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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Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!)

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays with an Essential Oils Twist

Last week Huffington Post published a Top 10 list called the  “Very Best Smells of the Holidays.”   These Holiday smells really resonated with me but I thought surely my oily peeps would want to know how to mimic some of these fragrances with their essential oils collection.  And thus, the following list was inspired! So check out my

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!)

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

1.   Hot Chocolate

Number one on Huffington Post’s list was Hot Chocolate, always a cold weather favorite of mine, especially during the Holiday season! I used to think that there wasn’t much you could do to make Hot Chocolate taste any better… until I met the heavenly combo of Peppermint essential oil and Hot Chocolate! Just 1 drop = Heaven in a cup!

 

Essential Oil Sugar Cookie Recipes

2.   Freshly Baked Sugar Cookies

Adding essential oils to your favorite sugar cookie recipe can take your party from traditional to something your friends and family will be talking about for years to come! Check out a few of these awesome sugar cookie recipes with Young Living essential oils!

No time (or just not in the mood) to bake? Try diffusing 5-6 drops of Stress Away essential oil blend! It’s a lovely blend of Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea (which is very cinnamon-like), and Lavender.  Perfect for making your home smell like you just baked something delicious without the hard work or mess!

 

Fireplace Oils

3.   A Fire

A fun and creative way to use essential oils is to add a few drops to your logs for your fireplace to amplify the energy of your fire and enhance the smell of evergreen in your home!  You can add the drops to dry firewood days or weeks before you burn it.  Also a great gift idea for family and friends who have a wood burning fireplace in their home!

Fireplace Oils – When adding essential oils to fireplace logs use 1 drop of essential oil per log and only one log per fire. After applying the essential oil to the log be sure to let it sit for enough time that the essential oil soaks through the log (at least 30 minutes). Some choices are Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cypress, and Cedarwood.

 

Peppermint

4.   Peppermint

Who doesn’t love Peppermint?  Candy canes are so symbolic of the Holiday season and Peppermint everything infiltrates our coffee shops and supermarket shelves.  And I, for one, don’t mind at all! There are so many ways you can enjoy Peppermint essential oil this season in addition to the aforementioned Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

  • Love baking? Try making some Peppermint Brownies! Just add 3 drops of Peppermint essential oil to your favorite brownie mix for a tasty Holiday treat!
  • Want your house to smell like one of my favorite peppermint treats? Try the Peppermint Bark Diffuser Recipe = 2 drops of Peppermint + 2 drops of Stress Away essential oil blend!
  • Looking for the perfect DIY gifts? Someone on your list is sure to love a Peppermint Pedicure in a Jar, or Candy Cane Bath Salts, or how about Raspberry Mint Lip Balm? Check out my DIY Holiday Gift Guide for these, and many more, recipes!

 

Spiced Apple Cider with Young Living essential oils

5.   Mulled Cider

Ah cider! One of my favorite Holiday drinks! I love sitting back, relaxing in front of a toasty winter fire with a warm glass of spiced Apple Cider!  I was super excited to find a recipe for Spiced Apple Cider using Young Living essential oils as the spices and tried it out at my DIY Holiday Gift Guide essential oils class I taught back in November! It was a huge it!

  • Spiced Apple Cider = In a crockpot, combine 3 qts organic Apple Juice + 5 drops of Clove + 5 drops of Cinnamon Bark + 8 drops of Orange + 2 drops of Nutmeg.  Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Serve hot and garnish with orange slices, whole cloves, and/or cinnamon sticks.  Have the recipe handy because your Holiday party guests are sure to thank you!
  • Love the way cider smells but don’t want to make a whole batch? Check out this Apple Cider Diffuser Recipe = 3-4 drops Orange + 3 drops Cinnamon Bark + 3 drops Ginger

Evergreen Essence: For that fresh cut Christmas Tree smell

6.   Pine

Young Living has several “woody” essential oils, including Pine, Idaho Balsam Fir, Blue Spruce, Northern Lights Black Spruce, Cedarwood, and Evergreen Essence (which is a blend of Blue Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Scotch Pine, Red Fir, Western Red Cedar, White Fir, Black Pine, Pinyon Pine, and Lodgepole Pine essential oils)!  They also ran a special promotional oil back in August of 2014 if you were lucky enough to score some White Fir with your Essential Rewards order (but alas, this was before my time)! Any one of these by themselves would make a great oil to diffuse to get into the holiday spirit, especially if you are like me and LOVE the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees but the hippy inside you dies a little every time you think about cutting down a tree!   Here’s a few diffuser recipes to get you started!

Want a simple Diffuser blend? Try adding 4 or 5 drops of Evergreen Essence to your diffuser to fill your home with the smell of freshly cut Christmas trees!  Or try one of these recipes:

 

7.   Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes are a flat potato pancake traditionally served during Hanukkah celebrations.  It is not the potatoes but rather the oil that the latkes are cooked in that is important in this tradition, symbolizing the oil in the Hannukah story that miraculously kept the Menorah burning for 8 days after the rededication of the Temple in ancient Isreal when it should have only lasted for one.  While I haven’t had the pleasure of actually partaking in Potato Latkes (although now I’m inspired to ask my little sister to make some for me sometime) I’m pretty sure this is a smell that is pretty unique to this particular dish.  Try as I might I cannot find any recipes that suggest using essential oils in potato latkes or any friend potato recipe for that matter.   And I’m pretty sure I can’t replicate this smell in a diffuser recipe either…

However, in keeping with the symbolism of the importance of the oil in Jewish tradition, lets look at other oils that hold similar significance.  The little bit of research that I have done (although admittedly I am not Jewish and limited my research to what I could find on google), indicates that the oil that miraculously lit the Temple’s menorah was a sacred blend of olive oil.  But oils have held a long tradition of being important to religious and spiritual practices and ceremonies.  Young Living actually has a whole collection of oils that are frequently mentioned in both the Torah and the New Testament called the Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit, many of which are not sold individually, and includes:

12 OIls of Ancient Scripture

  • Aloes/sandalwood (Santalum album)
  • Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia)
  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • Frankincense (Olibanum — Boswellia carteri)
  • Galbanum (Ferula gummosa)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
  • Onycha (pronounced oh-nigh-kah, a very thick oil, remove the plastic orifice and warm the bottle in your hand so that the oil will flow — Styrax benzoin)
  • Rose of Sharon/cistus (Labdanum — Cistus ladanifer) and
  • Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)

Young Living is a Christian based company so there are tons and tons of references to these oils in sacred Christian texts.  Essential oils don’t seem to be quite so popular in Jewish circles, or at least Jewish bloggers aren’t quite so vocal.  But a little bit of digging  (which I didn’t have time to do before writing this blog) would likely turn up references in Jewish scripture as well.  In fact, many of the references I could find were Old Testament references.  Living Anointed has a pretty comprehensive post on Bible and Ancient References to Essential Oils if anyone is curious.  And here is a great training on the 12 Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit and how to use them by Gary Young.

 

pumpkin pie

8.   Pie

What smells like the holidays more than a freshly baked pumpkin pie! I love cooking with Young Living essential oils because there are so many recipes that can be enhanced with just a drop of an essential oil.  So you know I had to find the perfect pumpkin pie recipe to share with you! It’s listed below.  But just in case your not into baking, or if you want to enjoy the wonderful goodness of freshly baked pumpkin pie without the calories, here are a few diffuser recipe blends to try out:

Pumpkin Pie with Young Living Essential Oils:

Ingredients:

  • 9″ prepared pie crust
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 drops Cinnamon Bark essential oil
  • 1 drop Nutmeg essential oil
  • 1 drop Clove essential oil
  • 1 drop Ginger essential oil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, salt, pumpkin and essential oils.
  2. Separate eggs, reserving whites.  Beat yolks well.
  3. Stir egg yolks into pumpkin mixture.
  4. Add sour cream and mix.
  5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold into pumpkin mixture.
  6. Pour into unbaked pie crust.
  7. Bake 10 minutes at 450° then lower temperature to 350°.  Bake for 1 ½ hours longer. Cool before serving.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Just say no to toxic candles

9.   Candles

Candles are overrated.  Scented candles are made from paraffin wax and release toxic chemicals like benzene and toluene when burned (both of which are known carcinogens). In fact, these toxins are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes…  Blech! Many candles may contain wicks that contain heavy metals, like lead.  In the U.S. candle wicks are supposed to be made from cotton or paper, but some studies have shown that as much as 30% of candle wicks can contain heavy metals.  In addition, scented candles contain synthetic fragrances and artificial colors that can release even more toxins into the air when burned.  And that’s not even mentioning the soot! I don’t know about you but once I learned about the nasty chemicals in my beloved Yankee candles, I tossed them.  Opting instead for my diffuser and essential oils and blends to cleanse and purify the air while filling my home with amazing, all natural frangrances! Here are a few Holiday diffuser blends to use in lieu of candles this year:

 

Gingerbread diffuser recipe

10.   Gingerbread

Gingerbread has a special place in my heart.  My grandmother and I used to make Gingerbread people every year for Christmas when I was a little girl, a tradition that I hope to continue with my daughter when she gets bigger.  So naturally I adore the idea of a gingerbread diffuser recipe.  Try it out and tell me what you think!

 

So there you have it! Some of the very best Holiday smells, with an essential oils twist! What are some of your favorite holiday smells? Do you use essential oils in your home, cooking or DIY Holiday crafts? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below!

 

Diffuser Recipes from or inspired by various sources

 

*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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!) was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures

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How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience! #WBW2015

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share a little bit about how essential oils can be used in various ways to help enhance your breastfeeding experience. You will see tons of info about how essential oils should be avoided while pregnant or nursing.  But 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts.

Safety:

Essential oil use should always be practiced safely.  Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children.  Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using.

Please review the general safety guidelines listed in my previous blog post What Are Essential Oils?

Additional Safety Considerations for Nursing Mothers: There is a lot of contradictory information out there about essential oil safety and which oils to avoid while breastfeeding.  More often than not literature seems to lump pregnancy and breastfeeding together which makes it much more difficult for consumers to know what they can and can’t use (for instance Clary Sage should be avoided while pregnant as it can cause contractions but it a great oil to use during labor and delivery as it can help speed up labor once contractions have started.  But I’ve read conflicting reviews of Clary Sage during breastfeeding – some say that it can help bring on milk after baby is born and will boost lactation other sources say that it will decrease lactation. As a result, I generally avoid Clary Sage just to be safe).  I would recommend erring on the side of caution and doing your research before using any essential oil while nursing.  Much of the information listed below comes from two of my essential oil bibles Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern (you can buy it here) and Essential Oil Pocket Reference published by Life Science Publishing (you can buy it here).

Essential Oils and Uses: 

To Boost Lactation: 

  • Fennel – Fennel seed is often recommended as an herbal supplement to help increase breastmilk production.  Fennel essential oil may be more effective given that the concentration of the oil is much more potent than the plant or seed.  Fennel can be used as a dietary supplement, 1-2 drops added to tea or a tsp of honey, or it can be taken in a vegetable capsule.  Debra Raybern recommends taking Fennel every 2 hours and follow with a glass of water (hydration is important to keeping your supply up so always make sure you are drinking plenty of water!).  Fennel can also be applied topically.  For topical use, dilute 1-2 drops of Fennel essential oil with 1 Tbsp of carrier oil (Coconut oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex) and apply directly on the breast and lymph area under the arm, avoiding the nipple area*.  (note: Fennel should not be taken internally for more than 10 days as it could cause an increased flow through the urinary tract)
  • Basil – Basil is similar to Fennel essential oil in its lactation boosting properties and can be taken internally or applied topically in the same way.  Basil does not carry the same warning as Fennel, however, and can be taken internally for longer than 10 days if necessary.
  • Joy or Stress Away blends – Stress can have a negative impact on your supply so using essential oil blends such as Joy or Stress away, either diffused, dabbed on your wrist and behind your ears, or combined with Epsom Salt and Baking Soda for a relaxing bath!  Other oils that help reduce stress and promote relaxation include: Lavender and Sandalwood.

To Help Decrease Lactation and Relieve Engorgement (For Oversupply or When Weaning):

  • Peppermint – Most herbalists recommend avoiding peppermint while nursing as it can have an adverse effect on your supply (However, some mothers, like myself, will report that peppermint does not affect their lactation). However, if you have an over-supply issue or you are weaning your baby, adding Peppermint oil to your routine may help alleviate some of the pressure associated with engorgement.  Peppermint is a dietary supplement and can be taken internally.  Debra Raybern recommends taking 5 drops of peppermint orally several times a day to decrease supply.  You can add a few drops of peppermint oil to water, dip a wash cloth in it and wring out the excess water and apply directly to the breast as a cold compress.  Avoid heat application when engorged as this can increase swelling and inflammation.

In addition to peppermint oil, another natural remedy to relieve engorgement and help decrease supply are cabbage leaf compresses.  Simply take a chilled or room temperature cabbage leaf and apply directly to the breast between feedings for up to 20 minutes 3 times daily.  For weaning, you can leave the cabbage leaf on the breast until it wilts.  For more information on cabbage leaf compresses visit Kelly Mom’s blog.

For Sore, Dry, Cracked Nipples*: (Note: painful nursing and dry or cracked nipples could be due to another condition, such as improper latch or tongue or lip tie.  Please see a lactation consultant and/or pediatrician for evaluation)

  • Myrrh, Helichrysum, Geranium, Vetiver, or Sandalwood – When diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to the nipple these oils can help moisturize the skin and provide relief from dry, cracked nipples as well as help speed up the healing process.
  • Valor blend – a good alternative to the above oils to help provide relief from dry, cracked nipples.  Dilute with carrier oil and apply directly on nipple.
  • Lavender or Roman Chamomile – Sore nipples? Add a few drops of Lavender or Roman Chamomile to your nipple cream or apply directly on your nipples with some organic coconut oil to help minimize discomfort.

When applying any essential oil directly to nipples, always make sure they are diluted.  I would ensure that the oil was fully absorbed into the skin or wipe off any excess before my next nursing session.  While all these suggested oils can be taken used orally for adults it is not recommended that small infants ingest oils just to be safe. 

For Clogged Ducts:

  • Geranium, Lavender, and Melrose blend – Each of these oils individually or used together can help promote circulation, reduce pressure and alleviate aches associated with engorgement and clogged ducts.  Combine 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Lavender, and 2 drops of Melrose with 1 1/2 pints of cold water.  Dip washcloth into the mix and squeeze out excess water.  Apply as a cold compress directly to the affected area of the breast.  Repeat as often as once per hour for relief.  (Recipe from Gentle Babies)

In addition, hot showers, soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath that completely covers the breast, breast massage, frequent pumping or nursing, pointing your baby’s chin towards the affected area of the breast while nursing, and “dangle nursing” (where you nurse from a position of hands and knees and dangle your breast towards your baby’s mouth) are all recommended to help alleviate discomfort associated with clogged ducts and to prevent development of mastitis.

For Mastitis: (Note: Mastitis is a serious infection and should always be diagnosed and treated by a health professional of your choice.  You may choose to use the following blend to help provide some relief as a supplement to your prescriber’s treatment protocol.)

  • Breast Blend Recipe – combine 3 drops Myrrh, 3 drops Vetiver, 2 drops Copaiba, and 1 drop Blue Spruce with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (Coconut Oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex are good choices). Massage blend onto breasts and under armpits two times daily to help provide relief from pain, swelling, redness or warmth of the breast.  (Recipe from Essential Oils Pocket Reference)

 

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!

 

Have you used essential oils as part of your breastfeeding journey?  I’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments 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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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.