Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things We Use

My sister recently inspired me to write a post on what we currently use in our home and on our bodies for personal care/hygiene and home care. I'm always fascinated to learn how others are doing these things naturally and inexpensively. If we could afford it we would be using all-natural/organic products exclusively. I am convinced that they are safer than conventional products and foods, and will contribute to good health whereas their not-so-natural counterparts are often damaging to our health. We cannot afford to go completely organic at this point in time though, and that's okay. We're doing the best we can with the options we have available to us.

One thing that we try to keep in mind, too, as we attempt to lead a healthy lifestyle is that we don't want it to become all-consuming (which can be a difficult balance to keep when your occupation is quite literally all about natural health!). I don't want to make an idol out of "natural living" or make those who can't afford to do as much as we do feel like they are somehow failing in life because they can't live up to my standard. I want to honor and glorify God in all that I do, and I do believe that as such, I am required to care for my body to the best of my abilities.

So what do I actually do for personal care and beauty products? Let's see....

Hair Care
Shampoo, conditioner, dyes, etc., 

SHAMPOO has been a difficult issue for me. I have tried the "no-poo" route, Dr. Bronner's, Jason, and many others that are at least safer alternatives to what you might find at Walmart. When I used Dr. Bronner's alone my hair just didn't feel nice and soft, like it does when I use "bad" shampoo like Herbal Essences. Knowing all that I do about the chemicals in those types of shampoo though makes it impossible for me to use them without guilt.

I use: Mill Creek Keratin Shampoo (
Cost: $4.11
Free of: Parabens, SLS/SLES, Propylene Glycol, Artificial Colors and Fragrance.

HAIR DYE is honestly one of my favorite things. I love dying my hair. It's a fun way to change things up without cutting my hair (something in inevitably regret after 2-3 days of fun with the new-do). Most hair dyes are chock full of dangerous chemicals though, so I no longer use the temporary dyes I used to use like Clairol's Loving Care. I have tried some of the dyes sold in little herb shops that claim to be all natural and safe but somehow manage to look, act, and be used exactly like traditional at-home dyes. They're "okay" and certainly safer than other more common brands, but usually still contain some harsh chemicals. Not to mention they're pricey!  

I use: Rainbow Research Henna. I honestly don't love the smell of henna, but I love how safe and natural it is (you can even safely use it during pregnancy), and that unlike all other dyes it is actually good for your hair, working as a natural protector and conditioner, and gives my hair nice body as well. I've only tried this one brand which you can find on and I love that it is completely free of all additives, chemicals, and pesticides. Some brands of henna dyes have a laundry list of ingredients, but Rainbow Research is pure henna.
Cost: $4-$6

Body Care
Soaps, lotions, moisturizers, deodorant, make-up, feminine hygiene, etc.

SOAP is something else we don't use a whole lot of. I believe that the no-shampoo theory ( is sound, and applies to the body as well as the head (though I did unintentionally give up the no-pooing on the head thing, though it was going fine!). We do use soap now and then, but overall since reducing our usage, my skin has felt better, and even in the middle of winter, I rarely have to use any sort of moisturizer and yet my skin is almost never dry.

I use: Dr. Bronner's. My favorite is the almond and the lavender, though I like them all.

LOTION/MOISTURIZER is another product I need to use rarely, which I believe is due in part to my other lifestyle choices (i.e. no excessive use of oil-stripping soaps, sufficient water intake, etc). Because it's something I apply directly to my skin though, instead of something like hair gel I likely only use on the ends of my hair, I feel strongly that it should not be full of chemicals. 

I use: Home-whipped shea butter in various scents. My favorite is scented with an essential oil blend called "Sensual" which contains ylang ylang and jasmine (I'm not sure what else is in it).

BODY SCRUB is something I've only started using recently, after I attended a "lotion making party" at a friends home. She made up some easy coffee body scrub and we all tried it on our hands and loved it. I came home and made some myself, and wrote about it here: Saturday Docket. This scrub contains a little bit of oil (I used walnut) and because of this I have been able to further reduce my usage of lotions/moisturizers since I started using it almost a week ago. I use it on my entire body every time I shower (usually every other day) and love it. One warning: Shave your legs after using this scrub, and not before. I found it highly irritating to my legs when I used it once after shaving. Another thing I love about this particular scrub is that it gives your skin an almost sun-kissed glow. Not enough that you look like you've gotten a fake tan, but just enough to make you look a little healthier during these dreary, sunless winter months. It's also extremely inexpensive to make, as you can make it up with used coffee grounds!   

DEODORANT was no easy thing for me to switch to natural on. When I was younger and very sick with Lyme disease I sweated like crazy, and while I didn't smell badly, I couldn't imagine life without antiperspirant! The more I read as I tried to improve my health, the more convinced I became of how harmful conventional deodorant/antiperspirants are, though, and I forced myself to switch. There was a slight adjustment period during which the deodorant didn't seem to work very well, but eventually my body readjusted and now it works like a charm! 

I use: Thai Mineral stone. It is my favorite by far and is completely natural, and aluminum-free. It works great for me and David. We recently switched to the Crystal brand to try it out since it cost less and it works, but not quite as well. David has to combine it with a Zum Frankincense & Myrrh cologne I got him for his birthday last year for it to work perfectly, as without the cologne, it seems to randomly (though rarely) fail him. 
Cost: my preferred brand, Thai, runs around $6-$9 depending on where you get it, and what size you purchase. The stone that comes in the tubey thingy lasts around 1 year if only one person is using it. So though the initial cost is more, you still spend less annually on deodorant than if you're buying regular stuff.

MAKE-UP is one I am just not giving up. I won't use the kind of stuff you can get a the grocery store, or drugstores, but I like it and I'm going to keep using it. My husband likes it, too, which is a huge factor for me. I don't wear much though. In the summer I usually wear little more than some eyeliner and maybe some mascara. Maybe a light blush if it's one of "those" days. In the winter though when I'm more pale due to the lack of good sun, I will apply foundation, some blush, and the eyeliner and mascara. 

I use: Bare Escentuals. Like I said before, most of their products do contain titanium dioxide, but that's about it as far as potential toxins go (and there is some debate on the issue of whether or not titanium dioxide is a danger at all when applied topically versus ingesting it), and as much as we've eliminated toxins from other areas of our life, I don't feel horrible about my moderate use of these items that have very small amounts of that in them.
Cost: Varies.

PERFUME/COLOGNE is one it took me a while to think about. Initially when I considered the issue and realized I didn't want to be spraying unknown chemicals all over my skin, I switched to spraying them on the outside of my clothing. An improvement, but if you can smell a substance that means that small particles of it are entering your body through your airways. So I've done away with all of my traditional perfumes!

I use: Crystallized essential oils by Eden Botanicals, or straight essential oils. I found the crystallized version by Eden Botanicals and fell in love around 5 years ago. I've been wearing almost nothing but them since then. 

David uses: Zum Eau De Zum, Frankincense & Myrrh. A dab under each arm keeps his natural crystal deodorant working, and makes him smell... *sigh* wonderful. According to the guy I bought it from at the herb shop, it's their most popular scent and both men and women wear it. I've used it on occasion, but it definitely has a little more of a manly scent to it than I prefer to wear, even though it does smell different on me than on David. 

NAIL POLISH is another item I use only a couple times per year. Thanks to my older sister I recently tried out Piggy Paint. It doesn't last even as long as regular nail polish (which I already find lacking and is one of several reasons I rarely use it) before chipping, but it's great that there are safe alternatives out there! She got me some Piggy Paint for my birthday, and shortly after that I discovered another safe, non-toxic brand marketed to adults, called Honeybee Gardens. They have a variety of more mature colors, and best of all, this nail polish can be removed with rubbing alcohol, so no highly toxic chemicals there, either! Since I originally wrote this post, Piggy Paint has come out with a new line of nail polish, "Piggy Paint Refined" which is a line of grown-up colors!

I use: Honeybee Gardens & Piggy Paint.
Cost: $6-$9.


Nobody who wants to lead a safer, more natural lifestyle can ignore the issue of traditional pads and tampons for long. Both disposable pads and tampons can contain dangerous chemicals, and many believe that these chemicals can cause or increase menstrual period discomforts, such as increasing cramping, and adversely affect your hormone balance as well, not to mention increasing your risk of contracting life-threatening infections like Toxic Shock Syndrome. There are some "natural" pads and tampons which are supposed to be chemical free, organic cotton, but they can be very costly, and still carry some of the same risks as other tampons. 

I use: A menstrual cup, specifically "The DivaCup" -- unlike tampons that may only last a couple hours (which can be especially scary if your bleeding is ever unpredictable), The DivaCup can be left in place for up to 12 hours, making embarrassing trips to the bathroom a thing of the past! Made from medical-grade silicone, they have a yet unknown lifespan, but evidence points to our cups outlasting our reproductive lifespans (which means instead of throwing out thousands of tampons or pads over our reproductive lifetime, we'll end up throwing out only one small cup instead). Talk about being eco-friendly! I also use homemade, cloth pantyliners as a form of "insurance" or for light days when the cup seems like overkill.

Household Products
Dish soap, dish washer detergent, laundry detergent, etc.,

DISH SOAP makes me happy. Especially when it's non-toxic, natural, and pear scented! 

I use: Earth Friendly Ultra Liquid Dishmate Natural Pear -- it smells AMAZING, is completely safe and natural, and is fairly inexpensive, too, which is great since I hand wash dishes more often than I use the dish washer!
Cost: $3.10 (

Earth Friendly Dishmate is made with: water, coconut oil derived surfactants, salt and pear oil.
And is free of: Phosphates, dyes, perfumes, SLS, cocamide DEA, animal testing and animal ingredients.


I use: Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Detergent -- it's not perfect, but it's a far cry better than Cascade! Prior to purchasing this I used Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder, which was a gift when we got married and I only just bought this other brand (which goes to show you how rarely I use the dishwasher!). I prefer the Biokleen as far as ingredients, and how well it works, but the Seventh Generation was cheaper, and I decided to give it a try. I will switch back to Biokleen when my 7th Gen is gone.

LAUNDRY DETERGENT is currently Earth Friendly. Once the detergent I currently have is gone though, I plan on making my own, which can be done for mere pennies per load!

I use:  Earth Friendly Ultra Ecos Magnolia & Lily Laundry Detergent. They have a fragrance free variety as well, though they're naturally fragranced.
Cost: $6.37 for 50oz, approximately 50 loads ( 

BLEACH can be almost essential for whites if you want to keep them looking fresh and clean. In place of dangerous chlorine bleach, I prefer to use chlorine free products, which still help to keep whites bright, but are safe enough to use on colors and can help remove tough stains. In my experience, oxygen bleaches work well enough that you don't have to use them every single time you wash, either, but just now and then to keep whites looking new longer!

I use: Biokleen Chlorine Free Oxygen Bleach Plus
Cost $4.93

General household cleaners: I use homemade cleaners for wiping down counters in the kitchen and bathroom, for mopping my floors, and for cleaning my shower and toilet. My favorite is very simple and inexpensive! Just fill a spray bottle with water, add 5-15 drops of grapefruit seed extract (depending on the size of your bottle and the strength of cleaner you want), and viola. Done! I also like to add a few drops of essential oils like tea tree oil which also have anti-microbial properties, iodine, or castile soap, depending on where the cleaner will be used. For my flooring I use a simple combination of water and vinegar in a Swiffer mop (though I don't buy the disposable pads; I use old dish rags and they work wonderfully -- perhaps even better than the pads -- and are more eco-friendly!). 


  1. Very interesting post! I heart my DivaCup! I'll definitely be looking up some of these products.

  2. I'm glad to hear it! I can't wait to write an updated post sometime after I've tried making more of these products from scratch. I have a recipe I'm going to try for mascara, even. Can't wait. :)

  3. This is a great post. Thanks for taking the time to write it all our for us.

    I'm interested to hear about the mascara recipe and how it works for you!

  4. Sure thing! I will definitely write up something on the mascara once I can find the ingredient I don't yet have. It should be easy to find, if the snow will let me out of the house. :)