Saturday, January 30, 2010

Experiment Status Report

Over the last few months, I've suggested a lot of tricks and tips on this blog. In the process, as I've read and researched, I've learned a few things and have tried them out. So today I thought I would give you an update of my various frugal forays.

Baking Soda as Shampoo
Back in November, I wrote about going au naturale when it comes to hygiene products. One of the things I mentioned was using baking soda instead of shampoo. I read all about it and people swore by it, saying it made their hair look better than it ever had. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know how I feel about baking soda (*sigh* it's magic powder), I was more than ready to give it a go.

It worked quite well. My hair felt clean and light - most of the time. There were some days that I felt like my scalp was overcompensating for all oils I'd stripped it of over the years with traditional shampoo - there were a few greasy days, to be sure. But, for the most part, my hair was clean, shiny, and manageable.

Conclusion: I'm back to regular shampoo. I have an awesome hook-up for non-toxic, natural shampoo (like the kind you get at a health food store) so I didn't really need the baking soda method to save money. But that wasn't the main reason I quit using baking soda as my shampoo. Call me lame, but I missed the bubbles of regular shampoo. There's just something soothing about washing your hair with sudsy shampoo compared to rubbing a grainy paste into your hair. But, I learned a good lesson from the experiment: I can use baking soda when I'm in a pinch and have no shampoo.

Apple Cider Vinegar as ConditionerYou should see my bathroom. It's modern meets pioneer, thanks to the row of mason jars full of baking soda, vinegar, olive oil, castor oil. Anyway, along with using baking soda, I read that apple cider vinegar works well as a conditioner/detangler. I wasn't as gung-ho about the vinegar thing as I was about baking soda. I was okay with my hair smelling like baking soda (since it has no smell), but vinegar has a very distinct smell. But I was determined not to preach anything I didn't practice, so I gave it a try.

The apple cider vinegar totally works! It's weird and I don't know how, but it really does soften and detangle your hair! My mom (my co-guinea pig) and I were amazed. And it doesn't leave your hair smelling like vinegar at all. I mixed up the concoction (2 tbsp. of vinegar to a quart of water) while I was in the shower and poured it on my hair after scrubbing with baking soda.

Conclusion: I'm not really using this anymore either. Like I said, it worked great, but I didn't need to do this to save money either (remember the aforementioned awesome hook-up?). But I just ran out of conditioner and used the apple cider vinegar today. Worked like a charm. So, like the baking soda, I'm glad I know about this. It's good to use when I'm out of the regular stuff. And if I ever stop getting free shampoo and conditioner, I may go back to this method.

Homemade Dishwasher Powder
A couple weeks ago, I mentioned a new book I got from PaperBackSwap called Baking Soda: 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of. One of the first things I read about was how to make your own dishwasher powder. Since I only buy the natural, non-toxic dishwasher soap (I like the Method dishwasher tabs), it can get kind of spendy (though they don't cost nearly as much as the Method site says they should. Yay for Target.). Needless to say, I was really excited to try to make my own natural dishwasher powder and save a few bucks.

According to the book, you mix two tablespoons of baking soda with two tablespoons of borax (which, as I was looking for it at the store, I couldn't help saying to myself, with a horrible Borat accent, "Wheresa da Borax?" I'm such a nerd. ). I had to go to three stores before I found a box of borax, but once I did, I hurried home and ran my homemade concoction through a dishwasher cycle.

Conclusion: Didn't work at all. I have to say, I feel slighty betrayed by baking soda (I'm going to blame the borax) and a little leery of trying anything else in that book. Once the load of dishes was done, I pulled out a glass and inspected it. It looked like I hadn't even washed it; in fact, it might have looked worse (it was all cloudy and filmy). All I could think was that the author 1) only had 499 uses for baking soda and added this one without trying it out first, 2) was high or something if she did try it out and thought it worked, or 3) that her dishwasher was better than mine and that I needed a new one. In any case, I quickly abandoned the homemade dishwasher powder, plunked down $3.99 at Target for my usual tabs, and rewashed the dishes (sparkling clean after the second cycle, I might add).

The Oil Cleansing Method
In the same post that I mentioned the baking soda and vinegar hair care ideas, I also mentioned the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) for your face. Basically, you use a ratio of olive oil and castor oil, depending on the type of skin you have. You rub that mixture on your dry face for a minute, steam your face with a hot washcloth,and then wipe it off with the washcloth. I mentioned in the post that I really liked it, but that I was going to give it some more time. My skin changes throughout the the month, depending on stress and hormones, so I needed a bigger window of time to see if it worked.

In the meantime, I mentioned this method to my mom. She tried the baking soda and vinegar thing for her hair and wasn't a big fan. She couldn't deal with the occasional greasy hair days that come with the baking soda method. But she was undaunted by the semi-failure of that experiment and she moved on to trying out the OCM on her face. The best thing about us both taking part in this "experiment" is that she and I have totally different skin: mine is mostly dry and hers is more oily. This way, we can attest to how it works for the entire skin spectrum. Impressed, aren't you? This is about as scientific as I get.

Conclusion: Mom and I are completely converted to the oil cleansing method. I never had many problems with my skin in the first place, but it was looking kind of dull and spotty before I tried this out. My mom, on the other hand, has always struggled with her skin and followed a fairly strict facial cleansing routine, but it just got too expensive. She tried this and she swears it works just as well, if not better, than what she used to use. I can see a difference in both of us since we've used it. Plus, we both like it because it's all-natural and there are no weird chemicals on our faces. So, not only is this a frugal alternative to all the facial creams and potions out there, but it works really well!

Did you try any of these suggestions when I mentioned them in previous posts? Are there any frugal experiments of your own that you've tried lately? Better yet, is there anything YOU think I should try?


Nisha said...

No way! I'm too much of a skin care snob and the baking soda for shampoo sounded difficult. I like to lather. I'm glad you tried it though :)

Pamela Foster said...

I have been reading several (many) posts and am very happy that you experiment and learn with your mom! I am a momma and grandma, and still do much with my own mother and mother-in-law, along with kids and grandkids. How blessed are we?

Heather said...

Thanks so much! It's much more fun experimenting with someone else, right? I love the dynamic of women learning from other generations of women, be they younger or older. We definitely are truly blessed! :)

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