Some Updates

Wow.  I’ve been neglecting the blog.  January was busy, I guess.  And now February has been busy too.  I’ve been helping my husband with his blog and trying to workout and joined a book club so I’ve been sneaking in minutes here and there to read the book (tonight’s the night!  I’m hoping that the book club is nice.  I love reading and the last one I joined was pretty disappointing).  Today I thought I’d update on some of the natural product choice changes we’ve been making from The LIST:

#3: Stop Using SLS based shampoos and soaps.  Happy to say this is going well!  I’ve eliminated a bunch of products already: facial cleanser, shampoo, baby wash, bath gel, and toothpaste.  Yay for us!  We do use softsoap to wash our hands, though and I’m not sure but I’m guessing that also has SLS.  I need to look into that and also to see if Dove moisturizing bars contain SLS.

#4 – Begin Using a Natural Toothpaste.  We’ve been using a natural toothpaste from Trader Joe’s for several weeks now.  No complaints here.  My mouth feels clean and fresh.  The texture of the toothpaste is different from what I’m used to though.  It’s thicker, drier and grittier than the toothpastes we typically buy.  I haven’t heard any complaints from my husband either.  We’ll see if the dentist notices anything.  If not, then we’re sticking to it.  I bought a tube of Tom’s to try next.  I think I want to experiment a little and see what we like out there.

#14: Switch to cloth wipes.  I started using cloth wipes about two and a half weeks ago.  So far it’s going well.  I made up a solution of olive oil, baby wash, and water and have been spraying it onto wash cloths to wipe down baby.  I use them for both wet and dirty diapers.  It’s really not that bad.  I do still use disposable wipes but WAAAY fewer.  Sometimes on Karina’s crazy diapers, I’d use five or six wipes.  Now I’ll use a couple cloths and maybe a disposable wipe or two.  Much better.  And I really really like the idea that I’m not putting so many scary chemicals on her, like the kind that are toxic when inhaled.  Ugh.  I do use disposable wipes on the go, however.  I think now that I’m going to be using them more sparingly, I’ll buy the natural/flushable kind. I’m open to any recommendations if you have any!

On a side note, we’ve also switched the type of garbage bags we use.  We used to buy a big box of them for pretty cheap at costco.  We just started buying biodegradable garbage bags.  I’m not sure if my city shreds garbage before putting it in the landfill so I thought these couldn’t hurt help the contents of the bags biodegrade a little faster.  So far we haven’t had any issues with leaks or anything like that.  One thing that is a little more cumbersome is that the kind we bought don’t have drawstrings like the old ones did.  This makes things harder in two ways…first, I have to get a garbage tie and tie it up instead of grabbing the drawstring and tying up the bag on the way to the big garbage can in the garage.  Next, since there’s no drawstring, it slips out of the kitchen trash can more easily and I find that I’m having to re-fit it at least once a day.

Man. Being less green sure is easier.  Sometimes I think about whether or not I’d be more productive if I just trashed stuff like diapers and wipes and didn’t bother recycling.  I guess I would have a few more minutes in the day but that’s just not me.



No ‘Poo, NOW whatcha gonna do?

I stopped using shampoo a few months ago.  My whole goal was to cut back on my use of Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.  So instead I’ve been using baking soda, water, and apple cider vinegar to wash and condition my hair.  The good news is that my head definitely feels less itchy.  I like that!  The fact that I actually took a good look in the mirror yesterday is what brought me to the bad news.  I have to be honest.  My hair looks like crap.  Well really, it’s not JUST my hair.  I look like crap.  So I oughtta do something about that.

I still want to keep using SLS and SLES free products but the baking soda just isn’t cutting it.  I find that my hair feels dry and is straight in some parts, wavy in others.  It also feels kinda weird, maybe it’s clean (it’s never smelled) but it just doesn’t feel as smooth and clean as it did when I was using shampoos.  I’ve also been losing a LOT of hair.  I know that’s normal post partum stuff but I thought that was supposed to take place between months 2-6.  My baby is 9 and a half months old (wait.  give me a minute to go and sulk about that.  I wish she would stay a newborn forever).  I don’t know if it’s because of my wash routine or not but I know that I have a lot of tangles that I didn’t have when I was using a normal conditioner.  It’s scary how much hair I lose between the shower, combing my hair, and putting up and taking down ponytails.  So I’m going back to using a Trader Joe’s product I had bought before I went cold turkey.  The conditioner I use doesn’t have any SLS or SLES so I can use that too.  While I finish up these bottles, I’ll do some research and see if I can learn more about the chemicals that ARE in these products and see what what else should be avoided.

I’m also pretty sure I’m going to chop my hair.  It’s really long and for a while I loved that.  But now it’s becoming a big, heavy, unattractive burden.  I just can’t think of anyone better than my favorite 90’s boy band Boyz II Men to represent this relationship I’ve been having with my hair, shampoos, baking soda and apple cider vinegar.  I love you Wanye.  And you tell it like it is, Mike!  Let’s take a minute and enjoy.

Man, talk about serious haircuts!  That was awesome.  I’m watching it again (and maybe one more time).  No joke, I know every word to this song.  Then I wonder why it seems my brain has no capacity to learn anything new.  It’s full of stuff like this.  B2M fo’ eva!

Some ‘poo

Alrighty, it’s been about a month since I started this no ‘poo thing and it’s time for an update.  First off, this week I went rogue.  We had some family pictures done and since I’ve been feeling pretty haggard (and subsequently look the way I feel), I decided to get a haircut because my hairdresser can do things with a brush and a blow dryer that I can only dream of doing.  Anyhoo, she used regular ol’ shampoo and conditioner and I didn’t stop her.  We discussed the merits of no ‘poo and she wasn’t really all that familiar with it but agreed that there really was no downside to no ‘poo UNLESS I used a lot of hair products to style my hair.  If this was the case, she thought that something stronger than baking soda should be used.

I also went to my cousin’s wedding reception and his sister’s baby shower.  Because my hair dresser had used some product to give my hair some lift, I wanted to make sure it was all washed out of my hair so I used shampoo and conditioner again.

Having gone no ‘poo and then back again, I’ve realized that I kind of like the no ‘poo thing.  I’ve noticed that my hair flattens out faster and with far less heat when I use a flat iron than it did when I was using shampoo.  It looks a lot better straightened, too.  Also like that I now know what my natural wave is like with no product in it at all.  I can actually get a decent looking head of hair when I let it air dry now.  Not perfect, but good enough that I don’t feel like I need to put it up in a ponytail.  It feels clean, too, which surprised me.  Also, I think this might be due to using shampoo for two days – my head has been itchier than it’s been in a LONG time.  Kind of miserable, actually.  I’m hoping those two shampoos didn’t cause my head to reset and now I’m starting from scratch.  I do kind of miss the simplicity of shampoo though.  Just a squirt in my palm, work up a nice lather, and rinse.  With the baking soda, I’m always wondering if I got everything as clean as I want.  Not as easy.  I’m sticking with it, though, for now.  I do want to do some more research on what to use for a conditioner.  I seems to me that the acidity in the vinegar would strip my hair more than condition it.  We’ll see.  Will keep you posted!

Oh no. No ‘poo.

I’ve been working on tackling number 3 on the LIST for the last three weeks. That’s right…I haven’t used shampoo in three weeks.  You might say…ew.  But it’s not so bad.  I am a long bath/shower taker and have wasted lots and lots of time reading and re-reading labels on shampoos, conditioners, face washes,  and body gels and they all seem to start with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  So years ago I googled it and found out how bad it can be for your body.  Now I’m finally doing something about it.  Also, my head is always itchy.  That’s it.  I’ve gone no ‘poo.

Why does this matter? (Information taken from

Both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its buddy Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are  used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to “foam up”. Both chemicals are foaming agents, or surfactants.  It’s what makes that wonderful lather that we’re so used to.

SLES is often contaminated with dioxane, which is a known carcinogen.  While it is somewhat less irritating than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it cannot be metabolized by the liver which makes its impact much longer-lasting.

A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called “highly irritating and dangerous”.

Shampoos are among the most frequently reported products to the FDA. Reports include eye irritation, scalp irritation, tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms and split and fuzzy hair. The main cause of these problems is sodium lauryl sulfate.

Why go no ‘poo?

From what I’ve read, shampoos with SLS and SLES unnaturally strip your hair of oils so your head overcompensates by producing more.  This makes sense to me.  It also seems weird to me that I’d use the same chemical to wash my car as I would to wash my hair.  There’s got to be a happy medium. I don’t want to be nasty smelly grease head, but I don’t want to use this stuff too much either.

What do I need to do?

There are a few options.  I could buy natural shampoos and conditioners without SLS/SLES and use those.  I could just cut back the frequency of shampooing and limit my exposure.  Or I could just go cold turkey and stop using shampoo.  Google either ‘no shampoo’ or ‘no ‘poo’ and you’ll get all kinds of good info.  A friend of mine went no ‘poo and stopped using shampoo and only uses conditioner.  She recommended a brand at Trader Joe’s that is free of SLS/SES.  I’ve decided to go cold turkey and just stop shampooing and conditioning with commercial products.

For the first two weeks, I started by massaging my scalp under water.  Then I took a couple tablespoons of baking soda, added water and make a paste out of it.  I’ve read that a ratio of 1 Tbs to 1 cup water works well.  I’m not that precise – I just threw it all together.  I rubbed the paste all over my scalp and let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse the heck out of it.  I really only applied the baking soda to my scalp and don’t mess with the roots.  The first couple times I then dipped the ends of my hair in lemon juice – it’s supposed to serve as a conditioner and detangler.  Since I left the lemon juice in the bathtub, however it went bad (I know – I’m an idiot and that’s gross) and now I’m using apple cider vinegar instead.

How’s THAT working for ya?

I went a full two and a half weeks of not shampoing my hair.  I did shampoo my hair with a natural shampoo (no SLS or SLES) once because I was attending my cousin’s wedding and just didn’t want to risk looking like a weirdo.  From the research I did, I knew to expect my hair to go through a period where it would just produce a ton of sebum as it tried to regulate its own oil production.  My hair wasn’t greasy but for a few days it was weird.  One night I had washed my hair and by the next morning, there was a big patch that just felt…dirty.  Not necessarily oily but not right either.  So how does my hair look now?  I have mixed feelings.  On the day I use the baking soda, it feels a little dry and a bit frizzy and it seems like there are a lot of tangles, which isn’t cool because I’m still losing tons of hair post partum.  On day two the bottom looks decent but the roots still seem to be adjusting.  It is nice and soft, though.  Here’s a picture (isn’t my baby cute?!?)

You’ll notice it’s a little on the frizzy side, which I don’t love, but in general looks ok.  I’ve always been lucky enough to have good hair so I feel like it’s high time I treated it right.  But my head is still itchy unfortunately.  For now I’m going to stick with it.  We’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep you posted.  Anyone else have experience with this?