Natural Skin and Hair Care Routine

This is my current natural skin and hair care routine.

I’ve written many posts on natural skin and hair care, and in this post I’d simply like to sum up what I myself do personally, what works for me and how I do it.

First off, I haven’t used a conventional store-bought cream on my face for over 13 years now.

But I am not all covered with wrinkles. Nope. On the contrary, people always think I am younger than my years, and I’ve got a few anecdotes to prove that. But more on that later.

Nope. Ever since I acquired a book on All Natural Skin and Hair Care the Ayurvedic Way (which unfortunately got lost in one of the 50,000 moves we’ve made), I’ve never picked up a jar of Ponds, Olay (well, except sunscreen, of course) or, G-d forbid, the one million dollar La Mer, again. (Not that I had ever tried out La Mer, I might add, fortunately for my pocketbook.)

My natural skin and hair care routine these days is the following:

I use oil to remove my makeup.

Now, I do have to add that I do use chemical, store-bought makeup. I do own and use all-natural mineral makeup as well as natural lead-free kohl, and I love it. But, you know, you get bored and you want to shake things up and try out new things, right? And much as I love, love, love kohl, the sultry, smoky, smudgy look really isn’t too work appropriate.

Well, as I was saying, getting back to my natural skin and hair care routine, I remove my makeup with just oil and some tissues to wipe the oil off. Then I rub my face a few times with a very hot, wet washcloth.

Later, I do my face in the shower. I shower at night, so it’s the perfect time to remove every last spot of makeup and go to bed with a fresh, clean face.

Once I hop in the shower, I rub oil all over my face again, then wash it off using all natural handmade soap. I have a whole bunch of them, which I alternate. And I’m always on the lookout for more every time I go to handicraft and medieval fairs, so I never run out.

But if I ever did run out, I could always resort to the all-natural handmade olive oil soaps—the original castile soap—which is made by local housewives here and sold in local drugstores.

Very, very occasionally I will put on a turmeric masque or exfoliate my skin with sugar. I do that once in a blue moon, though, because I’m lazy.

After I get out of the shower, I do NOT slather chem-filled creams all over my face. Instead, I use OIL.

I’ve written a short little guide on several oils that you can use on your face, depending on your skin type and/or problems. Oils are the main part of my own natural skin and hair care routine, and you can easily incorporate them into yours.

I, personally, like to use a variety of oils, alternating between them. Once upon a time, I used to create my own facial cream by combining these same oils + vitamin E (wheat germ) oil, aloe vera gel and a few drops of sandalwood essential oil, for the fragrance. But one day I said to myself: what the ****. Isn’t it easier to just slather on the pure oils?

So that’s what I’ve been doing every day ever since. Now, every night, I choose between extra virgin olive oil (easy to acquire here in Spain, the land of olive oil), coconut oil (not as easy to get here, but I can always find it at the pharmacy), sweet almond oil and rosehip seed oil, depending on the mood and what my plans are for the next day.

I know that there are others available, but they either don’t go with my skin type, or are hard/impossible to find here in Spain, which like many European countries has not yet discovered the modern, new-fangled, natural, going-back-to-the-land trend yet.

(Nope, it’s still chemicals all the way for Spaniards. If you ask a Spaniard about natural skin and hair care they will think of The Body Shop. Or even Mercadona.)

I find that olive oil is the greasiest, so if I’m off to an early start the next morning, I usually won’t use it, since I’m not a fan of leaving home with an oily face haha. But I once met a man who used it every day as part of his own natural skin and hair routine, and claimed he was 62 years old and he didn’t look a day over 40, not a single wrinkle. So if we can trust him about his age, well, something’s gotta be up, right?

I find almond oil the most soothing. However, rosehip seed oil gives me the MOST INCREDIBLE GLOW and makes my face look about 30 years younger (so now you know I am at least over 30).

I only use coconut oil in the summer when I have an oily face because, paradoxically for an oil, it actually dries your skin a bit since, more than making your face oily, coconut oil tends to regulate oil production. Which could mean, it makes your face dry haha.

In the morning, I actually don’t wash my face. Okay, so that makes me sound like a pig haha. But really, my face isn’t really all that dirty in the morning. I mean, what could I have possibly done to make it dirty, anyway? Rub it all over my pillow? Well, usually my pillow’s fairly clean too, so not very likely to get my face dirty from that.

(It’s a little less clean now since my cat’s discovered that he loves to curl up on it, but you probably don’t have that problem with your pillows.)

(This is my cat, not that it’s very relevant to this post haha.)

Black Kitty Cat

Nope, in the mornings, usually most of the oil has absorbed, leaving me with a bright, healthy-looking, moisturized, glowy but not oily face. In the case that it should be oily even so—which sometimes happens when I’ve used olive oil the night before—I simply wash my face with hot water and a washcloth and problem solved.

I don’t even—blasphemy and heresy!—use face cream during the day. And my face doesn’t look awful. On the contrary, my skin has never been better.

Just as an anecdote (and cos I love to show off hehe), one day last year I was walking down the street with my son, and we passed a group of his schoolmates. They all started whistling and jeering at him (but in a good, fun-loving way): “Whoo-hoo, Ermenegildo*! Hey, look, Ermenegildo’s got a girlfriend. Who’s your girlfriend, Ermenegildo?”

My son looked at them and asked: “Who are you talking about?”

They pointed at me!

Well, he burst out laughing and told them: “That’s not my girlfriend! That’s my mother!”

Well, to continue with the anecdotes (even though they are totally irrelevant to this post, but I love to show off and they do at least give you an idea of what my skin is like as a result of following this natural skin and hair care routine for the past 13 years).

My son has decided to change high schools this year. So that, of course, led me to run around the city scouting out different high schools for him. Yes I know, he could do it. But does the youth of today ever do anything nowadays if you’ve got a mami to do these things for you?

So I entered into a high school to find out about the programmes that they offered, and the lady at the desk asked me: “Yes, are you interested in attending this school next year?”

Now, I nearly did a double take. I mean, this was a high school, not a university. And I haven’t stepped foot in a high school since…… well, let’s say people the age of my son hadn’t even been born yet the last time I attended a high school haha.

And one last anecdote, which I love love love. One day, I opened the door to—surprise surprise—a sleazy salesman. But unlike other sleazy salesmen, he didn’t plunge right into his boring spiel right off.

Instead, he stared me over, then blubbered out: “Young lady, would your mami or daddy happen to be in the house? I’d like to talk to them, if you don’t mind.”

I kid you not. This actually happened to me. And not such a long time ago, so it’s not like I’m telling you about something that happened in the twentieth century haha.

Well, I nearly leapt onto this salesman and hugged him. But I didn’t do that. I slammed the door in his face instead. Not because I was upset with him nor even because he was a salesman, but because I was so flabbergasted I didn’t know what else to do. A minute later, I wished I’d hugged him instead, though.

So, if you should just happen to be the salesman in whose face I slammed the door, or if you happen to be a salesman and someone (who apparently looked like a teenaged girl) once slammed the door in your face, please know that I’m sorry, and it had nothing to do with you as a person.

On the contrary, I’d love to hug you.

But back to this blog post on my all natural skin and hair care routine.

As I was saying, I don’t use face creams or day creams, not even during the day. Usually, the oils that I’ve dumped on my face the night before are more than enough to keep my skin wildly gorgeous.

Chemical-filled, store-bought creams have no place in a natural skin and hair care routine, or at least not in mine. And that includes the creams that you wear to face the world every day.

However, sun protection is a major issue in our life, and I don’t believe in skimping on sun protection.

Having said this, I know that chemical sunscreens are also a major source of cancer. I have a vague idea that there are studies out there that sort of prove it, although I can’t actually give you the references at this moment, because these are just the little tidbits of information you go along picking up as you go through life or browse around on the internet on a lazy day.

But we all know (or at least suspect) that chemicals are toxic and do at the very least often contribute to the development of cancer. So it only makes sense to avoid them in every way possible. And that includes in your sun cream.

I’ve never as yet found any brand of sunscreen which is 100% natural and also satisfies me and also works. I think the ones I liked best in the past were all the ones by L’Oréal, because they use Mexoryl, which is a broad spectrum sunscreen and when I used it, I didn’t tan at all. And it didn’t leave me all greasy.

But although Mexoryl has been shown in studies to be innocuous, the medium it’s in, which is, after all, a chemical-laden cream, is not so innocuous. Such creams certainly don’t fit in with the natural skin and hair care lifestyle. Hence I’d like to avoid them if possible.

I recently found a couple of brands of sunscreen which are made of all natural ingredients and which I can get in Spain (ie. I don’t have to order them from the US, which is both pricey in terms of shipping as well as taking a long time to arrive). As you might expect, since Spain hasn’t exactly jumped on the natural skin and hair care bandwagon yet, I do have to order them online.

These brands are Badger and DeVita. I just ordered Badger yesterday and I’ll let you know how I feel about it in a future post. (I ordered it from iHerb which carried it at the lowest price plus—the shipping was free!!)

Well, as I was saying, in my natural skin and hair care routine, I don’t use face creams other than sunscreen. However, I do use makeup, as I’ve described above.

Incidentally, aloe vera gel has an SPF of about 6, I believe it was (I read about it in some article on the internet but of course I didn’t take note of the source). Shea butter has an SPF of about 4-6 and coconut oil has an SPF of about 2. I’ve read some sites that say 4, but if you only use coconut oil you do tan, so obviously it isn’t keeping all the sun’s rays out of your skin.

Nonetheless, if you wish to continue with your natural skin and hair care routine all the way, you might wish to consider these for sun protection if you are only going to be outside for a few minutes. For example, walking from your car to your office, or running to the neighbourhood grocery store.

At any rate, it’s important to get your 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure on your skin every day in order for your skin to produce vitamin D, which is necessary to protect yourself from cancer. But on the other hand, if we go out all day, we’re in the sun for way more than 20 minutes. So then we need sun protection.

How I wash our clothes also came under bombardment when I jumped on the natural skin and hair care bandwagon. After all, you wear clothes every day, and they touch your skin every day.

I’ve now also switched over to using natural soap flakes to wash all our clothes.

I’d already been doing that for years, but other people were all swearing by their respective laundry detergents and I wanted to give them a try. Well, not only are conventional laundry powders and liquids expensive, they don’t even work as well as soap. At least not on our super dirty, male-dominated laundry.

So it’s back to soap flakes for me. Our clothes come out clean and spot-free, even when they’re very dirty. And it’s cheap, too. Well, cheaper than laundry detergent, at any rate.

Plus it’s all natural.

I’ve also started on a new no ‘poo routine. Which you’d only expect, seeing as I’m writing about natural skin AND hair care. You can read all about what I’ve been doing so far, here: Going No ‘Poo.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Do you have an all-natural skin and hair care routine you’d like to share? Don’t be shy, tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

*not his real name

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

All Natural Skincare

Bentonite Clay for Hair

Going No ‘Poo

Thrillers by Moi

Advertisements

Castile Soap and Coconut Milk for Hair

I’d read about using castile soap and coconut milk for hair, and I wanted to give it a shot.

I’ve been on a no ‘poo craze for the past few weeks. Now three weeks since I last dropped a drop of conventional, commercial shampoo on my hair and counting.

I’d recently tried shikakai and bentonite clay for washing my hair, you can read about the results here: Shikakai and Bentonite Clay for Hair.

I was very happy with bentonite clay (not so much the shikakai, but you can read about why in the post) but, just as people who use ordinary shampoos have a grand variety of hundreds of shampoos to choose from, why couldn’t we no ‘poo-ers also enjoy that luxury? So I wanted to try out new methods.

I’d used natural, handmade shampoo bars before, but they are hard to get where I live and I have to order online from the US. Well, I’m sure natural, handmade soaps are available online from Europe as well, but I wasn’t going to go to the bother of thumping about all over the internet for them. (I know Lush have them, but some of them contain sodium lauryl sulfate which is a chemical we are definitely trying to avoid.)

I could occasionally find some at handicraft or medieval fairs, but those only come by about once a year and then what will you do to get natural handmade shampoo bars in between?

So I turned to castile soap and coconut milk.

Now, I might add that the famous Dr Bronners castile soap is NOT available here in Spain. Or at least not in my city. Perhaps if you live in Madrid you can find it, you can get anything in Madrid.

But I live several hours away from Madrid, so going shopping there is not an option for me.

However, I could easily get a hold of natural soap bars, castile soap bars. Local housewives here make them with olive oil and sell them to local drugstores for a very low price.

And Jabón Lagarto, another natural choice for those of us who live in Spain (although it’s made from beef tallow so vegetarians might want to avoid it), can be obtained for literally pennies (or, well, cents) at any bazaar or supermarket.

So I decided to melt Jabón Lagarto (but it could have worked just as well with the local handmade olive oil soaps—which, when you come right down to it, is indeed the original pure olive oil soap that gives its name to castile soap (Castile being a region in Spain)) in hot water.

I chose Jabón Lagarto because it is available in soap flakes, whereas if I were to use a bar of local handmade all-natural castile soap, I would have had to grate it by hand, since I don’t own a food processor.

I used a proportion of one cup of soap flakes to one cup of hot water. That turned out to be too much, since it’s a strong soap, and next time I will use only ½ a cup of soap flakes to 4 cups of liquid (taking into account that coconut milk is a liquid too).

When you use too much soap, the resulting liquid soap is not liquid! It’s solid. Hence the need for the right proportion of soap flakes. But if you use too much, just add more liquid.

I boiled 2 cups of water on the stove. Then I poured in the soap flakes and stirred and stirred and stirred. I took the water off the stove, but the soap didn’t melt and in the end I had to leave it simmering on the stove on low heat.

When all the soap had melted, I poured in a can of coconut milk. The can contained 2 cups of coconut milk, thus making a total of 4 cups of water and 1 cup of soap flakes. When it cooled down, it was solid, and I needed to pour in 3 more cups of water to get it to the consistency that I wanted. Hence, the correct proportion, at least for my soap, was ½ cup of soap to 4 cups of liquid.

The original mixture was a semi-transparent pale yellow liquid, sort of like thick apple juice. But with the addition of the coconut milk, when it dried it turned into a thick white liquidy thing.

I poured it into empty shampoo bottles that we happened to have lying around.

You can also add in a few drops of oil or essential oils for added benefits and fragrance. I’m too lazy to do that haha.

However, you can read up on a few of the natural, plant-based oils that I use in skin care in this post:

Last night I washed my hair—just my scalp, not the length—with a few drops of this natural liquid soap. And the results?

Hair Castile Soap Coconut Milk

I love my hair! It’s soft, bouncy, doesn’t feel or look in the least bit greasy and my curls are well defined.

Castile soap with coconut milk is definitely going to form a regular part of my natural, no ‘poo hair care arsenal.

And in addition, I’m now getting my kids to wash their skin and hair with the natural liquid soap that I made, so we get the additional benefit of weaning the whole family off of chemicals.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So what about you? Have you tried the no ‘poo method yet? Are you also weaning your family off of chemicals? What results have you been getting? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Hair Castile Soap Coconut Milk

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Henna

Bentonite

Thrillers by Moi

Anti-Vaccinations: Dying To Be Natural

Bentonite Clay for Hair

I’d been trying a few no ‘poo methods, and bentonite clay was my latest.

As I explained in this post, Going No ‘Poo, I’ve recently been on, as you can gather, a no ‘poo craze.

In previous posts, I’ve described a few of the other methods I’d tried, and clay was up next.

I’ve already been hennaing and oiling my hair for ages. But I was still using regular shampoo and conditioner.

Well, to tell the truth, I’d tried natural shampoo bars for a while, but although I was quite pleased with the results, they were fairly hard for me to get a hold of, as they are (surprise! surprise!) not sold in physical shops here in Spain (or at least not in my city, which might surprise no one since I don’t live in a major, large city).

So I started doing research on the internet into no ‘poo methods. Of course, in addition to bentonite clay, one of the first suggestions I encountered was baking soda and apple cider vinegar. The classical no ‘poo panacea.

However, I’d tried that once for about three weeks and my hair ended up a dry, tangled, straw-like, birds-nest mess. (Nope, no oily transitioning period for me, just dry dry dry!) So I gave that up.

(I’ve since read that often curly hair just doesn’t agree with baking soda. Of course, that is not the case with everyone, but it clearly does not agree with me.)

Looking into the internet a bit more, I discovered posts which explain that baking soda does indeed have a tendency to dry your hair out due to its extreme alkalinity. Now, our skin and scalp are naturally acidic, so extreme alkalinity is, needless to say, absolutely no good for us and just the opposite of what nature intended for us.

I figure, baking soda would probably still work for people with oily scalps and hair, but my hair is naturally thick, coarse, wiry and dry as a whistle (or perhaps a thistle hehe). So it only stood to reason that it wouldn’t work for me.

Then, I read about bentonite clay and rhassoul (pronounced grrrassoul, like a growl deep in your throat). (Just showing off that I once studied Arabic for a few days haha.)

I couldn’t find any place to get a hold of rhassoul (or ghassoul as some spell it) here in my city, but I wandered into my friendly neighbourhood health food store, where I usually buy my henna, and lo and behold! was I ever in luck! They just happened to carry a huge, transparent plastic sack full of bentonite clay.

Needless to say, I immediately made off with it.

Bentonite Clay Hair

(Okay it just turns out to be the same colour as the wall behind it but not much I can do about that, our walls are all this same colour!)

Since I’d just hennaed my hair a few days ago, and henna can be drying (although I didn’t find that to be the case with me), I decided to oil my hair. But since I was going no ‘poo, I needed something strong enough, but that would still be natural, to get out all the oil.

Would bentonite clay do the trick?

Well, I tried it. After all, mud (because, when you come right down to it, that is just what clay is: mud) is famous for getting off all the oil from a place. It just sucks it right up.

Bentonite clay also sucks up all the toxins, lousy chemicals, toxic heavy metals, dirt and filth in your hair, so it serves not only for shampooing your hair but also for deep cleansing it.

That is why sometimes people on a detox regime will take bentonite clay internally (that is, they swallow it). I haven’t tried that yet, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. After all, I’m sure one of the main factors contributing to the development of cancer is all the toxins we are surrounded by and eat.

So, I stuck several spoonfuls of clay into a plastic bowl (use more or less depending on how much hair you have) and mixed it purely with apple cider vinegar.

Don’t use a metal bowl or metal utensils, since I’ve just mentioned that this clay sucks up anything metallic, such as heavy metals, and you don’t want it getting activated by your bowl. You want it to get activated by the metals in your hair.

I made a paste a bit thicker than yoghurt, because I don’t like it to drip. I let it sit a few minutes and took it with me into the shower.

I wet my hair. Then covered it with the muddy bentonite clay mixture from root to tips and let it sit five minutes. Be sure not to let it dry out, so it will be easier to wash out afterwards.

It was the same as what I do when I henna my hair, but much faster and easier, because I didn’t have to worry about drips or staining my skin/the bathtub/the shower curtains etc.

After that, I just rinsed it out thoroughly with warm water. And that was it!

I didn’t even need to condition or detangle, since my hair came out naturally untangled. Just a bit of finger-combing was all that I needed.

Now, I do have to add, my hair is usually the ultimate self-tangling, birds-nest Medusa locks that twist around by themselves like snakes and tangle themselves up all by themselves. But with the bentonite clay, as with the shikakai, it didn’t tangle at all!

So, did it work to get the oil out? Well, see for yourselves:

Hair Bentonite Clay Henna

I am definitely incorporating bentonite clay and rhassoul (when I can get a hold of some) into my regular hair-care routine.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

Well, what about you? Have you tried clay, rhassoul, baking soda or any other no ‘poo methods? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Hair Bentonite Clay Henna

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

Going No ‘Poo

All Natural Skincare

Thrillers by Moi

Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

This is my recent experience with shikakai.

No, Shikakai is not the name of an exotic new boyfriend (although I wish it were haha, not only am I in the mood for a boyfriend but if, in addition, he’s exotic too, that would be really icing on the cake haha).

It’s the name of an Indian herb that is used a lot in Ayurvedic medicine as well as for natural hair care.

I’d just henna-ed my hair, and I was so thrilled with the results once again—as I always am every time I henna my hair, which I don’t do often enough—that I got into a completely natural hair care craze, and started looking up all sorts of ways that I could care for my hair in a more natural manner, and avoid carcinogenic, toxic and aging chemicals.

I’m pretty natural in my hair care routine already as it is. I frequently oil my hair, as I describe in this post on hair oiling. But I was still using all these chemical-laden shampoos filled with sodium lauryl sulphate and silicones, that you can buy in any drugstore or supermarket.

I was looking to reduce the amount of chemicals that I was using even more. Then I discovered Indian Ayurvedic herbs.

I already knew about these herbs and was in the habit of using them when I lived in Barcelona. There they have a large Indian/Pakistani community, so there are several Indian grocery stores where they sell Indian products. There I could buy amla, shikakai, brahmi, aritha and any other Indian herbs that I liked whenever I wanted.

But when I arrived here in Malaga, I found it was impossible to obtain these herbs here as there are NO Indian or Pakistani people, hence no demand for Indian products, so they are not sold here. (I’ve been told there’s an Indian food store in Fuengirola, on the Costa del Sol, but that is far from where carless-me lives.)(And if I did have a car I’d be discouraged from using it to go to Fuengirola by the hassle of trying to find a parking space haha.)

But now I am in seventh heaven and have started to use these Ayurvedic herbs again, because I’ve now discovered that I can buy them online.

There are several shops that sell them on the internet now here in Europe. One I discovered fairly recently is called Bazar Al-Andalus. They have a huge array of products and an amazing blog as well, in which they describe in detail about all the different uses of Indian and North African natural cosmetics.

Their service is also THE MOST ASTOUNDING I have EVER encountered EVER in any online store in my whole entire life. I recently ordered a few vegetable-based, lead-free kohls from them, an experience which I hope to describe in a future post.

WITHIN LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER MAKING MY ORDER, I was already holding the products in my own hands, having had them delivered personally to my door.

Okay, I suppose maybe it helped a bit that they are located in Granada, which is only an hour’s drive from Malaga.

But even so, no one is obliged to send you your order with such unheard-of expediency.

So due to that, I would highly recommend this online shop to anyone who happens to be living in Spain (they deliver nationally and internationally with very reasonable shipping rates) and would like to live a more natural way of life.

However, I’ve now discovered a site that sells Indian herbs—and also a larger variety of them as well—at a much more reasonable price, called Aromazone. I haven’t tried them out yet, but I may put up a post about them in the future if I do.

(Edited to add that Aromazone has quite a high shipping rate to Spain, 8 euros. So I think Bazar Al-Andalus will still be my natural and ethnic online store of choice for the moment, especially for smaller orders.)

All right, so on to my experience with the herb “shikakai” in particular.

I just washed my hair with shikakai, even though it’s only been 2 days since I’ve hennaed and you are supposed to wait 3 days before washing, in order to give the henna more time to bind to your hair. But I just couldn’t wait any longer hehe. I was so impatient to try out shikakai and see how it made my hair look.

This is what the box I bought in Barcelona looks like. It’s from the brand name Hesh, a very common brand in India. But you can find it from many brands on the internet.

Shikakai Hair Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

In many sites on the internet they tell you that regular use will strengthen the roots, make hair grow thicker, stronger and shinier, and nourish it with minerals. It looks like carob beans.

Shikakai Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

It’s very easy to prepare a paste with shikakai. You simply take some of the powder and mix it with warm water in a non-metallic dish, such as a porcelain, glass or plastic bowl. This is what the powder looks like.

Shikakai Powder Hair Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

Shikakai turns into a very dark brown paste like dark chocolate and it smells a bit weird, but not a bad weird. Similar to henna, a sort of plant-y, earthy, black tea smell.

You let it sit for about 5 minutes, then take it into your shower with you. Wet your hair. Then cover it all over with the shikakai paste, working it in with your hands.

Let it sit for 5 minutes (during which time you can be doing your face, your toes, your fingers…… whatever it is you usually do in your shower haha). Then simply rinse out. Conditioner is not necessary after that.

I don’t think I will be doing this too often, though, because it takes too long for me to do it. I need to use a lot because I have a lot of hair and it’s long.

So what is my verdict and what are my impressions now that my hair is completely dry and styled? (Ie. it has styled itself haha, as I never style it, just let it dry and it falls into its own style by itself.)

Hair With Shikakai and Henna

The hair LOOKS great. It’s very shiny and bouncy, much better looking than when I’ve used a drying chemical- and sodium-lauryl-sulphate-filled shampoo. It has more volume than just after I’ve washed with a shampoo. It does FEEL nice and soft and silky, which is always a plus since my thick, coarse, wiry, straw-like hair never feels silky.

However, it also feels drier than after I’d hennaed. After I hennaed I just used conditioner. However, the roots look great, with volume and oil-free.

So maybe shikakai is better for oilier hair and not as good for dry hair? Maybe for me conditioner-only washing (co-washing) is better since I have dry hair?

Or perhaps I should only use shikakai on the roots, and use conditioner on the lengths. My friend has been only washing her hair with conditioner for several months and she is delighted. The trick is to use the very cheap, large-format conditioners since these have the least ingredients and therefore less chemicals.

So I am not that impressed with shikakai, mainly because of the smell. It smells horrible!

Well, okay. It doesn’t smell that bad. But it’s not what people would call fragrant either. It has a scent of black tea, and that’s not something you want to walk around smelling like all the time. And this when I’d rinsed it out well, too, and the water was even coming out clear.

At any rate, I don’t think I’ll be using shikakai that much in the end, mainly because of the smell. Maybe I’ll use it once every few washings. I don’t wash my hair very often, usually only twice a week, as it’s long and dry.

Maybe I’d just use the shikakai when I do hair oiling, to remove all the oil instead of using shampoo for that, as it seems it would indeed remove all the oil.

(I’ve since discovered that bentonite clay is much better for that (post coming up on bentonite clay soon!). And it doesn’t leave a funky, horrible smell the way shikakai does.)

Another natural alternative I was thinking of was to use Jabón Lagarto to remove the oil when I oiled my hair, but in the end perhaps shikakai would work for that, as it seems quite astringent.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you ever tried Indian herbs or other natural hair cleansers in place of shampoo? What have been your experiences? Feel free to leave me a comment about your experiences. As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Going No ‘Poo

Henna

Proper Hair Oiling For Long, Drop-Dead Gorgeous Locks

Thrillers by Moi

Going No Poo

I’ve been on a natural health products craze lately, trying to reduce the amount of chemicals that we use in our life as much as possible. And no poo has been my latest craze.

As you may (or may not, haha) know, no poo means swearing off conventional, commercial, chemical-filled shampoos and using our own homemade ones, or ones made with all natural ingredients, instead.

I’d just hennaed my hair again after about three whole months without doing it. You can see some pics of the results here:

Henna Hair

I was so delighted with the effect of the henna, all of a sudden I was filled with the desire to never use chemicals on those glistening locks again. (The fact that I’d been researching places online to find the purest, highest-quality henna, and discovered some really scrumptious sites that sell luscious Indian herbs as well, didn’t really hurt the cause—even if it was perhaps not the best idea for my pocketbook haha.)

At any rate, if you are in Spain (or anywhere in Europe for that matter—but I am always looking for places with the best shipping rates to Spain in particular, of course), here are two sites that I can recommend. Both carry all types of henna—some of which are pure and some, well, not quite so much—as well as all manner of Indian herbs such as shikakai, amla, neem, aritha……

Bazar Al-Andalus: Carries the most delish and delightful variety of anything Indian or North African you could possibly desire, including natural, vegetarian, LEAD-FREE kohl (it is the works! One day I will write about my experiences with their kohl here on this blog). Not only are they located in Granada, which is only an hour away from my house, it literally took LESS THAN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS from the time I made my order for it to arrive at my doorstep! Is that ultra-fast shipping or what??

Aromazone: A company located in France, which is my number one choice (next to iHerb, but iHerb doesn’t carry all the scrumptious raw ingredients and raw material that Aromazone does) thanks to its incredibly low prices. To give an example, a package of shikakai from this company costs only a fraction of what it does at Bazar Al-Andalus. I haven’t ordered anything from them yet, but I am planning to.

But getting back to the subject at hand, which is: going no poo haha!

As I was saying, I started researching other hair washing methods instead.

My first experiment was with shikakai. You can read about my experiences here: Shikakai: My Recent Experiment (post coming up soon).

My next foray into no poo was with bentonite clay, which you can read about here: Bentonite Clay for Hair (coming soon too).

Next up after that is my post on castile soap with coconut milk (up soon as well).

I don’t yet have a regular no poo routine, since I’m still experimenting. Although as I’ve said, I’ve been ‘poo free for about 3 weeks now and still going strong.

So, do I ever plan on going back to conventional, chemical-filled but oh-so-easy-to-find store-bought shampoos again? Well, as long as I’m able to source clay and natural handmade soap, I don’t believe I will.

I’ve also been going chem-free in other areas of life.

I began by changing to all natural soap flakes to wash our clothes instead of regular detergent.

I’d been using soap flakes for years, but then I got to reading consumer reports on laundry detergent, and that only served to pique my curiosity. Now all of a sudden I wanted to try out all those detergents!

However, I wasn’t satisfied with the results of any conventional detergent, not even the ones touted as being the most effective, and which everyone raved about. I found that, no matter which way you looked at it, clothes simply came out cleaner—and with far less product—using simple soap flakes.

So I went back to soap flakes, and I haven’t varied since.

The only thing I haven’t been able to find yet is a natural fabric softener that actually pleases me. Now, I must make clear that when it comes to clothes, I am THE ORIGINAL PRINCESS from The Princess and the Pea.

So needless to say, clothes that come out even the slightest bit cartony, cardboardy, scratchy or stiff just DON’T MAKE THE BILL with me.

I’ve tried apple cider vinegar, regular vinegar, baking soda and any combination of the three to soften clothes. But I’m sorry, it was a no-go for me and I’m still using chemical-filled conventional fabric softeners.

If you’d like more info about going no poo, here’s a website that covers most questions on the subject: The No Poo Method.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you tried the no poo method? What have your results been? What methods do you use? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Henna Hair

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Henna

All Natural Skincare

Proper Hair Oiling For Long, Drop-Dead Gorgeous Locks

Thrillers by Moi

Proper Hair Oiling For Long, Drop-Dead Gorgeous Locks

The women of Kerala, in southern India, are renowned the world over for their long, thick, shiny locks. I think in general most people know, or consider, East Indian women as having the most beautiful hair in the world.

Genetics? Maybe. It’s certainly true that nature does seem to have endowed them with naturally long, thick, abundant hair.

But I think a great part of their secret is what they choose to DO to make the most of and ENHANCE what nature had already given them.

And among all their haircare routines, HAIR OILING is what most stands out.

If you don’t believe me, let me show you a photo of what MY hair looks like since I started a practice of REGULAR HAIR OILING:

Hair Oiling

I certainly don’t have Indian hair. And I do agree, I also don’t have kinky locks that curl inwards very tightly, so I realize that at least to a certain extent, genetics do play a part in the kind of hair you have.

But regardless of what type of hair nature decided to give you, I feel that EVERYONE can achieve the most beautiful locks and make the most of whatever you DO have naturally, with hair oiling.

Hair Oiling Basics

So, this is how I oil my hair.

I do it twice a week. You can do it just once a week, or more often if you like. The women of Kerala oil their hair absolutely every single day. They even walk around with their hair sleek with oil the whole day long, and go out on the streets with oiled hair. It’s a normal practice in their society, and if you go out with oiled hair no one is going to come up to you and say, Ew, what greasy hair you have!

Of course here in the West you can’t go out on the streets with oiled hair, or people will come up to you and say, Ew, what greasy hair you have!

But you can most certainly walk around your home with oiled hair.

Benefits of Hair Oiling

  • Oiling your hair will make your hair MUCH STRONGER and more resistant to breakage, keeping it from becoming fragile.
  • Oiling your hair will prevent split ends.
  • It will make your hair MUCH softer and shinier and bouncier.
  • It will protect your hair from damaging elements and the heat of hair styling.
  • It will encourage hair growth and prevent baldness.
  • It will help your hair grow long, since it won’t break off or fall off as much, and because you won’t have to trim it as much since you won’t have so many split ends.
  • It can repair your hair if you’ve already damaged it (and most people have damaged hair, what with chemical hair dyes, hair dryers, flat irons and hot curlers and the like……).
  • Although I don’t know if it’s true, the women of Kerala claim that oiling your hair regularly will also prevent white hair.

As I said, I do hair oiling twice a week. I always use either pure coconut oil or pure olive oil. I’ve also prepared a mixture of castor oil with olive oil which I use for the roots, as it’s supposed to encourage hair growth and prevent hair from falling.

I dunno but I do seem to find a LOT less hair shedding since I started this routine.

Steps For Oiling Your Hair

I always follow the same steps. It works, at least for me.

I begin with dry hair. I apply hair to the roots first, from the middle of the part downwards on both sides. I simply dip my fingers into the oil and rub them in the hair. I do this until all the roots are covered, and then I give myself a relaxing, soothing massage.

Next, I divide the hair into two on each side. I cover both palms with oil and stroke (or rather, pour, as I’m a bit wild haha) the oil all the way down the hair to the tips.

I do this several times until all the hair is saturated with oil.

After that, I dip just the tips of my fingers into the oil and finger comb the hair to get rid of all the tangles. I have coarse, curly hair that naturally just LOVES to tangle, so I usually have tangled hair. And I have found that this step makes a HUGE difference in the way the hair looks afterwards!

One final stroke of oil all the way through from crown to tip, and it’s done!

Your hair should look somewhat like this when it’s finished:

Hair OIling

After this, you can put your hair in a shower cap or wrap it up in a towel if you like. I find that very uncomfortable, and prefer to put my hair up in a plait. You can make one or two plaits.

Most people get satisfactory results keeping the oil on just one hour. I always keep it a minimum of two hours and longer if possible. That simply gives the oil more time to penetrate into the core of the hair shafts, which is where it works its magic.

The deeper the oil penetrates into the hair shaft, the more it is working in there, strengthening the hair and moisturizing it.

When you wash the hair later on, the oil will be stripped from the outside of the hair shaft. But if you’ve left it on long enough, there will still be oil INSIDE the hair shaft, where it will continue moisturizing your hair and providing it with flexibility and strength. Hence that glorious soft sensation after you’ve been oiling your hair.

Some people like to sleep with oil in their hair overnight and wash it out in the morning in the shower. I like to take a shower at night, so I put the oil on in the evening and keep it on until it’s time to take a shower.

If you’re going to sleep with oil in your hair, you can just cover your pillows with towels.

Washing It Out

When I get into the shower, I wash the oil out with shampoo and condition as usual, or use a hair masque.

I find one washing more than enough for the length, but I do need a second washing for the roots, which are oilier.

I used to use normal shampoo but I’ve switched to natural soap (either solid or liquid) and bar shampoo, because I want to be as natural as possible, and avoid toxic chemical detergents.

I do need conditioner or a masque at the end. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, washing the hair removes the oil on the outside of the shaft, so you still need something to smooth down the hair cuticles and make the hair soft, manageable and easy to comb. And that is what conditioner does.

The second reason is because, with the Medusa locks that I was naturally gifted with, that were programmed to tangle right from the start, the only way I can possibly get a comb through my hair is with gobs and gobs of conditioner on top!

If you have thick, coarse, curly hair like me, the best type of comb to use is a wide-toothed one. I never use a fine-toothed comb or a brush. A brush would just pull out all the natural ringlets.

But you should choose your comb or brush according to the type of hair you have and what works best for you. Straight hair seems to do very well with a vigorous brushing every day.

Dry, Dry, Dry My Hair

I always air dry my hair and shy away from dryers or irons. I really don’t understand people’s obsession with ironing away their gorgeous natural curls. Curly hair is, in my opinion, much more exciting than straight hair. And it’s also rarer, throughout the world, since the majority of people have straight hair. Which makes your curls more special, I say.

It’s true that perhaps in some countries, like Spain, curly hair is the norm. So if you live in Spain and you have curly hair, it might make you feel like your hair is ordinary and everyday and run-of-the-mill.

But really, if you look at people throughout the world, most people have straight hair and it is really straight hair that is more everyday and run-of-the-mill.

Sometimes, people with curls complain that their curls are frizzy, so they need to iron the frizz away.

Well, personally, I don’t feel like you have to grab the hair-damaging iron to get rid of the frizz. If you start oiling your hair, it should naturally become less frizzy just simply as a result of the hair oiling.

Then, if you still have frizz, there are products out there to get rid of frizz. And you don’t need to call upon the iron, which burns your precious locks.

In India hair oiling is a real pleasurable experience. People don’t have to oil their own hair there. In India people live with their extended families, so in most households there are many women. All the women get together to oil each other’s hair. So it is a very pleasurable activity. Women chat as they oil each other’s hair. Or the woman who is getting her hair oiled can do whatever she wants, watch TV, read a book, whatever, as long as she sits still, and other women oil her hair. Then she oils other women’s hair.

It’s also customary for all the women to gather together and sit down together and oil each other’s hair while they chit-chat. It’s like a quilting party, but instead of making quilts they oil each other’s hair.

Of all the things you can do to preserve the health of your hair, I feel that hair oiling is the king and the queen and reigns supreme on the list of good things you can do to your hair. If you try it and keep up a regular practice, I’m SURE you will soon notice the difference.

So, how about you? Have you tried oiling your hair? What results did you find? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. I LURRRVE (positive, non-spammy) comments from readers!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

All Natural Skincare

Henna

Blog about Blogs and Blogging

29M: A General Strike Or…… A Religious Procession?

Fried Aubergines Lite

Well, it was about time I finally got around to the recipes! I love cooking, and with two big, hulking boys around, one of whom claims to possess four stomachs – and acts accordingly – I have to do a lot of it, too. The only thing I can say is: Hurray for restaurants!

If you happen to be celiac, if you’re allergic to gluten or wheat, or you just simply want to hop onto the New Age bandwagon and avoid wheat in general, now there are some very easy-to-find, cheap alternatives.

More and more, people are trying to avoid eating wheat and products containing wheat, because even if you are healthy and have no problems with wheat, supposedly it causes some sort of inflammation in human beings, as well as making you feel full and heavy.

I like to use a combination of arepa corn flour, masa arepa, and garbanzo, or chickpea, flour.

You can get arepa flour at Latin food stores or sometimes in major supermarkets. I prefer the yellow variety, but the kind carried by the Eroski supermarket across the street from me is white.

There’s no difference between the two, other than the colour. But yellow just looks more like corn!

Garbanzo Chickpea FlourGarbanzo flour might be a bit harder to find. Now it is sold in Mercadona here in Spain, so you can get some no matter where in Spain you live. Before, I had to buy it in the Pakistani neighbourhood, the Raval, of Barcelona. When I first came to Malaga I couldn’t find it anywhere, so you can imagine my great joy and delight when I discovered it sitting unobtrusively on the shelf in Mercadona!

Here is an example of a dish I like to make using this combination of flours. These sticks look like French fries, but in reality they are sticks of fried aubergine. Now, fried aubergine is one of my favourite foods in the whole wide world!

Fried Aubergines Lite

It’s easy to make. All you need to do is peel and cut up an aubergine in long sticks. I like to cut up two, because I’m crazy about them!

I dump the flour combination in a bowl with salt and pepper. You can add spices if you like. Garlic powder, chilli powder and parsley are nice additions.

Place the aubergine sticks into a bowl of water and then draw them out one by one and stick them into the bowl of flour. The flour should stick to the sticks nicely with the humidity on them. Then you can just transfer them to a (hot) frying pan with lots of oil, preferably olive oil and not sunflower oil. (I once fried with sunflower oil and by the second batch it had turned BLACK! Never again!)

If you are lucky enough to get virgin unrefined coconut oil at a modicum price, supposedly that is even better than olive oil for frying. I am not lucky enough to get coconut oil at a modicum price here in Spain, so I use olive oil. (If you are in Spain, Fitovitalia now sells coconut oil at high range jewellery prices. They have a shop here in Malaga but will ship to anywhere in Spain for a very very reasonable shipping rate. Vamos, let’s just say, it costs less for them to ship the package to my door than it does for me to pack up my two kids onto a city bus to and from the store.)

These aubergines coated in this gluten-free combination come out light, crispy, delicate. They don’t leave you feeling fat and full and like you need a nap urgently, the way wheat flour does.

My youngest son loves anything that you can put into your mouth, so we usually share this plate together. My oldest won’t look at anything that comes from a plant or grows from the ground, so he usually passes.

Eggplants

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

All Natural Skincare

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

Hot Muggy September Nights

Blog About Blogs and Blogging