Monthly Archives: April 2012

How I cured my itchy scalp.

So.  I can’t say that my scalp never flakes, but I don’t really have dandruff.  However, I have had an itchy scalp, um, forever.  I have used dandruff shampoo since childhood, and assumed that it would be part of my routine forever.

I had discovered that salicylic acid-containing shampoos (like Neutrogena T-Sal) work better than… uh… whatever makes the blue dandruff shampoo blue.

Four or five months ago, though, I learned about the “no ‘poo” movement:  People “washing” their hair with baking soda, and using apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse.  I already buy my baking soda — which I use for everything — in 13.5 lb bags from Costco, and apple cider vinegar (raw, organic, unfiltered) in quarts.  So, I had the supplies on hand, and was already a fan of them.  Plus, I am always on the lookout for ways to make our household more natural.  I suspected that my normal regimen of Suave clarifying shampoo for the first wash, Selsun Blue Naturals for the second wash, and Herbal Essences None of Your Frizzness conditioner didn’t meet any benchmarks for “more natural”, and on my low-priority list at the back of my mind, I’d been wanting to figure out a replacement for them.  Win-win, all the way around, right?

So, I did no ‘poo for a few weeks and hated it.  It’s not so much that it didn’t work, exactly.  It’s because I have so much darn hair — it’s thick and reaches the small of my back — that the process took FOR-EV-ER.  Working enough baking soda into my hair to wash all of it required a LOT of baking soda and a LOT of time.  Then, it’s hard to rinse out.  The apple cider vinegar rinse helps with that because the acid neutralizes the soda.  However, I am already trying to minimize my water usage in the shower;  I could languish in a hot shower pretty much perpetually, but know that it is wasteful.  All that water draining as I’m trying to get enough soda into my hair to wash it, then enough water in my hair to rinse it…  I just could never get all of the soda out, even using up an entire water-heater full of hot water in the process.

As a consequence, my hair would feel heavy afterward, and I hated that.

I had read that there is an adjustment period where your hair needs to get “used” to not being stripped of its oils, etc., like normal shampoo does, and thought that, maybe, that’s what was happening to my hair.  But, I find myself suspicious of this because:

  1. Baking soda strips stuff of oil.  That’s one reason it’s an effective household cleaner.
  2. I deeply suspect that the “adjustment period” is not your hair balancing out, but you, as a person, finally getting used to how weird your hair feels after “no ‘poo”ing.

So, I shelved that idea.  Chalk me up as Not a Convert to No ‘Poo.

One thing I had noticed, though, was that my scalp was NOT itchy, at all, while doing “no ‘poo”.

I had already recognized that at least one of my children (Audrey) is “allergic” to Suave shampoo.  It makes her head peel.  I’ve know that for years.  Literally, about four years.  With a slowly-dawning “duh”, I thought, “Maybe my shampoo is what is making my head itch.  Maybe I need to switch shampoos.”  For nearly my whole life, I have used a clarifying shampoo as my first wash — I am not looking for frou-frou in my shampoo;  I just want my hair clean.  If I’m going to splurge, I save my $$ for conditioner.  Therefore, I use the cheapest clarifying shampoo I can find:  Suave.  Hmmm…  If it makes Audrey’s scalp peel, maybe I have the same problem, and that’s why my head itches.  <facepalm>

I shopped for various natural shampoos, to give it a go.

Lemme tell you, I hated that.  The cheapskate in me CRINGES over the per-ounce cost of natural and organic shampoos and conditioners.  And, I had a reasonable fear that I’d plunk down my $15-20 dollars for two bottles of stuff that

  1. wouldn’t clean my hair,
  2. would make my scalp still itch, and
  3. would totally waste my money.

Finally, I settled on Everyday Shea, mostly because I liked the info provided on the bottle, and it was 32 ounces, and about $10, which is a fair price for such a large bottle.  I’ve read some glowing reviews of it, but I’m here to tell you that stuff is CRAP.

  • It doesn’t clean worth a darn,
  • I had to use a good quarter to half-cup of both the shampoo and conditioner each time, to get a good lather on the shampoo, and to feel like the conditioner was being spread through my hair.

I had to stop using it, which made me groan at the waste.  I tried using it a few washes even after I knew it wasn’t working for me, just to try to get my money’s worth, but I just couldn’t continue.  Then, I tried — ahem — passing it to my children, because maybe their standards were lower than mine.  But everyone — husband and children included — uniformly reported, “This stuff is weird.  It’s so watery.  My hair doesn’t feel clean.  Do I have to use this?”  Now, the bottles — FOUR OF THEM, mind you, because I thought that if one variety of it didn’t work, maybe another did — are just sitting around my house (and yes, that’s $40 worth of crappy shampoo and conditioner), because I can’t bear to throw them away, but neither could I, in good conscience, give them to anyone.*

Nature’s Gate, which, while somewhat expensive on the outset (about $6-7), at least comes in healthy-sized 18 oz bottles, so the cost per ounce was lower than most of the other options.  It’s not organic, but it is sulfate-free, paraben-free, butylene glycol-free, and more.  I’m not sure — at all — which of those — if any — is what was making my scalp itch.  But, I thought it was likely to be at least one of those things.

I must say that, initially, I didn’t want to buy Nature’s Gate because I bought some, years ago, and the stuff smelled exactly like Old Spice, and it was a SSTROOOONGGGG scent.  So, I’d smell distinctly like a man whenever I used it.  That’s a no-go, even though I liked how it worked.  But, in the store, I noticed that there were several new varieties of their shampoo, and it had that chipper “New Improved!” graphic, and I hesitantly picked it up.  I opened the cap to smell.  Wow!  It smelled GREAT.  I plunked two bottles in my cart.

I’m happy to report that, a few months later, after using both the Aloe Vera and the Jojoba versions of Nature’s Gate shampoos and conditioners that

  • It cleans my hair, on ONE wash, even if it’s been several days since I last washed my hair.
  • I don’t have to use a ton of the shampoo, just a normal amount.
  • The conditioner conditions well, and even with my long, thick hair, I don’t have to use a gallon of it, either.  It’s thick and rich.
  • It doesn’t make my scalp itch.  I am itch-free, and no longer need to use dandruff shampoo.
  • And it smells great.  Not like a man at all.  But, my hubby likes it, so it doesn’t smell girly, either.

Overall, I’m very happy with Nature’s Gate shampoo and conditioner.  It’s still pricier than my penny-pinching self likes to pay.  BUT, it’s cheaper than dandruff shampoo.  And, I have been pretty successful buying it on sale.  Locally, to the Phoenix area, the everyday price at Bashas’, of all places, is LESS than at Sprouts, $6 vs. $7-something.  But, from the 25th of April (today) through the 2nd of May, all of Sprouts’ vitamin and bodycare goods are 25% off, so if you’re interested, it might be a good time to buy…  (And, NO, I’m not paid by Sprouts to say this;  I just like shopping there.)

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*Although, if anyone I know IRL is reading this, and wants to try it, even after my thumbs-down review, you’re welcome to.  I’ll give you my bottles.

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My thoughts on Food, Inc., about four years later than everyone else.

Finally watched Food, Inc with my boys today, as part of school.  The 91 minute movie took us more than two hours to watch, because of the little girls needing attention, and for pausing to comment on the movie itself, both by me and by the boys.

I would say that I already was aware of about 95% of it, having learned from other sources the same/similar information.  But, it’s just GOOD to have what I already know be reinforced, and to learn even that 5%.

Most of what I didn’t know had to do with the human element:  The progression of how subsidized American corn has been exported to Mexico, putting Mexican corn farmers out of business.  Then, slaughterhouses advertise in Mexico, soliciting illegal immigrant workers — often ex-corn farmers — and even BUS them to the U.S.  Then, the employers have basically slave labor because the illegal employees don’t want to get busted by ICE and deported.  So, they have zero voice, and they’re one more source that keeps the price of low-quality meat unnaturally suppressed in the American market.  I had never heard that, nor pieced it together for myself, but it makes total sense.

I told my boys at the end, “I know that you already knew much of this, but sometimes, it helps that, instead of hearing your mother harp on you –” Twelve-year-old Grant interrupted and laughed, “You can hear OTHERS harp on you!”  Ha!  He said this with good humor, as none of the boys felt “harped upon”;  they all appreciated the content and found it interesting and confirming.  They also commented that, at the end of the film, where all the suggestions are made for how to be better food consumers, “We already do all of that!”  My oldest said that, instead of our family being the health-freaks amongst our circle of friends* and being the odd man out, that, maybe by the time he’s a grown up, the weirdo will be the guy who regularly eats fast food cheeseburgers. Most touching was 10-year-old Wesley saying, “I hope you get to be in a movie like that some day.”  🙂  Not that I aspire to be an interviewee, or that I even merit that, but that’s how he sees me, which is so precious to me.

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*Not that we’re the ONLY people we know who are committed to eating healthy, but it’s still not the norm, by far.

Garden productivity… :) Makes me pleased. And a few other things.

Wee little garden update:

This morning, I harvested $6.58 worth of fresh, organic produce.  Here’s how I figured it:

  • One head of lettuce (Simpson Black Seeded — one of the BEST choices I made for my garden this spring).  Seven oz, after being torn and washed.  Five ounce containers of organic lettuce are typically $3.99.  At that rate, my lettuce is worth $4.49.
  • Two ounces broccoli — actually my largest head of broccoli so far, only about 5″ across… Turns out that broccoli typically doesn’t produce well at first try…  Still, I’m not giving up.  I may try a different variety next time, though.  And plant it later, as the best of my broccoli has been harvested this month, when it’s warmer.  Anyway.  I can typically get organic broccoli at the store for $1.49/lb, so my two ounces equals $0.19 worth.
  • Turnips — 3.5 oz.  Actually, they’re not turnips.  They’re the roots of Tyfon greens, which is a cross between a turnip and a kind of Chinese cabbage.  Tyfon was a good choice when they were young and it was cooler, and we ate a ton of it, usually garlic braised and mixed with red chard.  But as the weather has warmed, the Tyfon has been an absolute aphid MAGNET.  Gross.  So, I pulled the remainder of them out this morning, and a few of them had biggish, turnip-looking roots.  Thus, 3.5 oz of “turnips”, at $2.99/lb = $0.65 worth.
  • Six ounces carrots.  We have a spot at the end of the garden where my daughter Fiala dumped an entire packet of carrot seeds.  Even with regular thinning, it has turned into a carrot forest.  I did a little research, because these carrot tops were developing powdery mildew.  It turns out that powdery mildew — which is fairly harmless on carrots, though it can spread to other plants and stunt growth — flourishes in dry days, in shady conditions, and in crowded plants which inhibits circulation.  The “carrot forest” is, unfortunately, largely shaded by a tree.  It’s dry here.  And, they’re crowded.  Thus, I’ve had to pull out lots of baby carrots, which really aren’t akin to grocery store “baby carrots”.  When they’re not full-grown, they’re rather bitter.  But, they’re still edible.  So, 6 oz carrots at $0.99/lb = $0.38 worth.
  • I also harvested eight cherry tomatoes — 4 yellow and 4 red.  Organic tomatoes are really expensive — typically $3.99/lb.  So, my 3.5 oz of cherry tomatoes is worth at least $0.87.

If my math is right, that is $6.58.  And that’s just from today!  I’m daily harvesting produce.  AND, there’s still a bunch of red chard I need to harvest before it bolts, which I will do later today.  Organic red chard is typically $1.99/bunch this time of year, and I have enough for a good 4, 5, 6 store-sized bunches.  Maybe more.  And there are some lovely green onions that can be harvested.  Even though my garden is small — about 7′ x 20′ — it has been extremely productive, once I got it going…  Definitely more productive this spring than last;  I’ve learned a lot in quite a short period of time.

 

Lovely nasturtium, with lettuce and not-yet-red bell pepper growing in the background. And, for those in the desert, Palo Verde "leaves" make the perfect straw for mulch.

Audrey, who turned six this month, in an outfit she picked out on her own. Darling girl.

Fiala, in one of her newest favorite activities. She is about 75% healed of her Candida Albicans system-wide yeast infection, BLESS GOD!!

The many faces of FiFi. She saw a bug, her one phobia.

About two minutes post-bug. She's laughing at me grossing out over her picking her nose. She's quite pleased with mom being disgusted.

Precious girl on the tree-trapeze. There is such a tender spot in my heart for her. We have had *SUCH* a difficult three years+, and it gives me indescribable joy and relief that we may be coming out of it. Truly, all glory and thanks to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who redeems and heals.

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