Okay, so I’m done experimenting and ready to tell you guys about some of my experience going without cosmetics!
First, a little background:
So I must admit, when I first read and heard about folks who didn’t use shampoo or deodorant, I thought No Way Jose! I appreciated them for their ability to handle such a thing, but I wasn’t about to try it myself. I’ve always had very greasy hair and a very sensitive nose.
When I went to college, a tiny little school up the coast of Maine called College of the Atlantic, I met a lot more people who went against the grain (so to say). A fair amount of folks abstained from using deodorant, many had dreads, and a number of the gals refrained from shaving any part of their bodies. I had, and sometimes still do, try not shaving certain parts of my body, but I just don’t think its for me. I like the smoothness of my legs quite a bit, and so I was content with that part. And as for the dreads, I admired the quality and beauty of many people’s own, but never felt compelled in that direction either.
When I finally moved down to Portland, I met more folks who went more natural, or who were very against the toxins and chemicals in their products. Still, I thought at first- I will never ever be able to stop using deodorant, and I never want to stop washing my hair. (I actually love having my hair shampooed too!) So surprise! Here I am, almost 6 months strong without the use of not only shampoo, but deodorant, toothpaste, body wash, or lotion.
I think it helps to have a partner who is not only supportive, but comfortable in his body and with mine, as well as very knowledgeable about ingredients lists and labels. He was the first man I dated who didn’t use deodorant or shampoo, but for some reason that surprised me, I was absolutely fine with that. To me, he had a more natural scent and it didn’t offend me (pheromones anyone?). However, while I appreciated his healthy stance on the products, I practiced my own independence in continuing the use of said cosmetics, minus body wash which I had figured out a long time ago made me break out if used daily.
So yes, since I’m so stubborn, I ended up having to do my own research. When the inspiration finally hit me in December, I began reading and investigating. In only 2 days my mind was set- I was going to try this and see if it worked.
Where did I begin?
First I began with Oil Pulling, after reading a million articles on it. It seemed easy enough to do (relatively speaking, since swishing oil in your mouth for 15 minutes isn’t the easiest thing to do), and I thought, what could it hurt? So I picked up some Organic, Cold Pressed Sesame Oil from the store, and began experimenting!
Boy, was I surprised! It seemed like after just one try, my teeth felt great! And the crazy part was, that when I began, I had been experiencing uncomfortable pain in between two of my teeth for a few days, and was terribly worried that I had a cavity forming (there was also some slight coloration). However, as soon as I began to Oil Pull, the pain and the color went away! That was pretty much enough to convince me.
Then in December, I happened upon “Crunchy Betty”, a woman’s blog about finding healthy, money saving, chem free alternatives to the products we use everyday. I enjoyed the thorough research she did, and how she told her personal stories along with her experiments. It got me hooked in and feeling like.. well, maybe I could do it too! (Check out the blog Crunchy Betty by clicking the name)
Going without shampoo was one of the hardest challenges for me. But in the end, it actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be! Here’s where I will begin to explain the process and what I began doing instead (enough babble for now!)
My hair, which is a fairly dark brown and pretty long, has always been very thin, straight, and oily. So I knew going into this experiment that I was going to see grease, and lots of it at first. This was the part I had to grit my teeth for. I ended up wearing braids, or a bun most everyday for about a week and a half. (I will admit that a headscarf became quite handy towards the end). Then I did my first wash with baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
My process over the last six months or so has varied with different methods while I have tried to learn what makes my hair happy. In the next few paragraphs, I will illustrate what I learned about each method, as well as how I mixed them.
The Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Combo:
What I’m doing: Using rough measurements, I use about a tablespoon or so of baking soda diluted in a mug of warm water for “shampoo”, which I pour over my scalp particularly and then massage into my scalp. Following that, I then use a tablespoon in a cup of warm water for a conditioner replacement, pouring some over my scalp, but mostly over the ends of my hair, sometimes sticking the ends into the solution itself.
How its worked: Surprisingly, this mixture made my hair feel super light, soft, and clean. I loved it, and still use it about once or twice a month. I wasn’t sure if the dandruff I was getting was from this method, so I started using other mixtures, but in the end, I think it had to do more with my diet. Its very inexpensive (a good sized box of baking soda is 50 cents), and I don’t have to deal with harsh chemicals (though I do stay away from Arm & Hammer since they do animal testing).
Some folks claim that Apple Cider Vinegar will make you smell like pickles, but trust me! I HATE the smell of vinegar, as I have a super sensitive nose. You just have to dilute it and you’ll be fine. There may be a faint smell of it on your hair RIGHT after showering, but not once it dries. I’ve noticed the ends of my hair are much healthier for it.
The Water Wash
What I’m doing: Sounds exactly like what it is! This method involves simply washing my hair with plain shower water. Sometimes, I use my fingertips to scrub a bit at the scalp (where sebaceous oils build up).
How it works: Most of the time, it works pretty well! With this method, I figured out that where you are showering makes a big difference. Certain houses/apartments have harder or softer water, and some have chlorine. This will make a big difference to the pH of your hair, and in turn, how it comes out. But I like it for the most part, and its soooo easy!
The Honey Wash plus ACV
What I’m doing: Mixing a little bit of RAW honey with a 2:1 ratio of warm water, and mixing till it dissolves, before using it on my scalp, and massaging with my fingertips. Then rinsing with the diluted ACV, as mentioned in the baking soda description.
How it works: It is great for dandruff! Especially when I was in a place that had harsh water, this was a great solution. It actually made my hair feel soft and also shinier than the other methods. But I still have a lot of playing around to do, because in my current apartment, it often leaves my hair feeling a bit greasy. I think I may have to alter my ratio a bit. If blow drying my hair, this is the method I prefer, because after blow drying, your hair will feel really good, and it won’t be greasy.
I learned a lot about my hair in this process. It has taken me quite a bit of time, and I still experiment, but for the most part, I am down to washing my hair once a week, and the majority of time, I only wash with water. Every now and then, I throw in a honey wash, but more often than that, I will use baking soda to cleanse if the grease seems to be building up (I believe that I have more a problem with this because I have bangs and my fingers are in them often). My hair has also gotten a bit thicker, a bit curlier/wavier, now has more bounce, and it tangles way less than it used too.
A few tips with this would be: Experiment and have patience! Your hair, your diet, your water, and even your hair brush make a difference! I don’t typically brush my hair right after showering, instead letting it air dry or using a wide toothed comb. Boar bristle brushes can make all the difference, *especially in the beginning of this process. (I got mine from Hannaford). The reason behind the boar bristle brush or something similar to it, is that it helps move the oil build up from the roots down to the tips of the hair, therefore lessening the grease and giving the rest of your hair a healthy coatings.
The hardest part of this is the first month. You have to let your hair naturally re-regulate its oil production, so it will overproduce in the beginning (you’re not stripping all the oils out anymore!) It will get better!
What I’m doing: As mentioned above, using Coconut Oil or Cold Pressed Organic Sesame Oil, swish a small amount in your mouth for at least 15-20 minutes, before disposing of the oil in the toilet or somewhere else you can get rid of it fast. (the oil will be toxic when you’re done). You can go longer if you wish. Best to do first thing in the morning, before drinking or brushing your teeth.
How it works: Oil pulling has been incredible. It is quite a process, and I admit that I don’t always wake up with enough time to do it. I wish I did it more regularly. But it definitely helped whiten my teeth, make my gums healther, and take away tooth pain. The best thing to do is to make breakfast, read, or do some other sort of task while you’re doing it, and set a timer. If you try to sit and do it, your mouth will produce more saliva and eventually you’ll get chipmunk cheeks that you can’t hardly swish without spitting out. A great detoxer for your mouth and your whole body!
Baking Soda as a Toothpaste Substitute
What I’m doing: Wetting my toothbrush and then putting a little bit of baking soda on the bristles, brushing as normal. (This is my own method, most dilute the baking soda beforehand)
How it works: My teeth are happy and healthy! I read in a lot of places that baking soda might be too abrasive, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I think you just have to monitor how much you are using, which is true of most things (Everything in moderation..) My teeth feel clean, they don’t burn, I don’t have to worry about getting poisoned from fluoride, and my mouth has a sweet taste afterwards that doesn’t conflict with my breakfast (being the acidity of baking soda is a base, it is sweet).
Activated Charcoal Rinse/Brush
What I’m doing: Occasionally, I use a water and Activated Charcoal mix as a mouth wash. I simply swish, spit, add water, and repeat until clean. I also sometimes put a little bit on my toothbrush and use it the same way I use the baking soda.
How it works: Activated Charcoal is not really charcoal. It’s carbon, and its full of pockets that collect bacteria. So I use this to give my mouth a really good cleaning, getting those bacteria in between the gaps of my teeth. Its a bit of a pain because sometimes the black won’t disappear for a few swishes, so sometimes I end up following up with a baking soda brush. It can also get everywhere. Don’t be alarmed though! It doesn’t stain. Its just very very black.
What I’m currently doing: I use either a small amount of coconut oil on my arm pits, or I dab some baking soda onto them.
How it works: I will admit, this is the hardest one. I don’t want to smell! And most of the time, I don’t! Since I have stopped using commercial deodorants (and this may sound strange), the scent of my sweat has changed drastically! Its hard to describe, but its almost sweeter. I’m not sure why this is, other than that my pores have stopped being clogged with chemicals. It also doesn’t radiate as much as it used too. I must admit that I have never been a big sweater either, so my experience may differ quite a bit from others.
The baking soda is more effective than the coconut oil, and doesn’t stain, which is nice. Sometimes, the oil leaks onto my shirts, which I’m not a big fan of, though it comes out in the wash. I have combined the two at times, which seems to work the best.
I haven’t had anyone complain about me smelling, though they may be being polite. :0) I want to continue to experiment with this concoction, as I think I finally have my hair routine down. I am going to list a few sites below with links to homemade deodorant recipes that I want to try.
Transition (Face Wash/Lotion)
What I’m doing: Mostly just washing with water! After the shower, I take a tiny bit of coconut oil with my finger, and rub a bit into my palm. Then I put a light layer on.. not enough to be shiny, but enough that my skin can soak it up without becoming over-saturated. (You can also do this with dry hands or skin, the key is Not to over saturate.)
How its working: Awesome. Every time I tried to use something to wash my face, it would dry out my skin and give me so many more pimples than before. But not washing by itself left my skin dry still, and I still had some fading marks from where I had a couple bad patches of acne.
Since I started doing this, I have hardly had a pimple, my skin has been super soft, and tons of people have commented that I have great skin (even up close in face to face eye gazing meditations with people!) I’m glad this worked. Since I stopped using body wash and commercial products for my hair, I have also found that the spots I would get on my back and shoulders went away as well.
My experience moving away from cosmetics has been wonderful! I have gotten lots of compliments on how I “glow” or look “so healthy” since I began the transition in January, despite a large amount of stress in the last six months. I feel like my body has responded pretty positively to the shift, and its helped me understand it a lot better.
I will say that it wasn’t easy.
One, I was so used to buying stuff that would fix any little problem. Clarifying shampoo, apricot scrubs for my face, etc.. It was hard to resist at times, but I had to let my body balance itself out.
Two, I was nervous that everyone was looking at me and judging me. The comments that people made soothed that fear for me a ton. I still had a tendency to be self-conscious at times, especially in the beginning of the hair transition, or when I had been sweating a ton at work or while running.
Third, People ask so many questions! This one is actually really awesome, but if you switch stuff, and happen to mention it, get ready to explain! People are so curious about alternatives to cosmetics. I believe this is simply because we are so conditioned to believe we need them. I can’t believe how much money I have saved.
So despite all of that, I still use mascara (albeit its a natural one now), and a razor to shave my legs. (Maybe that makes me a little easier to relate too for some of you guys, hahah.) But I do encourage everyone to try ditching some of their cosmetics.. when they’re ready too. I think you will find that it will make an incredible difference for your body, and in term, your energy. If anyone has any questions, or think I should clarify anything little bit more..I’d love to hear! I have included some links at the bottom for anyone interested: there are some that talk about things I didn’t touch on, like natural acne solutions. I will add any others I find along the way.
Glad to share this experience with you all! Hope to hear from feedback from people on their experiences as well!