5 Frugal Personal Care Tips

by Tammy Strobel on March 2, 2010

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on minimalist make-up. It was extremely popular and a lot of readers have emailed asking for tips to help them save money and time when it comes to personal care.

I try and keep my personal care routine as simple as possible because it saves time, money and keeps plastic out of my household. Below are a few tips that have worked for me. By implementing these tips into my life, I’ve saved between $1,500 and $2,000 per year.

baking soda1. Baking soda is a minimalist dream product.

Bacteria is the main cause of nasty odors and baking soda is an excellent odor killer. I believe baking soda is one of the best products on the planet because it has so many uses. For instance you can use it as tooth paste, a face and body cleanser, a mouth rinse, shampoo and more. If you want to save money, I highly recommend purchasing a big tin of baking soda. It’s cheap, has no toxic chemicals and little to no plastic packaging.

I just started using baking soda for deodorant. It’s far better at keeping odor at bay than store bought commercial deodorant. I don’t mix baking soda with any other product. However, Fake Plastic Fish has a great recipe to cure stinky pits. She uses a combination of tea tea oil (which is an antibacterial) and baking soda.

…here’s my recipe: Add few drops of tea tree oil to a jar (in my case, a tea tin) of baking soda. Shake well. Apply with a fuzzy powder puff (which I already had.)

Fake Plastic Fish has written extensively about alternative personal care products. Below is a helpful article you should read: Update: Soap, Shampoo and Deodorant

2. Try to simplify your hair style and the number of products you use.

Why does hair have to be so complicated? There are so many options in hair style, color and cleaning products on the market.

At one time I colored my hair and purchased a lot of different products for styling. On average, I was spending about $75 a month just on hair care! Right now I have a short hair cut, do not color my hair and I do not purchase hair care products. I stick with the simplest option: wash and wear.

Plus, there a number of toxic chemicals in hair styling products which are bad for your health and for the environment.

3. For the ladies: Consider using a diva cup or reusable, handmade pads.

Ladies, we need to work on “greening our periods.”

When you think about it, we don’t really have any contact with our cycles using tampons or pads. We use these products and then throw them away.

This adds waste to landfills, puts a strain on water treatment facilities, and it’s just more product we have to spend money on each and every month.

But, menstrual cups eliminate all that.

Prior to my Diva Cup days, I spent about $150 to $200 a year on pads and tampons. My Diva Cup cost $15 on sale at our local co-op. So the savings is incredible! Plus you can reuse it every month and reduce the amount of wast that goes into the landfill.

Heather from The Greenest Dollar wrote a few incredible articles on this topic. She’s part of the reason, I made the switch. Her posts are a must read:

4. Consider trying Sea Salt Soap.

I’m trying to limit the amount of plastic that enters my life and recently discovered sea salt soap. Right now I’m using Sea Salt Soap to wash my face and love it! There are no chemical additives and the soap comes in paper, which rocks my world. My little vermiculture compost friends are loving the extra paper and I’m limiting the amount of plastic that enters my home.

Minimal Personal Care Bag

5. Use minimal or no make-up.

For more information on minimal make-up strategies, read this post and check out the comments section. A number of readers left incredibly helpful hints and tips.

6. Micro-actions and questions to consider.

  • Take inventory of your personal care products and look at the ingredients list. Are there toxic chemicals in your make-up, shampoo, deodorant or hair styling products? Check out GoodGuide.com to help determine the background of a product.
  • For the ladies: do some research and try out diva cups or reusable, handmade pads. And don’t forget to read Heather’s posts on this topic.
  • Do some research and try making your own personal care products, like lotion.
1 Karol Gajda March 2, 2010

Hey Tammy! Have you tried not washing your hair with any product? It’s amazing (after the initial period of grossness). Bonus: it cured my dandruff and itchy scalp. If you want to check it out: http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com/how-i-cured-my-dandruff-and-itchy-scalp/ It not only saves money, but your hair will look great…even if you have oily hair (like I used to) your body will regulate it. :)

2 Tammy March 2, 2010

@Karol – I’m so excited to read your post! I haven’t tried not washing my hair with anything, but am thinking of going that route. Naomi from Simpler Living posted a story about a person who did the same thing. I just have to get over the period of grossness. :)

3 Charlotte March 7, 2010

you can try only using conditioner also, but unfortunately you need to use a little more because there is glycerin in conditoner and that is the part that cleans your head. Suave naturals is good you could use that with a little baking soda mixed with warm water first. I have tried not washing (like water only) couldn’t do it but no poo is def. worth a try, because I don’t get split ends or dry ends anymore! My hair is shiny and I’m 43 and it doesn’t itch or fall out half as much anymore, I also use henna from Lush.com and depending on your hair length and thickness it saves a tone of cash plus it doesn’t hurt you. I had to do research for myself (even dermatologists didn’t know what to do) and learn how to fix my head, people don’t realize how bad those sulfites and parabens are and when you haven’t used them in awhile parabens actually make your head sting!

4 Karo March 2, 2010

I am a self-professed beauty product junkie, but I am in recovery. I downsized a lot in the last few months, and I definitely spend hundreds of dollars a year on makeup and hair products. It’s a little scary. About a month ago I chopped all my hair off and now I use one styling product and have a hunch my shampoo is going to last me until Christmas. It was a huge relief. And I think I might do away with the hair dryer permanently, which is kind of great.

5 Tammy March 2, 2010

@Karo – wow I’m impressed! That is fantastic. :)

I still have a small blow dryer, but I never use it. I should probably consider donating it. I keep my hair short, so there isn’t a need for blow drying and it’s so time consuming!

6 Alicia August 10, 2010

I’m new to your blog and have randomly been reading posts of interest from your “95 rocking posts” listing. My hair is past my shoulders and extremely wavy/curly. I have never liked spending time working with my hair, so I’m excited to try out some of the tips you have posted here. As for blow drying my hair, I’ve never done it really. My hair ends up so poofy if I use a brush or blow dry it, so I’ve always just let it air dry. Sure it takes a few hours to completely dry because my hair is also extremely thick, but it’s eliminated the need for a blow dryer.

7 Alejandro Reyes March 2, 2010

Indeed, baking soda is the king of the personal care products! Starting with it is a bit awkward and it can lead to a mess, but after a couple of days you don’t miss anything at all.

I’ll be sure to check the recipes from fake plastic fish, they seem really interesting and not too hard to follow. Thanks for the tips Tammy!

8 Chelsea March 2, 2010

The Diva Cup is one of the best products I ever bought. I honesty don’t know how I got by without one. Even if they charged much more I would still buy it. Between loving to travel, camping, and being a nurse with 12 hour shifts the diva cup just makes my life that much more convenient.

9 Lisa March 2, 2010

Tammy- I’m probably the one that Naomi mentioned. I jumped on the “no ‘poo” bandwagon about a year ago. Today my hair is in the best condition it’s ever been. When I started, it was curly, long, dry, and frizzy. I wash it using plain water usually, but occasionally will use baking soda or white vinegar (diluted). There is an adjustment period but once that’s passed you’ll wonder why you ever used shampoo or conditioner. To condition mine, I work about a teaspoon of oil through it while it’s still damp. When it dries, the oil is absorbed. You’ll feel no oily residue. So easy, yet the results are amazing.

I seldom wear makeup. No longer need a diva cup. Don’t dye my hair (though I did for years). Don’t use any hair sprays or gels. My next science project is to switch to tea tree oil and baking soda in place of deodorant. Oh, and a hint I’d like to share is this: For a natural, moisturizing scrub, combine granulated sugar and oil. Work it into damp skin with your fingertips then rinse. No additional moisturizer or lotion is necessary.

10 Tammy March 2, 2010

@Lisa – Thanks for leaving a comment. I think it’s great that you’ve jumped on the “no poo” bandwagon. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon today! I’ve been wanting to try the no poo method for a while, but have been avoiding it.

And thanks for sharing the moisturizing scrub recipe.

11 Nastia March 2, 2010

Tammy, thank you for this post, it’s amazing. I have started my journey to simple life by first finding your other entry about minimal makeup. Both of them are so inspirational, especially to a woman, I love it! Will definitely try the Diva cup too. Will probably just take my bags of tampons to the nearest homeless shelter.

12 Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish March 2, 2010

Hi there! Thanks for mentioning Fake Plastic Fish. Just an update: I actually don’t add anything at all to my baking soda deodorant anymore. I added the tea tree oil in the beginning because I didn’t believe plain baking soda would work on its own. But it totally does! Like you said, better than any commercial deodorant. I would use it even if I weren’t trying to live a green life!

13 Laura @ PARING DOWN March 2, 2010

Hey, Tammy!

Simple Mom has a post on going poo-less, which I thought was really interesting. You might want to check her post out as well: http://simplemom.net/how-to-clean-your-hair-without-shampoo/

Take care!
Laura

14 Tammy March 3, 2010

@Laura – cool! Thanks for sharing the link. :) I’m officially starting my poo-less experiment today.

15 Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell March 3, 2010

Hair dye is one of the worst things for your hair. If anyone is interested in making their own soap, hop on over to Frugal Kiwi’s blog: http://frugalkiwi.co.nz/

16 Lelly March 3, 2010

Great post as usual Tammy! For the peeps who would like to make their own stuff, check out http://www.makeyourcosmetics.com. That’s where I go to find my lotion, lip balm and other recipes :)

17 Tammy March 3, 2010

@Lelly and Kerri – thanks for the awesome resources. :)

18 Al March 3, 2010

Hey Tammy,

Every now and then I have to remind myself that I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap
http://www.drbronner.com/DBMS/PEP.htm for almost 30 years.

I have used it as a mouthwash, toothpaste, shaving cream, laundry detergent and of course, shampoo.

It is the only soap I buy.

Al

19 Tammy March 3, 2010

@Al – we have Dr. Bronner’s around the house. But I prefer baking soda.

Logan really digs Dr. B. I haven’t tried the peppermint soap, so I’ll have to give Dr. B another chance. Thanks for reading RowdyKittens!

20 Mara March 5, 2010

thanks for posting this. have cut my own hair for many years in a simple pixie/boy cut and it is going naturally gray. it goes through several falling-out periods per year due to lupus. will try the no-poo method to protect what hair i’ve got left. this is a great blog, very much after my own heart.

21 Michelle March 5, 2010

Well, you have inspired me to give this a try again :) I have washed my hair with water-only since Monday night this week…so far I am not loving how “heavy” my hair feels right now, but it surprisingly doesn’t look as greasy as I thought it would! Last time I did this was with crappy water and now I am using a filtered showerhead, so I think that helps some.
Lord, please grant me the strength to withstand the desire to douse my head in foamy chemicals until I have given this a real shot to work.

22 Tammy March 7, 2010

@Michelle – Yay! I hope you can make it. I’m at the stage where my hair is feeling “heavy”. I want to shampoo it so badly. I just keep telling myself it’s only a matter of weeks until my hair is light, pretty and doesn’t have any chemicals in it. :) You can do it!

@Heather – I’m glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for catching the typo. :)

23 Stacey Tabor March 5, 2010

Thanks for adding The DivaCup to your list of frugal personal care tips. We are in good company!

24 Helen March 9, 2010

What did women do before menstrual pads were invented?

25 Tammy March 9, 2010

I have no idea. I’m sure they thought of something creative.

26 Tracy March 10, 2010

Rags — that is where the term “on the rag” came from. :)

27 Dawn May 17, 2010

In my quest to become more eco and financially friendly I have started the baking soda tips. Today was my first day trying out the shampoo mix (I’ll be getting the stuff for the after soda rinse within the next two days) and I personally feel better with my hair, thought my husband says it’s still greasy and I have to explain that it can take around a month for my hair to get balanced naturally again. I’m hoping this will solve my dry scalp problem. But I have a question. For the past two days I have been tyring baking soda as a deoderant. I put it on yesterday and it stung! I had to reapply halfway through the day and from then on it worked better than regular deoderant (I had been having to use men’s Axe Dry for awhile but it works better than that and without the clogging so far!). I put it on again this morning after my shower and it stung again. Does anyone else encounter this stinging problem? I’m thinking it may be getting razor burn I didn’t know I had or… Any tips or just put up with it for a bit and hope that eventually my body evens out?

28 Tammy May 17, 2010

@Dawn – I’ve had the same problem! If my underarms aren’t dry when I apply the baking soda it stings. When my pits are dry I don’t experience the stinging sensation. You can also try mixing the baking soda with cornstarch. I’ve heard that helps…

As a side note, it took about a month for my hair to adjust to the no-poo method. The first month is hard, but in the end it’s totally worth it. :)

29 Dawn May 17, 2010

Thanks! I might just try going free under the arms for awhile after my shower and then put it on. We’ll see how the mix works first though. And I’m glad you got through the first month!! :) Today was my first day so I figure if things don’t even out by the time my baby is here (I’m 27 wks) then I will go back. Gives me about 3 months to work it. :)

30 Erynne M. June 2, 2010

Another “recipe” for deodorant (and what my husband, Chris, and I are using now) is to mix baking soda, corn starch, and coconut oil (which is naturally anti-bacterial). It works fantastically, and you smell like macaroons for hours.

We’re also no ‘poo-ing and have been for about a month now. My hair is doing fantastic… in fact, I think I’m liking it more now than I did when I spent forever in the shower shampooing and using deep conditioners.

31 Jean July 28, 2010

I just came upon your blog and I love it! I haven’t done too much searching around yet, but I have a concern to raise. I’ve been on a big cleaning kick these past few days, and my biggest issue is figuring out what to do with all these half-used harmful products (shampoo, makeup, face masks, etc.) from my old purchasing days. The options I’ve thought of so far:

1. Suck it up and use the products. They’ll continue to be harmful to me but will be diluted through daily use.
2. Throw them away and send the chemicals to our landfills. Dump down the sink and destroy the water system.
3. Dump the responsibility on someone else – contact HHW (Hazardous household waste) programs and give it to them to deal with it.

I feel like number 3 is my best option, but I wonder if there’s anything else I can do! I’ve been looking for alternative options for disposal for quite a while these days, and would love to know what other (fairly newly) eco-conscious people are doing. Thanks!

32 Katharine August 10, 2010

Hi Jean!

I’m actually really happy someone asked this question because I just found out about Origins’s recycling program. As far as I understand it, you can bring any beauty product (tubes, bottles, etc.) made by any brand to an Origins location, and they will recycle it for you!!

I haven’t tried this yet; I’ve been saving my empty bottles for months, so I’m hoping it’s no lie! PASS IT ON.

33 rachel August 12, 2010

There are some great tips in here that I’m definitely going to think about — but I have to tell you, I’m from England and “poo” is DEFINITELY not “shampoo” where I come from… all the talk of going “poo-less” is cracking me up!

34 dawn September 13, 2010

I love the baking soda and water combo, I mixed some up and my hair looks great. I did miss the smell of shampoo, since I make my own shea butter lotion, I added some peach scent (yum!), and its been a whole day and my hair still smells yummy.
I have think curly hair, I use olive oil I warm up on my hair, let it sit awhile, then wash out, leaves hair so soft!
Tea tree oil is great with some sugar and olive oil , mix into a paste . I use it on my face, works great and leaves you soft.

35 Lori January 17, 2011

Do you happen to know where you purchased the mirror in your personal bag photo. I keep going thru small compact ones that break at the hinges…plus yours is smaller. I haven’t been able to find one in the stores. Thanks.

36 Tammy January 17, 2011

@Lori – Ohhh I wish I could tell you. I think it came from goodwill. I’ve had it for so long, that I can’t remember.

37 Lori January 25, 2011

Hi again Tammy. I am really trying to incorporate some of these suggestions. How did you stop coloring your hair. Did you just let it grow out until it was all cut out or did you have a tint back done to match your roots? I am considering this but cannot possibly just have half color working in an office. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance

38 Tammy January 25, 2011

Hey Lori – I had my hair dyed back to my “normal” color and then just let it grow out. At the time I was working in an office, so I couldn’t do the “two-toned” route. :) Hope that helps.

39 Mitch Miners February 5, 2011

Some really nice stuff on this web site , I love it.

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