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My kitchen, my lab – where I experiment natural beauty stuff on myself

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had a renewed interest in preservative-free, natural beauty products. Five months on, it’s starting to be an obsession that not many people understand. The biggest motivation for me to do this is due to my family’s history of breast cancer. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and we were close to losing her. Even though with the current data, there’s not much to link the use of the parabens in all the products that we use on our skin to cancer, I believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Anyway, in the five months since that post, I’ve stopped using shampoo and my little collection of natural products has increased to the point where I’m just experimenting in my kitchen with new things. I just realised yesterday that I have a good collection of oils that I’ve been using on a regular basis. My kitchen is now like a mini lab for me.

Let me list out the things that I’ve been doing lately.

Baking soda and Apple cider vinegar wash

Known, unfortunately, as the no ‘poo method. I’ve (almost) completely stopped using shampoo and conditioner, using baking soda and the vinegar wash every other day, to clean my hair. I’m still experimenting with the proportion of baking soda I use but I think I might have found the one that suits my hair and my lifestyle.

Here’s my how I mix up my hair wash solutions:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  •  500ml water

– The baking soda doesn’t dissolve so I have to shake the bottle every time I want to use it, to get the powder mixed evenly.

  • 2tbs apple vinegar
  • 500ml water
  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops tea tree oil
  • 10 drops peppermint oil

– shake the solution bottle every time before use, just to get the oils dispersed as evenly as you can through out the bottle.

500ml of each usually lasts for about 4-5 washes for me, since my hair is fine and thin and not very long.


Home-made, DIY facial scrubs
I’ve been using baking soda as a facial scrub for at least a year, when Dude introduced it to me. I use a half teaspoon of baking soda, made into a paste with water, and gently, very gently, rub it all over my face. I pay more attention to my T-zone as it’s oilier and I have more black heads in that area. I use it at most twice a week as it’s very abrasive and dries out the skin.

During my week as the curator of HellofrmSG, I got to interact with other people who are as passionate or as interested about finding natural beauty products. One of the things that I discovered was the oatmeal facial scrub. I use 3/4tbs of dry blended oatmeal, mixed with water into a paste, as a daily morning scrub. So far, it’s been moisturising and even my beautician commented how soft my skin was.

Oils for body
I’ve been using the Badger Balm antioxidant body oil that I’ve talked about here. I’m almost done with my first bottle and I can feel a difference on my knees and elbows. They’re soft and smooth, a marked difference from before.

I’ve also discovered argan oil.

Argan oil_2 photo f1be68e9-2c48-4234-b6b5-cf9850354128_zps854ade50.jpgI found this gem at Watson’s for SGD19.90. It’s small enough to just carry in my purse for emergency moisturising. Sometimes, I forget to put on my body moisturiser in the morning, and being in air-conditioning the entire day is very bad for my skin so I just put a few drops of this oil on my skin. My skin just soaks it up. It’s 99% pure argan oil. The remaining 1% is just rose oil blend to make it smell nicer.

Most of the body oils I find in the market are usually only, maybe about 50% oil while the rest are the different kinds of alcohol, perfume and preservatives. It feels sticky on my skin and doesn’t get absorbed as well. So please, read the damn ingredients on everything before you buy anything.

Oils for hair

I’ve been using the Badger Balm Jojoba Herbal hair oil once every other week.

For dry scalp

Jojoba oil

Even though they say it’s for dry scalp, it works well for oily scalp too as it balances out the oil production. I leave the oil on overnight and the next day, I wash it off with undiluted baking soda powder. I find that it conditions my scalp and my hair doesn’t feel greasy or oily too quickly, even in our tropical weather.

Makes you smell like coconut candy

Coconut oil

Once a month, I use 1/4tsp of coconut oil, warm it in my hand and rub it all along my hair; from the roots to the tip. I leave it on for about an hour before washing it off with undiluted baking soda powder once, and another time with baking soda solution, before conditioning with the vinegar wash.

I use it as a monthly hot oil treatment for my hair. I don’t use a lot of it because my hair is thin and fine, so a little bit goes a long way for me. You might have to use more if your hair is thicker and longer.

I recently discovered that rubbing in a drop or two of the argan oil to my still damp hair after my wash with baking soda, makes my hair smooth, soft and silky. Again, because of the texture of my hair, a little bit goes a really long way for me.

Oil for face

Other than the body oil from Badger Balm, I use the face oil too.

Damascus Rose Antioxidant Face Oil

Smells wonderful

I have combination skin, normal and oily. I know that it sounds weird to be using oil on an oily face but I think it makes sense. I use this only at night as it’s too oily to be used under makeup, especially for our climate. After toning, I use about 1-2 drops (or as small a pump as I can manage) and massage it all over my face, neck and decolletage. I used to wake up with pools of oil around my nose but since I’ve been using this and alcohol-free toners, my skin isn’t extremely oily anymore.

Latest experiment

For my latest experiment, I decided to make my own bath salt. I’d gotten Epsom salt some time ago for that purpose but never got around to making any.

Almond oil

Made for cooking, salads and massage.

A couple of days ago,  found almond oil at the supermarket, which is good for the skin. So I thought, since I already have the salt, might as well get the oil and make my own scrub. Here’s how I mixed up my own bath salt scrub:

  • 2tbs salt
  • 1tbs oil
  • 2 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil

I mixed everything in a small plastic container and it’s enough for a single use. Almond oil turns rancid faster than the other oils, so I didn’t want to make a big batch  and keep.

Conclusion

I think that my need to experiment may be a carry over from my day job in the lab. My family thinks it’s pretty strange for me to do this, like I don’t have enough experimentation at work, but I love it. I feel pretty strongly about trying to cut down on the beauty stuff with chemicals, as much as I can. I’ve even started doing some research on natural, preservative-free products for babies as I don’t want my future offspring to be exposed to chemicals from the moment they are born.

It may seem more tedious to do all of this when there are easier options but I think that in the long run, it will be worth it.

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