Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Real Food Wednesday: Natural Body Care Products

I've had this post in mind for some time, but Kelly The Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday was a great incentive to get it done now!

Growing up, my sister and I shared a bathroom, and every so often the accumulation of sticky, messy goop that held our beauty products hostage, chained to the wooden cabinet, drove us over the edge. We'd "clean," which really meant rearrange the large collection of products that I assumed would bring me beauty, popularity, and the attention of Matt Marani. (Wouldn't it be awful if he googled his name and found himself mentioned here?!) We were both blessed and cursed with thick, curly hair, and I assumed I needed an army of 25 products just to tame the frizz. However, the products accomplished none of the aforementioned feats; in fact, they served to make my hair and skin drier, and their slow build-up in my body may have done unknown damage. It didn't matter though - we hardly ever threw anything away, and continued to add to the array of products with their unpronounceable ingredients.

That is, until two years ago. My sister now thinks I'm a dirty hippie. Granted, I did go through a sad no-poo phase that ended in Mollie's $30 brush contaminated with blue mold, and this lovely shot. And no, there's no fan behind me. I just hadn't washed in three months...

Besides the unsuccessful no poo experiment, there was the no deodorant phase. That resulted in my sister making fun of me at every turn, and refusing to let me sit in her car without those little bed pads under me. (Ok, I may be exaggerating a tad, but do we see a pattern here?!) I didn't mind my own smell while it was in progress, but the sad repercussions for my clothes were another story. Body odor on clothes isn't like pizza - it doesn't get better the next day.

So I've tried both ends of the spectrum - product fanatic and product famished. Now, I'm somewhere in the middle. I have five items I use all the time. My bathroom isn't tough to clean, and I don't even miss the linen closets we've previously had in other apartments.

#1 - Tea Tree Oil

This is the bomb. I've never really been one to get zits, but every four weeks, one pops up and I dab it with tea tree oil. It's almost always gone the next morning. Beware though: Mark won't kiss me when I've come within ten feet of it. I also found that it works wonders on infections. I had some random infection on the side of my toenail (it hurt to walk) and after two days of twice daily tea tree oil applications, it was gone. It's also great for controlling dry scalp. Rub a small amount on your affected area before you go to bed. Shampoo as usual in the morning.

#2 - Coconut Oil
I adore coconut oil. I use it in my tea in the morning to keep me regular; it's the main ingredient in my favorite snack; it is the only product I use as a moisturizer on my skin; and I even use it as a sunscreen! I buy it in the 5 gallon buckets from Mountain Rose Herbs.

#3 - Castor Oil

Remember that little no poo experiment? Yeah, well it left me with more than just dirty hair. I found myself with a nasty little sebaceous cyst that kept growing until it was almost visible above my hair line. Evil sister steps into the situation (surprise, surprise) and pees her pants laughing about my "horn." Mother, R.N., tells me that the only possibility of removal is with a scalpel and great pain. Anxiety started to sink it, fueled by vanity and fear. So I did what any God-fearing, needle-hating "hippie" would do - I googled "sebaceous cyst natural treatment." Much to my dismay, the posts that offered hope were few and far between, but I read about castor oil packs twice, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Isn't that Biblical or something? If a fact was mentioned in more than one place, it made the final cut, was deemed legit. That's how I ::desparately:: viewed the castor oil. Within 7 days of twice daily cotton ball applications, the 1 inch horn was GONE!!! Nothing short of miraculous.

It can also be used as part of an Oil Cleaning Method routine. Read more about washing your face with...oil!

#4 - Crystal Stick Deodorant

This is a recent, but welcome, discovery. I hated the idea of little aluminum flecks lodging themselves in my skin and causing a backlog of toxins in my system. Whether this has been scientifically proven doesn't matter anymore. I've convinced myself that it is, and I just can't wear regular deodorant without a trapped feeling. I know I sound weird. I'm OK with that. The problem was that the other aluminum- and paraben- free stuff wasn't doing it for me: I'd be an odorless ball of sweat. Not fun either. And we already covered why my sister wouldn't let me go au natural. Thankfully, like Napoleon Dynamite, I found crystals. Or, the Crystal Stick Deodorant, to be exact. Check out this info from the section on how the crystal stick works, from The Crystal:

"The Crystal deodorants are composed of mineral salts which form a topical layer on the skin, creating an environment impossible for bacteria to thrive. They eliminate the odor-causing bacteria and therefore prevent body odor.

How is that different from mainstream deodorants? Most deodorants mask body odor with a perfumed scent, contain alcohol to shrink pores, or aluminum chlorohydrate/aluminum zirconium. These compounds enter the pores and physically block or clog them to reduce the flow of perspiration. In essence, they inhibit the body's natural expulsion of toxins."

I give it two thumbs up. I was so impressed with how well it worked - even after a long workout at the gym.

#5 - Tom's of Maine Toothpaste

Now, I don't do just any flavor. I'm not interested in flouride or sulfates, so I use the cinnamon-clove flouride free paste. It's yummy. My teeth feel clean. I'm happy.

I do use shampoo too, but I can't say that I've found one that I love. Each time I 'poo, I feel a twinge of guilt and shame. Why, oh why couldn't I just get that darn baking soda to work?! I'm currently using Aubrey Organics, but my hair doesn't feel very clean. I'll finish out the bottle and try something new then.


  1. FYI, burt's bees shampoo works pretty darn good and so does Jason, Beatuy wihout cruelty, and desert essence.. I love tea tree oil too- I like the jason tea tree oil shampoo and soap. I spray tea tree oil on my pillows and such - it's supposed to kill dust mites.

  2. Aubrey's doesn't do it for me either. Try The Vermont Soap Co shampoo bar. I have thick hair and it works good. But my hair is no wear near as thick as yours. It looked like it was alive!

  3. Shikai moisturizing shampoo and conditioner work really well on my fine but thick frizz-prone hair. Good luck!

  4. What a cute post! I've been having my son (who has mild acne) use coconut oil mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil, I hadn't thought to have him put on the tea tree oil directly!
    Thanks for joining in on the blog carnival!

  5. Great post, Emerald! Similar to mine.

    Dirty hippie! Hahaha!

    I hate to say it, but my favorite shampoo is currently Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle. Maybe the trick is to add tea tree oil to some baking soda-vinegar scheme. Do let me know if you figure it out! Would love to stop buying the poo at the store.