I would say that I have a pretty crunchy home- we avoid synthetic fragrances and products, sticking to natural, organic and reusable products when we can. We are a home that uses the BIG recycle can in a week and half a small trash can. I've not always been super crunchy- I grew up recycling and not using super scented products. My mom was always sensitive to smells growing up- I never understood until I started cutting the synthetic chemicals out- now I have a similar sensitivity. Although for my mom it is a formaldehyde allergy- and she will lose her voice and have her throat swell.
One of my biggest annoyances is synthetic fragrances. There are many known toxins in air fresheners- the Environmental Working Group (EWG) warns against them, rating most with a D or F rating and even suggests avoiding them all together (source). There are some people’s homes I cannot go into when they have plug-ins or Scentsy type things because I will leave with a headache, sore throat and many times my mood is affected as well. This is kinda funny because in college, not SO many years ago, I won the award for “best smelling room” my freshman year.
(photo from Wix)
There are many ways to make your home smell better- without the use of synthetics. Baking soda is a great absorber. Vinegar works great while cooking to absorb odors. Fresh air is also great! Right now we live in a older home and are in need of a dehumidifier to get some of the ‘old’ smell out of the house. Isnt it funny how every home has a smell? I also love diffusing essential oils. Make sure you are following safe usage guidelines, using a vaporizing cool mist diffuser (heating oils can change the properties) and always use extra caution when using oils around children, pets and pregnancy. Lemongrass Spa Products also has some great room mist sprays that are yummy for a quick freshen up. You can make your own with essential oils as well and stop using aerosol cans.
Aside from smells I stick to natural beauty care. I’ve been doing this for a while now- in fact back in 2013 I did a 30 day no product challenge.
March 2013: So I decided to do a 30 Day no-product challenge. This means no shampoo/conditioner, only natural body soap, natural body care products, natural dish detergent, natural laundry soap. This will be an interesting experiment because where we are currently located in southern Arizona our water is HARD. Even with our Kangen filter we still have issues :( The motivation for doing this challenge- a healthier lifestyle and making the change before having kids. Products just aren't the same as they were 26 years ago when my mom was pregnant with me and I want the best for my kids (when they get here in a couple years ;)
What Im Using:
"Shampoo" 1 TBSP baking soda, 1 C hot water. In a color application bottle.
"Conditioner" 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar, 1 C hot water, few drops grapefruit YLEO
Toothpaste- 1 TBSP coconut oil, 2 tsp baking soda, one drop peppermint YLEO (have an electric toothbrush)
Deodorant- Crystal Stick Deodorant (http://store.thecrystal.com/crystal-body-deodorant-stick-p2.aspx)
Moisturizer- coconut oil (I use refined to min. coconut smell- http://www.spectrumorganics.com/?id=87#j47)
Makeup- Ferro Cosmetics (https://www.ferrocosmetics.com/default.aspx). All natural and used sparingly and as a sunscreen.
Body/Hand Soap- our friend makes his own soap- Old Black English Soap that is all natural (coconut oil, essential oils)
Face Soap- same as body soap- I use the Mia clarisonic face brush as well
Laundry Detergent- Use 1/8 C of mixture- equal parts (2 C each) Borax, Washing Soda, Baking Soda.
"Fabric Softener"- 1 C vinegar in wash. Use EO on a clean white towel in dryer for scent
Dishwasher detergent- Use 1 TBSP of mixture- 1 C borax, 1 C washing soda, 1/2 C salt and lemon EO. Use vinegar infused with orange peel as rinse aid.
If I have any other recipes that come up during this challenge I will update. The only exception is that for kitchen cleaning I will still use Dawn blue dish soap. We live about an hour from Tucson- I hope to get to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to find a natural alternative.
Day 1:Body soap change is not a big adjustment- have been using the natural deodorant, soap and CO for moisturizer for a while now. Didn’t make the toothpaste last night so just used toothbrush and water- teeth felt smooth and a drop of peppermint oil combated any bad breath. Made laundry and dish soap- reports tomorrow on how that worked. Hair- this part will be challenging/interesting to see what happens. Right now (thanks to our awesome hard water) there are mineral deposits in my hair. These look like dandruff but aren't on the scalp. Previously I was using Lemongrass Spa all natural shampoo. Hair feels different- a little oily and leaves a strange residue on the comb- almost like it is trying to get rid of crap on my hair. Nice part is it curls nicer even with just a diffuser.
It's been one week and so far things are going pretty smoothly. Our awesome hard Arizona water/dishwasher did not clean well with the homemade soap- so I have suspended that and switched back. Body wise I really do not miss any of the products- I wasn't much of a product user so it wasn't a large transition for me. I ended up dying my hair using chemicals (demi-permanent color) on day 7- I didn’t wash with shampoo after coloring- just rinsed really well. I haven't noticed any issues with my scalp and my hair seems cleaner and shiner using the baking soda and ACV wash. I'm interested to see what happens in the coming week as the chemicals from the color wear off. I tried a natural color once before and was halfway pleased with it- might be worth a shot again in the future.
April 2nd- I am bad at daily journals/blogs- so here is my summary.
Water makes a HUGE difference! When I was back in Iowa the water was so much better. None the less I am pretty satisfied with my no-poo hair. More curl, feels thicker and color hasn't seemed to fade as fast. Travelling for 2 weeks I was worried about continuing with the no-poo but it was actually pretty easy. Overall- no desire to go back to chemical products. I am excited to try out my new Lemongrass Spa sunscreen- that was one thing that was lacking- coconut oil helped some but not enough for hours. Give it a try and be healthier today!
Two and a half years later and not much has changed. I have taken the easier route and chosen to purchase more products than make them. Moving has confirmed that water quality makes a huge difference. I would take a water softener/filtering device with me to every house if I could!
Here is my September 2015 update
Shampoo and conditioner- Giovanni Eco Chic- tea tree invigorating
Hair Color- I was using organic colour systems (salon coloring) but my salon was bad at making me wait (over an hour behind with no apologies) so Im in the search- I think Im going to try Aveda next.
Toothpaste- combination/switch between Earthpaste pepperming and making my own (1 TBSP coconut oil, 2 tsp baking soda, one drop peppermint YLEO) (have an electric toothbrush)
Deodorant- Crystal Stick Deodorant (http://store.thecrystal.com/crystal-body-deodorant-stick-p2.aspx). I also use Lemongrass Spa and Toms
Moisturizer- coconut oil (I use refined to minimize the coconut smell). I also use some Lemongrass Spa products
Makeup- Lemongrass Spa Products All natural and used sparingly and as a sunscreen.
Body/Hand Soap- Lemongrass Spa Products
Face Soap- I don't really use a face soap- I use the bar soap our friends make when I do wash my face- although Im excited to try out Lemongrass Spa’s new face wash
Laundry Detergent- cloth diapers have changed this for us- I now use Ecover Zero
"Fabric Softener"- 1 C vinegar in wash. Dryer balls. I’ll use EO on a clean white towel in dryer for scent sometimes.
Dishwasher detergent- 7th Generation free and clear; ecover zero rinse aid
Cleaning products- I love Norwex- worth the extra pennies to me. If I need a little ‘heavier’ cleaning I will use vinegar water or YL Thieves Cleaner. Toilet bowl cleaner was hard here in MD- we have hard water and sometimes they flush the line resulting in extra iron- which means red rings if the toilets sit. I found Method toilet bowl cleaner to be nice and not have a strong scent- Im going to check MOMS organic market to see if they have other options.
Life is all about balance- and part of that balance is finding what works for you and your family. This is what works for us right now- it is always in flux and I’m always willing to change and try new things- I just know I wont go back to synthetic scented, ‘traditional’ cleaners.