I’ve almost been in Scotland (from South Africa) for one week and it’s been amazing to see the difference between the two countries. I think my favourite thing is that the sun sets at 10pm, so I feel like I have so much time to get things done. My least favourite thing is the Rand to Pound conversion rate! This has meant adjusting to simple, cost effective living (which I quite enjoy).
You may have heard me say that I try to only put on my skin that which I would put in my mouth. Many people think that if they live this way they will have to buy expensive and “organic” products. This is not the case.
I have bought three main ingredients- all of which I could eat. They amounted to £6 in total for a large volume. They are: bicarbonate of soda (baking soda for y’all Americans), coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar.
From these three things I can make basic; toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, face-wash, washing powder (for clothes or dishes) and a floor/bathroom cleaning agent.
_ Coconut Oil Toothpaste _
½ Cup coconut oil
2-3 Tablespoons of baking soda
3 Teaspoons (or more to taste) of Xylitol [I’m simply skipping this step while I’m in Scotland. However, Xylitol is more than a sweetener when it comes to toothpaste… It helps with cavities too.]
15-20 drops of peppermint (Mentha piperitta) or cinnamon (Cinamonum zeylanicum) essential oil
10 drops of tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) [I brought this from SA]
If the coconut oil is hard, place it in a pot on the stove until it melts. Then remove it and mix in all the other ingredients. Place the mixture in a glass pot if you’re able to. The way that you use your toothpaste will depend on whether you are in a hot or cold climate. In a hot climate it will be runny, so you will have to dip your toothbrush and mix it in the oil. In a cold climate it will be hard, so you will have to chip off a bit with the head of your brush. (I’m definitely chipping away here in Scotland!)
_ Shampoo _
Generally I do not advocate the use of bicarbonate of soda with apple cider vinegar as a shampoo and conditioner combination because I’ve read that the difference in pH between the two can damage the scalp. I normally try to make my own shampoo bars. However, I’ve already set the smoke alarm off in my host family’s kitchen while helping their son to make pancakes, so I don’t think they’ll take kindly to me making soap and lye fumes! And since I’m only here for eight weeks I have decided that using bicarb is fine. I use it by taking some powder in my hand, adding some water to make a paste and then rubbing it through my hair.
_ Conditioner _
I LOVE using Apple cider vinegar (acv) as my conditioner. It nourishes the hair, detangles it, leaves it shiny and removes the toxins that might get caught it in. I also make a tea with rosemary and chamomile (chamomile is supposed to lighten hair and sage is supposed to keep it dark). I add two tablespoons of acv to this cup of tea (once it’s cooled slightly) and then rinse my hair with it. Does it smell like a fish and chip shop? Acv only smells when it’s wet. A friend of mine particularly disliked the smell so I added essential oils and he said it became a manageable “sushi ginger” smell. So play around as you like. As I have no one to impress in Scotland I’m sticking to my fish and chips!
_ Moisturiser _
This one is quite difficult. Scoop some coconut oil into your hands… Rub onto your skin. (British sarcasm is taking over… Help!)
_ Face wash _
As I mentioned before, acv is very good for removing toxins and dirt. It does this to the skin and also leaves it soft and clean afterwards. However, It is very strong so you NEED to dilute it before it goes anywhere near your skin. Put a tablespoon in a cup of water. Use a piece of cotton wool or toilet paper to dip into the mix and then wipe it over your skin. If your skin is sensitive you may need to dilute it even more. You should also avoid contact with your eyes. If you are prone to acne I would recommend doing this once a day and then drinking a cup of water with a tablespoon of acv in it once a day too. This tackles the issue inside out.
_ Washing Powder _
Here is some ‘sciencey’ magic! If you lay your bicarb on a tray and bake it at 200°C for 15+ mins you will notice that the texture of the grain changes. It’s gone from NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, one carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules) to Washing soda or Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). This molecule is a lot better at removing tough stains. You can wash your clothes or your dishes with it. I will admit that this is a crude form of washing powder. I am yet to find a softener to pair it with and I will be honest, I am using my host family’s washing powder and softener. But, it’s still interesting and if you were desperate it is very useful.
_ Floor Cleaner _
This might be harder than the Moisturiser… 250ml hot water + 250ml vinegar = cleaning agent!
This may seem unnecessary and kind of like “why not just buy products from the shops”. But what if there were a zombie apocalypse and you could only fit a couple of items into your imaginary get away car… this information would be prime! OK, unlikely. But these ingredients are beneficial for your body without having the price tag of “natural”, “organic”, “healthy” or other such labels that the market exploits these days.
I hope you found this post helpful, or at least mildly entertaining. There are many more posts to come from me and the Scottish Highlands.