I dunno if you've noticed, but, I have hair that touches my butt crack, or when braided, it touches the tip of my hip bone. It's thick and unruly. I wear a little makeup in my regular life and I like to use nice skin care products. Since I make/made bath and body products for a living, it's only natural to have an interest in these things and how I'd translate my normal body and hair care to the trail.
Here's what I've got going on and what I plan to carry and resupply with while on the PCT.
For facial care, I am using Trader Joe's tea tree face pads and CeraVe face wipes. I used these on the Oregon Coast Trail and loved the combination for my oily breakout prone skin. Face wipes can double as butt wipes.
I use minimal sunscreen. I'll use it on my face in some areas or on a very exposed part of my body like my legs or arms if I'm walking in a shadeless area. I won't launch into a long rant about my personal beliefs around the sun and what kind of damage it does to our skin. Yes, it does damage our skin to some extent. But we have lived on this planet longer without sunscreen than with it. Once my skin has adjusted to the sun I don't burn, I just get a dark tan. It's actually more work and more mess to have to clean off sunscreen each night before getting into my sleeping bag. On the PCT, combine sunscreen with dirt, dust and sweat and you're just a big greasy dirty mess. The oils from the sun screen also shorten the lifespan of the down inside my sleeping bag. Getting sun screen into a water source that others might be drinking from is also kinda gross. So, I avoid it.
For my hair, I'm going to give it a good wash before I fly to San Diego, slather in some olive oil and keep it in two braids for most of my hike. When I take the occasional zero (a day of rest and no hiking) I'll likely give it a rinse or a wash. In my 20's I had dreads for several years, so my scalp is fairly well adjusted to not washing it very frequently. I bought a cheap comb that I broke in half and use to brush my hair.
I do have olive oil that I infused with calendula, lavender, marshmallow root and chamomile. I'm probably going to find a tiny squeeze bottle to use it as a hair oil, or for any dry irritated skin patches.
For soap and my body, I sent myself a few sliced up pieces of Zum's frankincense and myrrh soap. It's the best stuff ever and smells so warm and good. Showers won't be frequent and even if you have "biodegradable" soap, it is NOT GOOD to wash yourself in streams, lakes or any water source as it does indeed damage the fragile life and ecosystems within these bodies of water. So, washing will be done in sinks, bathrooms and whenever I have precious access to a shower! This is a leave no trace practice and something that should be practiced, no matter where you are.
LADY TIME & "DOWN THERE"
Or you know, being on your period. I really thought about trying the Divacup, but I just never gave myself the time to even try it out and get used to it. So, I'm just gunna wear tampons and yes, pack them out in my little garbage bag on trail. I also tend to pack out my toilet paper, yes, even after I poop. It sounds gross, but you know what is even more gross? Seeing toilet paper in a beautiful wilderness area that someone didn't properly bury or pack out. If you fold up your toilet paper just right (wet wipes works well) and fold up your garbage bag correctly, you won't deal with too much smell. Truth is, you're gunna get really smelly while hiking for a long time. It's just a fact of trail life and thruhiking.
I am a person who doesn't find or feel much shame for bodily functions and when you're on trail, you lose basically all shame for the things that happen with your body. Poop is a regular topic of conversation!
For urine, I use a pee rag. A small bit of bandana that I use to wipe myself afterwards and I then attach it to the back of my pack where the sun will clean it. I know, this sounds gross, but it actually barely smells at all and it's reuseable. I also enjoy these pack towels. They work really well.
An Unusual Tip
One interesting trick, that does cost some money and some of you may find strange is... to get yourself a brazilian wax. Hair traps sweat, dirt and smell. Having a bare and hairless crotch is fucking great. I mean, super great. (I do like to leave a pizza shaped hair triangle). It hurts like hell, I won't lie but the benefits outweigh the 30 minutes of mild torture you go through when getting waxed. I started doing this back when I was road cycling a lot and dealing with ingrown hair and saddle sores. This really helped make things a million times more comfortable for me. It's not for everyone, but it works for me. I likely won't get waxed like that while I'm hiking, but I will start the trail like this for sure. It'll be especially nice in the desert.
I also decided to wax my legs. I'm not hair phobic, I promise! Leg hair I find super irritating when I am wearing socks or tights, it just itches and tugs at my leg hair and hurts. It drives me nuts. So, I bought some Nads strips and spent like three days ripping hair out of my legs.
Armpits? Psh! Keepin' it, always.
So that's what I've got going on hygiene wise. I'm really excited about using that soap!