The Ultimate Skin and Hair Care

Alright, it’s about to get all crazy up in here. Today I’m going to talk about my awesome, super fancy skin and hair maintenance routines and the logic behind them.


Hair Care

Problems that I sought to fix: dry, itchy scalp; psoriasis; oil imbalance

A few years ago I wanted to end my struggle with dry scalp and psoriasis. I had read about this thing going around called the “no poo” method and decided to give it a try. I did the baking soda scalp scrub and apple cider vinegar rinse, and it was okay. Once I cut the baking soda scrub out it was a little better. But I always had this problem: my natural oils would build up at the base of my scalp. Not bad or anything, but it was annoying. Combing my hair could be difficult some days.

In the meantime I had Karissa and it became more convenient to go back to using a natural shampoo and conditioner instead of mixing my vinegar and herb mix, and my scalp went back to being itchier. I sucked it up–after all, I’ve dealt with it for my entire life, no biggie.

But then two things happened. First, I had Madilyn; second, Karissa had the same terrible, crusty, scaly scalp that her mommy has. It’s funny how your children can get you to do for them what you aren’t willing to do for yourself, isn’t it?

I began thinking about it and reading about it. You know, it turns out that we did not evolve scrubbing our hair vigorously underneath cascading waterfalls every day. Not even a few times a week. Heck, I would reckon that early humans didn’t even bathe in water much at all. Shampooing strips hair of the natural oils that your scalp is producing. The more you wash your hair, the more your scalp is convinced that something isn’t right and tries to correct the problem. Our bodies are very intelligent, they try to fix problems for us even when we don’t realize it.

We went back to a mostly auto-immune paleo diet to try and eliminate anything that might be causing inflammation, and then I did something crazy. I went cold turkey on my hair–nothing touched it except for water. No vinegar, no baking soda, no magical hippie formula. I knew that the transition phase would be rough, and my hair would feel gross for a week or two and hard to comb, but it’s just part of restoring balance. Lo and behold, much to my surprise, after just two weeks I woke up one morning and my hair felt soft, easy to comb, manageable, and not at all oily. Not even a little. Holy cow.

It’s crazy what your body can do if you let it. I don’t put any kinds of crap in my hair, except for the occasional coconut oil if I feel inclined to get really fancy.


Skin Care

Problems that I sought to fix: keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), dry skin

Following my experiences with my hair, I unwittingly embarked upon a unique skin-based adventure.

One afternoon I was lazily watching a nature show on Netflix. Some hippos were covering themselves in mud and then walking around, something like that. And suddenly, looking at that, I had some small kind of epiphany.

My silly brain went, “WTF I don’t need to use soap! We probably didn’t bathe regularly in the wild! My hair doesn’t need shampoo, why on earth would my skin need soap?!” And I thought about the myriad of animals that roll in dust or cover themselves in mud as cleaning or cooling methods. Guess what? We are animals too.

I got super excited thinking about this and decided to look on the wonder ol’ worldwide web for people talking about rejecting soap use and their experiences, and it turned out that a lot of people had already thought of this too, and had great experiences rejecting the idea that you need soap to live. People reported lifelong skin conditions clearing up, reduced body odor, and healthier looking, more vibrant skin. Makes sense–have you ever seen some of the garbage that they put in soap? It’s absolutely cringe worthy. Your skin is your largest body organ, and like your gut, has a natural optimal bacterial balance. When you eat bad quality foods your gut flora become imbalanced and overall health suffers. When you wash your natural bacteria off of skin it allows harmful bacteria to flourish in place of beneficial bacteria.

So I took to it the only way I know how, hard and fast. Hop in shower, stand in water for 5-15 minutes, hop back out. Rinse (ha) and repeat day after day. After about a week I noticed a spot where a pimple had been trying to form had gone away, my skin was smoother and less itchy, and my keratosis pilaris was improving a little. Awesome!

I’ve also added dry brushing my skin to the routine this week to see if it will help resolve the remainder of the bumps that I have on my arms and help me feel better at all. It’s been 3 days and so far my arms are already noticeably softer and I’m feeling good, but I do think that having the ritual is helping me a lot too.

So if I need to remove makeup I return to my ever-trusted coconut oil and cotton pads. Moisturize? Coconut oil. Deodorant? Coconut oil. No, just kidding–I’ve been using a coconut oil based all natural brand, though (that is, if I even remember to put it on. Forgetting it isn’t a big deal since I don’t stink.)


Conclusion

Yes, I am seriously advocating ditching soap and shampoo. You only need soap when you’re dirty. If you’re handing raw meat, in the hospital, covered in grime or sick then yes, absolutely wash your hands with soap, but otherwise? It’s totally unnecessary.

Taste Safe Slime

Karissa likes to paint, but Madilyn is a bit too little to be handed tempera paints yet. Instead, I tried to make her a baby substitute…except that I don’t keep wheat flour in the house. Say what I may about wheat, but the gluten makes for great stickiness with craft type projects. Anyway, I substituted psyllium husk powder, and the results were acceptable, but not really paint. Instead I got goopy slime stuff–not the intended result, but fun sensory play regardless!

Be careful with this,  while technically taste safe psyllium husk can cause constipation.

Supplies:

1-2 tbsp psyllium husk powder

1 tsp salt

1-2 cups water

Food coloring

 

Steps:

1. Combine salt and psyllium powder in a bowl. Add water and whisk with a fork.

2. Separate into multiple small containers.

3. Add whatever food coloring combinations you like. If you don’t need it to be taste safe you can also add glitter, sequins, beans, rice or beads as well–get creative. We added glitter for Karissa and she loved it!

Adventures in Breastfeeding

Even before Karissa was born, I knew how important it was to me to be able to breastfeed her. I knew that it was undoubtedly the best nutrition that she could get, I wanted the bonding experience, and I felt that it was the greatest, most natural thing that could happen. The thought of holding my newborn in my arms as she happily chugged away elated me.

When she was born, however, it wasn’t all that easy. She breastfed, and it wasn’t bad, but we had some problems. We had some correct latching issues. She had a bubble palette. I had sore nipples from lazy latching (with both kids). She was constantly comfort nursing. The real big problem, though, was the milk itself.

A word of wisdom through personal experience: don’t believe people who say that all breast milk is the same and diet doesn’t matter. A few weeks into it my sweet newborn baby had this horrible green and red mucous poop, a red ring around her butthole, she was spitting up constantly, she was wheezing and she had a terrible rash. The consultants at my lactation clinic and her pediatrician both said that what I was eating wasn’t the problem and scoffed at me for thinking that the breast milk could have been causing her problems, but intuition and Internet research indicated otherwise. Always trust your gut (ha). So began my quest into starvation in an effort to find out what she couldn’t tolerate. I already don’t eat most grains, so this was going to be tough.

First I eliminated dairy, since her awful rash had first appeared a day after I had eaten cheese. Dairy takes a while to leave your system, though, and waiting to see improvement was maddening. My mother in law thought that I was nuts and made it very obvious. It’s understandable–our parents didn’t know as much when we were kids as we do now. After about a month her skin looked a little better, but she clearly wasn’t healed. I went back to the worldwide web in search of clues.

Next came soy–dairy and soy protein intolerance very often coexist. I guess the proteins are similar. Now, I’m used to glancing at food labels, but you really have no idea just how much has soy in it until you can no longer eat it. Suddenly hot dogs, sausages, and trail mix were no-go. Marinades too. Anything fried in oil that I didn’t fry myself was a strict no fry zone (har har). We learned that the effects of soy scared us most–it caused the wheezing, skin problems, and digestion issues–but also went away the fastest if I accidentally ate it, 24 to 48 hours. We were figuring it out, but still not there.

Last was eggs. She was around 3 months old now, and grandma thought that I was an uber-nuts extremist for cutting all of this out of my diet, but I needed to know and I wanted her to have exactly what she needed. Finally her bloody poop and rash went away completely and we knew what I had to avoid. I did accidentally eat oat flour once too which prompted a 24 hour rash (I guess that a lot of oat flour can be contaminated with gluten). I was on an autoimmune paleo diet, eating ridiculous amounts of sweet potatoes and coconut flakes to try and keep up with milk production, but I lost weight at an incredible rate with so little variety. I lost 50 pounds in 6 months.

Then we discovered that I was pregnant again. I was devastated when Karissa ¬†began to lose weight and fuss constantly around 8 months old because, unbeknownst to me, I was not longer making milk (I had been told by a nurse that this wouldn’t happen and that I didn’t need to worry, so our baby STARVING didn’t evdn occur to us). We met with a different pediatrician who finally agreed that it sounded like she was intolerant of many various proteins. Since there is not a mainstream formula that is both dairy and soy free, he suggested that we ramp up her solid intake and use milk alternatives. He also advised that I stop trying to breastfeed–he thought that it would encourage her to eat. When we left his office I broke down crying–how could I give up nursing her? I wasn’t ready, and neither was she. This was a new world of pain, not being able to provide what my daughter needed. Luckily I found Sammy’s Milk–a goat’s milk alternative formula–read her story, and cried with both sadness and relief as I placed my first order.

The first week of bottles and extra solids was a nightmare, but we both adjusted. She seemed like she was scared that if she ate or drank it meant that I wouldn’t let her nurse, so the routine became that she got to comfort nurse after meals for as long as she wanted. I spent all day in the kitchen with her for weeks trying to get her to gain weight, and finally we hit our stride. Karissa comfort nursed throughout my entire pregnancy with her sister in spite of the fact that all I had to offer was colostrum. I am so thankful that neither of us never gave up: in spite of the intolerances, milk loss, teething and soreness we refused to let it go. Because of the laxative effect of colostrum she pooped a ton; her diaper consumption nearly doubled overnight!

Towards the end of the second pregnancy I remember just wanting it to be over so that I could see Karissa’s reaction to the milk coming back. I was able to resume eating eggs and dairy since she had outgrown her intolerances and was now eating them herself. Madilun was finally born and when it came to breastfeeding she was a born natural. She immediately latched herself and rarely needed help.

I am incredibly lucky: I’ve never had major complications with breastfeeding, never had mastitis or anything serious. I had milk blisters for a few weeks–that sucked (ha). The hardest thing for me was painfully sore nipples at the end of my pregnancy with Madilyn–Karissa wanted to suck and it would drive me crazy, but I let her. Ah, the things we do for love. Me and the girls are tandem nursing now, which is incredibly great and very rewarding. I love seeing my girls together snuggled up in my arms or gazing at one another while holding hands. Sometimes I wonder how long Karissa will want to breastfeed because of the difficulties we had, and I intend on letting her choose when to wean within reason (if she gets to 4 or 5 and hasn’t weaned perhaps we’ll reevaluate). She still wakes me up a few times a night to nurse, whereas her sister already sleeps pretty well. I can’t blame her, I really appreciate the comfort of the ritual as much as she does. She wants to lay in my arms and fall asleep, and I love knowing that she’s there next to me.

Thus far in my parenting adventures breastfeeding has been a crazy, hard, and great experience.

Lemon Ginger Sore Throat Slushie

My toddler has had a cough since yesterday. Having a sick kid isn’t fun, but hearing her croaky voice is just downright sad. What do you do for a sore throat when it’s too warm out for hot tea or your child is refusing it?

My younger daughter has been teething, so in order to alleviate the pain of long, hot afternoons with crying kids I’ve been blending berries and veggies and freezing the smoothie liquid in candy molds for small, baby-sized popsicle bites. This gave me an idea–a soothing sore throat slushie! This slushie combines a number of immune boosting ingredients into a delicious, nurturing drink that is quite the pick me up, sick or not (although, poor Madi isn’t allowed to try this one yet).

Sore Throat Slushie

Course Dessert, Drinks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 11 minutes
Servings 1
Author Kristy

Ingredients

  • 1-2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon juice More or less, depending on your tastes
  • 2 Cups Ice
  • 1/2 Tbsp Grated ginger Or ginger infusion
  • 1-2 Tbsp Chamomile tea Brewed strong
  • 1-2 Tbsp Red raspberry leaf tea Optional, brewed strong

Instructions

  1. Dissolve honey in warm tea.

  2. Combine ingredients in a blender and blend untik smooth

The Moderation Problem

You know, when it boils down to it everyone is a little different. We’ve got different interests, different personalities, different bodies. And no one body composition is exactly the same as another.

So here’s the problem: I’m learning that I can’t do moderation. Worse, yet, I’m seeing that my girls can’t seem to, either.

People always say, “A little won’t hurt, you can make an exception!” They tend to think that the grain-free diet that we follow is extreme and that we’re somehow depriving ourselves by not indulging in a little piece of cake or pasta now and then. I’m here to tell you that we’re not.

Sometimes I do give in to the peer pressure, because here’s the God’s honest truth: I love sugar. I’m a full-fledged addict and once I get a bite I can’t stop. That’s the big problem–it is an addiction, and one that is encouraged. Sometimes, when someone presses me to eat a piece of fudge or some ice cream, I do, and when I do, I binge hard. I almost never intentionally eat wheat–it just causes too many problems–but sweet, delectable sugar, man. It’s the temptress that rears her head all too often at holidays, birthday parties, and family gatherings.

Almost anything sweet is a trigger food. I can’t eat a piece, I eat the cake. I emotional eat. I boredom eat. Today I had most of a (fudge sized) tray of no-bake, low carb cheesecake and watermelon, and it wasn’t that bad but I’m still disappointed because once I tasted the cheesecake it was gone. If I indulge, I’m generally off the proverbial wagon for a month or two. It’s been a terrible cycle and that, my friends, is why I never lose weight–I have some chips and fruit at Thanksgiving and I can’t stop myself until after Christmas.

It’s just awful. I have two daughters under the age of two that seem to have the exact same eating patterns as me. They just love to gorge, and they’ll eat almost any time, even when they aren’t hungry. My poor babies.

I have to end the cycle. Some of us just aren’t capable of moderation, and that’s okay. Some people can eat a cookie and only one cookie, and some of us will eat the entire batch. For those of us who can’t just have one, it’s best to just refrain. I feel better and stronger when I can face the temptation with confident resistance.

Yo ho, yo ho…