Thursday, July 29, 2010

Washing My Face Using the Oil Cleansing Method

Starting this blog has motivated me to try all kinds of new things (keep an eye out for coconut oil as deodorant!) Today I tried washing my face with sunflower oil and castor oil. My skin has always been pretty good. However, since baby was born my skin has been terrible (probably due to no more bc pills). My chin is the worst and I am constantly breaking out. It is unsightly and painful so I am trying to find a good way to deal with it.

At the beginning of the summer I stopped wearing make-up and using soap. I did this for many of the same reasons that I am going shampoo free

A. Soap and other acne products can be harsh on skin and damage it. That damage can make the skin more vulnerable to breakouts.

B. I want to stay away from putting chemicals on my body (see the article mentioned above from the National Geographic Website called "The Dirty Dozen Chemicals in Cosmetics" by Catherine Zandonella.

C. I hope it will be cheaper.

D. I hope it will clear up my skin.

I went without using soap or makeup on my face for 6 weeks. My skin did not change (for better for for worse) noe did it get oily. I did find that I looked less professional and the redness that my foundation conceals did not go away. I eventually gave up and started my make-up and soap routine again.

I think my problem may have been that I didn't replace the soap. I have done some research and come across many different ways of washing my face with oils. Here are a few links:

Here are my before pictures (I can't believe I am posting these online!)

My skin wasn't too bad yesterday and this was fresh from the shower after a face cleaning with my Proactiv solution.

Today I started the new method.

1. I mixed a batch of facial cleanser using 25% Castor Oil to 75% Sunflower Seed Oil. Like the hair solutions, everyone suggested something different so we will see if this works out.

2. I plan to wash my face at night. The websites all suggest only doing this once a day to prevent my skin from drying out.

3. I put a quarter sized squeeze of the mixture onto my hand and gently massaged it into my face for one minute.

4. I placed a wash cloth under hot water and placed it on my face for one minute (not sure how people breath during this part)

5. When the minute was up, I gently wiped my face.

This is supposed to activate my pores and leave my skin fresh and clean.

I did this tonight and I think I used too much oil. My skin looks fine but feels very oily. I also had to use soap to get my hands clean and am not sure where to wash the oil soaked wash cloth. I wonder if I can put it with my regular clothes? Anyway- this will take some agjusting and problem solving but I plan to give it a few weeks.


Shampoo -free-frizzy-head

I have been shampoo free for a few days now. My hair feels clean and dries super fast (weird?). It is still soft and it is not oily at all. I used my mixtures today because it was tangled. The vinegar mix immediately took all of the tangles away. However, my curls are not beautiful. My hair is still frizzy and all over the place. I will give it a few more days and update.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shampoo Free . . .

Here are the photos of my hair after using shampoo and conditioner but no other hair product.

I have been shampoo free for 2 days now. I don't have any pictures yet but will try to take some tomorrow. My hair feels soft but it is not very curly. It is not greasy at all and I am surprised that it is not a tangled mess. I had to wear it in ponytails the past 2 days because I looked wild! I hear it takes some time for hair to adjust.


Monday, July 26, 2010

This isn't working . . . ants again

Quick update: Ants are EVERYWHERE. I am heading to Whole Foods to see if they have anything I can use.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ants . . . continued

Well, the cinnamon sort of worked. The ants have stopped coming from their original spot and are now coming from the cabinet midway up the wall. This is good (I guess) because the cinnamon worked a little. It is bad because I can't put cinnamon on the new spot. I will leave the cinnamon where it is and try some peppermint essential oil as MaverickMama recommends on the new spot. While trying to find the source of the new ant trail I found that we have an old can of RAID. I really want these natural remedies to work . . . but boy that can is calling my name.

Going Shampoo Free

I have decided to go Shampoo Free. I tried to go soap free on my face for about 6 weeks at the beginning of summer and I wasn't impressed. I want to keep wearing make-up for now so I have decided to try forgoing shampoo this time instead.

Why go shampoo free?

A. We are trying to get to a point where we don't put things on our bodies that can't go in our mouths (we'll see if we get there). Shampoos are made of chemicals and I would like to avoid placing them on my body once a day. I took a look at the ingredients on my shampoo and used my handy dandy Google option and looked up all of the chemicals. While I was doing this I came across an article on the National Geographic Website called "The Dirty Dozen Chemicals in Cosmetics" by Catherine Zandonella.

Of the ingredients she listed, several were in my bottle:

4. 1,4-Dioxane
1,4-Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen that can appear as a contaminant in products containing sodium laureth sulfate and ingredients that include the terms "PEG," "-xynol," "ceteareth," "oleth" and most other ethoxylated "eth" ingredients. The FDA monitors products for the contaminant but has not yet recommended an exposure limit. Manufacturers can remove dioxane through a process called vacuum stripping, but a small amount usually remains. A 2007 survey by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that most children's bath products contain 10 parts per million or less, but an earlier 2001 survey by the FDA found levels in excess of 85 parts per million.

6. Fragrance
The catchall term "fragrance" may mask phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may cause obesity and reproductive and developmental harm. Avoid phthalates by selecting essential-oil fragrances instead.

9. Parabens
(methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-) Parabens, which have weak estrogenic effects, are common preservatives that appear in a wide array of toiletries. A study found that butyl paraben damaged sperm formation in the testes of mice, and a relative, sodium methylparaben, is banned in cosmetics by the E.U. Parabens break down in the body into p-hydroxybenzoic acid, which has estrogenic activity in human breast-cancer cell cultures.

While all of this is scary to read, I do understand that the argument is that people have limited exposure (5 minutes or so) and that there is not evidence linking this amount of contact to the toxicity listed above. However, I imagine that repeated exposure could be dangerous and since there is not much research to show that it is safe, I have decided it makes sense to try to avoid it.

B. The other reason I am going shampoo free is because it is better for my hair. After doing much reading, it seems like shampoo and conditioner and hairspray are "domino interventions"! Hair produces a compound called sebum which makes the hair shiny. Too much sebum makes the hair look oily. Shampoo strips the hair of sebum. However, it does it too well and leaves the hair dry. Conditioner creates an artifical sebum and then the hair looks healthy again. Throughout this, a person's scalp begins to over-produce more sebum to replace the old sebum and the hair gets oily etc. It becomes a vicious cycle until a person needs to shampoo everyday. Going shampoo free is supposed to allow the scalp to "reset" so that it produces the correct amount of sebum and is supposed to make my hair healthy and beautiful. :)

C. I hope it will end up being cheaper. I don't spend a fortune on hair products but it adds up. I would love to be able to skip another aisle at the grocery store (we already get to skip baby food, diapers, formula, feminine hygiene, and cleaning supplies).

D. I am hoping it will make my hair pretty. This one is very vain but true nonetheless.

I am armed with how-to materials:

This is what my hair looks like with shampoo, conditioner, mousse, and hairspray.

I made a wash of water and baking soda and put it in an old water bottle. I used 2 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda. I am getting conflicting suggestions on this so we will see how this goes and I will add more baking soda to the mix if I need to. I plan to use this every 3-4 days to start off with.

I also made a rinse of Apple Cider Vinegar and water in an old shampoo bottle. I used 1 tablespoon ACV with one cup of water. I added 5 drops of peppermint essential oil to make it smell nice. I plan to use this once a week.

I want to have a nice control picture so next I will post pictures of my hair with shampoo and conditioner with no hairspray. Then I start no shampoo!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trying to get ride of Ants with Cinnamon

This summer has been very hot. I mention it because I blame the heat on my bug problems. This summer we have had beetles, carpet bugs, spiders, and ants. I supposed it could be a reflection on my house cleaning, but I really think it is the heat. The ants are my current problem.

I kind of like ants. I find them interesting and am impressed with their strength, cooperative nature, and resilience. However, when they enter my home, I hate them. I have not had ants in my kitchen before but battled them on our enclosed porch a few years back. I used my handy dandy can of RAID and they were gone on 2 or 3 applications. Since these ants are in my kitchen and in a place where the baby and cat play, I have decided to try some natural remedies (plus we are trying to avoid chemicals as much as possible)!

We have decided to try to keep pesticides from our home for several reasons.

1. I am concerned about their impact on the environment through run off. If used outside, run off in DC ends up in the Anacostia River (which is also our water source). While a tiny bit a RAID will not have a major impact, we would like to try to do our part.

2. Since it is toxic if ingested, I do not want my baby or my cat to become ill.

3. I am concerned about residue from the poison being tracked across the kitchen on the feet of dying ants (silly?)

4. I am nervous about my ability to clean all surfaces where the RAID was sprayed well enough to feel safe putting food/dishes on it.

Today's Idea:


Here is a link to the article about it:

This is what I have done:

1. I have cleared the side of the counter where the ants seem to come in (it looks like the are coming through the wall from the neighbor's house).

2. I poured cinnamon along the wall and on the ants in the trail (which lead into my sink of dirty dishes . . . how do people find time to do dishes everyday?)

Now I will wait.

I have to say this is not my favorite method so far. The cinnamon keeps getting wet from the sink, the power has ended up on the floor, and it looks pretty ugly/messy.

I will update tomorrow on the progress.


Friday, July 23, 2010

A topic has been chosen!

About 18 months ago I walked into my OBs office. I was 4 or 5 months pregnant and I confessed that I was feeling depressed. My OB laughed at me, said "You're pregnant", and walked out of the room. I was so upset by the treatment that I received that I searched for a new OB. I asked my neighborhood listserv and many women recommended a birth center with midwives. Craziness! I didn't even know midwives existed still (didn't they deliver babies during the Frontier Days?) I wanted the "safety" of a hospital birth. I wanted an Epidural. I wanted free formula samples. However, I was desperate and decided to check out the location.

During this same time in my life I went to Taco Bell once a week, I trusted doctors 100%, and I had never been inside of a Whole Foods. I was pretty healthy, exercised, and tried to eat a balanced diet. But, as one may guess, I was not a conscientious consumer. I really relied on the notion that industry was regulated, the medical field was well-trained in ALL areas, and anything suggesting otherwise was a crazy conspiracy story.

Some days I feel like I should write a Thank You note to that OB. If she had been kinder to me that day (or had called me back right away a few months earlier when I had heavy bleeding) I am not sure that I would have embarked on this journey towards holistic living.

Over the last 18 months, our family has slowly become more and more "crunchy". We cloth diaper, we practice Elimination Communication, we introduced solids using BLW (Baby Led Weaning), we practice Extended Breastfeeding (and I am working on becoming an LLL leader), we co-sleep, we have use an alternative vaccine schedule, we buy all of our meat, fruits, and veggies from a farm and get the rest at Yes!, I make my own cleaning supplies, and we are exploring homeopathy. We don't always do these perfectly, but we try our best. All of this started with the midwives educating me on the value of natural childbirth and breastfeeding. Once I realized how the system was sabataging the efforts of women who wanted to do both of these very natural, biological things, I began to look at other parts of life with that new lens. Projects that I hope to do soon include growing my own food, canning food, going shampoo free, and using Mama Cloth.

This blog is going to catalogue my journey. I will discuss my current projects and will probably discuss projects we have tackled over this last 18 months as well. I hope the give tips for people who are interested in these choices and I hope to include the reasons that I found compelling for the choice. I would like to say, though, that there is no judgement here. Holistic living is not a checklist of items that make a person "good enough". Holistic living is a framework. It is being open to new ideas and looking at data when making decisions. For me, it also means trying to pick the options that are as close to the biological norm as possible. My conclusions may be different than another person's. Something I think is crazy this week might be something I try in a year and it may be the same way for my reader. Please comment, ask questions, and even disagree but attacks or hurtful comments will be deleted.

I am excited to start this blog and share our journey (I know it sounds corny but it really is a journey complete with stops, starts, and backtracking!)