Saturday, April 26, 2014

DIY Whitening Toothpaste Recipe

DIY Whitening Toothpaste Recipe

I have been on such a DIY kick lately when it comes to health and beauty products, my husband thinks I'm losing it.  But everything seems to work better, it's much cheaper, it's all natural so I know exactly what's in it and most of the time I could even eat all the ingredients if I wanted to, and I can use it on my kids too.

My latest adventure is toothpaste.  I've been brushing with plain baking soda and water for a few months.  After a week my mother said, "Your teeth look really white.  What have you been doing?"  Honestly, I'm not making it up!  This from a woman who points out how much gray is in my hair whenever my roots have grown out more than half an inch.

Let me start by saying that I took a ton of antibiotics as a kid for strep throat.  Apparently I was sick all the time and unfortunately they later found out that a side effect of this particular medication was that it permanently stains your teeth.  I've had several whitening sessions at the dentist (can you say torture?) and I used to use Colgate Optic White every day.  They were never white, just slightly less yellow.  Coffee and red wine certainly didn't help either but I wasn't about to give those up.  So I just tried to smile with my lips closed.

Then I remembered that I had a bag of activated charcoal under my sink that I had gotten months ago to make a whitening treatment.  The charcoal binds to substances on the teeth and pulls them out, according to what I've read.  This is why they often have kids swallow activated charcoal when they accidentally ingest poison - the charcoal binds to the poison and somehow keeps your body from absorbing it.  Or something along those lines.  Anyway, back to the whitening treatment.  You just brush your teeth with straight charcoal and water and try to leave it in your mouth for a few minutes.  You're supposed to do it a couple times a week but it was so messy I stopped using it.  Imagine baby powder - except it's jet black.  You know  how when you put the baby powder bottle down on the counter, dust floats out all over the place?  Yeah, not so great.  Even worse when it's black.  It would get all over the sink, faucet, and counter every time I used it.  It cleans up easily and doesn't stain, but it's a PITA.  So I forgot about it.

But then I read a recipe for making more of a liquid toothpaste rather than powder and I figured, why not?  But how could I make it more of a whitening toothpaste?  How about adding the charcoal?  And voila, this recipe was born!

You need:

1/3 C baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
Spearmint or peppermint essential oil
Boiled and somewhat cooled water
1 tsp Activated charcoal

Mix the baking soda and sea salt together.  Stir in the charcoal.  Black dust will float around all over - don't worry too much.  It cleans up with just a rag and water, but don't use your good white towels or anything.  Now add enough boiled and slightly cooled water to make a paste.  Add a smidge at a time until you're happy with the consistency.  Now add several drops of mint essential oil.  I'd say I used about 10 but it's totally personal preference.

That's it!  Store it in an airtight container with a lid, preferably glass but mine is plastic because it was exactly the right size.  Just wet your toothbrush, dunk it in the paste, and brush as you usually would.  It looks horrible!

Your lips turn black and it drips out into the sink as a black, goopy mess.  But it rinses right off, I promise.  Unless you have an unsealed marble sink or something crazy like that.  If your sink and counter are at all unsealed this is probably not a good recipe for you!  Rinse well afterwards.  Your toothbrush will look nasty so do what I do - hide it under the sink with your black toothpaste so hubby doesn't make fun of you.  ;)

Considering that my teeth are a little off white naturally from all the antibiotics, this is pretty freakin' white for me.  I've been using it about two weeks now.  Imagine how white yours will be if you don't have this issue!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How I went no poo!

Ok, that sounds pretty awful.  Let me rephrase.  It means No Shampoo.  This is not something new.  I didn't invent the idea, and I take no credit for it.  But it works for me so I had to share it.

I moved from a low humidity area in October 2013 to a high humidity area (Northern CA to South Carolina.)  In CA I used to straighten my wavy hair all the time.  But when I got here I quickly realized there was not much point in doing that.  I'd waste a lot of time in the mornings only to have it frizz right up when the humidity got high.

I'd also been using all natural shampoos and conditioners from Trader Joes for years.  But alas, no TJ here in my area.  So when I ran out I went to Publix and bought the crappy drugstore brand and within a week my hair felt awful.  Then I remembered the whole No Poo thing I'd read about years before on  So I decided to give it a try again.

Here's a great description of the idea, why it works, and how to troubleshoot issues:

I'll just give you my personal experience too.  My scalp doesn't get oily until at least 3-4 days after using traditional shampoo.  So I can have good looking second day hair, brush it really well at night before bed (when I've straightened it) and again in the morning and it's still fine on day 3.  Day 4 usually requires a ponytail.   My scalp is drier than the desert though and gets itchy as hell.  I have battled this for 25 years.  No matter what dry scalp/moisturizing/dandruff/eczema shampoo I tried, nothing worked.  My hair gets dry too.  So when I first started I was washing with baking soda.  Didn't work for me.  My hands would be ridiculously dry for days after washing my hair with BS (baking soda) so if it does that to my hands, what's it doing to my scalp?  The itch was gone though.  GONE completely in the first two weeks.  So I think BS works better for people with an oilier scalp.

So now I wash my hair every 3-4 days with either 1/4 C of aloe vera and 2 tbsp of honey, or a mixture of coconut milk and aloe vera from this recipe:   Then once every two weeks or so my scalp starts to feel itchy, like it needs a good scrubbing, so I use a baking soda paste.  But that's it, only once every two weeks.  And the healthier my scalp gets the longer I'll go between washes.  

I love that these things are all natural and totally free of chemicals, and pretty cheap as well.  My scalp is clean, doesn't smell weird, and much much healthier.  I have a LOT less frizz too.  When I was using traditional shampoo and conditioner I would let my hair air dry and then use a flat iron or my InStyler.  I would never consider leaving the house without smoothing it down.  It looked too awful to show in public.  Now it looks a ton smoother.  I still wouldn't love to go out without using the InStyler but I wouldn't feel like a frizz ball if I had to.  But I've also realized the futility of straightening wavy hair in humid climates so I see a lot less of that in my future anyway.

Now for the conditioner part:  You mix a cup of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in a spray bottle and keep it in the shower.  After you wash your hair with your chosen method, spray the length of your hair with the GODAWFUL SMELLING ACV mixture.  Let's not beat around the bush and downplay this part, ok?  It stinks to high heaven.  Makes me gag half the time.  And if you need more conditioning you use a higher ratio of ACV to water.  Leave it on a minute or two, then rinse.

Now the good news is that once you get out of the shower the smell dissipates by at least 75%.  Once your hair is dry it's gone altogether.  But you'll get whiffs of it while you're drying your hair.  Not as bad but it's still there.  It's nasty, sorry.

This works really well for most people but I could NOT get a comb through my hair either in the shower while the ACV was in it, or after I got out.  It felt horribly tangled and icky to the touch.  I hung in there for about two months of this hoping it would get better but it never did.  So I finally bailed and bought an all natural conditioner, this one.  

The first day that I used it I almost wept with joy at the feeling of the conditioner squishing through my fingers.  I could comb my hair for the first time without yanking it out at the roots!  So I guess I'm now considered Low Poo instead of No Poo.  And I'm ok with that.