Welcome back to our monthly Green & Gorgeous series!  We took a break in July for our fabulous SLM Block Party giveaways, but usually I set aside the first Friday of each month here at Simple Organic to discuss green beauty tips, trends, and resources.

Have you had a chance to check out The Story of Cosmetics?  (You may already be familiar with Annie Leonard from her thought-provoking video The Story of Stuff.) Leonard is working together with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to raise awareness about the toxins in the health and beauty industry, as well as the lack of regulation and oversight.

You may be aware that on July 21, a bill was introduced in Congress called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. This bill, if it becomes law, would give the FDA regulatory power over the beauty industry so that toxic, cancer-causing ingredients would no longer find their way into baby shampoos and lipsticks.

Photo by Erica Kline

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, American women use an average of twelve beauty and personal care products each day. I decided to see how I compare with the average American woman.  I counted it up, and everyday – if I take a shower – I use three store-bought products: soap, toothpaste, and hair pomade (I’ve got


curly hair!   Need my pomade.).  If I don’t shower that day, then it’s just one: toothpaste.

So, I have significantly lessened my exposure to the toxins in health and beauty products simply by opting out. I’m not spending lots of money on the “organic” and “natural” versions of mainstream products; instead, I have a homemade beauty routine.  And I should tell you that a few years ago, if you had told me I would be using so many homemade products, I would have said you’re crazy.  But today, here’s what you’ll find in my bathroom.

Shampoo and Conditioner: Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar

Almost one year ago, I stopped buying shampoo and conditioner at the store, and instead I went “no-poo.”  Again, let me say that I never thought I would try this, and I never thought this would work for me.  I have curly hair that tangles and dries out easily, and yet an oily-ish scalp.  Honestly, I really only tried it because I felt like everyone else in the “green living” community was doing it, so I had to at least give it a shot. Imagine my surprise when it worked well for me – I really liked it! There was a transition period, as was foretold, and then my hair and scalp became quite happy.

Photo by jessica mullen

Benefits of Going No-Poo:

  1. I save lots of money on store-bought shampoo and conditioner.
  2. I save lots of time not standing in the shampoo aisle and trying to figure out which shampoo to try this time, reading ingredients, comparing prices, smelling the products (admit it, you’ve done this!), etc.
  3. I am not putting all those toxins and chemicals into my body via my scalp.
  4. It’s a green choice: less products purchased = less packaging, plastics, etc.

Learn more about going “no-poo” from this post at Simple Mom, or this excellent video from SO contributor Stephanie at Keeper of the Home.

Soap: Dr. Bronner’s

I do use store-bought soap.  We use the same liquid Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in the shower that we use for washing our hands at the sink.  It’s concentrated, so you can mix a little bit with water in a foaming pump for hand-washing, or just use a tiny squirt on a washrag. I buy it in bulk sizes to save money, either from a co-op or from Amazon

. So, that’s store-bought product #1.

Photo by Max Edmands

Deodorant: Homemade

We just finished the Simple Organic Natural Deodorant Challenge, so you probably already know about my coconut-oil-based homemade deodorant. We have hit the 100+-degree-days here in central Texas, and this deodorant is still rockin’. No need for the store-bought stuff here.  And the same benefits still apply:

  1. less money spent
  2. no confusion over what to buy for how much money containing which ingredients
  3. no toxins or disease-causing chemicals
  4. no extra packaging

Face and/or Body Lotion: Natural Oils

I know there are a lot of ladies out there who love the smelly scented lotions.  I’m not trying to convince you otherwise, but make sure you know what you’re putting on your skin (the biggest organ in the body – and quite permeable, too!).

I personally have never been much of a lotion girl,  but every now and then I’ll feel the need for a little extra moisture.  Coconut oil is a great choice for the body, and organic jojoba oil is my go-to “lotion” for my face.

I’ve had skin struggles for most of my life, and I used to be horrified at the thought of slathering oil on my face.  I grew up using oil-free products such as Neutrogena and Clinique, that really only stripped my skin of its natural oils so it went into overproduction.  No more…jojoba oil is a wonderfully light moisturizer, pure and clean.  My skin feels healthy and balanced, and I have less skin problems than ever before. Ditto for the coconut oil; plus, coconut oil has natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties – bonus!

Facial Cleaner: Oil-Cleansing Method

I only clean my face at night, and (true confession) not every night.  I used to be rather religious about this, until I got pregnant and fell into bed each evening utterly nauseous and exhausted.  Those pregnancy hormones were keeping my skin clear and happy, and so, not seeing the need for daily cleaning, my lifelong habit slowly went out the window, never to return again in quite the same way.

Photo by Liz

When I do clean my face, I use the Oil-Cleansing Method. Yes, I clean my face with oil!  Again, a previously scary thought for me – and perhaps still for some of you.  Let me tell you, though: it works.  Really beautifully. There is science behind it, and it really makes sense.

If you want to learn more about the oil-cleansing method, you will find a lot of information here. And again, those same four benefits apply: less money spent, less confusion in-store, less chemicals and toxins in my body, and less packaging purchased.

Homemade Beauty: Green, Frugal, and Non-Toxic

That’s about it for me.  I use a natural hair gel on my


curls on the days I shampoo, and I brush my teeth with a natural store-bought toothpaste (although homemade toothpaste is possibly in my future…).

Oh yes – I do have an addiction to my Graham Gardens Peppermint Lip Balm, so that makes a total of four products!  No make-up, unless I find myself in a bridesmaid dress (or the occasional hot date!), and then I use mineral make-up.

It’s almost as green, frugal, and non-toxic as a beauty routine can get.  What’s next?  Will I make my own toothpaste?  How about homemade lip balm?  Could I give up my anti-frizz cream?  (Do I need to?!? Nah….)

What does your beauty routine look like?  Have any green, frugal, non-toxic tips to share?