going au naturale

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On this journey I’ve learned so much about myself, specifically how wrong I was, believing that I made my own decisions and lived life by my own rules. There were so many ways that our consumerist culture had trained me to buy – buy – buy. We are taught from infancy to consume. Women are taught that we must wear deodorant, wash our clothes with laundry detergent, clean our homes with chemical-scented cleaning products, have a facial cleanser, shave our legs with shaving cream, wear makeup, use a separate shampoo and conditioner, etc. Men have been trained likewise.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned I can do without buying. Making your own cleaning products and healthcare products is cheaper and healthier.

Making laundry detergent: this worked well for awhile for us. However, due to the fact that I have a very active, sweaty family, I eventually had to go back to commercial detergent because our laundry stopped smelling clean and still smelled like body odor after washing. But I am the only one I’ve ever heard of having this experience. Most people who try it swear by it.

Going “no ‘poo” or no shampoo or conditioner: I was doubtful about this one. My hair is super fine and looks dirty within hours of washing it. I have to brush it throughout the day so it doesn’t look limp and stringy. I thought that by not using shampoo I would turn into a greasehead. But it didn’t happen that way. It turns out shampoo and conditioner left deposits on my hair that weighed it down.

Washing my face without soap: the oil cleanse method: Success! I love the oil cleansing method. I don’t even have to moisturize afterward. I do keep a natural moisturizer with SPF for summer, but the oil cleanse method is all I need if it’s winter or if I won’t be in the sun.

Shaving cream: actually, I have never shaved with shaving cream. Just soap. Lately we’ve been using a natural glycerine soap.

Deodorant: I’ve tried many natural deodorants and none have been great. Some have worked a little, some not at all. I just resorted to washing my pits a lot until I started using this recipe. Keep in mind that many natural recipes use corn starch, but corn starch nearly always uses genetically modified corn, so it’s best to replace the corn starch with arrowroot (update January 2014: this recipe gave me large red cysts under my arms that didn’t go away until I went back to conventional deodorant. I wish it would’ve worked for me, but it didn’t).

And lastly, I sent away for some henna to color my hair. I have been coloring since I was in middle school, since my natural dark brown color washes out my pale complexion. Now that I’ve got a little gray in there, my natural color is even more unflattering. As much as I would like to be at peace with my own hair color, for now I prefer to color it. I will update more on the henna process later (update January 2014: henna works great!).

I’ve been wearing makeup for as long as I’ve been coloring my hair. It started with just eyeliner, then I started wearing blush, mascara, and eventually liquid makeup, concealer, eye shadow, lipstick, the whole works. Lately I’ve been experimenting with wearing just eyeliner and lip balm and am pleased with the results. I only wear my “full face” for church and special events.

As far as house cleaning goes, I really need nothing other than baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice.

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