Green Beauty

 

three handmade soaps stacked next to two natural-fiber washcloths
image by jussiak from Pixabay

Little by little, I’m replacing things in my life with more eco-friendly alternatives. Lately I’ve been focusing on beauty and personal care items. I’ve already written about how much I love my Little Seed Farms deodorant. Another thing that’s been helping me feel cool and fresh as the weather gets hotter is my Rainwater Botanicals baby powder. Look, I’m a fat woman with a big chest. Summer tends to bring chafing, chub rub, boob sweat, and prickly heat, which are damn uncomfortable. This arrowroot-based body powder helps with all of that and has a pleasant but very light fragrance. It comes in a cylindrical cardboard canister and sprinkles out easily. I keep it in my bathroom cabinet, and even though the air gets quite steamy during showers, the container has not been affected.

cardboard canister of natural baby powder

I also bought a sample size of Rainwater Botanicals under eye serum with carrot seed oil and olive squalene, and I looove it. I’m not sure yet if it’s helping with my wrinkles, but it feels and smells so wonderful! I might just have to buy a regular-sizes bottle to see how it works long-term.

After countless hours searching for body lotion in a glass bottle, I finally ordered a homemade goat-milk-based lotion from Borden Acres on Etsy. The lotion is lovely- smooth, moisturizing, absorbs easily, smells great. There were several fragrance options and I chose lavender essential oil. At first I was disappointed because it arrived wrapped in bubble wrap. I felt like all my time searching for lotion in a glass bottle was for naught. But I spoke to Danielle Borden, the owner of the shop, and she explained that she never buys bubble wrap to ship her products. She reuses the bubble wrap from packages she receives, such as the raw materials that go into her lotions. I was so happy to hear that she is actually lessening the plastic waste stream by reusing plastic, and I will continue to buy Borden Acres lotion.

Other earth-friendly switches/purchases I’ve made:

I bought a lipstick from Color the World. It’s advertised as “age-friendly,” which sold me, since lipsticks tend to bleed on my middle-aged lips. It goes on smoothly, tastes like absolutely nothing (which I love), and the tube is an adorable printed cardboard (mine has kitty cats; each color has a different print, usually related to a worthy cause your purchase is helping). But the color I chose was such a perfect nude that I can barely notice a difference when I wear it. I need to buy a different color to really test it out.

I just ordered some organic cotton bulk/produce bags and some handmade cloth napkins, and I can’t wait for them to arrive. I will, of course, write about how they work out.

I also bought a couple more travel cups, one from Marshall’s and one from Starbucks. The Starbucks one was a bit pricey but I reeeeally wanted an iced coffee and didn’t have a reusable cup with me. I’ve gotten to the point where I feel guilty if I buy coffee in a plastic cup (even my teenage daughter feels guilty using a disposable cup now!). So I bought it and I’m glad I did. It’s recycled glass with a very pretty green tint. Next task: clean out my trunk and stash a few reusable cups in there so I always have one if I make an unplanned coffee stop.

a glass travel cup half-filled with iced coffee

Plastic-free Solution: Deodorant

In my quest to use less plastic, I found myself looking for a good natural deodorant. I wanted a deodorant that kept me smelling good (of course), absorbed wetness, went on easily, didn’t mark up my clothes, and didn’t come in a plastic container. Little Seed Farm was giving free samples of their deodorant, so of course I ordered mine.

I was not given a special deal; nor was I asked to write this review. I was just trying to find something that worked for me, and I thought I’d share my experience with my readers. I do sometimes earn money through affiliate links, but I am not doing so in this case.

Trying my samples

I was able to choose two scents to try, so I chose lavender, which is one of my favorite fragrances, and activated charcoal, because I was curious about what the charcoal did. I’ll answer that question first: the charcoal formula didn’t seem any different except that it had a gray-green tint. The effectiveness was the same.

Two small foil sample packets of deodorant sit next to each other on a patterned background. One is labeled "Deodorant Cream, Lavender, Little Seed Farm," and the other is labeled, "Deodorant cream, Activated charcoal, Little Seed Farm."

Little Seed Farm’s deodorant is a cream, and the samples came in foil packets. I squeezed out a pea-sized amount for each armpit onto my fingertips, and rubbed the cream into my skin. It felt smooth, and spread and absorbed very well. The cream contains coconut and jojoba oils as well as glycerin, so I wondered whether it would be greasy or sticky. I definitely didn’t want to leave grease stains on my clothing. Not only were my armpits not greasy at all, but my fingertips didn’t even feel greasy after applying it! The cream formula is not what I’m used to, but it’s no harder than rubbing a deodorant stick onto my armpits, and it actually feels nicer on my skin.

The lavender smells wonderful. The activated charcoal, scented with spearmint, rosemary, and geranium essential oils, is not really my cup of tea, but it might be yours. They also have grapefruit-lemon, Rosemary-patchouli, and unscented.

A honeybee clings to a sprig of lavender
Image by Pixabay

Deodorant is not antiperspirant

Now, I know deodorant and antiperspirant are two different things, and the Little Seed Farms deodorant is not antiperspirant. I still sweat when I use it. But it seems to absorb some of the wetness- must be the arrowroot powder, or maybe the magnesium hydroxide? I’m not sure what magnesium does in a deodorant. The truth is, even when I use antiperspirant, I still sweat. I live in North Carolina. Our summers are filled with days when the temperature and the humidity are both in the 90s. I mean, just plain miserable. No matter what chemicals I put on my underarms, I’m going to sweat. And I think I smell better using this natural deodorant than I do when I use the usual drugstore antiperspirant-deodorant.

I wanted to really put this deodorant to the test, so I used it on a day when I did yard work, a day when I didn’t shower, and two days when the temperature was in the 70s and I was outside in the sun for hours. I was amazed at how effective it was and how long it lasted. When I was out in the sun and got really sweaty, I had to reapply in the late afternoon. Or at least I felt, after sniffing my pits, like I should reapply. But I don’t think anyone else would notice unless they were very close to my armpits. And honestly, I often have to reapply regular antiperspirant-deodorant. Again, swampy NC summers. All in all, Little Seed Farm’s deodorant cream keeps me smelling good at least as well as the average mainstream antiperspirant-deodorant, maybe even better. It’s made with natural and organic ingredients, and it is packaged in a recyclable glass jar with a recyclable metal lid. I ordered a jar of the lavender deodorant and I can’t wait till it gets here.

Other options

I should mention that everyone has their own unique body chemistry and of course their own likes and dislikes. This might not be the perfect deodorant for you. There are some other companies that make deodorant in non-plastic containers, such as Taylor’s Natural, Fat And The Moon, or Meow Meow Tweet. There are also companies that send refills for a plastic container, which doesn’t completely eliminate plastic, but lessens it a hell of a lot. Two brands to try are By Humankind and Myro.

Please let me know what you think if you try any of these, or any other plastic-free or low-plastic deodorants!

9 Ways I’ll Be Using Less Plastic in 2019

A dumpter overflows with trash, mostly in plastic bags, some loose. Trash is on the ground around the dumpster. Text says:
Image by Pixabay

I’m not big on New Year resolutions, but one of my intentions for 2019 is to continue making small changes in my daily life to walk more gently on the earth, and especially to reduce my use of single-use plastic.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

Reusable grocery bags

After literally years of leaving my reusable shopping bags either at home or in my car, I am finally remembering to bring them into stores with me almost all the time. I use the kind grocery stores usually sell for a dollar or sometimes give away, and I find they work well for me. Not only are they green, but they’re stronger than plastic grocery bags, so I don’t have to worry about a bag being sliced open by the sharp edge of some cellophane packaging or splitting from too much weight. They also sit in my trunk without flopping all over and spilling their contents. If you’d prefer another type, though, there are many bags available for purchase, such as foldable bags in cute designs, or bags that are actually collapsible boxes.

 

Packing lunches

An open plastic container holds wrap sandwiches and grape tomatoes
Image by Pixabay

Along with plastic grocery bags, I’ve ditched plastic ziplock bags for the most part. I still use them for frozen foods, but when packing lunches or snacks I use either Sistema boxes (yes, they’re plastic, but they last for years. Much better than plastic bags or disposable plastic containers) or Lunchskins paper sandwich bags. These bags seal with a peel-and-stick strip and are perfect for sandwiches and dry snacks. I’ve noticed that Reynolds has started making paper sandwich bags, too, but I’m a sucker for the cute pictures on the Lunchskins ones.

 

I also use reusable water bottles. After trying a bunch of different brands over the years, I found that I really love Sip by S’well stainless steel bottles. They don’t have straws or any other fiddly parts that get lost or are hard to clean. Just a bottle and a cap. They come in cute prints, they last for years, and they are double-walled, so they keep your cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. They can be a bit pricey, but I usually buy them on sale. I’ve also gotten some knock-offs from Aldi, so keep your eyes peeled at back-to-school season!

Making Laundry Cleaner and Greener

I’m planning to ditch plastic jugs of laundry detergent in 2019. Homemade laundry soap is really easy to make, and the recipe is even easy to remember. It’s just one bar of soap, one cup of borax, and one cup of washing soda. You can probably find borax and washing soda in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket, Walmart, or Target. Or you can order it from Amazon. Grate the soap with a box grater, and then stir the grated soap, the borax, and the washing soda together. If you want, you can add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. Store the mixture in an airtight container, and use 2-4 TBS  (1/8 – 1/4 cup) per load. I’ve never had a problem with it dissolving in cold water, but if you do, you can just dissolve it in a cup or two of hot water and toss that mixture into the washing machine before filling it up with cold. (Or pour it into the liquid detergent dispenser if your machine has one of those). It’s safe for HE machines, too.

Shower solutions

stacked bars of soap
image by Pixabay

I’ve started using bar soap in the shower to avoid using plastic bottles of shower gel. This also solves the problem of having an inch of soap left in the bottom of the bottle that you can’t get to with the pump. Don’t you hate that? I suspect that manufacturers purposely make the pump tubes too short so we’ll buy a new bottle sooner.

Did you know that shampoo and conditioner also come in bars? I just bought a handmade conditioner bar on Etsy, and there are also a ton on Amazon. Once I finish my current bottle of shampoo, I’ll replace that with a bar, too.

You know what else is plastic and in my bathroom? My toothbrush. I just ordered a pack of bamboo toothbrushes, and I’m going to try to convince my whole family to switch.

I’m not perfect, and I know there’s plenty more I can do to help the environment. But using less plastic, especially single-use disposable plastic, is one step, and it’s not hard to do. If you have other suggestions for using less disposable plastic around the house, please let me know in the comments!

My Fall Bucket List

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

two wooden benches outside with fall leaves on the ground
image by Pixabay

Although it doesn’t feel like it in Charlotte (we’re supposed to hit 90 again next week), fall is here. This year, for the first time, I’ve decided to make a Fall Bucket List. I’m hoping that if I have a written list of things I want to do, the season won’t get away from me before I manage to do more than drink a couple Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. So here it is, in no particular order:

1. Go to to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. We used to go as a family every year, but it got too expensive, so we stopped. Every year the kids beg for it, and every year I really want to go… and every year I sadly give up on it. This year, I’ve decided we’re going no matter what.

2. Participate in Inktober. I’m going to take 31 pages or half-pages of my sketchbook,date them, and write the prompts on top, so I’ll remember to do it every day and I won’t have to stop and look anything up. I’ll be able to just draw, photograph, and post. Keep an eye on my Instagram if you want to see my Inktober drawings!

3. Go apple-picking. We’re so lucky in Charlotte to have farms and orchards close by. Some are even within city limits. So I’m going to go pick some apples, drink some hot cider, and eat cider doughnuts. If I’m lucky, they’ll also have a corn maze.

three apples hanging from a branch
image by Pixabay

4. Go to a pumpkin patch. I can’t just pick my own apples- I have to pick my own pumpkins, too! Or actually, let the kids pick their own pumpkins while I sip coffee and take pictures.

a field of pumpkins and pumpkin vines
image by Pixabay

5. Bake fall treats. If I’m going to pick apples and pumpkins, I’ll have to bake things with apples and pumpkins. Like apple muffins, apple bread, apple crisp, and apple pie. And then of course, there’s pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie. Since my husband can’t tolerate gluten, I’ll be making gluten-free versions of all these things. I’m looking forward to cozying up in front of the fire and enjoying some home-baked goodies.

a partially sliced loaf of pumpkin bread
image by Pixabay

6. Go hiking. Once the weather is cool enough that I don’t sweat as soon as I walk out the door, I’m going to start walking. With my husband, with the kids, with the dogs, with friends, and alone. Around the neighborhood, along the greenways, in the woods, and hopefully up some mountains. I want to exercise a lot more than I do currently, and I love being out in nature. Except for the bugs. I could do without the bugs.

7. Knit. I really want to knit a pair of socks this year. And maybe a cowl. And hats for the kids. And a couple of coffee cozies to use instead of those cardboard sleeves. And….

a ball of orange yarn
image by Pixabay

8. Make other fall crafts. As a matter of fact, I’m going to post some fall dollar store crafts soon. You might want to join my mailing list so you don’t miss them!

9. Make my home smell like fall. Pumpkin spice. Hot apple cider. Woodsmoke. Pancakes and maple syrup. Fall candles, fall plug-in oil thingies, fall wax melts, you name it, I’m here for it! My house is going to smell like an autumn wonderland.

10. Watch Halloween movies. Can you believe I have never seen Hocus Pocus?!

animated gif of three witches from the movie Hocus Pocus

 

6 Tips For Cutting Your Own Hair

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

After months of hating my fried, dry, breaking, over-bleached
hair, I decided to temporarily give up on growing it long, and gave myself a cute, shaggy, modern mullet.

I’ve been cutting my own hair for at least a decade. I have no formal training. What I have is wavy (and thus forgiving) hair and a “fuck it” attitude. You can cut your own hair, too. I’m not going to teach you how to do that, but what I will do is give you some vital tips.

2013 bob

1. Do your research. Read and watch lots of online tutorials. Look at photos, drawings, and videos. Watch videos of people cutting their own hair as well as people cutting other people’s hair. When you think you’ve seen enough, look at more. While you’re still getting your hair professionally cut, watch your hairdresser and study how they cut your hair.

2. Use decent tools. Don’t cut your hair with the scissors from your desk drawer. Buy haircutting scissors from a beauty supply store such as Sally, or online from Amazon and use them only for hair. Proper tools make a difference.

Image by Jo Johnston

3. There are different schools of though about whether your hair should be wet or dry while being cut. Even professionals vary on this. Personally, I favor dry cutting, especially for beginners, because it’s much easier to see what your hair will ultimately look like when you cut it dry. Whichever you choose, remember that wet hair shrinks when it dries. The curlier it is, the more it shrinks. If you cut curly hair when it’s wet, you might see a difference of inches when it dries.

4. Start slow. Cut off less than you think you want, especially if you’re making a drastic change. To state the obvious, you can always cut more, but you can’t put hair back once you cut it off. Even if you decide to cut more two days later, it’s better than lopping off too much and instantly regretting it.

2016 pixie

5. To cut the back of your hair, you need either a trifold mirror or a patient friend who will hold a hand mirror up so you can see the back of your head while you cut.

6. Remember, it’s only hair. If you give yourself a bad cut, it will grow back.