Sunday, August 19, 2012

Frugal and natural personal care products

For thirty days, I've been an experiment in making and using my own body wash and shampoo.  It all started when my husband went to visit a friend of a friend who lives off-grid in the mountains of Georgia.  He came home from that trip so excited about the possibility of making our own body wash and shampoo.  I'm a woman who enjoys the delightful smells of life, so my first inclination was to brush off the suggestion and hope that the idea would fade.  Yet my husband kept on about how the major corporations in the personal product industry peddle harmful chemicals in a deceitful way:  they sell you a shampoo that chemically strips the dirt and grime out of your body and hair, leaving it void of moisture, and in turn market conditioners and lotions to you to replace the moisture. They most usually have to add fragrance back into the product to cover up the chemical concoction's unpleasant smell.  Thus, they've snagged you not once but two or three times in a very cleverly orchestrated campaign for your dollars.

It turns out that my husband's own marketing campaign was successful.  He knew exactly how to appeal to my practical tendencies. Aside from resisting any product that contains ingredients that are proven be carcinogenic, as well as hormone disruptors...quite frankly, I'm cheap.  

And so it began.  We use this simple recipe for both our hair and our bodies.  I've also been using it to bathe our dogs and they smell so fresh after their baths!

For this recipe, you'll need:

6 cups of water
several drops of vegetable glycerin (optional, for added moisture retention)
several drops of your favorite natural essential oil for fragrance

  • Heat the water on the stove, but do not boil.  While your water is heating, grate your bar soap.  I like to use my Salad Shooter, which makes the job of grating go much more quickly. The bar soap is fairly soft, so a manual grater would work well also.

  • Add your grated soap to the water and stir until dissolved.  This process only takes five minutes at the most.  Remove from heat after the soap is dissolved.

My hair is noticeably softer after thirty days using our body wash/shampoo.  Once per week,  I deep condition with pure extra-virgin coconut oil.  I give special attention to the ends. If you have dandruff, apply the coconut oil to your scalp.  I leave it in my hair for 10-15 minutes, then shampoo with my liquid soap. My hair texture continues to improve with each use. No, this does not make my hair greasy.

  • Allow to cool before adding the vegetable glycerin and/or essential oil.  This step is completely optional.  My husband and I both have middle-aged hair, and as it grays it becomes coarse.  To counteract the coarseness and keep it smooth, we like to add the glycerin.  As far as essential oils, we opted out because we actually like the pure, clean smell of the Kirk's soap.
  • Transfer to a container of your choice.  We recycle a pump type dispenser to use for our soap. One recipe has brought us 30 days of daily use.  Your soap will be very thin and will gradually thicken as it ages.  Coconut has antibacterial properties, so no preservatives are needed.

Just a note: Any castile soap will work.  We chose Kirk's because of the simple, natural ingredients and the price.  On sale, a bar of this soap will cost less than $1. I order other products frequently from iHerb and Swanson, so my shipping is usually free.  Kirk's has also been spotted from time to time in Dollar Tree stores in the Southeast.  You could also substitute any castile bar soap for this recipe, but the other "name brand" castile soap (bearing the name of a certain Doctor) has a higher price per bar and fundamental beliefs of the company do not align with our family's.


Alisha said...

Does this soap lather at all?

Carol Anne Wright Swett said...

Girl, you never cease to amaze me. Do you have a cost break down? Did I miss it in the post?

carla said...

Thanks so much for letting me know about this blog! From time to time I've checked the other one and wondered how you were doing. The shampoo recipe sounds interesting and I plan on trying it.

Mamosa said...

Alisha, this soap lathers like crazy...but it is very thin. However, a liquid soap like Dr. Bronner's or Dr. Woods Castile Soap is very thin also, almost a water-like consistency. I use one of those poofy sponges and it lathers a lot. When I first started using it on my hair, it took several washings for it to lather well. I guess i had toxic buildup on my hair from the commercial products I was using. Of course, castile soap is made from coconut oil and/or olive oil, so I like it because it smooths my coarse hair. Others may not like that.

Mamosa said...

Carol Anne, a bar of Kirk's Castile soap costs me 97 cents. The vegetable glycerin was around $3, but it is multi use. One recipe probably uses 25 cents worth? So, for around $1.25, we produced 48 ounces of hair and body products that lasted us a little over a month. Cheap!