Simplified Bath And Beauty
This post is a bit different then what I normally write about. This week, divided into three posts, I wanted to share what we do to try to be more environmentally friendly, for our home, ourselves, and how we try to save money and time with the foods and products we chose, or chose not to use. Today is part two (you can read part one here). I’m still going to categorize these posts under Home Improvement, as they really do improve our home life 🙂 With that said, I realize that what works for us, wont necessarily work for everyone. But perhaps you might find one or two of these helpful.
There is a quote I like, from the 1995 movie Sabrina, where Sabrina says “More isn’t always better, Linus. Sometimes it’s just more“. Love that movie. That line has always resonated with me, and over the years I have tried to apply that principal to various aspects of life. One of which is with my bath and beauty routine. It took me several years to realize that my bathroom overflowing with products was just ‘more’. None of it was making life better. If anything, it was only making it more complicated, and more expensive. My motivation has been to avoid toxic chemicals, save time and money, help the environment, and keep it simple with less. Here are seven things we no longer use and replaced with more natural, less expensive alternatives:
Simplified Hair Routine
No. 1 No Liquid Shampoo. Who wants to slather on toxic chemicals all over their head, or buy pricey shampoos? I sure don’t. After nearly ten years of trying just about every natural product and homemade recipe out there, I kid you not, I even tried the ‘No Poo’ method (no shampoo at all), I have finally, FINALLY found what works best for my hair. It starts with washing my hair only two to three times per week. Washing hair every day is damaging. It strips your hair of it’s natural oil, but more on that later. The shampoo I use is actually in bar soap form, made by Chargrin Valley Soap And Salve Company. I prefer their Coconut Milk bar. Here are the reasons I think this is the best:
- Certified Organic
- Cruelty Free
- Rainforest Alliance Certified
- HUGE bar that lasts a really long time
- A little tiny bit goes a long way
- No plastic bottles/waste
- Easy for travel
- All natural, no chemicals
I have really thick hair, so when I first tried this shampoo I thought I had to use a lot of it. Which means I lathered up my head so much I looked like I had a giant whip cream hat on. This made rinsing it all out impossible. I ended up with heavy, dull, soapy residue hair. Then I went back to their site and read how you’re supposed to lather the bar. A little bit really does go a long way. It’s not drying and it doesn’t strip my hair. Better yet, not full of questionable chemicals.
No. 2 No Store Bought Conditioner. I settled on an old favorite conditioner of mine that I had tried nearly ten years earlier. I had stopped using it back then because I fell for the advertising propaganda, telling me that I should be using xyz ‘natural’ store bought conditioners. Then I just got lazy, and never switched back until last year. So what is my favorite? Good ole apple cider vinegar (or ACV for short). Sure it doesn’t smell like I dunked my head in a waterfall with vanilla and gardenias, like most conditioners do, due to their chemical fragrances. But it also doesn’t smell like anything at all once dry. Here are the reasons I love this stuff:
- Natural, no toxic chemicals
- Inexpensive (I buy it in bulk at Costco)
- Lasts a long time, a little goes a long way
- Makes hair soft and shiny
- No plastic bottles, waste
- Helps restore the natural pH level of the scalp and acid mantle
To use ACV as a conditioner, I pour around three table spoons into a 1 cup measuring cup, then dilute it by filling the rest of the cup with warm water. After shampooing, I pour half of the ACV over the top of my head, massaging it in, then I bend my head over and pour the remainder over the backside of my head, also massaging it in. I let it sit for a minute, then rinse. But did you know that your body creates it’s own conditioner? That natural oil that your scalp, face and body produces is called Sebum. Sebum is made up of triglycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters, squalene, cholesterol esters, and cholesterol. It delivers vitamin E to your skin and hair. Sebum moisturizes your skin and hair, keeping it from drying out. But most shampoos strip sebum from your hair. So you end up striping your hair of it’s natural (and free) conditioner full of nutrients, then spend money on products with inferior synthetically derived nutrients to put them back in your hair. By washing your hair only a few times a week instead of daily, you’re giving your hair a chance to benefit from all of those wonderful nutrients in that natural conditioner. If I want a deep conditioner, every once in a while I’ll comb extra virgin coconut oil through my hair and let it sit for an hour or more then wash it out.
No. 3 No Hair Beauty Products. What do I mean by ‘hair beauty’? Products that are marketed as making your hair pretty, like coloring, dyeing, curling, spraying, blow drying, etc.. I save time, money and more importantly my hair, by not purchasing these things. Besides saving money and time, this also means:
- No blow dryer. Don’t have to store one, nor listen to one, no dried out hair or split ends, no electricity usage.
- No hot curlers, rollers, wands, irons. Don’t have to store them, no cords, no accidental burns, no dried out hair or split ends, no electricity usage.
- No hair spray, gel, or other similar products. No chemicals, no gunk to wash out, no dried out hair or split ends, no plastic waste.
- No hair coloring, dyeing, perming. No toxic chemicals, no hair damage.
Simplified Skin Routine
No. 4 No Face Products. And I mean no face products. I went to a dermatologist a few years ago, and she asked me what products I use on my face, as my skin is clear, supple, has good tone and no wrinkles. She was surprised when I said “Water”. She was speechless for a moment, and asked “Only water? That’s it?” I told her that once or twice a week I would use a washrag to exfoliate, but other than that, I just washed with water, and only once per day at night before bed. I have no need for moisturizers, toners, concealers or makeup. And this coming from a person who had acne into her 20’s. It all has to do with what I no longer eat and what I no longer put on my skin. At around 27 years old, I stopped using makeup and skin care products cold turkey. Now nearing 50 years old, the only thing I put on my face is for my lips. I use natural chapstick or lip tint by Burt’s Bees. That’s it. No foundation, concealers, powders, eye shadow, blush, mascara, masks, toners, specialty creams, or anything else you can name. Remember the benefits of Sebum mentioned above? That and water is all a face needs.
No. 5 No Body Wash. Or typical bath soap for that matter. For the same reasons mentioned earlier about shampoo, is why I only use Simple Truth Castile Soap, I prefer their Honey Almond bar. But here’s the catch…. I only use it sparingly. Did you know that you don’t need to wash your body with anything other than water? Don’t believe me? My family, and a small handful of friends, have done so for over seven years now. How is this possible? Once again, Sebum. It is the perfect body wash. It creates a protective layer on your skin that blocks and traps bacteria and fungi, is a natural sunblock due the the UV absorbing nature of vitamin E (you should still use added sunblock), keeps your skin moisturized, and traps daily dirt and grime. When you shower, using your hands or a washrag on your body, you remove the top layer of sebum and it takes all that crud with it, leaving soft (not stripped), clean skin. What does this mean? It means no skin irritations, less eczema, soft skin, less wrinkles. Other benefits, not covering your body with toxic chemicals, no plastic waste in landfills, saving money, time and water.
For hand soap we like to use basic liquid castile soap.
No. 6 No Deodorant. Yes I wear deodorant. Just not the typical kind that most people are used to. Again, to avoid the toxic chemicals in most store bought deodorants, I go with a basic fix. I simply use a sprinkling of baking soda. It keeps me stinky free all day. It’s not sweat proof though. It isn’t like antiperspirants. But in all honesty, sweating is your bodies way of keeping you cool and getting rid of toxins, so why would you want to stop that up? So I sweat, but because of the baking soda, it just doesn’t stink. If there is a serious stink going on before I leave the house, I wash off my pits with a washrag and warm water, pat dry, then apply the baking soda. I did recently read that there exists an even better recipe using vodka, so I’ll of course be trying that!
Simplified Teeth Brushing
No. 7 No Toothpaste. Some years ago I read an article written by an editor of a beauty magazine, all about how our teeth shouldn’t be brushed more than once or twice per day and how toothpaste is unnecessary and full of chemicals. Naturally it sparked my curiosity, so I looked deeper into it. I found a couple of dentists who not only supported those claims, but gave compelling reasons as to why. From that day forward, I never used toothpaste again. A few years ago I went to the dentist. He asked me when I had my teeth cleaned last. I asked why. He said my teeth looked really good and was wondering when they were cleaned. I answered, telling him that I have never had my teeth cleaned before. He didn’t believe me at first, and asked “Never”?! I repeated that no I have never had my teeth cleaned. He basically told me to keep doing what I was doing.
Simplified Skin Remedies
(use discretion and try at your own risk)
Eczema. Every once in a while, I’ll get eczema on my feet. Have done so for decades. At first I thought it was athletes foot, but none of the OTC creams did anything for it. So I went to the doctor and she did a skin scrape of my feet. Nope, not athletes foot. It was eczema. She explained that, that is the reason the creams didn’t work, because they can’t on eczema. She said only a steroid cream would do it. So for many years I had been using a rather expensive eczema cream, and hating the fact that it was full of chemicals. Then after much research, I found two natural remedies: extra virgin coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. The next time I had eczema on my feet I tried the oil first. A couple of applications of the coconut oil stopped it within a few days, and it healed with a couple of weeks. The next time after that, I tried the ACV diluted with water. That stung like crazy for a minute or two, but with one application the eczema stopped within 24 hours, and with two applications it was healed in two days.
Acne. I’ll usually get a pimple once or twice a year, especially when I’ve been under a lot of stress. When I feel one brewing, I immediately apply on it, straight, undiluted ACV. I just dip a q-tip in the ACV and rub it on the spot and around it, letting it air dry. I do this a couple times per day until the pimple is gone, which is usually in a day or two. Doing this, the pimple almost never reaches a head, it just goes away. But do NOT ever pick at a pimple and then afterward apply ACV! I made that mistake once, and only once. The ACV burned the delicate open skin around the pimple and sure it got rid of the pimple, but the skin around it looked and felt like someone put out their cigarette on my face! But on closed/non irritated skin, it doesn’t burn.
Heat Rash. In the summer I’ll sometimes get a heat rash between my thighs or along my bathing suit lines. Yes there are creams you can buy, even diaper rash creams work as it’s basically the same thing. I had read that some people used diluted ACV on heat rashes. I already knew that it worked on eczema and acne, so why not heat rash? So I tried it. Holy cow did that burn. And I mean sizzle. For like 5 minutes. I hadn’t diluted it enough. But, now, diluting it properly, it’s the only thing I use on heat rashes. It stops the irritation within minutes, and the skin is healed within 24 hours. Works every time.
The third and final post on this subject is about foods, meal prepping, and the benefits of certain ingredients. So stay tuned 🙂