Friday, November 30, 2012

It all started with Laundry Detergent

 I’ve been surprised with the changes in my life over the past four months. It all started with laundry detergent. I was on Facebook and happened to see a link for Homemade Cleaning Recipes one friend shared with another. I was intrigued. I’ve always like the idea of being self sufficient, not from my provider, but from consumerism as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my Lucky Brand jeans, Cinnamon Toast Church Cereal and other consumer goods. However, I like the idea of knowing how to live simple, even if it’s just-in-case knowledge.

Laundry Detergent

I also like easy, really easy. After perusing my new favorite website, it appeared the easiest recipe to try was the powdered laundry detergent. I basically just mixed three dry ingredients together and I had detergent. Enough detergent that I estimate it will last me about a year, for the price of $7.50. The best part was its less toxic than regular detergents and it did the exact same thing my old laundry detergent did, clean my clothes! I use to spend that in a month on laundry detergent, so I’m pretty pleased with my savings of $82.50 a year. 
All purpose cleaner

Did you know vinegar cleans? I didn’t. It turns out if you mix distilled vinegar with borax (a natural mineral) and some essential oils, you get a pretty great all purpose cleaner. I keep mine in an old 409 bottle, I really like how that bottle sprays. It sprays perfection.

Dish Soap

I attempted to make my own dish soap back in September. It went well for an hour. Then the soap that I had boiled down congealed and I couldn’t get it to squeeze out of the bottle. FAIL. I then learned a friend of mine just mixes Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile soap and water together to make hers. I copied this with the peppermint version and really like the results. My husband is not thrilled with the small amount of bubbles it creates (compared to regular detergents), but I really like the scent and it cleans my dishes great.  

Shampoo and Conditioner

As a former hair stylist, I’ve always valued higher quality hair products. There was a time in my life when I only purchased Aveda or Phyto products and nothing else touched my hair. It was great, until I needed to tighten up my budget. The truth is if you don’t color your hair and you go easy on the heat styling, you can use the cheap, $2.00 to $3.00 shampoos and not notice a difference in the health of your hair.

The problem is your pouring some rough chemicals over your head each time you wash. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are commonly found in shampoos; they strip the natural oils from your scalp and can leave your hair dryer that it really needs to be. Also, they are both irritants, meaning you don’t want this stuff in your eyes. I’m not really sure if there is any research to back this theory, but I find myself wondering if we are constantly pouring irritants over our head daily if there is possibility of long term eye damage.

I haven’t completely rid myself of regular shampoo and conditioner, but I have cut back. I wash my hair about three times a week, using John Frieda Sheer Blonde Shampoo once and substituting with Baking Soda and Vinegar the other times. On the days I don’t wash my hair, I rub corn starch into the roots to absorb any extra oil and then brush out (partially). The corn starch actually gives my hair  a bit of volume and I’ve found that I prefer my off days. 

The Simple Mom blog has an entire post dedicated to going Shampoo Free, which is where I got the idea to make the switch to Baking Soda and Vinegar. The two counteract each other in their PH levels which create balance and leave my hair softer than I expected. The days I use them are my 2nd favorite hair days. I still use Sheer Blonde because it lightens my naturally dark blond hair. I plan to experiment with Chamomile tea in the future to see if I can get the same lightening effects.

Acne treatment

Did you know that tea tree oil is used to treat acne? I didn’t, but now I do and for me it works better than the benzoyl peroxide which is also potentially carcinogenic and explosive!?!

Facial Cleanser

I have spent the past eighteen years struggling with overly oily skin and acne. It started early in my life and with the exception of the times I’ve used Proactive and Yaz, I’ve never really gotten rid of it. While I was on the Simple Mom blog recently I came across a post about the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). The theory is that by using normal facial cleansers, even ones made for oily skin, you are stripping your face of its needed oils. In return, your skin overproduces oil to compensate for this. As a result, your skin just gets oilier. When oil gets trapped by dirt in your pores, you experience break outs. The goal is to remove dirt from your skin without stripping your skin, by using good oils that nourish your skin. 

I use a combination of Castor Oil which draws out dirt and Extra Virgin Olive Oil that moisturizes. I’ve been using this method for three weeks now and I REALLY like the results. I’ve notice my skin is softer, less oily, clearer and it even glows a little. Plus, I really like the relaxing effects of massaging the oil into my skin. 

I still purchase other bath and cleaning products, such as:

Honest Company Face & Body LotionHypoallergenic / Non-toxic
Honest Company Body Oil - Food-grade quality, cold pressed oils
Honest Company Sunscreen – I used it daily on my face, neck and hands

Yes, I could probably branch out in the brands I use but I really like Honest Company products.

It’s been a great four months and I was surprised with how much I’ve really enjoyed learning natural, easy ways to live. I look forward to learning more.

Any other suggestions out there to try?