01 April 2011

If I can't eat it...

I'd rather not put it on my face.

This promises to be a highly crunchalicious post, so if you're only going to heap scorn upon me, you should probably stop reading. Ha.

Well, actually . . . scratch that. I can't stop you from reading, and I don't care about scorn. I shall pursue my pseudo-hippie ways regardless. :)

So, carry on!


I have been using "natural and organic" products for quite a while, but this past year, I realized that a lot of those products still included questionable ingredients. They simply had the "natural and organic" label slapped on because they passed a certain set of government-determined standards, or because the manufacturer felt like advertising them as such.

But wait a minute. Do I trust the government with my health? Ahahaha . . . no way. Do I trust ad campaigns? Again, no.

Hmm. Time to do my own research.

The skin is the human body's largest organ. It is not an impermeable plastic barrier; what goes on usually goes in. And so I am trying to make sure our personal care products are-- in theory at least-- edible. Though I wouldn't actually care to eat most of them, I wouldn't have to call a poison control center if I did!

Though I have a long way to go, here are a few things that have worked. By the way, an unexpected bonus: naturalizing these products also means simplifying. Fewer things to buy, because so many of them have multiple uses.


1. My face requires exfoliation but hates anything harsh or drying. Every morning I use a gentle and delicious-smelling scrub made of equal parts nutmeg, finely ground oats, almond meal, and dry milk powder. Last time I added the contents of two organic chamomile tea bags, and a few tablespoons of coconut. I love it. The original ideas came from here and here.

2. My outrageously dry skin needs a serious moisturizer. Instead of an equally outrageously expensive product from Nature's Gate (which is quite effective by the way), I just switched to sweet almond oil. Light. Pure. Cheap. The end.

3. One more note on the face: I use the oil cleansing method for makeup removal, and also to calm down the acne that randomly pops up on occasion. A 3:1 ratio of olive oil and castor oil seems to work.

4. Speaking of olive oil, it's a great all-over moisturizer. Plus, an aromatic perk: it makes you smell like the Mediterranean, especially if you add lavender . . . and I'm all about aromatic perks. Some people swear by coconut oil for this but it's too heavy for me.

5. Antiperspirants give me the willies (plugging your sweat glands?! ugh!) but natural deodorants always leave something to be desired. Enter this brilliant combination: 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, and essential oils to your liking. I use a combination of rosemary and lavender. Stir it up till smooth and store it in a little jar.

It totally works. I'm not kidding. After all, in the case of deodorant, this girl doesn't take chances. :) The original came from Passionate Homemaking.

6. Dr. Bronner's is great for both body wash and hand soap. It's thin but also very concentrated, so to get a nice lather and avoid waste, I use a foaming soap pump at the sink and one of these for the shower. Dr. Bronner's has a lot of varieties available but I just go with the unscented Baby Mild.

7. Taking an omega 3-6-9 supplement has been one of the best things ever for my hair and skin. I haven't needed conditioner since I began taking it, and my hair actually has some shine!

8. I usually straighten my hair, but then I have short fly-aways on top. Once upon a time I used synthetic gunk in a green bottle; now a smidgen of coconut oil does the job beautifully.

{image credit: Globalsapiens on Flickr}


  1. Just a quick question: do you have any solutions that will apply to make-up? When Thomas and I get our own home, and can afford it (slash: have the space for it) I'd like to work more towards the all-natural methodology. Unfortunately, as a teacher, I think it would be best if I kept wearing at least a bit of make-up to look more professional. Any ideas?

    Miss you tons!

  2. I don't wear tons of makeup myself, so it hasn't been tops on the "make this natural" priority list. :) My mascara is from a company called Organic Solutions, or something like that, and I like it.

    When it comes time to buy more makeup (what I have is lasting me a long time!) I am going to try Bare Escentuals. My best friend's sister works there and was telling me about how good it is... all mineral, no preservatives, etc.

  3. Ah, so you've tried that deodorant. I saw that recipe a while ago and was wondering how well it would work. I was afraid it would leave grease stains on the armpits of all my clothes. Have you found that is not a problem and that it actually works well? I don't like the ingredients of anti-perspirants, but haven't found anything natural that really does the job well either.
    To your friend Brooke, she could try Arbonne products. I haven't yet, but I've heard good stuff about them and I think I'm going to try them when I finish up what I currently have. http://www.arbonne.com/products/index.asp

  4. I haven't had any stains and yes, it does work very well. Of course, the nice sweaty days of summer haven't rolled around yet, so that will be the true test. :)

  5. Thanks for this. I'm also striving for better cosmetics and personal care products. To me coconut oil is the best! It tends to absorb rather than sit on top so I doubt it will stain anything. I use it daily straight on hair, face and body. Just start with a small amount.

    I would like to find out more about making emulsified lotions, creams and cleansers. The ingredient I see a lot in recipes is called "Emulsifying wax" Does anyone know what this is and if it's safe? I bet it's not but what to use in it's place? Thanks again for more mysteries of cosmetics unraveled.

  6. I did a quick Google search on emulsifying wax, and discovered it for sale at Mountain Rose Herbs. Apparently it is vegetable based. And if MRH sells it, I would trust it. :)

    Look at the bottom of this page: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/wax/wax.html

    Hope that helps!

  7. I can't get the deodorant link to open. Is it possible for you to list the recipe? I've been looking for something I can make myself but haven't found "the one" yet. Thank you so much for this post. Your advice is very helpful.

  8. Hi Cloudberryjam-- the recipe is now part of the post. :) Sorry about the link trouble!

  9. wonderful! thank you so much. I am going to my co-op today for arrowroot.