6 weeks of no cosmetic chemicals

Two weeks ago I decided to do the next six weeks without cosmetic chemicals – well mostly anyway. The initial idea was to see how washing my hair without shampoo would work out, a thought I’ve had for a long time. Once I chose to do that, I thought why not ban all possible cosmetic chemicals, at least briefly. So here’s how it goes:

Until the end of February I am:

  • washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar
  • cleaning my hands and face plus washing off make-up with natural oils (as I’ve done for years) and apple cider vinegar
  • using natural oils as skin moisturisers
  • using only minimal make-up

And I’m not:

  • using deodorant what-so-ever
  • using any hair products
  • using soaps, lotions, nail polish, perfume etc.

For about seven years now I’ve used almond, avocado, sesame, and coconut oils to moisten and clean my face. I don’t know if that’s best for my dry and highly sensitive skin with spots, but I simply got tired of looking for the right cosmetic brands and products, since my skin always seemed to stay the same. Basically I believe it’s got so much more to do with what I put in my mouth than what goes on the skin. I’ve never really used shower gels, deodorant I ditched years ago, and I’m not a fan of industrial lotions since I think my body does better with oils.

So the time without cosmetic chemicals isn’t a big change in my routine. And it isn’t ‘socially challenging’ for me either, as you know, I live on the mountain, where going about without make-up and a fancy hair-do is a rule. But the difference to my normal life is the decision and determination, and the thoughts that might appear. Will I start missing my perfume? Am I going to start avoiding mirrors? How often will I reach for the shampoo bottle until I remember to mix the baking soda?

Two weeks into this I must say I’m surprised how easy it’s been to go ‘without’. Most astonishing part is the initial challenge, the no-poo practice! One will be able to find numerous recipies online for no-poo or shampooless washing, but it’s really a matter of three ingredients: baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and water, although there are many variations to washing hair without shampoo as such. The way I started out is I wash with a mixture of baking soda and water, and I rinse with a mix of apple cider vinegar and water.

IMG_8668From the left: Mixing cup, plastic bottle for using in the shower, avocado oil, argan oil, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and baking soda – most of my products are from Slovenia, therefore the funny labels and names.

>> It’s easy, it’s effective, and at least my hair looks just like, or even better than, after a normal wash!

Washing / ‘shampoo’
1. I mix a few pinches of baking soda and a cup of warm water (approx 2 dl) in a metal measuring cup, and pour it in a small plastic bottle, just so it’s easier to use in the shower. The mixture is much like water, it doesn’t need to become thick or shampoo-like at all. The liquid form works well, but it’s a change to handling shampoo texture, hence the easy-to-target plastic bottle
2. While under shower, and hair already wet with water, I pour the liquid little by little directly on my head
3. I massage the mix on the scalp, focusing on the roots and leaving the hair largely without attention, making sure the baking soda mix is well spread all around the scalp. By massage I mean really rubbing it in!
4. I leave the mix on for a minute or two, and then rinse off with plenty of water.

Rinsing / ‘conditioner’
1. Before shower I mix a couple of teaspoonfuls of apple cider vinegar with a cup of warm water, and often add a few drops of any organic oil I have at hand (adding a drop of some good essential oil is also a nice touch!)
2. After rinsing my scalp and hair with water after the wash, I pour the ACV mix on my hair, now focusing more on the hair and ends. Again the mixture is really just water, so it will not feel like normal conditioner, and the hair will lack that instant feeling of combability.

I’m not very precise with the measures of each ingredient, pinches of baking soda, around two teaspoonfuls of apple cider vinegar, that’s my way. If you want to give it a go, you need to see for yourself the right amounts. There are different results into using too much baking soda or ACV, anything from too dry and flaky to looking and feeling oily or heavy – and these vary according to your hair quality, too. Best is to start ‘small’ and find out what suits you.

But why go no-poo? My reason was simple: to see how it works, as I’m interested in natural haircare and cosmetics in general. But for a more pedant person, I offer these:

  • letting your scalp do what it’s supposed to do: produce its own oils (sebum) and keep the scalp and hair healthy and beautiful naturally
  • ditching any extra chemicals (used in shampoos) since during the lifespan of shampoo it affects not just your hair, but the environment before and after it’s being used
  • playing around in your own little chemistry lab and finding out it actually works, no fancy (and expensive) shampoo and conditioner bottles needed!

I’ll be testing how honey or eggs do the trick, too. It is advisable not to stick just to baking soda and ACV, try other methods too, or go with just water every now and then, and you’ll find the best solution for you! If you want more info, here’s one brilliant blog post I ran into.

As for me, I’ll be sticking to this new routine of hair wash, that’s for sure – no shampoo! With my experience, the smell of vinegar doesn’t stick, it vanishes as hair dries. So far I haven’t been able to prolong the interval of washing my hair (as many say will be the result of long-term use of the method as your scalp starts to perform in its original and natural way), and I’m washing my hair two-three times a week.

Aside from shampoo, come March and I’ll be wearing make-up perhaps more often, but I’m hoping this experiment will teach me to be even more considerate of the chemicals I’m using on my skin, and to do without cosmetic chemicals as much as possible.

IMG_8677My ‘shampoo’ and ‘conditioner’, with our dogs lying in the unexpected warm February sun.

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