Homemade Toiletries! You can too!

1:59 PM

Toiletries are some of the Earth’s worst and greatest inventions. On one hand, I like the smell of a freshly showered person the same as the next guy (although my opinion on perfume and cologne may stray from the norm). On the other hand, the shampoos, conditioners and other cosmetic products we’ve come up with are a chemical stew of water pollution and body damage. SLS for example, a common additive in ‘foamy’ products like shampoo and toothpaste, has been proven by the NIH to cause severe, dangerous irritation and to be a carcinogen, and studies show that the liver cannot metabolize it, making it toxic in our system. Most conventional toiletries are unsafe for waterlife (that’s fish and other sea creatures) once we rinse it down the sink. Besides the offensive ingredients, it does seem excessive to spend what we do on making parts of our body smell nice, after all doesn’t brushing our teeth with a little baking soda do the trick in a pinch? Baking soda is a few cents per 100g last time I checked.
About a year ago I read a book called Sleeping Naked is Green (which I recommend to anyone) and it challenged me to give up some things in my life, including shampoo. After doing a lot of research online about how people go about making these “no-impact” or “footprintless” changes, I discovered homemade toiletries. And now I use them. I also share them, so here goes:

Photo by: Sarah Goertz

Shampoo can be made from 1 tsp baking soda diluted in a 500 ml squirt bottle full of water. To use simply squirt the mixture deep into the roots of your hair, then work in gently, and rinse out. You will notice over time your body becomes used to this new mild treatment and will produce less oil therefore making your hair less greasy naturally.
Conditioner can be made from diluting 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar in a 500 ml squirt bottle full of water. Splash the mixture over your hair, concentrating on the roots, and rinse out. I’ve added a cinnamon spice essential oil to my mix for a nice scent. You will not notice the vinegar smell once you dry.
A mix face scrub can be made from fine sugar mixed with a carrier oil (like sweet almond or apricot kernel) and a nice smelling essential oil like eucalyptus or bergamont. I’ve used the same basic idea for a body scrub, substituting the fine sugar with a coarser sugar or ground coffee for a more intense exfoliation.
Remember, no matter what do you, reuse containers! A well cleaned shampoo bottle can make a nice home made dressing bottle. Am empty nail polish can be run through the dish washer and then filled with tea tree oil for a more efficient foot treatment if need be.

Update (August 9th, 2010): In the name of transparency I'll let my blog readers know that for the past week or so I've been challenging myself to use one bar of soap for all cleanliness activity (body wash, shampoo, face wash, toothpaste - yes, toothpaste) so if you check my shower there won't be a bottle of murky off-white brew. But fear not, apple cider vinegar has not seen its last days on my head and I continue to clean my kitchen with it! Much to Calvin's dismay!

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