The shampoo bar journey

A few months ago I realized that almost all of the beauty products I have been using contain plastics. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, deodorant, face wash etc. I started reading ingredients lists and tried to translate and understand what the mean. And the more I read and understood the more I got angry and frustrated. I want to understand what kind of chemicals I’m putting on my body and things like carbomer and styrene/acrylates copolymer (plastics in my old shampoo) and phenoxyethanol (preservative with an impressive list of side effects) are not what I want. I changed to natural cosmetics and it’s so nice to use products I know are good for me and read ingredients list that are sort and understandable.

But natural cosmetics and zero waste don’t always go hand in hand. And there is a lot of green washing going on. The consumer has to know a lot. I definitely made few mistakes.

I love handmade bar soaps! I actually go a bit crazy for them and I have to stop myself from buying them. I stopped using liquid hand soap and body wash around two years ago the first time I started thinking about how to live more zero waste. It was one of the easiest changes to make to reduce the amount of plastic bottles in the bathroom. Also they are a lot more economical, a bar of soap will last a lot longer then a bottle of liquid soap. But the shampoo bar change was definitely not so easy! But after two months in I’m very happy

Here are the key things I learned about using shampoo bars:

1. You have to keep using shampoo bars long enough for your hair to get use to the new soap based products. So don’t give up if the first try doesn’t work out. Shampoo bars are different from liquid shampoo and it takes time for your hair to a adjust

2. USE the apple cider vinegar rinse! This one was a game changer for me. It really works! I was very skeptical and lazy to do this, but it really is an important step especially when your hair is just adjusting to shampoo bars. Before doing this shampoo bars would leave my hair either too dry or too oily with the residue. This blog post was very informative for me. The rise helps with getting ride of the residue and makes your hair shiny and easily managble. You should find the mix that suit for you hair (oily hair more vinegar, dry less). I use one teaspoon of applecider vinegar mixed with 100ml of water. I do the mixture into an old shampoo bottle and squeeze it on to my hair and scalp and let it set for a while. Then I do a proper rinse as I don’t want to smell like vinegar (I checked with the boyfriend and he says I don’t 😉). This really makes the difference! Aparently when my hair gets use to shampoo bars, I can drop the vinegar rinse to twise a month or so. We will see… I also use after this a conditioner on my scalp but more about that below.

3. Know your hair. To me it really helped that I talked to a professional Eco hairdresser who is specialised in natural products. Everyone’s hair is different and the thing that works for one doesn’t nessessarily work for others.

I have used a few different shampoo bars. First one was from Flow cosmetics (Finnish Natural Cosmetics brand) shampoo bar for blond hair and I didn’t like the way it made my hair so dry, but I didn’t try the apple cider vinegar rinse which I know know is important. And now the bar works so much better. But before because my hair got so dry I thought I needed conditioner. I have a very long and thin hair that gets very tangled and that’s when I made the mistake of going to Lush…

So Lush. This is the first and last time I buy anything from them. On the outside it looks a perfect place to buy zero waste, no packaging etc. But Lush is not natural cosmetics as my hairdresser pointed out. No hop that smells like that 10 meters away cannot be natural cosmetics. I’m sensitive to strong smells, but I thought this ones I will try their Jungle Solid Conditioner that the sales lady said was super moisturizing. And to be fair it was, so much so that it made my hair look like a wet dog. And the smell was just plain awful and it followed me the whole day. My flatmate actually commented the smell it left to the bathroom and said it was horrible. But the worst thing is that it gave me red spots on my skin and I definitely got an allergic reaction to it. Again the ingredients list has some shady names I don’t like Behenyl Trimethylammonium Chloride, Propylene glycol which is a very common cause for skin irritation and allergy, I’m definitely not the only one who is sensitive to it. But all this I didn’t realize until later.

I found an Sweet Natural Shampoo & Conditioner Bar. From a French brand called Pachamamaï, I ordered it from Sinplastico online shop ( I got my lovely safety razor from there as well) and it was ok, maybe little bit leaving the residue, but again I still didn’t try the apple sider vinegar rinse. It works very well with the apple cider vinegar. The down side is that I had to order it from Spain which is not very ecofriendly. I also found a Finnish Ole Hyvä Cloudberry conditioner from Ruohonjuuri and the cool thing is you can go to the shop and refill it! And I really like it!

To be honest at this point I was getting tired of the battle with the shampoo bars and I was still using up my Dove shampoo, because I didn’t want to just through it away. And this is when I decided to go and see a professional. For the first time in two years I went to a hairdresser! But not just any hairdresser an ecohairdresser Huili in Helsinki where they only use natural cosmeticts and products. And I learned a lot.

So apparently I have a dry and irritated scalp. The hairdresser showed me how flaky and red my scalp was and it’s so weird I didn’t notice it before! And then I realized that I actually do scratch my scalp all the time without noticing! She said she could see that I was still using the Dove shampoo from the shine in my hair. And later I started reading the ingredients list for the Dove shampoo again. And what did I notice but Propylene glycol the same bloody thing that probably gave me the reaction with the Lush conditioner. No wonder my scalp is irritated! This time I stopped using the Dove no mater how waste full it would be.

The hairdresser did a very proper wash for my hair and scalp by using lovely products from Less is more an Austrian company. I had never even thought of putting conditioner on my scalp, because I have a long hair. But this scalp relieve conditioner is so nice you can feel it cooling and soothing with the tea tree oil! And my hair never looked more healthy. But because zero waste and Natural Cosmetics don’t always go together, this wonder liquid comes in a plastic bottle.

The hairdresser also gave me good advice on tackling the whole shampoo bar thing. The hairdresser recommended to try the apple cider vinegar rinse. She told me it’s a good way also to clence your hair from chemicals.

I also got so exited from the tea tree oil that I bought a tea tree oil soap/shampoo bar from Saaren taika. It’s a small one woman company in my home town of Salo in the archipelago of the Baltic Sea where she makes these soaps by hand. I love it when I can support small, local entrepreneurs and even more when the products are great! She also has a great blog where she explains shampoo bars very well (in Finnish). She also makes tea tree shampoo bars for oily hair, it’s a is little less moisturazing than the soap. But the soap can be used as normal soap as well and it’s good for problematic and sensitive skin. Win win!

This soap bar, together with the applesider vinegar rinse and the scalp relieving conditioner have been a super good combination. And I’m very happy the way my hair and scalp feel and look like. Now the shampoo bar is finished and I will definitely buy a new one. So to sum up two months in shampoo bars/natural cosmetics work very well, I think my hair has never looked better!

Zero waste/natural skin care and make up

I have done a lot of changes with changing to natural cosmetics and also trying to choose more zero waste packaging on the products I use.


I have being doing oil cleansing for my make up. I made my own reusable cotton pads by crocheting and I use coconut oil and after that a pit of normal soap to clean the oil of.


Finding a natural cosmetics moisturizer in zero waste packaging was quite tricky. For my face I have been using organic Argan oil and I love it! I ordered a Flower power Organic body butter from Happy Holistics. Made in Bristol UK. The consistence is quite nice, but the scent is not my favorite, I think its the rose oil. I’m very picky with scents. I also tried Sheabutter for Saaren taika a small Finnish company from my home town of Salo. I love her tea tree oil soap. But again I liked the consistency and the ingredients of the body butter, but the scent is way too earthy for me. I think I will try to find friends who like the scents and gift these. In the end my favorite is just plain cooking coconut oil, I love the smell of coconut. My old moisturizer was coconut scented so I just changed the artificial to the real thing! It’s cheap and easy to find in most supermarkets in glass bottles and I love that it doubles up as a cleanser as well. I don’t use it to moisturize my face though as I have heard it can cause blackheads. I also made my self an all purpose moisturizer from beeswax and rapeseed oil with a recipe from Zerowaste home book by Bea Johnson . It’s very good as an lip balm and I have been using it for my feet as well.


I’m very lazy with make up. I tried two different natural make up brands, the first one is and old friend of mine French Boho. They try to use minimal packaging and as little plastic as possible. I have been using the mascara for two years now and I like it a lot, it works well and I like that it’s very small in size, but the packaging is not ideal. The consealer I have used before as well and I like it. The tube is plastic, but the cab is cardboard. I have had their foundation for a while, the problem is I don’t really like liquid foundations and this one comes in a plastic bottle. It’s more like a BB cream and works for summer. The new thing I tried was the Compact foundation which I like a lot, the packaging is easy to separate in pieces and recycle and the product is easy to ably and use. There is only little pit of plastic on the top and it works for a very lazy person like me.

The other natural cosmetics brand I have triend is Italian Zao. Their packaging is low on plastic. They use bamboo and glass and only little bit of plastic and they do refills on most of their products. But… As I have understood the refills for foundation and powder come in plastic tubes or wrapped in plastic.

I have been using the Boho mascara for two years, but the one thing that annoys me is that it’s difficult to recycle. It’s basically a normal plastic tube just coated in paper.

The Zao mascara is refillable and you can take the plastic tube out off the bamboo case and just buy a new refill. I have been looking into old-fashioned cake mascaras, but I haven’t found one that I could buy in Finland or even in Europe. Seems there are a lot of options in the US. I know some people make their own mascara but I’m not there yet. Recommendations are welcome. 😊 For now this is the best option I could think of.

My make up kit is by by no means zero waste perfect, but it’s better than before and I’m happy with the ingredients in the products. I like the Boho Compact Foundation and the consealer. I have been using Maybeline Mat Mousse for years, but the ingredients on it are less then ideal, a lot of plastics and parabens and other nice stuff. I’m trying to find a natural cosmetics equivalent that works similar to it. Boho is the closest one so far all though I feel like I need to use powder with it. I like the refill option for the Zao mascara and the zao powder. I have had the Boho powder before and I though it was very small and I used it up very quickly. Zao one is a lot bigger so let’s see how long it will last. The refills are cheaper to buy with zao, but the fact that they are wrapped in plastic kind of ruins the purpose.

Fuck plastic

fuck plastic

Excuse my language, but this is just the way I feel about plastic at the moment. I have felt a bit hopeless about the future of the world lately. How is it going to be in 2050? I’m going to be 60 years old and I have seen the world change a lot. Our earth and our oceans are going to be very different for my children, because unfortunately it looks like we are going to ruin them.

By 2050 we are going to have more plastic in the oceans that fish. Because of the global warming corals of the word might have died. We have already lost almost half of the Great Barrier Reef. Are we going to see a whole species disappear in our lifetime? And in its place we are going to have massive plastic reefs like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We might not be able to eat fish because they are so full of plastic they mistake for food. And when you think that 3 billion people rely on fish for the main source of protein, that’s lot of people eating plastic or starving. It’s not a good future.
I’m going to travel in South-East Asia this winter, I’m very exited!, but this is also the place where the single use plastic problem is highlighted. “China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are dumping more plastic into oceans than the rest of the world combined.” And all this has made me really re-evaluate this plastic world we are living and the way I’m living in it. I have watched a lot of really good eye opening documentaries lately. Netflix has A Plastic Ocean and Chasing Coral. I highly recommend you to watch them if you haven’t seen them yet.
It’s really hard to live without plastic in this world. I have started to make changes but I fail almost everyday, hopefully learning from mistakes and taking small steps at time. I watched a TED talk by David Katz the founder of Social Plastics Bank and one part especially has stuck in my head as a kind of mantra. He talks about how if you leave the water tap on and water fills the sink and the floor the first thing you do is not to start mopping the floor, the first thing you do is you close the tap. We are in a point where it’s getting very hard or impossible to clean up the oceans from the plastic shit we put there, all thought there are smart people like Boyan Slat figuring out ways. Plastic does not disappear it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, micro and nano plastics. And sometimes it doesn’t even have to break we directly put micro and nano plastic into the oceans in a form of suns creams and other cosmetics or by washing up synthetic fiber clothes. We should fucking close the tap before it’s too late!!!!

IMG_20180808_112933__01__01.jpgI have been slowly changing my bathroom essentials with plastic free natural cosmetics.

It shocked me to realize that almost all the cosmetics I have been using from shampoos to body lotions contain secret plastics I was not aware of. And then there is the packaging and all the single use plastics from plastic bags to straws. When did we agree that it makes sense to make products we use for minutes from material that lasts forever? Just because it’s easy and cheap.

IMG_20180821_121006__01__01__01.jpgRefills are a good option when buying stuff like washing liquid.
It’s very challenging to try to quit plastic, there are inspiring people like Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer who live zero waste lifestyle and who can fit four years worth of trash into a glass jar. But its bloody hard. I’m not trying to do the glass jar thing, I’m making changes with small steps, from moving to natural cosmetics and thinking about packaging, thinking about what I really need, thinking in general. Remembering to take produce bags to supermarkets and carrying tote bags and water bottle with me, learning to make things myself, thinking how things were made before plastic (people did survive!) and the hardest of all refusing things that are offered to me and keeping my values in social situation, this one is the toughest. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot.

IMG_20180824_133542__01__01.jpgI don’t carry all of this with me all the time, but the key to zero waste is to be prepared.

Zero waste requires a lot of planing a head and it’s hard when you live a busy life. Luckily the zero waste world has gone a lot forward, there are a lot alternative products and shops arriving. I’m hoping bulkstores are going to be popping up in Helsinki, Finland soon as well. One person who has been a huge inspiration to me has been Kate Arnel. She has you tube channel called Ecoboost where she gives very honest and releateble advice on how to be more zero waste. Not everyone is up making all their products from the start and having a trash jar, there are other ways to tackle this. Maybe less intimidating ways. and who knows maybe I’m able to have the trash jar one day.

Even though I have felt hopeless about the future, with world leaders denying climate change and plastic drowning us, it’s still encouraging that countries and cities like New Zealand, Mumbai, and Kenya make decisions like banning plastic bags. Dominica is going to ban single use plastics all together! That’s hope! Hope that we will realize what we are doing and start making changes.

Natural Dyeing: Colours from the Supermarket

This is the second part of my roundup of all the different natural dyes I have been experimenting on during the past year. The first part was about collecting yourself from the nature, but not everybody has the luxury of getting to collect from nature themself’s.  There are a lot of choices in the normal supermarkets as well. I love dyeing outside on the open fire when I´m at our summer cottage, but most of the time I live in small flat in the city. All you really need is a large pot that is used only for natural dyeing, strainer, some mordants like alum, kitchen weigh, maybe a thermometer and a visit to a supermarket.
from the kitchen

Onion skins are probably the best know source of colour and I think they are pretty amazing. There is so much pigment in the skins and the colours are really strong and varied. I tried both regular onion skins and red onion skins.  Black beans where an interesting experiment. There where some hits and misses but the blue colours where beautiful, you can read about part one and two here and here. Turmeric was a very spontaneous experiment and the colour came out strong. Beetroot and red gabbage where interesting but the colours are sadly fugitive. What should I try next?

bought from the shops

I also did some online shopping and bought walnut shellsmadder powder and cochineal. The colours are pretty, but for some reason the dyeing process is not a satisfying for me if I just order things online. It’s a lot more fun to make the dye yourself. I quess I love the hunt.

Natural dyeing: Early Bird Gets the Worm

The spring is on it’s way and I know that it’s much further away in other parts of the world that are more south. Spring and the early summer are ideal time for natural dyeing. When you are collecting different leaves and plants that’s when you get the strongest, the most vibrant colours. Snatch the plant’s early in the growing season.

In Finland the best time to collect plants is around the end of May and the beginning of June. Sadly this year I’m going to totally miss this time, because in this month I’m going on a road trip across the US and I wont be back to Finland until the end of June. But that’s okay because I couldn’t be more exited about the trip. This doesn’t stop me from giving tips to other people. I thought that I would look back at my first year of natural dyeing and all the different things I have used in dyeing. To this first part I have collected the things that I collected from the nature myself.

greens from the leaves

Yellow is the easiest colour to achieve with natural dyes. I think that most green leaves and plants give yellow colour (not all and some more than others). Most greens that I have got (above) are green because I have used grey yarn instead of white.  Only exception is the lupine, the yarn was originally white and the colour turned out pale green. I have seen an almost neon green/yellow colour from lupines that where picked up early in the summer. As I said earlier the better. The birch leaves and the heather where dyed early in the summer, meadowsweet, fireweed and cow parsley much later. Obviously other factors have a lot to do with the end results, like where the plant has grown, in what kind of soil and how much you collect them. Natural dyeing is not exact science.

colours of earth

I got some lovely brown colours from lichen and juniper bark. Every country has their own laws, in Finland you need to ask permission from the land owner if you are going to collect moss, lichen or subshruds such as heather. Everything else you can collect from where ever you want, but it’s good to respect nature anyway. I was very lucky that the back yard of our summer cottage offers lots of different kids of plants to use. When the fall came I went to the woods to hunt cortinarius semisanguineus also known as suprise webcap. The colour that you get from them is so pretty! I want to find more of them next fall. I also need to find an old and mossy spruce forest so I can find bloodred webcaps. And I feel that I’m going to experiment with mushrooms more in general.

Natural Dyeing: Cochineal

A couple of weeks ago I dyed some yarn using cochineal. I did try cochineal a year ago, but I used the powder and this time I used whole dried cochineal bugs.


I had now idea how to use these so I followed instructions from Riihivilla blog, I bought the cochineal from Leenas web shop and she has written a really comprehensive and detailed blog post about it (read it here) both Finnish and English and I’m not going to repeat it here. In short cochineal is an insect that has been used for centuries in dyeing things red, it originates from South-America. You can get it also in powder form, but as Leena says in her blog post it’s easier to clean up the equipment when you use whole dried ones and after trying both I agree. Cochineal has a lot of pigment in it and with the powder everything tends to get red. Plus I think using the dried bugs is more interesting although maybe also a bit more gross.


The dried out bugs interest a curious cat who interrupts my photo-shoot session.


With the whole cochineal bugs you have to let them soak in hot water overnight to  maximize the colour. You can get the exact measurements from Leenas blog. The other thing I found interesting is the fact that when dyeing with cochineal you should actually use quite high temperatures unlike with madder. I usually keep the temperature under 80 °C so the wool yarn will not suffer. This time I forgot to monitor the temperature and the dye bath actually started boiling. The yarn was okay though and before when the temperature was lower the colour of the yarn was definitely more orange. I guess the red pigments fix to the fibers in higher temperatures.


I used the dye bath for a second time and got a lighter pink colour. After this I could clearly see that I wasn’t going to get anymore colour out of the dye bath. It was very neat and clean, just shift the cochineal bugs away, give the pot a little wash and your done. I took another good advice from Leenas blog and I let the yarns dry first before rinsing them, she says that that way the colour sticks better to the yarn.


Easter Part 2

I got a bit exited about the wheatgrass, it has taken over my kitchen. I needed to have something green, especially when it started snowing outside again. I dyed some Easter eggs as well. The yellows are dyed with turmeric. I boiled turmeric in water for about 10 minutes. Then I added some salt and vinegar and let the emptied eggs  soak in the dye for over night. The pink colour is red food colouring and the turquoise blue is  actually green food colouring (why it turned blue, I don’t know). I found this video on youtube on how to make tie-dye Easter eggs. Mine didn’t work out quite as well, but I like the colours of these four together. At least I have spring inside when it’s snowing outside.







Easter decorations

I haven’t done a lot of creative things lately apart from a crochet project that is turning quite long. But this week I got an inspiration for Easter decorations. I took some willow branches, put then into a glass jar and made little bobbles out of some of the naturally dyed yarns I have. I also planted some wheatgrass. I’m feeling a bit impatient because I want them to grow fast. I’m so happy the spring is here!IMG_6619_2







Natural Dyeing: Red Onion Skins

January has been a very busy month for me and I haven’t had time to do anything creative. I’m hoping that things will change in February. I did have time for one experiment though. I did dye with normal onion skins last summer (read about it here) but I didn’t try red onion skins until now. I heard that the colour you get from them is green. I think mine turned out more brownish with a hint of yellow.


You need a quite a lot of onion skins if you want to dye yarn with them. I don’t eat that much onions so I headed to a big supermarket. I know that they have these boxes underneath the onions where all the onion skins will drop. I asked from the saleswomen if I could get them for myself as they are going to the trash anyway. She was very helpful and I got three plastic bags full of normal onion skins and one with red onion skins. The cashier did give me a very curious look when I turned up with my treasures, I think I’m in danger of getting a bit of a crazy reputation.


In the end I had 65 g of red onion skins that I put into a pot, added some water and let them soak for a day. Then I boiled the skins in the same water for two hours and forgot the skins for another day. Then I shifted the skins away and added some yarn.


I used 50 g of 100% wool yarn that I had previously mordanted with alum and the cream of tartar. I kept the temperature under 80 °C. I think the colour is a bit olive. It’s weird because the yarn looks greenish in daylight, but brown in electric light, that’s natural dye for you.


Into the same pot I threw in a tiny bit of unmordanted wool to see the difference. And that yarn is definitely more reddish brown colour.



I forgot the dye bath for couple of days and though that I try to dye some more yarn in it. This yarn was also premordanted with alum and the cream of tartar. I accidentally let the temperature get higher then with the previous one. Wool doesn’t really like temperatures that are too hot but the colour turned out stronger and browner then the first one. I think I could have tried to dye more but I ran out of yarn.


Natural Dyeing: Madder

It’s the New Year and it’s time to say goodbye to Christmas decorations (which I still haven’t had time to clear out). I did the first natural dyeing experiment of 2015 using madder powder. I have used it couple of times to give a little kick to some other dye baths but I have never dyed just with it. Madder powder is made from madder roots which is one of the oldest sources of natural dyes. I’ve heard that it’s possible to grow it in southern Finland. Some day when I have a garden I will give it a try.


I had a small sample piece and a recipe I followed. I dyed 100 g of 100% wool yarn. I had mordanted the yarn previously with alum and the cream of tartar. I put 10 litres of water into a big pot and added 20 grams of madder powder in it. I added the wet yarn to the pot and let it stay in the pot for 1 hour. I kept the temperature quite low around 60-70°C.


I was expecting more of an orange colour but the end result is actually pink. But that is the interesting part with madder. Apparently with low temperatures you get more red colours and with higher temperatures more yellows and browns. I tried to reuse the bye bath, but the colour was not getting very strong so I added more madder powder into it. I want to have another try to get orange/brow with madder with using higher temperatures.  Although I really like this pink colour aswell.