On Curly Hair, Mud Toothpaste, & Washing with Witch Hazel (My So-Called Beauty Routine)

Being the beauty and style-maven that I am…I thought I’d share some of my – ahem – “secrets.”  Just as I’ve made huge changes in the way that I clean my home – i.e., making my own chemical-free stuff – I’ve moved towards simplifying and detoxifying the way that I take care of my skin, hair, and teeth.


In the morning, I splash my face with cool water.  That’s it.  Should I apply sunscreen? Yes, probably, but I rarely remember to. If I do, it’s the lavender-scented Avalon Organics Moisture Plus Lotion with Sunscreen (SPF 18). Love the way this smells, though truth be told, it feels a bit greasy going on.

The next time I think about my face (you know what I mean) is before going to bed.  I’ve got the classic t-zone skin where I’m a bit oily on the nose and forehead but dry everywhere else – and I don’t wear makeup of any kind (lipstick and mascara rarely) so I don’t need products for makeup removal. Nevertheless, I’ve gone through more face wash products than Alec Baldwin has gone through airlines, but I’m very happy with what I’m currently using.  It’s readily available, cheap, natural and has a seductive Wiccanesque name: witch hazel.  I saturate a couple of cotton balls and swab away.  It feels cool and refreshing and doesn’t make my skin feel dry or tight. Witch hazel is an astringent and helps to clean out and tighten pores.  It also may help diminish dark spots. I feel as if it’s improved the look of my skin – it’s brighter and clearer. I follow this up with a squirt (mixed with a bit of water) of Forever Young Hyaluronic Acid Serum (which sounds a little scary, but isn’t at all) by Celeste le Beau.  I learned about this deep moisturizing and skin-brightening product via Angela at Canned Time and was fortunate to win a bottle of it. Honestly, I would never have bought it if left to my own devices; I have never gotten into (fairly) expensive beauty products (except for that 10-year period where I was all-Kiehl’s, all the time).  So, I was pretty skeptical about it having any benefit to my skin and admittedly, it took a while before I noticed an improvement – but once Kel told me how good my skin looked, I was committed.

I’ve read that if one uses lip products regularly that the skin actually dries out more and you end up using more, more often.  Who knows – but I do hit the lip products pretty hard. I cannot tolerate dry lips! Currently I’m using a lip balm by Meow Meow Tweet (thanks to a Vegan Cuts Box) in Rosemary Eucalyptus.  I’m digging its very smooth and silky feel – not to mention the ingredients.  I also usually have a few tubes of Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 with SPF 4 kicking around various purses, and I’ll sometimes use cocoa butter, or coconut oil.  For color, I’m clinging for dear life to a couple of tubes of Kiehl’s colored, lightly- and deliciously-flavored lip balms.  They discontinued these products, thereby breaking my heart, but luckily I had purchased a few tubes at one time.  Yes, they’re probably hopelessly out of date, but I’m usin’ ’em, dammit!  Kiehl’s, if you read this: BRING BACK YOUR PRETTY, COLORED LIP BALMS!  Anyone who has recommendations on vegan, lightly-colored lip “gloss” – I’m all ears.


Longfellow Poem An Unrefined Vegan

I have curly hair and for those of you who have curly hair: I’m sorry.  You know what it’s like. It’s dry. Arid. Did I mention that it’s dry?  It craves moisture yet frizzes in high humidity.  If you put your hair in a ponytail or clip part of it back, you are committed until you next wash your hair.  You have to “style” your hair when soaking wet and don’t even think about touching or changing your hair once it’s dried – or ever, ever using a comb or brush.  If you do, it’s going to look as if you put your hair into the Vitamix and hit turbo charge.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having curly hair – in theory – but it’s always been challenging and frustrating, even on those days when it “works.”  The ideal look for a curly-haired woman (who wants to wear it naturally, anyway) is big, ropey, cohesive, soft curls.  Getting that look is akin to climbing Everest without supplemental oxygen and is as elusive as the Jackalope, Chupacabra, or the Yeti. And like these mythical beasts, the photographic evidence is of poor quality and of dubious origin.

When Harry Met Sally An Unrefined Vegan

Because I’m a low-maintenance kind of gal (hair care-wise anyway…), I’ve never been into blow drying (so bad for your hair in general and murder on curly hair) or using tons of products to get curl and style (the 1980s don’t count, okay?).  I do not want to spend a lot of time fussing with my hair.  This is why I wore my hair very, very short (below – me in 2012) for many, many years.  Eeeeasy.  Curly hair – who me?!

Annie Short Hair 2012

But a girl has to change things up every once in a while and I’ve been growing out my hair for over a year now – which means I have to do more to it to get it to be presentable.  Best thing I’ve done for my hair and scalp is to go ‘poo-free.  This has been the single most important thing I’ve changed – not only has my dandruff disappeared, but the texture of my hair has improved.  Below – me today – looking pensive and heavily retouched.  Black and white photography: best friend of a woman-of-a-certain-age…

ASO Portrait An Unrefined Vegan

I only wash my hair (GASP!) 2-3 times per week.  It sounds ick, but it’s not – for someone with dry hair/dry scalp – over washing is the enemy.  I vary the way the I wash my hair in three ways:

  1. Two heaping tablespoons of baking soda mixed with 2 cups of lukewarm water.  Wet hair thoroughly, then slowly pour the baking soda mixture over and through hair, using fingertips to gently massage scalp.  Rinse thoroughly with water.  I then lightly press a towel onto my hair, but leave the majority of the water in there to maximize curl.  Curls love water!  For “styling,” I create a messy part and then scrunch my hair to encourage the curls to do their thing.  For styling “products,” which I use occasionally, see below.
  2. The second wash I use is a light apple cider vinegar mixture – about 2 teaspoons in 2 cups of lukewarm water.  Method of washing and styling is the same as above.  This method does leave a little bit of vinegar odor which diminishes as it dries.  It doesn’t bother me, but I guess it depends on how sensitive one is to smell. For some reason, I always crave salad after washing my hair this way…
  3. This method is the easiest – I just thoroughly wet my hair and proceed as in number 1.  Boom.  Done.

As I hinted at above, I was a hair product addict back in the 80s.  From the day Richard, my 80s hair stylist, gave me a gorgeous over-gelled mullet in 1983, I was a goopy product fanatic.  It’s just what was done back in those days.  My hair always looked wet and it crunched and cracked when touched. When I went ‘poo-free I also ditched hair styling products and overall, my hair works pretty well without them, but there are some days – when it’s especially dry or when the curls have no oomph – that I need a little something-something.  An online search of “homemade hair products” brought me to a post on CurlyNikki and her styling “recipes” that I was eager to try.  I messed around a bit with her 2-ingredient Flaxseed Gel and came up with this spray that I use when my hair is still wet and also when dry and in need of a little curl boost.


  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. whole flaxseeds
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Vitamin E oil
  • 1/4 tsp. citric acid
  • 5+ drops lavender essential oil
  • 2-3 drops melaleuca (tea tree oil)
  1. Bring the seeds and water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and strain into a small bowl or measuring cup, discarding the seeds. Whisk in the citric acid and essential oils. Pour into a small spray bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

What the ingredients do: the chia and flaxseeds lend their natural gelling properties, of course; vitamin E oil adds shine (and if rubbed into the scalp and hair may stimulate hair growth and repair split ends); the citric acid is a preservative and the essential oils not only smell good, they help moisturize (lavender) and tea tree oil is antimicrobial and may ease dandruff.

Check out the CurlyNikki site to see her other easy, homemade conditioning and styling recipes for curly hair.

Results from my suggestions here will vary. Such is the nature of hair and especially of curly hair, I daresay.  Those of you with straight hair, feel free to let me know the many ways in which I do not understand this thing you call Straight Hair!

Toothbrush Homemade Earthpaste An Unrefined Vegan


When I read that your garden-variety mouthwash with alcohol dries out one’s mouth – promoting bacterial growth – I made the decision to make my own mouthwash and my first stop was, where else?  Pinterest. And it did not fail me. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually Pin the recipe I chose (I did print it out, however), so I cannot give credit where credit is due. But I send my thanks out into the Pinterest universe and hope that somehow it is received.  I’m going to share the recipe here, because if you’re a fan of mouthwash and you have 5 minutes and a few ingredients, you really should make your own.


  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (original recipe calls for 1 tsp. I find it makes the rinse way too salty.)
  • 5-6 tsp. xylitol
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • couple drops On Guard or Thieves Oil
  1. In the microwave, heat until warm, but not boiling, 1/2 cup of the distilled water in a 4-cup glass measure.  Stir in the baking soda, salt, and xylitol and mix until dissolved.  Add the remaining water and essential oils.  Using a funnel, pour the mixture into a large mason jar or other glass, air-tight container.  Store in the refrigerator.
  2. Before brushing, swish 2 tablespoons around your mouth for 1-2 minutes. Spit out, don’t swallow.

Curiosity drove me to trying my hand at homemade toothpaste and I liked the results so much, I’ve stuck with it.  It takes me less than 5 minutes to whip up a batch using bentonite clay, some essential oils, stevia, and salt.  Post-brushing my teeth feel the same way as right after the dental hygienist polishes my teeth.  Wonderful!  The fantastic recipe inspired by Earth Paste is from Don’t Waste the Crumbs. If you try this, don’t expect it to foam – and it does take a little getting used to the texture and to applying the paste to your toothbrush. But it’s incredibly refreshing. BTW, my favorite toothbrush brand is preserve made from recycled yogurt cups. I love that I can bring my used toothbrushes (don’t think about that too much…) to Whole Foods for another round of recycling.

It’s only a matter of time before I make my own dental floss out of hemp…


26 thoughts on “On Curly Hair, Mud Toothpaste, & Washing with Witch Hazel (My So-Called Beauty Routine)

  1. The vegan 8

    Oh my gosh I loved this post Annie! You seriously had me rolling with laughter at all your jokes and especially the Vitamix comment about your hair!! You are so funny! It’s funny because every person I know with curly hair wants straight hair and tons of people with straight hair, want curly hair, hahaha! Thanks for all the tips…you’ve convinced me to use the apple cider vinegar…I’ve heard good things, so I’m curious. Here’s my question though, I have the thickest hair known to man, seriously, my hair easily could pass for the combination of 10 people’s head of hair. It has gotten probably 20-30% even THICKER since going vegan too, which I didn’t think was even possible. I have to blow dry it straight and then put in smoothing gloss, just so I don’t look like I stuck my finger in a light socket. I love having thick hair, BUT I have to use an illegal amount of conditioner each wash just so that I can even brush my hair after getting out of the shower. Soooo, does the vinegar make it easy to bomb?? I’m having a hard time imaging that it would. I currently alternate between Dessert Essence and Natures Gate, which are both vegan and I love, but they are pricey. Thanks girl!!

      1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

        Many, many years ago my hair was past my shoulders…Not sure I’m ready for that look again, but who knows!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Brandi – seriously, I have dreams where I have lovely straight hair and then I wake up and remember that I have curly hair and I feel so sad ;-). I’m mostly content with having curly hair, but some days…oy, it’s so challenging!

      I think that if you try the shampoo-less deal (remember, you’ll go through a transition period where your scalp is adjusting), you’ll find that your hair won’t be quite so frizzy and won’t need so much product. However, you’ll probably still need to use some kind of conditioner, but there are great recipes out there to make your own. I’ve got one on my To Make list, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  2. Becky

    I loved reading this so much! I also have a very non-beauty beauty routine, and it’s always great to hear that I’m not the only one. Lately I’ve even stopped using soap to wash my face. I just use water in the morning and evening, and so far my skin seems to love it!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Exactly! After ditching the shampoo it occurred to me that by using face wash products I was doing the same thing to my face – creating this vicious cycle of washing to get rid of excess oil (which my skin was producing to compensate for being dried out) and slathering on loads of moisturizer because my skin was dry! Crazy-making.

  3. Cheerfully Vegan

    How timely to read this post. It is SO humid today – and the last few days – that I look like a wild woman! My hair is not cooperatively curly. The only part that curls in nice little sausage curls is at the nape of my neck and at the top “corners” of my forehead. The rest of it? Well, it just does this \__/\_/\__/ in varying directions of wonkiness that makes it look like I slept on it and didn’t do a single thing to it. I used the blow drier on it today to straighten it some, and by the time I got dressed, it was back to insane. Well…that’s not helpful. So, I employed some little combs to pull it away from my face and let it go wild. Perhaps I should try the no-poo way. Not sure, though….I’m kinda chicken.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      I can so relate! Some days my hair “behaves” and I think – hey, this isn’t so bad! – and the next it’s just total chaos up there. I have clips and headbands for emergencies… But, I have noticed a big improvement since I stopped using shampoo. I think it was just stripping my hair and scalp of the natural oils, contributing to the frizz factor. I was a bit scared at first, too, but you don’t walk around looking as if you haven’t washed your hair – – really, no one can tell. The fact that I no longer have to rely on styling products to make my hair look decent is HUGE. Anyway – I definitely recommend it.

  4. Brittany

    I cannot find the proper words to describe how much I LOVE this post. I am seriously swooning SO hard!!! I am obsessed with thieves oil, and use it for EVERYTHING in my house. Just this morning I used a combo spray of water and thieves to clean up a kitty hair ball. The verdict? It cleaned SO much better than any chemical laden store bought crap. I MUST make both this mouthwash AND toothpaste, thank you thank you for sharing. My inner granola is just thriving right now.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      You’re going to love both – and they’re totally customizable. Clove-flavored toothpaste, orange…I know you’ll put your own wonderful personal spin on them!

  5. Choc Chip Uru

    Haha I think the best beauty regime uses no make up at all 😀
    Just like you describe, simple fresh ingredients and lots of water can do wonders for the skin!

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. Angela @ Canned-Time.com

    I have supper thick long hair and I will usually only was it once per week. In hot months it gets rinsed more often but I can’t handle the hassle of every day fussing.
    I started using the oil method from @keepinitkind last year for my face and looks like I have a new hair routine now too. Trying out the baking soda tonight.
    Gorgeous portrait btw. Hopefully that’s for the book?

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      I think that’s a big part of it – I don’t want to spend a lot of time messing with a “hairstyle!”

      I was into the oil method for a long time, but (and this sounds very pathetic) it took too much time – and it clogged my sink. I really didn’t notice the results that other people seemed to get. I guess that just demonstrates that skincare, etc., is not one-size-fits-all.

      I’ll be using a more cheerful photo for the book – but it’s from the same photo shoot (such as it was). Thanks 🙂

  7. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    Loooooved this post especially the toothpaste recipe! I have been looking for a homemade version that I felt good about and I think I found it! I love clay 🙂

    I’ve always had pretty straight hair and let me tell you it’s no fun either. Super fine, easily damaged, thin, flat and will rarely do anything else! Grass I s always greener right?

  8. Richa

    lol. yeah i wish i had curly hair. but i guess i am happy with what i have 🙂 probably just a bit more quantity is needed at the moment 😉

    i hardly ever put any make up on too. just concealer on some days.

    i used this tooth powder along with toms of maine. don’t know if its helping along with the oil pulling. i will know in about a year if my cavity rate goes down. i have been blessed with fantastic cavity attracting teeth 🙂 runs in the family

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Wishing you cavity-free luck at your next appointment, Richa! I’m going to check out the tooth powder, recipe, too.

      I did oil-pulling for a while, but the side effect was that I started to get nauseated at the smell of coconut oil. So I stopped and now I can tolerate the smell again :-P.

  9. Poppy

    This is awesome Annie! I am so trying the mouthwash and hair wash. I just love that washing with ACV makes you crave salad!!! And you look beautiful by the way xo

  10. wolfshowl

    Speaking as a fellow curly-haired lady: washing my hair more than twice a week ruins it. I use a shower cap for most of my showers to keep it dry and only actually wash it twice a week. Solidarity!

    Have you ever tried oil pulling? I started it a few months ago, and I’ve had amazing results! Doing it first thing in the morning clears out my sinuses, and my teeth build up far less plaque over the course of the day than they used to.

    I’m going to have to try your baking soda hair wash. It’s the second time I’ve heard it mentioned for dry scalp.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Haha! Yes, I use a shower cap, too!

      I have tried oil pulling and unfortunately it made me gag after about a week of doing it. I found that even the smell of coconut oil made my stomach roll! But I have heard of people having impressive results from doing it.

      The baking soda worked amazingly well for my, errr, flakes. After one use I noticed a huge difference.

  11. kaymarie2140

    I loved this!! I am definitely going to try the witch hazel as my skin is exactly the same way! I’ve also used baking soda and apple cider vinegar for a time now and it helps lock my curls and keep away frizz like none other 🙂


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