Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Natural on a Budget: Body Care

I decided that I am going to write a blog series on living naturally on a budget. I know for myself that natural foods, etc. are a priority especially as I learn more and more about nutrition, but at the same time, I am living on a budget so my goal is to find where the two meet. This series will just be a little bit about what I have found that works for me (and my family) that will hopefully be a help to others.

Starting out, I want to discuss natural care products for body and hygiene. In general, health conscious people try to be mindful about what they ask their body to process through their foods, but few think about what they ask their body to process through their SKIN. We might not want to eat a pound of conventionally raised bacon because of its processing and high nitrate/nitrite chemical content, but when we wash our hair once with conventional shampoo we ask our body to process as many chemicals and nitrates as if we had eaten the pound of bacon. And most of us wash our hair (at least) two or three times a week! Toxins are everywhere in this world and they are especially abundant in body care products. We must realize that the skin absorbs 60% of products used topically on it and be careful with what we put into our bodies through our skin.

So, practically, what types of body care products WORK and don't cost your whole paycheck to buy?! Here are some suggestions and ideas.

Hair Care 
This took me a while to get down. I tried the "No 'Poo" method with baking soda and apple cider vinegar and it was a disaster for my long, thick hair. It works for some people but not me. Next, I tried making my own homemade shampoo with castile soap and again it made my hair greasy and heavy and just didn't work. I also didn't care for either of these because I like my shampoo to lather when I wash my hair...it doesn't feel clean if it doesn't. :P The routine I have right now is using JR Liggett's bar shampoo which I love...and, it lathers. :D The bar costs about $4 and lasts me 2-3 months. You don't need conditioner when you use it, but for long hair I did use Nature's Gate conditioner on occasion although it was fairly expensive. ($5 a bottle, though it would last me 6 months) When dandruff is an issue I just massage a small bit of coconut oil onto my scalp before bed-- that's the only downside of the bar shampoo I've found.

I don't use mousse, hairspray, or any other product like that so I haven't really researched what good options are for those.

I had been using Nature's Gate Spring Fresh deodorant for a long time and for an organic deodorant, it is fairly well priced at $3.90 a stick but it is still a little pricey for me and also contains propelyne-glycol which I try to avoid. I've made a transition to Naturally Fresh Crystal Deodorant Spray which is basically mineral salt and water in a spray bottle. It works SUPER well and I also spray it in my athletic shoes (and my siblings shoes too...shhh). It is $3 a bottle and lasts me 6 months. Say no to aluminum anti-perspirants people. Just say no. (Aluminum linked to breast cancer, Alzheimers, seizures, and general un-healthiness because God made people to sweat. You don't have to stink but you do have to sweat. ;)

For soap I use Sappo Hill bar soap that is roughly $1 a bar. It  also doubles as my shaving cream as it lathers quite nicely. A bar usually lasts me about 2-3 months.

I have been making my own lotion with beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter. I buy the supplies in bulk from Amazon for about $15 total and they make about a gallon of lotion.

My face breaks out-- that is just reality. I have used honey, castile soap, popular conventional face wash brands, Alba... you name it. Now I am using The Oil Cleaning Method which sounds counterproductive but it has been the the most effective thing I have ever used. Still not perfect but it is improvement. I use a mix of castor and coconut oil every evening with a few drops of lavender essential oil (kills bacteria) so for each face washing, it costs pennies. 

I tried to like homemade toothpaste and powder, I really did. But I failed. So I use Nature's Gate creme de mint paste that is $3-4 a tube but lasts about 3 months. Fairly expensive but the baking soda/coconut oil/arrowroot powder just didn't do it for me. Flouride is evil - avoid it. (Do your own research, if I get going I may not stop...) For chapstick, I either make my own with beeswax and coconut oil for less than $1 a tube or I use 1/2 a pea sized amount of coconut oil.

To the Ladies 
I don't wear make-up but maybe once a month so it's a rarity. I have Cowgirl Dirt brand liquid foundation that was fairly expensive (about $20 a container) but will last me at least two years since I use it so rarely AND it is the most natural make-up I've found. I've read you can use plain corn starch with a little bit of tinted powder for foundation but have not tried this. Make-up is a huge culprit for estrogen dominance and hormonal issues because of all the parabens, chemicals and toxins so be careful.

I have done quite a bit of research on importance of natural products for female cycle needs... Dioxin is one of the most toxic carcinogens in this world and it is used to bleach pads and tampons. I have found that I feel SO much better when I am not using conventional (dioxin-bleached) products! Seriously, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel when you stop using the conventional products. For me, organic/natural pads weren't in budget (14 for $4-5) so I looked into natural menstrual cups. I am too small for most of the options out there but the Softcup seems to be small enough and is hypo-allergenic and latex-free. The reusable ones are about $3 and last you through a cycle. If that grosses you out to have to wash it out and re-use, they make disposable ones that you change every 12 hours or so for about 75c each. Far less mess at night or sports, have to change less often, and you feel better... seriously what could be better. Kotex makes a Natural Balance brand that isn't chlorine or dioxin bleached and is priced comparably to conventional brands, and using cloth panty-liners is not as gross as it sounds. Just throw them in with your regular laundry load. 

I don't wear perfume or use any type of fragrance cause they give me headaches but I have friends who make their own with alcohol and essential oils for a good price.

So, bottom line: average monthly cost for body care/hygiene products for myself is about $5 a month. I don't think that is too bad overall. What do you spend per month on body care? What types of natural products have you found that work? I would love to hear!

Also, a really great website where you can check the toxicity of your body care products is http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/#

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