Blog Flora Refosco - DIY Personal care


DIY Personal care

04/09/2017 - 5 Comments - Recipes | Baking soda, Cleaning

I've always been fond of foods, medicine and personal care which are simple and minimally processed. Like preparing my own bread, yogurt, using propolis to heal minor cuts and scratches, and moisturizing my hair with aloe vera.
But once, around 2013, I got really pissed about hair frizz and started searching online for some product that would help me fix my curls.
In the search, the so called "no poo" showed up: the habit of washing hair without shampoo. It appeared again and again as a solution for beatiful hair. In spite of the skepticism, I gave it a try. And never went back.

Since then, my bathroom counter has less and less packages.
My skin, hair, teeth - personal care in general - are doing fine. Actually, now and then someone comments I smell nice ;) In a sum, here I share what we could call a "beauty routine" (and the corresponding recipes).

The basic ingredients used in non-industrialized personal care are: baking soda, vinegar, vegetable oils (for instance: coconut, olive, rice. They have to be pure and virgin, unrefined). Also, I frequently use saline, milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide 1200mg), honey and propolis. And, to perfume, essential oils.

Other than that, I have a handsoap by the sink - the only storebought item in my current personal care. (To not tell a lie: I have been buying regular toothpaste too).

The principle is: we don't need a lot of products to keep our bodies healthy and clean (and perfumed). Most of all, it is not a good idea to use antibacterial products.

If our skins' own bacteria are in balance, they will be the ones to keep our health, smell and oilness in balance too.
About that, the book by Giulia Enders "Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ" is super insightful.

To ensure our bacteria are well, most of the time it's enough to take a shower with water and a soft bristle brush or soft sponge (I like vegetable loofah). In that way, the take care of themselves.
Since armpits and scalp perspire more, they are treated a little bit different. 

In general, I wash my hair every other day, as I've always done. To dissolve the excessive oiliness and leave hair nice and clean, I use a "shampoo" made with one tablespoon baking soda and 150ml water.
I pour this liquid over my umid hair and massage it as usual. I won't foam, though one can feel the lightness when hair is rinsed.

Next, I pour the "conditioner" from roots to tips: it's a solution made with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar dissolved in 150ml water (could also be rice or wine vinegar). In that way, I restore the skin's pH and prevent hair from drying out.

Wheather I have my hair long or short, I prepare these amounts weekly and leave in the shower in plastic bottles. I like to add 10 drops of essential oil to perfume. I vary the scents each time, according to my mood.
The baking soda and vinegar ratio to water varies according to each person's preferences. You have to try and see what you like.

The rest of the shower is basically washing the body with water. A vegetable sponge or soft brush helps to exfoliate lightly every day. In addition to removing sweat and oiliness, the use of the sponge/brush helps renew the skin and prevent the ingrown hair.
I wash my face with water and a very soft washcloth.

If I'm wearing make up, before the shower I splash some water on my face, pour 1/2 teaspoon mosturizing oil in my palm (more details below) and rub my hands to spread the oil. Then I apply to the face as I would apply soap, massaging.

Once the make up is dissolved (1 to 2 minutes) I remove it with the damp washcloth. I wash the cloth with some soap, rinse it well, and gently wipe my face again to ensure all make uo residue is gone.
Unless I am all dressed up for a fancy party, that's enough. If I have on foundation, fixer, etc, I have to repeat the procedure.

Very well. If I feel my body's skin is dry, after the shower I apply a bit of mosturizing oil before patting dry. In this way, the oil spreads evenly and in a thin comfortable layer. It won't bring the dreaded oily sensation.
If I feel my face is dry, I apply pour 5 drops of mosturizing oil to my hands and apply in the same way.

And when I have my hair long, I apply about 5 drops to the tips to, replacing the regular leave-ins.

Mosturizing oil
(for face, body and hair)

I could use pure vegetable oil and have great results, though I love to add a nice scent. The ratio is 30ml vegetable oil to 15 drops essential oil.

The vegetable oil (also named base oil or carrier oil) choice depends on the unrefined options found in your region; on how light x intense you want the moisturizing power; and on price.
I find rice and olive oil to be good "generic" options, since they are easily absorbed and I can find them in any store at about R$16,00 the 400ml bottle. Grapeseed oil is a good one too.

People who have dry skin might enjoy wheat germ oil, avocado, almond, sunflower. Remember: the oil must be unfined, pure and virgin. Although it's easy to find unrefined virgin olive oil in any store, the other unrefined oils will probably be available only at specialized stores (the ones where they sell food in bulk or "health food").

Essential oils are very pure, concetrated, and intensely fragrant substances. They are different from synthetic aromas because they have therapeutic properties which interact with the limbic system (that's a part of the brain related to emotional intelligence).

It is important to study a bit the theme before buying your tiny bottles, to understand which aroma pleases you the most, which brings the desired effect. Every essential oil has antiseptic properties in varying degrees. Some are relaxing, some are stimulating, according to the properties of the plant they are extracted from.

I first studied this theme in the book "The Art of Aromatherapy", by Robert Tisserand, which I highly recommend.

I like to prepare small amounts, 1oz/30ml, because it lasts long. I reuse dark bottles (or buy news ones in compounding pharmacies), since this kind of vessel keeps the oils' properties, avoiding oxidation.


The deodorant

I mix baking soda with milk of magnesia in equal amounts in the palm of my hand and apply directly to the armpits. I wait for 2 seconds until I feel it has dried, and presto. You know, there is no objective reason to mix the ingredients just prior to applying, I just feel it's best like that.
The alkalinity in these products inhibits for quite a while the proliferation of bacteria which cause bad odor in sweat, although they won't guarantee the dry armpit sensation in warm weather.

I acknowledge that deodorant is something kind of uncomfortable to experiment with, because no one wants to take the risk of stinking around through apointments. Even so, I have tested quite a few options, because honestly none of the store-bought ones gave me a satiscaftory result in terms of feeling comfortable, dry, odorless.
At least, now I feel odorless and free of weird ingredients in my skin.

Some people like to put essential oils in their deodorant, or mixes coconut oil with corn starch and baking soda, or use pure baking soda, or baking soda with water... well. Of the options I have tried, this one is the most practical and best for me. Try and find what feels good in your body.

Also, this can be used to keep feet fresh.

The perfume I use is made up, like the mosturizing oil, of vegetable oils and essential oils. Only the ratios are different. In this case, I have more essential oils than carrier oil, since I will have only two drops of the mixture perfuming my skin (right now I am reusing a roll-on bottle, but anyway).

One scent I enjoy a lot is made like this:
In a tiny dark bottle I drop
20 drops Sandalwood essential oil
20 drops Atlas Cedar essential oil
10 drops Camomile essential oil
10 drops Turmeric essential oil
5 drops Pink Pepper essential oil

I lid the bottle, shake it to blend the scents, then store in a dark place (for example, wardrobe) for 7 days. Next, I add 25 drops grapeseed vegetable oil (which is pretty neutral) and 10 drops Copaíba vegetable oil (to complement the woodsy notes). I blend the oils shaking well, then store again for a month before starting to use.

This is not a strong perfume, nor does it last too many hours (I could say it lasts nicely for about 4 hours). It creates a nice atmosphere around the person wearing it, subtly.

An interesting idea is to dilute a small amount of this everyday perfume in some vegetable oil to get a mosturizing oil that smells like it.

And the teeth?

Also in this subject there are plenty of recipes and controversy. Very early on, I remember having the information that toothbrush and floss are responsible for cleaning teeth, and that toothpaste only brings fresh and nice smell.
So that the paste can be considered an extra. Still, I like having something to put on my toothbrush.

A few months ago, I bought in Curitiba a dental powder that seems pretty nice, made with Juá (Ziziphus joazeiro) and cinnamon. Considering the common association between foam and clenaliness, Juá is a good addition.

Some use ground turmeric, sea salt, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, to clean teeth. None of those conviced me as options for the eveday use, and I find some of those to be abrasive. I don't know.
So, I stick with Juá or regular toothpaste for now.

As a mouthwash, I use the following solution: 200ml filtered water with 2 drops peppermint or cloves essential oil. These essential oils are classic choices used for mouth care, due to their antiseptic properties and fresh scent.
Another option is to keep a clove flower in the mouth for a couple of minutes, as if it was a candy. It does taste strong, though... I leave this resource for cases of eating too much garlic.


At last, shaving.

I prefer the eletric epilator known as satinelle. I think it's great, as it plucks hair from the roots just like wax, except there is no waste. And I also use a razor blade.

Non disposable metal razors work better than the plastic ones, and also are better when we have to discard them, since the metal blade can be reclycled.
Cristal, this wonderful lady, has a post talking specifically about this in her blog, Um ano sem lixo (in Portuguese).

When I choose the razor, the shaving gel I use is: 2 tablespoons pure honey mixed with 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil. This amount of gel, properly stored in a clean plastic jar in the bathroom, lasts about 2 months. I apply it with a shaving brush and proceed as usual.
For a vegan version, simply substitute honey for aloe gel. Note: I mean aloe gel bought in a compounding pharmacy or natural store. Fresh aloe gel is not shelf stable, and might cause rashes depending on the variety you have.
Parentheses: once I ran out of coconut oil, used pure honey, and everything went fine. Also, in another day, I ran out of coconut oil and honey, so I tried and used pure vegetable oil (rice, in this case). Everything went well.

I finish the post reminding that I have no study in chemistry, nor cosmetology, nor dermatology. The suggestions published here were found through experimentation, researches in books ans online.
Many suggestions that work for other people did not work for me, I found what I like experimenting a lot - and this is what I suggest for those who want to change habits.

Maybe you're wondering why all this willingness to use home-made personal care products, what difference does it make. For instance: a friend who is a chemical engineer told me how agressive is the process of producing baking soda. That this process consumes plenty of energy and water, and after it goes down the drain, the effect is the same as regular shampoos and soaps (which have significantly decreased environmental impact in the recent years).

Even so, for me it makes sense: preparing my personal care products, I consume ONE high-impact ingredient (baking soda), and in low concentration. I avoid preservatives, parabens, emulsifiers, dyes, silicones. I avoid packaging, artificial fragrances, aluminum. I avoind messing with my skins' microbiota, I get to choose the scents I want. I save money and generate less waste. In a sum, feels nice.

Tell me: are you into diy personal care too? Do you find it weird? Feel like testing?
I'm waiting in the comments!

Till the next post comes out, I'm on instagram and facebook. xo

30/07/2018 17:48:04


Sou fanzoca do seu blog, ultimamente tenho pensado muito em cosmética natural e vou tentar algumas dicas. Nunca consegui fazer desodorante, mas comprei de uma menina que faz e ela usa óleo essencial de melaleuca (tea tree), que é babado, serve pra quase tudo! Eu to atrás desse livro mas ele é esgotadíssimo né? Eu consegui comprar um outro sobre aromaterapia muito lindo, mas trata mais das questões sutis das terapias, recomendo muito. Chama "Aromatherapy for healing the spirit" do Gabriel Mojay, ele dá uma introdução sobre medicina chinesa, depois vai indicar óleos para fins emocionais e tem uma descrição mais arquetípica das ervas e seus usos, vale muito a pena! Beijo!

Response from Flora
Mds, a diva do rolê me deixando um comentário :) Que bom ter você aqui! O "Arte da aromaterapia" acho que comprei no estante virtual na época, não me lembro ao certo. Vou procurar djá a sua recomendação. Sempre to em busca de leituras pra aprofundar esse entendimento de como funcionam as ervas e as pessoas heheh. Beijo grande, volta sempre!

03/10/2017 13:47:00


Oi, Florar!! Cheguei até aqui a partir do Instagram. Muito boa a sua página. Já faz parte do meus "FAVORITOS". Tentarei produzir meu próprio perfume com sua explicação. Comecei a me interessar por Óleos Essenciais depois, não me lembro como, encontrei uma página que falava de aromaterapia. É a Cláudia Aroma, mas infelizmente ela não está mais aqui neste plano. Obrigada pela gentileza Sucesso

Response from Flora
Oi querida! Fico muito feliz em receber seu comentário, seja bem vinda! :) Vou procurar conhecer o trabalho da Cláudia, pois gosto muito de aprender sobre aromaterapia! Se ficar alguma dúvida, é só me chamar aqui nos comentários, ou no insta mesmo. Beijos!

24/09/2017 13:31:58


Flora, que maravilha de blog! Estou adorando tudo! Estava pesquisando barrinha salgada, e acabei ficando por aqui, curtindo várias postagens. Parabéns! Vou tentar implantar essa rotina de beleza básica sem produtos industriais, Beijo!

Response from Flora
Oi lindeza! Que delícia receber esse comentário :) Volta sempre! Qualquer dúvida, me chama. Beijos!

15/09/2017 09:55:02

Juliana Valentini

Flora, do céu, que aula!!! Espetacular, adorei! Estou bem nessa fase de mudar hábitos e descobrir o que eu gosto. Depois que conheci os sabonetes da Isa (Baobá Saboaria, que te apresentei) já não quero mais qualquer um por todos os motivos que se possa imaginar: qualidade, aromas, ingredientes interessantes, processo de produção, redução de lixo, resultados... E o mesmo anda acontecendo com xampu, desodorante, perfuminhos etc. Vou voltar aqui diversas vezes pra ler de novo e começar meus testes aos poucos, porque tudo de uma vez acho que não vai dar pra mudar. Parabéns pela quantidade de pesquisas, pelos resultados e pela comprometimento em cuidar tão bem de si mesma e de todo o resto. Você inspira demais! Um beijo grande, Ju.

Response from Flora
Ju, querida! Receber teu comentário é como ganhar um abraço. Aprendo tanto contigo! Vamos longe trocando saberes e dias gostosos. Beijo grande!

06/09/2017 08:52:03


Uauuuu, quanta informação , da pra sentir a leveza, perfume e limpeza daqui..hehehe com certeza vou provar, a limpeza dos cabelos faz tempo que me incomoda , esses produtos e precisa de um para complementar o outro e blá bla blá, vou a prática , agradecida por tanta informação, e adorei a hidratação com óleo, me lembrou a linda Josiane com o óleo de coco. Beijos

Response from Flora
Elaine, querida! Que coisa boa receber teu comentário :) Verdade, o óleo perfumado da Josi também é uma delícia, e dá pra preparar mesmo quando a gente não consegue acesso aos óleos essenciais. Depois me conta o que achou desse jeitinho de lavar os cabelos. Beijos!

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