Guest Post: Fabulously Broke in the City

Today’s Guest Blogger is Fabulously Broke, who writes a blog called: Fabulously Broke in the City, which is a lifestyle blog with a focus on personal money management and debt.

“Chemicals” vs “Organic/Natural” Products:

By the word “chemicals” in this post, I am not referring to “H20” which is water, or “Citric Acid” which is Vitamin C, or any other chemicals.

I am talking about untested, unproven chemicals (especially preservatives) like parabens, sulfates, pthalates, and others that have a potential in studies to cause health problems either in the short-term or long-term.

I know the FDA and many other scientific studies have said that using very small trace amounts (0.001% or less) of pthalates, parabens, sulfates and other preservatives are perfectly safe and not harmful at all to your body in such small amounts.

Even microwaving plastic is okay, they say.

It is only if they start using above 30% for example, is when it starts to cause problems, or when the plastic starts melting into your food when you eat it, that could be a problem.

I also don’t believe that all “organic” or “natural” products are good for you.

There are many natural products out there that can actually irritate and make your skin feel and look worse over time, and may not be safe.

If I eat organic, raw foods and watch my health, I should also watch what I slather on my body as well.

Our skin, the largest organ of our body, absorbs pounds of lotion in a lifetime for example.

Where does all the ingredients in that lotion go, but into our body, perhaps staying there for a lifetime?

I don’t have any answers to that, nor do I want to fight or start arguments with those who are more scientifically-minded because regardless of whether it’s preservative-laden or claims to be “natural/organic”, I am just trying to be wary of what I put on my body and in my mouth.

Natural Body Moisturizer: Shea Butter + Olive Oil

Keeping your skin moisturized really helps prevent my eczema from taking hold.

Not concerned about ingredients?

For those of you who are not squeamish, I still wholeheartedly swear by Oil of Olay Quench Therapy Concentrate for those of you suffering with horribly dry skin and eczema especially.

It cured my eczema when I applied it right after showering when my skin was still damp, and I never had a single outbreak the entire dry winter I used it.

Here is my more basic substitute for moisturizer:

After I made a resolution to go back to the basics, I wasn’t comfortable any longer with using so much of that lotion on my body everyday, after reading the list of ingredients at the back.

Over time, the fragrance became so overpowering to the point where it caused light dizziness and made me want to throw up.

Maybe it was all in my head, but I still felt it.

So I started researching ways to moisturize, and this is the recipe of what I am now using that has worked very well so far:

Where I bought it:

I bought a tub of shea butter (unrefined, looks kind of like crumbly white cheese) from Whole Foods, for around $19 per tub.

The best kind of shea butter is not the kind that has a lot on the label.

It should just say: 100% shea butter.

That’s it. No fragrances, no additives, no perfumes.

How it feels when you use it:

I used it on its own, and found that it was like wax.

Very difficult to apply, it took some time to melt in between my hands before spreading it on my legs, and while it moisturized like a demon, it was becoming a chore to apply it after my nightly showers.

So I mixed it with a good dollop of extra virgin olive oil I found in my cupboard, to give it more of a lotion-y consistency.

It is now easier to pick up and apply (you can even eat it or cook with it if you want).

The smell is very light, almost nutty, and I still haven’t had a problem with eczema since using it.

The downside of using it:

It STILL doesn’t absorb into your skin the way you expect a lotion to do, and you won’t feel like you have dry legs after.

The thing about shea butter and olive oil, is that they both retain moisture in your skin by sitting on top of your skin and locking in the moisture.

But I feel a lot better rubbing these two products on my skin, and just letting my bare legs “dry”.

Natural Hair Conditioning Treatment: Coconut Oil

Where to buy it:

Any grocery store or health food store should sell it.

I found a large 750 gram tub of it (not organic) for $8, and a little goes a long way.

How it looks like or feels:

Coconut oil does not look like a milky liquid, so don’t be deceived. It is actually a lot like shea butter in its consistency.

It’s waxy, and crumbly like a hard cheese, but has different properties than shea butter.

How I use it:

I take a scoop, I melt it in the microwave in a bowl, and I apply it mostly to the ends of my hair, massaging a little into my scalp.

Kind of like using a hot oil treatment.

Then I wait about an hour or two, with my hair wrapped up while it soaks in, and then I take a shower, washing it out afterwards.

Why it works:

The scientific reason why coconut oil works for your hair, is because it has a different structure and is able to penetrate the protein in your hair to re-fatten it which keeps it flexible and strong.

Some even swear that you can add a little bit of coconut oil at the ends as a leave-in conditioner but I haven’t done this yet.

Remember that your hair is DEAD.

It isn’t alive, it doesn’t bleed or hurt when it gets cut, and is just dead protein.

Note: You can actually use coconut oil on your body as well, instead of shea butter and I do believe it’s cheaper by the ounce.

Avoiding the purchase of Shaving Cream: Use your hair conditioner

I stopped buying shaving cream about 6 years ago.

I used to buy it, thinking it was better for my skin and all that.

But I soon found out that using a small dollop of hair conditioner worked just as well, perhaps better, and I didn’t have to fiddle with a finicky metal canister in a hot, slippery shower.

Now that I am using olive oil and shea butter to moisturize my skin, I find that I don’t need to use hair conditioner to shave, because my natural moisturizer is still on my skin in a small amount.

I don’t get razor burn at all, and the razor glides easily over my skin.

But for those of you with more sensitive skin, perhaps using a conditioner or your shaving cream will be a permanent activity.

Removing Makeup: Using Mineral Oil or Baby Shampoo

I wear waterproof mascara on occasion, and I always bought special oil-based mascara makeup removers to get rid of it.

One day, I ran out, and I used a squirt of baby mineral oil on my cotton pad, and held it over my eyes for 25 seconds.

Everything wiped off easily, and perhaps quicker than if I had slathered my eye with a company-brewed concoction.

I did a little research and contrary to popular belief, mineral oil and even petroleum jelly does NOT clog your pores.

For some people, it may not work, but for the general population, it’s perfectly fine.

Then again, I don’t leave it on my skin; after I use it to remove my makeup, I clean my face.

I know it can be contrary to say that using a by product of petroleum when I am trying to cut down on what I call bad chemicals…

But I don’t have as much of a problem with it because oil is technically a raw, natural ingredient from the Earth. 😛

Still, I can understand how people are weirded out by using petroleum-based products on their skin, but it has worked for me so far to dissolve my makeup.

Natural Exfoliating Scrub: Use baking soda

I used to spend a lot of money on exfoliating scrubs:

  • Nutshells: Too abrasive and bad for your skin in the long run
  • Jojoba Beads: The best out of all the physical scrubs
  • Oatmeal: Too abrasive
  • Brushes/Washcloths: Couldn’t get into the smaller areas of my face
  • Chemical Exfoliants: Made my skin very sensitive to the sun and very pink/raw

What I ended up doing was learning a quick, easy and cheap trick: mixing baking soda into your cleanser.

Take a teaspoon of baking soda, and mix it in with your cleanser.

You can mix it into your cleanser and then just pump it out each time, or you can mix it directly into the palm of your hand.

Wash your face with it, gently scrubbing the baking soda granules in the drier, flakier areas.


I do it once a week (usually in the shower) and my skin always feels better, for having scrubbed off that dead skin.

It doesn’t irritate nor does it scratch my skin and damage it, being as the granules are small and gentle enough on my skin.

Feeling better from the inside out: Eating well

It goes without saying that eating more natural foods — organic eggs, fruits, vegetables and meats are going to be better for your body.

Less hormones, less chemicals, less pesticides and less preservatives overall.

To save money, just remember the rule of thumb of whether to buy organic or not, depends on whether or not you eat the skin.

Apples and pears for example, have thin, edible skins and are almost always better and tastier when they’re organically grown without pesticides.

Bananas, coconuts and oranges, are not worth the price.

With such a thick casing that you DON’T eat, and peel off, you may want to save your dollars here.

Also, there is no such thing as organic honey.

Honey is in itself, always organic, as it is created by bees.

You could say that the bees take the pollen from pesticide-free fruits and flowers, but then we’re just splitting hairs.

Just be careful to think about the product and how it’s grown before blindly buying natural and organic, and paying a price difference that may not be worth it.

As for taking supplements, there are two schools of thought on this:

Either you believe that multivitamins can help…

Or you think it’s a load of marketing crock, and it just passes through your body without really absorbing.

I am of the former.

I have felt and seen the proof that taking pills designed for your skin, actually work.

And when I stopped taking the pills, I noticed pimples coming back, and my skin feeling rougher and more scaly than before.

So whether it’s a placebo or not, I feel better about my skin and that’s all that counts.

The pills I take are made by a Canadian company – Genuine Health Perfect Skin & Multi + Glow.

And that ends it for my post on what I’ve replaced and the moves I’ve made towards going back to the basics.

Hope you enjoyed it!

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  • Reply Allie January 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for that, I've got all kinds of new things to try now. My skin has been breaking out really bad lately so I might try that Perfect Skin you use and I'll definitely try adding baking soda to my face wash, what a great idea.

  • Reply Julie @savvyeats January 7, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    So many great tips and ideas in the post. I actually just got a big jar of coconut oil, so I'll have to try putting some in my hair!

  • Reply Abrasive January 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

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  • Reply FB @ January 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I also forgot to mention that coconut oil feels a lot like mineral oil after you melt it, but smells MUCH BETTER (BF called me a dish the other day), and you can also use it on your skin instead of shea butter

    It's actually cheaper by the ounce 🙂

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