Adventures in Homemade Toiletries

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Trying to cram months of learning into two weeks is not easy and I have only scraped the surface of the world of homemade toiletries.  I find the idea of being free from the packaging, expense and dependency on these products really attractive.  There are a lot of recipes to be found on Google and reviews and tutorials on YouTube.  I would like to spend more time mastering these methods but for the purposes of this two week Zero Waste experiment here are my findings:


I visited the Body Shop in Foyleside today as I had heard something about biodegradable shampoo.  At first I thought this was a reference to the bottle it came in but I learned that it refers to the actual shampoo. The bottle is a recyclable PET code 1 plastic (like most shampoo bottles) – I’m becoming an expert in these matters!   I knew that conventional shampoos contain harmful chemicals such as the foaming agent Sodium Laureth Sulphate but I had only thought about the harm this caused to humans.  It never crossed my mind that the shampoo that goes down the drain when you wash your hair could be toxic to aquatic organisms.  I spent £11.50 on shampoo and conditioner which is a little bit expensive but worth it remove daily exposure to harmful chemicals. Read more about The Body Shop’s Environmental Policy here:

Today’s expedition to the Body Shop ended six days without shampoo or “no poo” as the movement is commonly called.  The goal is to stop shampoo dependency so that the natural oils in your hair find their own balance.  The problem is that there is a transition period of about 2 to 6 weeks where your hair will feel dirty.  I experimented with every day kitchen ingredients as shampoo alternatives:
Baking powder and water as a shampoo alternative- I found this worked pretty well but didn’t leave my hair as clean as shampoo would.
Apple Cider Vinegar and water:  This is supposed to make hair shiny, it didn’t in my case although it’s possible I didn’t use it correctly.
Oatmeal, baking powder and pure cocoa powder:  A recipe for dry shampoo for brunettes, rubbed into the scalp and brushed out.  I was skeptical about the idea that putting food in my hair was going to clean it and I didn’t feel any cleaner after trying it.  An hour after using it I couldn’t take it any more and rinsed in the shower with baking powder.

Hair Serum

For many years I have used coconut oil to tame my frizzy hair, it works well and it only takes a tiny amount.  It is also good for hydrating the skin but too heavy for the face in my experience.

Dental Hygiene

I have replaced toothpaste with bicarbonate of soda for some brushings.  It works really well, my teeth feel clean afterwards but I miss the minty taste.  I have found recipes on the internet with peppermint oil and xylitol but I don’t have any of these ingredients to hand.

Oil Pulling is an Indian oral hygiene method that I discovered last year.  You take a spoonfull of sesame, sunflower or coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 15 minutes once a day.  Doing this on a consistently will remove plaque and there are claims that it can improve overall health and cure all sorts of diseases.

Rinsing the mouth with salt and water is a effective alternative to mouth wash.

Hair Removal

Sugaring is an old method of hair removal, the ingredients are:
8 units of sugar: 1 unit of lemon: 1 unit of water

I had one failed attempt at this, apparently it takes several goes to get the consistency right.  It is supposed to be a honey coloured light consistency, mine turned into a thick tar that stuck to the saucepan.  I tested a drop for temperature on my finger and I have the blister to prove it.  This will definitely take a lot of practise. It smelled good though.


Shower gel bottles can usually be recycled but I bought some bar soap in order to reduce the packaging to just the cardboard box it came in.  I haven’t used bar soap since the eighties I remember my mother combining several ends of bars into one new one, they certainly were a less wasteful generation.  I assumed that bar soap would contain less chemicals than its liquid counterpart but on inspection I discovered that the particular brand that I bought last week
also contains the dreaded Sodium Laureth Sulphate.


I have read that deodorant can be replaced by lemon juice although I haven’t actually tried this.
I have never been able to stand the smell of deodorant and I find the best way to be odour free is to eat healthily and avoid animal products.

Ear Cleaning

I found these organic, biodegradable cotton buds in The Body Shop today for £2,50 a box.  I’ve been using a wash cloth on myself and the children and that works well and is less expensive.

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I asked permission to take the photograph for my Zero Waste blog and got a strange look from the shop assistant.  I’m getting used to that look, it’s part of being a Zero Waster.

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