Curly-Haired, Acne-Prone Girl Seeking {effective} Green Hair- and Skin-Care Products

{natural hair- and skin-care products}

The desire has always been there for products that 1) effectively tame my wild mane and 2) cure my acne-prone complexion. Surely they exist. Even if they're out of my price range. After all, when was the last time you saw a millionaire with obvious acne and uncontrollably frizzy hair? (Okay, I guess when was the last time you saw a 25-year-old still struggle with this? hand raised Right here.)

Is it possible my solutions are ditching shampoo all together and washing my face in oil? I know, sounds unlikely. Maybe even a little (a lot?) fanatical.

{UPDATE: Read my Curly-Haired Girl's Testimonial to 'No Poo here.}

The majority of my life has been spent fighting against my frazzled hair and battling my blemished skin. I actually gave up both fights before I even really tried. I resorted to attempting ignorance, but even that failed when a high school recruiter asked if I stumbled into poison ivy over the weekend (I was confused until I realized he was talking about my new breakout of acne), and the same summer the academy principal attempted a joke about me putting my finger in a light socket (referring to the first time I mustered enough courage to let my natural curl show... it didn't happen again for a LONG time). Thanks for the confidence boost!

I've tried a good variety of products, usually settling for cheaper and barely effective solutions because that was less depressing then shelling out a lot of money for overpriced products that still didn't work. Overall, I've been unimpressed and simply don't have pockets deep enough to keep searching those options. So why wouldn't I try solutions that boast affordability and results?

OIL-CLEANSING METHOD (OCM) {getting started}

I learned about The Oil-Cleansing Method from Simple Mom's post. Very convincing. I had to give it a try. You can get the details from her post. I imagine I'll write all about it here once I figure out what works for me. For now, I'll keep it simple.

The Oil-Cleansing Method (OCM) combines oils, mainly extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and castor oil, to make a face wash. The proportions depend on your face's need (more EVOO for dry skin, less for oily or acne-prone). Other oils (i.e., jojoba) can also be used. I decided to start with the basics.

{Oil-Cleansing Method's alternative to face wash}

1 TBSP EVOO (amazingly was cheapest at Trader Joe's)
3 TBSP castor oil (after a few stops, finally found it with the laxatives in the pharmacy section at Wal-mart)
a few drops tea tree oil

As already mentioned, I have acne-prone (but lately, acne-covered) skin which also happens to be combination (oily and dry). Using less EVOO and adding tea tree oil is supposed to be good for acne. I'm using one of my travel-sized containers for the oil mixture.

1. I put about a quarter-sized amount of the mixture directly on my dry face and rub it in for about a minute.
2. Then I get a wash cloth wet with really hot water to lay across my face and steam out the pores. (The water almost feels like it's burning my hands in order for the wash cloth to feel warm on my face.)
3. I then rinse the wash cloth and begin using it to wipe off the oil which also pulls off all make-up if I wore any that day. No need to towel-dry, at this point my face is barely damp and I just let it air dry (to prevent further irritation of my already sensitive skin).

For over a week now, I've been doing this each evening then only rinsing my face in the shower. I plan on keeping this up for another week, as I've been told that any face cleansing routine needs 2 weeks to see if it's effective (a bad cleaner might initially seem to be clearing your face while a good cleaner can make your face look initially worse as it cleans out your pores). After two weeks, I'll evaluate my skin and decide if this mixture needs to be adjusted. I also read of using witch hazel as an astringent to clear up acne. I wanted to give the OCM a shot before adding anything else to the routine. Keeping fingers crossed for clearing up acne and (could it be possible?) the acne scars.

{Oil-Cleansing Method, Day 1}

No real changes to my face yet. But I love the routine. I haven't had to use moisturizer since I've started (huge difference considering I tend to have dry skin especially in this dry winter weather). And my face doesn't feel oily like I thought it would. Plus, taking a minute each evening to lay with a warm wash cloth across my face is a break I need at the end of the day. It doesn't feel like a hassle at all.

NO 'POO / SHAMPOO-FREE {getting started}

{UPDATE: Read my Curly-Haired Girl's Testimonial to 'No Poo here.} 

No 'Poo (no shampoo) was a phrase I first heard on BabyCenter's "Green Mom" board. Initially, it all sounded much too "crunchy" for me. (I prefer green over crunch.) After reading more and more experiences, it seemed hair transitions with no 'poo, becoming much less oily and more naturally healthy through the process. I decided, if nothing else, I would go "less 'poo." I'd shampoo my hair less frequently to help the natural oils to balance out. I didn't know if I'd ever transition to no 'poo, but figured less 'poo was a good compromise, and completely doable considering I have curly, dry hair that actually shouldn't be shampooed everyday.

The less 'poo thing has been going on for well over a year now. I shampooed 2-3 times a week, and the other days my hair was left naturally curly or curled with a curling iron. Some days my hair seemed oilier than others, which kept me from feeling like I could actually go no 'poo.

Then, I came across Simple Mom's post on her experience with the No 'Poo Method. Her information is thorough and convinced me: It was time to go all the way.

{No 'Poo's baking soda and vinegar alternatives to shampoo and conditioner}

Shampoo: 2 TBSP baking soda with 1 cup water
Conditioner: 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar with 1 cup water

When going shampoo-free, the most common approach is using baking soda (usually 1 TBSP) with water to scrub the scalp clean. Then apple cider vinegar in water helps detangle and clarify. I used my two epi bottles from the hospital with a squirt bottle top. One has the baking soda / water combo and the other has the apple cider vinegar / water.

1. After my hair is wet, I squirt the baking soda bottle directly to my scalp (there's some settling, so I shake it up first). Because it doesn't suds up and expand like shampoo, I move parts of my hair to be sure I'm getting it everywhere on my scalp. Then I rub it in and rinse thoroughly.
2. Because my hair is long, I divide it in two sections and bring it in front of my shoulders. I squirt the vinegar mixture to both sections of hair, keeping it closer to the ends and away from my scalp. I use my wide-toothed comb to comb through my hair, distributing the vinegar and working out the tangles. Rinse thoroughly and done.

I started this last week at the same time I started OCM. I'm doing this twice a week, basically the same routine from when I went to less 'poo. The first day I let my hair air dry and leave it naturally curl. The second day, I spend about an hour curling it then enjoy the softer curls for a couple days until I wash again. Again, I have curly/frizzy/dry hair that actually benefits from a little neglect. And who wants to spend an hour making their hair look good just to wash it out the next day? Not me!

My first week (last week), I actually noticed instant results from replacing shampoo with no 'poo. By the end of the week my hair wasn't oily like it had been before. (Note: My hair doesn't generally get too oily, and I already dealt with the initial transition back when I started the less 'poo routine.) Daniel was gone and as I told him about it over the phone, his first concern was my hair stinking or being oily. When he got home there was neither, so he approved of me continuing.

I decided to go without mousse as well, to give this whole no 'poo thing a real chance (and build-up from unnatural products wouldn't help). So my natural curls need some help. I hope to find some sort of alternative to mousse to help redefine my curls, and I'm reading that a little longer with no 'poo should eventually help too.

{No 'Poo, air-dried w/out product on Day 1, then curled on Day 2}

Fortunately, a curling iron still makes my hair look fine, and even better, because it's healthier and less oily even after a couple days without washing.

Also, not a fan of the vinegar smell. I seriously hate it. My hair doesn't smell like it at all once rinsed, which is why I'm able to keep doing it. But those few seconds using it in the shower are gross enough for me, that I might seek an alternative. We'll see.

For more detailed information and trouble-shooting, checkout this Q & A on going shampoo free.

More updates soon (in a couple weeks? or a couple months?); whenever I find the combinations that work for me. Yes, "when." I have faith in these natural solutions.

{UPDATE: Read my Curly-Haired Girl's Testimonial to 'No Poo here.}