Homemade Laundry Detergent

Image

A few years ago I was teaching at a Child Development Center. There was a little boy in the class next door who had red dots all over his body that he constantly itched. His whole family had them on their bodies, and they tried for a long time to figure out what was causing them. They finally switched laundry detergent brands and the spots and itching went away. After I found this out I started wondering, “What is in laundry detergent that would make someone’s whole body be filled with a constantly itchy rash?” I started reading up on ingredients in laundry detergent and I was amazed that pretty much every ingredient in Tide, Gain, All, etc. are toxic and carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Standard laundry detergent ingredients have been linked to damage on the central nervous system, lungs, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels, as well as allergies and skin and eye irritation. And they biodegrade slowly causing environmental damage.

I can see some of you rolling your eyes reading this, thinking, “I’m fine and most of the people I know are fine and we all use typical laundry detergent.” But if I gave you a recipe for a natural detergent that you can make really quickly and easily¬†and it would save you lots of money, does it sound worth it to avoid the risks? Go into your laundry room, or next time you are at the store look at the back of the laundry detergent bottle, and you will see that there isn’t really an ingredients list. There may be a sentence or two telling you a few of the things it contains, but most if not all won’t even tell you everything that’s in it. If they have to hide from you what you are washing your clothes with and wearing next to your body every day, does that concern you at all? Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, here’s a recipe for a more natural laundry detergent that I made a few months ago and I love. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my clothes come out smelling really good and they get really clean, so no worries. You’ll need:

  • 1 bar of all-natural soap
  • 1/2 cup of borax
  • 1/2 cup of washing soda
  • Optional: 1 capful of Purex Crystals Laundry Enhancer. This is 87% natural. I bought it for my first time making this recipe because I was nervous that my clothes were not going to smell clean, but with the soap that I chose, I’m not worried about that anymore. I think that once I run out of this, I probably won’t buy it again.

Steps:

  1. Cut your bar of soap into a few sections, and then grate it in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a cheese grater. (It does make it way easier if you have a food processor.)
  2. Next, mix your finely grated soap with 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, and if using, 1 capful of Purex Crystals in a container. Just dump it all into a mason jar or plastic container with a lid and shake it up.
  3. Use 3 Tablespoons for a regular load or 4 for a super large load. The more you use it, the better feel you’ll get for how much you’ll need for each load size.

This amount really doesn’t make much, but it lasted me a few months with just two of us. If you have a larger family or just want to mix more so it will last longer, feel free to double or triple the recipe. And if you decide for whatever reason that making your own detergent isn’t for you, check out Seventh Generation or Ecos Detergents. I’ve used both and have been happy with these brands as well. Happy homemade detergent making! ūüôā

Image

I found this recipe at condoblues.com.

The OCM

Image

Have you ever heard of the oil cleansing method? I hadn’t until recently, but when I did, it intrigued me. I researched it for a few ¬†weeks, and then I thought I’d give it try. (Side note: In my research, I came across an interview with Zooey Deschanel talking about how she uses the OCM, and loves it. Just thought I’d throw that out there.) There are all kinds of oils you can use depending on your skin type, but I had sunflower seed oil at home so I thought I’d try it first. I went to our local natural/organic foods store to pick up castor oil. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me give you a list of oils and a step-by-step method for cleansing your face with them.

PLEASE NOTE: I did not come up with this list. I found it on Alex Raye’s blog, almostexactlyblog.wordpress.com, which I encourage you all to check out! She lists more on her blog, I’m only listing oils that I’m more familiar with. ūüôā

  • Balanced¬†skin: sunflower, canola, sweet almond, olive, safflower, avocado, extra virgin olive oil
  • Sensitive¬†skin: grapeseed, apricot kernal, jojoba, safflower, sunflower, sweet almond, watermelon
  • Oily skin: grapeseed, jojoba, watermelon, hazelnut, safflower, peach kernel
  • Dry¬†skin: extra virgin olive oil, macadamia, avocado, sesame, sunflower, sweet almond
  • Acne-prone skin: grapeseed, jojoba, watermelon, apricot seed, hazelnut, peach kernel, sweet almond, sunflower, safflower, walnut
  • Mature skin: rosehip seed, carrot, sweet almond, olive, avocado, extra virgin olive oil

Whichever oil you choose is mixed with castor oil, depending on your skin type.

  • Oily:¬†30% castor to 70% other oil
  • Balanced: 20% castor to 80% other oil
  • Dry: 10% castor to 90% other oil

Method (same for if you are wearing make-up or not):

  1. Wipe your face with warm water and a wash cloth.
  2. Mix a dime sized amount of oil in your hand and rub onto your face for two minutes.
  3. Put the same wash cloth under HOT water, wring it out, and place it over your face until it cools. I stand there with my face up toward the ceiling (so it doesn’t fall off) and my eyes closed for usually about 45 seconds to a minute.
  4. Massage your face gently with the wash cloth to wipe off the oil.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
  6. Let your face air dry.

That’s it! I’ve been doing this for about two weeks now and I’ve seen AMAZING results already! My skin is softer and clearer than it’s ever been! I use the OCM (oil cleansing method) at night before bed and after a run, but I don’t wash my face in the morning (on days that I don’t work out). If you think about it, why would we wash our faces in the morning after washing them at night? If you are changing your sheets and pillow cases out like you should be, all you are doing is sleeping. Even before I started the OCM, I never washed my face first thing in the morning.

Another perk to the OCM is that it moisturizes my face. In the past two weeks, I’ve only used moisturizer once. I used it last night because the weather was cooler. I think in the winter I may need a tiny bit of moisturizer, but in the warmer seasons, the OCM should do the trick on its own.

Something that may have crossed your mind is the expense of the oils. I thought about it too before starting. But now that I have started, I’m seeing that using a dime-sized amount once a day (sometimes twice), my oils are going to last forever! (Way longer than my face wash ever did!) I bought my castor oil for about $8, but I haven’t even put a dent in it. I’m certain it will last at¬†least 6 months, probably way longer than that even. And my sunflower oil was pretty inexpensive being from Trader Joe’s. (I don’t remember exactly how much I paid for it.) I just bought organic EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on my last grocery run, a big bottle for $4.99. So, really, I think if you started recording how fast you go through your face wash and how much you spend on it, you’d see that this is a better choice for your wallet as well as the health of your skin. (And you are saving money from not having to use as much of the moisturizer you used to use daily, too.)

Using the OCM, if I see a little acne spot on my face while washing it at night, the next morning it is¬†gone! Seriously! It used to take days for acne spots to disappear. The OCM is magical! ūüôā Also, I used to never dare¬†to leave the house without make-up on, but over the last few weeks I’ve done that several times. I’m truly confident in my own skin now, and don’t think I will ever go back to using traditional face wash.

Here’s my face right after rolling out of bed yesterday morning. No make-up and no filter. My skin is loving the oil cleansing method! ūüôā A few weeks ago you could not have paid me to post a picture of myself without make-up. (You can click on the picture to enlarge the image…I’m telling you, it totally works!)

IMG_5140

GMO Mac & Cheese Vs. All-Natural Mac & Cheese

ImageA few days ago I had Annie’s Homegrown Macaroni & Cheese for lunch. As I read the ingredient list on the box, I started thinking about how it would compare to ingredients in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I started to do a little research. One of the first articles I found stated that you might as well eat Cheez-Its as a meal if you’re going with Kraft Mac and Cheese, because the ingredients are so similar. (I don’t snack on Cheez-Its either…possible future blog post.) ¬†

Image

 

Here’s the comparison of ingredients lists:

Annie’s Ingredients: Organic Wheat Shell Pasta, Cheddar Cheese (Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Non-Animal Enzymes), Whey, Butter, Nonfat Milk, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Annatto Extract for Color.¬†

Kraft’s Ingredients: Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Modified Food Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Contains Less Than 2% Of Parmesan Cheese [Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Dried Buttermilk, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Blue Cheese [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Sodium Phosphate, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Cream, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Enzymes, Yellow 5, Yellow 6).

If Annie’s can make the same product with natural and organic ingredients, then why do companies like Kraft have to add GMO’s and artificial dyes into the mix? The thing is, they don’t. This is the list of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the UK:

Macaroni (Durum Wheat Semolina), Cheese (10%), Whey Powder (From Milk), Lactose, Salt, Emulsifying Salts, Colours (Paprika Extract, Beta-Carotene). 

The UK gets non-GMO pasta and natural colors from the same company. Lisa Leake, of 100 Days of Real Food, and Vani Hari, aka Food Babe, started a petition to ask Kraft to remove artifical dyes from their products. The petition (which I signed) has reached up to 300,000 signatures, yet Kraft has not yet responded. Why would we support a company that shows no concern for the health of their consumers and continues to make products with harmful ingredients? I would encourage you to stop buying Kraft products and look for healthier alternatives.  

 

Sources:

 

 

All-Natural Cookie Dough vs. Artificial Cookie Dough

Image

I’m sure most of us can say that in our lifetime we’ve eaten Pillsbury cookie dough, but have you ever stopped to look at what’s in the stuff? Hopefully with this post I can convince you to either start making your own dough, or look for natural/organic options.¬†

Take a look at the ingredients in Pillsbury Big Deluxe Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:

Image

 

Enriched Bleached Flour: I talked about this in my processed bread post but if you haven’t read that let me fill you in a little. The word “enriched” in food should always be avoided. See how its followed by a list of vitamins? Enriched just means that so much good has been taken out that scientists in a lab have to go in and biochemically engineer our food to add a fake version of vitamins. Think about it: fruits and vegetables have tons of vitamins and minerals, but you don’t see a list of them on the package. When I buy organic carrots, the bag says “ingredients: carrots”. And bleached? Yeah, that means what it sounds like it means. Your dough has been bleached to be the color that it is. Natural dough doesn’t have to be bleached and looks fine. Doesn’t this make you wonder why they would have to bleach it to make it look attractive enough for you to want to buy?

Vegetable Oil (palm, canola, and soybean): There is a¬†really good chance that these oils are all GMO. For more info on Genetically Modified Organisms, check out the link at the bottom of the page to the Non-GMO Project’s website.¬†

Semisweet Chocolate Chips and Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Mini Kisses: The milkfat here is most likely not rBGH free, soy lecithin in most cases is GMO (if the food is not labeled all-natural or organic), and artificial flavor is self-explanatory.

Eggs: Probably in this case not antibiotic-free. 

Artificial Flavor: This shows up three times in the ingredients list: in the chocolate chips, as vanillin in the mini kisses, and again at the bottom of the list.  

Has any of that convinced you yet¬†not to eat these? Let’s take a look at a better option. The Immaculate Baking Company makes a number of all-natural and organic pre-packaged and convenient products. They make everything from cookie dough, biscuits, scones, sweet rolls, crescent rolls, and pie crusts, in all-natural, organic and gluten-free options.

Image

 

Let’s look at the ingredients in their All-Natural¬†Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough:

Organic unbleached wheat flour, organic light brown sugar, chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract, ground cocoa beans), organic palm fruit oil, organic evaporated cane juice, whole eggs, chocolate chunks (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor processed with alkali, soy lecithin, salt), water, sea salt, organic invert cane sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder.

Doesn’t this sound like a much better option? And in my opinion, these are way more delicious, too! The times that I’ve bought them, they’ve been on sale 2/$5 and the Pillsbury cookie dough was $3.50 each. I’m starting to see Immaculate Baking products in more conventional grocery stores, but if you don’t find them, you can most likely buy them at your local health food market. ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

Sources:

Why I Buy Natural Mascara

Image

Doing a little research into what’s in your mascara is scary stuff! I discovered the Environmental Working Group’s website a few years back when I was wearing chemical makeup products, and it played a huge role in my stepping into action to find good makeup products for myself, and to spread the word to other women about how harmful many of the beauty products out there can be. Let me challenge you to pull out your makeup bag, stop by www.EWG.org and type the names of your products in the search bar. It’s very eye-opening! (No pun intended.)

In their book, No More Dirty Looks: The Truth about Your Beauty Products, Siohban O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt quote, “[D]o you really want formaldehyde releasers, mercury, SLS, coal tar, petroleum distillates, vinyl, parabens, phthalates, and triethanolomine dripping into your eyeballs? Us neither, and mascaras often contain all of them at a time.”

Let’s compare Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara to Physicians Formula Organic Wear Fake Out Mascara. According to the Environmental Working Group’s website, Rimmel Lash Accelorator¬†scores in the high hazard range for being detrimental to our health. Some of the ingredients listed are BHA, Retinyl Palmitate, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, and Butylparaben. According to the EWG:

  • BHA is linked to endocrine disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity and organ system toxicity.
  • Retinyl Palmitate is linked to biochemical and cellular level changes, cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity and organ system toxicity.
  • Parabens should be of concern because they are linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, ecotoxicology, endocrine disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity and¬†biochemical and cellular level changes.

Now look at Organic Wear Fake Out Mascara. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

IMG_1207

This is only one example of scary mascara, but really, go to EWG.org and check out what’s in yours. If wearing natural mascara can do a little in preventing what I listed earlier, why wouldn’t you? And just in case you were thinking natural mascara is way more expensive, Physicians Formula is about the same price as Almay, CoverGirl, Maybelline, Rimmel, etc. And, in my opinion, it does a better job at staying clump free and boosting lash volume. And, of course I feel way better about putting ingredients from nature around my eyes instead of chemicals from a lab that could be harmful to my health.

Sources:

  • No More Dirty Looks by Siohban O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt
  • ewg.org
  • physiciansformula.com

Why I Buy All-Natural Face Wash

Image

All of my posts have been about food (what we put in our bodies) so far, but it’s also important to know what we are putting on our bodies. Sixty percent of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies, so if we are covering our bodies with chemical products, all of that is going inside of us!

In this post, I’m going to talk a little about face wash, what to avoid in ingredients lists, and some of my favorite natural products. First of all, bottles labeled “gentle,” “non-comedogenic” or “hypoallergenic” can contain the harshest ingredients, some of which include dyes, silicones, and chemical preservatives. The health and beauty industry knows how to label products to make them sound good, when they really are not good for us at all. I’m going to give you a list of some ingredients that you want to avoid when buying face wash.

  • 1-4-dioxane: This could also be listed as¬†PEG,¬†polyethylene,¬†polyethylene glycol,¬†polyoxyethylene, or ingredients ending in¬†“eth”¬†and¬†“oxynol.”¬†This is carcinogenic (cancer-causing).¬†
  • “Ethanolamines”: Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA)/Ethanolamine (ETA): Some of the names they may be called in ingredients lists are¬†cocomide DEA,¬†cocomide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA lauryl sulfate, triethanolamine.¬†This has been linked to cancer and a study showed that it slowed brain development in baby mice when applied to their mothers during pregnancy.
  • Fragrance: This can be listed as¬†fragrance, perfume,¬†and¬†parfum.¬†Trade-secret laws have made it where fragrances don’t all have to be listed, so this one word can mean up to 500 chemicals!
  • Parabens:¬†Parabens are listed as methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutlyparaben,¬†and propylparaben.¬†Parabens have been proven to act like the hormone estrogen and have been found in breast tumor tissue.
  • Propylene Glycol (PG), Ethylen Glycol, Diethelene Glycol, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): This can be derived naturally, but when listed with lots of other chemicals, you can bet that it is not. This ingredient can cause rashes and acne. Contaminants can include carcinogens 1,4-dioxane, lead, nickel, and arsenic.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate and¬†Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:¬†These can also be listed as sodium dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt sulphuric acid, monododecyl ester,¬†or¬†PEG lauryl sulfate.¬†SLS has been shown to be difficult for the liver to metabolize, is a possible endocrine disruptor, and is a common skin, scalp, and eye irritant.¬†

This list only puts a dent in the harmful chemicals that can be found in our products. For this reason I try to buy all-natural and organic beauty products. (I know I listed conditions that wouldn’t necessarily be connected with washing your face, but the ingredients listed can be found in more than your face wash.)

My favorite face washes are Burt’s Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream and Burt’s Bees Peach and Willow Bark Deep Pore Scrub. Both are 100% natural. Other good natural products include the Jason line, Alba products, Yes To line, Avalon Organics, Weleda, Lavera, and Juice Beauty. ¬†Wal-Mart and Target now have an all-natural section in the health and beauty part of their stores where you can find some of these. If you want to go with a bar soap, Whole Foods¬†has a¬†Triple-Milled Organic Soap that’s reasonably priced.¬†Since I have been using all-natural face wash, I wash my face at night before I go to bed and don’t have to wash it again in the morning. (Of course I change my pillow cases out once a week.) I used to wash my face both at night and in the morning, when I used to use chemical cleansers, and I struggled a lot more with acne then. (Acne problems also have a lot to do with what you eat and the amount of water you drink.)

So check out what ingredients are in your face wash (and other beauty products), and try to look for natural products next time you go to the store.

Image

Source for this article:

  • No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt

Why I Buy Organic Chicken

Image

Since I used organic chicken in my last recipe post, I thought this might be a good time to go into what is in conventional chicken, and why I try to avoid it. Conventional chicken farmers are constantly pumping their birds with antibiotics so that they do not develop infections that would cause their weight to drop. This is only because skinny chickens means they are losing profit. They are not concerned with our health, only their pockets. Researchers are very concerned however that our constant consumption of antibiotic-filled meat and poultry increases our likelihood of developing antibiotic resistance that could lead to future, more serious health issues.

Nicholas Kristof with the New York Times, claims in his article Arsenic in Our Chicken?, that conventional chickens are given active ingredients of Benadryl and Tylenol, arsenic, antibiotics, and caffeine frequently. Some chickens in China were actually given antidepressants!

Conventional farmers give green tea powder and coffee pulp to the chickens so that they stay awake longer and therefore are continually eating. The active ingredients of antidepressants, Benadryl and Tylenol given must be to keep them from getting sick and to keep them calm from all of the other things that have been pumped into them.

With conventional fruits and vegetables, peeling and washing greatly decreases the amount of pesticides and toxins. But with chicken and meat, these toxins are all through them because of the injections and exposure they have been given during their lifetime.

Organic farming does not allow artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified organisms or toxic pesticides. I think I’ll stick with buying organic chicken.

Sources for this article:

http://omniintelligencer.com/Health-Wellness/Other-Health-Wellness/Why-You-Should-Avoid-Conventional-Chicken

http://livingmaxwell.com/another-reason-to-eat-organic-arsenic-prozac-in-chicken