farm in fall

Natural beauty: clean skin, teeth, and lips

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

So we’ve talked about going shampoo-free, and we’ve talked about using oil to clean your face naturally. But a few of you have asked — what about the rest? What about soap, toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, and the like?

I’ll be the first to admit that going natural with my toiletries and cosmetics is new to me. This isn’t something I’ve done for years, and am just now dispensing my experiential wisdom. Switching to homemade or natural is something I’ve been doing just over the past six months, so I’m learning as I go.

I do know that the more I learn about what ingredients are in conventional toiletries, the less comfortable I am in spreading them on my largest, most porous organ. But I’m not an alarmist, so we’re doing this gradually, as we run out of the stuff we’re already using.

Here are the remaining product choices we make in our family, tweaking and adjusting as we go.

Soap

Typical ingredients for conventional shower gels are detergents, preservatives, fragrance, and foaming agents. None of these things are toxic in very small quantities, but they do enter the bloodstream from our pores, and they’re technically not necessary to get clean. So I figure — why bother using them if I don’t need them? And they’re extremely dangerous in larger quantities.

dr bronners soap

Many people make their own soap, but I don’t. I just don’t have the time right now. So for us, we use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. It’s concentrated, so just one bottle will last ages. There’s nothing in it but pure castile soap and essential oils (if it’s scented).

Once you start using pure and simple castile soap, you’ll realize the film that traditional shower gels leave. Dr. Bronner’s is cost-effective, long-lasting, and serves many purposes. My husband actually washes his hair with this instead of the baking soda and water rinse that I use.

Not only can you wash your body and hair with castile soap, you can also use it as a household cleaner, as dish soap, as a produce rinse, as laundry soap, and even as toothpaste.

Toothpaste

Most conventional toothpastes have dyes synthesized from petroleum, sodium fluoride, foaming agents (also used in engine degreasers and strong household cleaners), and a myriad of other toxins.

There’s something about the fact that it’s used in the mouth that makes me squirm when I read about the nitty gritty ingredients in toothpaste. If you’d like to learn more, head here for more information.

I recently started making our own toothpaste, and I’m still tweaking the recipe. My husband isn’t crazy about the baking soda flavor, but I like it. Admittedly, if I had access to natural toothpaste brands like Tom’s of Maine, I’d probably stick to buying that. But since I don’t, here’s the recipe I’ve tried.

homemade toothpaste

Basic Homemade Toothpaste

  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Stevia powder
  • a few drops of pure peppermint extract

Mix it all together until it resembles toothpaste.

Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees Fahrenheit, which means this toothpaste feels more liquidy during warmer weather. It doesn’t change its effectiveness, though.

The Stevia provides a bit of natural sweetness, making the toothpaste palatable, as does the pure peppermint extract. You could try a variety of flavors to your liking.

Right now, I’ve got this toothpaste in a small lidded jar, and I scoop out a tiny bit with a tea spoon onto my toothbrush. But you can also get empty squeeze tubes, often found among camping supplies at stores.

Lotion and Moisturizer

handmade lotion
Caramel Pecan Double Vanilla Bean lotion from Verbena Custom Blends on Etsy.

Body Lotion

Right now I’m using a deliciously divine lotion a friend here made from me. I watched her melt the ingredients together in just a few minutes over the stove, then whipped together in the blender to make a rich, creamy lotion. She used lemongrass and lavender essential oils together, and it smells heavenly.

There are a wide variety of homemade lotion recipes; it just requires the ingredients. Most ingredients are easily found in health stores or online, so don’t let finding these things stop you. If you’d like to make your own, Brambleberry is a popular and reliable source for lotion ingredients.

Lotion is simply a mixture of water, oil, emulsifier (which blends the water and oil together so that it doesn’t separate), a thickener (the most common is stearic acid, found in cocoa butter), and a natural preservative.

You could also support homemade and buy from an Etsy shop — there are thousands of options there.

Facial Moisturizer

In warmer months, I don’t need a moisturizer with the oil cleanser I use on my face. But as the weather cools, I find I do need a touch of moisturizer in the morning. I use straight up coconut oil, easily found in major stores. A tiny bit goes a long way, and since it’s also a common ingredient in other natural toiletries, a jar of this stuff really comes in handy.

Lip Balm

lanolin
Photo from Diaper Ware

There are also lots of easy recipes for homemade lip balm and salve, but I use 100 percent lanolin. Yep, it’s the same stuff you use while breast feeding. In fact, I’m still using the tube I used when I was nursing my son a year ago! This stuff lasts forever.

It doesn’t dry out my lips like manufactured wax-based products, and a little lasts me almost the whole day. Lanolin is simply an ointment secreted by wool-bearing animals to protect their coats from water. So yes, it is essentially sheep sweat. But it’s not gross, I promise.

We’ve got a guest post on the way about making your own deodorant, and later, we’ll discuss using natural makeup, so stay tuned.

What tips do you have for making homemade toiletries or using natural ingredients?

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Comments

  1. Okay, I admire your experimental way to more natural cosmetics, but for me it sounds a bit too experimental. By the way I love using natural cosmetics like Weleda.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Teelichter / little lights =-.

  2. I’ve been experimenting with the same, but mostly just buying alternatives from our local health food store – not quite creative enough to make my own just yet!

    I LOVE the Burt’s Bees lotion we use now – I’m looking forward to the natural deodorant post – that’s one thing I haven’t found effective enough to switch over yet.

    Jamie
    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Navigating Children’s Literature – Some Definitions =-.

  3. My Dad stopped using a regular deodorant/anti-perspirant many years ago and just wipes under his arms with apple cider vinegar. The scent of vinegar goes away very quickly and he never smells! He is a farmer working outside in a hot climate (Australia) so that is pretty good I think. My husband has just recently started doing the same and he has no odor as well (plus he had a long-term annoying sore under his arm which has now cleared up). Sorry, gross topic but just had to share!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Fairy mushrooms =-.

    • Catherine,

      This is great to know. thanks for sharing.
      .-= renee @ FIMBY´s last blog ..That’s an easy way to make =-.

    • hey catherine,

      i’d like to try this one, but wen i asked at a local store, they only knew about apple cider and apple vinegar. i have to tell you now that i live in holland and had to translate apple cider vinegar into dutch…

      can you help me out? is it vinegar or is it cider…

      thank you.

      hans

      • Hans,

        It’s definitely a vinegar.

        • Thanks Lindsey, I tried the vinegar but am not fully convinced yet. Now using deo-sticks from Neobio again, but these sticks are getting way too expensive. Want to try something I can make myself.

          • Hans, I live in Germany and here it’s called “Naturtrub Apfelessig”, so unfiltered apple vinegar. The unfiltered part is, basically, the difference between apple juice and cider. In forums it’s often referred to as ACV. Go for bio/oeco/organic, because apples are a high-spray crop.

    • This is so interesting! I’m going to try this!

  4. I make all of these, except the toothpaste, and have a few tutorials and how-to’s posted at my blog that may be of interest to people:
    http://fimby.tougas.net/homemade-soap-body
    If people want to get started lip balm and lotion are super easy to make, so is deodorant.

    Next up in our household is toothpaste and then we’d be a 100% homemade soap and body care household. Just haven’t wrapped my brain around that one yet. I will have to try your recipe.

  5. I have used Dr. Bronners before but I am confued about the diluting it. What is the ratio and do you use tap water or distilled?

    • Because it’s a concentrate, I just dab a few drops on to my sponge, squeeze it a few times, and it works up into a nice lather. That’s my lazy way of diluting it — just not using much. :)

  6. Why don’t you try using xylitol to sweeten your toothpaste? It’s a natural sugar from fruits that actually prevents cavities!

  7. LOVE lanolin. I used to be plagued by fever blisters but have not had one since I started using lanolin daily. I discovered it after I developed a sensitivity to something in Burt’s Bees lip balm. Several people have asked me what kind of gloss or lip plumper I use because it gives my lips a soft sheen and does make them look fuller.

  8. Great post, Tsh!

    I would also love to know more about how you use Dr. Bronner’s. I got some of the peppermint, and it’s STRONG! Also, what is your husband’s reasoning on using it for his hair? What does it do differently for the scalp? Does it help at all with dandruff?

    I, too, use my leftover lanolin on my lips every morning, and it is amazing. One of my kids gets very chapped lips in the fall and winter, and is constantly licking the skin below and above her mouth, which just makes it worse. A good coating of lanolin each night does the trick completely. After I’ve applied it to my lips, I generally spread any extra on my cuticles — it seems to soften the skin around my fingernails nicely.

    Really looking forward to the post on deodorant! We still use a commercial one, because of it’s effectiveness compared with the natural things we’ve tried. I won’t go near antiperspirant, but the long list of deodorant ingredients is not too appealing, either. I’ve had some great success with a simple coating of coconut oil, but am worried about getting oil stains on my clothing…

    Anyway, thanks for another helpful post!

    • I’ve heard the peppermint Dr. Bronner’s is strong, but I haven’t tried that kind yet. Currently we’re using the citrus orange, and I love it. It’s not too strong at all.

      He uses it on his scalp because it works wonderfully on dandruff. I don’t have that issue, but for him, the baking soda/water combo left his scalp feeling a tad too dry, even with the apple cider vinegar rinse.

    • Hi Sarah,

      I use Dr. Bronner now for a few years and am a great fan of the man. The soap is just fantastic, I love it! I use the teatree and the peppermint. Both give me a really clean feeling, especially the peppermint which is so fresh.
      Normal soaps and shampoos didn’t do it for me, they all leave this oily film on skin and on the tiles as well.
      I have dreads, and the Dr. Bronner soaps leave nothing but fresh hair and skin.
      If you still are not sure I would like to buy you a bottle to try it.

  9. I’m curious to know how well the homemade toothpaste does in the long term re dental bills. As someone who has battled aggressive cavity causing bacteria, I know that my extra flouride toothpaste and prescription rinse have been lifesavers. I have always had the most trouble during my pregnancies, when the bacteria in my mouth changes for the worse. Gross but true. I think I’ll skip this one.

    • I’m curious about this as well, honestly. We’ll see! We all have fairly healthy teeth with minimal problems, so so far, so good.

      The verdict is very mixed on fluoride… Lots of opinions out there.

      • I can vouch for the stroke of the toothbrush being the important factor in keeping your teeth healthy. I have been procrastinating a dentist visit for 4 years (oops) and had a great report! I gave up toothpaste years ago and only use Baking Soda on occasion. I simply brush carefully and check with my tongue to make sure it feels like I got all the teeth smooth and clean. It works! I plan to try the new toothpaste recipe soon.

      • Love this post! I have been plagued by gingivitis for years and all kinds of problems with my teeth. I switched to natural toothpaste-Jasons, and within three weeks I had a perfectly healthy mouth! No more bleeding gums! It amazed me!

    • I work with low income children, and one problem that many of them have is poor teeth quality. We have had several dentists come and speak on proper teeth health and care, and they all agree that when it coems down to it, the motion of brushing has a more substantail impact on tooth health than the toothpaste. even if you had no toothpaste you can still rid your mouth of 90% of its decaying elements. Also, many cities have flouride in the water supply, and those who are concerned they dont can get a slouride rinse.

    • I have been researching and experimenting with natural body care for the past few of years and have come up with a couple of great toothgels. One, Tooth Suds, is available on a friends website http://www.heritageessentialoils.com and the other is a mixture of food grade bentonite clay and fitered/purified water, Xylitol and essential oils. We have had great check ups from the hygienist and dentist since using these. My grandkids love the clay version because they can safely swallow it and like telling people that they brush their teeth with dirt! I like variety and sometimes switch to just using an essential oil or some virgin coconut oil on my toothbrush.

      We also wash our hair with baking soda, but I just mix in a little essential oils and put it as a dry mixture in a large shaker bottle and use it sparingly in the shower, being sure to rinse well. I have calf lenght hair and both my husband and I use it successfully. It has allowed me to cut back on how often I have to wash my hair and my husband says his hair has stopped falling out and neither of us has any dandruff. If I happen to be somewhere where I don’t have any and end up using commercial shampoo, the dandruff comes right back.

  10. I was wondering what one can use for natural sunscreen? I use a commercial moisturizer with spf 30 in the morning, but if there was a natural/less chemical alternative, I would definitely go for that.
    Great post, thank you!
    .-= angela´s last blog ..don’t panic – hand embroidered pillow cover =-.

  11. Great article. I’m always trying to find replacements. I find that the change gets a little bit of time to get used to, but after that, it becomes, well… natural! A side note about coconut oil… turns out it’s REALLY good for you to eat, too: http://dustinmaherfitness.com/2009/10/02/heath-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

  12. A great source for learning the good and bad of personal care products is http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. The U.S. site has an extensive listing of commercial products, their ingredients, and gives each a rating based on various criteria. If your product isn’t listed, you can look up the ingredients individually. I was very surprised at the ratings of various products we use in our home (for more, see http://fortuitouslyfrugal.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-whole-family-is-in-detox.html).

    I’m also working to find better replacements as we use up what we already have. I’ve tried a few new ones that get better ratings, but they are expensive and lately I’ve been reading so much about making your own lotions and balms that I think that will be our next step. I hadn’t heard about lanolin as a lip balm, but will definitely try it as I’ve already got incurable chapped lips that no amount of Burt’s Bees will help.

  13. Great ideas!! I’m with you on all of them. I haven’t tried the toothpaste yet; and probably won’t just because my husband doesn’t even like Tom’s…
    .-= Leah@storybookranch´s last blog ..No Fear! =-.

  14. I have been so inspired by these beauty-related posts! Your shampoo post was so informative that I finally took the plunge, and have been washing with baking soda ever since. Love it.

    I haven’t embraced the oil as facial cleanser idea just yet, mainly because my hot water never really gets *that* hot, and I feel that the washcloth doesn’t absorb all of the oil, as a result.

    I wanted to tell you that I also recently gave up my clinical-strength antiperspirant (the only thing that seemed to work well for me) in favor of a homemade powder: 1/2 cornstarch + 1/2 baking soda + a few optional drops of lavender oil for fragrance. Nobody is more surprised than I am that it works. I have to get used to the occasional feeling of sweat under my arms, but as long as I still smell sweet, I can live with that :-)

    I just found mold in my favorite Burts Bees facial moisturizer, so I’m grateful for the coconut oil tip today!

  15. As a dentist I am telling you I have seen with my own eyes that a lack of fluoride in your toothpaste will lead to more cavities. You will be sitting in the dentist chair too much for going organic. So get a toothpaste that might be a more natural version with fluoride. Even if you have to order it online. It will save you a ton of money in dental work.

  16. These are all such great ideas and recipes. Does this take a lot of time, though? It seems a bit time consuming to me…
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Football, Say What? =-.

    • It really doesn’t. These things last forever, so I really only make things like toothpaste a few times a year. When I do, it takes three minutes, tops.

      With baking soda/water for my hair, I usually have to refill a bottle about every third shower. But it’s brainless — a tablespoon of baking soda, I fill it up with water (I have an 8 oz. bottle), and shake. Done. With the apple cider rinse, I only fill it up about every four weeks or so because I hardly use any.

      I’m sure making lotion takes a bit longer, as does soap making. It’s all about choices really — how we choose to use our time. Some people choose to invest the time to do homemade, others choose to save time and spend a bit more on store-bought, natural products. I, probably like most people, do a bit of both.

      Hope that helps! :)

  17. My husband uses the baking soda/acv combo that you wrote about and he loves it, i wanted to, but i spend money having my hair colored (guilty pleasure as far as natural body care goes) so i’m using Burt’s Bees for color treated hair.

    I’ve tried almost every brand of “natural” deodorant out there… a lot of them just plain don’t work. But I’ve been using Tom’s of Maine Unscented for a while and it works great for me. It seems like what works varies depending on the person though.

    I also use Tom’s Mango toothpaste (I tried Nature’s Gate brand but it was way too sweet) and my dentist tells me I have great teeth, so it must be working. :)

    Making things yourself is definitely more cost-effective, but there are some things others are better at making than me…

  18. I recently made the same recipe of toothpaste – especially for my kids as they don’t spit/rinse all that well. At first they missed the regular stuff but after about a month they like it just fine and are needing another batch. Adding a bit extra stevia helps mask the salty baking soda taste especially until you get used to it. My husband also really likes it and has fun mixing up his own flavor.
    I tried the baking soda hair rinse thing and after a few weeks it was still leaving my hair too heavy and yuck feeling so Im using a less toxic regular brand now but Im sure it still has some not so healthy ingredients.
    I just recently started using the oil facial cleanser and so far it hasn’t produced any adverse effects. I have been using proactiv because of some extra problematic skin issues since my last baby was born. Im hoping to stop using that if the oil proves effective. (I use the 3 parts castor to 1 part olive along with tea tree oil)
    I would also love to find a really effective natural deodorant – looking forward to reading about that.

  19. I´m really enjoying your posts on natural beauty products. It´s odd to see that with just a couple of substances you can subtitute almost all the things you usually buy, and in largish quantities. However, I´d just like to add that one of the essencial components in toothpaste is the fluoride they provide. This is necessary to keep your teeth healthy, so make sure you are getting enough on your home-made variety!

  20. I tried the baking soda/vinegar for my hair, and felt like, while my hair was more manageable, it never really felt clean. The clincher, though, was that I had to refill the bottles before every shower (I have long hair), and they took longer to use in the shower. I’m always trying to simplify my routines, and it complicated them. I might try again if I chop my hair off at some point.

    What I’ve been doing the last few days is using regular shampoo mixed with baking soda. I only had to mix it once, and now, so far, I’ve been fine without conditioner. It’s been a good halfway step.

  21. I love all this tips. I’ve really been wanting more information about natural products especially with my sensitive skin and my evergrowing annoyanc at buying “adult” products and “baby” products.

    I can’t wait for the make up article.
    .-= LaToya´s last blog ..Pop-up Nativity & Talking Jesus Giveaway! =-.

  22. The fluoride question is interesting– people drinking fluoridated tap water and eating food made in areas with fluoridated water probably get enough. There’s also the question of how safe fluoride actually is (especially for young children who may swallow too much).

  23. I was really enjoying this article… unitl you HAD to mention about the sheep sweat! Ugh! I never thought of lanolin as that, but now it will forever be engrained in my memory everytime that I see it or think about using it! LOL! I never thought of using it for chapped lips, but I could see it working great. I just may try it (and try REAL HARD not to think of sheep sweat on my lips! :-) ).
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..Giveaway over at Keeper of the Home =-.

  24. What are your thoughts on Burt’s Bees lip balm? I am so addicted…it says 100% natural…so I was thinking it was good!

    I am so looking forward to more!
    .-= Angela Mills´s last blog ..Homeschool Hop and The Homeschool Lounge =-.

    • I used Burt’s Bees Wax lip balm for years, then as soon as I started having children, it started drying out my lips and doing the opposite of what it’s meant to do. So I do think it’s a good product, it just doesn’t work well for me anymore.

      • I would guess Tsh that around the same time (1 or 2 years), when you started reacting badly to Burt’s, was exactly when Burt’s was bought by a huge cosmetics corporation – Clorox. Yes, Clorox. They also own Tom’s of Maine now too (which has SLS in it by the way.. sodium lauryl sulphate). Sad eh?! So I bet they changed the formula to cheaper (read: petrochemical) ingredients and that’s how it lost its effectiveness for you.

        My favourite place to check out ingredients for cosmetics is the Environmental Working Group’s Database http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/index.php. Such a great resource!! Hope this helps.

        PS Just discovering your blog! Looking forward to reading more!

      • I find that, for me, the Burt’s Bees lip balm stings really bad, so I don’t use it.
        .-= Judith´s last blog ..Tapping (EFT) – I’ve signed up as an affiliate =-.

  25. I use Naturally Fresh spray as a deoderant. It is ALMOST perfect. Sometimes I’m a little odory. On days when I think I need a boost, I add Tom’s of Maine deodorant right on top.

    I use Dr. Bronner’s for a lot of things. It is fabulous for scrubbing the shower/tub with some baking soda. Just sprinkle the soda, add a couple drops of Dr. B’s, and scrub. Peppermint is my favorite. We take it on vacation with us as an all in one soap. Careful on the sensitive areas if you’re using it straight for bathing. My husband had an issue when he didn’t rinse it quickly from his sensitive parts!

    Charlie’s Soap is a great soap for laundry if you don’t want the nasty detergent stuff next to your skin.

    How silly to hear from a dentist that without flouride you’ll get cavities. Science and anthropology have proven that to be absolutely incorrect.

  26. can you share more on the research about flouride…I am confused. I just recently started hearing about flouride being not the best thing. I tried researching it but hard to know what to believe.
    .-= jen´s last blog ..I "heart" Fall =-.

  27. @Jen, this organization is a good source of information: http://www.fluoridealert.org/.

  28. Regarding the fluoride:

    It can be a controversial subject, and like all things we choose to use in our families, it’s a personal decision. Feel free to share why you purposely use or avoid fluoride in your family, but I’ll be watching for any ad hominem attacks. They’ll be deleted.

    (So far, everyone’s fine… Just laying down the groundwork, just in case.)

    If you’re curious to learn more, just Google “is fluoride safe?” and you’ll find a myriad of opinions.

  29. I have been using Tom’s toothpaste for about a year. I have recession and this past time that I went to the dentist I noticed a big difference in the pain and amount of plaque that had to be removed from those areas. I think the hygienist wondered if I was taking very good care of my teeth. I have since gone back to regular toothpaste, as much as I hated to.
    .-= Teresa´s last blog ..50 =-.

  30. I’ve found Lanolin (a generic brand I guess) in the Walmart pharmacy dept. It’s heavenly for cracked heels! I used it this summer at night, then put on a comfy pair of cotton socks, and my feet were silky smooth in the mornings.
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..Food Bank Challenge: Shoppers =-.

  31. Thanks for the tips, I’ve been looking to starting making my own stuff, I’m also new at this area. I’ve been wanting to buy natural products but can be really pricey. We started making our own soap and we both love it. I use Tom’s for toothpaste, haven’t gotten to changing the lotion yet as we’re still getting rid of what we have. A great deodorant that works for us is Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant Unscented. Keeps odors away!

    I was wondering if anybody knew of any good natural shampoos and conditioners for curly hair? My problem with my curly hair is dryness and frizzyness. I haven’t found a good shampoo that moisturizes my hair well, and my hair falls out A LOT.

    I also haven’t found any good products that I can use so I stop buying hair gel! Anybody?
    .-= Donaji´s last blog .. =-.

  32. All these things I don’t normally use – lotions and lip balms that is!!! I am a bit weary to go “au natural” with deodorant – I know I can here folk saying: “Give the vinegar a try” but even the minimalist in me is rebelling!!! The toothpaste works wonders but somehow now that we have kids it seems easier to fling a tube in the shopping cart. Great post – Food for thought!!!
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..Sunday Snippet: Noah’s Ark GiveAway… =-.

  33. AWESOME post. I do everything you say in this post, except use Dr. Bronner’s (we can’t find it here… at least I can’t)

    Couple of things I wanted to add :)

    1. Toothpaste: I use straight up baking soda when I need to. But sometimes we brush without anything at all. BF has been doing that for about 20+ years and his teeth are perfection.

    It isn’t even gross, because we just get our own mouth flavour back, instead of tasting like peppermint all day.

    I also floss really well, and I use an electric toothbrush to get everything.

    No cavities, no complaints, 1 year and running. Even saw my dentist. He said my teeth looked fine. I didn’t disclose my new change.

    2. Soap in the shower for your body.

    Don’t use it at all. I get really bad eczema in the winter, and I just rinse with water and some conditioner that drips from my hair (I use Hugo Naturals which is AWESOME and smells great)….

    Soap (castile soap especially) and water, really strips your skin’s natural oils and I hate that.

    I don’t smell at all, and some people think I smell good (like vanilla, from that conditioner I use to “wash” my body with)

    3. Moisturizer: I use straight up shea butter, rubbed between my palms to liquefy and olive oil.

    That’s it. It’s the most natural I can get, and it REALLY REALLY gets my skin soft (I do this after every shower)

    I am also layering with J.R. Watkins Lemon Creme every night to keep up on the moisture but nothing moisturizes better than shea butter mixed with olive oil.

    You can literally eat it too. Apparently you can cook with shea butter. Who knew?

    4. For facial moisturizer, I too use a bit of coconut oil, but I am trying to get rid of my old cosmetics, so I’ve switched back to “finishing” them off.

    5. For laundry, I don’t use soap 90% of the time. Stuff gets just as clean without it. Haven’t had a problem.

    Only time I use soap is with bath towels and kitchen towels, as they might have grease or stinky bath smells in them.

    Hot water, bit of eco-friendly detergent, and they come out smelling fresh and clean.

    Everything else is just warm water, no soap.

    Unless you have feces all over yourself or grease, soap is unnecessary on clothing.

    6. Household cleaners, I use vinegar, (plain organic + natural) soap and water and baking soda. Everything gets out and gets super clean.

    We’ve come a long way this year, since starting this green (we wanted no essential oils or extra perfumes to wash down the drain & pollute the oceans) AND healthy initiative, and I’m pretty darn proud of our results. :)
    .-= FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com´s last blog ..Christmas Gift Idea: For the yoga lover who loves to bake =-.

  34. I am very intrigued by all of this. We don’t really use anything natural for our body right now.. but I would like to!
    .-= Samantha @ Mama Notes´s last blog ..My Tips & Experiences for Raising a Water Baby =-.

  35. avatar
    Heather H. says:

    1. My dad and brother are dentists. We all use plain old baking soda as toothpaste. Flouride is a toxic poison and if you knew what it was doing to your body you would not use it, or drink it, or bathe in it. Keep in mind that toothpaste is a new invention. Native peoples around the world have had perfectly healthy mouths by brushing with twigs for centuries. Its the brushing that cleans your teeth, not the paste. The health of your teeth depends on your diet. Eat a diet rich in fat, protein, enzymes, healthy bacteria. Elimate un-soaked grains, sugar and starchy foods. You will have healthy teeth. I have raised 4 children without ONE cavity!

    2. I put 1/2 cup Castile soap in a spray bottle with 1/2 cup water. I use this spray as shampoo and body wash, face wash and shaving cream. In a seperate spray bottle i put 1 cup of water and 1 Tbsp vinegar and spray on as a “conditioner”. I have very fine, straight, thin hair and find that this does not strip my hair of the natural oil (castile soap is made from oil), and also does not leave it heavy or greasy.

    3. Everyday Minerals is the most wonderful natural makeup I’ve ever found. The coverage is flawless, and it contains 4 ingredients! All of which are too big too be absorbed by your pores. I did extensive research regarding mineral make-up and there really is no other brand that compares.

    4. I use Coconut oil (extra virgin unrefined) for my moisturizer, body lotion, and eye makeup remover. We also eat it

    5. I am yet to find an affordable mascara alternative. The healthiest one I have found was $24 dollars. So for now, I’m wearing nothing.

  36. avatar
    Heather H. says:

    6. I dust plain baking soda under my arms with an old make-up brush. The less deoderant you use, the less you will sweat. I was amazed at that myself. It really worked. If I absolutely cannot afford to sweat (dinner party, speaking engagement) I put beeswax under my arms, it plugs the pores and prevents sweat. I would say i do that twice a year in a pinch.

  37. Looooooooooooooove this post! (not surprising, right?)

    We are huge fans of Dr. Bronner’s here. It is a little drying for my family’s dryness-prone skin in the winter, so we sometimes look for alternatives when the weather gets cold. I’ve been looking for a good natural toothpaste recipe. We currently use Tom’s but I would like to try making our own!

    And ohmygoodness, yes. I can’t be without my trusty tube of Lansinoh for treating chapped and cracked lips. Even though none of my babies are nursing anymore (sniff sniff), it’s good to be able to put that stuff to use in other ways! It really, really works.

    Fantastic links, Tsh. Thank you!
    .-= Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog ..Baby Week @ SortaCrunchy! =-.

  38. Was thrilled to hear you like Dr. Bronner’s, too. I first tried the stuff at Esalen Institute in Big Sur and then got my husband into it because he has psoriasis and other skin sensitivities, yet needs something that really works Dr. Bronner’s does it. I tried California Baby for me and my kids for a long time, but it is SO expensive and when a friend put Dr. Bronner’s unscented on her baby registry, that encouraged me to switch. We love it. I haven’t used it for anything but our bodies and my kids’ hair, but am going to try more uses. The other thing that solidified my loyalty to Dr. Bronner’s was watching a documentary called Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox (http://www.magicsoapbox.com/) and learning (from a follow-up interview on the special features with one of the executives) how ethical (caps on execs salaries, 70% of profits donated, fair trade) this family-run business is. It is entertaining and worth a watch!

  39. Oh, and I’m a fan of Lansinoh for lips, too.

  40. I’ve been using plain baking soda as a deodorant for two months now, and it’s the best I’ve *ever* tried. If I get really hot, I might feel some moisture, but there’s absolutely no odour, not on the shirt afterwards.
    I was really, really surprised that it works so well – I just dip a barely moistened cotton ball, or even a finger, into the powder.
    After having my latest baby at the ripe age of 42, I noticed most deodorants developed a bad odour on me; kind of like cat pee, eeeeewww. With baking soda, no odour at all, ever. And for frugal, you can’t do much better :)

    Kristine

  41. I am all in favour of finding natural alternatives to commercial products, particularly if it is the more frugal option. I do think, however, that it is wrong to say that ingredients enter our bloodstream through the pores in our skin. I’m not an expert, but I worked with toxicologists about environmental exposures for a number of years and I remember that there are very few substances that actually can penetrate the skin into the bloodstream. That’s the whole point of skin as a protective organ, and it does work wonderfully as long as it is intact. If people chose to limit their contact to chemical ingredients, I’m fine with that, but I’d hate to see people needlessly frightened into making choices they might not otherwise.

    I’ve recently taken to mixing a small handful of sugar and vegetable oil and using it to scrub my arms and legs in the shower. It seems to help with removing dead skin and leaves a bit of moisturizing oil which helps a lot with my itchy, dry winter skin.
    .-= Shelley´s last blog ..Last November =-.

    • Hi Shelley,

      I’m not an expert either, and I have no intention on scaring people needlessly — it takes a LOT to get me to raise a concern about things. But I have read from enough credible sources around that topical creams and the like do enter our bloodstream, even faster than things taken orally.

      Stephanie of Keeper of the Home has done a bit more research on this topic; here’s just one of her posts about it:

      What are you putting onto your skin?

      Thanks for your thoughts. :)

  42. What a terrific post!
    I do a lot of the same things as you do. It is so important to consider carefully what we put on our bodies, since all those chemicals and yucky things enter into our bloodstream via our skin (similar to the way drugs delivered via the patch work). I think a lot of people don’t realize this and think that it doesn’t really matter what they put on their skin.

    I am fortunate to have a sister who is a soap-maker, so she gives us all her scraps for free! My tip is to find someone who makes soap and ask to buy a bag of scraps. I just did a blog post today about a little bag you can knit to keep all those little scraps of soap from going all over the place, since little pieces of soap can quickly get squished up and go down the drain by little people. I hope it is okay to link: http://thereallifehome.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/itty-bitty-soap-scrap-sack/
    .-= ChristineG´s last blog ..Itty-Bitty Soap Scrap Sack =-.

  43. Thanks for the info on Dr. Bronners-will be trying that! And I love that they have unscented!

    We’re still using Tom’s for our teeth-I love it…is there another alternative other than baking soda? I really don’t like the taste!

    For an easy (and inexpensive)way to make some natural bubble hand soap, we put about a tsp. of Seventh Generation’s dish soap into a foaming soap dispenser (we use a recycled Method one) and mix it with water. Easy and very cheap.

    I’m also looking forward to the deodorant post…I need something that really works well to get me away from what I currently use…I might be willing to give the baking soda a try!

    Thanks, everybody, I LOVE reading your ideas—this is GREAT!
    .-= Sharon´s last blog ..Beauty for Ashes, part 2? =-.

  44. Oh, funny thing…a few years ago when I was nursing our youngest, my husband stole my Lansinoh. He had it in his desk at work and was using it for his terribly chapped lips!
    .-= Sharon´s last blog ..Beauty for Ashes, part 2? =-.

  45. several years ago, i was so excited about switching to dr. bronner’s for body and hand soap. we know his grandson who got us interested. unfortunately we found it terribly drying to our not-particularly-dryness-prone skin and had to discontinue. i’ve since heard other people talk about how drying castille soap is. just wondering if i got something wrong about the dilution because i love the concept of using it. any thoughts?

    • Hmm… I haven’t had that problem yet. I just use a tiny bit, and it works up into a lather, and I feel like it actually nourishes my skin more that conventional shower gels — doesn’t feel like it strips away my natural oils, if you know what I mean. I do still use lotion after my shower (the kind I wrote about in my post).

      If anyone else has had this experience with castile soap, please chime in. :)

  46. I’m glad you wrote about this today. I read your last post about homemade shampoo but haven’t switched yet. However, our shampoo and conditioner are getting low and I need to reconsider making the switch. I like the idea of spending less money on these toilettries and of putting fewer toxic chemicals on my skin. Thanks!
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..Homemade Pizza Night =-.

  47. Tsh, you’ve really inspired me! I’m not quite ready to stop lathering up my hair because I have a pixie and I like to use styling wax and then of course, I wake up my hair looks kind of crazy unless I wash it. However, I am running out of my (overpriced) shampoo and conditioner and so today, as an experiment, I washed it with Dr. Bronner’s and conditioned with jojoba oil…perfect! So, regarding the styling wax, I found this: http://www.amazon.com/Murrays-Beeswax-3-5-oz-Jar/dp/B000EGOEXE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1258495980&sr=8-2 and got excited about using beeswax, but then realized it contains petrolatum…ack. So, I’m going to see if I can find something else…anyone have any ideas?

  48. I think going natural is awesome. A little scarey, but really good. Scarey, because who knows what you can find especially if you live in a rural area!
    .-= Aaron Shaw´s last blog ..Baby Animal of the Day! Lemur! =-.

  49. Would you believe my 1-year-old is allergic to lanolin?

    Will be trying the olive oil washing once I get some castor oil!

    Thanks!

  50. I use organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil as a moisturizer (face, body and hair) and lip balm. I’ve also mixed a bit of coconut oil with a few drops of lavender as a furniture polish. And I use it for cooking and baking!
    .-= The Working Home Keeper´s last blog ..Market Day – November 14th =-.

  51. Umm.. if the point is to get away from harmful substances-this is a bit backwards.
    Did you know that the Super Toxin Ricin comes from the castor bean? There is a
    debate as to whether any of that toxin is in castor oil-but rubbing it into your face every day does not sound like a good idea to me. If ingested castor oil has a STRONG laxitive and sometimes emitic effect. In fact, according to this article, it was used as a method of torture and death by Mousellini. Everybody has kids, right? I wouldn’t want it in my bathroom! Here is the article. http://itotd.com/articles/520/castor-oil/
    I love the going back to nature/simple products-but remember that natural does not equal harmless-cocaine, arsenic, and tobacco are natural too.

  52. I JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT YOU ROCK!! I TRULY LOVE YOUR WEBSITE AND EVERY TOPIC. THIS STUFF IS SO “UP MY ALLEY!!!!!”

  53. I have been down the same road and have made all the same changes. We love bronner’s in the shower, I even use it for my kids. I use the suds to wash their hair beautifully. I use baking soda/ACV combo.

    One stronge word of caution. Don’t use coconut oil in your toothpaste. I used a similar recipe and it clogged my drainage pipes. My SIL had the same problem. I stopped using even natural store bought toothpaste due to the glycerin ( it coats the teeth and prevents remineralization). We purchase our tooth soap in the form of chips from Rose of Sharon Acres and have been very please. They last a VERY long time. I split one chip in half for the kids even. You can order samples.

    Coconut oil mixed with baking soda and cornstarch( optional) makes a fabulous deoderant. For the first time in my life, my body hasn’t adapted to it and I don’t have to rotate a collection of doederants. One word of caution again, it didn’t work for hubby only becuase it left grease stains on his shirts. Deoderant wise it worked great. I don’t have that problem because I put it on right after I get out of the shower, and it absorbs quickly. Armpit hair prevents the immediate absorption thus the greasey shirts.

    If your interested in hair products there are hair recipes for both hair spray made out of an orange (or lemon) and a gel made out of flax seeds. The hairspray works better than store bought, and the gel is comparable. Both are very easy to make and googling should provide you with recipes. I recommend using liquid GSE ( grapefruit seed extract) as a preservative. Works great. Approx 15 drops per 1 cup liquid, or about 1/3 tsp.

    Love the posts on healthy beauty products!

  54. these are soo great! thank you! I use VCO as a face moisturizer only too. I have been amazed at how my skin feels and looks using it instead of other facial moisturizers!

    Love your toothpaste recipe. I’m going to try that… have you noticed if it whitens at all?

    :)
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Remembering… =-.

  55. Wow – so glad you mentioned the greatness of lanolin! While breastfeeding my first two babies I kept Lansinoh on hand and LOVED using it as a lip balm as well. I’d forgotten about this use though, as I didn’t need the purple tube while nursing my third child … thanks for the reminder!

  56. Bust magazine did an article not too long ago about making your own deoderant. Very simple and works great! I would highly recommend Angry Chicken’s recipe as well found on the angry chicken blog. Yay for natural!

  57. Thanks for this information. Last summer I went about 5 months without washing my hair. I was intrigued by an article i read from dailymail. It worked well. i simply rinsed everyday. my hair never felt oily, in fact, it seemed to gain body. Why did I start washing again? I don’t know, after 5 months it just started changing a bit to needing a shampoo. Although I only shampoo 1-2 a week.
    I’m curious about how you store your homemade moisturizer, toothpaste and face cleanser. What do you store them in? Do they need to be refrigerated?
    .-= Barb´s last blog ..Showing Off =-.

  58. hey.. i love your ideas, we are attempting to simplify and make our own toiletries too. I especially love making salt and sugar scrubs..they are so easy and leave your skin feeling sooo soft. All you need to do is blend course ground sea salt, oil(sweet almond or your fav) and a wee bit of lecithin as an emulsifier. I also love to add essential oils.
    And speaking of essential oils I would suggest adding some to your toothpaste recipe instead of the peppermint extract. I use therapeutic grade essential oils and many of them are fine to use internally. They are medicinal so not only will they make your toothpaste taste good, but they can be antibacterial and helpful in other ways too depending on which you use. I use young living oils which are really pure and amazing. i like to add thieves oil to my home made toothpaste.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Starlight Crown Give Away! =-.

  59. oh and if anyone is interested in learning more about these amazing oils..please feel free to email me …sales@starlightarts.com or check out my friends blog mamalovesoils.com
    essential oils are a must have for natural cosmetics ..they have so many amazing uses..they are amazing for skin and hair….but its really important to make sure you are using pure oils because many are diluted with synthetics or extracted with other chemicals.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Starlight Crown Give Away! =-.

  60. hey.. i love your ideas, we are attempting to simplify and make our own toiletries too. I especially love making salt and sugar scrubs..they are so easy and leave your skin feeling sooo soft. All you need to do is blend course ground sea salt, oil(sweet almond or your fav) and a wee bit of lecithin as an emulsifier. I also love to add essential oils.
    And speaking of essential oils I would suggest adding some to your toothpaste recipe instead of the peppermint extract. I use therapeutic grade essential oils and many of them are fine to use internally. They are medicinal so not only will they make your toothpaste taste good, but they can be antibacterial and helpful in other ways too depending on which you use. I use young living oils which are really pure and amazing. i like to add thieves oil to my home made toothpaste.

  61. I was using the baking soda rinse for about two months, and still felt greasy and like my hair was weirdly coated. (I might have been doing something wrong!) After reading this, I tried washing my hair with castile soap instead, and love the feeling of foaminess that I was missing! It cleans it squeaky clean, and I follow it with an apple cider vinegar rinse, and I love how my hair feels again!! It’s springy again and easy to run my fingers through. :)

  62. I used Dr. Bronners until finding cosmeticsdatabase.com. Found the organic hemp, baby-mild castile soap I was using didn’t score all that well. (Was using it as shampoo/body wash for myself and my newborn.) Of course it is used in a diluted state, so maybe that tempers the rating a bit. At least it is genuinely organic. Looking forward to trying some home-made toiletries.

  63. I absolutely love this post. So practical. I’ve sent this post to many friends.

    The only comment I have to to emphasize the EXTREME importance of moisturizer when using something like Dr. Bronner’s soap! It does a pretty intense job of stripping the skin. It’s really important to keep the ph levels of the skin balanced. This soap is not bad for you, but, your skin could have adverse reactions from long-term use. (if not balanced properly)
    My favorite facial moisturizer comes from a little organic herb farm outside of Toronto:
    https://sweetdoveherbs.powweb.com/creams.htm

    Alternative soap suggestion is the Doula Soap from CherokeeSoap because it’s very mild and won’t cause an allergic reaction:
    http://www.cherokeesoap.com/product.asp?productid=427839

  64. Love this post. I wanted to know if you’ve ever tried Shea Butter? It’s another wonderful, moisturizer that can be used just about anywhere – from lips to knees. I always have a big tub sitting around.

  65. I love your blog, and starting today I’m going to try the baking-soda and vinegar trick instead of shampoo, but I have to argue with you about the toothpaste (I’m a dental hygienist, so I can’t resist).

    I feel mean pointing this out, but there is nothing beneficial about your toothpaste. There really is only one reason to use toothpaste, and that is for the fluoride content. You can actually brush with just water and your teeth will be as clean as they would be if you used toothpaste (you just wouldn’t have the fresh flavor we associate with cleanliness).

    I sometimes see patients who avoid fluoride at all costs, and they almost always have cavities. Don’t get me wrong, fluoride IS toxic in large amounts, which is why we only use a little and then spit it out. That little bit goes a long way to remineralize the teeth (the bacteria in your mouth create acids which cause demineralization. The fluoride ion bonds with the calcium to form fluorapatite – basically it helps repair the damage). I really think that fluoride is just one of those things where the benefit outweighs the risks.

    Even so, if you still want to avoid fluoride, I do know how you can make your toothpaste beneficial! Instead of stevia, use xylitol! It is also a natural sweetener, but it is really really good for your teeth. Stevia won’t hurt your teeth, but xylitol will actual help them. It inhibits the oral bacteria, so no acid is produced, so your teeth don’t demineralize. Basically it is a natural way to prevent cavities :-)

    I’ll get off my soapbox now, I have to go find my old tube of lanolin. I think you gave me a new use for it :-)
    .-= Crusty Baguette´s last blog ..Roasted Eggplant and Hummus Pizza =-.

  66. I have a recipe for deodorant from a book called URAWAZA. I am not affiliated with it – I promise. It’s a book on Japanese tips & tricks. It says that baking soda & lemon juice works better than almost any over the counter stick. Apply by dusting baking soda under your arms, rub some lemon juice on top, then pat dry. Fantastic. They say it works due to the baking soda absorbing moister & killing oder-causing bacteria. The acidity in the lemon changes your skins pH making it less desirable for bacteria & harder for them to proliferate.

    I think it works well – though I don’t even wear deodorant. I just shower after sports etc I mean, I guess I’m not that stinky – but I doubt you are either!

    and Tsh thank you! I love using non-traditional, especially non-comercial, methods for cleaning my self and my home. It just seems like such a waste to me that so many people are dependent on products! I love your work – keep it up!

  67. I wrote a post about how to create your own lip balm recipe. Link:
    http://bleuarts.blogspot.com/2006/11/how-to-create-your-own-lip-balm-recipe.html
    .-= Ansley´s last blog ..Pattern, Knit Leia Wig =-.

  68. These are all excellent tips. It is amazing how many chemicals are included in many skin, lip and dental products. It’s good that consumer demand for natural product seems to be being answered with more great natural products entering the market and becoming more mainstream.
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Testimonials Coming Soon =-.

  69. avatar
    Natalie says:

    I asked my dentist about using a homemade toothpaste and got the official “okay” from him…he said as long as I brush regularly and continue flossing, the natural toothpaste would be fine to use. As someone mentioned previously, it’s more about the brushing motion and some form of cleaning substance (i.e. baking soda) than all the ingredients that may or may not be in your toothpaste.

  70. This was a great post, thanks.

  71. Agreed. A really great post. I love natural beauty!

  72. avatar
    Shannon says:

    Tom’s isn’t natural. I got a free sample recently and here are the ingredients:

    sodium nonfluorophosphate, glycerin, water, hydrated silica, calcium carbonate, xylitol (sweetener known to be be very toxic to dogs), sodium lauryl sulfate, natural flavors, carrageenan, and licorice root extract.

    Also they are owned by Colgate. So, really no better than any other major brand.

  73. avatar
    fitness girl says:

    Am i too late to post here? lol….its super natural products.They say that the true beauty of a girl is the one who has no make up….i probably agree with that.

  74. Haha, I am still using up the tiny Lansinoh samples I got for free from my midwife. They’re great for lips, cuticles and heels. I also put a tiny dab on my eyebrows after I comb them in place. (Not stiff like clear mascara, but keeps them nicely put.) I also love coconut oil for moisture, but I add SPF on top for anti-aging.

  75. avatar
    Krista B says:

    I’ve been using lanolin since I was introduced to it when my first daughter was born and I was breastfeeding her. It’s amazing. If my kids get chapped lips or cheeks (in our cold winter weather) one or two applications does the trick. It’s great. And you’re right – it does last for SO long!

  76. Another good one. I don’t use any toothpaste hah just water. I was told years ago by a dentist that is all you need. Guess what I’ve got really healthy teeth and gums. A little baking soda helps if you drink coffee or tea with any staining. My grandmother always used baking soda or salt for her teeth and she had all of her teeth all the way up until she passed away at 93. 100% Pure does some really great cosmetics and lotions.

  77. Is castile soap good to use on a baby’s skin and hair too?

  78. avatar
    Rachel says:

    I totally stopped washing and conditioning my face and hair, and it’s better that ever! I really recommend it.

  79. I love your website! Very informative! If you ever need supplies to make these products, Natures Garden has the best prices in the US! Come visit us some time!

  80. Hey Tsh! I have a question about homemade lotion. I tried a recipe using high quality ingreds from Mountain Rose Herbs, a great supplier of organics, etc. close to my home town, and starting using it on my legs. I broke out from it! I am allergic to lanolin, have eczema pretty bad, but I didn’t use anything unusual…was it the emulsifying wax? The recipe only called for water, olive oil, emulsifying wax and essential oils. Any ideas? I really want to make my own! Also found Bronner’s to be drying, maybe I just have particularly sensitive/whacky skin?

  81. Tsh, my hubby bought me your book “Organized Simplicity” which brought me to the website, and now here I am attempting to go poo-free :) I really like the ideas for homemade toiletries, but was wondering about other hair products, to tame frizz and the likes. I have a LOT of volumous curly hair, but tend to “loose” most of the curls after shampooing my hair, or even with the baking soda/vinegar system. I used leave-in conditioner, serums and occasionally hair mousse to reorganize my curls and help tame my mane. Any suggestions on replacements for those? I was think olive oil or coconut oil with essential oils for a nice smell.

  82. I have had some amazing fun making my own stuff! I first discovered castile soap only recently when I looked into making my own toothpaste and now I’m starting to find all of the other fun uses for it. A couple things about your toothpaste recipe (just wanted to share what I’ve learned-not push it on you and tell you you’re wrong ;) I heard that instead of stevia try Xylitol sugar. Dentists recommend it as very good for your teeth, prevents cavities and strengthens the enamel. I also was told to not put baking soda in your tooth paste mix. It strips your teeth of enamel. To add it to your toothbrush once a week instead. Lip Balm-my favorite recipe so far has been a little bit of coconut oil mixed with a kool aid packet for color to your lips! LOVE it =) I’m still combing around for a homemade deodorant. I am curious how you stretch your castile soap to last a long time in the shower? I haven’t used it for that purpose yet. Do you apply it to your hands or a sponge. Does it lather really well is that how it lasts a long time?

  83. How long will the toothpaste recipe mentioned in the article last?

  84. I mean as in shelf life!!

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