I’m working on reformulating my DIY deo*, which works fabulously but sometimes leaves me a little rashy. So I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things that could potentially inflame my skin. Because maybe it’s not all about the deodorant itself. In the shower, post-epilation**, it occurred to me (and I don’t know why it didn’t years ago) that maybe if I didn’t use soap, I’d have less irritation. So I used the last bit of my Kahina Facial Cleanser to wash my underarms. It was very soothing, no burn at all.  Usually for a day or two after yanking out hairs, there’s a bit of sting when I soap up.  A fancy face cleanser hardly seems viable for this purpose long-term though, and I thought perhaps a soap free body wash would be a more frugal option.  I’d abandoned body washes years ago in favor of Dr. Bronner’s, and more recently have been loving this shampoo and body bar, so I really have not paid attention to what’s going on with body washes these days.  I am having a heck of a time finding a truly clean, non-soap*** body wash that is gluten free, and fragrance-free (my preference) or has a very light scent that doesn’t last.

I don’t want to stink, and while I’m sometimes labeled as hippie-esque, I’m staying on the hair removal train. So, what to do? I’ve been washing my body with my favorite shampoos! My very favorite shampoo is Greenbody Greenplanet’s Revitalizing Unscented (reviewed here), and I’m very happy with it as a body wash so far.  I have had less irritation on all the spots that see a razor or epilator, but I still feel clean. I love a multi-tasking product too, especially for travel.  GBGP is going through a process of expansion and rebranding, though the formulations of their current products will stay the same.  If you love this brand and want to support them, check out their Indiegogo campaign.  I’m super excited to try out their new products when they launch, in particular a silicone-free hair smoothing serum.

While ruminating on this post, I took a second look at John Masters Organics Bare Unscented Body Wash.  The website says it’s gluten free, although the bottle label lists a wheat ingredient.  I followed up with the company, and turns out the label is a misprint.  The bare line is gluten free and has always been so.  I simply must try it!

So who’s going sans soap in their body cleansing routine?  What do you use?

*new formulas in testing mode now, post coming soon!

**an ouchy but effective method, I use this one

***if it’s soap-free, it may list surfactants like glucosides or olivates

Meet Marnie. She has a great, and simple, morning routine but is on the hunt for some hair products that are available in Canada. Let the suggestions roll!

Name: Marnie

Age: 39 (closer to 40)

Hometown: Burlington, ON Canada (near Toronto)

Current weather: When this was first sent: Cold and unpredictable. Now: Warm and humid. (Ah, Canada.)

Hair: SUPER curly, light brown/reddish (with more grey now than I care to admit),  just above shoulder length, dry and frizzes easily

Skin: Irish Fair, used to be oily but now combination (oily T-zone) with occasional break-outs. I am always complemented on my skin, and am often told I do not look even close to my age, but I am really just blessed with good genes. And even though I HATED my greasy forehead in high school, the oil has definitely minimized the amount of wrinkles I have now, so if my daughter turns out to have my skin, I will tell her it’s a blessing in disguise. I have tried numerous skin care regimes over the years (my sister is an esthetician) but gradually came to realize that when it comes to your skin, less is definitely more.

Starlet from the past: Marnie forgot to include this bit, but we chose the young Nicole Kidman because 1) her skin and hair sound like how Marnie describes hers, and 2) she was so adorable before she did all that weird stuff to her face. :)

I commute an hour to work each day, and I don’t like to spend a lot of time getting ready in the mornings (mostly because I can barely function at 6am), so I try to keep my morning routine simple, and spend extra time on myself before I go to bed (no later than 10 p.m.). Also, I need to get my 2.5 year old ready for daycare before I leave so I don’t have a lot of time to begin with. Luckily my husband is able to do the actual drop-off or I’d be running out of the house with wet-hair and no make-up!

In the shower…

I have started using luke warm water (as opposed to the steamy showers that I love), because as great as a nice hot shower feels (especially on a winter morning in Canada) – it is super drying to your skin and scalp. I start by wetting my hair and applying some conditioner (I rarely shampoo – usually the only time my hair gets shampooed is when I get it trimmed at the salon about every 6 months) then I leave it to soak in. I am currently trying out different “clean” conditioners on my hair, however still have not found one I love. I tried the John Masters Organics line, but didn’t love any of them, and for the cost I think I should love it before spending that much money on conditioner. I don’t have the time or (let’s be honest) the inclination for DIY and a lot the brands recommended by other NMDL followers are not easily available in Canada or have hefty shipping charges – so my search continues but hopefully I will find one soon, because currently my hair is a frizzy mess. My next step is a quick loofah with some Green Beaver Lavender Rosemary Body Wash, after which I lightly rinse my hair and then I am done! I have also stopped washing my face in the mornings (especially in the winter) and have found that I have way less dry patches. About once a week I will use some of the One Love Organics microderm scrub for a good facial exfoliation in the shower. In the summer I sometimes use Consonant Organics 20% Clay Exfoliating Cleansing Bar too (good for face and body). (I should point out that I do cleanse my face in the evenings with Stark cleansing balm to remove the days make-up and grime).

Out of the shower…

I immediately moisturize with Consonant Ultra Moisturizing Organic Face Cream. In the winter I add a drop or two of their HydrExtreme serum as well. If I need more coverage I add a few drops of the Suki active moisturizer in Natural too. I then slather some of their body lotion in the Citrus Bergamont scent on my arms and legs. I love Consonant! They are a homegrown Canadian company from Toronto and I absolutely love their line of skincare products. For my hair again, I have been trying different leave-in and styling products. I used to be an avid Bumble & Bumble girl and there are days when I am tempted to just cave and buy another big bottle of Curl Conscious. Right now I am using a few drops of Argan Oil mixed with some worldProduct hair and body balm, but the balm is a bit sticky for my hair, and leaves a waxy buildup that I am not fond of – so the search continues. I want a leave in that will get out the knots, tame my frizz and hold a curl (I am aiming high I know, but a girl can dream). I only comb my hair when it’s wet with a wide toothed comb and never ever brush or blow dry it!

Finishing touches…

I am a minimalist make-up girl during the week, just some eyeliner and mascara from the Physicians Formula Organic Wear line and a touch of lip balm (also Consonant) and that’s it!

For full disclosure, I should mention that the only non-clean product in my whole morning routine is a doozy – I still use antiperspirant (gasp!). I have tried using all natural deodorants, but quite frankly, I sweat. A LOT. And I work in a downtown Toronto corporate office environment where meeting clients with sweaty pit stains, is well, not cool. I will keep trying to find a clean, or at least clean-er antiperspirant, but in the meantime I am sticking with my drugstore brand.

I am always browsing websites for new “clean” products (I love www.freshfaced.ca), so I plan to try some RMS and Ilia make-up products for my going-out look in the very near future.

Meet Heather, a working mom with two daughters (and sensitive skin), she still manages to make some DIY products. We love it! We’ve included her inception story below—thanks for sharing it, Heather!
I have been enjoying your series on morning routines and I wanted to throw mine into the mix.  My skin and haircare rituals have changed in the past couple of years, mainly because of your book!  I can’t even remember how I came across it, but I started reading No More Dirty Looks, on a Friday in 2011 and by Sunday evening I had looked up all my products on the EWG’s database, Skin Deep.  Horrified with what I found, I ended up tossing about 90% of them and decided to start over.  Shortly thereafter, I had a skin consultation with holistic esthetician and herbalist, Emma Graves, which totally rocked my world (insofar as a facial can be world altering).  My skin is sensitive and prone to rosacea, and she suggested I dispense with soap and moisturizer altogether.  Her company, Between You and The Moon, makes an organic grain facial cleanser, Sow Your Wild Oats  and a moisturizing oil called Nourish and Replenish that I love.  Soon, I started experimenting with making some of my own products and found it was easier than I thought (and fun, too!).   My youngest daughter also has very sensitive skin and we needed to find a lotion for her that was free of any chemical preservatives, so I found a simple recipe and now the whole family uses my Honey/Lemon Body Lotion.  I also make my own oat-almond cleanser and deodorant, too, and have documented my various experiments in kitchen cosmetics on my blog, Domaphile.

As a working mother with daughters aged 6 and 9, my morning routine is not very relaxing and is usually punctuated by packing lunches and trying to get them out the door to school.  On the weekends, I try to take a little more time and like to mix up face and hair treatments in the kitchen.  Sometimes my kids get into the act, too, but mostly they just think I’m weird for “putting all that gunk on my face!”

Name:  Heather

Age:  41

Hometown: New York City

Profession: Art Librarian and blogger at Domaphile.com

Weather: Snowmaggedon!

Skin: Fair and Sensitive. I have a bit of rosacea, which I control with diet and by using really mild products on my skin. Now that I am in my 40s, I am noticing some changes in my skin and am really glad I have discovered non-chemical ways to deal with them. I also think my daily smoothie habit has done wonders for my skin – you are what you eat, after all!

Hair: Dark, medium length. Straight and fine with very little body (sigh).

Star: Audrey Hepburn

In the shower…

Weekday mornings are a little crazy around here, trying to get everyone out the door, so I often do everything in a rush.  I only wash and dry my hair every three days or so and it totally throws a wrench into my morning, so I have to make sure the hair washing falls on a day when I don’t have to take my kids to school.   I’ve been experimenting with homemade shampoos, but I haven’t made anything I like as much as the John Master’s Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner, and I usually follow it up with the Rosemary & Peppermint Detangler, also by John Masters.  For the body, I use the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap – usually Baby Mild or Peppermint –  for both washing and shaving.

Outside the shower…

Once out of the shower, I wash my face. When I am out of Sow Your Wild Oats, I make my own basic face cleanser out of oat flour, almond meal and milk powder.  During the week, I mix it into a paste with a little water (or rosewater) and on the weekends, I make a simple mask with raw honey and plain yogurt.  I moisturize with a few drops of Nourish & Replenish oil mixed with a bit of water and I try to take a few extra moments to really massage the oil into my face.  I then move on to the deodorant and body lotion which I make myself.  Right now I am using a winter body cream that is a combination of coconut oil, almond oil and shea butter.  I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration and recipes from Crunchy Betty – she has a great e-book for making products for acne-prone and sensitive skin.

On the days I wash my hair, I towel dry it as much as possible and add a few drops of argan oil.  The thing I hate most is drying and styling my hair, but if I don’t I end up looking like Janice from the Electric Mayhem, which motivates me to pick up the hair dryer. My tresses are straight and fine, so I need to use some kind of product to give it a bit of extra body.  I have experimented with making my own hair gel using flax seeds, but it is a messy business that involves straining them through a nylon sock, so I have given up on that and use the Giovanni Volumizing Styling Gel instead. I generally use Tom’s to brush my teeth, but have lately been experimenting with making my own toothpaste using baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint stevia. Still working on that one.

Finishing touches…

I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I love RMS “un-cover up” (thanks to your book), and I like Annette’s practice of mixing her tinted cover-up with John Master’s SPF 30, so I’m going to try that.  For my eyes, I use a tiny bit Josie Maran’s liquid liner and Dr. Hauschka’s mascara. I don’t wear shadow unless I am going out at night, and then use a basic palate from Josie Maran.  For lips, I just use the Burt’s Bees tinted gloss – my favorite color right now is Fig.  My entire makeup application routine takes less than five minutes.

I try to take off my makeup as soon as I get home from work in the evening.  I use olive oil or almond oil to remove my eye make up, wash my face with the oat powder or just some plain, raw honey. To moisturize, I use about 6 drops of BYATM oil mixed with a little water. If I have the time, I will try to wash and dry my hair at night so I don’t have to deal with it in the morning.


Meet Crina, from across the pond! She’s got a simple and (mostly) clean routine, a super clean diet, and some lovely tips. (Also, Diane Keaton, be cooler in this pic. Impossible!)

Name: Crina

Age: 27 (minus a couple of months, yikes!)

Current weather: Was quite summery up to around 23-25°C these past couple of weeks but currently going down a notch and a bit rainy. My skin spends a lot of time in Germany and England, and therefore on planes and trains.

Hair: Quite wavy-curly, naturally chestnutty, bit on the drier side, boob length and very much loved!

Skin: I love my skin. It earned me my family nickname of peachy (everyone in my family likes to repeatedly touch and stroke my face when they see me to make sure it’s still as soft and thus deserving of the name). I tan a lovely golden colour in the summer; may only suffer from dryness depending on the local water, but no breakouts to speak of unless I eat rubbish and/or get super stressed out, then go through intense health nut phases which will then provoke the odd cleansing symptom.

Favorite star or icon from the past: Oh, I do love Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. They seem to have that graceful aging thing figured out rather well. (I so hope I’m not getting the wrong impression here, I mean who knows what they really have going on in their private lives beauty-army wise …)

In the shower…

Simple, really: I do shower nearly every day for several reasons: yoga, I work with animals (nearing the end of vet school), running, big city living. I don’t bother buying any shower gel (though I may use the occasional clean gift or sample),  instead I just use the excess foam from whatever I put on my hair for shaving and cleaning. If I don’t shave or wash my hair I’ll only use water followed by a vigorous rub with my towel. Voilà.

Brands I currently use: Anything Neal’s Yard Remedies will make me happy, also the Avalon Organics Ylang Ylang is nice.

Outside the shower…

Face: Thanks to the book I have become a total oil convert!! Neal’s Yard Remedies facial oils in the morning, either Rose or Orange Flower. Neal’s Yard Jasmine cream during the day (if needed), and their night creams at, well, night. May I add I never wash my face with anything but water unless I’ve used make-up. I’m an evening showerer, so the way my make-up comes off is usually by way of shampoo and conditioner migrating from scalp to face, or the occasional Neal’s Yard facial polish.

Body: Daily body brushing followed by oils. Again, anything Neal’s Yard Remedies or John Masters is fantastic, though I am currently head over heels with the mama mio omega oil – it’s fabulously jojoba-almond-y. For deodorant I use a sort of wannabe clean L’Occitane one as well as a travel sized Salt of the Earth crystal deodorant. I use both at the same time when I go on dates, actually … which is paranoia more than anything else, I’d say.

Finishing touches…

I do really like Korres perfumes, but so far haven’t found any superb yet truly clean perfumes here in Europe. As far as make-up goes I will quite happily use anything Whole Foods-y. I like the Dr Hauschka concealer, I’ll use some black mascara (again often one by Hauschka), sparkly brown eyeliner, a pink and subtly glittery L’Occitane blush, perhaps some of the Dr Hauschka eye shadow in a golden or peachy hue. Guilty pleasure: Butter London nail polish. I love yummy mummy, jaffa, and pink ribbon.

Also, I always make sure to use a good hand cream (again, either Neal’s Yard Remedies or John Masters) or coconut oil throughout the day and especially before bed, since my job is pretty rough, requiring a lot of washing and the use of harsh antibacterials. And what about nutrition? Surely an important point worth mentioning as well? I do feel it’s as much part of my beauty regimen as the actual products I use. Long story short: I’m a high raw vegan loving her greens, healthy fats and plant proteins. Works excellently for me. :)

Sounds great! Has anyone else used Neal’s Yard Remedies? We’ve never heard of it—perhaps it’s strictly Euro—but interest is now piqued.

Everybody, meet Greta, who may have created the word “glowifying” and definitely personifies it! Must be all the exfoliating and John Masters-ing she does. Read and enjoy (keep you eyes peeled for her tip for stopping scars before they start)!

Name: Greta
Age: 26
Current weather: Coastal Northern California, so cool, foggy and breezy. Essentially jacket weather 24/7.
Hair: Dark blackish-brown, natural color (not dyed), thick, wavy, and slightly coarse. Boob-length (aka halfway between my armpit and elbow)
Skin: Pale, reddish, very sensitive and prone to sunburn. No acne but prone to roughness and bumpiness.

In the shower…

Pre-shower, I massage a generous blob of Burt’s Bees Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment (NB: contains fragrance) from the middle to the ends of my hair. This is my very favorite for softening my coarse and unruly hair—even better than the various oils I’ve tried. Then I wipe my face with a Seventh Generation baby wipe in preparation for slathering my face and neck with Fage 2% Greek Yogurt. The lactic acid in the yogurt is a great gentle exfoliant and I find this to be very smoothing and glowifying with no irritation. I leave it on until the yogurt is nearly dry—about 10-15 minutes. While I wait, I’ll putz around in the bathroom, occasionally dry brushing with a Hydrea London Body Brush or massaging a dropperful of John Masters Organics Pomegranate Facial Nourishing Oil into my nails and scalp. Once in the shower, I apply John Masters Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner followed by John Masters Organics Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner. They both smell incredible and keep my pouffy waves in check. I’ve tried other lines but always come running back to John Masters for haircare. I can definitely see a difference in my smoother, healthier locks. I soap up my Hydrea London Carbonized Bamboo Exfoliating Gloves with whatever soap we have on hand. I’m always switching kinds. Right now I’m using Big Sur Country Soap, which is made locally and I picked up at the farmer’s market. I shave my pits, legs and bits with a Gillette Fusion razor, and I’m done!

Outside the shower…

I wash my face with Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, and if it’s nighttime, I use my Clarisonic Mia with it. I follow with a couple spritzes of Pai BioAffinity Tonic in Lotus & Orange Blossom. Daytime, I smooth on Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Moisturizer or Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light. Nighttime, I massage in John Masters Organics Pomegranate Facial Nourishing Oil or Pai BioRegenerate Oil. Any extra oil goes on the ends of my hair. Obviously, I adore Pai—my sensitive skin responds beautifully to their gentle yet effective products. I recommend them to all my friends! My body gets a slather of Pai Comfrey and Calendula Calming Body Cream, and my abdominal incision from last month’s surgery gets a mini-massage with Jason 45,000 IU Vitamin E Oil. Floss and then brush my teeth with my Preserve toothbrush and The Natural Dentist Antigingivitis toothpaste and mouthwash.

Finishing touches…

I wear makeup maybe a handful of days per month, and when I do it’s Dr. Hauschka mascara in Black and Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Rose.

Soap & Paper Factory’s Bois de Cedrat Hand Cream is my favorite scent. I dab some on my neck and wrists like perfume. I’ve been stingy about using it as I don’t believe they make this fragrance anymore [Ed's note: they don't] and I want my tube to last!

I rub a smudge of John Masters Organics Hair Pomade between my hands and then smooth it on the bottom half of my hair. The last step is Soapwalla Deodorant Cream and I’m good to go.

John Masters and Pai: Hire this gal as your spokeswoman! The rest of you: What think you?

Image of Vivien Leigh via