Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mulligan Mama Tries It Out: Homemade Hair and Face Treatments

Mulligan Mama Tries It Out: Homemade Hair and Face Treatments
If you're like me, the advent of Pinterest has inspired me to try many crafts, recipes, and homemade concoctions that I normally wouldn't try. The blog posts promising "the best cookies EVER!" or "100 uses for coconut oil!" are very enticing.  I've tried many food recipes and loved them... and others, not so much. Since I'm always looking to save money and go green, I decided to try several beauty "recipes" for hair and face that, in theory, could be cheaper and greener than expensive store brands.  Here's what I found:

1. No 'Poo-
I tried the "no shampoo" craze several years ago, in the pre-Pinterest days of homemade beauty. I "washed" my hair with baking soda and water and "conditioned" my hair with apple cider vinegar and water. I adjusted the amounts based on how my hair felt afterwards. I remember my hair felt really weird the first few days, kind of like straw. But after awhile, it was soft and much easier to style. But... I didn't stick with the regimen. Why?  Because I love to shampoo my hair.  It feels nice and smells good. I buy cheap shampoo, so it doesn't cost me much money. What I ultimately decided to do was wash my hair every other day or every three days. My hair is smoother and healthier because I allow the hair oils to stay put rather than strip them off each morning. My hair was really greasy at first, but eventually it adjusted to being washed less frequently.

Short Review of No 'Poo- It doesn't hurt to try it and see if you like it, but you need to try it for at least a couple weeks to get to a place where your hair doesn't feel weird. Or try shampooing less frequently to see if you get the results you want.  (I don't have a link for a particular No 'Poo recipe, but if you search for it, you will find tons!)

2. Hot Oil Treatment for Hair
I often have trouble with dandruff, and no dandruff shampoo ever seems to work. I read these two Crunchy Betty blog posts on hot oil treatments for hair and scalp and decided to give it a try:

I decided to try a concoction of coconut oil (Viva Labs The Finest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce), castor oil (NOW Solutions Castor Oil, 100 % Pure, 16 ounce), sweet almond oil (NOW solutions Sweet Almond Oil, Moisturizing Oil, 16 ounce), and tea tree oil (Tea Tree Oil 4 fl oz Liquid ). I ordered all the ingredients from Amazon (with a gift card I got for Christmas--woohoo!). I mixed about 1 Tb each of the first three oils and a couple drops of tea tree oil, which I read was good for dandruff.  (I warmed the coconut oil up in the microwave first, then added the other oils.)  I poured it on my head using a small squeeze bottle I had on hand and massaged it into my scalp. Then I slapped on a shower cap and left it on for about a half an hour. I was planning to leave it on longer, but the shower cap elastic started bugging me. Then I hopped in the shower and massaged some warm water into my hair, working the oil into my scalp and down to the ends of my hair. Then I washed it out with a little of my regular shampoo.

I did notice right away that my scalp didn't itch the rest of the day in the spots where it usually starts to itch. It didn't look as flaky either.  I knew further treatments would probably do more good, but I had to be honest, it was a bit time consuming and messy to warm up the coconut oil, mix it together, and slap it on my head. So I decided to simplify the recipe with 1 part castor oil and 1 part sweet almond mixed together that I leave in a squeeze bottle in the shower. At the beginning of my shower, I work some of the oil onto my scalp where I have trouble with dandruff, leave it on for 5 minutes (while I shave or sing a song or something), then wash and condition as normal. My dandruff has been almost non-existent since I started doing this 2-3 times a week!

Short Review of Hot Oil- If you have time to treat yourself to a hot oil treatment, it feels nice and leaves your hair soft and scalp less itchy. If you don't have time, using oil in the shower seems to work just as well. (The added benefit is that same oil works great as a post-shower moisturizer for the rest of your skin-- see #4!)
1 part castor oil and 1 part sweet almond oil for hair, scalp, face, cleanser and moisturizer
1 part Castor Oil and 1 part Sweet Almond Oil-- hair and scalp oil, facial cleanser, and all-around moisturizer!
3. Coconut Oil Face Wipes
I hate washing my face at night, but I know if I don't do it, I get zits. Plus I wake up looking like a raccoon from mascara smeared under my eyes. So I have been using generic make-up removing face wipes from the store. They work really well in removing make-up, especially mascara. When I saw this recipe for homemade face wipes, I decided to give it a try:

I followed the recipe exactly, including the distilled water and washing all utensils with boiling water to reduce the chances of mold growth. I had no trouble making it. The wipes did leave my face feeling soft and moisturized. But, I found it took 2-3 wipes to do the job of 1 store bought wipe, and the homemade wipes didn't do as well at removing mascara. I usually smeared some Vaseline on my eyes and then used the homemade wipe to remove the black gunk. The other issue... I don't really care for the scent of tea tree oil.  Some people love it, but I'm not one of them. I didn't look forward to opening the container at night to smear my face with something that smelled a bit funky to me. In hindsight, I could have added lavender oil or some other good smelling oil to counteract the tea tree oil.

Some reviewers on that blog mentioned having trouble with mold, but it took over two months before I noticed any mold, and even then, it was only one spot. If I was using it every night (which I wasn't), I might have used it up before the mold ever appeared.
Small spot of mold on homemade coconut oil face wipes.
Small spot of mold on homemade coconut oil face wipes.
Short Review of Coconut Oil Face Wipes- They work, but not as well as store bought wipes for mascara removal. By the time you buy coconut oil and tea tree oil, you might not be saving as much money as generic store bought wipes. The recipe could be modified to smell better if you don't like tea tree oil.  Adding more of the solution might have made one wipe go further.

4. Face Washing with Oil/ Overall Moisturizing with Oil
Since I had several different oils on hand for these experiments, I decided to try a modified version of Crunch Betty's Oil Cleansing Method for your face:

I didn't want to do this at the sink, because we don't have any counter space, and I'm the one who gets to clean the bathroom, so I didn't want an oil spill to clean. I decided to "wash" my face with oil in the shower in the morning. I smeared my concoction of 1 part castor oil and 1 part sweet almond oil that I use for my hair onto my face and rubbed it in.  I left it on for a couple minutes, then washed it off with my normal face soap (which is usually either baby soap or castile soap). The oil washed off any residual mascara that I had missed the night before and left my skin feeling very soft. I didn't have to use face lotion afterward, or at least, not as much. My face often has dry patches in the winter, but it didn't when I started doing this method 2-3 times a week (usually the same time that I do my hair and scalp).

My skin gets very sensitive when I'm pregnant, and I break out in a rash when I use my normal soap and lotions. So I have to use Ivory or castile soaps during my pregnancy, and expensive Aveeno lotions to prevent rashes. I tried using this oil on my skin after the shower to moisturize, and it worked really well.  No rash--just soft skin.

Short Review of Washing with Oil- We usually think oil will clog pores and leave our skin feeling greasy, but 1 part castor oil to 1 part sweet almond oil has become my go-to regimen for dandruff control, face washing in the shower, and after-shower moisturizing.  One bottle of premixed oil stays in the shower, and I just shake it up before I use it (see picture under #2).

5. Dyeing Hair with Tea
I'm a red head, and as I get older, my red seems to fade.  I decided to try this blog's suggestion of using tea to dye my hair:

I used Rooibos tea as suggested for red heads, which I had on hand, and steeped it for about 5 minutes before applying it to my hair.

It was a mess. I splattered tea everywhere--on the sink, the tub, the floor, the bathroom rug. Tea will stain, so I was trying to clean it up quickly while my hair was dripping.  I put my shower cap on and left it the recommended amount of time.

Did it work?  No. As I rinsed my hair, I was rinsing all the red tea right down the drain. My hair didn't look any redder to me when it dried. Perhaps with continual use it might? I don't know. It was too messy of an experiment to try again.

Short Review of Tea Dyeing- Maybe it changes the color if you leave the tea on your hair to dry and don't rinse it out, but I have a feeling that would leave your hair with a strange texture. The color rinses right down the drain, and it's a bit messy.  Save your tea for drinking! (Or sunburn relief--which does work for me! Future blog post this summer, perhaps?)

So, all in all, some recipes worked well, some not so well.  My experiments further reinforced to me that you can't trust everything you read on the internet (shocking, I know!!), and blogs of beauty recipes are just one person's opinions and experience, not scientifically verified or tested. Including my blog and this very post! These were just my experiences. Maybe something will work better for you or not work for you at all. But if you were thinking about giving any of these a try, hopefully my anecdotal evidence will help you get started or avoid something all together.

And speaking of not believing everything you read on the internet, there are a LOT of claims about the benefits of some oils and the dangers of others. Listen, folks, coconut oil will not cure cancer and mineral oil will not kill you. How do I know this? Because there are no scientific studies proving either one. None. So the next time you read a Pin claiming coconut oil worked all these medical wonders or a blog freaks you out about using a certain product, take it with a grain of salt and do some further research for articles from scientific journals, NOT from a blog.  We bloggers aren't to be trusted 100% of the time, mmkay?

So, have any homemade beauty treatments worked for you?  Any disasters?  Feel free to share your experiences!

~Mulligan Mama

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