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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back to Beauty Basics with Baking Soda, Vinegar and Salt

Whether you've decided to simply clear out the clutter under your bathroom sink or just clear out the constant worrying about what hazards are in your personal care products, you may want to go back to the bare basics in what is really needed for personal hygiene.

Cleanliness and a holistic beauty routine can be achieved with three basic ingredients you probably already have in your home:
baking soda, salt, and apple cider vinegar

Everyone wants clean, white teeth, yet the expense of a professional treatment is usually a deterrent, and  the safety and efficiency of the over-the-counter whitening products may result in less than satisfactory results. So why not turn to the tried and true methods used by people long before commercial toothpastes were even available.

A combination of salt and baking soda is an inexpensive, safe and time tested methods of maintaining a healthy mouth and strong teeth.

Ideally, you want to use a natural, unbleached sea salt. Sea salt still contains nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, sodium, iodine and iron. These elements strengthen gums, helps remove plaque, protects against bad breath and over time, even whitens teeth. Being salt makes you salivate, an antibacterial barrier is created that protects tooth enamel.

Most of us can remember as children the remedy for a sore throat or toothache was to rinse with salt water. Mixing a half teaspoon of sea salt with about four ounces of water made a great mouth rinse to help relieve mouth and throat inflammation and destroy bacteria.

The natural method to whitening teeth is to use baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. Being highly alkaline, baking soda has many cleaning uses and eliminating tarter and plaque from teeth and gums is no exception. Tooth decay is caused by acids in the mouth. Baking soda counteracts this acidity, and in doing so kills bacteria and germs which causes decay and bad breath. It is gritty enough to clean yet not so abrasive that it will wear away tooth enamel.

The ratio is about 6:1, baking soda to sea salt. Combine the baking soda and the salt and store in a little container to keep it dry. Dip a wet toothbrush into about a half teaspoon of the mixture or if you use a shaker top container, shake a bit onto your wet brush. Then gently brush your teeth, rinse and spit, being careful not to swallow the mixture.

NOTE:  Don't brush your teeth more than twice a week with baking soda. Slightly abrasive to tooth enamel, used repeatedly over time can weaken the enamel.

If you have braces or permanent retainers, don't brush with baking soda. Reactions with the baking soda can leave behind dark spots.

Want a back-to-basics method for cleaning your hair?
 Use baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

If you're fed up with your hair and frustrated that no matter what a product claims to do, you still can't achieve the results you want, then maybe it is time to just start over with as basic as you can get.

The decision to steer away from commercially made shampoos usually stems from frustration with your hair, scalp sensitivity and/or the growing awareness of the potentially toxic chemicals often added to skin and hair care products.

Washing your hair with baking soda and vinegar, the No-Poo method, is cheap, shampoo-free, conditioner-free, natural hair care. Shampoos advertised as leaving your hair squeaky clean do so but eventually may strip away protective oils and dry out the hair. What happens is that when hair dries out the protective cuticle layers are open, resulting in hard to manage fly away hair.

Many of our hair care products are strongly alkaline and cause a dulling buildup on the hair shaft.
Healthy hair is on the mildly acidic side of the pH scale between 4.5 and 5.5. Apple cider vinegar has an acidic pH of 2.9. Apple cider vinegar rinses help to balance the pH and remove buildup, giving you a softer, shinier, easier to detangle head of hair. Rinsing will close the hair shafts resulting in a smoother surface.

Changing your routine will be met with a period of transition. Try not to use the poo method once and say it didn't work. For some people, this adjustment period could take a week or even a month or two. You'll find over time that you'll only need to shampoo every few days.
This is how it is done:

Have the following ready before going into the shower:
Add 1 Tbsp. baking soda to a dixie cup or whatever small cup you choose. Add just enough water to form a paste.
Have the vinegar handy in a plastic squeezy bottle. Have a plastic 1 or 2 cup size measuring cup.


Wet your hair. Apply the baking soda paste to your scalp and give yourself a wonderful massage to stimulate blood flow. Using your fingertips, start making a circle on top of your head, beginning with the back and fill in the circle with your fingers making little scrubbing motions. Don't forget your temples and the base at the neck. This massage method cleans the pores and loosens built up grime. It isn't necessary to work down the length of your hair. When you rinse, the runoff will clean the hair on its way down. Don't get any of this in your eyes.

There are two choices for applying the vinegar:
1. Dilute 1/2-1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup water for short hair or
1-2 Tbsp vinegar to 2 cups water for long hair.
Pour the vinegar/water mixture onto your hair and scalp. Repeat this again if desired. Let sit a minute or so and rinse with lukewarm water (a blast of cold water will seal the cuticles of the hair). Some people don't bother with a final rinse to wash out the vinegar. Leaving it in does help with tangles but for some this proves irritating to their skin.
2. You can just pour a tablespoon or two of vinegar directly onto your scalp, let it sit on your hair a minute or so, and then rinse. Vinegar is rather strong so use your own judgement which method to use. Some people find this undiluted method too strong for their scalp.

Periodic apple cider vinegar hair rinses will also help prevent or get rid of a flaky or itchy scalp.
For help with dandruff it is recommended to use the direct application method. Massage the vinegar thoroughly onto the scalp and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
The acids and enzymes in the vinegar kill the "bottle bacillus", a bacteria that is one of the causes for many scalp and hair conditions. The bacteria clogs hair follicles allowing dry crusts to form that itch and flake.
Now to resolve any problems:
If your hair becomes frizzy, use less baking soda or don't let it sit on your hair as long. Baking soda is a very effective cleaner, so you may have to play around with how much to use.
If your hair becomes greasy, use less vinegar or try applying the vinegar only to the ends of your hair.
If your hair dries out, use coconut oil or jojoba oil by applying just a bit to ends and scrunch. Leave this in. Repeat once a week or as needed.

Vinegar will not strip hair color the way chemical lighteners will so it shouldn't remove hair dye. The effect of vinegar is more subtle.