Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!


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Pinterest Fail: A (mis)adventure with Lavender Bath Bombs

Pinterest Fail - Lavender Bath Bombs

Not every DIY adventure goes as planned.

I’m a Bath Junkie. Always have been.  But I generally keep it pretty simple.  Once I gave up my beloved bubble bath to get rid of toxic chemicals like Sodium Lauryl(eth) Sulfate in my relaxing tub time I’ve pretty much stuck to bath salts with one or another of my essential oils depending on need or the mood that struck me that evening. But bath bombs are all the rage on DIY recipe boards and I figured with the holidays coming up why not try my hand at something new, and a little more visually appealing than bath salts, for a holiday gift idea.  I’ve made tons of recipes over the last couple years, how hard could it be?

……. Apparently, much harder than I expected.  See, I had never worked with Citric Acid before and this (mis)adventure was a bit more like a homemade science experiment than I anticipated.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My (mis)adventure began on Pinterest, as most of my DIY adventures do.

I found this amazing looking recipe on the She Knows blog for DIY Lavender Bath Bombs.  I had the exact same mold she used from when I made bath crayons for the kiddos on my holiday list last year plus I had some leftover dried lavender from the garden and her bath bombs were really pretty, not your typical sphere shaped bombs, that I thought would look nice packaged in my favorite reusable holiday gift “wrap” a wide mouth Mason jar.  All I needed was some Citric Acid and I was all set.

Citric Acid is a weak organic acid, and natural preservative, found in citrus fruits.  It comes in a white crystalline powder which is commonly used in food as a preservative, emulsifying agent, or to make your beloved Sour Patch kids taste sour! It’s also frequently used in personal care products, like bath bombs, bath salts, and cleansers designed to help breakdown grease and makes an excellent, all natural household cleaner (in fact, it was one of the recommended ingredients when I was researching how to clean your toilet without toxic chemicals.  Citric Acid alone doesn’t react with water but when it is combined with sodium bicarbonate (or Baking Soda) and water is added this trifecta creates carbon dioxide bubbles, which in turn is what creates the “fizz” in bath bombs. (see, science can be cool!)

When my Citric Acid came in I was super pumped and ready to try out the bath bomb recipe!  So here’s the basics:

DIY Lavender Bath Bomb Recipe:

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • 1/2 cup powdered citric acid (found with the baking or canning supplies in most grocery stores)
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 10 drops Lavender essential oil (more or less based on your preference)
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond oil
  • Blue and red natural food coloring (optional)
  • Water in a spray bottle
  • Large glass bowl
  • 4 (4-ounce) silicone molds
  • 1-2 tablespoons dried lavender buds (optional)

Directions:

  1. If using, sprinkle the dried lavender buds into the bottom of the silicone molds (they’ll show up just at the tops of your finished bath bombs). Add the citric acid and baking soda to the glass bowl. Use a whisk to combine the mixture.
  2. Add the essential oil and almond oil to the mixture. Drop in about 4 to 5 drops each of the red and blue food coloring (if using). Use the spoon to combine the mixture very well.
  3. Add a few spritzes of water to moisten the mixture. Don’t use too much at once. Use the spoon to mix the ingredients well. The mixture should be the consistency of slightly wet sand, and should clump in your hand if you squeeze it.
  4. Use a spoon to transfer the mixture to the silicone molds. Pack it in very tightly, all the way to the top.
  5. Lay a few paper towels on a flat surface, carefully turn the mold over, and pop out the bath bombs.
  6. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and transfer the paper towels and bath bombs to the baking sheet.  Cover with a few more paper towels and allow to dry overnight.

 

Sounds simple enough, right?  So I set to mixing.  Here’s the first lesson:

Always pay attention to the amount the recipe calls for and measure carefully!

I totally misread the ingredients the first time (mostly likely because of the tiny human that seems to provide an endless source of distraction from the task at hand) and convinced myself that the recipe called for 1/2 pound of Citric Acid rather than the 1/2 cup…  So I merrily dump in half of my 1 lb bag of Citric Acid and carry on about my mixing.  I was very careful to use a spray bottle to add the water to my mixture but it was a new bottle and the nozzle was set to a stream setting rather than that nice full coverage spray. So when I started adding water, however carefully, my mixture started fizzing up pretty good right then and there.  But I thought surely this must be normal and carried on. I got my recipe all mixed up decided that it was “the consistency of slightly wet sand” and it “clumped in my hand if I squeezed it” so it must be good to go.  It looked like this:

bath bomb fail 1 - more than "slightly wet"

 

 

**For the record, this is more than “slightly wet”… If your mixture looks like this, it’s way too wet and you should probably start over.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After I had my mixture to the consistency that I thought I wanted (see note above), I poured it into my silicone molds and pressed down firmly with my fingers.  But try as I might I could NOT get the bombs out of the mold.  They were just too wet and clung to the sides.  So I figured I would just let them dry out a bit and pop them out later.

Well after entertaining the little one for awhile I came back into the kitchen to discover my mixture was rising… like yeast bread dough but at a faster pace! See image below.94876997-c497-42d6-a451-0c694468687e

Somewhat surprised by this turn of events I calmly pressed the mixture back into the mold and let it sit a bit longer.  This time I turned the mold upside down thinking that at least the mixture wouldn’t rise out of the prescribed shape.  I had to run an errand that afternoon so I checked my bombs before I left only to discover that the mixture was billowing out from beneath the upturned mold.  At this point I’m starting to get a bit concerned but didn’t want to give up on it just yet so I decided to press the mixture back down in the molds, yet again, but this time I was going to outsmart it so I turned it upside down and put a heavy pot on top of the upturned mold and left it to dry out while I ran my errands.

Upon my return I was shocked to discover that the chemical reaction was so powerful that it could still bubble out from beneath the upturned mold even with a heavy pot on top.  I had been gone long enough the mixture had, in fact, dried out and was now stuck to the paper towel it had been drying on.  When I removed the mold I was faced with the epic disaster you see pictured above.  Nailed it!

Not to be daunted by this (mis)adventure I spent some time reviewing the recipe, realized my mistake(s) and decided to give it another go the next day. This time I measured carefully, making sure to only use 1/2 cup of Citric Acid and I made extra sure that my spray nozzle was set to a fine mist so as to not over-saturate my mixture.  This time I stopped adding water right when I had the thought that maybe I should add more, just to be sure that I didn’t over-saturate the mixture again.  I carefully spooned the mix into my silicone mold and this time was pleasantly surprised when they popped out pretty easily.  So far so good they looked pretty close to the picture on the original blog so I left them to dry.  926457f8-2aa8-46a1-ad30-7f6150218903I set the bombs to the side and started on another project while they dried.  After a few minutes I noticed, much to my dismay, that they weren’t keeping their shape very well and that there were places where they appeared to have more moisture in the mix that it was starting to bubble out a bit.  It occurs to me at this point that not only is it almost always humid in Alabama but my house is old and tends to retain moisture so it’s likely not helping my project one bit.  So I set out to google alternative recipes that use the oven to dry out the mixture.  I found several but one with a similar recipe that suggested

preheating your oven to 170°, turning your oven OFF, then putting your bath bombs in there for approximately 45 minutes.  

Please note that exposing essential oils to heat does damage the therapeutic value of the oils but at this point I’m desperate and willing to try anything. Besides, these were mainly for fragrance only.  So I carefully remove my bath bombs from the paper towel and set them on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil and put them in my preheated, but turned off, oven.  45 minutes later I returned to this… Pinterest Fail 2

Lavender Bath Bomb pancake… (I broke it apart before getting the idea to document yet another failure and thus the inspiration for this blog post was born! lol).  So I put the pancake version in a plastic bag to throw in my own bath whenever I find the time to actually relax.  I should’ve taken a picture but when I went to the bathroom later in the afternoon I discovered that even despite being dried out and baked in the oven for 45 minutes the mixture was still producing carbon dioxide and my ziploc had swollen up like a balloon! It was crazy town! So I carefully unsealed the ziploc (I’m sure I looked like I was handling a nuclear device while doing so) and left them on the counter to finish whatever chemical reaction they still had going on.  I’m pleased to report that more than a week later they no longer produce CO2!

Now at this point I am bound and determined to conquer this recipe and to create something that even remotely resembles the adorable Lavender Bath Bombs in the original recipe.  So, I set out to make yet another batch! This time I followed the directions, carefully measuring my Citric Acid, ensuring that my spray nozzle was set to a fine mist, stopping when I felt like I probably needed to add more water, and now putting in the oven while the mixture was still in the silicone mold to help them retain their shape as they dried out.  After about 10 minutes or so I’m starting to get curious so I go to my oven to check on the bath bombs.  What I discover2b8747e3-6181-4ac2-aa16-30394ead44bd is that they are still, in fact, rising, but this time at a much slower rate.  So I pull my mix and mold out of the oven and carefully press the mix back down into the mold.  You can see in the pic that they were starting to dry out and were a bit crumbly.  I was starting to get pretty nervous but I practiced my positive self-talk and just kept hoping that I would get a usable product this time.  10 minutes later I checked again.  Still rising but starting to dry out more. So I carefully pressed it back down into the mold, packing it in as firmly as I could. Third time is a charm, I guess, because at the end of 45 minutes I was pleased to see that they had finally retained their shape and looked very similar to the pictures in the original blog post!

Lavender Bath Bombs

Winning!  I’m pleased to report that the bath bombs were a big hit at my DIY Holiday Gift Guide essential oils class I hosted last weekend, in part, I’m sure, due to everyone enjoying the tales of my (mis)adventures while making them!   I offered a choice of any one of my DIY gift ideas to the girl who co-hosted with me and she chose the Lavender Bath Bombs as her gift.  I’m pleased to report that she used them and said that she had a delightful bath!

So there you have it.  While my (mis)adventure may not have gone quite as planned it was a story worth telling and in the end I wound up with a beautiful finished product! In hindsight, I’ve heard of other recipes that do not use Citric Acid and maybe one day I’ll give them a try.  But for now, I think I’m tapped out on bath bombs!

 

Have you made DIY bath bombs? What recipe did you use? I’d love to hear about your adventures!  Comment below!

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.

Pinterest Fail: A (mis)adventure with Lavender Bath Bombs was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures

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The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant

Before I started my WordPress blog I had a Facebook page where I was sharing about my adventures and DIY ideas. This past Spring I shared a post per special request about my Quest for the Perfect Deodorant.  I never shared it here but it seems pertinent to do so in order to give you some background on just how long I’ve been seeking the what was starting to look like the Holy Grail of deodorant recipes. So here’s my original post:


(5/1/15) The Quest for the Perfect Deodorant:
There was a lot of hype on the interwebz about the dangers of antiperspirant a couple years ago, theorizing that your deodorant caused everything from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, science has pretty much debunked most of these rumors. But the gist of these rumors was that the active ingredient in antiperspirant, aluminum chlorohydrate, was the culprit.

In the 1960’s researchers found high levels of aluminum in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the safety of any household or cosmetic product containing aluminum was called into question. Since then, no sound scientific study has been able to prove that aluminum is a cause of Alzheimer’s disease (remember correlation does not equal causation). In fact, most researchers point out that the aluminum chlorohydrate in deodorants doesn’t enter into the body at all. It works by reacting with the sweat produced in your underarm area to form a plug or sorts into the sweat duct effectively blocking the sweat from being released. Which brings me to the rumors about breast cancer risk.

In the 1990’s a group of researchers theorized that aluminum chlorohydrate in antiperspirants was linked to breast cancer because the majority of breast cancers develop in the upper, outermost portion of the breast, the area closest to the armpit. Two theories emerged: 1) because antiperspirants block the sweat we are preventing the body from its natural ability to rid itself of heavy metals and thus leading to cancer, and 2) the chemicals in deodorant and antiperspirant are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving, and that these chemicals supposedly interact with DNA to interfere with estrogen levels and can lead to cancer cell growth. Again, neither of these hypotheses have been supported through peer reviewed research.

There is some legitimate risk concern over aluminum possibly leading to dementia in patients with kidney disease, however. This comes from several studies showing that dialysis patients given aluminum hydroxide had difficulty ridding the aluminum from their system due to improper kidney function and leading to higher percentage of these patients developing dementia. This lead to the FDA requiring the warning you may have seen on antiperspirants that says “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease.” Despite this relationship, however, most doctors believe that the likelihood of absorbing enough aluminum through the skin to harm the kidneys is unlikely.

My quest for the perfect deodorant began when I wanted to decrease the number of chemicals and questionable ingredients in my skincare and beauty products several years ago. Even if aluminum chlorohydrate doesn’t lead to cancer or Alzheimer’s there are still a lot of other questionable ingredients in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, including:

Phthalates– chemicals used to soften and increase flexibility in plastics that may* cause endocrine disruption or hormone imbalance. (* this relationship is largely unknown and more research is needed)

Propylene glycol– also called antifreeze. There is a lot of debate about adding this ingredient in skincare and beauty products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) propylene glycol carries a moderate risk of immunotoxicity and allergies.

Formaldehyde – recognized as a known carcinogen but commonly added to help kill germs.

Parabens – a preservative used in pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and even the food industry. There is some concern that Parabens cause estrogenic disruption but this is largely unsupported by the research.

Antibacterial Substances– There is emerging concern that antibacterial substances, such as triclocarban (commonly found in soaps), can be endocrine disruptors and thus negatively affect the immune system

So, armed with a list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce I declared that I would give up my beloved Secret Clinical Strength deodorant. I don’t know about any of you but I sweat… like a man – there is no “glisten” where my pits are concerned. And, I stink. I said it, I can have pretty wicked BO… So giving up my Clinical Strength deodorant that I had used for years was no small feat. I tried lots of products that claimed to be “better” than other deodorants that had more chemicals. Even falling victim to the “Natural” marketing campaign (which if you didn’t know marketers can put the words “natural” on pretty much anything when there may be nothing “natural” about that product – it means zilch in the real world…) and landing on Secret’s Natural Mineral Antiperspirant and Deodorant for a couple years thinking it was a better alternative.

Once my blinders were removed I transitioned to Tom’s of Maine deodorant as a healthier choice and was terribly disappointed because quite frankly it didn’t really work for me (hindsight is 20/20 and a lot of why I think it didn’t work was diet – more on that in a minute). So by that time I was getting into the whole crunchy granola lifestyle and thought “what the hell, why don’t I just make my own deo!?!” So I tried one of the most common homemade deodorant recipes out there:

• 1/4 c. baking soda

• 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

• 5 Tbsp. coconut oil

• Essential oils (optional – I used 3 drops of lavender, 4 drops of sweet orange, and 2 drops of tea tree)

Mix everything together very well in a small container. Pack it in an old deodorant container and use it just like you normally do.

And you know what? It worked!!! I was thrilled! But after using it for a while I discovered that, like many people out there, my skin is way too sensitive for baking soda as a deodorant. My pits turned an angry shade of red, peeled, and itched like crazy. Nothing so sexy as walking around scratching your pits like a monkey all day. So I tried decreasing the baking soda and added more arrowroot powder and much to my dismay I continued to have the same reaction, although slightly less severe. Saddened by this turn of events, I continued my quest.

Next I tried Milk of Magnesia (MoM) – yes, the same stuff you use for constipation and heartburn, but hear me out. Because the active ingredient, magnesium hydroxide, is alkaline it helps balance the acidity of the sweat and sebum (skin’s natural oils) mixture. This worked okay, but I wasn’t a super huge fan of having to rub a quarter sized dollop of MoM on my pits and wait for it to dry. Some critics of MoM as deo point out, however, that an inactive ingredient in MoM is sodium hypochlorite, which is essentially bleach and while this does a fantastic job of killing bacteria, it is a known skin irritant. These critics will often advocate for using magnesium oil (which can be purchased in an aerosol spray) as an alternative or even just increasing your magnesium through supplements to decrease body odor (but I take a mag supplement daily and still need deo).

Next I was led to the Natural Crystal deodorant, which is basically a “salt” crystal, or potassium alum. It has also received a lot of criticism for being a type of aluminum but since I know that the aluminum-cancer/dementia risk is slight (see above) I wasn’t particularly concerned. Again, I was surprised by how well this actually worked for me! But again, sadly disappointed when my pits started itching. Not as bad as BS but still not sexy and super annoying.

So feeling dismayed I went back to Tom’s of Maine. I was pleasantly surprised that it was working better than it did a couple years ago and I credit our change in diet/lifestyle as the reason behind this change. We gave up processed foods, cut back on sugar (although admittedly I’ve relapsed since the little one was born), and traded in “white” foods, like sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, etc. for whole and ancient grains, sweet potatoes, and sugar alternatives, like honey or agave nectar. I haven’t found a whole lot of evidence to support my claim that my healthier diet changed my BO (because I still drink caffeine and eat lots of garlic and onions as well as other BO-causing spices like curry) but that’s my anecdotal evidence for ya!

That said, I still wanted to get away from having to purchase store-bought deodorant and continued my quest for a homemade recipe that didn’t irritate my armpits. My recently re-ignited passion for essential oils lead me to search for new recipes. Below is what I discovered!

The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant:

A  fellow essential oil enthusiast recently shared with me that she was having luck using Rosemary oil as a deodorant alternative. Now, Rosemary essential oil is technically classified as a dietary supplement but I’m all about experimenting and finding new ways to use essential oils.  My friend had said she just dropped a few drops in her hands, rubbed them together and applied neat to her pits. I admit, I was super skeptical that one single oil, let alone something I associated more with cooking than sweat could tackle this challenge. But, willing to try pretty much anything, I added Rosemary oil to my Essential Rewards order back in July and gave it a whirl.


This stuff is amazing! For a month and a half I wore nothing but Rosemary oil, neat, as a deodorant alternative and I’m pleased to report that I didn’t stink! I still sweated but the Rosemary oil is a natural camphor so it provides a nice cooling sensation in warm summer breezes which was nice. But I did want to try to find something to provide some wetness protection.  I had such a bad reaction to Baking Soda in my deodorant that I wanted to find something else to help absorb sweat and set out to look for alternatives.  While scouring the interwebz I stumbled upon Simple Life Mom’s blog post and recipe for a Detoxing Homemade Clay Deodorant.  She skips the Baking Soda and adds Bentonite Clay to help absorb wetness and odor.  In addition to soothing the skin, the clay also helps detox heavy metals and other toxins from the skin!  The blog was originally published  on my daughter’s birthday so I thought that perhaps this was kismet.  I already had all the ingredients on hand and decided to give it a whirl.  Since I’d had such good luck with the Rosemary essential oil I knew I wanted it to be included and decided to add a bit of Lavender essential oil as well to help with any skin irritation that I might have from the Arrowroot powder or Bentonite Clay.  Here’s the recipe with my essential oil ratios:

 

DIY Rosemary & Lavender Detoxing Deodorant (for sensitive skin):

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Bentonite Clay (Simple Life Mom suggests substituting Kaolin or other clay if you desired to have a whiter deodorant)
  • 5 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 tsp Beeswax (I used pastilles because they melt easier and get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I use Carrington Farms brand and get it at Costco. That big ol tub is only like $14.99 and we use it for cooking in addition to my DIY projects.)
  • 2 tsp Shea Butter (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil
  • 8 drops of Lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Combine Beeswax, Coconut Oil, and Shea Butter in double boiler.  Heat on high and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
  2. Combine Arrowroot powder and Bentonite Clay in bowl.
  3. Pour oil mixture into powder mixture and stir until there are no lumps.
  4. Add essential oils and stir until well mixed.
  5. Pour into empty deodorant container (mine was gifted to me but you can find them on Amazon or at other online aromatherapy supplies dealers websites)

 

I’ve used this new deodorant for a week now.  I’ve made sure to wear every color and style shirt conceivable and the verdict is I freakin’ love this stuff!!! I feel like my long quest for the perfect deodorant is finally over.  This, my friends, is my holy grail of DIY deodorants!!! I absolutely love that I get the fragrance of the Rosemary essential oil, with just a touch of the Lavender, in addition to the wetness protection from the Arrowroot and Bentonite Clay.  It goes on smoothly which I also really like. For what it’s worth though, I have two (small) constructive criticisms of the recipe. First, it does show up on black (but not white as I feared) fabric.  It is not any more visible than a white solid deodorant, however.  But if I was going to wear a black tank top, or little black dress if you’re more fashionable than me, I would probably just use my Rosemary oil neat to avoid the powdery bits.  And second, because it is pretty soft, which makes it glide on easily, it does tend to ball up a little bit in the creases of my armpit.  However, this is very short lived as the melting point of the Coconut Oil and Shea Butter is pretty low so after 30 minutes to an hour it is all absorbed and no more balls or clumps.

So there it is.  Try it out and let me know what you think!  Comment below with your results to help keep the conversation going!!!

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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Stinky Diaper Pail? There’s An Oil For That! Check Out These DIY Diaper Pail Deodorant Disks!

As you all are aware, I have a bright, bubbly, beautiful (almost) 8 month old daughter.  What that also means, is I’m up to my elbows in stinky diapers!  Even thought it’s not so crunchy, we decided that the best decision for our family was to use disposable diapers so we have a Diaper Genie in our daughter’s nursery.  The Diaper Genie comes with this little packet of carbon that is inserted into a little container in the lid of the diaper pail to help control odor.

Great idea! I loved that it helped control the odor without harsh chemicals.  But after 6 months or so, it was no longer up to the challenge of keeping the stink contained so I set out to find a refill…. Guess what? These things aren’t sold in stores. Not Babies R’Us, not Target, not Walgreens… not anywhere I could find.  Why? I can’t possibly say.  Seems like a failed execution strategy to me.  But I’ve got this great kit of essential oils and I thought for sure there is some way I can DIY something to work in place of the carbon insert so I headed on over to my trusted Pinterest to find a recipe.  As always, I wasn’t disappointed and found this gem of a recipe!

DIY Diaper Pail Deodorant Disks: 

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of Baking Soda
  • Distilled (or boiled) water
  • Essential oils of your choice – I chose Young Living’s Purification, a blend of Citronella, Lemongrass, Lavandin, Rosemary, Tea Tree, and Myrtle specifically designed to help eliminate odors!
  • Muffin pan
  • Paper (or silicone) muffin cups

Directions:

Add a few drops of your desired essential oil to a small amount your distilled water (If you don’t have distilled you can boil tap water but make sure to wait for it to cool before adding your eo as heat can destroy the therapeutic properties of essential oil).  Mix the water with the baking soda and gradually add a little more at a time until you get a thick paste. I used 3/4 cup of water and it was TOO MUCH!!!  I actually added more baking soda and it was still too much. In hindsight, I’d probably start with 1/4 cup and add more until desired consistency (this is especially important if you use silicone muffin cups – since I used paper the excess water was able to seep through the paper – I removed from the tin and set on a paper towel to absorb the extra water).   Press a bit of the paste into lined muffin tin, about 1/4″ per disk.  Let dry 24 hours.  Remove from muffin cup.  Place in diaper pail.

I had an old Crystal Light lemonade container left over from when I rid my house of processed foods a year or so ago that I had been hanging on to but wasn’t sure why.  It was the perfect size for storing my deodorant disks! So I put a pretty label on it and set it up in the nursery so I have easy access to the disks in order to replace them once a month or so.

Use cloth? These deodorant disks can also be used for cloth diaper wet bags and BONUS you can crumble them up and throw them in the diaper wash after they start to lose their effectiveness.  The baking soda will help deodorize and soften your cloth diapers!

Source: Diapers, Dirt, Donuts, Doodling & Digital’s blog Stinky Diaper Pail? Make Your Own Deodorant Disks.

Have you made DIY diaper pail deodorant disks? Tell us about your experience below!

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant

Before I started my WordPress blog I had a Facebook page where I was sharing about my adventures and DIY ideas. This past Spring I shared a post per special request about my Quest for the Perfect Deodorant.  I never shared it here but it seems pertinent to do so in order to give you some background on just how long I’ve been seeking the what was starting to look like the Holy Grail of deodorant recipes. So here’s my original post:


(5/1/15) The Quest for the Perfect Deodorant:
There was a lot of hype on the interwebz about the dangers of antiperspirant a couple years ago, theorizing that your deodorant caused everything from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, science has pretty much debunked most of these rumors. But the gist of these rumors was that the active ingredient in antiperspirant, aluminum chlorohydrate, was the culprit.

In the 1960’s researchers found high levels of aluminum in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the safety of any household or cosmetic product containing aluminum was called into question. Since then, no sound scientific study has been able to prove that aluminum is a cause of Alzheimer’s disease (remember correlation does not equal causation). In fact, most researchers point out that the aluminum chlorohydrate in deodorants doesn’t enter into the body at all. It works by reacting with the sweat produced in your underarm area to form a plug or sorts into the sweat duct effectively blocking the sweat from being released. Which brings me to the rumors about breast cancer risk.

In the 1990’s a group of researchers theorized that aluminum chlorohydrate in antiperspirants was linked to breast cancer because the majority of breast cancers develop in the upper, outermost portion of the breast, the area closest to the armpit. Two theories emerged: 1) because antiperspirants block the sweat we are preventing the body from its natural ability to rid itself of heavy metals and thus leading to cancer, and 2) the chemicals in deodorant and antiperspirant are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving, and that these chemicals supposedly interact with DNA to interfere with estrogen levels and can lead to cancer cell growth. Again, neither of these hypotheses have been supported through peer reviewed research.

There is some legitimate risk concern over aluminum possibly leading to dementia in patients with kidney disease, however. This comes from several studies showing that dialysis patients given aluminum hydroxide had difficulty ridding the aluminum from their system due to improper kidney function and leading to higher percentage of these patients developing dementia. This lead to the FDA requiring the warning you may have seen on antiperspirants that says “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease.” Despite this relationship, however, most doctors believe that the likelihood of absorbing enough aluminum through the skin to harm the kidneys is unlikely.

My quest for the perfect deodorant began when I wanted to decrease the number of chemicals and questionable ingredients in my skincare and beauty products several years ago. Even if aluminum chlorohydrate doesn’t lead to cancer or Alzheimer’s there are still a lot of other questionable ingredients in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, including:

Phthalates– chemicals used to soften and increase flexibility in plastics that may* cause endocrine disruption or hormone imbalance. (* this relationship is largely unknown and more research is needed)

Propylene glycol– also called antifreeze. There is a lot of debate about adding this ingredient in skincare and beauty products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) propylene glycol carries a moderate risk of immunotoxicity and allergies.

Formaldehyde – recognized as a known carcinogen but commonly added to help kill germs.

Parabens – a preservative used in pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and even the food industry. There is some concern that Parabens cause estrogenic disruption but this is largely unsupported by the research.

Antibacterial Substances– There is emerging concern that antibacterial substances, such as triclocarban (commonly found in soaps), can be endocrine disruptors and thus negatively affect the immune system

So, armed with a list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce I declared that I would give up my beloved Secret Clinical Strength deodorant. I don’t know about any of you but I sweat… like a man – there is no “glisten” where my pits are concerned. And, I stink. I said it, I can have pretty wicked BO… So giving up my Clinical Strength deodorant that I had used for years was no small feat. I tried lots of products that claimed to be “better” than other deodorants that had more chemicals. Even falling victim to the “Natural” marketing campaign (which if you didn’t know marketers can put the words “natural” on pretty much anything when there may be nothing “natural” about that product – it means zilch in the real world…) and landing on Secret’s Natural Mineral Antiperspirant and Deodorant for a couple years thinking it was a better alternative.

Once my blinders were removed I transitioned to Tom’s of Maine deodorant as a healthier choice and was terribly disappointed because quite frankly it didn’t really work for me (hindsight is 20/20 and a lot of why I think it didn’t work was diet – more on that in a minute). So by that time I was getting into the whole crunchy granola lifestyle and thought “what the hell, why don’t I just make my own deo!?!” So I tried one of the most common homemade deodorant recipes out there:

• 1/4 c. baking soda

• 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

• 5 Tbsp. coconut oil

• Essential oils (optional – I used 3 drops of lavender, 4 drops of sweet orange, and 2 drops of tea tree)

Mix everything together very well in a small container. Pack it in an old deodorant container and use it just like you normally do.

And you know what? It worked!!! I was thrilled! But after using it for a while I discovered that, like many people out there, my skin is way too sensitive for baking soda as a deodorant. My pits turned an angry shade of red, peeled, and itched like crazy. Nothing so sexy as walking around scratching your pits like a monkey all day. So I tried decreasing the baking soda and added more arrowroot powder and much to my dismay I continued to have the same reaction, although slightly less severe. Saddened by this turn of events, I continued my quest.

Next I tried Milk of Magnesia (MoM) – yes, the same stuff you use for constipation and heartburn, but hear me out. Because the active ingredient, magnesium hydroxide, is alkaline it helps balance the acidity of the sweat and sebum (skin’s natural oils) mixture. This worked okay, but I wasn’t a super huge fan of having to rub a quarter sized dollop of MoM on my pits and wait for it to dry. Some critics of MoM as deo point out, however, that an inactive ingredient in MoM is sodium hypochlorite, which is essentially bleach and while this does a fantastic job of killing bacteria, it is a known skin irritant. These critics will often advocate for using magnesium oil (which can be purchased in an aerosol spray) as an alternative or even just increasing your magnesium through supplements to decrease body odor (but I take a mag supplement daily and still need deo).

Next I was led to the Natural Crystal deodorant, which is basically a “salt” crystal, or potassium alum. It has also received a lot of criticism for being a type of aluminum but since I know that the aluminum-cancer/dementia risk is slight (see above) I wasn’t particularly concerned. Again, I was surprised by how well this actually worked for me! But again, sadly disappointed when my pits started itching. Not as bad as BS but still not sexy and super annoying.

So feeling dismayed I went back to Tom’s of Maine. I was pleasantly surprised that it was working better than it did a couple years ago and I credit our change in diet/lifestyle as the reason behind this change. We gave up processed foods, cut back on sugar (although admittedly I’ve relapsed since the little one was born), and traded in “white” foods, like sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, etc. for whole and ancient grains, sweet potatoes, and sugar alternatives, like honey or agave nectar. I haven’t found a whole lot of evidence to support my claim that my healthier diet changed my BO (because I still drink caffeine and eat lots of garlic and onions as well as other BO-causing spices like curry) but that’s my anecdotal evidence for ya!

That said, I still wanted to get away from having to purchase store-bought deodorant and continued my quest for a homemade recipe that didn’t irritate my armpits. My recently re-ignited passion for essential oils lead me to search for new recipes. Below is what I discovered!

The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant:

A  fellow essential oil enthusiast recently shared with me that she was having luck using Rosemary oil as a deodorant alternative. Now, Rosemary essential oil is technically classified as a dietary supplement but I’m all about experimenting and finding new ways to use essential oils.  My friend had said she just dropped a few drops in her hands, rubbed them together and applied neat to her pits. I admit, I was super skeptical that one single oil, let alone something I associated more with cooking than sweat could tackle this challenge. But, willing to try pretty much anything, I added Rosemary oil to my Essential Rewards order back in July and gave it a whirl.


This stuff is amazing! For a month and a half I wore nothing but Rosemary oil, neat, as a deodorant alternative and I’m pleased to report that I didn’t stink! I still sweated but the Rosemary oil is a natural camphor so it provides a nice cooling sensation in warm summer breezes which was nice. But I did want to try to find something to provide some wetness protection.  I had such a bad reaction to Baking Soda in my deodorant that I wanted to find something else to help absorb sweat and set out to look for alternatives.  While scouring the interwebz I stumbled upon Simple Life Mom’s blog post and recipe for a Detoxing Homemade Clay Deodorant.  She skips the Baking Soda and adds Bentonite Clay to help absorb wetness and odor.  In addition to soothing the skin, the clay also helps detox heavy metals and other toxins from the skin!  The blog was originally published  on my daughter’s birthday so I thought that perhaps this was kismet.  I already had all the ingredients on hand and decided to give it a whirl.  Since I’d had such good luck with the Rosemary essential oil I knew I wanted it to be included and decided to add a bit of Lavender essential oil as well to help with any skin irritation that I might have from the Arrowroot powder or Bentonite Clay.  Here’s the recipe with my essential oil ratios:

 

DIY Rosemary & Lavender Detoxing Deodorant (for sensitive skin):

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Bentonite Clay (Simple Life Mom suggests substituting Kaolin or other clay if you desired to have a whiter deodorant)
  • 5 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 tsp Beeswax (I used pastilles because they melt easier and get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I use Carrington Farms brand and get it at Costco. That big ol tub is only like $14.99 and we use it for cooking in addition to my DIY projects.)
  • 2 tsp Shea Butter (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil
  • 8 drops of Lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Combine Beeswax, Coconut Oil, and Shea Butter in double boiler.  Heat on high and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
  2. Combine Arrowroot powder and Bentonite Clay in bowl.
  3. Pour oil mixture into powder mixture and stir until there are no lumps.
  4. Add essential oils and stir until well mixed.
  5. Pour into empty deodorant container (mine was gifted to me but you can find them on Amazon or at other online aromatherapy supplies dealers websites)

 

I’ve used this new deodorant for a week now.  I’ve made sure to wear every color and style shirt conceivable and the verdict is I freakin’ love this stuff!!! I feel like my long quest for the perfect deodorant is finally over.  This, my friends, is my holy grail of DIY deodorants!!! I absolutely love that I get the fragrance of the Rosemary essential oil, with just a touch of the Lavender, in addition to the wetness protection from the Arrowroot and Bentonite Clay.  It goes on smoothly which I also really like. For what it’s worth though, I have two (small) constructive criticisms of the recipe. First, it does show up on black (but not white as I feared) fabric.  It is not any more visible than a white solid deodorant, however.  But if I was going to wear a black tank top, or little black dress if you’re more fashionable than me, I would probably just use my Rosemary oil neat to avoid the powdery bits.  And second, because it is pretty soft, which makes it glide on easily, it does tend to ball up a little bit in the creases of my armpit.  However, this is very short lived as the melting point of the Coconut Oil and Shea Butter is pretty low so after 30 minutes to an hour it is all absorbed and no more balls or clumps.

So there it is.  Try it out and let me know what you think!  Comment below with your results to help keep the conversation going!!!

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.

The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures


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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: A lesson in a failed no poo recipe

I recently shared a blog post about my no poo journey. I had found a routine that worked for me and had gone 18+ months without using shampoo. So why on earth would I feel the need to change my well established routine? Perhaps I liked the idea of a premixed “shampoo” that didn’t have to be boiled and cooled before using… Perhaps I was bored… Perhaps I just wanted to DIY something new… Whatever the reason, lesson learned: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

So here’s the story. I love Dr. Axe’s videos and blog posts. I recently watched one of his webinars and was really intrigued by a Rosemary thickening “shampoo” recipe he shared. I have a new found love for Rosemary essential oil (be on the lookout for a future blog post on Rosemary oil as a deodorant alternative plus a new deodorant recipe for sensitive skin) and had heard lots of people say that using Aloe Vera as part of their no poo routine made their hair silky and smooth. So I thought, how could I go wrong!?! Ha!

I had high hopes for the recipe. See, I even made a cool graphic in anticipation of writing about how much I loved it!


But alas, I’m writing a different post.

In case you are interested, the recipe is:

  • 6 oz Aloe Vera gel
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 10 Tbsp Baking Soda
  • 20 drops Rosemary essential oil
  • 10 drops of Peppermint essential oil

Mix all ingredients in an 8 oz glass jar or BPA-free plastic container.  I just recycled one of my daughter’s body wash/shampoo containers.

Sounds lovely, right? So I enthusiastically jumped in my shower Saturday night ready to get clean and smell pretty (because of the yummy essential oils) for my date night with the hubby the next evening to celebrate our 6 year anniversary.  (Note to self: do not experiment with new recipes the night before an event!!!) My first impression was a little did NOT go a long way.  I was used to 1 tbsp of Baking Soda cleaning my whole head when diluted with 1 cup water and I found myself having to use two palm-fulls of this recipe to cover my entire scalp.  What I did like, however, is that while I was washing my hair with the recipe it did seem to make my hair feel silky and smooth and didn’t tangle nearly as much as it tends to do when I use my BS mixture. So I was super hopeful!

Because of the Baking Soda in the recipe I rinsed with my ACV rinse as normal to help re-establish my hair’s pH balance.  Per my usual routine I went to bed with my hair wet and never thought twice about it.

I first started to get concerned when I woke up in the middle of the night to nurse my daughter back to sleep.  My hair didn’t feel like it was drying as fast as usual but I didn’t put a whole lot of stock into my worries because I figured it would finish drying by morning and wouldn’t be a big deal.

But when I woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror I was sorely disappointed in my recipe experiment  My hair looked like an oil slick…   I tried brushing with my BBB with little to no change. And I quickly had a sinking feeling as I tried to figure out how in the world I would have time to re-wash my hair while wrangling an independent 7 month old while daddy was at work.

After her first nap I carried my daughter’s booster seat into the bathroom and locked her into it with a her tactile book and a couple of toys while I took a shower and tried to fix my hair. I first tried my usual Baking Soda and boiled water routine with no luck.  My hair still felt super slick and oily and I knew I didn’t have time to take yet another shower later in the day if this didn’t work so I grabbed the Dr. Bronner’s, even though I never liked it as a shampoo alternative.  I was quickly reminded why I didn’t like Dr. Bronner’s on my hair – it no longer felt like an oil slick but like it was coated in wax! Ugh… started to feel super defeated.  As a last resort, I grabbed my daughter’s Shea Moisture Baby body wash/shampoo and used it to try to get some semblance of normal back to my hair.  I wasn’t very optimistic but it did seem to get rid of most of the waxy feeling.

I am pleased to report that despite being SUPER FRIZZY my hair was back to some sort of normal after re-washing it.  I was able to straighten it with my flat iron and get sexified for my hubby and our date night.  I’m a little scared that I might have set myself back or might have to go through some sort of transition again.  I’m hoping because Shea Moisture is low poo with no sulfates, parabens, or silicone that it won’t hurt too much.  But alas, I’ve learned something new and won’t be making that mistake again!

Maybe the recipe would be better sans the olive oil because I know the Aloe Vera is supposed to be a great no poo hair cleansing ingredient.  Maybe… I don’t know.  I don’t have enough Aloe Vera to remake the recipe and honestly I don’t know that I have the heart to try again.  Want to give it a go? I’d love to hear how it works for you! Comment below.

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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I haven’t poo’d in 18 months, but it’s not what you think!!! The low-down on my no-poo journey!

Yup! The last time I poo’d was in December 2013!!! Used shampoo that is! And I think my hair looks pretty damn good!

So what’s all this no-poo buzz about anyway? Basically, consumers have started to realize that there are lots of questionable ingredients in shampoo and conditioners, some of which are downright toxic, and can actually cause damage to your hair over time.  No-poo means that you’ve gotten so fed up with chemicals that you’ve given up using shampoo at all.  It’s quite the commitment and generally not the first course of action for most people.  I was so tired of my hair breaking and excessive hair loss that I first chose to go low-poo before I went no poo.  Low-poo means avoiding sulfates, silicones, and parabens (more about these ingredients below) in your hair care products. There was also some unfounded rumors a couple years ago that sulfates were causing cancer.  These rumors helped lead consumers to seek out alternatives to traditional shampoo and thus shampoo companies have responded with the recent sulfate-free shampoo movement. The end result is there are a lot more options available to people who want to avoid using harsh chemicals in their beauty products but creative marketing has made it so that consumers have to be educated to know what to avoid.

So here’s a run down of all the common shampoo and conditioner ingredients you will want to avoid on your adventures in living a natural lifestyle:

Sulfates – Sulfates are harsh detergents that are often added as lathering agents.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are probably the most common sulfates and have gotten the most attention recently. They are powerful cleaners but work so well that overtime they can strip the hair of it’s natural oils (called sebum) causing damage (split ends and hair loss) and halting healthy hair growth. They are especially bad for color treated hair, as they can strip all that expensive dye off, as well as naturally curly hair, because they can make it extra frizzy.  If you have allergies, eczema, or find your shampoo irritates your scalp but aren’t ready to give up shampoo just yet try switching to a sulfate-free shampoo.

Is your shampoo low-poo? Here’s a list of ingredients that sulfates can masquerade as so you can be on the look out: Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate; Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, and TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate.

**Be aware of SLS or SLES “from coconut” as this is a marketing ploy to make consumers believe it is a safer product.  While the raw materials, or lauryl alcohol may be obtained from coconuts it is still combined with other chemicals to form the SLS or SLES and is a long way away from coconut oil!

Sodium Chloride – Also known as table salt, sodium chloride is often added as a thickener to shampoos that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.  While not a toxic chemical it can cause a dry, itchy scalp and should especially be avoided if you use keratin treatments on your hair as it can reduce the effectiveness.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) – DEA and TEA are foaming agents often added to shampoos as sulfate alternatives to help create the lather consumers have come to expect in their shampoo.  In addition, these ingredients are also found as thickening agents in mascara, foundation, facial cleansers, and body washes.  But DEA and TEA can cause skin irritation and, when combined with nitrosating agents (nitrites), can cause a toxic chemical reaction. Currently cosmetic manufacturers are not required to list nitrites on their ingredient labels so it is next to impossible to know if a product contains them so it’s best just to avoid anything containing these ingredients.

Is your shampoo low-poo? Other names DEA and TEA can be listed as include:  Cocamide DEA or Cocamide Diethanolimine, Lauramide DEA or Lauramide Diethanolimine, DEA Lauryl Suphate or Diethanolimine Sulfate, Linoleaide DEA or Linoleaide Diethanolimine, and Oleamide DEA or Oleamide Diethanolimine.    

Silicones – Silicones, like Dimethicone, are often added to shampoos and conditioners because they make your hair appear shiny, soft, and easy to comb but can cause unwanted build up that can weigh your hair down.  Pretty much you want to avoid anything that ends in “cone,” “conol,” “col,” or “xane,” unless it has the abbreviations “PEG” or “PPG” in front of them as these are silicones that are designed to be water soluable and do not cause the same kind of buildup over time as traditional silicones. I prefer to avoid silicones all together though.

Are your shampoo and conditioner low-poo? Here’s a list of ingredients that silicones hide behind: Cetearyl Methicone, Cetyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, and Stearyl Dimethicone are common silicones.  Amodimethicone, Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane, and Trimethylsilyamodimethicone are gentler silicones that will slow down the buildup that traditional silicones leave behind but are still technically silicones.  And lastly, Behenoxy Dimethicone and Stearoxy Dimethicone are still technically silicones but are somewhat soluable in water.

Polyethelyne Glycol – Also referred to as PEG/Polyethelyne or Polyoxyethelyne, polyethelyne glycol is a water soluable silicone often added as a thickening agent to shampooos that can strip the hair and skin of its natural moisture.

Parabens – Parabens are used to kill bacteria and prolong shelf life in cosmetics including shampoo, conditioners, sunscreen, moisturizers, anti-aging serums, mascara, etc. They are the most commonly used preservative and unless your skin or beauty product specifically says “paraben-free” it probably has parabens in it.  Despite their common usage, parabens can cause skin irritation, including dermatitis, rosacia, and other allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.  There’s even some rumors that they may be carcinogenic or have an estrogenic effect with continued exposure.

Are your shampoo and coditioner low-poo? Look for parabens listed as methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, and polyparaben.

Other Ingredients to Avoid: 

Lanolin, Petroleum, and Mineral Oil – These ingredients are often added to shampoos and conditioners marketed for ethnic hair.   However, they offer no additional moisturizing benefit and can actually weigh the hair down and prevent the natural oils (sebum) from being absorbed by the hair shaft, thus actually having a long-term drying effect making hair more brittle.

Formaldehyde –  Formaldehyde is often added as a preservative in cosmetics.  However, it is a known carcinogen and can damage the skin’s natural oils causing dryness, flaking, dermatitis, and other allergic reactions.  Excessive exposure to formaldehyde can actually cause hair loss. **Formaldehyde was an ingredient in the original J&J No More Tears Baby Shampoo, which has recently been reformulated as a result of an outcry by concerned parents.

Propylene Glycol – Also known as antifreeze, propylene glycol is often added to shampoo and other cosmetics to prevent them from freezing during shipping and storage. However, it can cause skin irritations, allergic reactions and even alter the structure of the skin which may allow other chemicals to be more readily absorbed into your bloodstream.

Alcohol – Almost all hair products contain alcohol of some sort but it can be drying in high concentrations.  Stay away from products that list alcohol as one of the first four ingredients on the label.

Synthetic Fragrance or Parfum – Synthetic fragrance can be a complex combination of thousands of chemicals that don’t have to be listed individually on ingredient labels.  Many of these can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.  Best to just avoid products with fragrance or find products that use essential oils to add natural fragrance instead.

Artificial Color – There is no reason other than aesthetics to add artificial coloring to cosmetics.  Yet artificial colorants can cause skin sensitivity or scalp irritation.

My Journey:

So now that you know why you want to avoid these ingredients, here is a little bit about my journey into the low- and no-poo realm.

I first became interested in the low-poo movement after learning about how harsh SLS and SLES was on the skin.  I had thrown out my facial cleansers and switched to castile soap as a body wash alternative so naturally looking into my shampoo and conditioning routine would be the next logical step.  My hair had been dry, brittle, and damaged for years on end.  I had chalked it up to my own laziness and the fact that I only tend to get my hair trimmed every 1-2 years (yes, you read that correctly…).  In addition to dry, damaged hair I had been losing excessive amounts of hair for the last year or so before I started my journey.  It was bad enough that I had even switched to really expensive, department store shampoos, like Aveda, in a desperate attempt to improve the condition of my hair and help prevent breakage and loss (and I’ve mentioned before how cheap frugal I am so you know this was huge!).

Low(er)-Poo:

After being incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get better results spending ridiculous amounts of money on what I thought was a natural line of department store shampoo and conditioner I swore I’d never spend that much again. So when I went on my quest to find a sulfate free shampoo I started looking for brands that I could buy at a drug or grocery store for half (or less) the price of what I had been spending. My quest led to me to discover the Organix line of hair and beauty products. I started using Organix Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Shampoo and Conditioner because I liked that it didn’t contain SLS or SLES and had the keratin added as a natural hair strengthening ingredient to help prevent breakage.  Overall, I really liked this product.  However, it claims to be sulfate free but does contain Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, which is technically a Sulfate. So in hindsight, it’s not actually Low Poo, hence my classification of Low(er) Poo.  I felt duped upon this discovery, so I continued to my quest and traveled further down the no poo rabbit hole.

**I’ve since learned that a better bet for drug-store low-poo brand is Shea Moisture. They have several formulations for different hair types all of which do not contain parabens, phthalates, paraffin, formaldehyde, popylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, petrolatum, sythetic color, or DEA and (bonus!) NO Animal Testing!  In fact, we use the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Chamomile & Argon Oil Baby Head-To-Toe Wash & Shampoo with my daughter and love the way it lathers (makes a great bubble bath) and smells!

Oh Poo:

I was already using Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap as my body wash and in my research I had discovered that lots of people used castille soap as a no poo alternative to traditional shampoo so thought I would give it a try.  While my hair certainly felt clean, the Dr. Bronner’s sadly left my hair flat and kinda dry.  (I still use it as my daily body wash and have even converted my not-so-crunchy husband as well!) But, my favorite all natural blogger Crunchy Betty suggests combining Coconut Milk with Castille Soap to get the nice lather your used to with traditional shampoos and the extra moisturizing effect of the coconut milk. I personally haven’t tried it but if you’re up for it, check out her Sorta Poo recipe!

* I’ve listed this as Oh Poo because since my journey started castille soap, as well as shampoo bars, have been reclassified from No-Poo because technically any kind of soap is well… soap.  Just like you will learn below about other cleansing methods, soaps are very alkaline washing methods (some even more than baking soda) and still need to be followed up with an acidic rinse of some kind.  

**I cannot take credit for this witty renaming… The phrase Oh Poo came from here

No Poo:

When you finally get fed up enough and decide to take the plunge and go full on no poo you will see a lot of people recommend using a clarifying shampoo first.  I didn’t use clarifying shampoo, although this is a step commonly recommended.  Clarifying shampoo will help strip the excess silicones and other chemicals that have built up on the hair over time from using traditional shampoo and conditioning products.  This is also supposed to help decrease the amount of time you go through the transition period.  Since I started with low(er)-poo methods I felt I could skip this step.

So what is the transition period? Basically it is a period of detox for your hair as it releases all the toxic chemicals and allows the buildup of silicones and other ingredients to fade away.  The idea is you want the natural pH balance to return to your hair, a sort of homeostasis as it begins to produce just the right amount of natural oils, or sebum.  We’ve done so much damage to our hair by constantly stripping away the oils that our hair compensates by over-producing oil to try to maintain it’s health.  So it makes sense that when you stop stripping the natural oils that you would go through a period where your hair gets greasier.  This is why many people give up on the no poo methods of hair care.  But I promise, IT WILL GET BETTER! The trick is to give it time.  My transition was about 3 months overall, which is a bit longer than normal and probably couldn’t been shortened had I known more about my hair type and found my ideal routine sooner.

It may take several approaches before you find the right no poo method for you.  Do the research, learn about your hair and what it needs (take the porosity test here), and most importantly don’t give up!

No Poo methods I’ve tried, what worked for me and what didn’t:

  1. Honey – I had read so many scary things about the baking soda/vinegar combo (probably the most common no poo method) damaging people’s hair that I was too afraid to try it initially.  So I scoured the interwebz for other options.  I had already started washing my face with honey at the point that I stumbled across the Empowered Sustenance blog about her DIY Honey Shampoo. I was initially concerned that the honey would make my hair super sticky but if it’s mixed right it doesn’t.  The big turn off for me was having to mix up my “shampoo” before each wash because it can, and will, grow mold (which in hindsight isn’t a super big deal and I have to do that now anyway).  My hair was super soft and shiny using honey but it got super greasy really fast.  There is a big possibility that the grease factor was just my transition period.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried it again since then (because raw honey is expensive), but it would probably work just fine now that I’m out of transition.
  2. Bentonite Clay – A friend had given me some Bentonite Clay to use to make a face mask to help with my crazy hormonal acne that I had when I went off birth control so when I decided honey wasn’t the right choice for me I figured I’d give the clay a shot.  Mommypotamus has a good blog on using clay for a mud wash and I used her technique.  I honestly wasn’t impressed and only used the mud wash a few times.  I felt like the clay was harder to get out of my hair and felt that it was pretty drying.  My hair wasn’t as soft, shiny, or as easy to run my fingers through as normal.  if you choose to go the mud wash route, try Rhassoul clay instead.
  3. BS/V – After several incredibly frustrating weeks of trying out the honey and the Bentonite clay I finally gave in and tried the baking soda/vinegar combo and eventually found the routine that works for me.  I originally tried the method I’ve listed below and didn’t feel like it worked well while I was in transition.  I then discovered the “paste method” where I would take 1 tbsp of baking soda and mix with just a touch of water until it formed a paste and would massage the paste into my roots.  I found this much more effective at getting me through my transition but I’ve since learned that this can be really damaging to your hair.  When I got pregnant my paste routine didn’t seem to be working as well and I switched to the method I describe below and it worked so much better! In hindsight, I wouldn’t do the paste method again, I would simply try to wait out my transition period. The key to any no poo wash is making sure that you restore the pH balance of your hair.  Wash methods are mainly alkaline in nature so its important that you use some sort of acidic rinse to return your hair to its slightly acidic baseline. This seals the cuticle of the hair, so to speak, and helps the keratin lay flat on your hair resulting in soft, silky, and smooth hair! The most common acid rinse is vinegar.  But I’ve also tried coffee and beer with some success.  If you want to lighten your hair, lemon juice is also a good alternative.  (See link at bottom of blog for more details on different wash routines and acid rinses).
    1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – This is generally recommended for people with dryer hair.  My hair actually tends to be a bit oilier so I’m not sure why I originally started with ACV (it may have been because the smell is ever so slightly less offensive to my hubby) but I did and it seems to work well for me.  But if you try it and you feel like it weighs your hair down, a switch to DWV may do the trick. *Some people will tell you to use the ACV “with the mother” (like Bragg’s) which basically means that the raw enzymes used to ferment the vinegar haven’t been removed.  If I was drinking vinegar for health purposes I would totally make sure that I was using vinegar with the mother because it is full of gut friendly bacteria that help promote overall health but to rinse my hair that stuff is just way to expensive and seemed largely unnecessary. 
    2. Distilled White Vinegar (DWV) – Often recommended for people with oilier hair.

BS-ACV routine

Celia’s BS/ACV “No Poo” Routine:

Baking Soda Hair Wash: 1 tbsp baking soda to 1 cup of water.  One trick I learned is that if you have hard water, boil your water first.    The baking soda will fizz a bit when the boiling water mixes in.  I take a spoon and make sure that it completely mixes.  Let cool then use to wash the roots of your hair, scrinching and massaging the scalp. I mix this up a few minutes before my shower and wash dishes or pump while it cools off. *If your head gets a little itchy or you feel like your scalp is too dry, try decreasing the amount of baking soda until you find a ratio that works for you. 

ACV Hair Rinse: I use a 22 oz spray bottle from the Dollar Tree.  Fill 1/3 of the way with ACV and fill the rest up with water.  I don’t boil this water, but I’ve seen some people recommend boiling it for this step too.  Then I add 20 drops each of my essential oils (you can use less if you have a smaller spray bottle).  Currently I’m using Lavender, Cedarwood, and Ylang Ylang.  The Ylang Ylang completely covers up the vinegar smell (and my hubby has a nose like a bloodhound where vinegar is concerned so this is awesome)!  *Check out my list below for details on which essential oils are good for your hair and pick your favorites based on your hair needs! I only use my hair rinse on the hair from my ears down.  All the no poo fanatics will tell you this is wrong and that you should make sure to spray it on the top of your head too in order to restore the pH balance of your hair but I find that if I do this my hair gets greasier quicker, but be warned, my routine is technically “wrong.”  Try spraying your whole head first and make the decision that works best for your hair.  I leave my hair rinse spray bottle in the shower and use it until it’s gone and have never had any problem with mold growing in it.  But I have seen people recommend only mixing up the amount that you will use at a time.

Essential Oils for Hair Care:

* You can use any of these oils as part of a no-poo, low-poo, oh-poo, or poo-poo routine! Just add a few drops to your preferred rinse or conditioner!

  • Cedarwood – Great for a dry scalp or thinning hair, helps prevent hair loss (I chose this for my current rinse because I was battling the postpartum hair loss and wanted an oil to help combat that)
  • Frankincense – Maintains healthy hair and stimulates regrowth
  • Lavender – Helps control hair loss, improves hair growth, and helps get rid of an itchy scalp and dry flakes.
  • Peppermint – Great for an oily scalp.
  • Rosemary – Encourages hair growth.
  • Sandalwood – Helps restore moisture to hair and gives it a nice shine. Also supposedly helps combat premature greying of your hair!
  • Tea Tree – Helps minimize flakes and prevents lice.
  • Ylang Ylang – A natural hair conditioner that stimulates hair growth. Plus it smells lovely!

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount. Message me for more details or join today here!

Other considerations and helpful tips for your no poo journey:

  • Learn to love wearing your hair in a ponytail or braids – it will save your sanity while you are going through transition! You need to go as long as possible between washing to help your hair through transition.  Especially with the BS/V routine you don’t want to wash your hair any more often than every 4 days.  It was seriously painful going this long between washes and seeing how greasy and gross my hair looked in the beginning.  Eventually I got to where I could make it 6-7 days between washes.  Now that I’ve cut my hair and have a difficult time putting it in a ponytail I admit that I can no longer go that long between washes.  I generally wash every 4 days now.  My hair looks great for the first three days, the fourth it starts to get a little flat but is still totally presentable. I can go 5 days but my hair is looking pretty rough by that 5th day.
  • Dry shampoo – another trick that saved my sanity during transition. When your hair starts to get greasy on day 2 or 3 but you need to go longer between washes, use an old makeup brush to apply dry shampoo to your roots.  I made my own using a recipe I found on the Wellness Mama blog (find it here).  I used arrowroot and cocoa powder since I have dark hair.  Blonds can get away with just arrowroot. And redheads can use cinnamon or red clay.
  • Boar Bristle Brush (BBB) – A BBB is a natural bristle brush that is used to help distribute the natural oils (sebum) along the length of your hair. This is technically the best type of hair brush to use, but I find that it makes my hair really staticky so I don’t really use it much anymore. But when in transition this is really important because it can keep the shaft of your hair moisturized and keep the sebum buildup from being quite so noticeable.  The Morocco Method is what is frequently recommended for brushing with a BBB.  Check out a how to video here.

Notes and References: 

I found a great deal of information and support on my no-poo journey from the No Poo (no shampoo) & Low Poo Hair Care Group Forum on Facebook.  It’s a public group so you can peruse the files without joining but must join as a group member to comment and ask questions.   Here are links to some of their files:

  • Getting Started With No Poo
  • No Poo Wash Methods – a pretty comprehensive list of the no poo wash methods out there.
  • Oh Poo – a list of soaps that can be used to wash the hair without the damaging effects of sulfates, silicones, and parabens found in commercial shampoos.  Note: Soaps are alkaline and you WILL still need an acid rinse of some kind to balance the pH of your hair
  • Acidic Rinses & herbal Rinses/Teas/Infusions – a pretty comprehensive list of rinses that help restore the pH balance of your hair when using alkaline washing methods and provide a conditioning effect

Want to take it even further, check out Water Only (WO) and Sebum Only (SO) methods of hair care!

Another great, non-Facebook, resource is the No Poo Method website.  It has a great list of FAQ’s and describes a variety of methods and problem solving approaches to common pitfalls with the no poo method.

Do you no poo? Share your method below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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Poopsplosions! (and a DIY Stain Remover that actually works!)

As you all know I have an amazing, beautiful, well-behaved 5 month old that I just adore! What this also means is that I often find myself up to my elbows in baby poop! The first 3 months or so it seemed like she had a diaper blowout (which we lovingly call Poopsplosions!) at least once a day and I found myself wondering if I should buy stock in Spray’N Wash I was using it so frequently.  Because I don’t have a real laundry room (my washing machine and dryer are in the garage and there’s no real horizontal or hanging space to speak of out there – definitely on my list of things to add when we finally get around to remodeling the house!) my bathroom was taken over by piles of dirty laundry, Spray’N Wash spray bottles, and old toothbrushes.  I could literally have two outfits at a time draped over the side of my bathtub soaking in a chemical concoction in a desperate attempt to not ruin yet another outfit with a yellow/brown poop stain… I spent way too long in the detergent aisle trying to find the strongest stain remover money could buy and tried, in vain, to ignore the fact that if I took the time to actually review the ingredient list I would cringe.

When I started my blog and did the week long series on natural cleaning products I noticed that my beloved Resolve Spray’N Wash MAX Laundry Stain Remover Spray was running low and I could no longer ignore the impulse to find out just how toxic this product was. So off to EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning I went to investigate and this is what I found on the ingredient list (Read at your own risk if you love your Spray’N Wash routine):

  • Sulfuric Acid – Sulfuric Acid is a known carcinogen that (in mist form) has been linked to cancer in humans. It is a skin irritant that can cause contact dermatitis and severe skin corrosion, burns and eye damage as well as a respiratory irritant that can trigger asthma attacks and even cause pulmonary edema.
  • Artificial Fragrance – Artificial fragrances can cause skin and lung irritation and in severe cases even nervous system damage, especially in small children.  In addition, it is not anaerobically biodegradable and can cause water toxicity.
  • Alcohol Ethoxylates (C12-16, 7EO) – There is limited data on the effects of Alcohol Ethoxylates specifically but what is known from the impurities this ingredient may contain (e.g., Ethylene Oxide and 1 4-Dioxane) is that there is some concern for asthma and respiratory irritation as well as skin irritation.  More severe reactions such as pulmonary edema, nervous system impairment, liver damage, and reproductive effects are also possible.  In addition, Alcohol Ethoxylates can be toxic to aquatic life.
  • Benzenesulfonic Acid, C10-16-Alkyl Derivative – While there is almost no data and limited cause for concern for health risks, Benzenesulfonic Acid is known to be toxic to aquatic life and is not anaerobically biodegradable.
  • Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate – There is almost no data for Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate but some to suggest that it is toxic to aquatic life.
  • Sodium Cumenesulfonate – Again there is limited data on Sodium Cumenesulfonate but it is suggested that it could be a skin irritant and toxic to aquatic life.
  • Surfactants – Surfactants are chemical compounds that are often used as detergents, to loosen dirt and grime, in cleaning products and could be a variety of different chemicals.  This is primarily a concern on ingredient labels due to nondisclosure of specific surfactants and some are safer than others…

The concern for health risk is obvious but why the concern for aquatic life? Doesn’t my washing machine just drain into the sewer or my septic tank? How does that affect the rivers and ecosystems that rely on them?

When you are done washing your load of laundry, that dirty, soapy water is drained out of your machine through the pipes and into whatever waste collection system you have in your home.  If you are particularly eco-conscious this may be a grey water collection system (but I’m guessing if that’s you then you aren’t using Spray’N Wash or other toxic laundry detergents already) but most likely it is a city sewer system or a septic tank if you live in a rural area.  In a sewer system the water is run through progressively larger and larger system of pipes until it reaches the treatment plant where the raw sewage (this includes waste water from your toilet as well as any grey water from your sink, bathtub, washer, etc.) is processed.  This is typically a three stage process.  The first stage, or primary treatment, is similar to what a septic tank does in that it allows the solids in the waste to settle to the bottom and the scum to rise to the surface.  The solids are then collected where they are either deposited into a landfill or incinerated.   In a septic tank the water in between the solids and scum layer is filtered out through an outflow pipe and is sent to a drain field where it is absorbed by the surrounding soil and becomes part of the groundwater. The primary treatment generally removes about half the solids before the sewage either moves on to secondary treatment or is chlorinated to kill the remaining bacteria.  The secondary treatment removes organic materials and nutrients from the water with the help of bacteria. After the bacteria have eaten the organic waste the water is then funneled to a pool where the bacteria then settle out.  The bacteria in the secondary treatment may remove up to 90 percent of solids and organic materials. The third and final process, or tertiary treatment, usually adds chemicals to remove the nitrogen and phosphorous from the sewer water and chlorine is added to help kill any remaining bacteria.  The remaining water, or effluent, is typically dumped into a nearby creek or river, although in some cases it may be recycled to be used in irrigation (again back into the ground water) or for industrial purposes.  In some cases, treated sewer water may even be recycled into drinking water.

But this waste water is not benign and can have a detrimental effect on the aquatic life and ecosystems that depend on the running water from these creeks and rivers.  The treated sewage water may still have trace chemicals that can suppress the immune systems of fish and other marine organisms which may allow for the onset of diseases.  Heavy metals, pesticides, persistent organochlorines, plastics, surfactants and aromatic hydrocarbons may even disrupt the endocrine systems of aquatic life resulting in malfunction of sexual and bone development.  While this may not result in immediate damage visible to the public, like the three-eyed fish in the Simpsons or a sea of dead floating fish, over time it can cause a disruption in typical fish behavior including normal swimming, schooling, and migration patterns that may have a detrimental effect on their survival. Larger fish and other organisms may eat vast quantities of smaller contaminated fish resulting in bioaccumulation that may be thousands of times larger than the original level of toxins absorbed.  In addition, organic materials leftover from the treatment process will be consumed by natural bacteria in the waterways which consume greater amounts of oxygen and can suffocate fish and other sea creatures as the water travels towards and into the ocean. This leftover organic material, in extreme cases, may even block out sunlight preventing growth of aquatic plants that are food for fish and other animals that are part of the aquatic ecosystem.

So, now that you know more than you wanted to about sewage treatment and the effect the chemicals in our grey water has on aquatic life are you ready to start researching the ingredients on the backs of all your cleaning, dishwashing, and laundry products? Are you ready to throw them all out and start fresh with natural, chemical-free, and non-toxic products? Great! Join me on my journey!

Once I was aware of how toxic the Spray’N Wash I had been using was and the risks to not only my family’s health but also to the local aquatic ecosystems I naturally wanted to find an alternative that was less harmful.  I had talked with several other moms in my wonderful Sugar Plums online support group and found that a few of them did use less toxic methods of stain removal.  One mama in particular shared her recipe with me (so i can’t take credit for this but I’m not sure she’d want me calling out her name in a public forum) and I have been more than pleased with the results!

The one ingredient that the recipe called for that I didn’t have on hand is Dawn.  I don’t know why all these DIY recipes call for Dawn in particular, often “blue Dawn” specifically.  Maybe because it is such a popular brand of dishwashing liquid?  But we have been using Kirkland Signature’s Environmentally Responsible Dishwashing Liquid (which in hindsight actually scores lower than blue Dawn on EWG, mostly due to poor ingredient disclosure, but does avoid SLS, phosphates, dyes, and artificial fragrance and claims to be a biodegradable cleaning agent made from plant-derived ingredients so I choose to continue to use it for these reasons, but do your research).

Also, don’t be fooled like I was into thinking that since this is a stain remover that it will be a spray… I don’t know what I was thinking (I guess I really wasn’t because a quick glance at the ingredient list should’ve told me that this would not spray) but I originally added all the ingredients to a recycled Spray’N Wash bottle which then proceeded to bloat and gave me a moment’s pause and concern that it might actually explode! I assume the bloat was a reaction between the hydrogen peroxide and the baking soda and thankfully it didn’t explode! lol But this is a GEL formula and once I switched over to a glass bottle I had much better luck.  Also, the baking soda may settle to the bottom if you go too long between uses and you may need to occasionally stir your mixture.

DIY Stain Removing Gel

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid (or your preferred brand – I iused Kirkalnd Signature Environmentally Responsible Dishwashing Liquid and I may even try Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap during future batches but I can’t vouch for it’s effectiveness yet)
  • 1/2 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Hydrogen Peroxide

Directions:

Combine ingredients into glass storage container.  Allow ingredients to combine and settle for a moment before placing lid on container.  Will create a gel.

Directions For Use: Spoon out a bit of gel and scrub onto stain using an old toothbrush.  Allow gel mixture to sit on stain for at least 1 hour (or I’ve let sit for up to a day or two until I got around to doing laundry).  Wash  (We use Ecos Natural Laundry Detergent) and dry as normal.

I was super impressed with the results.  Here is a picture so you can see just how well this stain remover worked on one of our Poopsplosions:

DIY Stain Remover Gel (2)

 

I admit I had some concern that the hydrogen peroxide would cause my colors to fade but I’ve used it with success on a variety of bright colors and even black with no fading or bleaching at all.  In fact, this recipe works way better than my old Spray’N Wash MAX ever did.  I had the opportunity over the weekend after a massive Poopsplosion to use this on one of my daughter’s Aden & Anais swaddle blankets (I almost cried when I saw the aftermath) and it got out ALL of the stain! I was thrilled!

Do you have a favorite DIY Stain Remover? I’d love to hear about it! Share the recipe below to keep the conversation going!