Thursday, January 22, 2015

And While We're on the Subject of Hygiene...

If you read my most recent post, you'll know that I've been co washing my hair instead of using shampoo. Today I had my hair trimmed. I co washed and went off to the hairdresser. He didn't notice any difference - not that I told him. My hairdresser is pretty upfront so I'm certain he would have told me if he thought my hair was oily.

That was just an update, not the topic of today's post. I just thought that, since my last two have covered hygiene, I'd make it a trifecta.

I've been doing a lot of reading about hygiene and what is healthy and what is over the top. I was far more interested in researching it from a dermatological - rather than cosmetic - point of view. The cosmetic industry is the reason we think we need to cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturise, defoliate and douse every inch of ourselves with potentially harmful chemicals.

These are my findings:

Washing hair two to three times each week is sufficient for hygiene. "Squeaky clean" isn't clean; it means one's hair has been stripped of its natural oils.
Dermatologists don't seem to have a strong opinion one way or the other in relation to not using shampoo.

Bathing and Showering
Again, two to three times each week is sufficient, with additional sponge bathing of the smelly parts in between. Daily showers or baths are drying and damaging.

We're over-washing our faces. All we need to do is wash with a PH balanced cleanser in the evening and moisturise if the skin is dry. The older we get, the more important it is to exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells. Oil cleansing is still quite alternative and I could find nothing on what dermatologists think of it.

Not necessary for any reason other than social.

How is this relevant to Footprints??? Anything we can do to reduce the products and, thus, resources that we're using is important to us.

Having said that, the idea of not showering every day is eew. I realised many years ago, though, that if I only used soap on the smelly parts, my skin wouldn't dry out so much. The soap we use is very kind; it's made with vegetable oil and is locally and ethically produced. I still need to moisturise after my shower but my skin isn't dry or damaged. I've been thinking that using a loofah or flannel a couple times a week to remove dead skin might be beneficial and help the moisturiser sink in more deeply. At present, I use jojoba oil to moisturise. I do use soap all over when I've been wearing sunblock, been swimming or have been particularly sweaty.

Despite the fact that deodorant is unnecessary and I use a more natural alternative, I don't plan to stop using it. The reasons may be social but they're deeply ingrained, not just in me but in others. I don't want to smell.

I don't think the family and I are doing much to save the planet when it comes to our hygiene. We like our daily showers and to smell and look clean. What we are doing, however, is not overusing products and trying to use ethical and natural ones.


Monday, January 19, 2015

To (Sham) Poo or Not To Poo

A few years ago Daughter’s then boyfriend mentioned in conversation that he’d read that there were people who no longer used shampoo. He said that, after a period of oiliness, the scalp down regulates its sebum production and the hair begins to look clean again. My initial reaction was, “Eew.”

When I joined The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, periodic threads would come up about washing with “no poo.” I learnt that giving up shampoo didn’t mean giving up washing. The most common washing agents – used in conjunction as shampoo and conditioner – are bicarb and apple cider vinegar. People use other things, too, however, such as honey, tea, apple sauce, egg and water only. Washing with conditioner only is known as “co washing”.  The most common reason for washing with “no poo” is to minimize the chemicals which are prevalent in shampoo.

As I learnt more about “no poo” I became increasingly curious about the down regulation of sebum production. I had learnt from washing my face with water only and then with the Oil Cleansing Method that the manner and products with which one washes one’s face plays a large role in sebum production. I began to wonder if there was a way of washing my hair that would have the same effect. I certainly found that when I was in a situation where I was shampooing every day, oil production increased.

I’ve had short hair at various times in my life but have never been able to just towel dry it. Due to its fineness, in order for it to hold a style, I have to use product in it and then blow dry it. When it was short I had to shampoo every day to wash out product so I could put new product in. On home days I would just wet it and give it a rest. Interestingly, on those days, when it was a little oily, it would look good because I could finger style it and let it dry naturally.

On 10th December I did two things. I had my hair cut short and decided to “co wash” and see what happened. I opted for “co washing” because I wondered if conditioner, like the oil I use on my face, might work to attract the oil and dirt in my hair and scalp, which would then be washed off with it. I “co wash” every four days and either wet it or wash with water only in between, depending on how dirty it looks. (Washing with water only isn’t just rinsing, it involves massaging the scalp the way one would with shampoo, in order to remove dirt and oil.)

I love “co washing”. It leaves my hair clean and soft. As far as sebum production goes, I find my hair is erratic. It may be that it’s still transitioning and down regulating. Sometimes it feels oily the day after it’s washed, sometimes it feels clean until the day before. Other times, it feels dirty on day two but clean again on day three. There’s no rhyme or reason at this stage. It doesn’t look dirty or oily, however; no matter which day it is. It simply looks like there’s product in it and all I have to do is towel dry and finger style it.

This has been an experiment in curiosity. As I’ve used organic shampoo for years, I haven’t been concerned about the chemicals therein. I just like the idea of my hair and scalp dictating how often they’re washed, without using products which alter the natural production of sebum. I don’t know how long I’ll continue; there are days when I long for shampoo. If nothing else, I’ve learnt that I can probably get away with shampooing every third day. I may even “co wash” on some of those days, if I go back to shampoo. I don’t really know yet. I’ll keep you posted.


What I Learned from a Bathroom Renovation

We had our bathroom renovated at the end of last year and I learnt some personal "Footprints" lessons. For three weeks, we walked three doors up the street to our friends' house to shower and do laundry. A couple of times we had to toilet there but the tradies were solicitous of our needs and tried to do the toilet room in such a way that we wouldn't be inconvenienced.

During this time I grabbed showers when I could and never knew if I'd be able to have one every day. Consequently, it was easier to wash my hair and wear commercial antiperspirant every time I showered, which turned out to be every day in the end. We had no bathroom sink so I washed my face with water only rather than oil cleansing.

Before the renovation, I had been washing my hair every second day. Sometimes, if I were having a home day, I'd even let it go three days. It wasn't pleasant on the third day but, whenever I washed it, it looked and felt clean, soft and pretty. During the bathroom renovation I washed it everyday and it felt limp and greasy the whole time. When I went back to washing it less frequently, it was very oily at first but then went back to looking better without daily washing. The first lesson I learnt was that my hair looks and feels much cleaner and less oily if I don't wash it daily.

Several months ago, intrigued by the Oil Cleansing Method, I decided to give it a try. Being a bit lazy I bought Moo Goo brand pre-prepared cleansing oil, rather than make my own. So little oil is needed that the small bottle lasts forever. Furthermore, if I try my hand at making my own, I'll have a perfect little bottle into which to put it. Before then, I'd been washing with water only for years with no adverse effects. Cleansing with oil is wonderful. It leaves my skin feeling deeply clean and actually removes excess oil without drying it out. During our renovation, when I went back to water only because there was no bathroom sink over which to cleanse, my face felt less clean and more oily. If I used any other product it felt dry. The second lesson I learnt was that I'm addicted to oil cleansing.

As for antiperspirant deodorants: I have used a crystal for years and years. If it's particularly hot or I know I'm going somewhere where I'm going to be hugging someone, I use antiperspirant but it's not the norm. I certainly don't use it on a daily basis. I did during our renovation and it was fine. When I returned to the crystal afterwards, however, there was a period of a few days during which I sweated profusely. It was as if my body was grateful that it could sweat again and was going crazy. I don't like to smell but I'm quite happy to sweat and it seems unnatural not to do so. My body certainly seems to think so. The second lesson I learnt was that I much prefer my deodorant crystal to antiperspirant deodorant.

The last lesson I learnt is of a womanly nature so, if you don't want too much information, I suggest you stop reading now.

Of course, according to Murphy's Law, about a day or two into our renovation my period arrived. I've been using cloth moonpads for a year or so. I love them because they're so comfortable. For the last few months I've also been using a cup. It was easier, not having a viable bathroom or being able to do laundry at home, to use disposable products. I know many women are grossed out by the idea of what I use. Interestingly, I found the disposable products disgusting. To me, they're uncomfortable and take up a lot of room in the bin (and eventually in landfill). I love just tossing my pads into the washing machine and washing my lunette in the shower. So easy. The last lesson I learnt was that I'm totally converted to using reusable sanitary products.

The lessons have inspired me to try to wash my hair with "no poo" and try to make deodorant. Those, however, are for another post.