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Sunday, August 5, 2012

In the old days...

When I was young my mother was de-lighted with Tide. She thought it was a dream come true compared with the lye bar at the river and rocks or even the washboard. We packed our laundry around the corner to the laundromat and spent the entire Saturday washing, drying and folding. The best part was going to the dairy after for ice cream. Yes, I lived in a town with a dairy, bakery, fish market, grocer, pharmacy, and five-and-dime. It was the old days.

This came up as I was washing my hair. I stopped using shampoo more than six years ago. I get my hair plenty wet and use conditioner to wash and a tablespoon of honey in a quart of water for a final rinse. I have long thick locks and avoid repeating this process as long as possible. In the old days, the really old days people didn't wash their hair according to the advertising industry. We washed our hair every two weeks, on Saturday morning and got it "done" Saturday evening for church on Sunday. In between washings, we "oiled" it with some commercial preparation and if it needed "cleaning" we used a dry towel to rub out whatever accumulations needed removing. For oily hair, corn starch or baby powder worked wonders.

I think shampoo was some new fangled consideration. Sometimes we had it and other times not. It could have been about money or oversight, but things were very particular (peculiar) and running out of shampoo happened. My mom would mix powdered Tide with water and use the paste to wash our hair. More than once I bend over the side of the tub having the hot formula rubbed into my scalp. Tide and water gets hot as paste. Back in the day, all soaps left hair dry and brittle. We countered that with some petroleum based concoction and scalp massage. It worked out, most of the time.

When I grew up and could buy my own products I made different choices. One day I permed my hair. Previously, heat processing was preferred. When I left home I cut all my hair off and was called bald-headed while sporting my TWA (teeny weeny afro). My hair journey follows my increase in knowledge and shift in understanding around nutrition and health. Once I gave up petroleum products the door opened to all manner of natural oils, that have been around always, but hidden from the very people who rely on them. Petroleum products are cheap and accessible.

We used Pompey Virgin Olive Oil for religious purposes. It was applied to our foreheads and blessed clothes, in prayer and healing. We drank it for internally healing. And applied it to our skin for chicken pox. (I think that virgin made it special. Could that be?) I couldn't stand the smell of olives for the longest time. I was pregnant with my first child before I knew the benefits of olive oil for general skin care and made the leap to not apply any commercial products to my baby's body. Not even soap. Her fresh body anointed with olive oil, massaged and wiped clean was sufficient.

This has gotten rather long-winded. The point was that we are so influenced by mainstream advertising that we have forgotten there are many ways to manage that are far superior to the chemical crap being hawked. We are happily, knowingly buying snake oil. Then one day that TV doctor says, hey go in your kitchen (or grocer shelf) and get this everyday product. You can use it to condition your hair, shave your legs. moisturize you skin, even mix with sugar, salt, or honey for an exfolliant. Then low and effing behold, every body is talking about what TV doctor said and racing to the store. But wait, next week he will promote some commercial products that will fix you better than ever. Why do we buy in?

If what we need is in the kitchen or at the grocer, why do we insist on having tiny pots and bottles of ingredients we need to google to understand?

Back in the old days we knew what we were eating and what we smeared on our bodies. And before that we didn't put anything on our bodies that we couldn't eat. The health and beauty industry address that idea as well by adding aloe, olive oil, vitamins, and food essences to our hair and body products. With greater understanding and a bit of commitment, be can easily have more for less. But perhaps its it the ease we are being markets and my suggestion is the effort...

Tell me about the good ole days?


  1. You're right--the baby powder works wonders on the oily hair. I didn't believe that trick until one day when my oldest daughter had to do it for a quick fix before going out. Thanks for sharing such an informative blog post!

    1. Thanks for stopping. I read on my wanderings that you can use Milk of Magnesia for deodorant. Neither of my girls were impressed with the option, but there's still time...


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