Since my mother’s cancer diagnosis a few years ago, I have been working to detoxify my beauty routine to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals with which I am coming into contact on a daily basis. I started by switching from an anti-perspirant to an all-natural deodorant, from mainstream shampoo and conditioner to non-toxic alternatives, and from a standard body wash to Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castile Soaps.
Over the past couple of years, I have been looking to simplify my routine even further, researching eco-friendly products that are also kind to my body and easy on my wallet. What I discovered is that I can accomplish pretty much everything I’m looking to accomplish using three easy-to-find, relatively inexpensive, good-for-the-environment items I already have lying around my home:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
2. Baking Soda
3. Coconut Oil
Keep reading to find out how to use these three items to care for your skin and your hair, and to ward off undesirable underarm odor.
Please check out this article for information about 18 toxic chemicals commonly found in cosmetics/beauty products. ALWAYS read labels and avoid these chemicals as much as possible.
And here’s an awesome infographic further exploring 12 of these 18 dangerous toxins.
1. DIY APPLE CIDER VINEGAR TONER
I’ve been using ACV on my skin for a couple of years now – and with pretty great results. Here’s how to make your own apple cider vinegar toner:
– Combine 1 part ACV with 3 parts water (distilled is best, but tap is fine) in a bottle or jar, preferably glass.
– Shake well. Apply to face and neck with cotton ball or pad.
– Repeat twice daily, once in the morning and once at night before bed.
Make sure you use raw, unfiltered ACV when making the toner. My favorite is Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar , which should be easy to find at any health food store.
Try washing your face less often. Seriously. In addition to using this homemade toner, I have stopped washing my face completely. I know that sounds crazy, but my skin has never been clearer or healthier. I rinse my face in warm water followed by cold water both in the morning when I wake up and in the evening before I go to sleep, applying the toner as the last step. While I was skeptical when I began this routine, I have been absolutely ecstatic with the results. Your skin might go through an adjustment period as you decrease the frequency with which you wash it and begin using the ACV-based toner. You might notice your complexion looking a little more oily for a week or so as your body adapts and rebalances itself. This is normal. This also might not happen. Honestly, it didn’t for me. I just noticed improvements in the texture, color, and clarity of my skin over time as I cut out harsh soaps and chemical-laden toners and simplified my skincare regimen.
You might still occasionally experience breakouts following this routine (damn hormones!), though this should occur less often and with less severity. I sometimes get one or two pimples right around ovulation or in the week before my cycle starts. When this happens, I apply a stronger concentration of ACV (i.e. 1 parts vinegar to 2 parts water, or even a 1:1 ratio) as a spot treatment to address the offending blemishes. This reduces the length of their stay and the ugliness of their appearance – for me, at least.
I have found that I don’t need to apply a moisturizer in addition to the toner. If you do notice your skin feeling a little dry, coconut oil makes an awesome moisturizer. I use it all the time on my hands and feet to address cracked skin from frequent hand-washing or too many miles in my running shoes.
2. DIY HAIR CARE: BAKING SODA AND APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
I heard about this combination a couple of years back but had completely forgotten about it until about two months ago when a good friend sang its praises and urged me to try it. Her healthy, GORGEOUS hair convinced me to give it go. I can honestly say I will never go back to regular shampoo and conditioner after trying this easy, inexpensive, eco-friendly, DIY approach to hair care.
How to make and use homemade baking soda “shampoo”:
– Combine 1 parts baking soda with 1 parts water in a small, travel-sized bottle.
– Shake well. Apply to hair, starting at the roots. Allow to stand for at least one minute and rinse with warm water.
– Follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse.
How to make and use homemade ACV rinse:
– Combine 1 part ACV with 3 parts water.
– Shake well. Apply to hair by tilting your head back and distributing the mixture throughout the hair, starting at the roots. I make my ACV mixture in a small squirt bottle, finding it easier (and less messy) to apply it to my hair this way (vs. pouring it over my entire head at once).
– Rinse with water, preferably cold (to seal in moisture and help eliminate frizz).
I generally complete this regimen every other day, sometimes skipping two consecutive days if my hair is not feeling overly greasy. For my hair, less frequent washing keeps it softer, shinier, and more healthy looking overall. I also have wavy/curly hair, which can get super frizzy and somewhat unruly. Since switching to this DIY routine, my curls have gotten curlier and my frizz has consistently decreased over time.
Afraid your hair is going to smell like vinegar? Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the ACV mixture to solve this problem. My favorites are lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus, but the possibilities are endless.
Just as your skin might need some time to adjust to the ACV toner, your hair might go through an adjustment period as well. After you switch to the baking soda/ACV regimen, you might notice that your hair is slightly more greasy for a week or two before it balances out and gets used to the change. Typical shampoos strip your hair of its natural oils. When you stop using these shampoos, your body may overcompensate by producing extra oil. If you can wait it out and give your body time to recalibrate, I promise it will be worth it.
If you notice that your hair is starting to seem dry, try using the baking soda and ACV less often. If it still seems dry, applying a small amount of coconut oil to the hair – especially the ends – can help replenish some of the moisture and improve shine. Melt the coconut oil before using and make sure to rinse your hair thoroughly after using it as a conditioner. You shouldn’t need to do this every day – but occasional treatments may benefit your hair, depending upon its specific texture.
3. DIY COCONUT OIL MAKEUP REMOVER
Admittedly, I don’t really wear makeup. Until the past year, I wore none. Ever. Over the past several months, however, I have developed a love for mascara and find myself reaching for it most days as a nod to my own (sometimes dormant) femininity. So, when I found out coconut oil removes mascara like a champ, I was thrilled.
– Close your eyes and a rub a small amount of coconut oil on your eyes in a circular motion.
– Use a clean washcloth to wipe away the oil and the makeup.
That’s it. Seriously. Kind of rad, right?
4. DIY BAKING SODA AND COCONUT OIL DEODORANT
Commercial deodorants are some of the worst offenders when it comes to toxic chemicals, including aluminum-based compounds and parabens. Luckily, two of our favorite ingredients – baking soda and coconut oil – can be combined – with the addition of arrowroot powder – to create a homemade deodorant that will keep you smelling fresh without doing damage to your body.
Here’s how to make your own eco-friendly, nontoxic deodorant:
– Combine ¼ cup baking soda with ¼ cup arrowroot powder.
– Slowly add in 6-8 tablespoons of coconut oil, using either a spoon or a handblender.
– If desired, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (again, I tend to lean toward lavender or tea tree).
– Scoop into a small container with a lid (a small glass jar works great) and apply daily to underarms with fingers.
This is a deodorant, NOT an anti-perspirant. It won’t stop you from sweating, but it will keep you from smelling bad when you do.
HONORABLE MENTION: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
In case you were wondering, I have not forgone soap entirely. I keep Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile Soap (I prefer the peppermint) in my shower for use daily as a body wash. It is nontoxic, relatively inexpensive, and a little goes a LONG way. I love this stuff.
Have you tried some of these DIY options at home, with great (or not so great) results? I’d love to hear about your experience and welcome any tips you might offer regarding homemade beauty products/cosmetics.
Additionally, my lack of makeup-wearing leaves me a bit underqualified to suggest nontoxic alternatives that actually work. So, any and all leads in this area are absolutely welcome. (I did recently discover this fruit-pigmented mascara that I plan on trying. I’ll let you know how I like it.)