Friday, December 26, 2014

Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment: Homemade Deodorant

I'm what you might call a sweat hog. Hate to admit it, truly I do, because I consider myself a "fit" person for the most part.......but lemmie tell you, even the slightest exertion will cause me to sweat as if I am surrounded by a blazing volcano filled with shirtless firemen and 150 people wanting to attend a dinner party at my house.

I sweat. I sweat a lot.

Now most of my adolescence, I was desperately trying to cover up this non-feminine, horrific act of disgusting humanness. I tried multiple different deodorants, each one more flowery than the next, and although I succeeded in not smelling bad, I was consistently that chick with sweat under her arms, soaking through her shirt.

As I got older I continued to change deodorants over and over, cycling back and forth between various brands, thinking each time that eventually, something was going to work. This is my most recent commercial brand.

Funny, it seemed like my skin would "get used" to a certain brand and I would need to change it up to keep my sweat hog nature in check. Regardless of my tricks, my body would always revolt, causing me to second guess my ability to be attractive while simultaneously making it nearly impossible for me to wear any white tops. I rock an A-line Hanes undershirt instead. They are made for men. They absorb sweat great, in case any of you wanted to know. And when they start to turn that inevitable yellow color under the arms, you can just toss 'em away. Gross, but true. My truth.

Now commercial deodorant products, as you'll read below, have variable percentages of chemicals that are not just a little bad, but super bad for the human body. I, of course, had no idea, and still sometimes eye my armpits suspiciously, wondering just how many chemicals they've absorbed over the years. Stinky lil' things.

So between the chemicals and my relative failure with commercial deodorants, I really had nothing to lose with this experiment. Here we go.

The Procedure
There are many, many voices in the Crunchy Life choir and honestly, it was very overwhelming to figure out which recipe to try first. I settled on a deodorant recipe for sensitive skin from Oh Lardy.

5 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp baking soda
6 Tbsp arrowroot powder
2 Tbsp bentonite clay
5-10 drops of essential oil (I used tea tree because it's what I had)

You mix it all up and put it in a jar. No heating necessary.

Now Oh Lardy has this super gorgeous picture of a creamy, delightful looking end product. I don't know where they live, but here in the northern Midwest, my house gets cold in the winter. Coconut oil is solid at colder temps and my end product came out looking like this:

It is absolutely more of a paste than a cream....I would even venture to say this stuff is a little too dry for my liking. It warms up, obviously, the moment you start to apply it to your armpits - especially when you've got sweat hog blast inferno pits like me. It transforms into a delightful, green cream that is easy to wash off your hands. Getting it out of the jar, however, is a little tricky and I often have to dig into it with my nails (***shudder***) to get the product out. Maybe warming it up ahead of time with a hairdryer would help....but we both know I'm not going to unravel that stupid cord each morning for deodorant. You will not see me blowdrying my deodorant. Ever. So flaky paste it is!

The Cost
My old deodorant cost me $3.89 for 2.6 ounces, or $1.50 per ounce.

This recipe made 7 ounces of product. After adding up the cost of the ingredients ($31.78) and dividing by the ratios used in the recipe, my total product cost was $2.78, or $0.40 per ounce. So by making my deodorant myself, I am saving $1.10 per ounce on the crap that's going on my armpits. That, dear ones, is wonderful.

Health Factors
Remember those pesky little toxins I mentioned earlier? Here are some of the major offenders of my last commercial deodorant brand (taken from EWG site):

  • Fragrance: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • BHT: Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • Cyclopentasiloxane: Cancer, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Neurotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation

**Now one chemical EWG mentions, but does not list as a high-risk toxin, is aluminum zirconium. Many people believe this ingredient, with its estrogen-like properties, causes breast cancer. There's also a potential link between Alzheimer's and aluminum, although those studies are much less conclusive (check this article for more info and direct links to the sources of these studies). I dare to hypothesize the reason EWG, a study/research-based organization, does not list this ingredient as high-risk is simply because aluminum zirconium is a difficult element to source. Who's to say the residual aluminum found in the bodies of the deceased didn't come from other sources of absorption (food, water, beer, utensils, etc.)?

The EWG won't post a chemical as "risky" until the studies back up the claim. Not that it really matters. While aluminum might be questionable, the high-risk chemicals they do list hammer the nails into my commercial deodorant's coffin. Sianara schweethaawt.

This stuff is easy to make, but hard to dispense. It is nothing like commercial deodorant. It doesn't "glide on clear"... it more, "clumps on green." If I put too much on it gets very, very clumpy and it goes without saying, this isn't the best recipe to use when you're concerned about how your armpits look. It is, quite literally, green. It looks like your armpits are getting a clay mask treatment or something.

Also, you will sweat. Those chemicals I listed up there? They pinch your sweat glands shut and keep them from excreting what they need to excrete. Apparently my sweat glands are super strong because they've never, ever been squeezed shut by any deodorant, so switching to homemade deodorant was not that of a big difference for me.

But, as usual, although I sweat, I do not stink. Not even after a workout. It took time for me to adjust, though. I stunk for the first few days. But I'm all better now. Stink free, perhaps because I'm slowly detoxifying my body bit by bit? Intewwwesting....

So when all is said and done, I'm right back where I started, minus the chemicals and plus a few extra dollars in my pocket. I'll be sticking with homemade deodorant but will be trying another recipe once I use this stuff up. Going to try and get a better consistency...and also aim for a deodorant I can wear in the summer should I (gosh forbid) want to raise my arms and wave at someone without causing a car wreck.

Anyone out there ever try homemade deodorant? What recipe did you use? If you haven't tried it before, what's stopping you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below. 

Just in case you missed the other posts in Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment installment:

Check in next week for the king of all homemade crunchy products.....toothpaste!

And as always, thank you so much for reading :)


Friday, December 19, 2014

Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment: Homemade Shampoo

I've got a "thing" for Christmas. Lights and kids and singing....and snow and blankets and conifers and deer tracks. It's all good - all of it - and I look forward to it each year.

But I don't look forward to the dryness. Every year, without fail, I get flaky skin....especially on my head. Now hear me out, this isn't your average dry scalp. No, this is a grease-scalp that also, somehow, flakes. I know. It's gross. I completely concur. 

To combat the grease and itching, I would wash my hair every-other day with a shampoo and conditioner like this:

I switched to some lesser-known brands, then back again, then tried another brand, then another....but it seemed no matter brand, type, or conditioner, I would always end up with dry, brittle ends, flakes, and, much to my dismay, greasiness. 

Now where I live, winter is cold. It's frigid outside. What better way to stay warm than to literally let your hair down? My hair is long and covers my neck all scarf-like. It fits nicely under a hat when I wear it down and it gives me the chance to grow out that semi-permanent ponytail bump I imprint on my hair all summer. 

But between the itching and the flakes, I didn't feel much like letting my hair down.

There had to be a better way, I thought. I'd tried literally hundreds of shampoos and conditioners, but wasn't willing to blow huge amounts of money on either. I even got a boatload of free Wen shampoo from a family member and thought "EUREKA! THIS IS IT!".....until it, too, made my scalp oily and impossibly itchy. 

After a few cycles of trying and failing, flaking and feeling gunky, I decided my scalp was broken. Maybe it was time for a reset.

So I stopped - completely. I stopped shampooing. Stopped conditioning. Stopped putting product in my hair. I stopped. They call it no-poo on all the other blogs....meaning no shampoo.

So let me tell you about my no-poo experience. I used baking soda in the shower three times a week, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. Immediately, the itchy scalp stopped. I mean literally overnight, after the first wash, my scalp no longer itched like crazy. It was still greasy, but I'd read this was to be expected for the first few weeks. 

About a month into the process my scalp wasn't as greasy, but the flakes increased. I was starting to get a little irritated (see what I did there) at this point and decided I needed to find a gentler cleansing method that didn't rely on straight baking soda but also didn't depend on expensive organic shampoos and crap. 

I needed a new hair care routine.

The Procedure

There's a couple thousand homemade hair care recipes out there. Let me tell you what went into my decision-making process.

1. I have white hairs peppered among my dark brown hairs. I do not, I repeat, do not, care about these hairs. In fact, I actually really love them and secretly believe each one holds a memory like that creepy whispering tree in Avatar. I get pretty mad when friends offer to pluck them out. One day, I think, I will have a silver mane like the most badass unicorn ever born and I don't want anyone hindering my progress to that destiny. So needless to say, I do not color my hair. 

2. My number one priority was to reduce my cleansing needs while retaining comfort and manageability. 

3. I care very much about the strength of my hair and it's ability to go from pile-on-head to waves-draping-down without a ton of breakage at the crown. I needed something that would inject my hair with a little bit of moisture but also leave it de-greased and shiny.

4. I hate, and I mean hate, tangles. 

So first, the shampoo replacement.

I found this recipe by The Wellness Mama and adjusted it just slightly:
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I use canned, regular stuff from the bottom shelf of Target)
  • 1/3 cup castile soap (I use peppermint Dr. Bronners)
  • 5 drops of peppermint essential oil (way less than what she recommends - the soap's scent is strong enough)
  • Pinch of baking soda (just cuz I really do love how it makes my scalp feel)
I did NOT add vitamin E (it's optional but I didn't have any, you know, lyin around). I also have not tried adding olive oil yet, but think that would help with some of the dryness.

I mixed up all my ingredients and tossed 'em in a blue clearance-priced hand soap bottle from - you guessed it -  Target. Baddahbing baddahboom. 

I wash my hair on Wednesdays and Sundays, using a very small amount. This shampoo goes suds-to-tha-wall like a mother trucker - very foamy stuff. Also the peppermint castile soap tingles, something I didn't expect, for some reason. Very minty-fresh and so clean-clean.

I use an apple cider vinegar rinse afterwards as a detangler and shine-enhancer. I just pour a couple tablespoons of vinegar into a squirt bottle and fill it up the rest of the way with tap water. Apple cider vinegar truly is an amazing detangler, I had no idea. And while it does smell in the shower, your hair does NOT smell like vinegar afterwards.

I started using a boar-hair brush to help distribute the natural oil in my hair. I brush before I get in the shower, but never afterward while the hair is wet. I also brush in the mornings every-other day or so, when I can remember to do it or want to style it later.....although, let's be honest, my version of styling these days is just wearing my hair down, naked and maybe only slightly curled at the ends. Fancy Jen - lookout!

The Cost
So I'm going to give it to you straight. With the amount of cheap shampoo there is out there, including the Suave Kids brand I let my kids use up until recently, there's no way you're going to spend less making your own shampoo. If you go no-poo, maybe....but if you're using one of those 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner products that cost $1.99 at WalMart, don't expect to pay less for the homemade shampoo ingredients. It won't happen. 

My old shampoo cost $6.69 for 33.8 ounces, or $0.20 per ounce.

My homemade shampoo, with all ingredients added up and divided out according to the recipe, costs $0.99 per ounce - a difference of $0.79 an ounce....which means if I were to buy it like I did the old stuff, it would cost me more than $26 for the same amount of product.


But allow me to walk you through the way I justify this expense in my head....

#1) I use less product with each wash
#2) I wash less
#3) I don't need to buy add-in products (mousse, foam, leave-ins, masks, whatever)

Plus, there's those pesky toxicity levels in commercial products (taken from

Health Factors
  • Propylparaben: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Use restrictions
  • Fragrance: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • Octinoxate: Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bioaccumulation
  • EXT D&C Violet 2: Cancer, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Use restrictions
  • Diazolidinyl Urea (Formaldehyde releaser): Cancer, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (FORMALDEHYDE), Use restrictions
  • Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions
  • SD Alcohol 40: Enhanced skin absorption, Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Contamination concerns (BRUCINE, T-BUTYL ALCOHOL, BRUCINE SULFATE, QUASSIN), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
And I'm gonna stop there. The list CONTINUES, though, people. It continues and it's scary as hell to think I've exposed my kids to this crap for their entire lives. 

But moving on. Lets' talk about our homemade shampoo ingredients.

Coconut milk: 
  • High levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc
  • High levels of Vitamin C and E
  • High levels of essential fatty acids and antioxidants
  • Moisturizes hair, promotes growth, and can control hair loss
Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap:
  • Vegetable oil-based (no detergents)
  • Certified fair-trade and organic 
  • Ethical sourcing
  • No artificial or petroleum-based additives
  • Biodegradable
Peppermint oil:
  • Reduces hair loss
  • Moisturizes dry scalp
  • Promotes hair growth
I am now down to washing my hair twice a week - unheard of in previous winters. My hair is manageable and shiny, but I do have some residual dandruff. I am hoping to get it cleared up by adding some olive oil to the shampoo blend and mixing up my ratios a little bit.

All in all, I feel better about putting this stuff on my head, on my kids' heads, and on the head of my husband. Although my hair is far from runway-ready, it feels ten times better and I am much more comfortable than I've been in years. I will not go back to conventional shampoos, although I may continue tweaking my homemade recipe and trying new ingredients.

UPDATE! 02/06/2015
After a few weeks of continued flakes, I decided to stop using the shampoo. I've gone back to my baking soda and vinegar rinse...with a twist! I now add an egg!

1. Sprinkle baking soda into the bottom of a mug
2. Fill the mug with warm water (this is to temper the egg so it doesn't cook on your head!)
3. Stir gently
4. Crack an egg and add it to the mug
5. Gently stir with a fork to break up the egg yolk
6. Head into the shower and pour it on your head!

I kid you not, this is the softest, most manageable hair I've ever had. no flakes, no residue, and it's totally shiny. I've found a winner! My husband and kiddos still use the shampoo...but I'm an eggs and baking soda girl now! :)

Any of you try homemade shampoo or the no-poo method? How did it work out for you? Why did you stay on it? Why did you quit? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and always, thank you so very much for reading.

Tune in next week as my experiment continues with homemade deodorant! Yesssssss!

And in case you missed Part 1 of my Crunchy Life Experiment:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment: Homemade Face Wash

The very first stop on this all-natural, handcrafted journey is Facetown, pop. a million bumps of terrible.

I've always struggled with my skin. Take a group of uncontrolled hormones and mix them with a gang of pretty mean genes and you've got Jen, the Queen of Breakouts. I've tried everything from antibiotics to birth control to four courses of Accutane (scary, I know) to retinols to peroxides. Nothing, and I mean nothing, ever helped.

In fact, the only thing that ever truly makes a difference with my skin is my green smoothie obesession. I still drink those suckers and lemmie tell ya, they will blast hormonal acne right outta town if you drink them regularly.

But I still need to wash my face, right? Smoothies take care of the inside, but what about the outside? My normal cleansers were leaving me with combo skin - dry around the eyes, hairline, and cheekbones, but oily everywhere else. Like a shiny, flaky little mask of irritation. So naturally (see what I did there??), I decided to start my crunchy life experiment with a homemade face wash. 

I found about ninety-thousand different methods and settled on the oil cleansing method, swiped right from the Wellness Mama. I was intrigued by the science here....oil dissolves oil, yes? Absolutely, totally, 100%, yes. Best part? When you wash with oil you give yourself like a 5 second spa session. Check it out.

The Procedure
Step 1: Figure out what oil combination you want to use. 

I use castor oil and olive oil in a 1:3 ratio, and drop in a little bit of tea tree oil. Olive oil is cool because I can buy it from the same store I buy my groceries. Easy. I use this castor oil from Amazon. 

Castor oil can be drying so you gotta watch your face and adjust fire as necessary. I normally use a 1:3 ratio with castor and olive oil, but decrease the castor a tad when my skin is feeling tight. Different skin types need different oil ratios. Wellness Mama breaks down various oil combinations in this link

*Side Note: I researched olive oil ahead of time because a ton of the popular brands out there are not, in fact, olive oil at all. They're like some vegetable/canola/watered down blend of oil or something. Really disappointing, but hey...this is America's food system here, am I really that surprised? Happy to share that after all my research, I found California Olive Ranch, sold in Jewels, WalMarts, and Targets, is truly, really 100% olive oil. Hurrah!

Step 2: Put your oils in a container. 

I use an old glass honey container with a lid. Mason jars work, too. Use something you can close and pour into the palm of your hand easily. 

To avoid needing any instructions whatsoever, I keep my oil ratio super simple....I stick with tablespoons. So I pour 1 tablespoon of castor oil and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the jar, and then I put some drops of tea tree in there, and whammo. Those four-ish tablespoons of oil literally last me over two weeks, with washing 1-2 times a you'll see in the next step, you don't need much to get the job done!

Step 3: Using only a quarter-sized amount, gently rub the oil onto your face. 

This is phase one of the spa treatment. Rub in circles, gently, getting all the way to the hairline. Ooooo-saaaaah. Also remember to only use a quarter-sized amount, an element of this method that rocks my socks off. The oil lasts such a long time because I don't need a ton of it to cover my face. 

Step 4: Give your face a mini-steam treatment.

Take a washcloth and stick it under hot water - as hot as you can tolerate with bare hands. Then squeeze out the water, and as fast you can without hurting yourself, tip your head back a little, and put that washcloth right over your face. 

This is, perhaps, the best, most self-indulgent part of my day.

I sit there under that washcloth until my breathing makes the cloth cool down, then I stick it back under the hot water, wring it out, and flip the opposite side over my face. It takes maybe 2 minutes, but it is so, so nice. The tea tree oil smells awesome.

Step 5: Gently wipe off excess oil.

Using the corners of the cloth, gently wipe off excess oil. Be gentle and love on your skin a little. 

My face feels awesome after I wash it. It feels good, clean, happy. Want proof? Well, as scary as this is, here are some lil' pictures of me from this morning, immediately after washing my face. No makeup, no filters, just happy face Jen, acne scars and all. 

The Cost
One of the things I promised to deliver during this experiment was the price of the homemade version versus the store bought version. Not all homemade products are cheaper, as you will find out in the next few weeks. Of course, your cost savings will depend on what products you used/will use, but in my case, homemade face wash a landslide. Let's break it down.

My store-bought skincare routine consisted of these products (and please don't cringe at the eye cream...I got it for free one time and then got hooked.....flaws, forgiven, people, flaws, forgiven):

 Facewash: $5.59

Moisturizer: $8.79

Eye Cream: $40.00

Now if we break that down per ounce of product, we get these numbers:
Face wash: $0.76 per ounce
Moisturizer: $3.52 per ounce
Eye Cream: $80 per ounce (INsane, I know....I know....)

Homemade face wash initial cost:
$12.39 for 16oz of castor oil
$10.99 for 25oz of olive oil
$9.99 for 1oz tea tree oil

So just divide to see how much I paid per ounce...
$0.77 per ounce for castor
$0.44 per ounce for olive
$9.99 per ounce for tea tree

And then factor in the recipe - we're making 4 tablespoons, or 2 ounces, of product here. So using the 1:3 ratio in tablespoons, and with only a few drops of tea tree in a bottle holding 600 drops, the per ounce price is:

$0.59 per ounce

($0.39 for castor, $0.66 for oil, and $0.12 for tea tree, divided by 2)

And the best part? I don't need the eye cream and moisturizer anymore. The areas around my eyes aren't dry, my skin isn't flaky, and contrary to what I expected, I am not breaking out like a madwoman. So really, I am saving $0.17 per ounce on the face wash, but also $3.52 per ounce on moisturizer and $80 an ounce on eye cream. That's a slew of nonexistent ounces right there.

Health Factors
Let's talk toxicity. One of the most attractive elements of homemade beauty products is the safety of the ingredients. My old products didn't do so hot on the Environmental Working Group toxicity scale. Here are some of the most surprising hazards I read about:

Face wash:
  • Fragrance: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • Salicylic acid: Enhanced skin absorption, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Use restrictions
  • Propylparaben: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Use restrictions
  • Diazolidinyl Urea (Formaldehyde releaser): Cancer, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (FORMALDEHYDE), Use restrictions
  • Methylparaben: Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Use restrictions
Eye Cream:
  • Mary Kay won't publish ingredients to their buyers and as such, a lot of "underground" work has been done to figure out what these lotions and potions actually contain. I read a number of interesting things about Mary Kay products, including their heavy use of parabens (check out those parabens listed under my old moisturizer -  they sound fun!). I'm gonna go ahead and conclude Mary Kay is pretty damn awful, despite the pink cars. 
Alternatively, our homemade face wash has some pretty awesome ingredients with some pretty awesome benefits.

Castor oil:
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial
  • Supplies fatty acids for cell membrane repair and health
  • Full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
Olive oil:
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antibacterial
  • Full of antioxidants 
  • Natural exfoliant when mixed with sugar or salt
Tea Tree Oil:
  • Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal
  • Pain reliever
  • Soothing scent that makes you feel like you're in a spa even though you're in your bathroom holding the door closed with your foot because a small person is inevitably banging down to door and telling you about her poop
Success! This homemade face wash routine absolutely works for me. I love it, love it, love it, and highly suggest it to my fellow SkinSux club members. Maybe after some consistent oil washing, we can change the name of our club to SkinRules? Eh? EHHHH?

Stay tuned - the experiment continues next week with homemade shampoo! And as always, thank you for reading :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Homemade Toiletries: An Experiment in Peacemaking

Ever wonder about those crunchy ladies? You know the ones I'm talking about. All natural beauties who eat nothing but veggie wraps made of backyard-grown organic heirloom spinach and self-raised-and-butchered chicken? They bake their own bread, wash their hair with baking soda, and brush their teeth with a chewing stick?


Well I do.

You see, sometimes, this world comes at us with 1,000 angry, horrible things. Sometimes people get sick. Sometimes people get beaten. Sometimes people die. And in almost all of those instances, it is not, in any way, shape, or form, ok. I hear these disgusting stories and I fear for my family. I hear these disgusting stories and I fear for my friends and for the future of our country. When I get scared, I get angry, and when I get angry, I want to fly into action. The problem is, the horrors I witness on the news, or in the paper, or on my Facebook feed, these horrors seem so removed from me, a chick in PJ pants, chillin' on the couch. I feel helpless. I can talk and scream and rant and cry until there is nothing left, but when push comes to shove, I cannot force someone think the way I do, no matter the amount of life, liberty, and happiness at stake. The only thing I can do, and the only person I can truly control, is myself. My actions. My thoughts. My words. My vote.

So, on this, a day where I look back at the week and think "Why is this happening, how can people be so horrific, and what can I do to stop them?" I am going to fight oppression and injustice by being the best damn person I can be, living life according to the basic human principles I find important, and try my damnedest to leave my kids with a world they can still find beauty in, despite the bleak outlook we face today.

The crunchy life is one of my coping mechanism, one of my tools. It's a way to get back to my roots, literally. It's a way to educate about the falsities we fail to recognize as we blindly cycle through the churning, mechanical consumerism and politics we've come to depend on for everything in our lives. It's a way of providing a new outlook for my family, my readers, and it allows me to offer my kids the opportunity to sever ties with the social norms and non-questioning behaviors that continue to kill us, quite literally. It's my way of asking questions and encouraging them to do the same.

Why? What does it mean? How can it be done better?

I know I'm not solving our nation's problems, here. A homemade tube of toothpaste isn't going to fix the inequalities and terrors we face today. Homemade shampoo pales in comparison to those working to develop legislature, or creating petitions, or marching peacefully in protest. My hope, however, is that these silly little recipes, this focused effort on making meaningful choices, damning the man's standards, and exercising my right to live a life centered on responsibility, will ignite in my children a passion to move with purpose and shun the phrase "ignorance is bliss" and to instead ask questions, to dig deeper, to investigate and clarify what it means to be a free country.

Blogging about deodorant doesn't create justice in a world that seems to have none...but if it convinces even just one person, just one person, to think outside the box, to extend beyond that which we've been raised to believe our entire lives, then maybe, just maybe, we have a shot at widening our minds to encompass the change we need to undergo as a nation and as individuals each and every day.

So without further ado, allow me to introduce to you....

Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment

For the next few Fridays I'm going to highlight a homemade product I've made and been using in my home. I'll discuss the cost comparison, the ingredients, the challenges, and every little detail in between. I'll divulge the facts and studies I've found that contrast with the faith I've traditionally had in our governmental regulating bodies. I will frame the contest, so to speak, and give you a firsthand perspective of how reducing my dependence on grocery stores has impacted my life.

You'll find out why my medicine cabinet looks like this:

And why my bathroom cabinet looks like this:

And how this could be a real life hair care routine:

And why I have random charts like this taped to the inside of my closet doors:

And who knows? Maybe following along or joining me in this little experiment will help you break through some of the mental barriers you have in your life and cause you to revisit things you never even realized were in there. And yea...sometimes, a simple glass jar full of lotion can do that...because even at its most basic level, change paves the way to a better you, a better me, a more peaceful we.

Thank you for reading, lovely friends.