Natural Dental Care

Well, I’ve blogged about no ‘poo, natural soap, and natural skincare; so I guess it’s time to write about taking care of oral hygiene naturally.

My dental background: Truly, Alhamdulillah, I’ve been blessed with nice and straight teeth. So much so that when people meet me, they’ll ask if I’ve ever worn braces. I am very thankful and grateful that my teeth naturally grew in place and I have never had to go to a dentist for anything except for a check-up (and for an occasional scaling because I felt like I needed something for the dentist to do). I’ve never had any cavity and the dentist would always say my oral care was great. To be honest, I didn’t do anything special and I only brushed my teeth once a day with a regular toothbrush and toothpaste. Could also be due to my diet where I don’t like to drink tea, coffee and other teeth-staining beverages; amongst others, and I also don’t snack on sugary stuff.

Since my teeth were doing good, it didn’t occur to me to go with a “more natural” oral care. Until one dreadful day when I went to the dentist and he found 2 small cavities. They weren’t serious and were easily patched up. I wondered what I was doing differently. It could be due to getting older or not getting enough calcium or a number of things. It was then that I decided to google up natural dental care.

So I read about oil pulling, homemade toothpaste, healing tooth decay and all. I tried out the oil pulling method whereby you swish virgin coconut oil (VCO) in your mouth for 20 minutes to draw out the toxins. The process is fine but since I always swish at the bathroom sink, I will automatically spit out the oil there (which isn’t good for the pipes). Plus your sink gets dirtier faster with the oil residues. I figured that it wasn’t worth the hassle.

I also tried a homemade toothpaste mixture of just baking soda, and then I tried mixing it with VCO, and then I tried baking soda with clove oil. My tastebuds have gotten used to the awful taste of baking soda that when my mom gave me a tube of herbal toothpaste (because she said she gagged a lot and didn’t like the taste), I told her it tasted just fine.

The homemade toothpaste mixture and brushing my teeth with a toothbrush just wasn’t doing it for me. I felt like I wanted a truly natural way to brush my teeth and wondered what people used to brush with before toothbrush and toothpaste. That’s when I remembered that our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W liked to clean his teeth with a miswak/siwak/tooth-stick. You really should google it and read about it. This is what they’ve used since thousands of years ago, and it’s as natural as you can get! Honestly, I don’t think you can get anything more natural than a tooth-stick. Also, there are many benefits to using the miswak, not just religion-wise but health-wise too. So I went to one of those “Islamic” stores which sells pomegranate juice, argan oil, all-natural olive oil soap, and all kinds of other stuff which I didn’t really pay attention to because I was looking for the tooth-stick.

Once I found it in its lovely individually vacuum-packed plastic, I saw that there were different types. There were some thin ones, thick ones and medium ones. I bought them all to try which I liked best. The following results would differ with different people. For me, the thin one didn’t feel like it cleaned my teeth much. The thick one was just too big and wasn’t comfortable to brush with. The medium one was juuuuuust right. It was the best out of all the sizes and it made my teeth feel clean and my breath neutral.

So the next time, I bought a whole bunch of the natural medium-sized ones. No fancy mint-flavoured ones for me. The lady at the counter was amazed with the amount I wanted to purchase that she gave me a small discount. The next time I went, it was a different lady and she asked if I actually used it. Another time I went, it was a different lady and she asked if I was going to re-sell it. (Heck NO!) The times I went after that, they would immediately recognise my car when it entered their parking lot and once I entered their store, they would just smile and point me to the miswak section. I guess they were intrigued with me as you don’t really get “young-and-modern-looking girls” coming into that kind of store to buy handfuls of miswak.

And, Alhamdulillah, I’m proud to say that I’ve been on the miswak for a few years now without fail! And the last time I went to the dentist, a few months ago, she said that my teeth were perfect with no cavities. So yes, you can survive with just a miswak and not get cavities. Alhamdulillah. In the beginning, I used it once a day. But my mouth didn’t feel fresh throughout the day. So I felt compelled to use it more frequently. Plus, we know that it’s sunnah to use it when taking ablution (which should be done at least 5 times a day). Our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W used it all the time, as often as he liked. That’s how safe it is! The more I used it, the fresher, better and cleaner my mouth felt too.

It’s also great for when traveling. You know when you have a long flight and you just need to brush your teeth before landing or after a meal or whenever you feel like you need to clean your mouth? Well, you can easily bring this little tooth-stick in your carry-on bag and use it with great success! It’s just one item instead of two (toothbrush and toothpaste).

I love my miswak and the only time I get really sad is when the store is out of stock!



Natural No Poo Hair Care

I’ve been blessed with a head full of dark locks, Alhamdulillah. I grew up desiring a certain kind of hair while that certain-kind-of-haired girls dreamt of having my kind of hair. Typical of wanting what you don’t have and thinking that it’s always greener on the other side. But yes, in my late teens, as soon as I had enough money to have my hair’s texture changed, I went to a salon and had it done. And I went through all that hassle of its upkeep and whatnot. After learning to love almost everything about myself, I let my hair grow naturally and had all the chemically processed hair chopped off. When I started to let my hair go au naturel, whenever my girlfriends saw me, they would ask if I just came from the salon or if I had my hair done.

I’ve tried a lot of those popular shampoos you see in stores but would only be happy with them for the first few washes. Then it just doesn’t feel spectacular anymore. I tried switching to natural shampoo, but I find that it makes my hair feel stiff when wet and even worse after it’s dried.

One day, I stumbled upon “No Poo“. Google it and see if it’ll change your mind and make you test it out. A friend of mine tried it and told me that because she had such big hair, she couldn’t do it properly and didn’t like the outcome. So she ditched it. After I read so many peoples’ stories online about their No Poo journey, I figured that I would try it out after I cut my hair shorter. That way, I wouldn’t tangle my hair out too much in the beginning. I think this was wise because after No Poo-ing with short hair, my transition stage wasn’t noticeable and I’ve been No Poo-ing for more than a couple of years now. Sure, there are a few times I think about going back to normal store-bought shampoo but since I’m happy with the way my hair looks and feels, there really is no reason to change back.

The Truth About No Poo
Okay, is it really that great? I’ve had to learn the hard way, so read up if you want to try this out.
* Disclaimer: This is my story and every person will have different hair conditions and reactions. There is NO one cure for everyone. I’m just penning down my experience in case anybody would like to take this route.
– No Poo uses baking soda mixed in water solution as your “shampoo” and vinegar mixed in water solution as your “conditioner”. You’ll see that there’ll be different measurements as to how much baking soda, water and vinegar is used. When I found my “perfect measurement”, the nth time I tried it, it didn’t feel so awesome anymore and I had to change the amounts used. So for me, the amounts used on my head always changes. There is no perfect solution (pun intended).
– Don’t go overboard with the baking soda. Always, always make sure it is thoroughly rinsed out. You do not want to look like you have a bad case of dandruff!
– Some blogs I’ve read said they used about 1 tablespoon baking soda in a cup of water or something like that. I find that less than 1 teaspoon in a bowl of water suits me better. The water when the baking soda is mixed in will have a slightly “slimy” feel.
– People say to rinse with a vinegar solution (I use apple cider vinegar [ACV]) and that the smell dissipates as your hair dries. True, the smell from the hair does dissipate. BUT, the ACV that gets onto your scalp and into your pores will make you smell when you sweat it out. Trust me, I live in hot, humid Malaysia. So from then on, I would rinse it out really well. For a time, I tried to only apply the ACV solution to the length of my hair and not the roots and scalp. But I feel that putting it on your scalp helps get rid of any excess baking soda, so please make sure to rinse it out well.
– My ACV solution would be just a few drops of ACV in a bowl of water as I don’t like the strong smell. Use what works with you as everybody’s needs will be different.
– If I feel like I want my scalp to be rinsed as well, instead of using ACV, I rinse with plain 100% carbonated water only. You wouldn’t want sugar or lemon flavour on your scalp!
– I love air-drying my hair and the texture my hair gets after it’s dry is pretty awesome.
– Plus point when traveling! You do not need to lug or fill your tiny travel bottles with your special shampoo and conditioner. Mostly every store all around the world (hopefully!) will sell baking soda and vinegar (white distilled is fine if you can’t find ACV). I never worry about liquids when I go through security at the airports!
– If there is a time you want to feel like having a soapy, bubbling feel on your head but you don’t want to revert back to those commercial shampoos, try out Radiant Shampoo which is made with coconut oil and palm oil. I get mine at the organic section of Village Grocer, Bangsar Village (BV). I then rinse with carbonated water.
– You will find that your hair will smell like nothing. I like it. If you don’t, you will need to add some essential oils to your solution — you can google it to find out what kinds of essential oils are safe.
– I know most No Poo reviewers say that they don’t need to wash their hair as often, but when living in a hot and humid country like Malaysia, that might not really work. And when you’re sweating, washing with only water just doesn’t cut it. I find that I will need to wash every other day or after.
– Washing too often makes me feel like I need to treat my hair weekly or every fortnight. I like to condition my whole head with ripe, mashed avocado. You will need to make sure that no green bits stick in your hair after washing! I’ve read people like to condition their hair with coconut milk (santan), but I find it gets too oily for me.
– I find that this No Poo works best with shorter hairstyles. Once your hair grows more than shoulder-length, it might tend to tangle more in the shower. When this happens, I condition my ends with nice oils like Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), Argan Oil, or Jojoba Oil (all are 100% oils).

Tips – How I No ‘Poo:
– I use Wilton’s Mini Decorating Squeeze Bottles (sold in a pack of two) – you can google this to see it. I make a baking soda solution in one bottle and a vinegar rinse in the other. The cone tip ensures I get this solution onto my scalp well.
– I’ll squeeze the baking soda solution all over my scalp and then use a round shampoo comb (google image this) and massage my head. If you don’t have this, just use your fingertips and rub your scalp to ensure the solution gets on every surface. You can leave it on or rinse it off immediately. I don’t usually leave it on for more than a minute as I feel the massage has done its job well.
– After I thoroughly rinse the baking soda solution off my scalp, I’ll squeeze on the ACV solution (or carbonated water) all over my scalp and then massage with the round shampoo comb. I will also comb through my hair until the end (unlike the baking soda step. With the baking soda, I just concentrate on my scalp). If I use carbonated water, I won’t rinse my hair. If I use the ACV solution, I will rinse my scalp and hair thoroughly because I do not want it to get into my pores and make me smell.
– Leave to air-dry or blow-dry. If you feel the need to oil your ends, do it. I feel anything shorter than shoulder-length is basically fuss-free.