Getting Personal: a Lost and Found

First, the excesses of modern Western “culture” sometimes make me a little queasy. A whole aisle of toothpaste? Two aisles of hair care products? Don’t even get me started on body washes and face soaps. And secondly, if you’re like me and have struggled either with general oiliness and acne and have had a tough time finding something that was OK for your hyper-sensitive skin, it just makes you all the more queasy. Whole aisles of stuff that not only don’t work, they make the problems worse.

How did it go in the olden days? I think either you didn’t brush your teeth, or you made your own toothpaste. Huzzah. So – here we go…..

There are some easy things you can make at home, if you want. Now, there are always going to be some things that ALL of us will say, “Why would I EVER make that? I can walk into any store and buy it!” If your reaction to any of these things is that, that’s totally cool. We can still be friends, yo.

I’m just sayin’ — here are three that *I* make and use, and they’re all easy.

Deodorant – Easy! Mix cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and coconut oil in roughly equal amounts, heating until soft yet thick. If its too liquidy, add more starch. If too dry, add more oil. You can also add some drops of essential oil – I like tea tree or lavender. Just 2 or 3 drops, mind you, the stuff is strong! Scoop into a used deodorant tube, and keep in bathroom (if you house stays cool) or in fridge (if, like my house, yours gets over 73 degree or so in the summer, at which temp the coconut oil will get soft and/or melt). Does it work? Yes. Is it weird to have deodorant in my fridge? Obviously *I* don’t think so. I think the less chemicals I put into my body, especially close to my chest, the better. Some studies link certain kinds of chemicals (found in deodorants) to increased cancer risk. Maybe so, maybe not – but this is easy, and effective. I’d rather not take chances where cancer-causing agents are present. Pros: you can choose your own fragrance? Cons: If you’re looking for a clear-gel type, unfortunately this is not the best one. I have to be honest. As I don’t wear a lot of sleeveless shirts, there isn’t much of a risk for me. There is a great post about making your own underarm stuff here: http://homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/2011/01/homemade-deodorant.html

Shampoo – Even easier! So, this is a concept called “poo-free”. You use baking soda, perhaps 1 – 2 times a week, so scrub your scalp and get rid of any dirt or build up. Run a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water through your hair, concentrating on the ends. I do this process once a week. To freshen up, I do wash and scrub, but with water only. I also am going to make begin using some jojoba oil, or a mix of grapeseed oil and lavender essential oil through my hair, just because it has a really pleasing scent. For a lot, lot, lot more info on this and some very helpful faq’s, check out http://ourlittleapartment.com/2011/10/still-shampoo-free/

Now, the trick with going poo free? When you start, your poor hair isn’t going to know what has hit it. Every time you use a conventional shampoo, it strips your hair of its natural oils. You’re tricking your follicles, then, to produce MORE oil. Yor very dazed and  confused hair follicles may commonly OVER-produce oil, to compensate. For a week or so (up to a month for some people, I’ve heard), you may have some oily hair. So, either just go for it, or pick a ‘hermit month’ and don’t go out.  Seriously, for me, it wasn’t too bad.

The other trick is finding out what baking soda method works best for you. I’ve tried a couple of things: 1 – 2 Tbl. baking soda dissolved in a squeeze bottle (an old mustard bottle works well), and baking soda mixed with water. It is the latter that I’m currently using. I put about 1 tsp, very small amount, in my hand, just wet with water, and rub on my scalp. I spend about 3 -4 minutes massaging my scalp lightly, yet firmly, in a circular motion with my fingers. I rinse well with warm water. Then, I get my jar of ACV/Water (half and half mixture is what I use, but you can increase or decrease the strength) and wet the end of my hair, but also I put it throughout my hair (that is the step that might not work for everyone, but it works for me). This is a natural softener/conditioner. The last step, I turn the water on cold. I rinse the ACV out in cold water, which I think tends to close up my hair follicles and prevent oils from being over-produced.

Pro: My hair is soft, manageable, and has more volume. Seriously! Con: I sometimes miss the smell of my old shampoo. Seriously. But, since so many people are affected by our overly-smelly chemical-ly world, I figure taking some smell out of the air is a small sacrifice.

Oil Cleansing Method for Skin: Using the proper ratio of castor oil to olive oil, and 3 drops of tea tree oil, I clean my skin using the ‘like dissolves like’ principle. I have struggled with acne all my life, and this method has given me some good results. I break out from the slightest irritation. I also know now that I have some food triggers that affect oil production in my skin, as well as hormonal cues that affect me. Both subjects of other posts. You can check out the post that got me going on this method at this site, right here: http://simplemom.net/oil-cleansing-method/

So, once you’ve got this concoction mixed up, you put a dime-sized amount in you palm, and rub it right in to you skin. Then, take a washcloth and get it wet in realllly hot water – as hot as you can stand (without getting burned of course)  – Wet and wring on the cloth, then lay it over you face. Give yourself a relaxing facial steam. Stand there until it gets cool, then lift off cloth and repeat. You can do this 2 – 5 times; I usually do twice, then I gently rub my face in a circular motion, lifting off any oil that remains. Make sure to get good and rinsed off around your hairline and ears. You’ll only need to do this every other, or even every third day!  Pro: You’ll notice soft skin with a glow! I hope, like me, you will notice fewer breakouts as well. Con: It is especially important to REMEMBER to do this. I do sometimes forget, and when I’m not diligent, I notice more oilyness and breakouts that my skin seems to be prone to anyway.

So, you made it through the post. Congrats. And more kudos to you if you consider trying one of these things, even if its just for a week, or for a month, or for the summer!

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Perspective…

Looking out at the painted-frosty-wonderful-icy trees, and the fog (yep, that’s still here, too) I can’t help but just marvel in the little everyday beauties of creation, even right here in the city, across from the Mall. But, inside, we’re going to continue to make Punxsatawny Phil keep his promises – let’s bring on spring by talking about food, about growing it, about eating it, about connecting with farmers, farms, and people doing good stuff, right in our own ‘neighborhood’. From my own perspective, my participating in the local foods movement includes mostly eating it. I grow some, too. I love to learn.

I’ve enjoyed meeting a couple of the other bloggers (so far! Hoping I cross paths with more of them today) – and would love for you to check out their perspective on their own blogs – we’re all from different walks, and we all have a unique voice to share.

Beth, at Rhubarb and Venison has her post up here, I met Beth briefly yesterday. Brenda, from I Need Chocolate is right here for ya’. I hung out and chatted quite a bit with my new pal Pam, from Its Time for more Coffee (great title, and a true statement, no matter the time of day, IMHO) has her post up right about…..here.Val from Wag’n Tales is around here, too.

We also have Kirsti from GriggsDakota blogging here, and one of the conference organizers and 1-month-under-her-belt-new-job with the USDA, Katie Pinke of Pinke Post also has a blog post up on her personal blog. Sarah from Farmer on the Mission wasn’t able to make it, but her blog looks absolutely beautiful, so check it out.

So, where am I headed today? I’ll be gathering back with the conference in just a few minutes, and plan to attend several interesting sessions today, including learning about social media and how it relates to local foods with Katie Pinke, a session on the economics of running a small vegetable farm, lunch with a presentation by Noreen Thomas, and a session on direct farm marketing. Awesome, and thankful for the opportunity, and the fresh perspective I am gaining from all of this. Thanks for reading along!