All About Indigo

Hello! And welcome back. It’s me, Desiree’ Celeste!

I started box dying my hair in middle school and continued on until about 5 years ago. On average, I had dyed my hair about once a month for 14 years. One time, I used at least 10 boxes of bleach to get my long hair from black to blonde. I have had black, blonde, and all shades of red hair. I quit dying because my curls were so damaged that I wanted to shave my head. My natural color is very ambiguous, it’s generally medium brown but sometimes reds out, sometimes sun bleaches rather blonde, and I have a grey patch at the front of my head that I absolutely love. Since cutting off my hair, I have felt a little less like myself. I love the look of my short hair, I think it’s very flattering and love the ease of it, but I feel disconnected. I always see myself with black curls, and my hair is just finally long enough to complete a curl again, but now I want my color back and I don’t want to damage my curls to get it. Enter: Indigo.

Indigo isn’t as fleshed out of a topic on the interwebz as henna is, and some people feel that indigo and henna are the same and can be treated the same. Spoiler alert: They’re not. I researched indigo via blogs, wiki, youtube, and still ended up doing it wrong the first time around. Instead of allowing others to scramble for the pieces of the information puzzle, I decided to combine the information I gathered that has worked and have it offered in one location.

What is Indigo?

Indigo is a botanical that has been used in dyes for ages. Components of indigo have been isolated and are still used in fabric dyes today! When it comes to using indigo for dying on the body, it adheres very differently from henna. Henna adheres to the keratin of the body, which is why it is widely used for dying skin, nails, and hair. Indigo doesn’t adhere to keratin, which is why pure indigo isn’t used, nor would work, for skin dying. Indigo can, however, adhere to henna! I have some experiments to do still, but I suspect that I can go back to dying my nails with henna and then layering indigo on top of that for a permanent nail coloring solution. Henna and indigo are also strengthening to the hair, helping to repair damage, and are UV protective. Sun damage isn’t just for your skin, your hair also suffers sun damage (hence the term ‘sun bleaching’), and these botanicals are protective.

How to choose Indigo for hair:

There are a ton of ‘henna’ options that claim to dye hair black. ALWAYS check the ingredients. Some ‘henna’ options contain metals, and ammonia. If the ‘henna’ claims to color non botanically treated hair, it’s not true henna or indigo. Indigoferae tinctoria is the botanical name for indigo, if it claims any other ingredients, proceed with caution. I like to use an indigo combined with henna, whose botanical name is Lawsonia inermis, so the ingredient list on the one I use reads both botanicals and that it all. The only other ingredient I would be okay with finding in my dye mix would be Cassia auriculata, which is a non coloring, protective botanical.

To do the two step or combine?

It really depends on how deep of color you want and how many colorings you are willing to do. I like a deep black, but I also don’t have an entire day to color my hair multiple times. I use combined botanical dyes on my hair so that I can do 1 2-4 hour long treatment in a day, but if you have the time, a 2 step process will provide deeper, longer lasting color. Indigo can potentially become permanent in its color, but rarely does that happen at first application. Virgin hair tends to not accept the dye and will wash out, but doing the 2 step process, hair is more apt to accept the color. My first round of the combined coloring, my hair washed through to a deep purple in the first week, it was awesome. But I also made the commitment to dye my hair a few hours once a week until the color kept. My hair is very short, so dying now isn’t a problem whatsoever and I plan to make it as permanent as possible now so that when I do get length, I can just focus on my roots.

Prep your hair and work space:

Always start with clean hair, I clarify by using 1:1 ratio of lemon juice to water, but baking soda water is also a decent choice. If you use shampoo, then shampoo and do not condition or use any products after. I do this clarifying right before dying my hair to ensure my hair is clean and damp when I apply the mix. Having damp hair when dying helps the mix to be more manageable, keep in mind it’s essentially mud that you’re trying to work through your hair. Unlike non botanical dyes, there is no slip and it’s difficult to work from root to tip.

I make sure to have a black tshirt on hand for drying my hair after rinsing, and I get my gloves and plastic head covering ready. I reuse the same gloves and head covering until they rip. I also have a tight fitting beanie to put over the plastic head covering to trap heat and help the color develop better. I find that applying the dye isn’t all that messy, but still be careful and lay down old towels or shirts on the floor you’ll be standing on and the counter you’ll be working at. Optionally, wipe oil along your hair line, ears, and arms to reduce the dying of your skin. I don’t do this because the dying of my skin doesn’t last long and it doesn’t bother me.

How to do the combined botanical method:

I buy my botanicals premixed via Light Mountain, but if you buy them separately, mix at a 1:1 ratio for black hair, or more henna to less indigo for more of a chestnut color. I mix about a teaspoon of salt into hot water and mix the hot water slowly into the indigo and henna mix. Stirring in water until it is smooth, the consistency should be similar to yogurt. Allow the color to develop for 10-20 min, until you can see the black on top. The rest of the mix will appear deep green, which is normal. Mix well and start application. I wipe it all along my hairline first, then section my hair every inch or so to dye my roots, then massage as I go to make sure I hit all of my roots. As I am working on my hair, it is inevitable that the unused dye starts to dry out and thicken, so I add water little by little to keep it a muddy consistency. Once all of my hair is saturated, I put the head covering on, rinse my gloves for the next use, use a wet micro fiber cloth to clean up my edges, and put my beanie on. I try to relax for 2-4 hours, the closer to 4 hours the better, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between leaving it on 4 hours and leaving it on 6 hours.

Things not to do with combined method:

  • add lemon juice: adding lemon juice to pure henna for highlights makes sense, adding it to indigo for black hair doesn’t
  • allowing the mix to sit longer than 30 min before application: henna preparation requires allowing the mix to sit for up to 12 hours for dye release, but indigo dye degrades if left that long

How to do the 2 step method:

Mix the henna powder with hot water until it forms a paste, cover the bowl to reduce air flow (many people online say to use plastic wrap, but a silicone lid works just fine) and leave out for a few hours for the dye to release. The mix doesn’t need to be in the fridge, it can be left on a counter. Also, because you’re using this as a base for the indigo to deposit onto, you don’t need to leave the color to develop overnight like you would if you were to be dying your hair red. Once you see the orange/red color pooling on top, you’re ready for application. Now, application is the same as above, but just because this red isn’t your desired color doesn’t mean you get to skimp on the dye. The indigo needs that henna to adhere to, so slather that henna all over and leave on until you can see the red starting to dye at your hair line, about 30 min- 2 hours depending on your hair. Rinse you hair clean, don’t use conditioner or shampoo, just water.

Mix your indigo at this point, adding a teaspoon of salt to your hot water, then mixing with the indigo until a paste is formed. Once again, this paste should be similar to pudding. Yum, pudding. But don’t eat this. Apply as above, making sure to hit your hair line and roots. Cover your head, beanie up, wash your gloves, and leave on for 2-4 hours. I am literally dying my hair as I type and it’s been an hour so far, I have 3 more to go!

Rinse tips:

Try not to just hop directly into the shower with your muddy gross hair. That’s a sure fire way to dye everything in your shower! I rinse under the faucet until the majority of the dye is out, then hop into the shower and rinse through the rest. I saw one blog post where someone with long hair suggested doing a mermaid soak to loosen the remainder from your hair. A mermaid soak is when you hop in the tub and lay back with your hair in the water and let the hair fan out around you, this is a great method to do if you are willing to dye your skin and tub. I have very short hair right now and tried the mermaid soak after my rinse and I ended up dying my skin a pale blue for the day. Henna and indigo makes the hair feel dry at first, so I use a deep conditioning hair mask to help rinse out the dye. If the dye is being stubborn, massaging conditioner into the scalp is very helpful.

After care and post dying tips:

Avoid washing your hair with anything acidic or shampoo for at least 3 days, but I suggest a week, especially if your hair isn’t an old pro at botanical dye. I generally wash my hair with vinegar or lemon juice, but this is a great way to strip the color from your hair super fast! Also, oil is another thing that will strip the dyes, so no oiling up your hair. Going as long as you can without products in your hair, and just rinsing with water.

The color will develop on your hair for 2-3 days, so be patient with what’s to come. It will also bleed, so cover your pillows at night and dry your hair with black or expendable towels/shirts. If you are going to be sweaty during the day, wear dark colors and be ready to wipe away dark colored sweat. My hair bled blue for about a week!

Aftermath:

Since dying my hair, it’s been the softest it has been in ages. A conditioner or hair treatment has never made my hair as persistently soft as the henna and indigo has made it. In the weeks since my final dying, I have not needed to wash my hair, barely used conditioner, and have not oiled my hair at all. My curls are frizz free, my hair is soft, and my scalp is yet to  have any build up that rinsing with water couldn’t remedy. For those wanting to experience this feeling without changing their hair color, I strongly suggest looking in to cassia. I am excited to see how my hair progresses over time, considering I am growing my hair back out since chopping it all off. I keep seeing people say how subtle new hair growth looks against previously dyed hair, but I am suspicious. My natural color is considerably lighter than the shiny black it has been dyed. I have no set time frame as to how long it’ll be before I redye, but I do intend to check back in with how the indigo ages.

As always, thank you for joining me in an adventure!

Please let me know any additional questions you may have. I would also love to hear about your own experiences with henna, indigo, cassia, and other botanical dyes. If you like the content, please consider adding me on Instagram

Simple, Sustainable Immune Boosters

Hello! And welcome back. It’s me, Desiree’ Celeste!

It’s that time of year. You know, leaves start changing, weather cools, kids go back to school, you get that itch in the back of throat? Yeah, cold and flu season. It sucks. A few years ago, I was sick for three months straight. First, with a cold, then bronchitis, then a respiratory infection. Since that year, I have tried every immune booster I could get my hands on and found that some work better than others. Many are just straight up food and can be obtained from a grocery store for less than a buck.

Sleep

Sleep is the best immune booster and happens to be free. It is, however, not open to everyone. I understand that some people can’t sleep based off of responsibilities or insomnia, but those who can, should. So many of us stay up late watching tv, reading, or partying, but we really need to start prioritizing sleep. Daily stress, poor diet, and blue light disrupt our circadian rhythm, making it hard to get a full night’s rest. Sleep is when our bodies heal, and a lack of sleep will weak the immune system, making it easy for illness to creep in. Try to go to bed a little earlier, turn off blue light and dim lamps the hour before bed, and build that immune system.

Garlic

Garlic is classic and my favorite ‘cure all.’ I roast entire heads of garlic for snacks during the fall and winter (and spring and summer, it’s just good). When garlic’s cell walls are cracked and allowed to oxidize, it creates something called Alicin, which is a super strong immune booster that also helps to reduce bad gut bacteria. Much of your immune system is in your gut, so a healthy gut is a healthy body. The way to consume garlic to get the biggest alicin benefit is to chop a garlic clove (or 3 or 4) and allow it to sit, exposed to air, for about 10 min, then swallow the garlic like you would pills. This method also works great for stomach issue. You may smell like alfredo sauce, but at least you’ll be actively fighting off all sorts of cold weather sickies.

Fire Cider

Fire Cider scares me. Truly scares me. Every year, I see a thousand posts online about the joys of making fire cider and allowing it to mature for about a month before fall, but that combo makes my stomach churn just thinking of it. If you are a fire cider fan, please let me know how to consume it to avoid immediately vomiting after. The feedback about fire cider is great, though. People swear by it and it seems easy enough to source the ingredients and make yourself. I also love that it’s straight up food and that you can feel like a true witch when you hand craft your own medicine in your own kitchen. This also makes great gifts for the winter holidays. Just imagine, cute bottles of fire cider for those you love, giving the gift of health.

 Check out the Paleo Hacks recipes here to make your own!

Or you can buy a great brand here!

Elderberry Syrup/Tea

Elderberry is naturally anti viral and possibly the tastiest immune booster on this list. You can buy premade elderberry products, such as teas or syrups, or you can make your own from dried elderberries. It’s hard to source waste free or bulk options for dried elderberries, but if you can find it, get it! I enjoy elderberry syrups packed in glass bottles and use them in teas.

My favorite brand, Honey Garden, this one is mixed with honey and apple cider vinegar.

And the Honey Garden brand pure elderberry syrup.

Bone Broth

Here we are again, talking about gut health with the immune system. Bone broth helps to heal the gut lining, strengthening the immune system. Bone broth also is high in complex amino acids, protein, and minerals, making it a nutrient rich option. In my home, I cook with store bought bone broth concentrate, bone broth powder, and homemade bone broth.

Ancient Nutrition Savory Herbs Bone Broth Powder

Jarrow Bone Broth Powder

Layering your immune boosters is a beneficial way to go. I definitely get my sleep in, cook with a lot of garlic and bone broth, and take elderberry when I start feeling sick. If you follow my Instagram this time of year, you’ll find a ton of recipes on Paleo Comfort Foods that are rich in garlic and bone broth. Check out my Instagram here.

What are you favorite sustainable immune boosters?

 

5 Alternatives to Commercial Deodorant

Hello! And welcome back. It’s me, Desiree’ Celeste!

I quit wearing main stream deodorants about 5 years ago, when a friend of mine had breast cancer and she made mention that her doctor told her to stop using deodorants with aluminum in them. We happened to be working in a natural foods store at the time and had all of the aluminum free options we could think of! But, after a few months of trying out options, I found that none worked for me for more than a week or so, which is when I began playing with non commercial methods. Below are some of the things I have tried, and some friends have tried, that have actually proven useful! The best part is that you don’t have to follow any recipes and all are only 1 ingredient, unless you choose to add essential oils. These are readily available and cheap.

5. Coconut Oil

I know, coconut oil can’t be the cure for everything, can it? Nope, sure can’t, but because it is naturally anti bacterial, and it’s the bacteria that creates the smell, it can help to dissuade smelly bacteria growth. Simply slather a thin layer on your pits directly after cleaning and you’re set. Be careful, though, as too much oil will definitely stain your clothes.

4. Clear Booze

This was my favorite method for quite a long time! I bought high percentage vodka and filed a small spray bottle with it, then added a few drops of the essential oil of my choice, generally lemongrass. Of course, spraying on clean skin is a must, and reapplication after time spent active or in the heat was useful, but even after 1 application I noticed a difference.

3. Vinegar

Vinegar is great for killing off germs, so much so that many people use vinegar for general cleansers in their homes. I actually wash my hair exclusively with vinegar! Test full strength vinegar on your skin in a small spot to see if it will irritate you, then dilute as necessary to ensure it’ll be safe on your skin. Use a spray bottle, add essential oils as desired, and spray onto freshly cleaned skin. Reapply when you’ve been active, stressed, or hot (which is probably all the time, ya hottie).

2. Lemon or Lime Juice

Ok, stay with me here. Lemons and limes are both so acidic that they inhibit bacteria growth, which makes them an excellent option for your pits. I have used both freshly cut and store bought juice, both work fine. Ideally, fresh is best because it still has the active enzymes in it. If you remove hair from your pits, this will buuuuuuurn! The upside is that if you can make it past the burning, it can help to decrease ingrown hairs, maybe even halt them altogether.

1. Scrub Your Pits

This is my current method. I skip everything and just scrub my pits. I don’t use soap on my body, nor have I for ages, so instead I either dry brush or scrub my body with a micro fiber cloth, natural loofah, or wash cloth in the shower. It was a growth process, but my body odor never really got out of control during this time. I made sure to start this method in the winter, when I could layer up and mask the smell. I also did (and still do) bentonite clay masks on my pits when I start smelling weird. Body chemistry, stress, and even eating or drinking something your body doesn’t like, will make the stink flare up. I have forgone applying anything to my armpits for about a year now and it still works for me, I love how simple this method is and how it’s worked through all seasons, hormone cycles, and moods.

What are your favorite stink stoppers? How do you keep your pits in check?

Homemade Hair Gel | My Routine

Having curly hair is a trial and a half, and until I got experimental I had hated it. But now I’ve figured out how to clean, style, and maintain my curls in a way that compliments my journey to minimalism and zero/low waste. Bonus: my hair looks and feels healthier than it ever has.
My routine has become so simple that it is almost embarrassing for me to explain it to people. I don’t buy shampoo, conditioner, gel, mousse, whatevs. Instead, I rinse my hair with a 1:8 ratio of vinegar to water about twice a week. And no, it doesn’t seem to matter if I’m using white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. I slowly pour the water and vinegar onto my soaking wet hair, focusing on the roots, and then I massage my scalp. I generally allow it to sit on my hair for a few minutes before rinsing out, which not only cleans my scalp but also makes my hair softer and shinier.
Instead of conditioner, I use oils. About once a week I lightly coat my ends with an oil and let sit for anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours prior to showering, then do my vinegar rinse. Because I am not washing out my natural oils, I find that I don’t need to do this treatment more than once weekly.
As for hold, I favor my own homemade gel. I make a gel from boiling chia seeds and flax seeds, then apply it liberally to my still extremely wet hair before blotting and scrunching with a cotton tshirt.
Hair Gel
1/8 cup chia seeds
1/8 cup flax seeds
-OR-
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon oil of choice (optional)
Boil all ingredients together on medium, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes. Water should start becoming thicker and sticky. Strain immediately. This gel starts to congeal quickly, so a lot of stirring is necessary!
I always strain into a bowl and then transfer to a jar, it’s much less messy that way! Then store in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.
I used to just use the flax seeds for this and found it made a much heavier, stronger hold gel. The flax gel is great for controlling frizz and for a spikey look. The flax seeds can be used at least once more, and I always allow the strained seeds to cool then I store them in a glass jar in the freezer until I’m ready to make the gel again. I allow the frozen flax seeds to thaw in the fridge over night prior to their reuse.
The chia and flax mix gel is a softer hold, I love how it controls my frizz but still makes for a touchable hold. I am yet to have any success reusing the chia and flax seeds, frowny face. The mix gel leaves little to no cast on the hair, where the flax gel leaves some cast to be removed once the hair is dry. Both gels rinse out with water easily and I find I have no build up or residue issues. I opt out of using oil in my gel because I found it would cause a little build up on my scalp and, frankly, I found I didn’t need the extra moisture.
I have been using flax and the flax/chia gel off and on for a few years now, but always find myself coming back to this concoction. By far, I get more attention for my hair when I use these gels than when I use store bought. Have you tried flax hair gel? Do you make your own hair products?
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5 Bathroom Basics

.I often see minimalism and zero waste/low waste colliding, and I tend to see it most in the bathroom. I was about a year or so in to my minimalism journey when I started my low waste journey, and thankfully I didn’t have to make all too many changes in my bathroom to accommodate both. I see so many conversations floating about in my online groups about what is considered a necessity for what area of the home. I have compiled the top 5 items that I feel are necessities for the bathroom if you are trying to walk the blurry line between Zero/Low Waste and Minimalism.

One: Menstrual Cups and/or Cloth Pads: I know that I enjoy my menstrual cup and will never go back to cotton tampons. I never really used single use pads and see no reason for me to get reusable pads, but I included them in this list because they truly are useful for those who prefer pads. These options help by way of minimalism because you are able to have products that are reusable as opposed to single use, and with single use items you always have to store extras. This factors into zero waste because you’re not tossing these items, duh! You are able to sanitize and reuse for years on end, creating much less waste.

Get the Size 1 Diva Cup here.

Get the Size 2 Diva Cup here.

Two: Body/Face Dry Brush: Starting dry brushing was a game changer for my health and wellness. Since starting dry brushing my face, I have been able to stop using face soaps, moisturizers, and exfoliators. With dry brushing of my body, it has reduced how visible my cellulite is, smoothed my skin, reduces my body odor, and helped me to stop using soap, lotion, and exfoliators. The same 2 brushes have lasted me for years and are compostable. They are easily sanitized by spraying them with alcohol. I have been able to do away with almost all of my shower and cabinet items just by using these 2 items.

Get the facial dry brush here.

And the body dry brush here.

Three: Epilator: I have a magical epilator that has an attachable shaver head. I know that safety razors are very popular amongst zero wasters, but I feel like I found my own perfect solution. My epilator recharges via wall outlet and is easily cleaned with an included brush. My epilator removes hair by the root from my legs, which over time damages the follicle enough to not really grow. I am now at the point where I only need to epilate once every few months. The shaver head comes in handy for my bikini line and my underarms. There are no disposable heads, no razors to ensure proper disposal of, and one item takes the place of any additional pieces.

Get the dual head epilator here.

Four: Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is one of those One Size Fits All type super products lately. Everyone is clamoring about how amazing coconut oil is, and for good reason. One jar can do the following (and more):

  • brush your teeth with coconut oil instead of toothpaste
  • use as a defrizzer or hair serum
  • use before the shower and be able to skip conditioner
  • use as a lotion
  • can be used as a facial moisturizer (use with caution, as it may not suit your skin)
  • oil pull with it for superior oral health and body detox
  • remove waterproof make up
  • anti bacterial and anti viral properties, so excellent as a healing salve
  • natural spf of 8, good for a natural sunscreen
  • when taken internally, will act as a mild laxative

Get Nutiva Organic coconut oil here.

Five: Glass Nail File: I love my glass nail file. Instead of generally hoarding a ton of emery boards, I have been using the same 1 glass nail file for the past 3 years. Glass nail files can last an entire life time and then be recycled, they also close the nail bed as opposed to a regular emery board leaves it open. Closed nail beds lead to stronger nails that grow longer and last through much more nail use. I use my nails as an extension of my fingers, so this is especially helpful for me! I have 2 glass nail files, one for my purse and one for my bathroom, and gifted some to my friends who still are loving them years later.

Get a 5 pack of glass nail files for less than 3$ here.

What bathroom items do you find to be your essentials?

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