This is a guest post by my lovely friend, Emily Weber. She has slowly started eliminating all the chemicals from her household products and raves about the differences it has made in her life, and how easy the process was. I have long been interested in how she began, and asked her to write about it for us. Emily is getting married in July (huge congrats to her and her longtime boyfriend, Kirby) and you can read more at her blog, Delightful Little Life. She will begin posting more information after her honeymoon.
I first started thinking about all natural products when I was browsing Pinterest and I saw some information on what people call going ‘no poo’. As odd as it sounds, it’s actually quite simple. You stop using shampoo with chemicals and sulfates that strip your hair, and switch to washing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Weird, right? But after reading all the rave reviews about how much healthier people’s hair got after they started the ‘no-poo’ process, I was willing to give it a shot. To be honest, I just cared about how my hair looked. I never really thought about the chemicals in my products before. However, after reading more about it I realized how absolutely horrible conventional shampoo is, so I decided to give ‘no-poo’ a try. It was probably at the worst time ever, too, being as it was the week before I went to Vegas with some girlfriends, but at this point I was committed. Despite some less than ideal Vegas photos and my hair getting a little nasty, I did it for an entire month and a half. Now, there’s this whole waiting game thing with the ‘no-poo’strategy. First your hair gets kinda stringy and oily, but then it’s supposed to get all amazing and shiny and perfect. Like, unicorn tail perfect. Not surprisingly, I got really impatient. The whole gross looking hair thing really isn’t my scene. So I started doing some research to see if there were other options, and in the process of trying to find cleaner alternatives to shampoo, I realized that pretty much anything and everything we use, from household cleaners to the stuffing in our sofas, have chemicals in them. Boo, I know.
Cue the pushing of the first domino.
I started reading the blog No More Dirty Looks, and the authors Siobhan and Alexandra are amazing at explaining why and how to clean up your routine. After reading their website and checking out all the chemicals in my products here, I realized if I was going to throw out my shampoo and conditioner, I would need to throw out all my drugstore makeup as well. This included me convincing my fiance, Kirby, into doing the same (this is why I love the guy). A few weeks after throwing out the biggest pile of junky products ever, I realized there was no point in cleaning up our hygiene products if we were cleaning our house with toxic chemicals, so I found ways of making all natural cleansers. Then, I realized there was no point in worrying about all the chemicals outside of our bodies if we were eating foods covered in pesticides, so we started shopping for organic produce at our local farmer’s market. Do you see how this goes? If you do it all at once, as I’m sure you can see, it can be super overwhelming. Where does it end? I’m actually not quite sure, because even after all that we’ve done to clean up our routine, I’m now starting to think about things like water and air purification in our home and the chemicals in our clothing. I might end up eating grass eventually (organic, of course).
You would never guess I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, huh?
For me it started out kinda slowly, but then there were several nights when I went around our house (looking like a complete crazy lady) looking in cupboards, boxes, closets, and under sinks to find anything that was hazardous to our health (i.e. every product we owned). Now, I’m aware I went a little nutzo. We had the means to replace all of the stuff I threw out with all-natural products, but that’s not the only way of doing it. If you need a more affordable option, or if you’re just wanting to ease yourself into this a bit, you can replace each product after it runs out or even make your own.
I’m sure the process is different for everyone who decides to go all-natural. Some people may be able to afford going to Whole Foods and replacing everything with premade, fancy all-natural alternatives. Some people might slowly transition and try out new homemade products until they feel comfortable with the change. I do a combination of both buying products and making them, because sometimes I’m too lazy to grate up a bar of soap for an hour so I can do two loads of laundry (this happened once, but I’m sure there’s a better way. But now I now buy all natural laundry soap because who has time for that?). There are several key ingredients that you need to start off after you throw out your conventional cleaners. Baking soda, white vinegar and Dr. Bronner’s soap can pretty much clean your entire house once you find the recipes you like. I was surprised to find that a combination of these ingredients could clean things better than the conventional stuff.
Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap
Sink scrub, toilet scrub, counter scrub, dirty shoe scrub, basically anything that needs to be scrubbed. This costs about 99 cents a box.
Kirby also uses a baking soda and water combo to wash his hair and he loves it. We have a big gallon squirt bottle that we mix it up in and keep in the shower. The water/baking soda ratio is totally random. Put some baking soda in water (maybe ½ cup per gallon?) He likes it because his hair doesn’t get frizzy anymore and it stays where he wants it to, but it gets clean and never looks greasy.
Dr. Bronner’s Liquid soap: (dilute it with water for everything and it will last you forever)
Liquid hand soap, dish soap, washing counters, floors, kids toys, any surface ever, basically.
The BEST shower cleaner ever:
Heat up ½ cup vinegar until boiling.
Pour vinegar into a spray bottle along with ½ cup liquid soap. Spray onto shower surfaces, let sit for 1 hour. After waiting for 1 hour, throw about ½ cup of baking soda onto any places in shower that need a little extra scrubbing. Then, use a shower brush to wipe everything clean. Your shower will be super sparkly and white, and you hardly have to scrub anything at all. It just melts off!
Natural deodorants are terrible. Sorry. The only, and I mean the only (I tried about five both bought and handmade and I was not a happy camper) deodorant that works is Crystal deodorant. I pair it with Tom’s deodorant to give it a nice smell. You can thank me later for saving you some time, $$, and really smelly days where you feel like you wish you didn’t live with another human.
Other than that, I didn’t have any bad experiences other than the ‘no poo’ I mentioned above. Going natural is easy! I buy multi purpose all-natural counter sprays (all different kinds, I’m not picky) that I use for the kitchen, bathroom, windows and glass.
The best thing about these ingredients is that they cut the number of products you need down by more than half. Why do you need different soap for your hands than for the dishes? Why do you need a different scrub for your counters than for your toilet and shower? Why do you need to use a different soap than your husband? You don’t. You really, really don’t.
A few facts:
The skin is our largest organ, as well as the biggest gateway for toxins to get inside our systems. It’s not only the food that we put in our bodies that matters, but what we put on them as well. The crazy thing is, these chemicals aren’t necessary!
A good place to start is buying products that have all-natural ingredients that are easy to pronounce. Propylene Glycol? Eh, NO. Coconut oil? Jackpot. You should also try to avoid vague terms like “fragrance” and “Dyes”, because sometimes those can be the worst, and they don’t even tell what they are! And one more bit of advice: actually READ the ingredients. Don’t trust that little leaf on the bottle or the fact that the packaging is green; looks can be deceiving! If you need a little bit more info, keep checking my blog and I’ll help you out through weekly advice and product reviews. I’ll also give you a few sites that have good suggestions as well as more info on how to change your routine.
Going all-natural and being more aware of what is going in and on our bodies has had a HUGE impact on our lives. We now feel like we are the ones in control of our decisions, as opposed to companies with empty promises just trying to get our money. It truly is a domino effect, and after you start thinking about how to treat your body better, you realize there are endless ways to love yourself. After cleaning up our routine we started eating better, shopping for organic foods and going to yoga.
After the initial purge of all our dirty ingredients, it actually wasn’t a very hard transition, because natural products accomplish the same things that conventional products do, just without the harmful chemicals! You can use makeup that doesn’t have chemicals in it and still look pretty. You can wash your hair with all-natural shampoo, conditioner, and body wash and still get clean and smell good. You can brush your teeth and still have pearly whites with toothpaste that doesn’t have a list of 50 different hard to pronounce ingredients. You can wear completely natural sunscreen and not get burned.
Thankfully for me, Kirby is the most easy going guy ever and trusts my judgment. He didn’t put up a fight at all, and after I explained some of the research I had done, he gladly threw out his ‘dirty’ toiletries and went to the store to pick out some new alternatives. It still makes my little hippy heart smile when asks me to pass him the jojoba oil when we’re getting ready in the mornings.
This won’t be the case for everyone though. Even when we weren’t trying to convert people to going all-natural, as soon as they caught wind of what we were doing, we got a myriad of negative responses. My favorites are: “I’m going to die eventually, anyway!” and “It hasn’t done anything to me yet!” Oh man. This could start me on a whole new tangent, but let me point out that people say similar things about stuff like smoking cigarettes. Some people are set in their ways, and it’s SCARY to think that the stuff you’re putting on your body and around your house everyday can cause disease and cancer. I totally get it. My one ‘dirty’ habit that I kept is getting my hair highlighted every 3 or 4 months (I’m addicted to being blond, okay?). My hairstylist literally scoffed when I told her I was switching to all-natural products. She kept saying that my highlights wouldn’t last and that my hair would get super dry.Now every time I go back she says something like “Oh my gosh you have the healthiest hair EVER. All the other girls I know who get highlights have totally dead, dry hair and yours never gets that way! What do you do?” I have to remind every time that I use only all-natural stuff and then she’s surprised every time.
It’s not hard to switch to all natural products. It’s not expensive, it’s not time consuming, so why not? Even if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for the environment and vice versa. There are no negatives to going all-natural other than the fact that you have to put a little more thought into it at first. After you get used to it, it’s just as easy. Promise.
~ I am really interested in simplifying our lives down to more basic products. I loved using cloth diapers when Ben was little, and I would love to return to that more natural mode. I recognize that right now is just too crazy a time in my life for some of the research and planning that’s required, but I hope that soon our family can start on a cleaner living journey. I hope Emily’s advice was helpful for you, too!