My Chemical-Free, Natural (and edible) Skincare Regime

My Chemical-Free, Natural (and edible) Skincare Regime

My husband remembers the time, way back in our very early days of dating, when we took a holiday together and almost half of my luggage consisted of toiletries. I would like to tell you he remembers this fondly, but rather he shakes his head at the memory and tells me he was thinking: “who is this girl?!” Such was his despair (although I didn’t know it at the time) that it’s probably a miracle our relationship made it beyond the holiday…

The skincare and body products I use today are such a far cry from back then that now I find it hard to believe myself. In those days, I bought into plenty of the marketing ploys. I figured expensive products were better for me. I reasoned that beautiful celebrities endorsing a product was a reason for me to buy it. I trusted the assistants that told me I needed several different products to do the same job. What this really meant: I gave big multinational pharmaceutical companies my money (far too much of my money) in order to purchase (mostly) unnecessary products with questionable ingredients. I consumed a lot of wasteful packaging, and my bathroom was always cluttered. I was locked into a cycle of buying and stockpiling products.

Today, I’ve reduced what I use to the essentials. I’ve simplified. Mostly I use ingredients, and I can find almost all of them at the grocery store, and at bulk stores. I tend not to buy pre-made products: nothing I use has more than a handful of ingredients that I mix together as I need. There’s no pressure. Ingredients are rarely on sale or marketed cleverly in an attempt to make me buy more, so I do not buy more than I need.

My Chemical-Free (Edible) Skincare Routine: Then vs Now

When I talk about chemicals, I’m referring to man-made, synthetic and petroleum-derived products. For me, chemical-free means natural and safe. Not everything that occurs in nature is safe, of course. My rule is: if it’s edible, then I use it. If it’s not, then I don’t.

Skincare: Face

THEN: Back in my pre- plastic-free and pre- zero-waste days, I used eye cream, a day moisturiser and night moisturiser, usually purchased from one of those fancy counters in the shopping malls. I used cleanser and toner. Occasionally I would be persuaded to buy some other nonsense product by the sales assistant like skin brightener, or serum, or whatever they were trying to plug that month. I often had random packets of “free sample” cluttering my space that I rarely used. I used a face scrub to exfoliate, usually purchased from a chemist or supermarket. I purchased lip gloss, but rarely used it.

NOW: I replaced all of the moisturizers with a single product: oil. Moisturisers are made with oil, water and emulsifier to bind them together, whereas oil is just that – one ingredient. Water-based products like moisturisers need preservatives to stop them going bad, whereas oils are fairly stable and do not. Almond oil is my staple. If I’m away from home, or I have run out of almond oil, I will use olive oil or coconut oil.

To clean, I use bar soap. I don’t make my own, I buy from a local lady who specialises in natural skincare. It’s made from a blend of coconut oil and olive oil and doesn’t dry my skin out. I don’t use a product to exfoliate, I use a flannel. It works much better, I find.

Bulk Soap Chopped Into Bars Zero Waste Natural Beauty Treading My Own Path
I buy soap in 2kg blocks because this way it is packaging free and I can cut the bars myself to a size I like. All you need is a knife: soap is very easy to cut.


THEN: I used store-bought deodorant, body moisturiser or lotion, a razor with refillable blades and shaving foam. I used handwash to wash my hands, and shower gel to wash in the shower. I had a separate hand & nail moisturiser. I used store-bought toothpaste to clean my teeth.

NOW: I make my own deodorant using bicarb, corn flour, coconut oil and essential oil (you can find the recipe I use here). I never had much luck with store-bought chemical-free brands but this stuff actually works! (Added bonus: I can buy all the products packaging-free.)

I no longer have a separate body lotion or hand lotion and use almond oil. Ditto with the shaving foam. I use an epilator mostly which is used on dry skin, but if I use a razor blade then I use almond oil. I use a body brush to exfoliate rather than products with “exfoliating properties” (usually plastic microbeads).

Dry Body Brush
A body brush replaces the need for exfoliating products. This one is made of FSC wood with natural bristles. I’ve had it for almost four years and it still looks (almost) like new.

I use bar soap (the same as I use to wash my face) to wash my hands and body.

I make my own toothpaste using very similar ingredients to those in the deodorant (you can find the recipe I use here, and it has been approved by my dentist). When I first made it I used peppermint essential oil, as I do with the toothpaste, but I’d get confused which container was which, and I didn’t enjoy smelling like toothpaste, so now I use a different one.

DIY Homemade Toothpaste Zero Waste Plastic Free Treading My Own Path
I used to make toothpaste with glycerine, but now I use coconut oil as I couldn’t find glyerin in bottles without a plastic lid, and I already use coconut oil for many other things. This kilo of bicarb has lasted a couple of years, but I can now buy in bulk so won’t need the box – or to buy a kilo at once! The essential oil bottles I get refilled.

Hair Care:

THEN: I used Herbal Essences shampoo and Herbal Essences conditioner (the one in the yellow bottle). They changed the packaging and then tried to discontinue the product at one point, and I remember trawling all of the discount chemist stores in a mild panic trying to stock up on these two products. I used a hair serum that was a salon-owned brand only available in the UK and only at the salons, so getting it was a real pain. When I moved to Australia I purchased 6 bottles to bring with me, and when my sister came to visit she brought some with her too (this was all pre-Plastic Free July 2012). My haircare routine caused me so much stress, but I was terrified that my curly hair would be unmanageable without these products. I did use Frizz-Ease serum on special occasions, too. I guess you’d say their marketing campaigns were very effective on me!

NOW: I wash my hair with rye flour, and I use white vinegar as a conditioner. It makes my hair soft, shiny and manageable, without the need to apply any other products. I have used bicarb soda in the past but I prefer rye flour – it’s plant-based (bicarb is mined), has a gentler pH, is easier to make a paste in my hand, and makes my hair shinier than bicarb. If rye flour is not available, I switch to bicarb. I prefer white vinegar to rinse my hair over apple cider vinegar. The smell dissipates far more quickly, and my hair feels and looks better. White vinegar has a lower pH than apple cider vinegar (meaning it is more acidic) so I dilute white vinegar with water more than I would dilute apple cider vinegar with water before using.

Rye Flour Shampoo Zero Waste Treading My Own Path
I buy rye flour from the bulk store, and I sieve with a tea strainer before using in my hair to remove any big flakes. I also find towel drying my hair removes excess flour. When it’s dry, I give my hair a good shake to remove any flour that might remain.

I don’t use any hair serums or gels. I find the vinegar does a good job on its own. If my hair was particularly frizzy I would just rub a little almond oil in my hands and run my hands through my hair.

A summary of all the ingredients I use now:

Skincare Regime Zero Waste Bathroom Products Treading My Own Path
Some of the products I use in the bathroom. From left to right: a jar of rye flour (for shampoo), white vinegar (refilled using an empty wine bottle), homemade deodorant and almond oil. Below left: a bar of soap. Below right: a towelling pocket I use when the soap is too small to pick up. I pop the scraps in here and use as a flannel to ensure none of the soap is wasted.

The products I use in my bathroom are: rye flour, sodium bicarbonate, white vinegar, corn flour, essential oil, coconut oil, almond oil and bar soap. Just a handful of ingredients (8, in fact) that do the jobs of a much bigger handful (or small suitcase-full) of products, all with many ingredients of their own. Most ingredients I use live in the kitchen, where they are also utilized, and my first stop when I run out of something in the bathroom is always my own pantry.

And the benefits? I could tell you about not using chemicals, about supporting the local economy rather than the big multinational pharmaceuticals, about stepping off the consumer treadmill and no longer being sucked into the marketing campaigns. I could talk about no longer buying more than I need, and the reduction in clutter in my bathroom. I’m going to tell you the most surprising benefit of all: simplicity and freedom. When I first gave up plastic and began looking for alternatives, I thought I’d have to learn how to make my own shampoo and moisturiser. I thought it would be difficult, and time-consuming. Rethinking what I was using, and why, and then looking for suitable alternatives made me realise it was only as complicated as I made it. Ditching all the products that were unnecessary, and choosing the simplest options for what remained was all I needed to do.

Now I’d love to hear from you! Do you have a natural and chemical free skincare routine? Can you eat your beauty products? Do you make any of your own products and would you like to share the recipe(s)? Have you had any dismal DIY fails or bad experiences along the way and want to share the lessons you learned?! Do you find it hard to let go of those store-bought products? Is there a particular product you struggle with replacing? Tell us your experiences and please leave a comment below!

My Chemical-Free, Natural (and edible) Skincare Regime

72 Responses to My Chemical-Free, Natural (and edible) Skincare Regime

  1. Loved reading about rye flour – I’d never heard of that as an alternate to most no-poo recipes! I’d tried a variety including shampoo bars and I felt like a walking oil rag for weeks, so I’ll definitely give this a try, especially as they sell it in the bulk aisle. I don’t use any soap on my face, just splash it with water in the morning and wear an eco-friendly moisturizer with SPF. I have used shampoo lather from my head to soap up my legs for shaving – have done it since I was a teenager and don’t know anyone else who does! I don’t use hair products either, and I’m using a homemade deo that someone else made, with a recipe on my fridge to make it myself when it runs out (with similar ingredients as yours). However I do use storebought eco-friendly toothpaste with fluoride, because as soon as I go off fluoride I get cavities, so that’s my necessary evil.

    • I like the rye flour – let me know how you get on with it! My husband has used shampoo bars and found a local one he likes – usually he just uses the regular bar we buy usually though. Keep it simple!

      When I first stopped buying shaving foam I switched to shampoo! Soap is too drying, and I had shampoo in the shower anyway. Actually, more often I used conditioner, but same idea. Then I stopped using both of those, so I had to find a new alternative!

      We have flouride added to our tap water, so that isn’t an issue. Last time I went to the dentist they made me do some weird fluoride treatment where I bit into a tray full of foamy fluoride stuff that apparently lasts for 6 months. I wasn’t convinced, and my mouth was weirded out, but when you’re lying flat on a dentist chair you can’t really argue!

      • Ah gotcha, we don’t fluoridate our water and actually voted against it a few years ago. Our dentists try to sell it to us but we always decline, but I did it when I was a kid at every visit so there ya go :)

      • I refused a mouthful of the fluoride that the dental nurse tried to put into my mouth after a clean.She put it in my notes that i don’t want fluoride,so they know next time.It’s pretty bad stuff for sure.I floss, brush and use the stick to clean in-between teeth but now will have to look for alternatives.My teeth are good.Having little sugar in my diet also helps.The dentist actually has 4 teaspoons of sugar in his coffee and drinks coke.When the dentist overheard the nurse and i speaking about how we don’t have sugar, he was eager to find out how we actually stopped the addiction to sugar! Amazing!!

  2. Like the EcoFeminist – I had never heard of Rye Flour as a shampoo (though I had heard the bicarb and vinegar components. I have to say I’ve ‘settled’ for Lush shampoo bars at home, and when travelling use what’s provided (ie travel minis or my friends big bottle!). I still use cetaphil, and I, like you in the past, am not yet willing to try something else… In the past, soap’s been too drying and I don’t generally moisturise. Wonder if I’ll ever let that change? Oh and I’m still mainstream on toothpaste and deo too…

    • You love the Lush bars Sarah! I think they come up every time we talk about this ; ) I’m happy with my rye flour but I do think curly hair suits these no poo options very well.

      Soap can be drying – you need a good quality one with high oil content. I don’t wash my face with soap every day, I rinse with water. I do have quite dry skin and the soap is fine.

      I thought you tried homemade deodorant? Do you think you’ll give it a go, or are you still happy with the stuff you use? I’m always keen to get new converts ; )

  3. For washing my face, I don’t use anything – I tried oil but found it a little too much (although a great moisturiser), and now just wash my face with a flannel and water. I have really pale combination skin (dry cheeks, oily t-zone), and this seems to work really well for me. I haven’t used a single face product in over four months, and used to do this as a teen, too (and I never really had pimples back then!)

    For hair I tried bicarb and vinegar but read a few people had bad experiences or it was bad for your hair. I only wash my hair once a week as it is, regardless of what I’m using, but I found the bicarb did kind of cause dandruff or drying on my scalp, so I switched back to the Nature’s Organics shampoo from the supermarket. After finding your blog, I asked hubby for a Lush shampoo bar for Christmas (which they sent in a plastic pocket wrapped in a scarf – I didn’t need the plastic!!) and that’s worked well for me since. Given I wash my hair once a week, it will last an age, and in future I’ll just buy unpackaged from the store.

    I do use a purchased-but-home-made-by-someone-else spritz deodorant (in plastic) as well as a Lush deodorant bar (yes, they put that in plastic too), but in future I’m happy with the Lush bar or might try making my own, as I prefer something non-powdered to apply.

    I have leftover products from before I started trying to reduce waste and chemicals (a body scrub from two years ago, a face scrub from the same time), but otherwise my biggest plastic user is makeup – I have mascara, an eyeliner, a four-square eyeshadow compact and face powder. Most of these I’ve had for far longer than they say to have them but I do use them at least half the week, although I do use a HB pencil to fill in my scanty eyebrows :) While I don’t mind going make-up free, I do prefer how I look with darker lashes and brows, and I haven’t really found any viable alternatives to what I use!

    • Shampoo bars are a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t trust or doesn’t like the no poo method. I was my hair twice a week (probably every 3-4 days) – the curls tend to go a bit straggly by then!

      I want to spend a bit of time trying other deodorant recipes. My husband buys a deodorant in glass as bicarb gives him a nasty skin reaction and I’ve been promising to make a bicarb-free version for over a year! If you try any other recipes and have success, please be sure to share them with me! ; )

      I made my own mascara and eyeliner with a recipe from Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home book. It was a huge pain and made a ridiculous mess as well as tarnishing my tongs and sieve (don’t ask) but when I feel brave enough to give it another go I’ll take photos and share the recipe. Basically you need to burn some almonds. Trickier than it sounds!I use coconut oil as make up remover for the mascara.

      I’m pretty lazy when it comes to make-up. But coming up with alternatives would be fun. I think I can feel a new project coming on!

  4. Hi Lindsay,
    I really enjoyed reading this article – I’m just at the beginning of my transition to a zero waste bathroom and my first steps have been making my own lip balm (recipe from the book ‘Zero Waste Home,’ which I love!), eliminating cotton buds and disposable make up removal rounds and beginning to use almond oil and bar soap. Where do you get 2kg soap bars from?

    • Hi Lex, thank you! Sound like great first steps : ) Are you in Perth? I buy from a lady based in the Swan Valley. The ones she sells in bars only have a small piece of paper wrapped around, so it’s not a huge amount of waste, but the slabs are cheaper and simple enough to store.

      Otherwise you could speak to anyone selling homemade soap at a farmers or craft market more local to you and see if they will sell you the slabs?

  5. Very similar scenario here. I don’t put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat/apply as medicine. And three cheers for an old fashioned flannel! The only additions I have are a/ witchazel or rose water as its mildly astringency is great for soothing the face and nerves after a frazzled day in London’s polluted air and b/ Epsom salts for the occasional bath during a bad bout of arthritis. I love how many people are switching back to hassle free (as well as plastic free and additive free) skincare. Let’s hope society cottons on and we can see a return to old-school apothecaries that dispense medicine in glass bottles or paper boxes and we can see the end of blister packs!!!!

    • I thought of you when I wrote about the flannel Meg – I knew you’d approve!

      Do you make rosewater to you do buy it? I have some in my pantry. We don’t have a bath (sadly) – baths in Australia aren’t common and if a house has one, it’s the size of a large sink! Not like the good old English baths!

      Me too – I think as many people are concerned about the chemicals as about the waste and plastic.

      Imagine – medicine in a jar and not a blister pack! I’ve never seen anything like that – I must be too young. Bring them back – they sound great!

  6. Hmm I wonder how many ingredients in my bathroom? Mapping against yours, I use no moisturiser, but bar soap is my go-to for washing hands and hair (with a vinegar rinse). If I want to exfoliate I lather up some soap and add a small sprinkle of bicarb. I use a crystal deodorant. I don’t shave, but I do use a pair of scissors to trim my hair. My failure has been toothpaste – I think the bicarb in most home recipes reacts badly with me if I use it for shampoo or teeth. In the case of toothpaste I developed swollen, bleeding gums that took weeks to recover so back to store bought for me :( Maybe one day I’ll try a tooth powder…I definitely agree that this set up leads to greater freedom and simplicity :)

    • Good work Rachel! I’m not sure a bad reaction counts as failure though! My friend had a similar reaction to homemade bicarb toothpaste and it turned out not to be the bicarb but the peppermint oil. My husband reacts very badly to bicarb deodorant but is fine with the bicarb toothpaste… I don’t know if you’ve used peppermint oil when you’ve tried homemade toothpaste?

      If it’s definitely the bicarb then you could try coconut oil and salt but it would taste gross!!!

      • Ooh interesting. The recipe I used called for peppermint oil, bicarb, coconut oil and salt…I think I’d be more interested in trying out tooth powder next time but I think that requires packaging and postage so I’m procrastinating…

      • On the days you don’t wash your hair, are you not even getting it wet? Or getting it wet (but no rye flour) then conditioning with vinegar rinse? Do you do the vinegar rinse only on washing days?

        • Nope, I keep it dry. Sometimes the ends get wet. Occasionally if it is looking unruly (not dirty, but the curls are all over the place) I will just wash and rinse with vinegar. Mostly I wash with rye flour and vinegar twice a week. If I wash a third time I’ll just use vinegar, unless it’s particularly dirty. I hope that helps Andrea! Sounds like you’re about to embark on some experiments…!

  7. Hi Lindsay,

    Thanks for the regular challenge you offer me. I share your posts with my family (hubby and teenagers) and we’re beginning to make some steps in the right direction. Just wondering if you could share your thoughts on sunscreen and offer some alternative suggestions. We all spend a great deal of time outside and have very fair skin. I’m particularly interested in a daily sunscreen option that complements your regular skin care routine.


    • Hi Alison, thanks for your comment! Sunscreen – a good topic. I hate chemical sunscreens (plastic and wasteful packaging and stench aside, I really don’t think products that absorb into your skin are good for you). I always advocate covering up, staying in the shade and wearing a hat etc, but of course, that is never foolproof and there’s always times when we can’t do these things. Zinc oxide sunscreens are safer, they act as a barrier rather than being absorbed in the skin. They leave a whitish sheen but it’s not too obvious and actually I prefer it – I find with these invisible ones you just can’t tell where you’ve applied and you are more likely to burn. There are products you can buy that are plastic-free that have zinc oxide – try the health stores. Otherwise try to choose packaging you can recycle. I’m planning on sharing a recipe on the blog – I just need to source the ingredients. A friend of mine makes it and I’m always “borrowing” hers when I’m over there so I probably should make my own! I hope that helps?

  8. Hi Lindsay,
    Thanks so much for sharing this, I incorporate some similar aspects into my own bathroom – e.g. homemade deodorant and vinegar as conditioner – but am still transitioning and using things up (from before I took the zero waste challenge and embraced simplicity!) so it’s really helpful to hear what you use. Looking forward to giving almond oil a go when I run out of my current moisturiser :)
    I was just wondering, what do you use for sunscreen? I live in NZ, but I imagine it’s a similar scenario in Australia, with having to be super careful about sun protection. Sunscreen seems to one of the hardest things to find unpackaged/simplified and I would be hesitant to make it myself – unlike oily hair it has slightly more serious consequences if ineffective!
    Nellie :)

    • Hi Nellie, thanks so much for commenting! Yes, the using up of things takes a surprising amount of time (it goes to show that we tend to buy far more than we need!) – it took me 18 months to use up everything I had purchased prior to going plastic-free.

      Another question about sunscreen! See what I wrote above in answer to Alison’s comment. I try to not to use anything, and to cover up – but the amount of times I’ve been caught out and got a little too much sun is too many to say this is reliable and now I’m looking to make my own. We have a tube of zinc oxide sunscreen we purchased in a health store for our trip to Thailand in 2013 – we needed something that was 100ml to take in hand luggage – and we are still using it, although it is about to run out. When it does run out we will switch to our own – I’ll share the recipe when I make it. Lots of places (pubs, cafes, venues) provide sunscreen if you get caught out without any in Perth, but it’s the high-tox stuff. Beter than skin cancer of course, so I use it if I have to, but it will be better when I have my own. Stay tuned! : )

      • Hi I am using MOO GOO sunscreen no chemicals and it’s great I live in Sydney
        My skincare and cosmetic rules are. Organic locally made and if it’s stocked in China DO NOT BUY IT as they still have animal testing on ALL skin and cosmetics that are song in China stores
        Great articles on the clothing . I am currently on 68 pieces of clothing scarves and shoes handbags So nice not to worry about what to wear
        Keep on blogging

  9. You are living my dream! Thanks for this breakdown. I’m still stuck on mostly store-bought products (green ones), but going diy and waste free is on my list of goals. The hardest part for me right now is taking the time to convert.

    • I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not?! It sounds a little like I took your dream from you! Which I didn’t, I promise – hopefully it’s the other way round and I can help you get there sooner! You’re right, it does take time. I just bought a whole heap of zero waste ingredients to try making some different products (I’ll share the recipes if I have any success) – that’s been on my to-do list for at least a year!

      You’ll get there – just keep going in small steps. When I first went plastic-free it took me 18 months to use up all the store-bought plastic-packaged products I owned!

  10. Great post! :) I have tried making my own shampoo, swapped shower gel for bar soap, switched to an epilator and body brush and use coconut oil to moisturise. The deodorant and toothpaste are my final frontiers! I may be brave and attempt doing this – but worried they won’t be as effective as shop-bought ones and I will lose all my friends :D xxx

    • Thanks Nicola! Funny you say that, they were my first swaps! Seriously, bicarb deodorant works amazingly. Lots of commercial eco brands use it so you know we’re onto something. I think people doubt it because it seems too easy. But it really works! Go on, give it a go and tell me how you get on!

  11. Hi there,
    I’m just about to run out of shampoo, and have a bag of rye flour at the ready. I may be being a bit dense, but I can’t figure out how you use it? Do you put it on as flour, or do you mix it to a paste with some water first (and if so do you keep a bowl in your shower to do this?!) And do you apply it to wet or dry hair?
    Also, with regards to the vinegar, you have it in a wine bottle, do you just pour it over your head?!
    The plan this weekend is to make some of your hm deoderant, and will be using almond oil once my current moisturiser runs out. :)
    Thanks, from a fellow curly. :)

    • Hello! Thanks for asking – I am here with instructions at the ready! Firstly, sieve with the finest strainer you can. I use a tea strainer. This bit is tedious, yes, but you will thank me in the long run! I normally sieve a jar full so I don’t have to do it every single time.

      Next, when I’m in the shower, i add a small amount of water to make a paste. Unlike bicarb it doesn’t dissolve so making the paste is easier. Then apply to your hair. DO NOT USE IT DRY! I have tried this (hence the loud exclamation of “no!”). It seems easier and time-saving, but it will all crust into your scalp and you will have to pick it out – not fun, and you’ll look a bit crazy! So rub the wet paste in as you would shampoo, and then rinse off.

      For the vinegar, I use a measuring cup (because it’s a stainless steel vessel with a wide rim that works best). I add about a cm to the bottom and top up with hot water in the shower. The ration is probably 1:8, definitely no more than 1:4 vinegar:water.Then I pour over my head, slowly (don’t get it in your eyes!) and then rinse off.

      Make sure you give your hair a good towel dry to get any excess flour out. You might want to give it a good shake once it’s dry, too.

      Hope that helps! Let me know how you go. Oooh, and let me know what you think of the deodorant too : )

      • Hi Lindsay, this is a rather late comment but I was visiting your archives for advice on hair care. Have you tried home-made flax-seed gel? I’m using it as a plastic-free/ZW hair gel and it’s great for curly hair.

  12. Oh my goodness me, my husband is definitely going to think I’m crazy now. Right, so a jar or sieved rye flour, then make some into a paste. I’m definitely going to need a separate bowl, and will probably do this first, as I have a fair amount of hair, I can see this getting very messy!!

    I’m so glad you said about the ratio for vinegar, I was going to put it on neat!! I reckon I’ve got one more ‘regular’ conditioner go left, and probably a couple more shampoos. Last weekend was a write off, I didn’t stop, but I’ve set aside a day this weekend for home stuff, so planning on making it then :) I’ll let you know how it goes. (I’m a bit scared of how things will go without my styler, I really don’t want to return to the ‘just been dragged through a hedge backwards’ frizz days!

    Thanks for the update :)

    • Haha! I would say, don’t tell him, wash your hair this way and ask if he notices anything different about your hair! (And hope he does, in a good way!)

      What sort of comb do you have? I only have a wide toothed comb, but combing your hair afterwards will help get it out if there’s any left. Plus don’t use too much! And avoid rubbing deep into your scalp – you want to clean your hair, not your scalp!

      I’m so excited to hear what you think! Are you on Instagram? Maybe you can send me a pic? (Privately if you don’t wanna go public…yet ; )

  13. I’ve simplified my skin and care regime so much in the last few years but it has been a long process with lots and lots of trial and error to get to what works for me.
    I’ve gone from cupboards full of products to a couple of glass jars that do everything! I use coconut oil as a makeup remover, sunblock (SPF4 – mostly I cover up in the sun), shaving lubricant, and with bicarb soda as deoderant (I use arrowroot powder instead of corn flour as I’d heard corn flour is a food for yeast, but often I don’t use a thickener at all). I often forget to use deoderant, I think body odour depends a lot on diet (reduce your meat and dairy intake). I occasionally use Argan oil as a facial moisturiser.
    I went water only washing for my hair and body about 3 years ago and haven’t looked back since!! It took 6 months for my hair and scalp to stop freaking out but now I rarely ‘wash’ my hair more than once or twice a fortnight (there is a technique to water only washing though). I use a couple of egg yolks as an occasional hair treatment or to remove grease from the hair. Since going water only washing for my face and body, my skin has been healthier than ever, no more spots, sweat rashes or oily skin! Just use a flannel and warm water, it’s all you need. Obviously still use soap to wash hands especially before food prep and eating etc…. I love the simplicity of it all, and not more waste or money spent on products I don’t need!

    • Thank you for sharing this Anouk and for providing so much detail! Coconut oil is a wonder product indeed. I use it as eye makeup remover on the rare occasions I wear makeup. I’m intrigued… what is the technique for water washing your hair? I have done it a couple of times when I’ve been in a hurry, and it works fine that day, but I feel like the next day my hair has reset to where it was before I washed it!

      You have summed it up exactly – no clutter, no wasted money, better skin and super simple. I mean, what is not to love?!

    • Water only washing (hair) is easy, 1. Don’t wash your hair until it’s oily (your scalp’s natural oils are what cleans the hair). I usually last 6-10 days between water washes. 2. ‘Scritch and preen’ occasionally gently massage the scalp to loosen the sebum and use your fingers to run this oil the length of the hair (basically you’re just playing with your hair). Use a boar bristle brush to help distribute the oils (I actually almost never brush my hair – a bit lazy!). 3. Use warm water to wash the hair, gently massage your scalp and rinse. Towel and air dry your hair.
      There is a transition phase as your scalp adjusts to not having the natural oils stripped away by shampoos, this can last from 2 weeks to 6 months (tip – pony tails…).
      Tips: You can’t really use any product in your hair with this technique as the water won’t remove hair sprays, gels or mousse etc on its own (if you can’t do without, then WO is probably not for you). Avoid heat i.e. hair dryers and straighteners (personally I love the coarser texture of WO hair). A t-shirt or microfiber towel is better for drying your hair than conventional towels. You may need to clarify your hair to start with. If your hair does get real greasy, egg yolk wash will help. There are heaps of resources out there. My hair is dead straight, I don’t have a problem with frizz, knots or tangles since water only washing but I cannot testify as to how it works on curly hair!

  14. Hello Lindsay, love your posts! I use coconut oil in my face to remove makeup and moisturise, for the body I mix coconut oil, almond oil with cocoa oil, I make my toothpaste and deodorant, same as you, shampoo with avocado and soap for the bath and scrub with a mix of sugar, almond oil and lavender, I paint the hair with beet, but my biggest concern is the make-up, have not had the courage to do my own, except for the lipstick.

    • Thank you so much Helena! I love your routine – it sounds so edible and delicious! When you say cocoa oil, do you mean cocoa butter or something different? I’m intrigued how you paint your hair with beet too. I’ve heard that coffee works great for grey hairs, but I have only half-heartedly tried it once.

      I tried making mascara and it made such a mess! I tend not to wear make-up, but it is something I will look into more one day. It’s just not a priority…yet… ;)

  15. Out of curiosity, how much rye flour do you need for your hair? I’m feeling cautious and skeptical that it won’t paste up!

    Recently found your blog from a link your friend Jen Gale posted to the hoarder minimalist ebook.

    Thanks for the work you put into documenting these healthy choices.

    • Hi Robin! I usually use about a tablespoon, when I mix with water it seems to expand (compared to bicarb that disappears). It will depend on how much hair you have though. I like the way it feels, kinda like a gel!

      Hope you give it a go! Let me know what you think.

      Jen is a bundle of enthusiasm for sustainable living, isn’t she?! I’m no way near her level of mending bravery yet, but something to work towards ;)

  16. I’ve never understood why zero wasters rave about the bicarb/flour deodorant. I tried this countless times but I always find it itchy and horrible on my skin. It just makes me come out in a rash – think it’s the bicarb. Any hints??

  17. I’ve ditched body washes and use bar soap. I also use a stainless steel razor, make my own deodarant & toothpaste. And i use Lush shampoos. My problem is I have an imflammatory skin condition and using oil on my face just feeds the yeast and makes it worse, so I’ve been unable to drop store bought facial skin care. Sometimes diluted apple cider vinegar helps.

    • Hi Holly, thanks for sharing this! I have one blade left on my pre-2012 plastic razor, and when this is completely trashed I’ll be moving on to a stainless steel razor. I have been abbe to make each blade last a year! (I don’t use it that often, mind.)

      I’ve read that apple cider vinegar is a good toner. Also chamomile tea – cooled down, obviously! ;)

  18. Hi Lindsay,

    The “current” me can very much relate to the “old” you, and my husband hates it haha! My bathroom is a mess and these skincare products are burning my paychecks tsk. I love pampering my hair but I haven’t heard of using white vinegar as a conditioner. Is there any special instructions that I should do or remember? Thanks for the great tips!

    • Hi Jenny! I don’t think I’d go as far as to say white vinegar “pampers” my hair! But it definitely keeps it clean and shiny – which is good enough for me. I simply dilute 1/8th cup with 1 cup water, put on my hair and rinse off as normal. If you’re looking for natural treatments, there’s lots of other great things to try too :)

  19. I tried bicarb but found it left my skin red and rashy, then tried a shampoo bar and, although my hairdresser said it looked quite healthy, my hair felt like straw, dull, and hard to manage/style. I’d like to give the rye flour a try!
    I switched to soap from shower gel a while back and I still use a disposable razor, but sharpen the blade with a swatch of denim as it needs and wax as often as I can instead.
    I use a store bought deodorant paste but it comes in a plastic pot, so when it runs out I’ll give your recipe a go.
    I tried my hand at making a tooth paste but it went hard and wasn’t very nice, again I think I’ll give your recipe a go!

  20. Oats in a muslin cloth softened in water make a beautiful exfoliant for the face, very creamy and skin-softening.

  21. Hi Lindsay, Loving your posts have been taking the time to try and find non plastic packaging while shopping. Slowly clearing the bathroom cupboards and trying the water only and bicarb/vinegar wash a few times a week. So far no drama must try adding a few drops essential oil miss the smell. My Mum who grew up UK (84) this year in 1940’s and 50’s monkey soap was the go to clean with huge bars that seemed to last for months. Will have to google!
    Great to find blog here in WA I’m in SafetyBay would love to know where you get soap and almond oil and bulk orders. Thanks for great info!

    • Hi Andrea! Great to hear you’ve been embracing the changes :) Did you see that there’s a new bulk store just opened in Mandurah called the Glass Jar? They might have some options. I get my soap, refills etc from Earth Products; she is in the Swan Valley so quite far from you. Manna in South Fremantle sell almond oil and also soap (but not big blocks, only individual bars). Hope that helps!

  22. Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for sharing this post. I am doing some DIY natural and organic homemade recipes for skin care. I usually use honey and lemon as my ingredients. Doing DIY is cheaper, safe and effective to use.

  23. Thank you so much for your informative and non-judgemental website. You have been gently encouraging and leading me, along with other keen online folk, to recognise how much waste I make and ways to reduce. Very much a work in progress. So pleased that the bulk food store and Biome, in Brisbane are in a nice part of the world. A wonderful morning out.

    I have had the best time ‘playing’ with recipes. I have mostly used Lauren Singers, Lindsay Miles and the Biome store for recipe ideas. Sometimes a combination, but that is where my ideas are from. I have made a deodorant that works!! A toothpaste that tastes good and leaves my mouth feeling clean, and a moisturiser that I initially thought was greasy, but it absorbs and leaves my skin feeling so soft and no longer scaly. I now use it on my face as well as my arms and legs. I have reduced the amount I use and am happy with the result. BTW I’m over 60:)

    Lindsay thank you so much for your Facebook posts and your amazing website. It is just the best resource and so easy to read, and full of gentle ideas.

    • Aw, thank you so much for your lovely comment :) So glad that you’ve found my ideas useful. Slightly jealous that you are close to the Biome store! Don’t they have a naked beauty bar (I think that’s what they were calling it) where they sell unpackaged skincare ingredients? I love that idea.

      I’d love to know your moisturiser recipe! I’ve tried a few and definitely find that they are heavier than “lotion” type moisturisers, but also that they work so much better. I’m currently using a Roman recipe cold cream as a moisturiser. I love that it is 2000 years old ! (The recipe, not the moisturiser, clearly.)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Do keep my up to date with your discoveries, I’m always keen to learn!

  24. Thanks for the wealth of information on how to take control of your skincare naturally and economically. Who knew that rye flour could be used as a shampoo and vinegar for a conditioning rinse? This article is an eco-friendly must-read.

  25. The body shop used to stock their facial scrub ‘japanese washing grains’ a millennia ago, that I loved as a developing teen. Fast forward a decade and i find out that all it is ground up adzuki beans. Thank you internet!

  26. Hi! I’m trying your “recipe” for shampoo and conditioner. I haven’t used shampoo since last summer, instead I’ve been using shampoo bars from Lush, but they’re expensive! And I have to go to the mall to get them when I run out and I don’t like the mall. Anyway, I’m excited to see how this works, I’m trying it for the first time tonight. So, how do you apply the flour? And do you apply the vinegar onto your scalp or just the hair tips like regular conditioner? Let’s see how this goes. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Hi there, this is Clara from Spain! Love the article and thanks for sharing your routine with us.
    I’m also starting to make my own toiletries and I’m particularly happy with my face moisturizer (shea butter, jojoba oil, essential oils and Vit E) and my face/body scrub (coffee, olive oil and brown sugar), but I’m less happy with my toothpaste and my deo. Both are coconut oil based and since I’m wearing invisalign it leaves my teeth super oily and even died the invisalign a bit yellow as I used to add a bit of turmeric to the recipe. So now I’m confused as what other alternative for toothpaste I have…
    Second problem is my deo made out of coconut oil, arrowroot and lemon essential oil. Few weeks ago I went to uni and after sweating a bit, experienced the worst smell in my armpits ever!!!!!!!! It was a horrible experience and my boyfriend felt the same. I’m not sure what happened as I think I used correct proportions. Any ideas?
    As for my hair I’ve not tried a no-poo or vinegar solution as I’m really scared of running around with greasy hair, and I’ve not found natural shampoo in bulk over here in madrid. I’m learning how to make soap bars so I should be able to use those soon.

  28. Hey Lindsay,

    Love your blog, I am at the beginnning of my path. I have a question, how do you use the oil to remove make-up? When I use it on a reusable cotton-pads, it leaves a waze,and een blurred vision
    And is it then the same oil that you use for day and night,instead of the creams

  29. Great article! I use homemade toothpaste and deo (Trash is for Tossers’ recipes), olive oil as a body moisturizer and avocado oil as a facial moisturizer (it’s lighter than EVOO and therefore doesn’t clog my pores). I use unpackaged bar soap and a shampoo bar from a local company at the farmer’s market, but I only use the shampoo bar every 2 weeks because I just do water-only or an ACV rinse every few days in between. This makes the shampoo bar last a lot longer! I just finished up my old organic makeup packaged in plastic and I might try Clean-Faced Cosmetics next. I like their minimalistic, multitasking products and I don’t really wear that much makeup in the first place. I stopped using a plastic loofa (looking back it seems so ridiculous!), and just use my hands and soap to wash myself! If my pores feel clogged I have some baking soda (bicarb) in an upcycled spice jar that I will use as a scrub. I use reusable makeup rounds and olive oil to remove makeup if I have a lot on. Thanks for being one of the people who inspired me to make these changes!

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