Grooming – Toothpaste Alternative

My dentist endorses my use of baking soda as toothpaste. I have an open jar of baking soda by the sink and dip my toothbrush into it and brush. I faintly recall having a period of time as a child when I disliked the taste of toothpaste. My dentist then told my mother that baking soda would work just fine. When it clumps up, I use the back of the toothbrush to mash the lumps out. When it won’t un-clump anymore I add water and swish the last of the container down the sink to freshen up the drain.

If baking soda tastes bad to you, you can add an essential oil. Try baking soda, a little water, and a few drops of peppermint, spearmint, or orange essential oil. Mix to a paste consistency. Some recipes add a little coconut oil also. There are many recipes on the Internet. Search on “baking soda toothpaste recipes.”


Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.



Grooming – Shampoo Alternative

A safe alternative to shampoos is to wash your hair with baking soda mixed with water. I have thick hair, so I use about ½ cup of baking soda mixed with about ¾ cup of water. I pour it on several places around my scalp and gently massage it in. I’ve been doing this since 2007 with no ill effects. A partial measure or transitional method would be to add one drop of shampoo to the baking soda and water mix. The baking soda makes a little bit of shampoo super-effective. Color treated hair may lose its color faster when washed with baking soda.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about it April 5 2012:

The first synthetic shampoos were introduced in the 1930s, with daily shampooing becoming the norm in the U.S. by the 1970s and 1980s. Proponents of “no ‘poo” practices believe that shampoo removes the natural oils (sebum) produced by the scalp causing the scalp to produce more oil to compensate. They also believe that regular shampooing causes a “vicious cycle” to develop as it becomes necessary to shampoo regularly to compensate for the excess oils (that were stripped by shampooing). According to some dermatologists, a gradual reduction in shampoo use will cause the sebaceous glands to produce at a slower rate, resulting in less oil on the scalp and hair. The time taken to break the cycle after adopting “no ‘poo” practices varies, however a “two- to six-week period” is typical.

My hair took about a week to adapt. The site where I first read about this suggested not making the change during a time when you have a job interview or a big date.

My hair is a bit dry, so I looked for a way to make a moisturizing shampoo. I mixed baking soda and water in a Parmesan cheese container and added a squirt of coconut oil soap from the health food store. The effect was nearly magical. My hair came out more moist and glossy, and without any greasiness.

Grooming – Waxing

Who knew? Homemade wax for hair removal isn’t wax. It’s made of sugar, lemon juice, and water cooked together. To view live demonstrations, search on YouTube for “sugar wax.” One of the demos I watched didn’t use cloth strips. They spread the wax out on their skin and then pulled it off abruptly. One said to apply the wax against the grain and remove with the grain, with the direction of the hair growth.

I cooked two cups granulated white sugar with ¼ cup water and ¼ cup lemon juice on the stove. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for nearly fifteen minutes before it began to turn golden brown and thicken a bit. Next time I will cook it less, the thinness was deceptive. Once it cooled, it was very thick. It took almost an hour at room temperature to cool enough to use. It looked, smelled and tasted like very thick honey. It needs to be still a little warm when you use it, so it will be pliable enough to spread thinly on your skin.

I put it on and found that it didn’t just pull off like the video I saw, so I pressed a scrap of T-shirt material into the wax. I let it sit a few seconds. Then while holding the skin taut, I yanked it off. It worked! Any leftover wax can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Warm it in the microwave to use it again.

So, no more paying money at the drugstore or beauty supply store for readymade wax strips.


Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.



Grooming – Body Scrub and Hand Cleaner

Commercial body scrubs cost $20, $30 and up for a pound or so. You can make your own by combining one part cooking oil to two parts sugar. Sugar costs less than a dollar a pound, and liquid vegetable oil can cost as little as fifty cents a cup. The sugar cleans and exfoliates while the oil softens and moisturizes. Baking soda will also work in this recipe. It makes a finer, softer scrub.

Any essential oils or spices you want to add can make it unique or luxurious. Fresh grated ginger root or lime or lemon juice would be lively; lavender is soothing; vanilla extract could be good too. You could use any dried spices or herbs that you like the scent of.

Some recipes call for honey instead of oil. That would be less slippery under foot in the shower and avoid sending oil down the drain. has some interesting ideas for making body scrubs to give as gifts. Sugar can be used as a scrub without the oil too, if you don’t want a moisturizer. A small waterproof jar of it in the shower keeps it handy for when you want it.

The same sugar and oil scrub described above is an alternative to scrubby cleaners like Goop® hand cleaner or Lava® soap. If you use salt instead of sugar, it will scrub more harshly, for tougher dirt. Salt will sting an open cut though, but sugar won’t. If you have ground-in mechanic’s grease stains at knuckles and fingernails, try soaking for fifteen to twenty minutes in diluted dish liquid before using the scrub.


Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Grooming – Alternatives – Deodorant

Mineral salt deodorant sticks are sold at health food stores and online. They are a bit expensive to buy, but quite inexpensive per use because they last a really, really long time. Unless you drop it on the tile floor and it shatters into a thousand shards. That’s when I switched to baking soda. If a piece breaks off and leaves it too sharp to use, you can sand down the sharp edge.

To use baking soda as deodorant, I put about ¼ of a teaspoon into the palm of my hand and add enough water to make a thin paste. Then I rub my hands together and pat the baking soda onto my armpits. Baking soda can be abrasive, so I pat instead of rub. Some people dust the dry powder onto their pits instead of getting it wet first. A great advantage to baking soda as a deodorant is that it works even if you already stink before you put it on.

I have seen recipes online for making deodorant by mixing baking soda with other things like coconut oil and alum. I also know one person who uses alum by itself as a deodorant. Alum is sold among the spices in the baking aisle. White vinegar is another option. Dab some into each armpit. This works better for some people than for others. It’s just incredibly inexpensive, and thus perhaps worth a try. I’ve also seen mention online of using rubbing alcohol, Milk of Magnesia or coconut oil individually as deodorants. I haven’t tried those.

The commercial deodorant products that we think we have to buy and use are a fairly new thing. They’ve really only been available since Mum came out in the late 1800s. Before that, many, many generations of people used natural things to control body odor.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.





52 Weeks: Grooming – Alternatives – Soap

My personal journey to low cost grooming began in 1995. That was the year I became sensitive to the ingredients in most grooming products. My immune specialist and fellow patients suggested several natural choices. Baking soda was the most popular. I use it in place of shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and facial scrub.

Baking soda comes in a biodegradable box and is non-toxic. A two pound box costs $1.24 at my Walmart. The one I’m using just for grooming purposes has lasted two months already and it is still not empty. Compare that to the combined cost of two months’ worth of store bought shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and facial scrub.

One of my fellow patients was sensitive to all soaps. She used baking soda in place of soap. I recently tried it out to see what would happen. It’s a little abrasive, but I certainly felt clean and fresh. For the first time I noticed by contrast how soap does leave a feeling that it is lingering on my skin even after rinsing. An added benefit would be no soap scum buildup on the shower and tub, and in the drains.

Later, I made a moisturizing baking soda body wash by combining water, baking soda, and coconut oil soap in an empty oregano jar. I used enough water to make a gel-like consistency. This has worked very well for me.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.


Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.