Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Sorry for my lack of posting recently, August was a nightmare work wise, and I have been working away from home and out of the country for the whole month.  My garden (window boxes and pots) is dead, my diet went to pot thanks to having to eat out for a month (all paid for though, so none of my own precious gold was spent) and it has taken me a few days to be used to being home again. Well I am back and I hope I haven't lost my 25 regulars and others who are interested come back and give me a chance with my meagre offerings of badly written words.

Well I have achieved something that I didn't think would be possible 3 months ago, (insert drum roll here!) I have stopped using any commercial toiletries and am making all of my own from scratch with one exception, which is soap, and that is something that I hope to rectify before too long too, by making my first batch before Christmas.

I feel like I should be drinking a beer and watching rugby now to reaffirm my masculinity because, lets be honest, making your own toiletries is not the most macho thing you can think of, well, is it?

So with my masculinity in jeopardy I will take the risk of continuing with my story anyway.

I have been thinking for a long time about chemicals, the long list of things that are not even pronounceable in beauty products and coupled with this, a very close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago (don't worry, he is completely 100% recovered and well again now I am so happy to say) and because it was a cancer of the lymph nodes he was advised to not wear normal deodorant any more because this could have an effect. Well armed with this determination to become more self-sufficient and to put less and less chemicals in my body, I set out on a mission earlier this summer, to collect ingredients. Some were easy high street stuff, others were readily available on the internet. Most of the things we put on our skin are absorbed into our bodies so would you, for example, eat an unknown chemical? No, of course we wouldn't, yet we blindly put these products on day after day. Now I am not being preachy here, because I hate that: this was my choice and I am sure a lot of the chemicals are harmless and most people will suffer no ill effects at all. But I just no longer want to take that risk or buy into the beauty market.

Now, I won't lie to you, the set up costs, ie, the array of ingredients, was not cheap particular, there have been quite a lot of different essential oils involved, carrier oils etc and these can easily cost up to and beyond £5 for 10ml. Holland and Barrett often have buy one get one free offers and essential oil bargains can be found on ebay too. I have been collecting the ones I thought would be useful for a few months, so £5 here and there has actually amassed me a large quantity over time.

First thing to go was shower gel though, and I went back to good old soap. It takes a little getting used to at first as at first it feels a little dryer than gel, but you know what? it is not even noticeable any more. My skin is happy, soft and clear of blemishes. I went for a very basic and natural olive oil soap from a health food shop, about 65p or something like that and lasts for months. Eventually this will be replaced by home made, but that is something for the future.

Next to go was shampoo. Now I know that a lot of women with longer hair struggle with this one and I can only say trial and error is the order of the day. I have short hair and am prone to a dry, itchy and flaky scalp (don't use the D word!!!) So I have always used head and shoulders. Now word on the street is that shampoos like this do deal with the problem, but don't cure it, as it is not in their best interest for you never to need their product again. I can certainly get on board with that idea, being cynical about big business. my own recipe is based on a liquid soap stew (found in this book with oils and essential oils added. I will give anyone recipes if they want, for any of the products rather than write each one down here.

It took a while, but my scalp is now very healthy, it is advised to put some jojoba oil on the scalp with some cypress oil and evening primrose oil once a week and it has done the trick. My hair is happy and my scalp is free of any scary white stuff.

Moisturisers have been replaced by home made face oils and body oils, I even have a home made hair wax, which, again, is ok for my short hair, ladies may struggle more than me.

Deodorant was a challenge, but I have been using a rock crystal for years now anyway. I am using that still, in conjunction with a home made spray, which used witch hazel, oil of cloves, vegetable glycerine and other peppermint. Seems to do the trick, at least I haven't lost any friends or seen anyone looking pained and holding their nose and I am a very active man who sweats a lot when I am doing sport.

Shaving foam was replaced by shaving soap some time ago and I am going to make my own when I do the soap anyway. I also use a home made shaving oil with this too now and it works beautifully and I have quite a heavy beard growth to contend with.

All in all it has been an interesting journey and I am feeling great and looking the same, no skin, hair or scalp troubles and a bit of fun making the stuff.

Here are some of the books that helped me:

So, now I am done. As I say, if you want to know more about any of the recipes, then let me know and I will do my best to give them to you.

Right now, I am going to go out and play some football and drink some beers to reaffirm my manhood!


  1. Gosh, you have more toiletries than me. Good on you for trying to find more natural products.
    Love from Mum

  2. You`ve done amazingly to cut out the chemical products! I also think you had made a good choice on the books. I actually have The Fragrant Mind by Valerie Ann Worwood, which gives all the uses for essential oils. Well done for sticking to your aim to eliminate all harmful products in your toiletries! And, don`t worry, us avid followers can put up with a little wait until your next posting. This one was truely interesting!

  3. Thanks Sarina and mum, good to know you are still reading!

  4. Welcome back FLU:) What a great post. I've been using a number of oils in my hair recently as well. I would love to join the "no poo" movement (not using any shampoos etc) but I haven't been brave enought yet. Check out which lists twenty uses for bi-carb, number 2 on this list is using it to make deodrant, also hope the links info works:) Linda

  5. Oh well done you!
    I've been making cold-pressed soap for over a year now..I use Rhonda's recipe from her Down To Earth blog...I moderate at the forum too and we have long threads discussing the best oils and how to calculate the amounts. I use a sticker blender to mix the caustic and water into the oils. Rhonda has done a great tutorial with photos too btw.

  6. @linda: thank you for those websites, really good, both of them, you have given me something to read in my spare time. There is something very satisfying and liberating about being out of the whole commercial toiletries loop, not only does it feel good physically, but it is great mentally.

    @Sue, thank you, I have been a fan of Rhonda's blog for a while and I had already earmarked her 'simple white soap' recipe as the first I would try. I have collected all the ingredients pretty much, although I am still looking for a suitable container for the lye solution as I assume it is something that needs to withstand high temperatures and something that I can use for nothing else after I have had lye in it. Keeping my eyes open in charity shops for something. Is this the recipe you use? How do you like the soap?
    Best wishes to all,

  7. This is something i have thought about for some time. A year or so back I set up as a self employed artisan soapmaker and since making and using my own stuff (soap, shampoo bars, shaving soap) My family's eczema has pretty much cleared up, my scalp feels so much better and I get less razor rash. When you look at the ingredients of most commercial toiletries it is really frightening.

  8. No you have not lost your regulars, we are still here. I kept looking in to see what was happening at your end and was dissapointent to not have anything to read from you for such a long time but, hey! your back now. Your doing great with your home made toiletries. I too use the rock crystal deodorant and I find it great.

  9. We all love the soap from Rhonda's recipe, it's mild and lathers well.

    I just use a Pyrex bowl to dissolve the caustic soda/lye, it rapidly goes up to 80C and then takes a while to come back down to under 50C so get that started a while before you warm the oils. I pour the lye mix into the stainless steel pan and use a stick blender. I use all my regular kitchen equipment and wash it well need to have 2 sets of everything.
    As molds I use 2 plastic ice-cream tubs(2 litre ones, well oiled)and cut each block into 8 pieces next morning. They'll take 6 weeks to cure properly so you need to get cracking lol I use about 2-3 tablespoons of essential oil per batch and have stopped adding ground cinnamon as it irritates the skin.

  10. @ Kester, great that you are an artisan soap maker, I am looking forward to experimenting with that next. I am going to start with a basic soap (start simple). At the moment I am using a simple olive oil soap from the health food store, with not much ingredients at all, but I think I can improve on that, making it myself. My shaving soap cost me about £12, and is, indeed, a very nice sandlewood scent, and has lasted for years already, but I want to make my own next time, although recipes for shaving soap seem few and far between. I do like the idea of a shampoo bar too..

    @Karen: Glad you are enjoying still. I hope to be a bit more active from now on, but August was so crazy work wise that I couldn't find time or energy to write. It inspires me to know that people are enjoying it though, thanks.

    @Sue: I always thought that I needed separate equipment for my soap making, so was slowly collecting, if I don't, then I could get on with it sooner. The only thing I am lacking now is a thermometer (last one broke during some jam making) I get the impression, reading the instruction, that 2 thermometers would be more convenient. I'll give cinnamon a wide birth!

    Regards to all,

  11. welcome back. i have been absent myself for a while.

  12. Your shaving soap cost you £12!!! ours goes for £2.75 (
    It is the Kaolin which is important and gives the glide. With Kaolin in it takes six weeks (rather than the usual 4) for it to cure.

    thanks for the follow btw

  13. I was very interested to read this as i am trying to do the same myself - i have an organic shampoo but you have to get used to it not foaming. Nonchemical deodorant though it seems more successful on one side than the other!

  14. Yeah Rachel, the deodorant is the hard nut to crack. I am still experimenting!