $49 minimum for free shipping.)

Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste

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Another company that I absolutely love. My husband introduced me to Tom’s of Maine seven years ago, and I will never use another brand of toothpaste again. (They make other products, but I mostly just use their toothpaste.) Target and Trader Joe’s both carry a limited selection of Tom’s products (they’re cheaper at TJ’s), and you can buy direct from Tom’s online. We alternate between the Simply White Toothpaste Gel and the Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste. I personally prefer the gel because it’s a bit firmer than the paste, which has a tendency to slide off your brush if you’re not careful. But my husband likes the paste; hence, the alternating purchases. (Yes, we could each have our own tube of toothpaste, but that seems silly.) Tom’s toothpaste doesn’t have the sweetness of most drugstore brands, but it also doesn’t have the weird, gritty taste of baking soda toothpastes. All Tom’s products are natural, vegetarian, and cruelty-free. And the mint scent and flavor comes from actual mint leaves, not something mint-scented that was created in a lab.

The Honest Company Lip Balm

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I’ll be honest with you (pun intended), part of the reason I first tried this product is that The Honest Company was started by Jessica Alba. I’m a big fan of eco-friendly, natural products (obviously), and I respect that Alba started the company because she wanted natural products for her babies. So far, the only product I’ve used is the lip balm, but they have free discovery kits that let you test out some of their offerings. (Note: they’re not entirely free–you have to pay $5.95 for shipping. And they also enroll you in their monthly service, which you then have to cancel if you don’t want it.) The lavender mint and sweet orange vanilla balms have a lovely, natural scent in the tube and as you apply, but it’s not the kind of scent that you can smell while you’re wearing the product. The balm is very soft and smooth going on and gives your lips a nice, moist-looking shine without looking like you’ve put on a lip gloss, which makes them suitable for men too. They wear a reasonably long time too–I generally can go several hours without reapplying (usually after eating it needs to be reapplied). The $9.95 price on the Honest Company website seems to be pretty standard. That’s what I paid for mine at Nordstrom. For three organic lip balms, that’s a good price.

Hendrick’s Gin

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Okay, fine, this isn’t a beauty product, but I do love it, and it can be enjoyed by both women and men, so there! Seriously though, if you’re a gin drinker and you haven’t yet tried Hendrick’s, I insist that you do. If your regular bar doesn’t stock it, find a new bar. A former coworker recommended it to me a few years ago, and it’s now our house gin. What sets Hendrick’s apart is the infusion of Bulgarian rose and cucumber. It’s a small-batch gin made in Scotland by a female distiller (not terribly common) named Lesley Gracie for a family-owned distillery (not a worldwide beverage conglomerate). They have a delightfully whimsical website and a blog called The Unusual Times. Hendrick’s will cost you a bit more than the more well-known gins–it’s $26.99 for a 750 ml bottle at Total Wine–but it’s worth it.

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