I’ve been making soap for almost two years, but so far have only flirted with the idea of taking the next step and making my own hair and dental care products as well. One reason is probably that our co-op sells natural body care products in bulk, so I’ve been able to buy shampoo and conditioner reusing the same two bottles, eliminating some plastic from the waste stream. But the other reason has been an admittedly irrational fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it right, that such experiments would mean having to compromise whatever beauty, vanity, or reputation I have, that they would push me right over the edge to being just, well, too homespun? Where do those kinds of worries come from, anyway? Could it be our exposure to shampoo commercials with fancy digital animations that have convinced us us that only scientists with their complicated chemical formulas can figure out what it takes to get hair clean?
This winter, I decided it was time to just jump in. My trusty guide in the process was the excellent Making It! Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne. One evening, I whipped up (quite literally) their silky moisturizing cream, mixed a small jar of tooth powder, made a batch of shampoo bars and the super-easy vinegar hair rinse. All of it took me probably no more than an hour and a half, and it was so much fun — particularly making the moisturizer.
The moisturizing cream (in mason jars on the right) is a mix of olive oil, coconut oil, essential oil, beeswax, and water. At the point when the water is mixed with the oils and beeswax, you can watch the translucent liquid transform — in a matter of seconds — into a thick, white, creamy lotion, almost buttery in its consistency. The end result is an incredibly rich, luxurious cream that I have been liberally slathering on after a shower. Very satisfying, and highly recommended. As for the shampoo bars, I’ve been letting them cure for a few weeks, but I finally washed my hair with it this morning. No disasters to report. What this means is that cleanliness, or even pampering, doesn’t have to mean lots of packaging waste — or putting scary things like parabens, phthalates, etc. on our bodies. Clean and simple.