Well, ok, it wasn’t a completely selfless act, I do dig these kind of diys. I have been meaning to write this post since last Wednesday (that’s when I tried some recipes) but I wanted to wait till I had some pictures. As most of the times, I am not completely happy with them but I am afraid if I wait until I am, I will never share this with you. And that would be sad because trying out these recipes really was a revelation for me. So: do try this at home!
The soap nut shampoo I simply did because I had those nuts (that are berries) at hand. It’s actually what we’ve been using to do the laundry with, I had no idea you could use them as shampoo. Boiling the soap nuts in water for 30 minutes, preparing the shampoo every time you want to use it rather than storing it – the procedure is simple yet somewhat time-consuming, so I am not sure I will stick with this one in the long run. The liquid does have a distinct smell, which I find neither particularly unpleasant nor particularly pleasant. It’s ok. As to whether this shampoo worked or not – I find it hard to say. I mean, my hair did get clean and looked nice but I can’t say for sure that it was the soap nuts, or simply washing my hair (after all, some do use water only), or …
… The green tea conditioner. Now this one I loved. My hair usually is very hard to comb (I don’t even use a brush). I have gotten used to it and don’t even think about the discomfort anymore but those days are over! I was skeptical, and wondered how this was supposed to work, after all, the green tea is water, and won’t that just run down before I even got a chance to rub it in? I have no clue how it worked – but it did. My hair was super-easy to comb, and it did look nice (again, I can’t know for sure what to contribute that part to).
The real revelation however was the coffee scrub. It is easy to make, relatively cheap yet it feels really expensive (which is the best, right?), feels nice, and makes you smell so good! I only deviated from the original recipe in so far as I used coconut fat instead of olive oil. Again: because it was at hand – and also because it is supposed to be good for Pitta (yup, I just had to sneak in something Ayurveda). Also I used vanilla sugar instead of regular since I had prepared a jar full a while ago (you just put a vanilla bean in a jar with sugar and let it sit), which we don’t use anymore (the sugar being white). Same goes for the coffee: we haven’t been drinking any lately, so this is the perfect way for me to enjoy its smell anyway.
In the original recipe it says it’s against cellulite but I just went ahead and used it as a full body scrub. Peter was concerned that maybe that way I’ll just end up spreading cellulite. Very good point, so I will keep you posted as to whether I suddenly develop cellulite on my nose or something.
I have been combining using this scrub with the Ayurveda massage technique from the morning routine, so I fancy myself getting the benefits from both. I am no expert though, so I don’t know, I am just going with my gut here. Another thing that’s great about this scrub (yes, there is more!) is that the coconut fat (or whatever fat/oil you’re using) keeps your skin from drying out in the shower. At the same time, you don’t get so sticky that your towel or clothes feel greasy after using them. Your skin just feels really nice and smells like coffee – how cool is that?!
FYI: all this coming from someone who normally doesn’t use more than shampoo and soap in the shower – read: I don’t get excited about beauty products very easily. Yesterday I even managed to get Peter excited about this coffee scrub. His only concern was that he was going to a lecture, and that the coffee addicts among the guests might be tempted to start licking his skin. No reports of the sort have been filed, so I guess this delicious scrub is safe for use in public. Well, maybe not the actual use but you know what I mean.
If you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin, either. That’s the philosophy behind „No Poo“, which obviously both stands for „no shampoo“ and/or shampoo without „poo“.
I learned about No Poo in the current issue of åter (meaning „back“, „backwards“, „again“), a Swedish magazine about self-sufficiency and alternative life styles. Although I didn’t find out about this concept until yesterday, I am not surprised that it exists. As a lot of people clearly do, I have been thinking along those lines myself: when you are concerned about your health, you realize after a while that it’s not just about what you eat.
The stuff we use on our body is as important as what we put into our body, since that’s actually were it all ends up. (I am not even going to open the can of worms that is the clothes we buy which are treated with all kinds of chemicals – another reason for buying second-hand.)
When I still lived in Germany, I was really excited when organic became popular and affordable thanks to franchises like the dm-drugstore or the Alnatura organic super-market. Being on a university student budget, I was glad that I could buy organic food and cosmetics (not all the time and all my food/products, but still). I became aware that these products weren’t ideal, and that the whole franchise concept of these stores also meant that they probably weren’t as humane and great as they seem.
You shouldn’t fool yourself, these kinds of stores and their products really only fulfill a minimal standard. I don’t know about dm, but I remember that Alnatura seemed less great to me when a friend told me that the notes with customer questions (Alnatura apparently has a blackboard for comments in their stores) about the wages for Alnatura employees always disappear „mysteriously“ – and unanswered.
Still, I thought, as long as I can’t print my own money, getting the stuff that at least abides to a minimal standard of eco-friendliness is better than no standard at all. (I am aware of the issue with small producers not having the financial means to get their products certified as organic, and the possibility of certified organic stuff being a bluff – but for the sake of keeping one train of thought, I don’t want to go into that right here right now, either)
After I moved to Sweden, where everything is more expensive in comparison, and a lot of organic products I see in stores are actually imported from Germany, I started stocking up on organic cosmetic products (not that I use a lot, mainly shampoo, conditioner and some mascara) on every one of my visits to Germany. Friends and family knew, so whenever I get care packages, they’re filled with organic soap, tea, deodorant, all that good stuff. I had a box in our bathroom cabinet filled with alverde stuff to last for years.
You read right: had. Like I said, I already knew that organic products that only have the EU certificate that guarantees a minimal standard are not necessarily ideal. There are all these rules like if so and so many ingredients are organic, the product is organic – meaning, there can be crap in there but they can still call the product „organic“. Then Peter told me about one ingredient, sodium „something“ sulfate (the „something“ being interchangeable), which may cause cancer. Although the fact that this may be didn’t come as a surprise, having heard someone (whose judgement I trust) say it so straight out made it impossible for me to shower and not think about it. First I cracked jokes about my „cancer soap“ and my „cancer shampoo“ but then I stopped. Stopped joking AND and I am on my way of stopping applying poo, too. Even if I believe that the equation isn’t as simple as shampoo = cancer, why take a risk?
Another reason for why I have been wanting to make my own shampoo (and other related products) is: I like making things myself. So in a way this really doesn’t feel like it’s going to be a sacrifice but one more fun thing to do.
For those of you who speak Swedish, I cannot recommend åter, and Tanja Thuman’s No ‚poo article in the current issue (1/13) highly enough. Same goes for (her?) website, nopoo.se (also Swedish). Obviously there’s lots of stuff in English to be found if you just search for „no poo“.
Here are just three links that seem interesting and inspiring to me (note though that I haven’t actually tried any of this stuff yet – feel free to beat me to it and tell me about your results):
Teeth whitening and hair care – Yolanda Bertaud’s blog is full of health related recipes and diys – love it!
The Oil Cleansing Method – No poo skin care.
Skin Deep – A database with lists of ingredients for skin care products and their health risks.