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Yes, you can have beauty (or rugged good looks) on an MS budget December 15, 2008

Posted by Rebecca Hoover in Style and class on an MS budget - how to live on next to nothing.
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Dressed to the hilt on an MS (recession) budget.

You can dress with class on an MS (recession) budget.

It is no secret that many with MS end up on a tight budget. That does not mean, however, that good looks have to go out the door. In fact, once you have mastered ultra healthy living, you can look better than ever. There are many low-cost ways to look good and be good to the environment too. What could be better than that?

Here are some tips to look good and save the world at the same time.

Good looks start inside — All good looks come from the basics: a healthy low-fat diet, exercises, a few supplements if needed and a good heart.   Nothing will get you looking better faster than the Swank MS Diet or the diet recommended on Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, some exercise, enough rest, some Vitamin B12 and D3 supplements if needed and a generous heart. These will make your hair thick and shiny, your eyes sparkle and even your skin smooth and silky.

Fortunately, a healthy diet costs no more than an unhealthy diet. When you learn to love the basics such as brown rice, for example, you will look better, be healthier and even make the world a healthier place. I eat organic food whenever possible and save money by doing that. Because the food is so delicious, I have almost no wasted food. At the same time, I know my organic food makes the world a better place and helps agricultural workers live longer (some now die by age 50 because of agricultural chemcials).

Environmentally responsible clothing — Part of looking good is dressing right. This means buying only clothing that does not harm the environment or waste needed resources. Good clothing is always made of fabrics that were once alive (wool, cotton, silk, rayon, etc.) and it does not contain fabrics coming from oil products (polyester, nylon, etc.).

Even better, is using recycled clothing — from friends, relatives or even thrift shops. These clothes all have inherited charm and are very classy. They will save the environment and your pocket book at the same time. Even movie stars wear recycled clothing. Join in and your looks will reflect your classy behavior.

For great style ideas that are totally gorgeous, totally affordable, and totally now, check out The Sartorialist.  You will find you have never been able to look better for less.

Hair gel — You can make your own low-cost hair gel by buying unflavored gelatin at a grocery store, mixing it with hot water, and storing the mixture in the refrigerator.  If you wash your hair four times a week, a good recipe to use is 1/4 cup hot water and 1/4 teaspoon gelatin.  This means a box of gelatin will last you for months. The mixed gelatin does need to be stored in the refrigerator because, of course, it has no preservatives.

You will be surprised at how silky your hair will feel when you use this gel. It is a bit difficult to apply to your hair but the results are worth the trouble. Best of all with no preservatives and no perfume (perfume is really just laden with a bunch of chemicals), your homemade gel is good for your health and good for the health of the world.

For an even better hair gel, you can make a gel using golden flax seed and water. Combine 1/4 cup of whole golden flax seed with three cups of water.  Stirring constantly, bring this mixture to a boil.  Then reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer or boil very slowly for ten minutes.  During this time, an egg white like gel will form that can be used on the hair. Remove the mixture from heat and immediately strain to separate the seeds from the gel. The gel can be kept for one week in the refrigerator. A little goes a long way, so storing extra in an ice cube tray and then thawing one cube at a time is handy. The thawed gel must, of course, be kept in the refrigerator.

To apply the gel, put some in your hands, rub your hands together to coat the palm of the hands, and then using gel coated hand palms, apply the gel to the hair.  The gel makes the hair silky and increases hair body and styling.

For the best gel of all, if you have finer hair, mix about 1/4 teaspoon of agar agar (this is a gelatin extracted from seaweed) with about 1/2 cup of water. Boil the mixture in the microwave until the agar agar dissolves (about five minutes).  Add enough liquid during the final boiling time so the mixture to equal about 1/4 cup in volume (this will ensure the consistency of the mixture is about like jam and that the gel can be easily used on the hair). Stir the mixture well and store the gel in ice cube trays and the refrigerator. Keep enough for about one week in the refrigerator and the remainder in the freezer.

Most gels can increase hair control and shine but using any hair gel, homemade or commercial, is more or less a one shot deal.  The gels seem to attract soil so hair does have to be washed more often — preferably every day.  The exception to this is the gel made from agar agar which does not attract soil for some reason.

Frugal and green shampoo and conditioner — If you want to be really frugal and an environment protector at the same time, you can use baking soda to shampoo your hair and use vinegar and water as a special rinse.  This is my favorite way to do my hair these days.  The results are so great, most do not even need a gel or any added conditioner. I usually do not use any added conditioner or gel because the baking soda and vinegar routine makes it easier to style my unruly hair. Here is the information on using baking soda for shampoo and vinegar for a special rinse.

To shampoo, mix about two tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to form a thick paste.  Wet the hair and then use the paste to scrub the roots of the hair starting with the crown of the head. Massage the baking soda mixture onto the roots and scalp.  Do not use the baking soda mixture to wash the ends of the hair–instead when you rinse the baking soda out, the ends will get clean.  (You can also just mix the baking soda with about eight to 12 ounces of water, shake and use that to wash your hair.  If you do mix the baking soda this way, do not wet your hair before using the mixture as a shampoo. Just apply the mixture to the roots, starting at the crown, and scrub roots as if using shampoo.) Finally, thoroughly rinse the baking soda out of the hair and then squeeze any excess water from the hair.

Please note that the amount of baking soda needed depends on your hair and water. If your hair gets too dry, use less baking soda.  I started with two tablespoons but now use less than one tablespoon mixed with about 12 ounces of water to wash my hair. Remember the soda needs to be thoroughly rinsed out with water before the vinegar/water conditioning rinse is used.

To specially rinse the hair, mix about 1/4 cup of white vinegar with about 10 ounces of water (the exact amount of vinegar needed depends upon your water). Stir. Thoroughly saturate the hair with the mixture but avoid the eyes because the vinegar mixture will sting the eyes. Wait several seconds. Finally, thoroughly rinse the hair with water to eliminate vinegar odor. (You can also use apple cider vinegar if you have brown or darker hair.)

Photograph taken May 2010. Shows Rebecca Hoover after months of washing hair with baking soda and using vinegar/water as conditioner. He younger brother behaves as usual. LOL. He never did like my hair. (If you click on this picture to see an enlarged version, you will see the brother expressing his opinion.)

Photograph taken May 2010. Shows Rebecca Hoover after months of washing hair with baking soda and using vinegar/water as conditioner. Her younger brother behaves as usual. LOL. He never did get into hair. If you click on the picture for an enlarged size, you will see his opinion more clearly. (That's the brother!)

That’s it!  You will find your hair softer than ever before, shiny, easier to style and gorgeous.  I can even get a comb through my hair when it is wet with this cleaning and conditioning method — something I could never do when using regular shampoo and conditioner. Also, if you use baking soda and vinegar for hair care, you will be able to go longer without cleaning your hair.  From once a day, I went to once every two or three days. Now that helps save water for Mother Nature too. Best of all, baking soda and vinegar, unlike the chemicals in shampoos and conditioners, do not harm the environment. (By the way, many of the pictures on this blog were taken while I was still using expensive commercial shampoo and conditioner and no gel — my hair looks better now.  The pictures of me in a brown sweater were shot a few months as I started using on baking soda for hair cleansing. Here’s another picture with my hair looking great and my younger brother being his usual self. LOL)

As seen in this photo, Rebecca Hoover, age 60, feels quite smug about giving the boot to shampoo and conditioner racketeers. Photo taken March 2010. (I now swear by baking soda for shampoo, a vinegar rinse and my own home made conditioner that costs a fraction of a penny per application.)

Homemade ultra conditioner – If you want to go all out with glamorous hair, the best conditioner I’ve ever found is one I mix myself.  I mix 1/4 teaspoon of glycerin with about 1 cup of water. I put this mixture in a spray bottle, shake well and use it as a leave-on condition. (Because this mixture has no preservative, it must be stored in the refrigerator where it will last for a few weeks.)

When I use this conditioner, I also put a drop of olive oil in my hand, rub my hands together and then apply the olive oil to my hair.  The olive oil adds a nice shine to the hair. The amount of olive oil needed depends upon your hair. Start with a drop and then add more if needed.

Then, if the ends of my hair seem dry, I apply a dab jojoba oil only to the ends of the hair after it is dried.  The jojoba is applied by putting a dab in the palm of a hand, rubbing the hands together and then using the hands to apply the oil to just the ends of the hair.  (To secure a dab jojoba oil, seal the jojoba oil bottle with the tip of one finger and turn the bottle upside down — the small amount that stays on the finger is a dab.) If one dab is not enough, try adding dabs until the ends are conditioned as needed. I use about two dabs of each in total on my hair. The oil can be applied wherever the hair looks dry or frizzy but is not applied on the roots or scalp. Usually, however, I just use baking soda and vinegar and then add the glycerin leave on conditioner and olive oil because they give me the best results with very little cost and work.

You might be interested in knowing that one medical study found that jojoba oil is the most effective way to help restore badly damaged hair. This is probably because the oil is similar to the oil actually produced by the body.

You might also be interested in knowing that another study found that the combination of jojoba oil, glycerin and water makes a near perfect hand and body moisturizer. You can rub a drop of jojoba oil, a drop of glycerin and some water into your hands for a great lotion that is preservative free and very moisturizing. I use this lotion on my legs when they get dry in the winter. The lotion does not work quite as well for hands.

Of course, as usual, I would not recommend use of jojoba oil and glycerin if they were not ideal for the frugal consumer. While jojoba oil and glycerin are more expensive ounce per ounce than conditioners and lotions, they are very concentrated so the per use cost is inexpensive — and good for you and the environment.

All in all, the baking soda, vinegar, homemade glycerin conditioner, olive oil, jojoba oil, and agar and agar gel method I use for hair care is much faster and less costly than the old chemical-laden commercial method I used to use. Healthy, low-cost and gleaming well-conditioned hair is the result!

Lip gloss – You can make a low cost lip gloss by buying a small container of extra virgin olive oil and some beeswax and mixing up your own perfect lip gloss moisturizing balm. Just combine 2 teaspoons of the olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon of grated beeswax and melt them together in the top of a double boiler. Stir together and put in a small container such as a cute little jelly jar that would otherwise be discarded by a restaurant. Allow to cool and enjoy. And again, this is good for the world. There is no waste for excessive packaging and no new chemicals added to the world. By the way, no preservative is needed. Beeswax is antibacterial and it keeps the gel fresh for months.

Liberate your skin – If you wear foundation and powder, think about giving them and all of the chemicals they contain the heave ho. You will save money and make yourself and your skin healthier. A little concealer, a single skin-toned eyeshadow, some eyeliner, some mascara, and a little blush can be applied quickly and is all of the makeup most ever need.

Check out healthy products from the Environment Working Group — The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a data base on personal care products you can use to check out which makeups, lotions, etc., contain downright scary chemicals. You can look for healthy products so you can save your own health and the environment at the same time.

Being generous – An attitude of generosity and sharing makes you look beautiful too. There is nothing attractive about people so greedy they have shriveled up like raisins or become unnecessarily obese. Of course, this does not mean you should be overly generous or allow others to take advantage of you. If you have a problem here, you can go for counseling or join a support group. We all have faults and faults can be overcome with some support. When you combine some common sense with a soft heart and a willingness to share, you will end up looking good and being good.

Knows looking good and being environmentally responsible will make him popular -- a smart guy.

Looking good and being environmentally responsible will make you popular -- a smart approach.

Please let me know if you find my blog helpful. Please add a comment. What did you like? What would you like added? Thanks! Together we can change the way the world views MS. Please also join the Intelligent Guide to MS page on Facebook. I will use that page to make timely posts on new research and other issues likely to be of interest to others.

Please remember to consult with your doctors about how to stay as healthy as possible. Nothing here should be interpreted as medical advice. Instead, please use the information you find here in your discussions with your doctor.

Copyright 2008 Rebecca Hoover

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Tags: Multiple Sclerosis, Nutrition, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, MS, Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, Rebif, Diet, Swank

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