Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fun with Essential Oils

First of all, I'd like to give some necessary accolades to a business that has earned them. I always believe in supporting ethical businesses (there are so few of them left), and when a business goes above and beyond, I believe in thanking them by a little free word-of-mouth advertising. So here's one big shout out to Mountain Rose Herbs for being a very good, ethical business who can expect more business from me in the future.

If you're wondering what Mountain Rose Herbs is, it's a company based out of Oregon that sells herbs, essential oils, and pretty much everything a DIY-er needs for creating their own products. The first reason to buy from them is their prices - herbs, essential oils, and, particularly, coconut oil are usually quite expensive, but I was able to find everything I needed for good prices. In particular, they sell coconut oil cheaper than any place I have looked. They also carry the apothecary bottles that you need for storing your DIY creations (certain oils need to be kept in dark bottles, for instance), for unbelievably cheap prices. I had a problem with my order of essential oils, in that one of my bottles of lavender had broken during shipping. I immediately emailed SMountain Rose Herbs a picture of the broken bottle and let them know what happened. Within 24 hours, they emailed back an apology and confirmation that they had shipped me a new bottle of lavender. Fast, honest resolving of problems (and quick shipping to begin with) = Stephanie will shop there again. Well done, Mountain Rose Herbs!

Now on to the DIY portion of this post . . .

Having had no prior experience with coconut oil, I was taken aback when I opened the container and found a solid white mass under the lid (I was expecting, well, something that resembled oil). I did a quick search on the internet, where I learned, to my relief, that there was nothing wrong with my oil; coconut oil solidifies in temperatures under 76 degrees fahrenheit. Fortunately, it's very easy to melt coconut oil.

My first creation last night was an all-natural conditioner and hair styling product (2 in 1). For that, I simply mixed coconut oil (melted first) with a few drops of lemongrass essential oil. So simple! This is an excellent conditioner, which left my hair luxuriously soft. I used it immediately following my normal baking soda wash and vinegar conditioning (I thoroughly rinse out the baking soda with water before doing the vinegar rinse - otherwise I would have a science project on my head). Coconut oil is quite possibly the most versatile, healthy oil available. People have been scared off by the high fat content merely because they misunderstand it - not all fats are bad, and there are actually thyroid-stimulating properties in coconut oil which help in weight loss. My coconut oil is the cosmetic quality, meaning that it is great for DIY products, but is not meant to be eaten (it's cheaper than other coconut oil). In the future, after I have a better income, I plan to switch to coconut oil for most of my cooking. Coconut oil is also great for cosmetics and the like; it is gentle and thoroughly moisturizing, not to mention all-natural and healthy for both you and the environment (I'm not a tree-hugger, but I do believe in living responsibly). My coconut oil conditioner can also be used for hair-styling, instead of styling gels or mousse. I used a little bit to help get my hair to stay in a bun for today (I have ROTC lab later today and have to be in full uniform, including my hair).

My other creation was another hair product. I absolutely love it when my hair is smooth, soft, and pleasantly fragrant. So, I made a very simple and effective hair treatment. I just mixed together one ounce of lavender essential oil with half an ounce of rosemary essential oil into an amber-colored apothecary bottle (this is one of those mixtures that requires a darker bottle). When I brush my hair, I use the eye dropper on top of the bottle to drop three or four drops of the oil mixture into the palm of my hand. Then, I rub it onto my hairbrush, and give my hair 100 strokes. The result is another winner. My hair stays smoother, feels softer, and smells heavenly. I did it last night before bed, and the wonderful light smell from the oil mixture was relaxing and calming.

So, there's two more successful DIY experiments! In a few weeks, I'll be trying out the homemade deodorant recipe. By switching to all homemade/natural products for my hair and my deodorant, I estimate that I will be saving about $120 in the next six months. It's not huge, but it's definitely a nice amount for a destitute grad student! Plus, by going this route, I am getting BETTER results than I was when I used all the products I am eliminating: shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, mousse, styling gel, and (eventually) deodorant. Another benefit of going the DIY route on my personal products is that I can customize them: normally, I'm at the mercy of whichever store I'm at or which brand I'm using when it comes to scent. Now I can create my own blends of scents, and pay far less to do it.

A few other products that I plan to start making for myself after I run out of the store-bought stuff:
- All cleaning supplies
- Laundry soap
- Fabric softener
- Lotion
- Facial products

I'm pretty psyched about my emerging DIY lifestyle. Not only does all of this save money, it also cuts down on waste, since I'll be reusing my own containers, and all of the products are proven to be more effective than what one can buy in stores. I can customize the scents of all these products. All of them are safe for pets to be around. Saving money here compensates for the extra money I have to spend on groceries, now that I can no longer buy the cheaper, unhealthier brands. And, personally, I'm finding it a lot of fun making my own stuff!

1 comment:

Erin said...

Stephanie: LOVE this post! I am definately checking out Stone Mountain now, so thanks!

Also, i completely understand where you are coming from. I am not a tree-hugger (giggle) either, but just why spend money on unnecessary stuff? AND spending money on great products that acutally work BEST? Totally rad.

I'm gonna go look up that coconut oil now :)

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"