Adventures of a Modern Hippie

by Stefani on 22-July-2008

So for those of you who are following along, you know that I’ve been on a make-your-own quest of sorts. 

I’m not really sure what drives this do-it-yourself desire. 

Is it a concern over all those unpronouncable words on the ingredients labels of everything from shampoo to granola? Is it nostalgia for a simpler time? Is it that I’m a control freak, show off, do-gooder who, like a certain three year old I know, must prove that I can and will do it “BY MYSELF!” thank you very much? 

Maybe it’s all of that, to some degree, but I think mostly it’s that, well, I just find it kind of amusing and contrary and hippy chic-ish to make my own stuff, and frankly a mama to three boys has to get her kicks where she can. 

I take some kind of smirking, half cocked, “take that” pleasure in not buying something that I’m supposed to have to buy. And, it’s kinda nice too,  showing my kids that jelly comes from fruit and yogurt comes from milk and, oddly enough, bread  and toilet cleaner alike come from baking soda. 

I just think it’s kind of fun that maybe, some day far from now, when other people are waxing nostalgic over the cookies Mom once made, mine will say something like, “Remember how mom always made our deodorant? Those were the good ol’ days. They just don’t make deodorant like that anymore.”

It’s like an insurance policy of sorts. My children, in all their do-it-yourselfishness will be so hopelessly dorky that when they do find a girl to marry them, we will be certain she is in love with the man himself, and not just his swarthy good looks.

I feel a certain responsibility to you though, dear readers. I feel I must spare you some of the harsh realities of homemade, or at least arm you with as much information as possible, before you go plunging half cocked into the vast chasm of “Things To Make and Do.”

So, today I will share with you some things that have worked, and some things that now reside in the Hall of Fervent Flopitude.

1. Shampoo – I was truly excited about the whole baking soda and apple cider vinegar approach to hair care. Firstly, these things are cheap, simple and readily available. Second, I tend to have a testy scalp that gets greasy in the summer and irritated and flakey in the winter. Attractive, right? 

After lots of reading, I thought maybe the trouble was that I’d thrown off the natural, preordained balance of my hair, and that simplifying my routine would work miracles. 

 Alas, after six solid days of earnest effort, I was a complete and total wreck. My roots were greasier than a diner hamburger and my ends were the stuff scarecrows dreams are made of. 

I tried. Really I did. I knew that there was going to be a “detox” period. I knew that I was going to have to pony-tail it for a while. But friends, it was bad. BAD. 

You will note that there are no photos here. None. Oh no. 

On the seventh day, God rested and Stefani used shampoo. I lathered up THREE separate times in one shower folks. It felt SO good. You know those old Herbal Essence commercials? Yeah, it was like that. 

Not to be deterred though, I ordered up some shampoo bar samples from Chagrin Valley Soap, and so far, I’m very pleased. They lather up nicely, and do a good job of cleaning my hair, plus they smell really good. I’m still having to use a bit of conditioner, but I’m hoping that after I’ve tried a few varieties of their shampoo bars and found the right one for my hair, or just by using them for awhile, I will eventually no longer need the store bought rinse. 

2. Deodorant – 

Okay, I’m going to preface this discussion with some information that may fall under the “too much” category. Brace yourselves. 

I’m a sweaty individual. 

It does not matter the season, or the locale. I sweat. A lot. 

I don’t glisten. I don’t glow. I sweat.

I near about jumped over the moon when the clinical strength Secret came out, but, for me at least, it didn’t work one wit better than the regular stuff. 

So, when I came across Amy’s homemade deodorant recipe, I thought, “what have I got to lose?”
I never in a million years expected it to work! I’m telling you, all these years I’ve been looking for the toxic chemical that would finally, FINALLY do the job, and lo and behold, I find that a simple mixture of shea butter, cocoa butter, baking soda, corn starch and some smelly good oils would do the trick!

You know what? Even though it’s a deodorant, and not an antiperspirant, I actually sweat far less using this than the CLINICAL strength deodorant. 

Fabulous, right? Amazing, right? 

Yes, accept for one sorry little side affect. My underarms have turned brown. 

What. The. Heck?

They don’t itch or feel different at all. The skin doesn’t seem irritated, it’s just brown. What is THAT?

So here’s my dilemma: sweaty and smelly or disturbing brown spottage? 

Why can nothing be simple? 

3. There are a few bright spots in all this, though unfortunately, many of them are in the running for July’s Blue Yonder First Monday Contest, so I can’t gab too much about those yet. 

I can tell about one thing that is exceeding all my expectations though. You knew that we were making our own yogurt. I love that. A lot. It’s fun and easy and cheap and healthy. Plus, since I have one picky little eater who will not let a fruit of any sort pass his lips, the yogurt has become a vehicle for his alloted daily dose of fruit. 

We make a lot of smoothies. 

So, when I saw these popsicle molds a while back, I thought it might be fun to turn our leftover smoothie bits into dessert. 

Peachy Keen 

Yogurt + milk + honey + peaches = three happy boys. (and yes, those are feet on the table.)

They think it is beyond fun that I’m willing to let them eat popsicles for breakfast too. I’m like the best mom evah. 

The molds (and also these) are super easy to use, sturdy and worth their weight in vitamin supplements, if you ask me. 

Phew! Is anyone still reading? I do believe that I’ll take my straw haired, brown pitted, way too wordy self into the kitchen for a popsicle now. 

Amber July 22, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Oh this was so great! Your writing is always wonderful. I was wanting to try the no-shampoo thing but my hair is so fine and greasy I can’t imagine it would go well.
I did make my own batch of cleaning products this week and it felt great!

Jessica July 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

I love making my own everything. Have you gotten into making your own cleaning supplies yet? And laundry detergent? Fun stuff.

Allison Fouse July 23, 2008 at 12:12 am

Hey Stefani ~

The brownish skin turning up on your armpits is most likely due to the types of essential oils you are using. Some of them are known to do funky stuff like that to the skin. I recommend picking up a copy of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. It is a fantastic book that will give you the lowdown on all of the oils you’re using.

Ellie - Petalplum July 23, 2008 at 3:38 am

Just wanted to let you know that I like the wordy-girl (being one myself!). And I’m prepared to take my friends with any coloured pits (I think I am, anyway) – but I agree with Allison about the essential oils being the culprit.
I remember for a while, when I was young using plain water that had cammomile flowers steeping in it; pouring it over my hair at the end of my shower,(I don’t think it did anything). My hair is similar to yours, and I am constantly on the lookout for something that actually works longer than a few weeks; so I hope those bars are working for you – I might see if my sister can make me some. (I’ll pass on recipes, if she has some).
Hmmmm…. popsicles – it’s Winter here, yet those rocket shapes look tasty!

Carolyn July 23, 2008 at 5:49 am

What a great idea. I never thought about making a smoothie into a popsicle!

Thimbleina July 23, 2008 at 6:01 am

I too tried the no-poo thing and lasted 11 days and then folded as my hair seemed to be getting greasier and I couldn’t do anything with it bar put it up in a clip and I looked like I’d dipped my hair in a pan of oil. So I am back on the shampoo and trying to stretch the amount of days in between shampooing. I have found a shampoo and conditioner that are at least paraben free and some natural ingredients but am not happy with myself at failing. I too am very sweaty and may soon try the deodrant thing as I currently use industrial strength stuff that makes me itch. Now off to try the frozen yoghurt.

shannon July 23, 2008 at 6:04 am

FINALLY! someone else with BROWN PITS! i’ve used almost every single natural deoderant on the market including baking soda mixed with coconut oil and tea tree oil. everything turns them brown. EVERYTHING. at least everything natural it seems. i’m a little (okay, a lot) self-conscious about it being it’s tank top weather and it always looks like i forgot to shave. it does exfoliate off with some determination. alot of the natural deoderants are salt based…i’m wondering if the salt “burns” our skin?

Nancy July 23, 2008 at 6:04 am

Oh, I love Chagrin Valley Soap & Craft. Very sudsy. I had this fantastically effective solid, natural deodorant called Funk Butter (from — they are awesome!), but it eventually made my armpits really rashy. So I’m back to Tom’s of Maine, but my friends are still dedicated users of the Funk Butter. I’m really tempted by those popsicle molds. I stripe the popsicles (a layer of vanilla yogurt, then strawberry, then vanilla) — and when I unmold those things, my children consider me magical! –Nancy in NC

melissa July 23, 2008 at 6:07 am

Same experience with the clinical stuff. My issues are even worse when I’m teaching and/or leading tours to school groups in the museum and needing to point to stuff. Layers. Light colors. I want to try the angry chicken recipe. As to shampoo, I use it maybe once every two weeks, but I use a lot of conditioner. No greasy, but mildly curly and shampoo just makes it frizz.

This was a funny, hysterical post!

Mandy July 23, 2008 at 6:12 am

Oh we must talk about the natural soaps and shampoos. As a mom of biracial children, all of our hair is different, and nothing, nothing, NOTHING seems to work for my poor eight year old whom has thick, long, coarse, very curly hair. Especially in the summertime. The poor thing has to keep her hair in a ponytail AT ALL TIMES. I am so emailing you my friend!

nicole July 23, 2008 at 6:19 am

you are too funny blue yonder gal!! so i did try the no poo thing it stinks , literally and figuratively! and i’ve not mustered up the power to try the homemade deo thing yet and you having brown pits well , i’m thinking no , no , not a chance! i’d be way to self conscious! but thanks for being our guinea pig :0) lol! but i must tell you you did turn me on to homemade cleaning products they are fabulous and cheap . and the yogurt smoothie pops yum-o!! ahh , i love visiting blue yonder …

Mama Urchin July 23, 2008 at 6:21 am

I’ve been wondering about yogurt popsicles AND molds to make them in. See you’ve done all the work for me.

Stephanie July 23, 2008 at 6:47 am

I am obviously old-fashioned here, but I will NOT do without my shampoo and conditioner. For a 57-ye-old, I have GREAT hair (yep, bragging, because it’s my one good feature) and I use Quixtar’s stuff. They’ve been environmentally conscious since the 60’s, so I don’t worry. Ditto on the deodorant. I’m more concerned about my own air pollution and I can produce quite a sweat when I’m working.

But I am interested in the cleaning products, and bought some of the stuff, but haven’t taken the time to put it together yet. And I haven’t tried the yogurt for the same reason, but looks yummy–including the popsicles!

Elizabeth July 23, 2008 at 7:11 am

I’m trying the no ‘poo thing here and I’ve got for a little over a week and it’s not too bad. I’m going to give it a full two weeks before I make my verdict but my hair isn’t super oily to begin with so that may have been a blessing in disguise.

I love the deoderant – I made it without the essential oils and haven’t have any brown pit problems. . . I think I read one of the comments above mine and they said it could be from that?

Good luck with all of this – I too am going to try to continue the ‘stick it to the man, I’m making it myself and for cheaper!’ attitude! 🙂

MJ July 23, 2008 at 7:30 am

I love love love making my own laundry soap and household cleaners! Call me crazy but I just love the smell of vinegar! I, too am a stinker though in the deoderant department and am too chicken to try something new! One thing I have noticed however that often times my horendous pit smell co-incides with specific dietary changes.

kirsten July 23, 2008 at 7:36 am

ha ha! yeah, i originally heard about the baking soda rinse as something you should do only occasionally. and i seriously doubt my curly locks would do well without my paul mitchell, esp. conditioner.

and i’ve been trying natural deoderants for over a year – finally found one that works decently – it’s called ‘jason’ and you can get it at target.

holly July 23, 2008 at 7:36 am

I hear you on the baking soda front! I used it for almost a year and then my hair was so dry and my scalp was so itchy, I broke down and bought a shampoo bar from Lush and I absolutely LOVE it! They even have ones without SLS so even bettah! My son prefers my homemade yogurt as opposed to store bought ones, so cheap and easy! I used your pattern for bandanna pants for a little doll I made for my nephew and they turned out wonderful! I’m sending the pattern to my sister for her step-son who is so small and skinny, they’re sure to be a big hit! I linked you on my blog too, so others can see what a wonderful blog you have! (I just use baking soda as a deodorant and have no odor problems or brown pits!) Thanks for having such a great blog!

Anne July 23, 2008 at 7:48 am

It was nice to read the other side of making some of these products. Something happens when you become a parent and you want to make things – I have no idea why, it just happens.

Jennifer July 23, 2008 at 7:54 am

The No-poo worked for me for awhile and then my hair got really dry and hard to comb. Not soft like it was at first. I don’t know if the season/weather change was the culprit or not. I went back to shampoo and conditioner. It was awesome the 3 weeks that it worked. I have had your yogurt recipe on my todo list for awhile. I should get that going! Thanks for the forum to talk about all this natural stuff. The good and the bad.

Michele C July 23, 2008 at 8:18 am

The thing about baking soda and shampoo: We have a well with a soft water treatment system. There are LOTS of suds here. However, the water is full of minerals, and my hair wasn’t looking that beautiful a few days after moving in here. My hairdresser told me to just sprinkle the baking soda onto the shampoo dispensed into my hand before shampooing. You get all the goodness of the pH balancing of the baking soda, it soothes your scalp, too, and it strips away the yuck from conditioners, hairsprays, and outside pollutants. Also, as one rinses, the baking soda is good for the skin. So, you can have both and look good, too. My friends whom I have shared this with use the baking soda sprinkle even though they don’t have wells and tell me how great their hair looks and feels. Try it, you’ll like it! — Michele

Michele C July 23, 2008 at 8:19 am

The thing about baking soda and shampoo: We have a well with a soft water treatment system. There are LOTS of suds here. However, the water is full of minerals, and my hair wasn’t looking that beautiful a few days after moving in here. My hairdresser told me to just sprinkle the baking soda onto the shampoo dispensed into my hand before shampooing. You get all the goodness of the pH balancing of the baking soda, it soothes your scalp, too, and it strips away the yuck from conditioners, hairsprays, and outside pollutants. Also, as one rinses, the baking soda is good for the skin. So, you can have both and look good, too. My friends whom I have shared this with use the baking soda sprinkle even though they don’t have wells and tell me how great their hair looks and feels. Try it, you’ll like it! — Michele

Visty July 23, 2008 at 8:33 am

I am trying the no poo thing, too. I can’t use the vinegar every day or I get greasy. So I use the baking soda every day, then the vinegar like once a week.

Patty T July 23, 2008 at 8:36 am

Check out Lather and Fizz’s website. They have fun homemade soaps that are a great balance between storebought and natural. They aren’t totally hippie, but better than the mainstream brands. I love the Mimi’s Mimosa shampoo and conditioner. The Life’s a Beach body soap smells awesome!

Sarah Jackson July 23, 2008 at 8:56 am

I’m loving the brown pits – too funny. I may have to try that recipe with a careful selection of oils.

We have those same rocket popsicle molds and I love them. Totally going to try it with smoothies – why did I never think of that? walk off shaking head….

Jade July 23, 2008 at 8:58 am

You are hilarious! Where did you find the rocket molds? Do I have to order them online or did you find them somewhere local?

Just so you know, your writing inspires me…

Janeen July 23, 2008 at 9:03 am

I love the idea of home made deoderant. I want to try it so bad! I think I’ll get some supplies and dive in pretty soon. the no poo thing seems a little scarier, as I have really greasy hair and have to wash it all the time. I’d hate to go through an even greasier stage…yuk. More than greasy hair and brown pits though, I really hate having unknown chemicals in my food and on my body or in my cleaning supplies. It’s time to phase all of that out I think!

amanda chadwick July 23, 2008 at 9:18 am

Hey! I found your site and love reading about you and your boys! I am trying to get a necklace from Eva too! Thanks and keep them coming!

Relyn July 23, 2008 at 9:26 am

I have got to get going on the smoothies. Pretty sure I won’t be making my own shampoo or deoderant. However, I have made my own cleaning supplies (just the basics) for years. It’s amazing what baking soda and vinegar can do.

Teresa July 23, 2008 at 11:06 am

Okay, I’m sitting here thinking, all of this sounds like me. I’m sweaty (I wish I just glistened), my hair gets oily if I don’t shampoo it at least every other day (shiny oily too, the kind you can’t hide in a ponytail), and we hate buying all of the stuff that is processed at the grocery store.

I have not been the brave soul that you have and tried all of these homemade personal care products…but I am inspired. I am going to try.

And the brown under arms, I think I would take that over having pitted shirts any day!

Teresa July 23, 2008 at 11:09 am

All of the problems that you have, I (unfortunately) can say I feel your pain. I think I might prefer the brown underarms to pitted shirts. I don’t know what my husband would say though!

Jennifer July 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm

I bombed totally on the baking soda/apple cider thing too. I’ll have to look into the stuff you have been using.

Brown spots? I have no theory on that one.

Kristy July 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Very funny!

Nancy July 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Hey Mandy–
Check out the Oyin stuff for curly hair:
It’s all my sister uses on my sweet nappy nephews. I swear I have no stake in this company; I just dig them!

michele, FL July 23, 2008 at 6:38 pm

This was the funniest post to me! I have so desired to “make my own”. The only things I’m good at are milling my own grain and making bread…..and making my own cleaner. I’m still laughing at your brown pits! Forgive me 🙂

Christina July 23, 2008 at 6:57 pm

I’m with ya on this one! It’s pretty funny how DIY-ishness has become hippieishness…if those aren’t words, they are now!

My son and I have gone all organanica on the personal care stuff and feel so much better for it! Hubby still can’t live without his Sam’s Club bodywash and Pert Plus…but we’re working on him, oh yes.

And okay, your son doesn’t eat fruit; mine won’t touch veggies! 🙂 Think a veggiesicle would do the trick?

mary July 23, 2008 at 8:54 pm

i love how you share you everyday experience! your blog really inspires me to want to live a simple life and enjoy God’s creation more=)
Anywayz, i am a sweaty girl myself, and i’ve found taht Tom’s (natural care of Maine) deodorant stick actually works! it is not antiperspirant, but it helps me to sweat less and become almost odor-less =)

marjorie July 23, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Adventures of a Modern Hippie sounds like a blog name. It just might be!! Funny stuff.
“and frankly a mama to three boys has to get her kicks where she can.” Funny, funny stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Stained pits and all!

kristen July 24, 2008 at 5:25 am

I’m one of those make it myself kind too and my kids hate it. They are so sick of trying my stuff-My 13 year old wants to know why I am a hippie freak and says he won’t et my hippie food any more! Hmm so much for homeschooling him to shelter him. He has discovered twinkies and deodorant from the grocery not whole foods. Poor kid, some day the smell of patchouli will remind him of home!

Neza July 24, 2008 at 8:54 am

Hi Stefani!
Just one thing: your skin turned brown because of the essential oils that you’ve used. Some oils are known to have a photosensitive effect, that means they make your skin over sensitive when exposed to light (any light, not necessarily direct sun!) These oils are of the citrus family: orange, lemon, bergamot, mandarin… The skin will have normal color again when new cells grow, don’t worry.
But I recomend you don’t use the citrus oils, and for any other oil first try it on the inner side of your hand. Also some oils are not safe to apply to your skin or to eat, so you should be careful! One of the safest oils to use is lavender oil.
Does the recipe say how much oil to use? Some general advice: for sensitive people and children use 1% dillution. You must measure your ingredients. I’m from Europe so I can’t tell you how much drops to use ( there are 20 drops in one mililiter :). But if you have any questions, please email me.

I enjoy your blog. Thank you!

Katie July 24, 2008 at 9:39 am

Ok, as per our email:

Still eeking it out with the no-poo. After getting tired of it and going back to poo then about going nuts from the itchy scalp, I am back to the baking soda/vinegar thing. I like the non itchy scalp but what a pain in the toosh. I will go check out the site you reccomended.

Sorry to hear about you pits.I am such a sweaty girl too and nothing works for me either. I haven’t found a local source for Shea butter or I would have made it by now.

Loved your post, thanks for sharing.

Berlinswhimsy July 26, 2008 at 2:56 pm

What a fun post and so right up my own alley. I tried the vinegar and soda thing, too… For. one. day. only. I couldn’t take it one minute more than that sorry 24-hour period. My hair felt so gross!!

I just ordered supplies to make my own deoderant so we’ll see if I develop brown pits, too… I’m with you on the sweating thing, unfortunately! 😉

AND we love making our own yogurt! I meant to post about it for forever but just never got around to it. Homemade yogurt is so yummy, easy, and for some reason, I find it very soothing to make it—kind of like making bread.

OMSH July 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Brown pits? Like tan brown or brown/brown? Or is there a difference?

I’m interested in the smoothy molds, but I’ve gotta say they do have a sort of phallic theme to them, no?

Lisa Clarke August 1, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Finally catching up on some long overdue blog reading, and I had to stop to comment:

Thank you for the baking soda / vinegar update. I’d been meaning to ask how that went. I think I’ll hold off on trying that myself. I did buy a shampoo bar from DressGreen on Etsy, and I absolutely LOVED it the first time I used it. But the second time, it left some kind of build up, and the third time it was even worse. I think I’m going to have to alternate it with something else.

And the deodorant? I hear ya, sister. I just got myself some of the clinical stuff this week, and it has improved the situation thankfully. Still, it’s great to know that the natural stuff works (if you don’t mind brown pits, and I think maybe I do). If you ever figure out what causes the color, I’d love to know. Maybe it’s not a key ingredient and can be left out.

And lastly, thanks for the ice pop idea. My kids would totally go for breakfast ice pops, I bet!

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