Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Low-Allergen Personal Care Products

Corn allergy, Coconut allergy, and Soy allergy make it extremely difficult to find personal care products that you can use without having some sort of reaction. I have had all three of these allergies and struggled for a long time to find something that would work for me.

I began with cutting out everything that had Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocoamidapropyl Betain, anything PEG-, as these are pretty much always derived from coconut. There are lots of other derivatives, I'm sure, but these were the hardest for me to avoid. Every single storebought shampoo and body wash I checked contained these ingredients! Health-food store products were also big offenders for me; even though they didn't have the petroleum products and long words I could hardly pronounce, they usually contained coconut, soy and corn derivatives.

After much trial and error, these are the things that worked for me. At least, I could live with them. Depending on your allergies, your mileage may vary. Obviously, if you have allergies, do your homework and make sure you are not allergic to these things before you try them.

From Head to Toe:

I gave up on conventional shampoo and conditioner a year ago. I still put conditioner on my 3yo curly-haired daughter, but it eats my hands and they are raw and cracking for a few days after I do it. I've tried wearing gloves while doing her hair, but it's nearly impossible to work it through her hair wearing the gloves. I'm looking into alternatives for her, as I'm not real comfortable using something on her that eats my hands...although it doesn't seem to bother her in the least.

If you are looking for something you can buy in a bottle that smells nice...

Blue House Soaps offers a product called Crunchy Mama Shampoo. It is made from sunflower and olive oil, and contains no coconut oil or corn. (So far, the bar soaps DO contain coconut, so be alert when shopping there.) I have ordered from her a few times, requesting the Crunchy Mama Shampoo without the glycerine(which may be soy or corn derived) and ONLY ordering scents made with safe Essential Oils, not the fragrance oils. My personal favorite is the Lavender.

I began using the Crunchy Mama Shampoo, and immediately noticed that my head did not itch like it had for years! I think it was my coconut allergy(and the hair products I was using that were based on coconut) that was causing the itching all along! If you are going to use the Crunchy Mama Shampoo as your only shampoo on a regular basis, I recommend an occasional apple cider vinegar rinse after shampooing.

Some other products that I have tried with no reactions from Blue House Soaps are the Sweet Cheeks Facial Wash and the Skin Saver Facial Wash. If you're not into the smell of neem oil, I would recommend the Sweet Cheeks Facial Wash before the Skin Saver. Again, I requested them without the glycerine.

The thing that impressed me with Blue House Soaps' Crunchy Mama Shampoo was not only the fact that I had found a product that I could actually use, but that it was a product that I could use for many purposes. I use the Crunchy Mama Shampoo for:

Face Wash
Body Wash
Toothpaste-just wet your toothbrush and put a drop on your toothbrush and brush away-my teeth actually felt cleaner with this than with toothpaste!
Hand Soap
Dish Soap(add a bit of borax to the sink)

It is nice to have one bottle in the bathroom that I can use on my hair, face, body and also be able to use it for my teeth! Talk about a multi-use product(and not having all those bottles/containers all over the place!).

If you are looking for something alternative:

Hair: Although I still use the Crunchy Mama Shampoo when I want something nice smelling, I have experimented with baking soda and apple cider vinegar hair washing. Sounds a bit crazy, right? But it works!

I had tried the "No-poo method" involving only using conditioner to wash and condition hair, but have been unable to find a conditioner that did not contain any offending ingredients.

I have two approximately pint-sized plastic cups I keep in my shower. About two times a week, I wash my hair with this method. I put a few tablespoons of baking soda in one cup, and about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar(not Heinz-it's corntaminated) in the other cup and hop in the shower with them. I wet my hair, then fill the baking soda cup with water and shake it until it's mixed up. I pour this over my head, concentrating on the roots/scalp. Massage it in. Rinse. Then I take the vinegar cup and fill it with water and shake and pour it over my hair, concentrating on the length and let it sit for however long and then rinse with cool water. Sometimes I add a bit of honey to the vinegar, as I recently read that it helps condition the hair(and I do notice a good difference when I do this).

Some people with oily hair have a problem adjusting--their hair gets uber-oily for a week or two, but if they stick with the program the body re-regulates oil production. Shampoo products on the market tend to overstrip the natural oils and cause the body to then overcorrect and actually produce too much oil. Once you do the baking soda/apple cider vineger regimen for awhile, the body figures out it doesn't have to produce so much and things get better.

To tame frizzies, I have been using Lily of the Desert Aloe Gel. It does contain corn deritavives, but did/does not smell or effect me as far as I could tell. Use it at your own risk if you are allergic to corn. I used it like a gel.

Face: I have in the last month or two been using honey and baking soda. I have a little glass jar of honey that I mixed a bit of baking soda into. All I do is wet my face and dip some out and massage it over my face and rinse. Whether using the honey/baking soda mixture, or just baking soda, my technique is pretty much the same.

I use Rose Water or Lavender Water after washing. I purchase the Rose Water from the Health Food Store, but make my own Lavender Water using distilled water and a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil in a spray bottle.

Teeth: Baking Soda/Sea Salt mixture mixed about half and half. I sometimes add a drop or two of peppermint oil in as well. I keep the mixture in a small tub in the bathroom. Wet the toothbrush, dip it in and brush away.
Unflavored Dental Floss.

Body Wash: Sitting next to my Crunchy Mama Shampoo in the shower is a bar of Castille Olive Oil Soap from an online friend that sells them on Etsy: Blue Savannah. I love these soaps! They lather beautifully in my shower pouf, and smell wonderful! If you order, make sure you are ordering the Castille Olive Oil Soaps from her, as I believe she offers other soaps as well that may contain allergens. The scents that I have tried(and love!) are Rose Geranium, Lavender, and Lemongrass Ginger. I have even used the Lavender soap as a light shampoo when I was in a pinch and didn't have my other stuff available.

Moisturizer: Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I use about a 1 ounce bottle in the course of just over a week. It doesn't take much! I get out of the shower and pat dry and then use about a dime-size amount of EVOO in my hand and apply it on my body and then use the residual amount left on my hands on the dry spots of my face.

Deodorant: If I was staying at home, I would use the salt crystal type deodorant. But I wasn't happy with that in the midst of hot humid summertime, and found that Mitchum Unscented did the trick. According to Skin Deep, it's one of the safest ones out there.

That covers the basics. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Tanya, Found you thru the Blue House Soaps blog. Like your info on hair washing. I have trying out more natural products lately. I tried the Crunchy Mama Shampoo for dry damaged hair and did notice that my hair was much more oily than normal after use. I think next I will try the normal version and see how that works. P.S. I use Crystal deodorant after trying Tom's and it works pretty well for me. I just put it on first when dressing so it has time to dry and put my shirt on last thing.

Tanya said...

Glad to "meet" you! :)