A Greener Clean

I would love to go back in time like two or three years and read this post to Past-Farmer-Amy.  She would think I was crazy.  (Possibly even über cray-cray.)  I used to have dozens of bottles of shampoos and conditioners and shaving creams and lotions and face washes and lip balms and scrubs… I collected the stuff.  Nowadays I’ve pared that down quite a bit, with a focus on fewer, safer ingredients.  Some of my stuff is even homemade, and one of my beauty products only has one ingredient!  My switch was inspired by my eczema (which is vastly improved, by the way), but I think everyone can benefit from a more natural personal care routine.  Some options for you to consider:

Face Wash:  The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)

My oil mixture, 40% castor oil and 60% olive oil.

Here’s a good explanation of the method (although it’s kind of woooo).  I use oil to clean my face every evening, and I love it!  I spent years when I was younger trying just about every face wash on the market, only to be disappointed every time.  My skin is pretty oily, but is also very sensitive and tends to get really peely when damaged… So I would always end up with this weird combination of shiny and flaky that was NOT attractive (and was only highlighted by makeup).  It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but rubbing oil all over my face has actually made my skin less oily… and it removes makeup better than anything I’ve ever tried!  My blend is about 40% castor oil and 60% olive oil, but a key part of the method is to play around with different ratios and oils to see what works best for your skin.  I started out with only 30% castor oil and that wasn’t strong enough for my oily skin; 50/50 dries me out.

Body Wash:  Castille Soap

Credit: Amazon (linked)

I use Dr. Bronner’s, and it’s sold at Target, so you don’t even have to hit up Whole Foods for this one.  Not only is it super gentle on my eczema-prone skin, this soap is certified organic and has the type of recognizable ingredients list that makes me jump for joy!  It’s not very expensive… even less than you’d think, since a bottle will last you FOREVER – the stuff is super concentrated. (For real.  I just got a little travel-sized bottle the first time I bought it, to see if I liked it or not…  That 2 oz. bottle lasted me an entire semester!)  It takes a little bit of getting used to because it doesn’t lather up as much as your average body wash – no synthetic foaming agents (which is probably a good thing).  Now I wouldn’t use anything else!  Plus, it comes covered with the eccentric ramblings of Doc Bronner himself; have fun reading that while you rinse ;)

Hair Wash:  No (Sham)poo Method

Credit: Kitchen Stewardship (link)

The “No ‘poo Method” has a goofy-sounding name, but I love the concept.  Apparently there are people out there who can clean their hair with baking soda, then condition it with vinegar or lemon juice, then just rinse it without washing for another week or so… and it looks & feels great!  I can’t personally vouch for this method, because I just can’t get it to work with my long, straight, fine hair.  But oh, how my crunchy little heart longs to give it another go!  Maybe I’ll try it again someday.  Until then, you’ll have to let other people tell you about it… It seems to work best on hair that has some wave to it.  If you try it, let me know how it goes!  I just alternate between whichever natural-ish shampoos I can find for decent prices.  My most recent find is Nature’s Gate herbal shampoo… it’s made my hair super soft, and smells really good.

Deodorant:  Homemade… or None (Shh!)

Homemade deodorant!

Okay, this one’s kind of a tough one to accept; I’ve always been inclined to max out the strength of my deodorant.  But my underarms are one of my eczema spots, so after seeing recipe after recipe for homemade deodorant on the Internets, I finally caved and tried it out.  I used this recipe.  FYI, it stung like the dickens until I adjusted the proportions so that there was much less baking soda.  (I’d tell you how much, but I just played around with it so I don’t know.)  I also added a couple drops of tea tree oil later, because it’s antibacterial and smells nice.  Verdict:  it actually works great, odor-wise, but it’s not an antiperspirant (obviously), which took some getting used to.  Once I adjusted to a little bit of dampness, I was very happy with my homemade deodorant’s performance.  The only remaining downside is that it gets rock solid at low temperatures (because of the coconut oil), so it’s really hard to apply when it’s cold.  My solution to this problem may shock you… I kinda just stopped using deodorant this past winter.  I found that I develop a slight “human smell,” at most, that is much more pleasant than the combination of synthetic deodorant scent + sweat that I used to loathe.  As the Texas heat gets more intense, I’ll probably go back to homemade!  And for travel, I noticed some Tom’s of Maine deodorant on sale at Walmart recently…. A better option than normal deodorant, if I feel the need to bring anything with me.

Moisturizing:  Coconut Oil

Lotion and/or food. Yay!

This is my one-ingredient wonder!  I just scooped a bunch of virgin coconut oil into a jar and I keep it on my bathroom counter… You could use the more processed stuff too, but that doesn’t have a yummy tropical scent.  I use a little bit for body “lotion,” and I use it on my face at night (it makes my eye makeup run if I use it in the morning, but I find it soaks into my skin or rubs off or something overnight so it’s not a problem.  I don’t generally wash my face in the morning because I am lazy.)  And if you got super hungry while moisturizing for some reason, you could eat it right out of the jar!

…Don’t do that.  That would be weird.  But how many lotions can claim to be edible (and tasty, at that)?

*1/2014 Update: I stopped using coconut oil as a moisturizer, partially because I wasn’t satisfied with the “feel” on my face, but mostly because my husband didn’t like the smell. Odd duck, that one.

Lip Care:  Lanolin

Credit: Lanisoh (link)

This one is near and dear to my heart, because my eczema is worst on my lips.  So, no lipstick or lip gloss or even normal Chapstick for me; almost everything makes my lips itch, peel and crack!  For a while I put petroleum jelly on my lips before bed and that worked okay, but once I actually thought about how much petroleum processing byproduct I was probably ingesting overnight, I decided to look for alternatives.  Thankfully, I found a suggestion on a similar post to  use lanolin for chapped lips!  I had never heard of it, but apparently it is most commonly used to relieve sore nipples during nursing.  (Ow.)  It’s produced by sheep to moisturize their own skin and wool – but don’t worry, it doesn’t look weird or smell… sheepy or anything.  So I use that at night, and during the day I alternate between Burts Bees Medicated and Ultra Conditioning lip balms.  This is partially because they work pretty well, but mostly because I don’t really want to be whipping out a big purple tube of nipple ointment in public all the time.

*1/2014 Update: Still using & loving lanolin at night (and still working on the original tube!). But I’ve switched to eos lip balm for daytime (the cute little spherical-shaped ones). Those are AMAZING and have never irritated my lips at all, even when they’re really sensitive! Luckily my lips haven’t been too bad lately, so I can also use Baby Lips tinted lip balm when I want a little pretty in my life.

Do you use any of these products?  Got any alternate recommendations?  Think I’m a weirdo hippie?  Do share!

This post is shared at Fight Back Friday!