Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Green Living: Natural Personal Care Products and Toiletries

Green Baby Diaper Service supports green, natural living. In an effort to eliminate unnecessary chemicals from our everyday lives, we’ll be posting some blog entries with recipes for natural personal care products, cleaners, and lawn care. This is the first in the series, and we’re talking about natural toiletries: deodorant, face wash, shampoo, and baby wipes.

I recently read an article somewhere online—I can’t remember where—that said cancer used to be a disease of the elderly and the feeble. Now it often occurs at any age and in otherwise healthy people. So many things are different nowadays, but one is the pervasive use of chemicals in toiletries. For all the studies that show that these chemicals are safe, there are just as many studies suggesting they are harmful.

Call me paranoid, but if scientists have a reason to study the link between a certain chemical and cancer, wouldn’t you want to limit your use of that product and perhaps not spread it all over your body? Researchers began to study the antioxidant properties in berries because they had reason to believe berries were good for your health. Perhaps they have begun to study the damaging effects of chemicals in personal care products because they have reason to believe they are bad for you.

Also, only a few of the thousands of chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have undergone comprehensive testing to determine their effects on human health. It usually takes dramatic injury or poisoning combined with extensive public outcry before the government will regulate a certain chemical. The government assumes chemicals are innocent until proven guilty. But just because a chemical has not been proven to be harmful doesn’t mean it’s not.

I would rather stick to the opposite idea and restrict my use of unnecessary chemicals until they have been proven safe. Just like I’d rather eat products with fewer ingredients, I’d rather use products with fewer ingredients on my body, hair, and skin. It just feels right.

Here are some questionable chemicals (in a nutshell):
  • parabens have been linked to endocrine disruption due to their estrogen-like qualities and have been found in drinking water
  • petroleum products such as dioxin and phthalates have endocrine-disrupting properties and are non-renewable
  • sulfates in shampoos have been connected with hair loss
  • aluminum, found in antiperspirants, is a neurotoxin

Below are some recipes for natural personal care products that are chemical free and feel safer to use for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, children, and anyone who wants to try to live more naturally and avoid possible toxins.

Natural Deodorant

I am a stinky person. I have used prescription antiperspirants that sting and dry my underarms so they don’t sweat even when I exercise, and I have used nothing but baking soda. I recently was using Secret Clinical Strength waterproof antiperspirant, which worked for a while, but was slowly losing effectiveness. Plus, it’s almost $10 a pop. I switched to Tom’s of Maine, which did absolutely nothing. I stunk. I recently bought Dry Idea because it was on sale, and while it keeps me somewhat dry, I still smell.

I don’t mind sweating. It makes me nervous to prevent my body from sweating, and there isn’t an antiperspirant in the world that will help during these 100-degree North Carolina days. What I need is something to eliminate odor.

I found a couple of natural deodorant recipes online. I tried one. It’s amazing. I’ll share.

Simple Powder Deodorant
I found this recipe on how to make your own deodorant, and while it’s simple, it’s almost too simple. This is what you do:
  • Combine about 1 part baking soda with 6 parts cornstarch in a sealed container.
  • Shake, shake, shake.
  • Apply the powder to your underarms with a cotton ball or makeup applicator.
That’s easy, but I wanted something that felt a little more like deodorant—something that felt like it would “stick” better.

Natural Deodorant Recipe
So I found a more complex recipe. Leave it to me to look for something more difficult. Still, this natural deodorant recipe is pretty quick and easy.

  • Combine equal parts coconut oil, cornstarch, and baking soda. (If your coconut oil is solid at room temperature, heat it slightly to liquefy it. I just set it in the sun for about 20 minutes).
  • Add 2 drops of essential oil (I used patchouli because it was all I had.)
  • You can use the deodorant as a paste and apply to your underarms with your hand, or—to make it feel more like a real deodorant—you can “mold” it. The website I got the recipe from suggested using a Dixie cup, but I didn’t have one, so I used a toilet paper roll with waxed paper secured to the bottom with a rubber band. I poured the liquid deodorant into the tube and put it in the fridge. Once it was hard, I peeled away some of the cardboard tube to expose the deodorant stick and applied it as usual.
**I ended up adding some vanilla extract because I’m obsessed with the mixture of patchouli and vanilla. I added it at the end, as a second thought, and swirled it into the mixture that was already in the cardboard tube using a bamboo skewer. The vanilla extract made the mixture thicker and almost gritty. It ended up working well, and I scraped what was left in my glass measuring cup into a small bowl. The deodorant works equally well when applied just as a paste or in stick form.

**This deodorant is awesome. I smell so much better than usual.

Face Wash

Since I graduated from my teenage years, I haven’t had a huge problem with acne, but I get a pimple or two here and there. I have blackheads all over my nose and chin, and my skin would get really dry after washing it. I always had to use moisturizer. Until I started washing my face with oil. Yup, oil.

This website explains pretty much all you need to know about the oil cleansing method, but I’ll break it down for you below:
  • Massage oil into your skin (you can use a mixture of castor oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, and more. Check out the Crunchy Betty website for more information about the types of oil to use.
  • Drench a washcloth with hot water. Lay it over your face for a few seconds, and then gently wipe the oil away.
  • That’s it! If you feel like you need to use moisturizer, use a tiny amount of the oil (not the castor oil, since it’s so drying).

How does washing your face with oil work?
Oil fights oil. It gets into the pores and dissolves the oil that may be clogging your skin. Even on hot, humid, oppressive days, washing my face with oil is the only thing that makes my face feel clean. It’s a little time-consuming, so I’ve cheated a few times and washed my face with regular cleanser. Every time I did that, I broke out within 2 days. Now, when I don’t feel like going through the whole process, I just wipe my face with a damp cloth. My skin has never looked better. Seriously.


Shampoo strips hair of essential oils, making your scalp work harder to restore the balance. This is what causes limp, greasy hair the day after you wash it. Some shampoos even deposit waxy substances on your strands, weighing it down and robbing it of shine. If you stop using shampoo and conditioner, you can restore your hair’s health.

The No ‘Poo Method
Stop snickering—it means “no shampoo.” You can wash your hair with baking soda and vinegar. And it leaves your hair feeling better and cleaner than ever. I used to do this, and my hair has never been shinier. But it was cumbersome, and I didn’t have a good method, so I went back to using traditional shampoo and conditioner. Natural or sulfate-free shampoos never worked for me. They always gave me oily buildup. So I went back to the no poo method, but with some changes to the process.

This is my no fail, no poo hair washing method, which I found on this green living website:
  • Shampoo: Mix 1 part baking soda with 3 parts water in a plastic salad dressing or ketchup bottle.
  • Conditioning Rinse: Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water in a plastic salad dressing or ketchup bottle. (I add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for a yummy scent).
  • I step into the shower, shake up the baking soda bottle, and squirt it all over my DRY scalp. I massage it in all over, then I leave it in for a minute or two. I only massage it into my scalp, not to the ends of my hair.
  • After rinsing really well, I apply the vinegar mixture to all of my hair, including the scalp and the ends. I run my fingers through my hair to get out any tangles, and I rinse well.

I have really long hair that can get really frizzy and snarly. As long as I make sure to brush it well before getting into the shower, I don’t need thick, heavy conditioners anymore to make my hair manageable. This helps with dandruff, as well. If you have hard water, you might benefit from a showerhead water softener. Some people find they have dandruff, but it’s just a buildup of minerals from their water.

Baby Wipes

There are so many baby wipes solutions online, and I never had the focus to choose one and use it. I’ve always just used water. Whenever I run out of my kids’ California Baby shampoo and body wash, I refill the bottle with water and let it mix with the residue left by the cleanser. But other than that, I’m a minimalist when it comes to wipes solution. I use my peri bottle from the hospital in my diaper bag, to wet my wipes when I’m out and about.

Now I’ve changed my tune, and it’s still just as simple as my old method. I’m just dropping some Baby Bits into the water in my peri bottle. It’s natural, it smells great, and it has actually worked better than water alone when my baby has had diaper rash. Green Baby sells Baby Bits, so pick up a packet next time you’re in the shop. It’s so much easier than surfing the web for crazy recipes and starting a collection of essential oils.

So that’s all, folks. I’m not a dirty hippie, and I think I smell good, I promise. I use Bare Minerals cosmetics and coconut oil to moisturize my skin. I even use a hair straightener on the odd night that I want to look extra good (few and far between nowadays).

Do you have any recipes for personal care products? What do you use on yourself and your children? How has it affected your hair, skin, or your health?


  1. I love this! I am so excited about this series as I've been looking for something of this 'nature' (hehee)! I love how honest you are in this post! Thanks so much for sharing! I can't wait to read the next post!

  2. I've been using grape seed oil to wash my face and it is amazing! I swear that my pores got smaller immediately and my face feels so soft after....and not greasy at all!
    Also, had the idea to use an empty deodorant container as a mold.

  3. This is a great series! Can't wait for more, I'm always looking for ways to 'green' my day. I'm going to try the No Poo, Face Wash and Deoderant recipes. I'm ready to get rid of the costly, chemical-ridden cosmetics in my bathroom...deodorant, in particular.

    I wanted to share a 'green' recipe that I was recently inspired to make. It's a super simple sugar scrub recipe and it will make your legs and feet (and wherever else you feel like using it) so smooth. And, with essential oils, you can use whatever scent floats your boat! I LOVE fruitier scents (vs. flowery scents), so I chose lemongrass.

    Here's the recipe: In a mixing bowl, mix 1 cup of white sugar, 1/3-1/2 cup of a light oil (I used sweet almond oil, but other recipes I've found say you can use olive oil or other vegetable oils) and 20-30 drops of an essential oil. You can adjust the ratio of oil to sugar to suit you.

    I stored mine in a plastic container that has a rubber seal. I opted for plastic (even though I'm generally against it) because I wanted to keep it in my shower, and didn't want to risk it falling and breaking.

    Great post, Gaby! Keep 'em coming!

  4. Yum. That sugar scrub sounds amazing. I need to branch out of my patchouli rut with the essential oils!

  5. A friend and I have been doing the oil cleansing method for a few months. I thought she was nuts, but I have noticed a huge difference in the quality of my skin. Thanks for sharing the no poo method. I can't wait to try it!

  6. I've been using the deodorant. It works SO much better than any of the other recipes I've tried. THANK YOU!!

    This is my favorite wipes solution.
    Castile Solution
    1 tablespoon almond, apricot, or other oil (I like coconut)
    1 tablespoon castile soap
    2 drops tea tree oil
    1 drop lavender oil
    1 cup water

    I like a three step system for skin care. I wash with castile soap, apply aura cacia's toning facial mist with a cotton ball (, then follow with an oil to moisturize. Works great!!

  7. Hi there, I do believe your site could possibly be having browser compatibility problems.
    Whenever I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it
    has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Besides that, fantastic website!

    Feel free to visit my website ... goji pro (

  8. This encourages people to explore and educate the importance of leadership, patience, and others will entertain.
    So, this cell phone lookup service that can be easily downloaded.

    Each game comes at a mobile app development true skate
    cheats company. It assists to bolster the cognitive skills needed for the D-day, the mobile
    are the most classic and also triangle.

    Here is my weblog; True skate cheats glitches