Tag Archives: Beauty

Being Pretty In A Patriarchy

I remember being very young and being told how pretty I was in my new dress or with my hair tied up in a bow. People say this to little girls. “Oh, how pretty you are!” I suppose it’s a nice thing to say. At least, the intent is well meaning. Little children know when you are giving them praise, even before they understand the meaning behind what you say. Their faces light up and you can see how proud they are when they hear you speak to them in this manner.

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Little Sarah, age four

It’s interesting to me that from the very beginning, my gender role was being played out with these attitudes from the world around me. People don’t tell little boys they’re pretty. I’m sure a lot of people would think it silly. They call boys “handsome” or “strong” but not “pretty.”

“Pretty” is for girls.

Being complimented this way taught me that being pretty was a good thing. After all, compliments are for pointing out positive attributes. I know that seems like a silly statement, but my point is, being pretty was one of the first things I learned about my worth to the world around me. It gets pretty heavy when you think about it that way.

Delving into it a bit farther, this is in part evolutionary for us as humans. In the animal kingdom, an attractive animal benefits in finding a potential mate. The more “attractive” to their counterparts, the more desireable this animal becomes to all potential mates. When looking at it from this aspect, humankind doesn’t appear to have strayed too far from our prehistoric predecessors. We are cognizant beings who are still, in large part, controlled by animalistic instincts rather than our intellect.

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Sexualizing women in advertisements

Our society doesn’t help much on that front, either. In a consumerist society, everybody wants to sell us something. They need it to be catching, and make us want to buy whatever they’re offering. It’s a simple fact that sex sells. But as a whole, marketing that utilizes this sexuality is pummeling us with subliminal messages from a young age (whether that’s the intent or not) which doesn’t simply utilize our animal instincts to sell us things: it manifests them.

Before We Go Any Further..

Remember this gross article for Cosmopolitan where the author bragged about how hot she thought she was, and pretended to complain about it? That’s not my intent here. So I am going to disclaimer this, ad nauseam, to avoid sounding like this has anything to do with bragging.

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Just another selfie for IG

Personally, think I’m a fairly cute girl. I think it’s okay for me to admit that. Like the rest of us, I know I wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea. There’s that old saying, “you could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there will always be somebody who hates peaches.” So I get that. I guess my point is-  I don’t have an inflated ego like the girl who wrote that article did.

I also have spent most of my time in makeup and clothes that, in my opinion, help me look prettier. A secret about that? I don’t know if I’m that pretty just in sweats at home, because I don’t get that publicly affirmed for me. So I don’t know how much of this is just genetic, or my own personal sweat, blood, and tears. Talk about self esteem… yikes. (My boyfriend tells me I look great either way, like all good boyfriends are supposed to.)

I do know that people do tell me I’m pretty. Not everyone in every second, but it’s enough to feel like I can explain what being “pretty in a patriarchy” has been like for me, and not get eaten alive by the internet for it. (I’m crossing my fingers on that one.)

Striving For Beauty

So not only was I taught that my looks were important- I was shown growing up that being pretty was a legitimate aspiration. I played with Barbies, and loved watching Disney movies with princesses. All thin, young, and beautiful with perfect hair and makeup. I didn’t need to be taught what made a woman pretty. I saw it and accepted it unquestioningly.

I also grew up in a pretty typical, traditional family. It was an environment where comments were made about women- especially fatter women- which taught me that this was certainly not desirable. It’s funny noticing, now that I’m older, that these comments were never made about men. Who can complain about this? This is how the media is, too. It’s just a representation of the society we’re in. That attitude is not abnormal by any means. Though, highly problematic, as it were.

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There’s me at age nine, in the red dress

I remember being eight years old and writing in a journal about what I would ask for if I was granted “three wishes.” Do you know what my number one wish was? To grow up to be beautiful. This was my ultimate wish for myself as a human being. I don’t even remember what my other wishes were.

I remember being scared of growing up and being fat. I didn’t know what kind of adult I’d be, and I was afraid that once I got older, I wouldn’t care about my weight anymore. I already heard womanly gossip about girlfriends who’d “let themselves go.” My childhood didn’t revolve around my weight since I was already a very skinny kid, but it was a concept that I was aware of. This helped manifest itself as an eating disorder in my teen years.

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High school- senior prom. I was a bottle-blonde for years until I discovered people didn’t treat me like such an idiot as a brunette

Another thing that happened in my teen years? I discovered a lot of things about developing. Wearing makeup, high heels, and attractive clothing. For a second time in my life, I got positive attention for my appearance. I was validated by the world around me that I was attractive. It felt great, because this is what I was striving for.

If you’re familiar with any of my past posts, you will have seen that I wasn’t aware of the implications of these charges. I knew I could get boys’ attention (which I did want) but I didn’t know that wearing a crop top or a push up bra made them think about sex to the extent that they did. How could I know that? I didn’t know that it sent a message about my availability. I grew up watching women dress this way on tv and people on the shows reacted positively towards these women. If those sexual implications were there on all the shows I’d seen, I certainly hadn’t been aware of it yet.

But the strangest thing happened. Along with validation from males, I was heavily judged by adults and my parents, who knew these implications. They reprimanded my clothing choices (without explaining any of it) and treated me like it represented my character, or my morality. Which it certainly did not. I’ll be honest and say that these experiences still anger me, to some extent. I don’t think it was fair. But it was a precursor to the lesson I would learn: that when you’re pretty, your appearance is all most people pay attention to.

Judgements By Women

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Modeling for a comic con (photo credit Tom Nguyen (http://tomnguyenstudio.com) This is me in a sexualized ad, too!

If you haven’t reached this conclusion by now, I’ll explain to you that one clear premise of this article is that in our society, we are taught that beautiful women are superior to other women. I definitely don’t think it’s true, but it’s a belief that fuels women’s strife towards attractiveness. We want to be the one all the other girls want to be.

But the media affects women’s attitudes towards each other, too. Have you noticed that all the mean girls in cliques on tv are beautiful? And the main character, Susie Every Girl, isn’t as pretty, but she has a winning personality that shines through. “You can’t have both,” they seem to say.

Years back, I was at a bar once with a guy friend, and we were laughing and joking all night with a group who was sitting next to us. “Not to be an asshole or anything,” one of the girls later came over and said to me, “but you’re like, way too pretty to be this nice.” I laughed. It seemed as though she meant this to be a compliment.

I have had many girl friends and for all the negative experiences, there are positive ones, too. But my friendships have never been spurred by looks. I have, however, had a few friendships that formed in spite of it. Because to some people, it really matters.

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Mostly though (on the occasions when my appearance matters in the exchange at all) women have judged me more than men have. Actually, let’s put it this way- their judgements on me have been harsher and more hurtful. I think that when we, as humans, feel inferior to someone, it seems like a natural instinct to want to tear the other person down in some way. (Usually we just do this in our own heads. “She may be smart but she’s not as funny as me.” That sort of thing.) It makes you feel less bad about yourself, because it uses the belief that you have a strength where they have a weakness- so you’re not inferior anymore. Name calling and judgemental attitudes are the main weapon women like to use against the pretty girls. At least in my experience. And they love to whisper to each other when you do, say, or wear anything that isn’t perfect.

I spent a lot of my younger years being extra smiley and extra friendly in an effort to overcompensate for this treatment. I didn’t blame other women for their perspectives. I just wanted them to feel comfortable with me. I noticed that often any displayal of confidence or intelligence seemed to make other girls less comfortable. Because that seemed to make me “less likeable” I did not open this part of myself up to the world for many years. It affected my self esteem in the way that I had many friends and peers who saw me as a dumb, albeit nice, but nothing special otherwise. I have since ceased worrying about this and while I do make less friends, but I feel better about myself as a person.

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We, as females, all live in this oppressive world with each other. We’re on the same team, in my opinion. I was subject to the same insecurities and the same judgements as anyone else. The fact that I wear heels and you wear sneakers doesn’t mean I’m a bitch, or a ditz, or the enemy.

For that matter, pretty girls need to stop acting superior, too. You’re just acting out the stereotype that people have already pegged you with. No matter the cards you’ve been dealt in life, being unkind diminishes each and every one of your positive attributes, as far as I’m concerned.

Judgements By Men

Most men I’ve spoken to about this concept agree- they think women want to be beautiful for them. Whether they think it’s simply for sex or to land a husband, or whatever the end goal may be, that’s when the answers will start to vary. But one thing remains true- they think all the heels, the clothes, the makeup is to be attractive to men.

You can’t blame them for this, when you think back to the “animal instincts” part of the argument. Yes, it’s true, being pretty does help a girl find a guy. You also can’t blame them when you think back to our society. Movies, shows, and advertisements show beautiful, coquettish woman who are all about sex.

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Something I’ve been trying desperately to convey to guys I speak to about this is that it’s so much bigger than that. You think I spend 40 minutes getting ready before I go out just to be a treat for your dick? If you think that’s true, then you’ve been spending your life watching too much tv- and frankly- you don’t really know that much about women.

I was walking through Target one day in high school and two teenage boys walked by. “Too much makeup for me,” said one to the other. I wanted to turn around and say, “Don’t flatter yourself. I’m out of your league with or without the makeup,” but then… there’s that ego I told you I didn’t have.

I am so tired of hearing that men prefer the “natural look” I could pull my hair out. In that respect, I honestly don’t care what you prefer. I feel beautiful, and powerful, and fierce as hell with some good makeup. That’s my goal. I achieved my goal with my red lipstick. Middle finger in the air.

The thing is, most of us can get guys with or without the makeup. Don’t think we’re confused about that. You men are not all as picky as you pretend to me. Additionally, for any of the comments I’ve heard, I have never been turned down for wearing too much makeup yet. Not once in my entire life. And I am a girl who loves her makeup.

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Just adding this one because it was vixen-ish?

On top of that, I’ll let you in on something I’ve noticed in my life. Men view me a little more as a girl-next-door type without the makeup. But I’m viewed as more of a vixen when I wear it. And it doesn’t matter if I’m at a club or a grocery store- it never fails- men of all ages are extra friendly and helpful to the vixen.

Who Am I?

My quest for beauty and confidence in this world has really mixed me up about myself. This is my real, number one purpose for writing this post. To explain that for all beautiful women get glamorized, and idolized, and worshipped, I am worse off for it. Worse off as a human being.

I tell you truly that I am a victim of society, in ways that make me much worse off than so many other people. Not because I’m judged. No, it’s much more unfortunate than even judgement and bullying.

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True happiness. That’s me on the bottom of the dog pile. I think this better shows who I am instead of just how I look.

I want to be really honest and acknowledge openly that even today, beauty is my number one aspiration. Isn’t that so fucked? As a feminist, I enjoy feeling beautiful, so I allow myself to feel empowered by my choices. On the other hand, I know that it’s superficial and oppressive, and I wish I could wake up one day and decide that being pretty no longer matters to me. But it’s so deeply ingrained, I’m not sure this is something I even know how to fight within myself. My internal beliefs about myself have mostly solidified in my 27 years of life.

Wherever I go, I still get my beauty validated. I still get the message that my worth is my appearance. And I still believe it.

The bleak, grave truth of it all is that all beauty fades. We all age. Of all the attributes that all of us possess, this is the only one thing that you cannot keep. Do you know what that means for a pretty girl in a patriarchy?

I won’t know who I am or what I’m worth when it all leaves me.

Why I EAT Collagen

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I’d like to introduce one of my favorite beauty products- collagen!

Let start with the basics. Did you know that the collagen molecule is too big to soak into your skin? All those creams and serums that claim to help with wrinkles because they contain collagen are completely worthless. Seriously- completely a waste of your money.

Collagen hydrolysate, on the other hand, is for ingesting. It’s far superior to eat your collagen, because your body uses it to fight against wrinkles, and a ton of other building and repairing functions, too.

Collagen hydrolysate is made from gelatin. The only difference between the two is that the collagen hydrolysate has been broken down into individual amino acids, so it’s more bio-available (your body absorbs it more easily).

Collagen hydrolysate contains 20 amino acids that are essential for building and doing just about everything in your body including (but not limited to) strong hair & nails, better muscle tone, and supple skin that can rebuild its own elasticity. To me, that sounds like the perfect beauty product!

I like using this because it dissolves easily into my coffee and is virtually tasteless. It’s not all just for superficial reasons, either. Our ancestors’ diets contained far more gelatin (and therefore collagen) than ours do today- creating a huge deficit in our diet. To me, this simple addition to my daily routine is essential!

I buy Great Lakes grass-fed, kosher beef collagen.

Society Really Fucks Girls Up. I’m Just Saying.

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I wrote this on Facebook today and I realized it was kind of important. I especially think it is important from a parenting standpoint because it was my parents who were the harshest critics of my clothing choices. Especially my dad, who perceives the world from a standard male-in-a-patriarchal-society kind of way. I actually think he still doesn’t realize that women don’t see the world as overtly sexual as men do. He thought I knew exactly what dressing like that meant, which is why he probably thought it was perfectly acceptable to be angry with me.

I’m not sure whether my mom felt the response was acceptable or not, but I do know that she didn’t want anyone judging her parenting or our home by my “inappropriate” clothing. This sent me the message that what other people thought was more important than the truth. An equally damaging concept.

Detox Series: Liver Flush

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Of all the detoxes and cleanses I’ve ever done, this one is by far my favorite. It has produced the best physical and emotional results, and really made a huge difference in my health.

Liver flushes have given me brighter eyes, clearer skin, better sleep, a positive (“euphoric”) mood, smaller waist, improved digestion, and a top-notch immune system, to name a few.

(If you find yourself skeptical about our bodies’ need to “detox” in the first place, check out my explanation here in my part one of the detox series.)

Why Cleanse My Liver?

A clean and well-functioning liver cannot be underrated. The liver is responsible for-

  • blood detoxification and purification
  • digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
  • enzyme activation
  • glutathione production (check the link for more info)
  • building proteins
  • processing nutrients from food

One of the most vital things that the liver does is produce bile. Bile is a very bitter, very alkaline fluid that helps break down foods in your small intestine. It also helps to restore the pH of your body. When your body is the proper pH of 7.35, it functions at its best. Research shows that you are unlikely to get ill as often, and some even suggest that this optimal pH naturally fights cancer. For most of human history, it was not as difficult as it is now to keep the body’s pH within a healthy range.

Aciditiy is a common by-product of most foods in the American diet (all processed food, even “light” and “natural” versions; fried food; meat; dairy; coffee; sodas; sugary juices, desserts and candy; cigarettes; medications). This acidity completely throws off the pH of the human body, which makes your body age much faster and prone to all kinds of diseases.

Let’s break that down into a tidbit that might interest you: proper bile flow helps slow down the aging process. That’s right.

A healthy liver is supposed to be producing 1 1/2 quarts of bile a day- and by adulthood most people’s livers are making as little as 1/2 cup. That might surprise you, and the reason why is even more surprising. Your liver is clogged with gallstones.

No, this is not a natural part of aging, and no, this is not something your body can fix on its own. The good news is, you don’t need surgery or extensive procedures to get them out. You just need a free weekend.

A little known fact is that gallstones actually originate in the liver. I’ll spare you the lengthy explanation about how this happens, but if you are interested, Andreas Moritz can explain it to you here. Cholesterol and bile make the stones lighter and flesh-colored or green, respectively, though stones can also be black (very toxic) or greyish-white (calcified).

Stones that came out from a liver flush... better out than in!

Stones that came out from a liver flush… better out than in!

The reason that you don’t know you have stones clogging up you liver and gallbladder is because it’s only the calcified ones that show up in ultrasounds. By the time gallstones calcify and show up in an ultrasound, you’ve been suffering with a congested liver for years too long.

Many people go their entire lives with a congested liver and gallbladder, not realizing that many of their health complaints are related to this. These complaints include disorders of the digestive system (mouth, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, intestines), disorders of the circulatory system (heart, spleen, cholesterol, lymph, veins, hormones), disorders of respiratory system, disorders of the urinary system, disorders of the nervous systems, joint problems, skin problems, reproductive problems, and many more. Congestion of this vital organ affects your whole body, and the longer it goes on, the worse things get. Liver flushes are a wonderful way to start healing these ailments in your body.

A New Age Perspective

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In Eastern medicines it is believed that the liver is the seat of anger, frustration, and repressed emotions. A Greek medicine site had this to say:

Liver, Gall Bladder:  Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder, which makes these two organs vulnerable to negative Choleric emotions like anger, irritability, frustration, resentment, jealousy and envy.  These negative Choleric emotions are stored in these organs, and can slowly eat away at them if allowed to fester.  Anger and rage can explode upwards from the liver into the head, causing a lot of havoc in their wake: headaches, migraines; red, sore, bloodshot eyes; and muscular tension in the neck and shoulders.  Nervous and emotional tension and stress, as well as Melancholic emotions like pensiveness and worry, will stagnate the flow of the Natural Force in the liver, which in turn causes nervous, colicky, Melancholic disturbances of the digestive functions.  This excess melancholy often accumulates under the lower ribs, giving a stuffy, distended, congested feeling in the whole chest and diaphragm area.  This is the origin of the term hypochondriac.

It is not uncommon for those cleansing the liver to feel an incredible release of these emotions. This is especially true when one experiences a flush of deeper set-in stones which have been stuck in the liver for many years.

Emotional situations or feelings that are brought back up are your opportunity to work through them and move past them, once and for all. This is a time of very powerful emotional cleansing and healing, too.

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Feelings of bliss and euphoria are favorite side-effects from stone release of flushers everywhere. This effect becomes more pronounced with every flush, because the first flush releases newer, smaller stones, and with each consecutive flush, the older (which are often also larger and more stuck) ones are rooted out. These correspond to more “stuck” feelings, older issues, and deeper-rooted problems. It feels wonderful to get them out of you!

Other Benefits

If all that mumbo jumbo is not for you, you can still focus on the cold, hard facts of the matter. Getting these blockages out of your liver improves the detoxification and functioning of your entire body. The older, larger stones clog up more of the bile ducts than any of the smaller, newer ones. Getting these out makes you feel better because of the surge of energy from better functioning of all your organs overall. It’s a great feeling!

Liver flushes give you great skin!

Liver flushes give you great skin!

It is important to note that sometimes you will feel initially drained after the flush, with the energy and positivity coming afterwards (it always does come, though!). Your body has really done quite a bit of work through this process, and sometimes it takes a little bit to recover.

Another positive side-effect which cannot be understated is the lessening of pressure from your liver. All these stones really bulk up your liver, making it larger and harder. This can lead to a lack of flexibility in your midsection, pain in your shoulders, back, and spine, and a thicker waist. You will notice all of these problems seem to dissolve away a little more after each flush.

What would you do for a naturally smaller waistline?

What would you do for a naturally smaller waistline?

Prepping For The Flush

While I don’t fast prior to the liver flush (you’ll get better results if you do), it is recommended that for the five days prior to the actual flush, you take something to help soften the stones. Andreas (who prefers whole foods) recommends fresh apple juice, which has malic acid, to soften the stones. You will need to have 1 liter (32 oz.) of apple juice per day (space it out throughout the day, don’t just chug it). It is fine to drink packaged apple juice (although for your body’s sake, I would recommend getting a higher quality organic one!) as this will still work. Freshly pressed radish juice and carrot juices are also good.

Other things you can take to soften the stones- powdered malic acid, Gold Coin Grass supplement (you should take this for 2-3 weeks prior, as 5 days will not do as much), daily coffee enemas, and also asorbic acid (vitamin C) capsules (which you should also take for 2-3 weeks prior). If you are really intense, you can take any combination of these methods.

Another important thing to do is COLON CLEANSE both before and after the flush, so that no stones get stuck on their way out of your body, leaving you ill with headaches, bloating, infections, etc. from the toxins in any stones. See how to do this in my first post of the detox series here.

How To Liver Flush

The ingredients you’ll need for the liver flush are-olive oil

  • Epsom salts
  • 1 large grapefruit or 2 small grapefruits (can be substituted with a few lemons or limes)
  • Extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil (preferably organic)

DAY ONE

AM- Do not eat any fat or protein, if you can help it. It is a good idea to skip caffeine as well, but if you will get a headache without it, it’s okay to have a little. The idea today is to store up the bile in your liver so it will all “flush” out later tonight.

2 PM- Stop eating for the day. Do not eat after 2 PM. If you think of it, mix up your 6 PM drink now.

6 PM- Drink 1 T of Epsom salts dissolved into 1 C water. It’s a good idea to mix this up ahead of time, to make sure it gets dissolved. Having to swallow granules at the bottom is really yucky otherwise! Some people like to put this drink in the fridge because it tastes a little better when it is cold. I always drink it with a straw, I find this easiest.

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(The Epsom salts will do two things. First, they will completely flush out the colon, which is good because this will ensure the stones don’t get stuck on their way out. These stones are very toxic and you don’t want them staying inside the colon to re-infect your body at all. Secondly and most importantly, they will dilate the bile ducts, which open them up so that the stones can pop out.)

8 PM- Drink a second dose of  the Epsom salt mixture. (1 T ES and 1 C water). If you haven’t already, be prepared to be running to the toilet as the salts begin to flush out your colon!

9:40 PM- Prepare the 10 PM flush concoction. You want 3/4 C of citrus juice (whichever type you ended up choosing) and 3/4 C olive oil. You can squeeze the juice of the fruits by hand into a bowl or measuring cup if you don’t have a juicer. You’ll probably want to mix the ingredients until they are blended together. You can do this by blending them, shaking them in a jar with a lid, or by hand. You CAN keep them separated (oil on top, juice on the bottom) but this will be MUCH less pleasant to drink (I don’t recommend it).

Try to empty your bowel as much as possible before 10, when you will go to bed (so you don’t have to get up again and interfere with the flush).

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10 PM (Bedtime)- You should be hungry or thirsty (or both) by now. That is a good sign! I recommend a straw for this concoction especially. Drink the oil/juice concoction standing up, and lie down immediately afterwards. For best results, lie on your right side. Do not move for the first 20 minutes if you can help it. You can read or watch tv or surf the internet for a while, but I recommend going to sleep early.  If you MUST get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, you may. Some people get sick from poor quality oil- if that happens to you, don’t worry, the flush will likely still work for you, depending on how long you were able to keep the concoction down!

DAY TWO

8 AM- Have your third Epsom salt drink (1 T ES and 1 C water). You’ll soon start to see stones showing up in your toilet!

10 AM- Have your fourth and final Epsom salt drink (1 T ES and 1 C water). This will flush out the last of the stones!

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11 AM- you can start eating again. I recommend light foods and things that won’t be too heavy or hard on your liver today, and for the next couple days. You flushed a lot of bile and bile salts out of the liver, and that takes about 3-4 weeks to fully build up again (although your digestion should feel normal within a day).

A Few Extra Things

Andreas Moritz and other liver flush experts say that it takes around 20 flushes (for some it’s less, and others more) to get out all of the stones completely. The standard test is three consecutive flushes without any stones. Flushers and experts alike say that by this point people experience a cure from allergies and countless other ailments (even ones you didn’t know were related to the liver!). After this point, a maintenance flush once or twice a year is recommended.

Because it takes 3-4 weeks for your body to replenish the bile salts lost in a flush, it is not recommended that you do the flush more often than this. I, myself, flush once every 4-5 weeks.

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Some people claim that what you are releasing is not actually liver stones but rather a formation of the oil and citrus juice inside your digestive system, and that the green-ish yellow-ish olive oil is what turns the stones these colors. This claim is false because people have gotten stones out with many other types of oils (although olive oil is recommended because it is high in mono-unsaturated fat and low in saturated fat- this ensures a high emulsification of the oil/acid potion, minimum time in the stomach, and easy absorption in the body) and also from coffee enemas and other types of liver detoxes.

Other Ways I Like To Cleanse The Liver

Castor oil packs- On the nightly regimen of Viva Mayr, the top detox clinic in the world, this deep healing oil, with the addition of heat, penetrates into congested tissue, detoxifying your digestive system, liver, lymph nodes, and pretty much whatever organs you place it over. More info from The Tao of Dana,  The Beauty Gypsy, and celeb nutritionist/detox specialist Kimberly Snyder.

Coffee enemas- I wish I could devote an entire post to the coffee enema. As bizarre as it may sound to some of you, it has been one of my favorite and most enjoyable (seriously) forms of detox. In fact, most who try it are hooked like I am. The incredible benefits on the inside and outside are enough to speak for themselves. Read what Dr. Wilson has to say about it.

Try it and let me know how a happy liver works out for you! 🙂

By Nieves

Spotlight On: By Nieves Natural Skincare

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I recently discovered and was able to sample the products from “By Nieves” thanks to some readers, who saw that I was into non-toxic, organic skincare.

You’ll recall that in my last skincare post, I said that I used to have dressers full of skincare products (true). I also said that I like my stuff to work. (I can be fairly impatient when it comes to seeing results, I’ll admit. Those “see results in 6-8weeks!” lines really don’t draw me in.)

All this is to say that if I am going to be a repeat user of any product, it should be doing something for me that my organic coconut oil, caster oil, and apple cider vinegar can’t already do for less cost.

That said, you certainly won’t be surprised when I tell you that in order to see how I felt about these products, I first scoured through and read their entire website, along with any reviews I could find.

I’ll tell you the first thing that really struck me: the ingredients lists. Nieves likes to say that every ingredient is an active ingredient, so you’re never paying for fillers or preservatives. What a brilliant philosophy. It shouldn’t be revolutionary, but unfortunately, no big label skincare lines (even organic ones!) that I’ve come across can boast the same thing.

I know enough about herbs and essentials oils by now to see, at first glance, that these ingredients pack a powerful punch. It would cost me way too much to gather all these together myself, though, so I’m happy that Nieves has done it and has it available for me in an affordable size and quantity. (God knows I wouldn’t have pulled off the beautiful scents they all somehow also have.)

So the herbs and oils are promising. They’re also almost completely organic. Another bonus.

“Face Fix” herbal/clay scrub and mask.

I wore this mask overnight for maximum effectiveness. (The ingredients were too fancy to waste on just a scrub that I would rinse off right away!) The mask doesn’t change form too much or harden like some masks might, so I slept with a towel over my pillow to protect it from the mask rubbing off.
I mixed my mask with a coconut oil/ghee combination to make a paste, and rubbed it in to exfoliate the skin so that it could absorb the nutrients even better.

Here I am, looking really beautiful, with the coconut oil/ghee/herbal-clay mask on. (Sorry about the picture quality)

Here I am, looking really beautiful, with the coconut oil/ghee/herbal-clay mask on. (Sorry about the picture quality)

So, I’ll admit, I haven’t been exfoliating my face very often these days, and that helped me feel like the skin-smoothing results of this mask were really wonderful. My makeup went on smoother, and stayed put longer, and overall I had a nice “glow” that I wasn’t super used to after the winter months. I could swear something in the mask made everything less puffy, something made my skin brighter, too, but I haven’t pinpointed which. Like I said, this stuff is full of ingredients that do good things.

I can’t say much about how this mask works for acne, because I haven’t had any breakouts yet since I’ve had the mask on hand. But I do like that I wake up feeling like I can notice a difference, versus the clay masks I usually have in my regime, which soak up oil while they’re on my skin but don’t have any noticeable results after removing them. That’s a big plus.

Check out this ridic ingredients list:

Organic Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), Organic Chamomile Flower Powder (Anthemis nobilis), Organic Comfrey Root Powder (Symphytum officinale), Organic Grapefruit Peel Powder(Citrus paradisi), Organic Horsetail Powder (Equisetum arvense), Jojoba Beads (Simmondsia chinensis), Organic Lavender Flower Powder (Lavandula angustifolia), Organic Licorice Root Powder (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Organic Neem Leaf Powder (Azadirachta indica), Organic Orange Peel Powder (Citrus aurantium amara), Organic Rose Petal Powder (Rosa centifolia), Organic Rosehip Powder (Rosa canina),White Kaolin Clay, Organic White Willow (Salix alba)

“C” Perfect Skin Moisturizer/Serum

Alright, this was my favorite product, I think. It felt so luxurious to put on my skin. We all know I’m not afraid of slathering oils all over my body, face, and hair, so with ingredients like sesame oil, jojoba oil, seven different essential oils and a few antioxidants to boot, this was right up my alley.

Luckily, this is not like my old friend castor oil, which is not for the faint of heart. These ingredients may be intense, but the serum itself, surprisingly, is not. It was so light and absorbed so nicely that it didn’t seem like an oil at all, while still providing all the benefits of one (because it is one!). It smelled great and made my skin feel heavenly.

I would buy this serum again and again. I’ve used many serums, all full of silicones, to achieve the same effect that Nieves achieves here without synthetic plastics on top of your skin. I know I keep repeating this, but it feels so good to put something on my skin that is actually good for it, and really WORKS, too. I call this one “glow-in-a-bottle” because that’s what it is. Perfect, healthy, dewy skin in one little serum. My under-eye circles loved it, too.

I ran out of this product the fastest because I slathered it on every day, sometimes twice a day. I got a little jealous of Nieves when I read that she does this too, saying, “I can- I make it!” Ah, Nieves. To live like you do..

“Cloud of Protection” Aromatherapy/sanitizing spray

Ah, this is tied for first as my favorite product. This product describes itself as “defense against illness, bad vibes, and stinkiness”. And it smells soooooo good. I even used it as a perfume some days. I also used this as an air sanitizer, hand sanitizer, bad-odor-eraser, and mood uplifter. I loved to use it during meditation. It seemed to work well for each job. I haven’t been sick since I got it four months ago. And I work with a LOT of sick people at my job, and I have a small child. I’m talking about coming into contact with a crazy amount of germs. Still, nada, no illness, not once.

I love that this product naturally protects against germs, because I am not particularly fond of most anti-bacterial products, as the main germ-killing chemicals are carcinogens (cancer-causing). Not so with Cloud of Protection, which is made up completely of essential oils. (That’s why it smells so amazing!)

I was thrilled that even with multiple-times-daily use, my little bottle lasted me a nice long time. It’s actually about time to get a new one.

Bath Salt

This bath salt was “magical”. On a couple of occasions, when I had a stressful day, I would run myself a bath and pour some of Nieves’ bath salts into it. I never expected much, because I’m a girl who likes her “spa days”, so I’m an old pro at salts and oils and detox mixes in the tub. But let me tell you what: I usually have trouble falling asleep, a mixture of poor circulation (similar to RLS) in my legs which can be painful, caffeine, and a busy mind. Each time when I had a bath with these salts, I was so relaxed that I was able to get to sleep two hours early. I woke up in the morning feeling completely refreshed. From bath salts! I know!

I definitely thought it was the epsom salts, which are magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is known to relax your muscles and your mind and deficiencies of it are known to make a person prone to stress and anxiety. So I went and bought myself epsom salts and took baths with cups of it. Nada. I have lavender essential oil which is very calming and good for sleep. Nothing. Both of them together? Still nothing.

I would try and duplicate the formula myself, but as I stated earlier, she has pretty fancy ingredients, so it’s easier for me to just let her work her magic and enjoy the benefits.

Repeat buys: Perfect “C” Serum and Cloud of Protection Spray
Special splurge: Face Fix Mask
If I Had More Money: The rest!

Total Grade: A++

To order By Nieves or view the products, click here. To view the ingredients lists of all these products and what they do, click here.

Beautiful Skin, The Natural Way

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(Clear, healthy skin without any chemicals! I do still get a few “time of the month” breakouts, like you see here, but usually my skin is pretty flawless!)

Yesterday I talked about the process I’ve gone through to rid my life of unnecessary toxic chemicals as it pertained to haircare. Due to the response it received, I wanted to follow up with the changes I’ve made for skincare as well.

The most important part about natural skincare is that they don’t need any toxic chemicals or synthetic fragrances or fancy packages to get the job done. And I’m not talking about mushing up an avocado or banana to wear as a face mask- that’s probably good for you, but I never noticed a difference in my skin doing something like that. I like skincare that DOES something. Isn’t that the point?

So I wrote up a list for you consisting of my natural skincare products that actually work, what they’re supposed to do, and why. If that’s not enough to convince you, it’ll be easy to try it out yourself, as most of these products are in your kitchen or bathroom already. Anything that’s not in there won’t cost more than $10 to go out and get. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the cost benefits of natural skincare!

Without further ado, “the list”:

FACE

Exfoliate:

-Baking soda scrub

Clarisonic (okay, so this isn’t a product AND it’s spendy, but it supplements any skincare regimen nicely- including my own)

-Organic coffee grounds

It’s important to scrub away the dead skin to improve cell turnover for collogen production, as well as keeping them from building up and mixing with the sticky sebum from your pores, clogging them and causing white heads, black heads, and pimples.

Baking soda is a cheap, quick, and gentle way to exfoliate. All you need is a tablespoon on a wet face. Be careful not too mix too much water, because it can dissolve fairly quickly. Simple, and effective!

Organic coffee grounds don’t dissolve, but are a little coarser. I make sure to use organic coffee for this and for consuming, because there are loads of toxic chemicals in normal coffee. Especially the flavored kind!

The cool part about coffee grounds on your face is that caffeine can work as a vasoconstrictor, which makes it really good for de-puffing your eyes (it’s included in a lot of expensive department store eye gels!), temporarily tighten skin, reduce dark circles, as well as stimulate the circulation under the skin, helping produce a nice, rosy glow. The best part about this is, it doesn’t have to be un-used coffee grounds (although it can’t be decaf, or you don’t get the benefits!). You can recycle your grounds from your morning brew, or use fresh unused grounds if you’re not a coffee drinker. If I’m not using my grounds after I make some coffee, I put them in a jar that I keep in the fridge. For a quick-morning de-puff, I press the cold coffee grounds under my eyes for 10 minutes or so. You can also take it into the shower for an all-over body scrub with the same circulation benefits, as well as de-puffing benefits that have been known to temporarily improve cellulite.

The Clarisonic is fairly expensive, but is extremely effective at exfoliating thoroughly. After using the sensitive brush for only a couple days in a row, it feels just like my skin did after a microdermabrasion! It’s the smoothest my skin has ever felt.

 
Cleansing:
 
-Natural, organic bar soap like this one
 
I like using soap because it still gives me a nice lather, which breaks the surface tension of water and washes away dirt, oil and makeup. I use this method when I want an effective makeup removal or cleanse without having to rub very much on my skin or eyelashes, the way I would with oil. I really like using this with the Clarisonic brush. This is the only cleansing method I use that strips away a lot of the oils on my face, so I make sure to moisturize afterwards- because I don’t want my face feeling too dry and feeling like it needs to produce extra oil (like I explained in my I’ll Never Shampoo My Hair Again post.)
 
Makeup remover:
 
-Unrefined/raw coconut oil
 
Like dissolves like, so oil cleansing actually dissolves the surface sebum on your skin. Some people have really finicky skin, so this doesn’t necessarily work for them. I’ve never met anyone who this doesn’t work for, personally, but I’m not going to recommend it as a one-size-fits-all if I’m not positive that’s true! Test it out and see if it works for you. Chances are, it will. It removes all mascaras and face makeup as well as any remover I’ve tried, sans nasty chemicals. You can just rub a couple teaspoons worth over your face and eyes, and wipe with a dry or wet washcloth.
 
Moisturizer:
 
-Unrefined/raw coconut oil
-Cold-pressed caster oil
 
Some people don’t like the “greasy” feel of oil on their face. They liken it to the feeling of really oily skin (the bad kind) and to acne, but it’s nothing like that. I actually think it feels rather luxurious! I’ve been using oil on my face for 6 or 7 years without any adverse reactions or breakouts. I even use it to clear my skin up after a breakout! I used to have really sensitive skin and eczema (which have cleared up since clean-eating), and it helped them both significantly as well. I slather it on before bedtime, since it isn’t really practical to be shiny and oily during the day, or putting under makeup, since the makeup will just slide right off. While coconut oil is my go-to, I like to use castor for its other benefits on top of hydrating my skin as well. 
 
Anti-aging, skin tone corrector:
 
-Cold-pressed caster oil
 
Caster oil has been known to reduce wrinkles and age spots/sun spots. I use it in place of my old Clinique “Even better” Dark Spot Corrector Serum and it works just the same!
 
Eyelash moisturizer and growth serum: 
 
-Cold-pressed caster oil
 
It’s not Latisse, but caster oil has been known even to grow hair back on bald spots on people’s heads after long periods of continued use. My results haven’t been crazy, but they’ve been good. I’ve been using this on and off for 8-10 months now, and while it took quite a while to notice any difference (probably in part because I don’t use it super consistently), I have noticed this summer that when I apply mascara, my lashes are definitely longer and thicker than they were before using caster oil. So I do use a bit more mascara these days, but I won’t complain!
 
Sun protection:
 
-Unrefined/raw coconut oil
 
The trouble with most sunscreens is that they rub in or go on clear, because people don’t like those white-zinc streaks from old sunscreen. Unfortunately, this means that the molecules are small enough to penetrate the first layer or two of skin, and thus has actually has been known to cause cancer. Being wrinkle-free is not worth getting cancer for, especially when you’re trying to protect yourself from it in the first place. The white-streaks are actually the only safe kind of sunscreen, because it’s not getting into your bloodstream and filling your body with toxins. Plus, all that means is you have to rub in it a little more. Is that really so bad? For full coverage I use Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 for myself and my two year old.
 
Unlike man-made sunscreens, coconut oil has a natural SPF 10. For a nice golden-brown tan I just grab a jar from the kitchen cupboard!
 
Toner:
 
-Raw apple cider vinegar
 
ACV wipes away extra oil and dirt that cleansing may have missed, just like a regular toner, with the added benefit of restoring your skin’s natural pH. This helps to reduce the oil production and balance the skin’s natural hydration levels, as well as fight acne with its anti-bacterial properties. The measurements for this method are 1:1 apple cider vinegar to water.
 
Acne spot treatment:
 
-Raw apple cider vinegar
 
Dab a q-tip’s worth of undiluted apple cider vinegar right onto a pimple to help dry it up and the kill bacteria, all while healing the skin.
 
NAILS 
 
Nail conditioner + strengthener:
 
-Raw apple cider vinegar
 
Just like it says in my no-more-shampoo post, ACV is an excellent skin, hair, and nails conditioner, as it helps to restore their natural pH for strength, health, and beauty. I am pretty hard on my nails, and this really helps! You can also use it to condition your nails before adding polish to wipe away extra oil and balance the pH for extra long-wear nail polish. I know they always brush something on to balance the nail’s pH before I get my gel manicures for this very reason, and that stuff is much more expensive! This formula is 1:2 apple cider vinegar to water (1 part apple cider vinegar, 2 parts water)
 
Teeth, Mouth & Gums
 
Toothpaste: 
 
-Baking soda
 
 
Baking soda has long been known to be an effective breath-freshener, tooth polisher, and teeth whitener. Mixing it into a paste with water works as well as toothpaste, without unnecessary chemicals. While it does not contain fluoride, your teeth might never miss it anyway. Studies are increasingly showing that fluoride is incredibly toxic to ingest, and while it can be beneficial for your teeth topically, is not inherently necessary for the health of your teeth. Not to get all political on you, but the only studies that show fluoride IS beneficial for your teeth are funded by American Dental Association-approved programs. (In fact, this organization works really hard to run all holistic-dentistry out of business. Look into it!)
 
To improve the strength and health of your teeth fluoride-free, Dr. Collin’s Restore is an excellent choice. It re-mineralizes your teeth to protect against enamel breakdown, sensitivity, and cavities. Plus you still get that minty-fresh taste. My daughter’s paternal grandfather is an oral surgeon who has confirmed that the ingredients of this toothpaste suggest the efficacy in all its claims! 
 
Teeth whitener & oral health:
 
-Cold-pressed untoasted sesame oil or unrefined coconut oil
 
Oil pulling, the act of swishing oil around in your mouth for a period of time, has been used for hundreds of years in Eastern Medicine to detox the entire body for a wide array of health benefits. While the scientific evidence has yet to show whether these claims are true or not, it has already confirmed one thing: your entire mouth will be cleaner and healthier. Oil pulling has been shown to stop the growth of Streptoccus bacteria- the main cause of tooth decay, protect against plaque/gingivitus, and significantly whiten teeth in just a couple uses. 
 
I brush my teeth with baking soda and floss beforehand, so the oil doesn’t work on cleaning what it doesn’t need to, and swish 1 tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil around in my mouth for 15-20 minutes. Sometimes it mixes with my spit a lot and my mouth gets really full, so I spit it out and grab some new coconut oil to keep going if my 20 minutes aren’t up yet. Make sure you spit the oil out in the garbage, not the sink! Coconut oil solidifies at certain temperatures, and you don’t want it doing that in your pipes and clogging them up! I rinse my mouth out thoroughly when I’m through (it’s thought to contain a lot of the toxins from your mouth after oil pulling) and that’s it!
 
Extra, extra white teeth:
 
-Hydrogen peroxide
 
Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in all tooth-whitening products. The reason there are so many strips, trays, and gels on the market is because they supply a concentrated dose, as well as being sticky enough to stay on your teeth for a while so it can actually get to work in a short period of time. The additional chemicals and gunk that they add are not good for your teeth, and even worse for you body- which is not good news because you end up ingesting them in small amounts every time you put them on your teeth. A hydrogen peroxide rinse works as well as any high-end whitener if you use it consistently, and sometimes better. A Crest White Strip can’t get in between all the cracks and crevices of your teeth- those stay stained. Not so with the hydrogen peroxide rinse! Add one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water and swish for a couple minutes every day for professional-like results.
 
What about acne?
 
Although I’ve had my fair share of breakouts, I’m blessed enough to not struggle with them very frequently or significantly. Even so, thanks to the above natural skincare methods and a clean diet, my skin is the best it’s ever been. I used to be crazy about my skincare- spending most of my money on expensive and trendy products, washing once or twice a day, a new mask or skin cream at night, eye creams, anti-acne spot treatments, you name it. I had drawers full of department store and drug store products that worked half as well as an organic, vegan diet does for me now. Cutting out dairy and having a green smoothie every morning does more for me than that entire chest of drawers ever did! 
 
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(My morning “Glowing Green Smoothie“!)
 
I read a story recently in a magazine about women who eat Ramen noodles to afford pricey skin creams, and I was horrified. If these women only knew that they need to do the opposite for good skin! Fruits and vegetables, more than any other foods, contain a wide array of vitamins, nutrients, and anti-oxidants that are necessary for proper functioning and beauty alike. The more real nutrition that you get from your food, the more your body can use it for beauty and wellness. Your body needs nutrition first for normal, every day processes (because these are necessary for life). If there’s anything left over, your body can devote that to beauty, detoxification and wellness (because these are secondary). And that’s only if there’s any LEFT OVER. Most of us only get a serving or two of raw fruits and vegetables a day- if any- and it ALL goes to the basic processes! No wonder we see signs of gray hair and crow’s feet at age 28. 
 
I could talk about nutrition all day, as it’s a huge passion of mine, but I’ll move on. Another way to combat acne healthfully is to detoxify your body from fluoride. I just got on a little rant about fluoride in the toothpaste section, but let me tell you how it relates to your skin. Fluoride, as I said, is incredibly toxic for the human body when ingested. There are zero proven benefits, and only shown detriments. It likes to accumulate it in your body- like your brain, disrupting mental processes, and your bones, significantly weakening them. Did you know countries with fluorinated drinking water all have significantly higher osteoporosis rates? It’s uncanny.
 
Aside from many other hazards, it has an effect on a small portion of the population that is lesser-known in the dermatological community called “fluoroderma“, which is a condition caused by fluoride sensitivity that produces extreme acne that does not clear up very well even with the help of prescriptions or topical treatments. 
 
A cheap and easy way to protect your brain, bones, and skin from fluoride in your drinking water is to detox it out. This can be done by supplementing either boron or melatonin, both of which are very good for you outside of the detoxing purposes, too. I take melatonin supplements when I go to bed, and they improve my sleep. They’re cheap and safe, as melatonin naturally occurs in your body. Fluoride disrupts the production of melatonin in your brain, however, so putting it back in your body through a supplement helps replace it again. 
 
Boron is very effective for getting fluoride out from all areas of your body, and one easy way to take it is in simple old Borax. Yeah, Borax, the stuff in the laundry isle. Borax is not regulated by the FDA, so they don’t recommend it for human ingestion, although it is perfectly safe. Borax is just sodium tetraborate- a type of salt. It’s not a very tastey type of salt, which is why we don’t usually eat it, but we certainly could, if we wanted to. 1/8 of a teaspoon is all you need a day to continually detox the fluoride from your body and protect against buildup. Because it doesn’t taste very good, I add it to citrus drinks like orange juice to mask the flavor. Similar to adding a pinch of table salt to orange juice, a pinch of borax just cuts down on the acidity of the orange juice and makes it taste a little sweeter. I also add it to my morning cup of coffee, and it cuts down on the acidity level of that too, making it less bitter. A pinch here and there quickly adds up to 1/8 tsp, and that’s all it takes. A box of the stuff costs under $10, and you can imagine how long it takes to get through one when you use 1/8 tsp at a time. That’s a small price to pay for your well being!
 
If you have well water, don’t think you don’t need to detox fluoride too! Juices, sodas, soups, and all sorts of other processed and pre-packaged foods or restaurant foods and drinks contain fluorinated water. Even some bottled-waters, and the frappe you got at Starbucks last week. It’s all over the place, and your body has a hard time getting rid of it. If you haven’t detoxed it, chances are almost certain that you need to.
 
So there you have it! A little lesson on good skin and health, the natural way. Don’t take my word for it- try it out for yourself! 🙂

I’ll Never Shampoo My Hair Again, EVER. (Seriously!)

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(It had been 6 weeks since I shampooed my hair when I took this picture!)
(**EDITED 8/12/14) This past year I have been in the process of weeding out the chemicals in my life. The kind of unnecessary chemicals that are in cleaning products, skincare, hair care, makeup, non-organic produce, and so forth. I’ve chosen to do this partially to lessen my carbon footprint, and mostly for my personal health and well-being. Not to mention it’s cheaper!
Along the way I stopped using shampoo and conditioner. This may sound weird for some, or even “gross”, but I swear to you that it isn’t. I’m excited enough about it that I want to write a post to explain why you might want to give it a try too!
I came across this concept, that has been known as the “No Poo” movement, while reading online. I don’t personally like to call it that- I can’t get past the fact that poo is usually a nickname for poop, and I’m totally not into that when we’re talking about my hair. In any case, those who go “No Poo” do actually still wash their hair. We actually still condition it too. And the way we do it is actually way, way better for your hair.
So why not shampoo?
First of all, shampoo is a detergent, meaning it strips your hair completely of its natural oils. While none of us want yucky, greasy hair, stripping the oils away completely is actually counter-productive. Your scalp recognizes that all the oils are gone, and starts to pump out extra. This is why those of you who shower and wash your hair every day actually NEED to wash your hair every day: because your hair legitimately gets greasy faster than the hair of those who don’t wash their hair every day! You’ve taught it to do this. (You skin actually does this too, while we’re on the topic. This is why moisturizing after washing your face is a good idea- your skin will want to pump out extra oil if you leave it with that tight, dry feeling. And we know that’s definitely no good for acne!)
Shampoo also contains many hazardous chemicals, including fragrances, which are usually carcinogenic (aka cancer-causing) and not so friendly to your lungs when you take a whiff, DMDM hydantoin (allergy aggravator), and 1,4-dioxane (which The Environmental Protection Agency has labeled as a human carcinogen as well). Not to mention what they add in each different variety.
Also, it’s expensive! Depending on what brand you buy, what type of hair you have, and what scent you like, you might end up paying anywhere from $8-$20 every month or two. That may seem like a normal expense, but what if it’s not necessary? You could save a lot!
How do I get my hair clean, then?
That’s the best part. Baking soda! Stick with me here- it works, you guys. I had a few concerns when I wanted to try washing my hair with baking soda, too. The first is that I thought I was going to need A LOT of baking soda to wash my hair as well as shampoo. The second was whether or not it was even going to work as well as shampoo anyway. I had tried putting things like cornstarch and dry shampoo in my hair on off-days when it started getting greasy, and while it worked, it never cleaned my hair from that greasy feeling like shampoo did.
To my happy surprise, I didn’t need that much baking soda to do the trick, and yes, it cleaned my hair just as well as shampoo did. It didn’t have the nice scent like shampoo or lather into bubbles, but I’d gladly sacrifice that for the health and cost benefits.
Baking soda also doesn’t strip the oils completely from your hair, even though It totally feels like it does. No oily-ness in sight. That might sound like a half-ass job at washing your hair, but the best part is, it’s actually better. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but when you stop stripping your hair’s natural oils away completely, you won’t get greasy as often!  Your hair learns to stop pumping out extra oil all the time, and your hair gets LESS greasy the MORE you substitute baking soda for shampoo.
What about conditioner?
This is the other half of the equation, and equally exciting! I don’t use conditioner either- and let me tell you what, my hair is actually stronger, shinier, and less dry & brittle thanks to apple cider vinegar and raw (unrefined) coconut oil. A couple tablespoons of ACV in a big glass of water is all you need to condition your hair. People like to use it as a “rinse”, but I like to make sure that my dry ends get thoroughly moisturized before anything else, so I dip them in the cup and let them soak for a minute before dumping all over the rest of my hair. Then I let it sit for a few minutes while I do something else, like wash my face, and rinse it off. It does smell vinegar-y, but that smell goes away mostly after rinsing and ultimately, completely after drying.
So why ACV? Most importantly, it has a natural pH of 4.25-5.0 when undiluted. Your hair’s natural, healthy pH likes to be somewhere similar (see the table below), or just slightly more alkaline than that. Water’s pH is a neutral 7.0, and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar is all it takes for that water to become the perfect pH for your hair.
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The amazing part about this is that when your hair is at a healthy pH level, it can function correctly. The cuticle is naturally smooth and seals itself against further chemical and heat damage. You don’t need to coat your hair shaft with chemicals to protect it from these things- with apple cider vinegar, your hair can do that by itself! It also helps the pH of your scalp (see “skin” in the graph above)- eliminating dandruff, along with clearing away product buildup from mousses, gels, and hairspray, AND rinses off whatever leftover dirt and oil is still there.
Normal conditioners that you buy at the store don’t account for your hair’s pH at all. Instead, they use oils and silicone to make it feel smooth and temporarily help make the cuticle less rough. These are not necessarily good for your hair, despite how they make it feel, and regardless of what the packaging says, they cannot actually penetrate the shaft and nourish your hair on the inside. In fact, it was just a couple decades ago that hair conditioner’s main ingredient was sheep sebum. Sebum- you know, like the stuff your shampoo just scrubbed away?
Coconut oil, however, DOES penetrate your skin and hair, nourishing them both from the inside. This is due to two different components of unrefined coconut oil, which “has a ‘medium chain’ of 12 carbon atoms but the size of the molecule is only part of the puzzle. The shape of the molecule is also important. Coconut oil is highly saturated which means the carbon atoms are “filled up” with hydrogen atoms. In addition, the molecule is a straight chain with no branching.  Most oil is unsaturated (not all the carbons are ‘filled up’ and the molecule is branched.) This difference in configuration allows the coconut oil molecules to slip in between the inter-cellular spaces in the hair’s cuticle layer so it can penetrate into the cortex. …Most other oils do not have this ability. None of the other oils penetrate like coconut oil, but all of them can help lubricate hair. However, since they do not penetrate, they need to be used in a leave on product like a hairdressing. When delivered from a conditioner or other rinse off product, they will simply go down the drain.” *Please note that unrefined, or raw, coconut oil is the only kind of coconut oil with these special medium-chain fatty acids. Refined has been altered to withstand higher heats, and therefore is just pure saturated fat- which cannot penetrate into your hair or skin.
*Edit: many people have commented and asked how I use the coconut oil. Since the coconut oil makes my hair so greasy, I use it as a deep conditioning mask overnight, and wash it out in the morning.
Research shows that hair can absorb around 15% of its weight in coconut oil in an hour. An overnight soaking oil (six hours) increases absorption to around 20% or 25%!
I only have two qualms with this new type of conditioning:
1) Apple cider vinegar doesn’t leave your hair silky-smooth when you get out of the shower. It will be when it dries (much smoother than normal, in fact), but the lack of that yucky, plastic-y silicone in your hair means that you have no extra coat of silky gunk on top of your hair. This is a good thing, but it does make for some rougher-feeling wet hair. A key tip here is to make sure your hair is brushed, combed, and totally de-tangled (this is especially important for long hair like mine!) BEFORE showering, so you don’t tangle it up while it’s wet. I can get past that knowing that what I’m doing is actually better for it, though!
2) With coconut oil it is impossible to get out of your hair with just the baking soda. You must use soap of some kind to effectively wash it all… but I think that once a week or a few times a month, I’m okay with that for the deep-conditioning I get from the coconut oil. I just try to use products that contain natural ingredients (like Dr. Bonner’s)!
Measurements and tips: You can use regular white distilled vinegar, especially if you’re blonde, but it’s significantly more acidic, so the standard is 1 teaspoon per cup (8 oz) of water. Apple cider vinegar takes 1-2 tablespoons per cup (8 oz) of water. ACV rinses are safe for color treated hair- mine is part colored, part natural (I’m growing the color out) and it’s worked beautifully on both. I use anywhere from 1/3-1/2 cup of baking soda for a wash, and all you need to do is rub it right into your hair and scalp! Concentrate on the scalp area more than anything, as it’s the main area that needs clarifying. You can make a paste ahead of time, but it’s really unnecessary because when you put dry baking soda on wet hair, it has the same effect anyway.
*Edit: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! !
A lot of people have written in about how terrible this can be for your hair, about why you shouldn’t use it, etc. This is because the baking soda is very alkaline (aka the opposite pH that you want for your hair). People often mistakenly use baking soda instead of shampoo and skip the apple cider vinegar step. DO NOT DO THIS! The ACV is the step that makes your hair healthier- the baking soda is simply used as a way to get rid of the oils for people who are used to shampooing. In order to re-balance your hair’s pH after the baking soda, you MUST RINSE WITH VINEGAR AND WATER! !
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My hair after 8 weeks with this treatment! (It’s messy because I just took it down from a top-knot, but it’s strong, shiny, healthy, and grease-free!) 
Reference:
-Quantitative measurement of the penetration of coconut oil into human hair using radio-labeled coconut oil. JSCC, 2012, Vol 63.