Sunday, February 17, 2008

Trim the Fat: Shower Edition

As trimming my body fat is not going especially well, I'd like to emphasize ways in which I am successfully cutting back for the Trim the Fat Challenge. One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways has been in the shower. Instead of plastic bottles upon plastic bottles of shampoo, soft soap and conditioner and a disposable razor, I'm looking for cleaner ways to stay clean.

For shampoo, I've switched to the Burt's Bees Rosemary Mint shampoo bar. It is packaged in a 100% paper and therefore recyclable and biodegradable package. No plastic! Better still, it is comprised of a relatively short list of "99.9%" natural ingredients. It cleans wonderfully with no paraben-laced residue and leaves behind an invigorating scent. If you want to be truly low impact, though, you could always check out Simply Green Living and learn how to give up shampoo entirely.

With regard to conditioner, I've followed the advice of Life Less Plastic and many other savvy bloggers and switched to a vinegar rinse. Life Less Plastic shared her recipe here. Basically, you mix a large amount of hot water with a small amount of vinegar and a tea bag or herb for scent. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then apply 3/4 cup or so to your hair after shampooing. The only tea I had on hand was child's Cold Care from Traditional Medicinals - maybe it will at least boost the immunity of my hair! Nonetheless, the vinegar rinse works like a charm, leaves my hair not smelling like a pickle jar and is housed in a repurposed plastic condiment tube. Win, win, win!

I'm still using up an enormous bottle of Whole Foods liquid soap but, once that is done, I'll switch to lavendar bar soap purchased at the farmers' market and packaged in a simple paper band. As to the razor, I'm not as brave as Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish, who has switched to a metal safety razor (go Beth!). I am still using a plastic razor handle I bought eons ago with disposable heads. I only swap out the head once a year and I have several left. When I go through those, I may reevaluate.

That is how my shower, if not my body, trimmed the fat this February.


Wendy said...

Oh, Jeff's been thinking about getting one of those metal safety razors for quite awhile. I may have to get him one for his birthday, even though they scare me.

Wendy said...

Oh yah, and thanks for the tip on the Burt's Bees soap. It looks great and I've been trying to find some good soap lately. I'm *this* close to learning to make it from scratch.

Green Bean said...

I don't know why those safety razors seem so scary - I mean, that's what everyone used a few decades ago, right?

Let me know how the soap making goes. I've been wanting to try but, as I still haven't mastered making yogurt which seems so easy for everyone else, I haven't graduated to soap yet. Post about it if you make it!

n. & J. said...

My fiance and I both switched to metal razors (i have a safety razor and he has a straight). You can check out our reviews at our blog

It's really not as scary as it seems although we both nicked ourselves the first time. You just have to use a lighter touch with shorter, slower strokes to start and make sure you use a good shaving cream and you will be good to go. We are going to attempt to make our own shaving cream. We'll post about that too :)

We also going to try to make our own soap. We are running out of store bought so we figured we would give it a go. We had to do some searching to find lye and ended up having to get it online... Once we get it we'll let everyone know how it goes.

Depending on all that we'd like to try beeswax candle making.

katecontinued said...

When I was a little girl of 12 I used the Gillette razor, with the double sided razor blades, to shave under my arms and to shave my legs. Believe me, it is again the sales propaganda that made us feel so afraid. It worked as did millions of products, until corporations needed to convince us we needed some sort of 'improved', more 'convenient', more 'attractive' or 'safer' version. Every one of those modifiers is subjective. We are duped 24/7.

On the issue of soaps, I finally took a bottle to the local 'environmentally friendly' store and simply filled my bottle from their big vat of Dr. Bonner's.

katecontinued said...

Damn, I just found the story I remembered reading at the end of last year. Did you know that Clorox bought Burt's Bees? The story is here.

I haven't read when and how the final sale happened, but I did notice another product owned by Clorox that is full steam ahead on green washing ads. That product is Greenworks.

Jennifer said...

I just have to throw it my "WHY SHAVE?" comment. :) I stopped shaving my legs at 16, and haven't looked back. I have dark thick brown hair, too, if anyone is wondering... so everyone can TELL I don't shave.

I'm going to have to try that soap. I had bad experiences early in life with scented soaps (both natural and unnatural), and so settled on Dove Hypoallergenic Body Wash, but I'm really wanting to STOP using that plastic bottled, tested on animals soap. Time to do more soap trials! (Fingers crossed for no itching).

katecontinued said...

Jennifer, I wish I'd said that about shaving. I stopped shaving my legs and pits many years ago (except once or twice a summer for a cooler, fresher feel). I am counting on finding more facts like this here and on other blogs. The market is huge for these soap items.

Raw Vegan Mama said...

Thanks for the link!

My husband likes the Rosemary Burt's Bees Bar, too!

We have a double edged safety razor, a Gold Gillette (bought from an antique shop -- new still in box, for $10). My husband has used it for months and loves it. I just tried it yesterday and am prety happy.

here are directions we found:

"Don't use long single strokes, as with cartridge razors; short repeated strokes work better. Your razor doesn't have a pivoting head, so you must use your wrists to angle it to the contours of your face. Expect a few minor nicks and scrapes for the first few days, while you get used to handling your new razor. After about a week, you'll be shaving like a pro. "

On amazon we bought 100 blades for less than $50 -- so we are set for quite some time!

Chile said...

I'm such a bad challenge host. Not only have I not done my second week update, I'm just now getting to everyone's Sunday reports. Sorry!

My body only likes Ivory soap unfortunately. Things get out of whack whenever I start messing around with other kinds. I tried giving up all shampoo and wasn't happy. The baking soda method works ok but I noticed that I lose more hair when I do that, so I opted just to shampoo less frequently. (Shower less, too.) The vinegar rinse has been working fine for months.

You know, I have to admit that sometimes I'm tempted to shave my head just so I don't have to deal with this washing stuff. ;-)

Green Bean said...

Thanks for all the positive feedback on the razors - I'll have to check them out.

There are more bar shampoos available than just Burt's Bees though I think that is the one most readily available. As a high school and college student (before I went over to the dark side), I used J.R. Liggett and loved it. I just checked their web site now and they have several different types now available.

Over at Fake Plastic Fish, Beth discovered a company called Lush which also sells a bar shampoo and better still a bar deodorant. Check it out.

Thanks everyone!

Raw Food Diva said...

wax your legs. it grows back thinner softer and slower. and you can wax other body parts too!
the wax is biodegradable.

CindyW said...

I have used the TJ vegetable based bar soap. The only problem with that was it would turn kinda rancid if I did not use quickly (apparently the free vegetable fat in the soap gets oxidized). Bar soap lasts forever, especially since I don't use it every time. I experimented by putting it in a lidded container. It seems to work better. I have been using Lush shampoo bar and like it. Then again, my hair is quite low maintenance, and easy to manage.

kale for sale said...

I recently tried to transition from salon shampoo to soap to ... I haven't quite gotten that last step down. Let me just say that washing my hair with Dr. Bonner's wasn't pretty although it works great for the rest of me.

Green Bean said...

Hmmm, Katrina, I don't know much about using regular soap for hair. The shampoo bars look like soap but lather like you wouldn't believe. Post about it if you ever work it out. :)

Jan said...

I have a shampoo recipe that's worked well for me--don't think I'm ready to give up shampoo altogether yet.

1/2 T olive oil
1 T honey
1/4 c Dr. Bronner's or other liquid Castile soap (I like the unscented)

You have to shake it up before you use it because it separates. The oil and honey make it very gentle for dry hair. I use a vinegar rinse afterwards and then I need conditioner, too (at least in the winter).

I'm looking to replace the conditioner with something homemade--any ideas? I've tried olive oil, but it doesn't work well for me.

Anonymous said...

I recently (for a week now) went soap/shampoo free in the shower. I read about it on Instructables web-site, and decided to give it a try. Basically, you use the wonder product, Baking Soda, to "wash" with. I dumped some from a box into an old vitamin container I had (I re-use those things for all kinds of stuff), so it would stay dry in the shower. You get in, hose down, and toss some baking soda in your hand. Trickle just a bit of water into it, rub your hands together and run through your hair, pits, crotch, body, everywhere. This stuff is freaking amazing. For the longest time I was suffering from seabhorreic (sp?) dermatitis...oily dandruff...that would itch. It was eventually got to my face, too, where my cheeks would flare up red, scale, itch, etc. When I first bathed with the baking soda, it was as if my face was peeling off. I used to wash with scratchy, exfoliating wash gloves, thinking they worked good. Not a chance, compared to the baking soda. It dries out all the oil from the dead skin in like 20 seconds. So, after you get done buffing it through your scalp and body parts and rinse it off, you may notice lots of dead skin coming off the first few times. This is also due to your body being used to using soap, and over-compensating for the drying with more oil. After the first shower with baking soda, my face was very glowing and radiant since all the dead skin was washed off. Since then, my dandruff has disappeared. I don't produce much body oil to begin with, so I use baking soda in my hair every other day. However, I use it daily on my pits and nether regions, and use lemon or lime juice daily as a hair conditioner and hair/body/face astringent too. I recently decided to add a little vitamin E oil to the lemon juice, and it works as a wonderful conditioner. Seriously, you can live without soap in the shower. I even shave with the baking soda. I've noticed I get a cleaner shave when I do, since I don't have a layer of dead skin preventing me from getting a close shave anymore. Folks at work have also noticed, and keep asking me what my secret is. They don't believe me when I tell them. Likewise, I switched to using Baking Soda + Ivory bar soap to do laundry with. Folks talked about using Washing Soda (which is hard to find), but baking soda works as a gentler cleanser in the wash. Some add Borax, but that can fade color clothing, so I only add borax to white loads. Some use Zote or Fal Naptha soap, shredding it and making these weird concoctions. But I don't like how smelly/perfumy/chemically they are. Instead, I got pure ivory bar soap, which is low-suddsing. I just shred some up with a knife into a bottle of hot water and let it sit for several days. It softens up and I shake it periodically, and you just dump 1/2 cup into the washer with 1/2 cup baking soda. Add a couple tbsp's borax for a white load in addition, and you have clean laundry without the harsh smells or funky chemicals.


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