Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Natural beauty products.

It feels weird to write about beauty products. You guys know this isn't the kind of thing I normally post. I guess that's because I'm incredibly lazy and low-maintenance when it comes to a "beauty routine." I don't wear make up. And my definition of fixing my hair means running a hand through it to make sure I don't have too many tangles and pulling it back with bobby pins. :)

That being said, I do use certain products. While I've tried to stick with mostly natural products over the past couple of years, it's only recently that I've become a bit obsessed with avoiding chemicals in beauty products. So here's an idea of what I use, and of those, which I'm happy with and which still need perfecting.


The most basic personal product, I guess. :) I used to use Dove. Then, sort of on a whim, a couple of years ago I bought a bar of goats milk soap from some friends of ours who were selling at the farmer's market. It smelled really good and I liked it, so I kept buying it. Eventually I ran out and had to use a bar of leftover Dove. After a couple days of using it, I noticed that the skin on my arms was looking dry and kind of...peeling? I don't know what the deal was, but I've used nothing but homemade goats milk soap since. :) I was buying it from our friend, but she taught me and Mom how to make the soap a couple of weeks ago, so we made our first two batches and now we're just waiting for it to cure. (One more week!)

I guess we used the cold process to make it...no stove, oven, etc. You mix the oils (olive oil, coconut oil, Crisco) together, add lye to goats milk, and then add that mixture to the oils (the lye makes the milk hot, so it melts the oils). Those are the very basics...don't go trying to make your own soap by those pitiful instructions of mine. :) Then we added essential oils and poured the soap into plastic shoe boxes for molds.

Face Wash
As a teenager, I used AcneFree, which was a three step face system that's basically the off brand of Proactive. There was a warning on the label to not get it on your clothes because it contained bleach. Seriously! They warn you about getting it on your clothes but you're smearing it all over your face?? I don't know what I was thinking, you guys. :) Anyway, about three or four years ago I switched over to Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream. I wash my face with it every morning. It's 100% natural and it pretty much keeps me from breaking out, aside from the occasional zit.

Except that I have one obnoxious spot to the left of my nose. I keep getting a few little persistent zits right there. They'll heal up for a few days, but then my skin will get a bit red in that spot, and a few days later I'll get a couple of zits again...though they're not like typical ones. Anyway, it's weird. :) I had heard people mention using coconut oil on their face. My skin is already oily, so I was hesitant about that. But lately after I wash my face with the Burt's Bees cleanser, I'll put a tiny dab of coconut oil there and then wipe it off with a warm washcloth. It seems to be helping, though it might just be my imagination. :) The spot is still there, but I think it's less red and noticeable.

I've always liked really strong, minty toothpaste. But recently we switched over to Tom's toothpaste. It's mint-flavored, but very subtle, almost like an aftertaste or something. It took me a few days to get used to it, but I think I've adjusted now. :) My teeth feel clean, anyway.

Lip Balm
I don't wear make up...just lip balm. So I can't give any recommendations for natural make up or anything. I love Burt's Bees original lip balm, with its tingly peppermint goodness. :) But my last few tubes of lip balm have been homemade that I purchased from vendors at the farmers' market (the last one was from the same lady who taught us how to make soap). I only wear lip balm when I'm going to town or church, which is like three days a week at the most. So a little tube of it lasts me forever. :) {My dad just extracted honey from his bees and he saved us a bit of wax. Maybe I'll be able to make my own lip balm now.}


Writing about deodorant on the blog feels very awkward...and personal? I'm sorry if this gets a bit gross or too-much-information.

For several years, I had been using Secret Clinical Strength. I needed it because I feel like I sweat a lot. I think I'm hot-natured, anyway. But I'm also awkward and my body's first reaction to being embarrassed or being in an uncomfortable situation is to 1) Blush horribly. Not a sweet, feminine blush. A my-whole-face-is-red blush, and 2) Sweat. A lot. Sometimes I think I could act nonchalant and pretend that I'm more confident that I actually feel, if the blushing and sweating didn't automatically give me away. :)

So...yeah. Clinical strength. Probably with more concentrated aluminum than regular deodorant, which is of course not good for you. Honestly, it did what it was supposed to do: it practically stopped the sweating and masked any odor. But is it worth it if it's going to cause health issues down the road? I don't think so. I finally started researching natural deodorants, but they seem hit or miss. Nearly all of the reviews on most natural deodorants are half positive and half negative.

I eventually decided to try a homemade recipe I found. It was basically coconut oil, cornstarch, baking soda, and a few drops of essential oils. It seemed to be working okay at first. I had to get used to the fact that since I wasn't using an antiperspirant I was sweating more. But it was masking any odors. About that time, I also decided to ditch the shaving cream and just use my soap to shave with...

Big mistake. I got awful razor burn that hurt like crazy. I'll admit that I probably should change blades more often, but this was bad. So I went a couple of days without using the deodorant (days when I was just staying home, thankfully!), and went back to the shaving cream when things cleared up. I started using the homemade deodorant again, and things seemed to be going well for a few days.

Then, all of a sudden, I realized that my underarms were getting sort of itchy and were beginning to feel very sensitive most of the time. After a bit of research, I found out that apparently some people have reactions to the baking soda in homemade deodorants. And I guess I'm one of them. Every homemade deodorant recipe I've seen requires baking soda, so I guess that's out.

There's one natural deodorant that seems to get mostly positive reviews, and that's Deodomom. It was originally formulated for pregnant women, but it only contains 2 ingredients (water and some mineral) and is supposed to be safe for everyone. It's expensive, but still a bit less than the clinical strength I was buying. So I ordered some and I'm waiting on that to arrive to see how it works! Hopefully it will work out, because if it doesn't, I don't know what to try next.

For now, while I wait, I'm using Tom's Wild Lavender Deodorant, which seems to be working okay at the moment. Judging by the reviews on Amazon, a lot of people have had reactions to it, and I do seem to have a sort of rash (though it's not painful), but I don't know whether it's from the Tom's or after effects from the homemade. Basically I'm just really hoping the Deodomom works.

Shaving Cream

I haven't figured this one out yet. After the horrific rash that I got from shaving with soap (mentioned above), I've been back to using regular store-bought shaving cream. I need to research some recipes! Any suggestions?


I love Burt's Bees Milk & Honey Body Lotion. {It's currently 99% natural...BB is always working towards 100% natural on all products.} It smells really good! Though it does feel greasy going on, it soaks in fairly quickly. I also use some goats milk lotion from a sort-of local company called Faith Mountain Farm. I love the Apple Blossom scent. This is probably the least greasy lotion I've ever used. It feels so light and seeps in super quickly.

I've been using Bath and Body Works lotion for years, but I haven't used it in the past month or so. I have several bottles of it left that I don't want to go to waste, but I'm not sure I feel comfortable using it anymore!

Here's the deal with my hair: It's naturally wavy/curly. It's fairly thick and has the potential to be coarse, especially when it's frizzy. Which happens very easily. This is the story of my life. Honestly: if there's any moisture in the air, I can see my hair's frizziness in my peripheral vision! Also, my hair's pretty long...a few inches short of my waist since I got it trimmed the other week.

I used to fight my hair's natural tendencies. In middle school, I straightened it with a flat iron every single day, and by lunchtime, every single day, I had bumps in the back of my hair from my curls trying to break free. :) Eventually I gave up and started wearing it curly, at the time very begrudgingly, but now I have no desire for straight hair anymore.

My hair has never been dyed. I don't use any heat...no dryers, straighteners, or curling irons. I've only used heat on it once in the past 3 or 4 years, and that was the curling iron when my brother got married (though in hindsight, it would have been just as good or better not to). Also, this might sound weird, but I don't brush my hair. Brushing it turns my curls into frizz and gives me Lynyrd Skynyrd/Mia Thermopolis hair. Actually, I still have Mia's hair sometimes.

I try to use most of the ideas from the Curly Girl Handbook, with two exceptions. First of all, I still use shampoo. My roots are super oily...my hair looks greasy the second day after a washing. I don't think I could go no-poo, and I'm a little scared to even try. :) The second exception I'll mention later. I use Burt's Bees shampoo and conditioner. Right now I'm using the Very Volumizing kind...mostly because it smells really good. It's not like I need any extra volume. :) There are three or four different kinds, and I've tried most of them because sometimes our Target is limited on what they have in stock. I can't tell much difference between them, though it seems like the More Moisture makes my hair oilier quicker and sometimes I think the Very Volumizing makes my scalp dry.

The second exception is that finger-combing my hair when I'm conditioning isn't enough. I have to use a comb. This hinders my curls a bit, but after first starting this routine I determined that I'd rather have not-as-good curls than the bad tangles I had when I didn't comb it.

My hair routine is so lazy and simple. I wash my hair three or four times a week. That's the most stressful part of the whole routine because I have to use lots of conditioner and just take time to work tangles out. It takes a while. :) After I wash my hair, I scrunch it with homemade gel and let it air dry. And that's it. The next day (I usually wash my hair in the evening), I pull it back on the sides with bobby pins to keep it out of my face, and it will look okay for the rest of the day. On the second morning after washing it, it's still just as curly but looks a bit greasy.

I tried two homemade gel recipes. The first was plain unflavored gelatin mixed with water. It was super runny and I had to use tons of it on my hair (I have a lot of hair :). It didn't prevent frizz with humid weather, but the worst part was the awful tangles I had on the second day after using it. {In case you haven't noticed, tangles drive me crazy.}

The second one was much more successful. Basically, it's flaxseed and water. When you bring the water to a boil and then put in the flaxseed, it makes a gel. I did add a few drops of lavender essential oils. This gel works awesome for me- just as good as the storebought stuff I was using before. It sometimes feels a bit crunchy as my hair is drying, but by the next morning my hair is soft. It really holds my curls and doesn't cause any more tangles than usual when I wash my hair. It is very...goopy. Sort of gross to stick your hands in until you get used to it. :) And you do have to keep it refrigerated, which isn't a problem for me because our kitchen isn't too far away from the bathroom.

One batch by that recipe lasts me about 3-4 washings. So I'm going to start mixing up two batches at a time...the gel will last 2 weeks in the fridge.

So there you have it. I use mostly a mixture of Burt's Bees and homemade products. I do love Burt's Bees, but I'm not unwilling to try different kinds. It's just that BB is about the only brand of natural products I can find locally. And I'm very reluctant to order something online if I've never used it before and don't know if it will work. It took a bit of experimentation, but currently the only non-natural products I use are shaving cream (still working on that) and contact lens solution. And the only way of avoiding that one is going back to glasses, which I don't plan on doing any time soon...

What kind of natural beauty products do you use? I'd love some suggestions. :)

Until next time,


  1. Burt's Bees rule. Love their stuff - and they have some new, hip lip glosses with color though I cannot speak for their make-up lines given that I use drug store brands. (Natural make-up doesn't "work" nearly as well - waterproof is the only way to go. Seriously.)

    Also love the brands, Giovanni (their lotions/bar soaps rock!), Pure & Basic and Jason for toothpaste.

    1. I've thought about checking out Burt's Bees colored lip glosses...maybe I will sometime!

      And I've never heard of those other brands before- I'll have to look them up! Thanks for the suggestions. :)

  2. Oh girl, shaving creme gives me nasty burn! I could never find anything for YEARS and now i just use olive oil (yeah, really) and sometimes just my natural soap (can't remember what its called)

    1. I might have to give olive oil a try! I've heard of people using coconut oil to shave with, but there's a risk of it blocking up drains because it solidifies at a certain temperature. So I guess you wouldn't have that problem with olive oil...

  3. I tend to geek out a little over natural beauty products. :D I can definitely relate to your frizzy/curly/wavy hair trials and your low/no maintenance routine (and the sweating, actually!). I do wear mascara on occasion – because I'm blond and my eyes don't show up very well on my face – but that's about it. I'd kind of like to learn how to apply makeup, but because I'd only feel good using paraben/phthalate-free stuff, choosing products adds too much extra confusion to that already mystifying girly process. Maybe someday... when I care more, or feel less lazy, or would rather spend money on cosmetics instead of books (ha!). ;D

    I make my own bars of soap (that I shave with and also use to wash my face... when I remember to actually wash it, that is *shakes head shamefully*) and lip balm (which you should definitely try making – it's really easy and I think it would be awesome to use wax from your own bees!). Right now I use Aubrey Organics Chamomile Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner - because I haven't been able to go shampoo-free either - but every once in a while I have fun trying out new brands that I order online (through the thoroughly awesome vitacost.com). It's too bad that the homemade deodorant didn't work for you! I wonder if a baking-soda free version is possible... virgin coconut oil (which has fairly strong anti-bacterial properties) combined with lavender and tea tree essential oils might work just fine on its own. Hmmm, I might try leaving the baking soda out of mine next time I make it as an experiment. See? Slightly geeky, right? :D

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who'd much rather spend money on books that makeup, LOL. I hate spending $8 every couple of months on the face wash and shampoo, so I know I'd hate having to purchase cosmetics on a regular basis. Plus, I'm already self-conscious enough about how I look...I don't want to constantly be worrying if my makeup is smearing or running or something. :)

      I'll have to look into that shampoo and conditioner (and that website). Let me know how your experiment goes if you try it. :) I might try homemade deodorant again in the future, but right now the Deodomom I mentioned above seems to be working really well. It's so nice to not have irritated skin anymore! Even though it's more expensive than I'd like, I'm really happy with it so far.

  4. I'm really into natural beauty stuff as well, so it's awesome to know another person that is into it as well!

    I've had plenty of problems with my hair, especially the greasy part like you have (I just have straight hair, though). I tried all sorts of shampoos and homemade concoctions. I tried to no-shampoo method, the one using baking soda, but even after several months (it can take several weeks to several months for your body to adjust and produce less oils in the scalp) my hair was still greasy. For a while I was using Yes to Carrots shampoo, which was my very favorite store bought shampoo. It's not that expensive and worked really well and is like 98% natural, or something high like that. But now I make my own shampoo using one part liquid castile soap (I use unscented because my body reacted to the peppermint one) and three parts water in a plastic squeeze bottle. I find that this cleans my hair the best, looks the least greasy the next day, and it's really inexpensive. You might already know this, but it usually takes several weeks, and sometimes a month or two, before your scalp adjusts to become less oily.

    When it comes to conditioner, I've been using a mixture of half raw apple cider vinegar (RACV) and half water in a spay bottle. It doesn't work as much as a detangleizer, so I don't know if it would work for you, but you never know. I've been using it for years, including all the shampoo experiments, and it works great for me!

    This year I started using EOS lip balm, which I really like and is 100% natural. I was using Burt's Bees before, which I liked, but EOS is smoother and smells prettier to me. I was using raw honey as a face was for years, but now I just wash it with water, using a washcloth to exfoliate really well. My face used to be really oily, just like my scalp, but like with the shampoo, I think my face adjusted and produces less oils now. I've kinda wanted to make my own soap, but using lye and stuff just makes me kinda nervous. I used to use deodorant just for the antiperspirant, since that's all I needed/wanted, but after my mom told me about the aluminum I stopped using it. Being sweaty used to bug me really bad, but now that I haven't used anything in so long that it doesn't bother me anymore. I'm not sure if it's 'cause I'm just more used to it now, or because I've cut certain foods out of my diet (dairy and sugar).

    Anyways, sorry for my incredibly long comment! I'm usually one who just leaves a sentence or two, but when I get going on something that I'm really into, it's hard to stop! :)

    1. That's the part about changing shampoos that I hate- the transition period! I don't know if I can handle my hair looking and feeling greasy for weeks or months while it adjusts. :) But I might have to try the castile soap shampoo sometime! We have liquid castile soap, and that recipe would be much less expensive than the Burt's Bees.

      I was nervous about using lye and such, too, but making the soap was a lot easier than I expected! The biggest thing is making sure that you keep the lye-related items separate and away from kitchen-related ones and make sure you have some vinegar on hand. :) We also wore gloves and safety glasses.

  5. From the last 2-3 years,I used to do shampoo on alternate days but without conditioner.I started loosing hair at that time but now I shampoo my hair in same way but and also use a branded conditioner.Now I am happy with my hair growth and its shine.


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