Mr. F. and I have gone completely crunchy in our approach to personal hygiene. Lest you be too alarmed by this statement, I will relieve your fears by telling you straightway that we still take daily showers in which we wash ourselves and our hair. I can assure you that we do not stink. Instead, we have made fairly substantial changes in our personal hygiene products in an effort to detox our daily routines.
Mr. F. and I came to this decision about the same time, but for differing reasons. Mr. F. has extremely sensitive skin which is why we already avoid a lot of scented products like laundry detergent, etc. However, the main culprits were lurking in the medicine cabinet. The scents and aluminum in deodorant and antiperspirants made his skin mad, and really, you don’t want your largest organ to be mad at you. Then there was the shampoo, the shaving cream, etc. You get my drift.
Luckily for me (and *knock on wood* our kids), I don’t have as sensitive skin. However, as you may have heard about these parts, I am breeding. For most of my pregnancy I was under the mistaken assumption that I could go ahead using my normal products. I naively thought that since they were available to all people (i.e. not needing prescriptions and the like), and since there were no warnings besides the generic “what to do if you suddenly ingest the whole bottle,” then it meant that the product was safe for all people to use. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this post, which led me to this website that I learned otherwise. Of course, I didn’t stop there but began reading more on the subject. I mean, I had heard the hype about all the chemicals found in makeup, lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc. But I guess I sort of assumed that they were pretty benign and wouldn’t seriously injure me. (Again, I admit to falling into the category of people thinking “if they are available to the general public they must be safe! I am starting to realize that long-term safety isn’t really a priority for most of these companies). The wakeup call came when I found out that these chemicals had the potential to harm my fetus. I decided that if it had potential toxic effects on my baby, then I probably shouldn’t use it either—pregnant or not.
So it is from these two different starting points that Mr. F. and I came to the same conclusion: Our bathroom needed an overhaul.
I won’t deceive you. We have yet to figure out answers for everything. Like most changes in life, it is a process. We are still trying to figure out solutions for shaving cream (although Mr. F. has recently made the move to old fashioned shaving soap and brush with pretty swoon worthy results—so smooth!), toothpaste, facial lotion, etc. However we have found a couple of solutions that I thought I would share.
I will have to admit that I am pretty chicken when it comes to going “all natural.” Mr. F. came home one day all excited about making his own deodorant. I was a little less enthusiastic. I have encountered a number of people in my life that suffered from stinky body odor and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea that my husband or I might join that camp. So, I let Mr. F. try it out for a month before deciding to take the plunge as well. This stuff works! I am not lying. We have been using it for a good 3 months now (4 for Mr. F.) Mr. F. also played around with using more natural deodorants like Tom’s etc, but they just didn’t work as well as the homemade stuff. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to try this out in the winter first, when you are less likely to be sweaty. Overall, we have found that A) we don’t stink. B) We aren’t sweating any more than if we were using regular deodorant/antiperspirant. C) Even when we do sweat, the sweat doesn’t smell. This is better than when we were using traditional deodorants/antiperspirants where once you start sweating, you could have a bit of an odor. We got the recipe here, but have made some changes.
1/3 cup Arrowroot or Corn Starch
1/3 cup Baking Soda
1/3 cup Coconut Oil
20 drops of Antibacterial Essential Oil (tea tree, lavender, or eucalyptus)
It should be a 1:1:1 ratio with the arrowroot/cornstarch, baking soda and oils.
Mr. F. melts the coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) and then adds the arrowroot (although you can use cornstarch instead) and the baking soda. He mixes it until it forms a tick paste. He then transfers it to a storage container (we use an empty deodorant container but it could be a shallow Tupperware container too.) and allows it 24 hours to set up.
Shampoo and Conditioner
This gets a slightly less enthusiastic recommendation, only because it is a bit finicky. You really have to figure out what works well for your hair type. The idea is that you wash your hair with a solution of baking soda and water and then do a conditioning rinse with cider vinegar and water.
I know. You are giving that screen of yours funny looks and thinking I have gone over the edge. But hear me out. Again, I let Mr. F. try this one out first, cause I am chicken like that. It has worked really great for his hair. He has hair that gets really dry and then really oily. Using this, he has been able to reach a nice balance between the two. For his hair, he uses a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water which he then works into his scalp and then rinses. He then follows with a tablespoon (or less) of vinegar dissolved in a cup of water which he works in and then rinses.
For me, I use a tablespoon of baking powder and a very small bead of shampoo. This I use to make a paste which I then work into my hair. I will get my hair a bit more wet (a very quick douse with water) and work it in some more. I then rinse. I follow this with a tablespoon (or perhaps a bit more) of vinegar which I dissolve in a cup of water. I work it in my hair and then rinse. It all depends on your type of hair. I have a lot of very thick hair, so the process is a bit more difficult for me than for Mr. F. I have been at this for about a month now and Mr. F. for a lot longer. If you google “no poo” then you will come across a number of blog posts about this. Ideally, it is meant to be used as a weekly or bi-weekly wash with the idea that your hair doesn’t need more cleaning than that. As you can see, we haven’t gone down that route. Instead, we are using it in place of our normal hair cleaning products and washing our hair as often as we were before. I am o.k. with that right now.
So, the results: I can’t tell a huge difference in my hair when using baking soda and vinegar vs. my really expensive salon shampoos and conditioners (Paul Mitchell, Biolage, Joico, etc.). Instead, it has actually helped prevent the occasional scalp buildup. I was really amazed the first time I used the vinegar as a conditioning rinse. I didn’t think it would work—but it does. Kind of amazing, right?
I am o.k. if you are a bit skeptical and refrain from going out and trying these right away. See if you can convince your significant other to try them first, and then see how it goes. If you are interested in checking out potential hazards in the products you use, you can go to http://www.goodguide.com or http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. I would also be interested in hearing what happy, chemical-free products you have found to work well since we are still trying to find safer, greener alternatives to a lot of what we use.