Monday, May 9, 2011

Little Green Project . . . Homemade Toiletries

Way back on St. Patrick's day, I posted as part of the "Little Green Project", and promised to follow up with details on my "top 10", and then I got busy and forgot. So . . . better late than never right?

A friend sent us an e-mail this week about a project they're helping with to make up personal care kits to send to the tornado victims in the South. While I think this is a wonderful way to help, and would make a great service project for my girls, if I'd been given more than one day's notice on when they were sending them out, something that always strikes me when I see this lists (and I've seen them various times, and various places after various "disasters"), is how few of the items on the list I actually use, when these are always listed as "the bare necessities". . .

So, I thought today I'd go over the list in the e-mail I got, and address how to easily make a natural alternative, or perhaps skip it all-together.

·         One towel and washcloth  - ok this is good to have!
·         Travel tissues  - while I see the value of disposability in a disaster situation, for daily use, I highly recommend hankies! Not only are the re-usable, but they're so much softer! Most of our "hankies" are actually old cotton t-shirts that I've cut into big squares. I didn't even bother to hem them & we've been using them for several years now. Just toss them in the wash with your towels (or really, any load).
·         Small bar of soap - I'll agree with some basic soap, for handwashing. Look for something basic, or natural. I use Dr. Bronner's liquid soap and put it in a foamer pump with distilled water. In the shower (and the children's baths), I use plain water unless we're dealing with something out-of-the-ordinary (vomit in the hair, or something). . . 
·         Shampoo (& Conditioner) - no no no no no!!! Shampoo is NOT GOOD!! It's a detergent and much too harsh for our hair or scalp.  It's a great racket they've got going though . . .see that harsh detergent strips the natural oils from your hair/scalp, which causes your scalp to say "OH NO! that protective, moisturizing oil is ALL GONE, I must not be making enough, let me make more!" so then your hair feels too oily, so you use more shampoo, which makes your scalp think it needs even MORE oil . . .and you see where this is going. STOP THE CYCLE! Seriously! Throw out the shampoo! Now go to your kitchen and find yourself a box of baking soda. Make a paste of baking soda and water and scrub that through your hair instead. The baking soda will absorb EXCESS oils, without stripping out what your hair/scalp needs.

Now conditioner - while a high quality conditioner probably isn't horrible for your hair, it's also not necessary. Instead, head back to your kitchen and find some apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar if that's all you have, but ACV is better). While you're in the kitchen find a large cup or jar (might want to go for plastic for this since you won't be eating it, and glass and the shower might not mix well. You're call). Now go to wherever you keep your essential oils (you DO have a basic selection of essential oils (EOs) don't you? No? Ok, we'll work on that in another post. For now, you want lavender, or tea tree, or lemon EO. I like lavender. If you have dandruff, you might want tea tree (TTO), which you can usually find in the toiletries section of Walmart, so that's a plus if you want it now). Lemon EO is good for dry hair. Ok, so now you have your large cup, some ACV, and a bottle of EO. . . back to teh shower. You've just washed your hair with baking soda. Rinse it out if you want, or don't, doesn't really matter. Now pour a little ACV into your big cup. Add water to the cup to dilute it (you want something in the range of a 6 to 1 ratio, water to ACV, but honestly, I don't measure, I just dump). Now add a couple drops of the EO. swish this all around a little bit, and pour it through your hair. If you're like me, and have long hair, I usually dip the ends into the cup/jar first, to make sure they get a good "dose" of it, then pour the rest over my head. Be careful, vinegar in the eyes does NOT feel good! I usually leave the ACV on my hair for a few minutes while I do other shower-stuff, then rinse it out.
·         Deodorant—neutral scent - Ick! Aluminum, chemicals, nasty fake scent . . . SOO unnecessary! All you need is a small spray bottle, plain white vinegar, and some essential oils (why yes, I DO love EOs, how did you guess?).  Now, if you don't have a selection, you can stick with Lavender EO and/or TTO. Fill the spray bottle with white vinegar and add several drops of EO. Shake, and use in place of deodorant. I've found that it actually works better if I wash each day with water but NOT soap (seriously, don't ask me why, but it's true!). You DO need to apply it every day. Once in a great while, on really hot days and/or when I'm being very active on hot days, I need to re-apply but, ummm . . . that's true of regular deodorant too. If you're concerned about this, keep a small spray bottle in your purse (the Dollar store usually has purse-size empty spray bottles for perfume if you want something smaller than the spray bottles in the travel supply section of Walmart), and reapply as needed. Bonus, I use this same spray to disinfect/clean nasty surfaces my children might come in contact with when out and about.
·         Hand Sanitizer - that deodorant spray I just mentioned, yeah, it works as hand sanitizer too! 
·         Toothbrush & Toothpaste - Toothbrush is good, but baking soda or salt makes a great "toothpaste".  Did you know that even most of the "natural" toothpastes contain glycerin? Do you know what glycerin is? It's about the stickiest sweet substance on the planet. Seriously, it makes honey seem very non-stick! So the stuff that most people use to get sweet/sticky stuff OFF their teeth is actually putting sweet sticky stuff ON their teeth . . .does that make sense to you? I won't even go into the whole flouride thing, do your own research, don't take the government's, or your dentist's word for it! If you feel the need to do "more" for your teeth and tongues, you can add a few drops of TTO to water & use as a mouthwash and/or use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash.
·         Lip Balm - I'll admit, I keep a tube of natural lip balm (I used to make it, need to get back into it, but it's abit more complicate to make than, say, the deodorant spray. If you're interested in making your own, google it) in my purse. But for at home, smooth a little coconut oil on your lips. Natural, non-toxic, and works great! I've also found that when I drink plenty of water, I generally don't need lip balm.
·         Sunscreen - Ugh! Here's a handy dandy little fact that the manufacturers forget to mention. All those stats about how sunscreens prevent skin cancer? Yeah, those are all referring to carcinoma (the type of skin cancer that is rarely fatal and very easy to treat by removing the spot in a quick, out-patient procedure). What they DON'T tell you is that some studies have shown that chemical sunscreens (that would be most of them) actually INCREASE the incident of melanoma (the rare, but deadly type of skin cancer). Now if you ask me, I'd alot rather take my chances at having to have a small spot removed, than increase my chance of a hard to treat, deadly form of cancer. This is one of those areas that each person has to decide for themselves (and their children). What I've found is that if we slowly increase our outside time each spring, and wear sunhats, and rash-guard type swimwear if we're going to be out in it all day, we rarely burn, but gradually develop a healthy tan. This is allowing our bodies to absorb that good, natural, God-made Vitamin D, and the tan helps to naturally protect our skin. If you do choose to use sunscreen, I'd encourage you to use a mineral one, not a chemical one. 
·         Hand lotion - making sure to drink plenty of water, and not over-drying your skin with soaps and detergents and other "stuff" should make lotion not very necessary, but my skin does tend to get dry in the middle of winter when the air is so dry. I've found coconut oil to be great! And often you can use "wasted" bits of it. When I cook with coconut oil (in the winter, when my house is colder, so the coconut oil is solid) I generally scoop it out with a spoon. Then, rather than tossing the spoon straight in the sink I'll wipe the oil off the spoon and rub it into whatever patch(es) of skin are feeling dry.

·         Hair Comb - ok I'll agree this one would be helpful! 

So there you have it, my take on the "essential" personal care products!

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Okay, this is a fascinating post, one I am bookmarking to go back through! I love the ideas.