IN THIS weird time of DIY-everything (which is often just re-purposing what some person on Pinterest did), it’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed or flat-out disinterested in all the at-home concoctions and creations. From exfoliating face scrubs with a men’s shaving cream base to ridiculously intricate children’s birthday cakes, I logged out of my Pinterest account a month ago and haven’t looked back since. Too many options for someone with a short attention span and an overly confident “I could do that!” attitude that only lead to disappointment.*
Remember how in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula’s overprotective father Gus swore by Windex as a remedy for everything? This list is kind of like that, plus three, and comes with my Windex-level faith and worship. They’re also easy switches that don’t involve a cauldron or obscure essential oils and endless free time.
*See epicpinterestfails.com for some camaraderie.
Holy crap, guys. I was in New York City a couple of weeks ago and forgot my deodorant. My best friend, who I am on deodorant-sharing level with, tossed me her crystal deodorant. An actual crystal. She’s a no-nonsense girl who doesn’t give into trends or homeopathic anything, so I was a bit surprised. A hair stylist had mentioned it to her as a chemical-free, natural alternative to deodorants or antiperspirant and she’d been happily using it for a few months.
I wet the tip with water and rolled it on, as per directions, and felt a little naked without the slick layer of Dove I was used to. I figured I would come back to Brooklyn from a day in Manhattan smelling like a European backpacker who whisked on some Tom’s deodorant a week ago. Instead, even though it was close to eighty degrees and I was running all over, I smelled completely neutral. No B.O., no flowery scent mingling dangerously with body odor… just clean and neutral. I used it for five days there, bought my own when I got home, and haven’t looked back since. No excessive sweating, no body odor.
Pros: It’s hypoallergenic, free from fragrance and parabens, completely natural (just mineral salts!), and is recommended by cancer treatment centers. Plus, one stick lasts a YEAR and it actually works, unlike most natural deodorants out there.
Coconut or Olive Oil Makeup Remover
I was never much of a makeup remover person because I’ve never worn much makeup. While living on Vancouver Island this summer, camping became a part of this city girl’s life for the first time and I realized I definitely needed something to wipe off my waterproof mascara when I tucked into my sleeping bag at night (I recognize most people don’t wear makeup camping, but I had to let nature and vanity meet halfway on this).
I was annoyed to find that most of the makeup remover options were more expensive than most of the makeup I buy, so I looked for alternatives. I have an olive allergy, so olive oil was out of the question for me personally, but a dab of coconut oil does the magic eyeliner removal trick just as well. When traveling, I slab a bit in a small jar, pack some cotton wipes and never fear spending upwards of $5 on cute packs of chemical-filled makeup wipes. Works like a charm.
Pros: Natural alternative, no chemicals. Lasts longer/is more cost-effective.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Mouthwash
I briefly dated a musician who had gotten a hydrogen peroxide drip in India after being sick with some sort of cold/flu for a few months. One night I felt an ear infection coming on and he suggested pouring a little hydrogen peroxide in each of my ears and letting it bubble for a while. A little bit terrified about putting anything in my already-aching ears, I tried it. When I woke up the next day there was no ache or pain in my ear. Excited over this discovery, I wondered: what else can hydrogen peroxide do?!
As it turns out, it’s an effective mouthwash. Hydrogen peroxide is an awesome alternative to mouthwash, especially if the sting of Listerine is too much for your mouth or you don’t care for all of the chemicals. Make a 50% water, 50% hydrogen peroxide mixture and swish it around just like you would mouthwash. It will foam a bit, and you can see little bubbles working away at your teeth, gum, and tongue, but the result is a just-as-clean feeling without the alcohol or overwhelming mint scent. Just don’t swallow any of it!
Pros: Way cheaper, no sting, no in-your-face mint.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
You’ve probably seen these massive bottles hanging out in the organic aisles at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap is three times more concentrated than most liquid soaps available, uses pure and high-quality certified organic essential oils, and is biodegradable and nature-friendly. Also, it smells pretty phenomenal, can be used on your body and hair, and a little goes a long way.
Drip some of this into a loofa and you’ll have plenty of fresh-smelling lather. The first brand of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap I used was peppermint castile and it made some parts of me feel, uh… a little tingly. Your body adjusts though, promise. Another pro tip: don’t read the label. Here’s an excerpt from the 30,000 (!) words by Dr. Emanuel H. Bronner himself: “Replace half-true Socialist-fluoride poison & tax-slavery with full-truth, work-speech-press & profit-sharing Social action! All-One! So, help build 4 billion Hannibal wind-power plants, charging 96 billion battery-banks, powering every car-factory-farm-home-monorail & pump, watering Babylon-roof-gardens & 800 billion Israel-Milorganite fruit trees, guarded by Swiss 6000 year Universal Military Training…” You get the enthusiastic picture.
Pros: No added agents, dyes, whiteners or synthetic fragrances.