Archive for the ‘no ‘poo’ Tag

A Weird New Goal of Zero Bottles in the Shower   Leave a comment

Not very long ago I was looking at my bottles on the shelf in the shower and realized that I don’t actually think I need any of them. For a long time I’ve been on a slow progression of simplifying my personal care routines (not that I was ever the stereotypical 20-bottles in the shower/over an hour to get ready in the morning woman), and it seems like I’ve reached a point where most of the rest of my products just seem pointless.

When I say slow progression, I do mean that. This story starts over a decade and a half ago, when I stopped shampooing my hair every day and switched to every other day. Over the years that became more like a couple times a week, then once a week. Then a few years ago I decided to try going shampoo free, using the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method. I had to switch back to washing my hair every time I showered (which was so hard as I had gotten so lazy about washing my hair!). Then gradually I was able to BS/ACV my hair only a couple times a week, and then weekly, while just rinsing with water in between. I’ve now reached a point where I don’t actually remember when I last used the BS/ACV, so I’m guessing I use it a couple times a year or so. When I last cleaned the shelf in the shower I realized that there’s really no reason for me to be keeping bottles of the baking soda and apple cider vinegar solutions in the shower, as I can easily mix up “single serve” batches when I feel like using them. Plus then I can customize the essential oil blends mixed in if I feel I need anything. I’ve also got a bottle of conditioner from back in my shampooing days, which I only use after getting a hair cut to make it up to my hair and restore a coating on the follicles. It’s going to take me another decade to finish that bottle, but there’s no reason it can’t join the extra bottle of shampoo for guests in the hall bathroom. So hair care: 0 bottles, 1 natural bristle brush.

The next simplification was a couple years ago when Conan was born. In the days/weeks after his birth I could find the time to splash my face with cold water every day, but not to use the cream cleanser that I’ve been using for years. After a while I realized that not using a cleanser and/or warm water on my face was not causing any breakouts. So why keep buying/using a cleanser? Then I started wondering if I really needed a moisturizer, and found that even my dry skin doesn’t generally demand a moisturizer if I’m only rinsing with cold water. At that point I started wondering about using oil, not a commercial moisturizer. Shockingly, when I switched to using grape seed oil on my face after showers (i.e. rinsing my face with warm water), I didn’t start breaking out. So facial care: 1 small jar of grape seed oil (the bottle lives in the kitchen for cooking), 1 facial brush.

The only thing left in the shower is the shave gel. I wax my legs, so it’s just for my underarms. Now I want to find out if we really do need special shave products as opposed to soap to shave. I suspect that it may be true for those who shave daily, and for legs, but for underarms that get shaved 2-3 times a week I suspect soap will be fine long term. If true that would mean shaving: 0 bottles, 1 razor.

Don’t worry, I’m keeping the soap.

Advertisements

Posted February 21, 2015 by mayakey in frugal living, goals, personal care, simple living, unshopping

Tagged with , , , ,

Singing Some of the Praises of Baking Soda   Leave a comment

Last weekend was the start of spring cleaning, starting in the kitchen, and my super weapon was baking soda! I found a couple more uses to add to my list. Here it is so far:

  • Baking soda is a good mild abrasive, although it does require thorough rinsing afterwards. Salt also works as an abrasive, but in my experience it is much easier to accidentally scratch something with salt than baking soda. I wiped down just about everything from countertops to fridge shelves to the blender base and kettle with baking soda. It left the fridge shelves free of those annoying rings that some jars leave behind but that soap and water can’t remove, and gave me a shiny non-spattered blender base and kettle.
  • Baking soda is a miracle worker when it comes to removing baked/cooked-on grease and food residue. To some degree this is due to the abrasive action, but I also think that there must be some chemical reaction in play. If you sprinkle the pot or pan with baking soda and then swipe it around with a sponge some stuff will come off immediately, but then if you leave it on for a minute more will come off easily without the need for hard scrubbing. Use hot water with the baking soda and it’ll work even better.
  • Not only does baking soda remove baked on grease, but char as well. Accidentally burn something in your favorite pot? Cover the char with damp baking soda and let it sit overnight; you’ll be able to wipe off most of the char with one swipe. If you’ve got a thick layer of char it might take a couple applications. Iodine works for this as well, but don’t ask me why.
  • Speaking of char, there’s one chore that I’ve always heard horror stories about but not had a problem with myself: oven cleaning. On a very dirty oven: step 1-sprinkle liberally with baking soda and dampen, step 2-come back in a little while and wipe up, step 3-there is no step three. On a relatively clean oven: step 1-sprinkle a little bit of baking soda and wipe up with a damp sponge/rag, step 2-oh wait there’s no step two. It took me about 5 minutes to clean the walls, base, rack, door and window of the oven this year. No elbow grease, no fumes, no pain.
  • Somehow baking soda cuts grease. I discovered this when I went shampoo-free using the baking soda/apple cider vinegar strategy. I was skeptical about using baking soda as the grease cutting step so I cleaned an oily skillet with no soap, just baking soda. Again, I have no idea why it works, I just know that in my experience it does. And since I’ve been using a baking soda solution to clean my hair for about two years now, I can absolutely say that it does work on hair (with the caveat that if you are used to super dry straw hair it will feel oily).
  • I have no idea how this works, but baking soda bleaches coffee/tea cups. I have a mug that has many many years of tea stains on the inside. All it took was a swipe with a baking soda covered sponge and they were completely gone.
  • Everyone knows that baking soda is a deodorizer, but I’ve also found it to work as deodorant. That story is part of a year-long deodorant search saga that I’ll write up soon, but I can say that baking soda outlasted the State Fair…and stripped a layer of skin off. So while it works, don’t take this as a recommendation.
  • Baking soda has long been used as/in toothpaste. In is better than as. I think there’s a reason toothpaste was developed and we’re not still using tooth powder.

I’m sure I’m missing a few uses. Isn’t there something laundry-related?

Posted April 20, 2012 by mayakey in cleaning, personal care

Tagged with , ,

Revisiting Shampoo   2 comments

I think I may officially make the switch to being shampoo free (if you don’t mind, I don’t particularly like the term “no ‘poo” so I’m not going to use it). After the From A No ‘Poo Inspiration post, I did stop shampooing my hair. It has now been two weeks shampoo free and I have to say I am impressed. I thought I would have to rinse my hair more often than before (2-3 times a week), and that has not been the case. In fact, my hair does seem to be less greasy. The techniques that I tried included baking soda/apple cider vinegar rinses, and conditioner rinse. I want to do more research so that I understand what baking soda really does, because I don’t really understand it right now. That discussion will be for a future post.

Even if you would never consider going shampoo free, there are cleansing techniques that can improve the health of your hair. If I may say, I have very healthy hair, so I hope I can pass on tips that work. Currently, I get compliments on my hair every time I go into a salon, and I have been able to grow my hair long enough to reach my butt. The last time I tried to grow my hair long (high school) I could never grow it longer than mid-back. I attribute this difference to the change in how I care for my hair.

The basic issue with over-shampooing is that hair needs sebum and shampoo strips sebum away. Sebum is the oily/waxy substance that our skin creates to keep skin and hair from becoming dry (intimately home-made lotion, if you will). The theory behind no-shampoo or reduced shampooing schedules is that when you use a harsh detergent to remove the sebum, the sebaceous glands go into overdrive creating more sebum to replace what was lost. So the more you wash, the more oil your skin creates.

Here are some basic techniques that, through personal experience, I know work to keep hair healthy.

  • Shampoo your scalp, not your hair. The hair shaft has no way to moisturize itself since the sebaceous glands are in the skin, not the hair shaft. So clean your hair by brushing it really well with a boar bristle or similar brush, rinsing it in water, or rinsing with conditioner; save the shampoo for your scalp. As you rinse, the shampoo runs down the entire hair shaft anyway.
  • Don’t shampoo every day. In college I switched to every other day and never had any problems with greasy hair. Eventually I got lazy and that became every three days. Then I couldn’t keep track of the days and it became just when my scalp needed it. Also, I know that I’m not the only person who prefers the way my hair looks and feels on the second or third day. Sebum doesn’t just moisturize hair, but it also gives it volume.
  • Rinse your hair in water only. Some days all you need is to stand in the shower, with the shower water beating down on your head, finger massaging and/or combing your hair and scalp. When your hair dries it feels light and clean.
  • Clean your hair using conditioner. Sounds weird, right? But it is the same theory as any cream cleanser (like cold cream). The oils in conditioner act as a solvent to rinse away excess sebum while not stripping it away. I find it works best to rub some conditioner in my hair dry and then rinse it out. I think that when you wet your hair first, the layer of water interferes with the conditioner and doesn’t let it work as effectively as a solvent. (FYI, I found out about this technique in a hair salon.)

Not only can reducing your shampoo use improve your hair health, but it is also an environmental decision, and possibly a financial decision.

  • Less time spent washing hair means less water and energy (to heat the water, and to pump/treat the water to potable standards) that you use, possibly also reducing your utility bills.
  • Less shampoo used means less resource use creating the shampoo and the bottle and then transporting it (what you hold in your hand is only the tip of the iceberg, there’s also the water/energy/materials used all along the manufacturing route)
  • Less shampoo used means fewer bottles of shampoo that you have to buy each year.
  • Less time spent washing your hair also means more time to do whatever else you want.

Posted April 23, 2010 by mayakey in personal care

Tagged with ,

From a No ‘Poo Inspiration   5 comments

I have a coworker who decided to try to go “no ‘poo”, the term for shampoo-free (don’t ask me, I didn’t make it up). We’ve had several conversations about homemade personal care products and the green and frugal living aspects. The conversations have been simmering in my head and making me think that it is time to take a fresh look at my own practices. Currently, I do not make any of my own products. A very long time ago I was very interested in making my own products but I was not able to find the ingredients that I wanted, and the labor for some was more than I had time to do.

I first read about no ‘poo months ago and I’ve always just brushed it off. I figured that I don’t shampoo my hair very often, so I didn’t see the benefit; and instead I figured that I would probably end up washing my hair more often. Right now I don’t actually know how often I shampoo my scalp (I never shampoo my hair). My guess is that I usually go just over a week between shampoos, but it’s hard to keep track. In-between shampoos I’ll do a water only rinse or a conditioner rinse every few days. After talking to my coworker, I realized that I could probably try the no ‘poo strategies without much of a transition period just to see if they work. The incentive here is the fact that my shampoo bottle is approaching empty, and considering how long it takes me to finish a bottle of shampoo I should try this now instead of after buying a new bottle. I think I’ll go for it (sorry honey).

A lot of people make their own soap, but I don’t really want to because I enjoy shopping for bars of soap. I love standing at the soap shelf, picking a scent and ingredients, enjoying the variety. This one goes in the category of: when-I-have-kids-this-might-be-a-fun-project, but right now it just sounds like a pain. As for hand soap, I used castile soap in a dispenser for years and finally got fed up with constantly having to remove chunks of dried soap. So now we buy the ONE type of unscented liquid soap that Whole Foods carries. It pains me since it is a disposable pump (oh all that non-recycleable plastic!), but I haven’t found a way to get bulk liquid soap that won’t clump up on the dispenser. And again, making my own sounds like a pain.

There is one category of personal care products that I absolutely have no interest in making for myself: creams. I use a cream cleanser for my face instead of a foaming cleanser, and then there is also facial moisturizer and body lotion. I now know vendors where I think I could get the ingredients, but the thing with creams/emollients is that it is very hard to get all of the ingredients evenly mixed. I’m not sure that I want to use our blender to make myself lotions.

Oh, there’s another category of products that I do not want to make myself: toothpaste. I generally like the toothpaste that we buy (Tom’s of Maine, variety of flavors and types), and I can honestly say I have no desire to brush with baking soda alone. I did it once, and I checked that experience off the list.

I already make most of my own pamper products, except for body wash. I’m still working on the stockpile of body washes and body scrubs that I have received as gifts over the years, and I plan to make my own from castile soap when they are done. I also make my own mouthwash (stored in an old Scotch bottle) using water, peppermint oil, and tincture of myrrh for gum health.

And then there is deodorant. When I first switched from anti-perspirant my underarms rejoiced! They felt great! Fast forward a few years to now and my underarms are irritated almost constantly. I’ve been pondering this one. I can’t go completely bare, I’m uncertain about just using baking soda or corn starch, and I’m uncertain about rubbing essential oils on my skin every day. But obviously the store-bought deodorants are no longer the best choice. It’s still a dilemma…

Posted April 8, 2010 by mayakey in personal care, simple living

Tagged with , , ,