Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Am Your Guinea Pig : Baking Soda Shampoo and Oil Facial Cleanser

Don't feel bad. I'm the oldest child in my family - I'm used to it.

Lately, I've been reading some interesting articles on various blogs about using au naturale products when it comes to hygiene and taking care of our bodies. Really interesting stuff. It all started with a post on Simple Mom about how the author hasn't used shampoo or conditioner for three months. At first, I was like, "Huh?", followed with a little bit of "Ew." But as I read on (and saw a picture of what her hair looks like), I was intrigued. And then I read a post a few weeks later on the same blog (Simple Mom is a great site) about something called The Oil-Cleansing Method. Again, I was intrigued and instantly thought, "I wonder if I should mention this on the parsimonious blog..."

In church on Sunday, the teacher in my class told a story about Gandhi. A mother had come to him with her son, seeking advice. She was worried that her son ate too much sugar and wanted Gandhi to tell him to stop. He simply told her to come back in a week. A week passed and the mother and son came back. Gandhi simply told him, "Stop eating sugar." The mother was a little annoyed and asked why she hadn't just told him that a week ago and saved them the journey to him. He told her, “Last week I was eating sugar, this week I gave it up.” So, even though I immediately thought, "Ooooh! I should write a post about this!", I thought it would be wise to at least give it a try. Gotta practice what I preach.

The first thing I tried was the oil-cleansing method (OCM). This is a cleansing routine for your face. According to her blog post (you really should read it for all the interesting details and research she did), you can use natural oils to clean your face because oil dissolves oil. My initial reaction to the thought of using oils on your face was that it could only make things worse, right? However, what she wrote made lots of sense to me. I was open to something new - my skin has been looking kinda blah lately. I always prefer natural solutions to cleaning, cooking, etc., so why not try this? Plus, I was just running out of my facial wash and thought I would give the OCM a chance before I went out and bought some more.

To clean your face using the OCM, you use a combination of extra-virgin olive oil and castor oil. Most people already have the EVOO; castor oil can be found in the drug section of your supermarket, over by the laxative and stomach-issue section. Depending on your skin type, you mix a certain ratio of olive oil to castor oil: for normal skin, a one-to-one ratio; for acne-prone or oily skin, three parts castor oil to one part EVOO; for dry skin, one part castor oil to three parts EVOO.

I mixed the oils into a little container that has a lid - I store it on my bathroom shelf. Once you're ready to clean your face, gently massage the oil onto your dry face. This gets all the gunk off, including make-up. I used this to get my Halloween make-up off and it worked really well, even for mascara and eyeliner. Next, get a washcloth wet with hot water (but not too hot) and put it over your face until it becomes cool. This is steaming your face and clearing your pores. After this step, get the cloth wet again and wipe off the oil. That's it.

And you know what? I love it. It makes my skin feel so clean, refreshed, and soft. It's also really quite relaxing, especially the steaming part. And I love that it's so natural - no weird, unpronounceable ingredients. And you can't beat the price! I already had the EVOO; the castor oil only cost a couple bucks. Much cheaper than the various brands of facial cleaners I've bought over the years. So, I've tested it and I'm a fan of the OCM. Try it - let me know what you think.

This leads to the other hygiene experiment: going "'poo free" (BTW - Simple Mom isn't the only place I've read about this method. I also saw it here). I had no idea that this was even an option, but you can actually use baking soda instead of shampoo! Ah, baking soda. *sigh* Is there anything it can't do? Then, as conditioner, you use apple cider vinegar. Again, who knew? To be honest, I was a little more reluctant to try this one. It just seemed too odd. Plus, I happen to have a hook-up when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. BUT, I thought it was worth trying, just so I could use something even more natural than what I use and so I could share it with my parsimonious pals.

I'm still in the process of testing this one. I haven't used the vinegar yet. I've been using baking soda instead of shampoo, but still using my regular conditioner. I just get a bit of baking soda and mix it with water until it's a paste and then I rub it through my hair. The author of the post that inspired this uses a squeeze bottle with the baking soda and water already mixed. Next time I take a shower, I'm using the vinegar.

I have to say, I really like the results from using the baking soda. My hair feels lighter and softer. According to Simple Mom, this is because using baking soda helps retain your hair and scalp's natural oils. Shampoo uses mineral oil (which is a byproduct of gasoline when it's made from crude oil. Ew.) to create an artificial shine since it strips your hair of the natural oils. That's why it gets greasy if you haven't washed in a while. I've found I can go a little longer between washings and my hair doesn't look bad at all. I know, I know. It's a kind of paradigm shift to move away from shampoo, but it's worked for me. And baking soda costs hardly anything. I'm gong to keep trying it before I give a wholehearted recommendation. But, for now, it's working better than I thought...

Have you ever heard of these methods? Have you ever tried them? Are there other natural, frugal hygiene/beauty things you do?


Nisha said...

Girl, you are taking frugality to the limits! This sounds totally bizarre! Isn't it hard to get the "paste" underneath your hair and to your scalp?

Heather said...

It's not really hard to get it to your scalp really - I make a thin paste (fairly diluted already)and it gets even more diluted and spreadable (that sounds weird) when you're in the shower. I'm going to do what Simple Mom does and keep a solution of pre-mixed baking soda and water in the shower now that I'm gung-ho on it.

And I know it sounds totally weird, but I think that's because it's more of a paradigm shift than anything. If you didn't, read the article I linked to on Simple Mom, as well as the comments. Lots of my questions were answered that way. Stay with me here, Nisha - I promise I'm not nuts! ;)

Julie in SWFL said...

OK, I know this is years after the fact, but, FYI, you SHOULD have used organic, cold pressed, hexane free castor oil in a dark brown GLASS bottle from a health food store (or online), NOT the laxative castor oil in plastic bottles sold in drugstores and supermarkets. If it didn't work for you before, this may have been why; or, if you didn't like it, you *might* want to try it again with the right stuff. Off I go to check the original post, and correct her, too, if necessary! (I'll follow this just in case you have questions for me.)

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