Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

Natural Bodycare

Project Pooless Update

It’s been a few months now since I kicked shampoo and conditioner out of my morning routine.  Since early July, I’ve washed my hair with nothing more than water, egg, baking soda, and vinegar — and I’ve no inclination to switch back.  My long, fine hair is soft, cooperative, and far less prone to split ends than before, despite countless hours spent outside in our desert climate.

I typically wash my hair with a whole, raw egg once weekly, as a de-greasing measure.  It works surprisingly well…just remember to rinse with cool water! 

Two or three times a week, I wash with baking soda and condition with apple cider vinegar.  I’ve discovered that if I use the soda on my roots and scalp only, and the vinegar on my ends only, I get the perfect balance of oil reduction and retention, just where each is needed.

Incidentally, an acquaintance advised me that I should be using vinegar that contains the “mother” (the slimy film or wisps that appears in vinegar that isn’t distilled) for best results.  I haven’t been able to find vinegar containing the mother locally, and a few internet searches haven’t turned up any compelling reason to pay more to have the stuff shipped here, so I haven’t tried it. 

On the remaining days, I rinse with water only.  Hot water, scalp massage…lovely.

I’ve also kept up with the homemade deodorant, and I like it better every day.  I’ve made a few changes to the recipe from this post

Eliminate the essential oil.  Perhaps because I added too much, I found that the lavender irritated my skin.  I made a new batch without it, and actually prefer the very light, coconut scent over the intensely herbal aroma.

Increase the coconut oil.  I went for a thinner concoction for my second batch, and found that it’s easier to apply.  I worried that it might get my clothes oily, but that hasn’t been a problem at all — it rubs right into my skin and vanishes.  I didn’t measure the new ratios, but just started with the oil and added baking soda and cornstarch in equal quantities until I arrived at the desired consistency.

Add a touch of olive oil.  I included about 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil with my latest batch on the theory that it would keep the mixture from getting as solid, now that “room temperature” has dropped to winter levels.  It works!  At around 67 degrees F, the deodorant is about the same consistency as commercial deodorant, which makes it considerably easier to apply (by dipping a finger in the pot of it, melting for just a few seconds under arm, then spreading around) than it was without the olive oil.

In other “natural bodycare” news:

I tried a homemade toothpaste that my mom made from myrrh gum powder, baking soda, sea salt, and cloves.  EWW!  I found the stuff way too salty to be palatable.  I’ll stick with my tube of Desert Essences for the time being.

I’m using a goats-milk soap with precisely five ingredients, none of them weird or unpronounceable, purchased from the local co-op. 

I found the best-ever lip moisturizer by Tropical Traditions .  It’s made from virgin coconut and palm oils.  I chose the cinnamon-peppermint flavor, but some of the others look equally good.  Hmm, I see they have soaps and moisturizers, too…might have to check into that next time I place an order.

So what’s next?  I’m going to try my hand at a batch of homemade, toxin-free laundry detergent.  Stay tuned.

(Special thanks to reader Minda who requested this update.  I always appreciate reader input on what you like to read here!)

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Slippery Slope: Natural Bodycare Goes Beyond Pooless

Once you start thinking about the absurdity of slathering your body with a daily dose of chemicals, it’s hard to stop thinking about it.

Ditching shampoo was, for me, a gateway drug. I’ve moved on to eliminating most conventional skin care products from my routine, including soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and makeup.

Soap: I’ve used less soap than most people do for quite some time. What’s wrong with a good, old-fashioned water rinse? The little soap (or soap-like substances) I use is mostly for shaving. I like Lush products, but it’s worth checking them out on a site like Skin Deep because despite Lush’s effective branding, some of their products are more “natural” than others.

Facial cleanser: My complexion, which improved dramatically upon removing grains and reducing dairy in my diet, looks even better now that I only cleanse my face once a day, typically to remove mascara. I use Lush for this, too.

Toothpaste: When it comes to dental health, diet (grains and sugar again!) is a significant factor. I recently took the additional step of switching from sweetened, chemical-laden Aquafresh Sensitive-Teeth Whitening to Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil & Neem toothpaste. I really like the mild flavor, and tooth sensitivity has not resurfaced as a problem.

Deodorant: This was the biggest change, for me. I’ve resisted natural deodorants for years for reasons similar to those that delayed my going pooless: I have a professional job that requires the wearing of professional clothes. Women’s professional clothes, as you may have noticed, aren’t generally well-suited (punny!) to antiperspirqnt-free living. I have yet to find a natural antiperspirant.

But, having achieved success on the pooless front, I finally consented to give it a go. Rather than trying a pre-fab natural deo, I mixed up my own based on a recipe posted by a reader on the womens‘ blog Jezebel. This is really easy. And cheap.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup baking soda
2 Tbs coconut oil
15-30 drops essential oil (Lavender and tea tree are recommended for their antimicrobial properties.)

The mixture is silky and snow-white. I keep it in a small, lidded container and use a fingertip to apply a pea-sized amount after showering. This stuff is seriously amazing! I’ve put it through long, summer days including farm work, heavy lifting sessions, laying out in the sun, and all manner of other sweaty ventures. No odor. None. For 24+ hours.

My commercial deo couldn’t do that. And honestly, I’m not sure the commercial deo was doing a much better job on the antiperspirant front either. Plus, I swear my body has down-regulated on the BO front — not that it’s ever been a real issue for me, but these days, I can go a whole weekend on the farm with no deo at all, and no odor. Huh.

The only problem I’m having is that the homemade deodorant tends to give me a red, itchy, bumpy rash for about 12 hours after application. I suspect this is from the lavender oil and will be mixing up a batch later today without the oil, to see if that solves the problem while still working as effectively.

Makeup: I’ve never been a heavy user, but lately I’ve dropped the use of eye shadow, blush, and face powder. I keep a bottle of Lush’s tea tree toner spray in my desk drawer for oily moments, but rarely need it. Mascara is my one holdout — I just like how it looks. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Moisturizer: I rarely need moisturizer these days, and have taken to telling people who comment on my “beautiful skin” that I moisturize from the inside by eating plenty of healthful fats. When I do use something, it’s typically another Lush product. When I run out of that, I’ll probably try the much-recommended coconut oil instead.

Okay, folks. What am I missing? What natural bodycare concoctions have you tried? Did you stick with it? Why or why not?


Pretty Pooless

This business of switching to shampoo-free living has gone much, much more smoothly than I could have hoped. I’m just about to wrap up Week 2 of Project Pooless…and I think the project might be over. Transition complete. Lifestyle element integrated. Deal sealed.

After Week 1, which ended with a Monday morning shampoo before going to the office, I got a little bolder:

Tuesday — Salad Treatment (baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar conditioning). My hair was soft, shiny, and manageable all day at work. Ironman noted he didn’t even detect the vinegar odor, let alone become bothered by it.

Wednesday — No poo. Water rinse only. I noticed while combing out my wet hair that it was much less tangle-prone than usual. I’d go so far as to call it tangle-free, which is a near-miracle for my long, fine, straight hair.

Thursday — Egg wash and ACV conditioning. Still looking good and feeling fantastic.

Friday — No poo. This was a risk. This was the fourth day since I’d used shampoo, and I was going to face the office after only a water rinse. I used my new boarshair brush to smooth the natural oils along my hair, then rinsed for a couple minutes with medium-hot water. It worked. My hair looked clean all day, and even shinier and softer than before.

Saturday — No poo. It was a dusty, sweaty day on the farm, and I wore a hat until my cool late-afternoon shower, which left my hair slightly oily but certainly acceptable for a weekend evening on the deck swing.

Sunday — Salad treatment. I almost went with just another water rinse, but I’m planning on a de-greasing egg wash tomorrow before work, and I thought it would be considerate of me to bother with a deodorizing baking soda wash in case my coworkers are more sensitive than I to any lingering scents of livestock and sweat.

I think I’ve done it. I’m free! My hair looks and feels fantastic. It styles fine even with air dried, which it never did before. I even “shed” less. Seriously. You have to try this! If I can do it, with my long hair (see my “about me” photo at the top of this page), so can you.

But watch out…it’s a slippery slope. I’ve progressed to natural varieties of almost all other bodycare products. Details to follow.

Go forth and go pooless!