Okay. To preface this list, you must know: I have REALLY tried the organic route. I did my time. I am not just a mom trying to jump on the bandwagon, I did this, succeeded and am here now to tell my story.
A few years ago, I began on a journey of “crunchy”. I had slowly heard about all of these nasty chemicals and cancer-causing ingredients in everything we used, from shampoo to candles.
As a girl who is obsessed with health and cleanliness, I knew that I couldn’t just let some of these items fall out of my routine. I love to smell good and feel squeaky clean. But on the other hand, I have always been very concerned with my health and making sure that I’m taking care of my body well.
So, as a young and single college-girl, I jumped in and devoted all I had to this new lifestyle. I changed everything about my toiletries and habits to eliminate all chemicals. Unfortunately, at the time, I could not change everything about the way I was eating… but I DID add a few things to my routine to help with my health.
I stuck to this for a little over two years. After I got married, I did bring back a few of my old ways for convenience sake, but I pretty much stuck to my guns with the chemical free life.
Then, I found out I was pregnant.
And, I did everything you are supposed to do. I took my vitamins, did yoga, ate all the right things, researched cloth diapers and all-natural baby products, and was planning for a homebirth.
My homebirth went absolutely haywire. 40 hours of med-free labor, all to end up in a c-section. I was so overwhelmed and struggling with PPD, that I ended up foregoing all of my pre-baby ways and resorted to disposable diapers and Johnson & Johnson.
And while I still toss around the ideas of using these products again, and I actually have brought a few back into my routine as life gets less and less complicated for us post-baby, overall I just didn’t see the point in going full out “crunchy”.
So, from a very experienced perspective, here is everything you need to know about these homemade, “crunchy”, products.
What’s wrong with conventional shampoo? If you’re reading this post, I’m assuming that you know all about the no-poo craze. Basically, shampoo and conditioner have phthalates and sulfates, as well as many other harmful chemicals, that supposedly cause cancer, asthma, and other problems.
The shampoo strips our hair of all it’s natural oils so that we need conditioner to re-coat it, but it coats it with silicone, which causes our hair to get greasy very quickly and we repeat the whole process over again.
What is no-poo? There are lots of options for no-poo, but the most common way to do this is to shampoo with baking soda, then rinse with apple cider vinegar (ACV).
What was my experience? I spent 9 months doing no-poo. I did have a relapse in the middle of it, where I used regular shampoo for about 3 weeks.
- My hair was definitely healthier! There is no doubt about that. It was bouncy, shiny, thick and had absolutely no split ends. However, I was not using ANY heat products on it at all, and it only was getting wet once a week.
- ACV makes your hair really soft and shiny. After every rinse, my hair just felt GOOD! It looked so fabulous. I really have no complaints. Even though I use conventional shampoo and conditioner, sometimes I do an ACV rinse to bring back my shine.
- My hair was nasty greasy no matter what I did. I did the detox exactly how you are supposed to do it. It’s not like I cheated and then complained it didn’t work. I did a clarifying shampoo with an apple cider vinegar rinse, then didn’t wash my hair for a week. This week was agonizing. And while I was able to go from everyday washes to a few times a week, my hair just wasn’t having it. The only way I could look presentable was by coating my roots with cocoa powder and LOTS of brushing.
- Baking Soda doesn’t really work very well. It’s annoying to use, you have to use a LOT to really get the grease out, and it is hard to rinse out. I was generally very frustrated with this method of washing my hair.
- It’s a lot of work and takes dedication. It takes planning, careful storage when you are not at home, and it can be a little messy and inconvenient. I’ve heard that if you really get your head used to no-poo, you can go weeks without a shampoo and it makes life so much easier! If I had ever gotten to that point, then YES these washes would be no big deal. But because of my fine, greasy hair – I was washing every other day usually and this took up a lot of time and energy for me. I did not enjoy doing this.
Would I recommend trying it? Only if you are very committed to sticking it out and are ready to put in the effort.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 4
L: “Crunchy” me! My teeth were pearl white, and my hair was thick, bouncy and shiny.
R: “Conventional” me! My teeth have yellowed, and my hair is flat and frizzy.
What’s wrong with conventional toothpaste? Dyes, chemical sweeteners, sulfates, titanium dioxide, and fluoride (which is apparently a harmful chemical… weird, right?)
What is in homemade toothpaste? 50/50 baking soda and coconut oil with a splash of hydrogen peroxide.
What was my experience? Toothpaste was just one of the many things that I switched out when I went all-natural with my lifestyle. Basically, I just threw the recipe in a jar and went for it.
- My teeth were SO white. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this recipe actually erased some stains that were already there.
- My morning breath completely disappeared.
- It’s so easy. To make it, all you have to do is mix with a spoon in a little mason jar and it lasts for months! To use, all you have to do is get a dab on your toothbrush. Nothing difficult about it.
- You have to brush your teeth with hot water. This didn’t really bother me a lot, but I know it would bother some. Hot water just helps melt the coconut oil into your mouth.
- It tastes nasty. I used essential oil in hopes that it would change the taste, but alas it did not. Using peppermint or clove and cinnamon are great for your gums and breath, but do NOT make it taste good! It just takes a little getting used to.
Would I recommend trying it? Absolutely! You have nothing to lose.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 10
Coconut Oil Moisturizer
What’s wrong with conventional moisturizer? Oh, you know. Just the basics. Chemicals and crap.
What’s in homemade moisturizer? Coconut oil. Just coconut oil. You can also add any gentle essential oil for a relaxing effect and fragrance. I recommend vanilla or lavender.
What was my experience? Heaven, pure heaven. All day long I would crave that moment when I would rub that oil into my face. I only used it after showers or after washing my face. One little pea-sized dab made it’s way all over my face and neck.
- It makes your skin literally flawless. I already have great skin, so I wasn’t really sure it was working. I knew that my skin had become incredibly silky and I hadn’t had any blemishes since I started, but for me, that was only a minor change. It wasn’t until my teenage sister with bumpy, acne-scarred skin tried it and it blew HER mind too!
- It feels really, really good. I’ve truly never used a moisturizer or lotion that feels as satisfying as pure coconut oil. It works so quickly and perfectly.
- It’s insanely easy to make. Literally just spoon some coconut oil into a mason jar and store in your bathroom. Or, if you are really lazy, or just want to try it out for a while before you commit, just scrape your finger along the inside of the coconut oil jar. You have no excuses.
- Your face is greasy. At first, I would get really self-conscious. Living in a dorm at the time, I would feel really awkward walking from the bathrooms to my room with it on my face. I only ever used it RIGHT before heading to bed so no one would notice. But after a while, you just get used to it. It does leave a little shine on your face, but unless you are making out with someone, they shouldn’t notice.
Would I recommend trying it? YES, YES, YES. Best moisturizer I have ever used.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 10
Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub
What’s wrong with regular sugar scrub? The usual. And if it’s not sugar scrub, but just exfoliant, there’s a good chance there are actually plastic beads in it, which are really bad for the environment.
Why do you need sugar scrub? You don’t. It’s just nice for exfoliating, and the coconut oil makes your skin irresistibly silky.
What’s in homemade sugar scrub? About 2/3 coconut oil and 1/3 granulated sugar.
What was my experience? I’ve tried conventional sugar scrub and homemade, and honestly, they work about the same. They are both just as annoyingly messy and have the same outcome.
- 100% as effective as any sugar scrub you could buy at the store.
- Way cheaper than anything you could buy at the store.
- Leaves your skin feeling silky smooth. I found that store-bought sugar scrub exfoliates and smooths your skin, but the coconut oil in the homemade scrub has the same effect as coating your body in coconut oil, but the water takes off the greasy layer… so you have DRY, NOT GREASY, but SUPER SILKY skin after your shower!
- Ants love sugar. Sugar in bathroom = ants in the bathroom.
Would I recommend trying this? Yes. It’s not actually significantly different than the store-bought stuff, but obviously saves tons of money.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 10
Homemade Body Wash
What’s wrong with body wash? Body wash is actually very similar to shampoo, regarding the chemicals inside. It is full of sulfates and strips our bodies of their natural oils.
What’s in homemade body wash? Castile soap, essential oils and sometimes some other stuff.
What was my experience? Meh. Smells gross, feels sticky, not a fan.
- Cheap. Once you make the initial investment of the castile soap & essential oils, which aren’t exactly cheap, they last a long time and are worth the price… IF you enjoy your soap!
- It feels slimy. Castile soap is not my favorite. It leaves an overall slimy feel to you after you use it, and it does not smell great.
Would I recommend trying this? Sure! If you already have the ingredients around, definitely give it a try. If not, I would recommend trying to find something else (whether an all-natural store bought option, or a castile soap free DIY recipe) first.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 6
Homemade Laundry Detergent & Softener
What’s wrong with conventional detergent & softener? Don’t try to ask any essential oils consultant about fragrances. Basically, they’re the devil and give you cancer. And our laundry soaps are FULL of them. Not to mention tons of other crap.
What’s in homemade laundry detergent & softener? I made my detergent with castile soap, baking soda, washing soda, & essential oils (it’s also 75% water). HERE is the recipe I used. There are many other recipes. For softener, I just used plain old white vinegar.
What was my experience? Worked fabulously for the baby and more fragile clothing. Did not do as great of a job on denim or the hubby’s work clothes. I ended up deciding it wasn’t worth the effort and switched back to regular.
- Saved tons of money. The ingredients aren’t exactly cheap. Castile soap is fairly pricey ($16 for 32 oz.) and that was what cost the most about the detergent. HOWEVER – I only used 1/4 cup castile soap per 2 gallons of detergent, which lasts for about 2 months. A bottle of castile soap would last about a year. Compared to $16 a week for store-bought softener and detergent, I’d say that’s a pretty crazy deal.
- Didn’t always wash well. There were definitely times I pulled a load out of the dryer and was appalled at the smell. Like I mentioned above, my hubby’s work clothes NEVER washed well. There was always a film on them after washing. Towels also didn’t do so great, always left with a bit of a mildewy scent after washing.
- It can be messy. I used large mason jar drink dispensers (like the kind you see at weddings). I set them on a shelf above the washer and used little metal measuring cups (1/8 cups) to dispense into the washer. This normally worked pretty well, but if I was ever in a rush I spilled easily. The detergent is extremely watery and splashes around.
- You have to mix the detergent. The recipe says to keep a wooden spoon nearby to mix before use, but in my opinion, that is just ridiculous. I ended up shaking the jug before use. The baking soda clumps up in the mixture and separates, which sometimes clogged the dispenser.
Would I recommend trying this? If you are willing to fully commit, it is an awesome recipe. I would recommend using regular detergent for greasy work clothes and adding EXTRA vinegar to any loads of towels. For regular clothes, it really does work and is so cheap. It’s worth trying it out. Consider that if you do begin and choose to quit, you will have a few ingredients you invested in that will not be put to use.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 5
What’s wrong with commercial deodorant? There is aluminum, ammonia and other crap in them. Our bodies are made to get rid of toxins through our sweat, so antiperspirant is especially dangerous. While deodorant is better, those chemicals are still going directly into our bodies through our sweat glands. Breast cancer is a huge risk with deodorant.
What’s in homemade deodorant? HERE is the recipe I used. It’s coconut oil, cornstarch, baking soda & essential oils.
What was my experience? When you first stop using regular deodorant, you will go through a CRAZY smelly detox phase. You will have sticky pits, smell like a trash can and will immediately regret doing it. I recommend expecting 1-3 days of smelling absolutely awful. Pick a few days where you won’t be doing anything important or with anyone you can’t warn about your smelly pits, and do your best to deal with the smell.
The two things that helped me get through the detox phase were. 1. Keeping really clean. Shower often and scrub those pits. 2. Immediately after showering, just spread some pure coconut oil where you would normally put your deodorant. This keeps them from feeling sticky. After you feel like you have made it through the detox you can begin using your new DIY deodorant.
- Instead of having to prevent smell, you just don’t smell as potent. Like I explained above, deodorant causes your armpits to go into overdrive and create MORE smell and MORE sweat because something is trying to plug them up. The coconut oil is antibacterial, which just keeps your pits clean. ‘
- You will probably have a bit of a “hippie” odor about you. It’s impossible to get rid of B.O. The strong perfumes in deodorant just cover it and plug it up, which is horrible for your body in so many ways. Basically, you just have to decide which is more important to you. And friends, there is NO judgment here. I’ve had seasons where I choose regular deodorant and seasons I have used DIY. It’s all up to you and what you feel is most important to you. But I will say that, after an armpit detox, your B.O. will be much more subtle.
Would I recommend trying this? After the detox phase, I noticed that my armpits smelled much better! They weren’t overworking to try to overcompensate for the deodorant wreaking havoc on them. The homemade deodorant worked fairly well. Truthfully, I eventually switched to just coconut oil instead of the deodorant recipe. Bacteria is actually the #1 culprit for bodily odors (bad breath included!). Coconut oil is antibacterial, so this takes care of a huge part of the smells! And just using coconut oil was much easier and less messy for me.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work?
Deodorant recipe – 6
Plain old coconut oil – 8
DIY Dry Shampoo
What’s wrong with commercial dry shampoo? The biggest issue people have with dry shampoo (and hairspray) is aerosol, which damages the environment BIG time and also possibly causes asthma and/or lung cancer. None of this is proven, obviously, but those are some pretty scary claims.
What’s in homemade dry shampoo? If you are blonde, cornstarch. If you’re a brunette, cocoa powder. I have always kept it in a little baggie in my bathroom, but a jar or canister would work perfectly fine as well.
What was my experience? This was actually the VERY FIRST all-natural, DIY product I tried! The only reason I found the idea was because commercial dry shampoo has never worked well for me. Either I’m not doing it right, or my hair doesn’t respond to it. So I was DESPERATE to find another option! Cocoa powder was literally magical for me! I just dip my fingertips in the baggie of cocoa and dust them through all greasy parts of my hair.
- You smell a-MAZE-ing! That is if you are a brunette. The cornstarch doesn’t do a whole lot LOL. Sorry ’bout that, blondies.
- It works SO well. It gets rid of all the grease, as well as gives your hair some body at the roots.
- It can get extremely messy. I always did it over the bathroom sink, then just wiped it down when I was done. Then a friend told me she did it in the bathtub! How genius. Either way works, but it is a little clean up every time you use it. It also gets under your fingernails, which is irritating.
- If you walk in the rain, it drips down your head. Yeah, this is probably the worst part. But to tell you the truth, in all the years I’ve used it, this has only happened to me once.
Would I recommend trying this? YES, YES, YES! You have absolutely nothing to use. Just grab cornstarch or cocoa powder from your kitchen and try it once! Completely non-commital. If it works, fill up a little jar or baggie and your life is changed forever.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 10
What’s wrong with commercial hairspray? Basically all the same as dry shampoo.
What’s in DIY hairspray? Sugar water & essential oils. HERE is the recipe I used.
What was my experience? I worked in a restaurant, so my hair had to be up every day. This hairspray never failed me.
- You can make it whatever scent you want! I really loved this part. When it comes to your face and skin, you have to be careful about what essential oils you use. But for your hair, anything goes!
- It has a seriously good hold. Really. It’s JUST as good as any max hold hairspray.
- It’s easy to brush out. You know how with hairspray, even if you brush it out, your hair is slightly sticky and/or crunchy? After brushing, this hairspray leaves NO remnants, except for a lovely smell!
- If you get it on your hands, it is kind of sticky. But I mean, it’s sugar water. Soooo… 🙂
Would I recommend trying this? Absolutely.
On a scale of 1-10, how well did this product work? 9
Essential Oil Scents
What’s wrong with normal perfumes and candles? Literally everything guys.
What’s in DIY scents? Basically, just essential oils and a carrier oil. For perfume, you can put these in a roller or just in a jar to apply with your fingers. For wax, you can just put the same deal in a wax melter. Or you can invest in an essential oil diffuser. For room spray, same deal… just in a spray bottle (make sure you don’t use regular coconut oil – it will harden inside the spray bottle!).
What was my experience? While there are SO many great options for all-natural home and personal scents, I found this to be a little too much work and $$$ for me to be worth it.
- No more headaches. Apparently, chemicals in candles and perfumes commonly cause migraines!
- Your smells will never be overpowering. You know that lady that you can barely walk by without hacking up a lung and getting a migraine? Yeah. You won’t ever be her. Essential oils will give you a subtle, natural and homey smell… no matter what scents you choose to use.
- Expensive. While most DIY and all-natural products save SO much money, using essential oils as home and personal scents is crazy expensive. There is no getting around this. You will go through so much oil (and that is a pretty penny!). Diffusers are pricey. If you want to do this, it’s gotta be worth it to you. And for me, it wasn’t.
- Not as potent. If you’re into the “fake”, “chemical” smells like I am, then these smells are not going to be the same. Nothing DIY, whatever it is, is going to live up to the chemical version. The scents will be more subtle but can be just as good if you mix them right.
What’s wrong with regular cleaners? Regular cleaners are insanely dangerous and have a plethora of crazy chemicals in them.
What’s in all-natural cleaners? Usually vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. You know, the reg. You can also find great options online, but they are usually pretty pricey.
What was my experience? To be completely honest, I have never actually tried all-natural cleaners. I love my chemical cleaners and I’m a little obsessed with cleaning. I promise that when I actually give them a shot, I will write a post about it and let you guys know.
ACV health drink
What’s in ACV health drink? Add 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar into a mug of water. Heat in microwave until as warm as you would like. Then stir in a splash of cinnamon, and 1 TBS of honey. Drink before bed.
What does the ACV drink do for you? Supposedly drinking this combination every evening before bed aids in:
- Weight Loss
- Controlled appetite
- Balancing your PH
- Regulating your blood sugar levels
- Lowering cholesterol
- Improving digestion
- Boosting your immune system
- Providing probiotics
- Removes toxins
- Heals skin
- Contributes good enzymes
What was my experience? I drank this stuff every night before bed for over a year. I did not notice any difference. Although, I cannot attest to my enzymes, toxins, immune system, cholesterol, PH or blood sugar – I did not lose weight, have any change of appetite, better digestion or better skin.
Basically, I felt good about myself because I was drinking it. That’s about it. It really isn’t that terrible once you get used to it.
Coconut Oil Coffee
Why put coconut oil in your coffee?
- Increased energy
- Increased metabolism (i.e. weight loss)
- Decreased appetite
- Immune system boost
What was my experience? Honestly, nothing. It tastes weird and oily and once the oil cools off (which happens REALLY fast…before you are done sipping your coffee), it creams a strange film on top that is pretty nasty. However, I have been doing this forever… and sometimes I actually have a hankering for it! (Weird, right?)
The ONLY benefit I noticed from drinking coconut oil in my morning coffee was an instant, smooth and satisfying bowel movement (Oh, so gross… I KNOW. But I’m trying to real here folks). Otherwise, it never helped me lose weight and I didn’t notice any impact in my energy. I did notice that it sustains me longer than just coffee with creamer in the morning.
And that’s it, folks!
Just a disclaimer: Nothing DIY, no matter what it is, is going to live up to the commercial version. There is a reason that they were invented in the first place.
Your house won’t smell as good. Your pits will be a little musky smelling. Your toothpaste isn’t gonna taste like sugar.
But, if you are passionate about keeping chemicals out of your home, and are too poor to afford the organic products that are available on the market, these are the kinds of things you will have to get used to.
But, let’s be really clear about something: I’m not a judger, and I don’t care what you choose to do with your life. I’ve been a crunchy lady, and I’ve been the most conventional mom you’ve ever met (a.k.a using Johnsons & Johnsons, disposable diapers and letting my kid eat at McDonald’s).
I love my coconut oil toothpaste, and I also love my bath and body works candles.
I firmly believe that there is beauty in balance, and while I want to do the best that I can to take care of this body the Lord has given me, I don’t believe that I need to get rid of all these things that are supposedly gonna give us cancer.
Life is short, and I’m gonna enjoy it to the fullest!