From the Pantry to the Bathroom: Toner Edition

March 27, 2009


I haven’t posted an installment in From the Pantry to the Bathroom lately, partly because I haven’t stumbled upon another recipe or ingredient as miraculous as coconut oil, which I realized works as both a moisturizer, a hair-softener and a deodorant. So this time, I’m going to write about something I have mixed feelings about, and maybe you readers can offer your opinion, too, and help make the final call.

A while ago, my friend Meghan mentioned that she was using apple cider vinegar on her face as a toner after washing. When my attempt at no ‘poo eventually failed, I had some ACV leftover with a bit of cinnamon and vanilla extract in it, and decided to try it out. I don’t normally use toner because, frankly, I don’t get why we need yet another ablution in between washing, drying and moisturizing, but I gave it a shot.

Well, it left my face smelling pretty yummy, but that’s about it. I wasn’t getting more/less pimples; it wasn’t getting more/less dry or oily; it was just staying the same. Then, a couple weeks ago, I noticed I was getting weird rashes under the outside corners of my eyes, so I decided to stop using it. (Unfortunately, the rashiness is lingering, but I’m throwing buckets of essential oils and Vitamin E on it).

This isn’t to say that I’ve fallen out of love with ACV — this acidic companion is great to have on hand for everything from salad dressings to natural remedies — but as a toner? Meh. What do you think?


Update on the ‘poo sitch, and my sister’s inventions

January 23, 2009

Two unrelated things for today’s post:

1. When Miss Crunchy decided to take on the No ‘Poo challenge seriously, I decided I’d follow her lead and, instead of just doing a one-off baking soda and vinegar experiment, I stuck with it. Well, it’s been a week and three washes without shampoo and while the results are decent, I’m starting to think my scalp might feel a little itchy. Anyway, I wrote about this more formally in the pages of the National Post, where I have my regular Sense & Sustainability column — in fact, one of you erudite readers had mentioned you’d like to hear what a dermatologist has to say about not using shampoo; well, check out the article and see for yourself!


2. In non-enviro-related news, my sister has started blogging. A word of warning: She may look like me, but we are nothing alike in personality! Actually, that’s not entirely true… we’re fairly similar, especially when it comes to cynicism. But I’m definitely the older, serious, competitive, concerned-about-many-things-such-as-the-state-of-the-environment sibling, whereas she’s more into fashion and luxury indulgences. Emma is currently working as a copywriter at a Toronto ad agency, but she’s using this new blog to write about all the other ideas that pop into her head (they’re basically inventions she comes up with that are genuinely cool but she can’t be bothered to patent any of them). It’s called Emma’s Tea Shop for Old Ladies because that’s always been her career back-up plan. Oh, and another word of warning: I gave her a DivaCup for Christmas and she had some… er… issues with certain steps in the… er… process, so apparently she’s gone back to tampons for now (don’t worry, though — I haven’t given up on converting her yet!).

From the Pantry to the Bathroom: Pee and Cinnamon

January 17, 2009


OK, first off, don’t worry — there isn’t any actual urine sitting in that bottle. But it sure looks like pee, doesn’t it? (That stuff in the bottle on the left, by the way, is baking soda and water, which refuse to interact with one another unless shaken vigorously). Anyway, this is besides the point. The point is: After one failed attempt last year to wash my hair with nothing but vinegar, I decided to give the whole natural approach to hair maintenance another shot.

Reader Melinda over at One Green Generation convinced me that her homemade system would leave my hair shiny and clean without also leaving me with an I’ve-just-spent-all-day-at-a-fish-and-chip-shop smell.

Needless to say, I was skeptical. However, as part of my new semi-regular series From the Pantry to the Bathroom, I want to make more of an effort to try new things — more specifically, new homemade things.

So I took a few minutes this morning to assemble the recipe, then followed her directions, which go like this:

1. Use an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle. Mix 1 part aluminum-free baking soda to 3 parts water. Each time you use this solution, shake well to mix.

2. Squeeze the baking soda solution onto your dry scalp, then massage your scalp for several seconds.

3. Leave in for 1-3 minutes, and rinse completely.

4. In an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle, mix 1 part organic white vinegar to 4 parts water. You can add essential oils or herbs if you like – I add 1 cinnamon stick and 1/2 tsp vanilla. This masks the vinegar smell, and leaves your hair smelling spicy and lovely.

5. Leave on hair for several seconds, then rinse.

I must say, it’s a bit awkward trying to pour watery liquid onto your head without having it run everywhere. The reason regular shampoos and conditioners tend to come in gel-like consistencies is so that you can squeeze a dollop on your noggin, put it down, then gradually work it into a lather until it disperses evenly. But with these mixtures, you tend to get a lot in one place and very little in others.

At least they both felt nice on my scalp, and there weren’t any major problems in terms of rinsing them out in the shower.

However, I do have long hair, so it felt like I required a LOT of this stuff. At least it was cheap.

Blow-drying my hair, I sensed it was taking longer than usual and got the occasional whiff of vinegar (this might be my fault, though — Melinda suggests using white vinegar, and I chose to stick with apple cider because I thought it smelled less offensive… maybe my olfactory senses are messed up). Still, I persevered, then brushed it out.

The result? Well, see for yourself:


Not too shabby, eh? (This is my bedroom, by the way — I was trying to get some natural light on it.) So far, it doesn’t smell at all, which is a good thing, although it’s not necessarily softer or shinier than it usually is. I think the real test will be how long it lasts — if it’s greasy by tomorrow morning, I’m definitely docking points.

Overall, I’m kind of semi-pleased with this Pantry to the Bathroom experiment. It’s obviously a better option than using chemical-heavy brand-name shampoos and conditioners, but considering I already use all-natural stuff and make a point of refilling it from the bulk store, I don’t know that this is really reducing my carbon footprint by that much.

What do you guys think? Are you into this whole no ‘poo movement or is it not worth the fuss?