Hair #003: Evaluating Needs

In the first session of this series, you gathered together all of your hair care products in one place. In the second session, we went through those products, weeding out the ones that are toxic. We have all outgrown using toxic products that don’t support our wellness goals!

Today we cover a number of considerations when choosing hair style and hair care routines. First of all, take some time and thoughtfully assess the style you need to be most effective in your calling in this world that is so tuned into external appearances. Then, consider the products that you need to achieve that look – and look for ways you can simplify that collection. Think in terms of choosing better products and fewer of them, think in terms of quality instead of quantity. And the most important goal in this process is that your hair be healthy – anything that doesn’t serve that goal can be removed from your routine. I simply want you to be intentional and effective about taking care of your hair.

This week I have also released these three videos that will help you to understand some of the concerns around toxins. If you didn’t have time to watch them so far – take a moment now and catch the ones you missed on out earlier.

Next week I will be sharing some product reviews and DIY hair recipes. Hair comes in a remarkable array of colors, textures, and attributes, and I hope that what you find my product reviews helpful. Since my hair is fine, straight, and also (partly) bleached and color treated, and I have a skin condition that sometimes plays out on my scalp in ultra sensitive skin… that will give you a feel for the context of my reviews and DIY recipes. I’m looking forward to sharing that content with you as you consider the products that you need to make your hair healthy and stylish, and in the process be choosing high quality, non-toxic, zero waste, cruelty free products that work well for you.


Welcome! We’ve been talking about hair for the last two sessions. First we gathered together all of our hair care products in one place and took inventory. Second of all, we talked about toxins and did some very intentional work going through those products, removing some items that were unfortunately too toxic. Today I would invite you to think very intentionally about what you want your hair to be and what you want your hair care routine to look like.

When Xavier and I were restaurant owners, I found out the contrast between when I crawled out of bed and just showed up, and other days when I really make some effort with my self care routines. What I invested in myself in the morning was different, but the service that I provided in our restaurant was the same. Not surprisingly, the results could be quite different. Waiting on people in my own restaurant, I would make one amount of money on a day when I made no effort with my appearance, and on a day when I really made some effort – I would make more money. And the difference was enough for me to take notice. Now I’m not saying that that’s right or wrong, I’m just saying this is how the world works. People respond to us more favorably when we’ve made an effort to present ourselves well.

How much effort is “the right amount” of effort? There’s everything on the continuum from super minimalist hair that requires almost no effort at all, all the way to the YouTube goddess who has gone to extensive effort to get a particular look. And again, this is a judgment free zone. I am not actually suggesting that it’s wrong to wear easy super minimalist hair, and wear very little makeup and to keep it very, super simple. I’m not judging that as wrong. Neither am I saying that if you’re a YouTube goddess and it requires a lot of money and time to achieve your look – that that is necessarily wrong either. I want you to do what you are happy doing, to spend only what you need to spend, no more. And I think it’s simply helpful to be aware that we live in a world that reacts to how we look physically. Sadly, it doesn’t recognize who you are as a person apart from appearance, and that’s not fair. And we can have a whole conversation about the energy we put out into the world, but we’ll talk about that on another day.

On days when I have dressed up, and I come home from work and wash off the makeup and change my clothes… sometimes that can feel a bit like peeling off everything that is attractive about me. Marketing teaches us that we’re not cute or attractive unless we are wearing these products. So when we come home and remove all those layers – are we still attractive then? I think for many of us, that is challenging. It’s hard to feel like that answer is yes, we are lovely without the hair spray, the shape wear and the great shoes. And the more layers we have to peel at the end of the day, the more we are tempted to feel that beauty is only something we wear, and that it is separate from us. Therefore, we are not beautiful. (hogwash.)

I just think that’s really rough. That’s rough on a woman to feel like who she is under all the layers is not acceptable. It’s rough on a woman to think that we’re only acceptable if we’re wearing the whole product line. And that’s not how that should work, you know? That process is not life giving. It actually can be absolutely shame inducing! That idea we’re not beautiful unless we have the whole product line on – that doesn’t work in our favor.

Were are you are on the continuum? Do you have the super simple minimalist hair that requires no effort at all? Or are you on the Instagram or YouTube goddess end of the scale? Where are you? Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Where are you and where do you want to be? Are you ready to kind of dial it down a notch or make some other adjustments?

I think the question that I want you to think about is – where do you need to be on that continuum to be effective in your work? In a culture that puts an inordinate amount of attention on appearance, where do you want to be on the continuum of style and simplicity?

When you have a sense of mission, when you have a sense that you’ve got a message the world needs (and I think everybody does) then how you present yourself matters. So those are some things to be thinking about when you consider where you want to be on that continuum. There is no wrong answer here. And this is very cultural. Some cultures will do the whole nine yards every single day. And in the subculture that I come from (the Mennonite community) there was no makeup and the hair care was very simple. So it’s extremely cultural. And so again, I’m not coming at this from a place of judgment. I simply suggest that you be intentional about this choice. Where do you want to be on that continuum?

Now that you’ve chosen a style that suits you, what products does it require for you to get that look? Okay, so let’s just say for the sake of the argument that you can go into your hairdresser and you get the look that you want and that they educate you on what products that it requires to achieve that look. Well, let’s say from start to finish for your hair – it takes a specific number of products. Your stylist may have suggestions on how to simplify the products you select based on your hair.

Now that you have assessed what is needed, come back to your collection of hair products. You’ve removed the products that were old and gross in the first session. Then you removed the toxic products in the second session. Today you’ll remove the products that don’t support the fresh new goals you have for your hair. Keep only what is intentional, and necessary.

Go ahead and donate or throw away what you no longer need. Older products that have “water” on the label should be thrown away because of the potential for microbe growth. Recycle containers where possible.

Let me use myself as a case study. The simplest my hair has ever been, has been a super short pixie that was not bleached or colored. It was just a super short Pixie, and I had very healthy hair and it was easy as pie. Super, super short, so much fun. Literally the product that I was using was a bar of handmade soap made by a woman with a booth at the farmer’s market. That was both my shampoo and conditioner. It left my hair to squeaky clean and very healthy and I didn’t use any styling products. I literally didn’t need any because I wasn’t fighting against my hair’s natural tendencies. I didn’t use a hairdryer or a curling iron or anything like that. It just was so simple.

I know this isn’t something that can be done for all hair types, but for me in that season of my life, it was entirely possible for me to have my complete hair care system in one bar of handmade soap and that was it. That to me was utter simplicity and I loved it!

On the other end of the spectrum is the YouTube goddess who is using ALL the products, and lots of time. Where is your chosen to hairstyle in that mix and what does it require to get that style? What happens if you use fewer products, but chose better quality products?

It’s a good idea to use fewer products, first in terms of cost. Secondly, you’re reducing your risk of exposure to toxins. When we layer on five different products, we don’t use much of any of them, but all together maybe they’re creating a toxin problem for us. So that’s why I think it’s really useful to just look at getting rid of some things. And if you’ve got a collection of 10 products and that’s what it takes to do your look, see how you can simplify that collection.

I know it’s possible to simplify dramatically, because I’ve lived it. I know it’s possible. And it won’t look the same for all hair types, but it’s possible for each of us to be intentional and live simply.

Given the work that you do and the mission that you have in your life, what does your hair need to be? The second thing I’m asking you to consider and to be intentional about is simplifying the collection of products it requires to achieve that look. Don’t chose any product that will sacrifice the health of your hair in this process, that’s not self care… that’s something else all together. Let’s take some time to assess these things and make intentional decisions.

Every minute we spend on our hair is an investment. And if you are missional and if you have a message that the world needs, yes, you need to take care of your hair. You do not need to spend one extra penny, one extra minute on your hair because you have a mission in your life and your hair is not it!

This is all about being intentional and dialing it in. I know you can do this. Just take some time and think about it. If making a list helps, that’s fine. If Pinterest helps, that’s also fine. Again, this is a judgment free zone. You don’t need to please me and you don’t need to please the world. We simply need to intentionally be ourselves.

What I would wish for you is that you use products to enhance your best physical features so that when you get to the end of the day, it’s just a matter of cleaning house and giving yourself a fresh, clean slate so you can rest easy. It’s not about taking off these layers of protective gear that made it possible to be acceptable in the eyes of the world, because you’re acceptable as you are. You are loved as you are, who are beautiful as you are. So let’s be intentional about hair care, okay? Thanks so much for listening, I really appreciate it!

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Hair #002: Detoxing Your Collection of Hair Products

In the first session of this series, you gathered together all of your hair care products in one place. Today we go through those products, weeding out the ones that are toxic.

Take some time to download the Think Dirty App, and scan the products in your collection. Remove the ones that score an 8 – 10 on the scale, and mark the ones that score a 5-8 so that when you run out of those, you can choose a better quality product as a replacement. Just like we’ve outgrown some clothing in our closet, we’ve also outgrown using products that contain toxic ingredients.

In the coming videos I will share some of my favorite DIY recipes and product reviews in order to help you find the non-toxic, cruelty free, zero waste, products that will help you simplify your routines from chaos to elegance. I’ve got lots of great content coming your way, so stay tuned!

Subscribe and click the little bell to get a notification each time I release a new video in this series. And after this series is a little series I am calling “Mennonite Clean” and after that is a series I’m calling “Women of the Cloth” which is all about an empowering spirituality. Make sure you subscribe so that you don’t miss a thing! I love simplicity, self care, and empowering spirituality and I look forward to sharing this content with you!


Welcome back to Simply Vibrant. I’m Carmen Shenk and I’m glad you’re here. You have gathered everything together, all of your hair care products, you’ve got them all together in one place. Now what? Well, today is the day we do some assessment of that collection. This is not as hard as it may seem. First of all, we remove the toxic products. I’m going to talk about three toxins and give you a feel for what’s out there and that maybe in your hair care products. And then we’re gonna give you a tool to assess the products that you have there before you. And it’s going to rate products on the scale of 0 to 10 – 10 being the most toxic. Now here’s how I look at that list.

Things that are a 1 – 4, those are nontoxic. I mean just for perspective, vinegar scores at a two or three and vinegar is not toxic at all, but some people may have a sensitivity to it. So I think zero to four is a pretty safe zone.

Things that score a 5 to a 7... I don’t like wasting anything. So those are products that I would go ahead and use up and then replace with a better product as soon as they’re empty.

Finally, products that score an 8, 9 or 10? Those are toxic. And for me, those products are going to go straight in the trash. Just like there are some things that used to be in my closet, that no longer suit me, using products that are toxic no longer suits me either. I’m worth more than that. And guess what? So are you!

Three Toxins commonly found in Hair Care Products:

Let’s talk about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Now this is a toxin that’s found in toothpaste and shampoo and sometimes it’s found in soap as well as a detergent, and it is a surfacent and a foaming agent. So when you’re expecting the bubbles in your shampoo, they are there because a chemical was added to your shampoo to get those bubbles. SLS is a byproduct of palm kernel oil or coconut oil and it can be an irritant to eyes and skin. Some SLS contains traces of Dioxane, which is a group 2B carcinogen. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin-Deep Cosmetics Safety Database calls SLS a risk for cancer, neuro-toxicity, organ-toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption. By the way, that means your hormone system. We don’t need our hormone system disrupted! Thank you very much! No! I use an an SLS free shampoo and it’s taking me some time to get used to it because it doesn’t foam up. It doesn’t act the same way. And so when I’m working on my hair and I don’t have all that bubble action happening and wondering, is it actually getting my hair clean? Of course it is! But we’re so used to having those bubbles in our products that when they’re not there we think that it’s not cleaning. And then the opposite is true: SLS is a toxin, so not having it in your hair is a good thing. So, changing to a Shampoo without SLS in it is going to feel a little different and it does take some transition time, but it is better for us not to have that stuff on our hair and skin.

Formaldehyde is a preservative and it is used in salon hair straightening products and in nail hardeners. The National Toxicology Program calls it a carcinogen. The Environmental Protection Agency says formaldehyde can cause irritation of skin, eyes, nose and throat and cause some types of cancers. It is an occupational exposure risk for respiratory cancer and leukemia. It is banned in the European Union and should be banned here. Make sure you are using formaldehyde free products. This is especially important if you use a hair straightening product or you are having your nails done.

More exciting toxins: Parabens. These are preservatives and they prevent the growth of microbes that these can be present in just about anything that’s liquid or moist in nature because that’s what microbes prefer. They are found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs. The problems with parabens include endocrine disruption, skin cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity. The long chain parabens have the strongest estrogenic activity among those widely used in personal care products. Parabens can block androgens such as testosterone, and inhibit enzymes that metabolize estrogen.

Okay, so ladies, we need our estrogen, right? But if we have too much, the body has systems for getting rid of an overdose and estrogen. But what it’s saying is that the parabens will block that from happening. It is also saying that testosterone, something that our bodies as women do use – can be blocked by parabens. That’s not a good thing. So basically anytime you’re adding a chemical to a personal care product that is messing with your hormones – that is a really bad idea. By the way, this chemical was banned in the European Union. I wish it was banned here and yes, I’ve found products that have no parabens and I think that’s when really good news. Stick around, in the videos that follow I will be sharing product reviews and DIY recipes.

Finding the Toxins in Your Home

I’m here in the bathroom and I want to take a quick look through some of the products I’m finding in here using the Think Dirty app and see where we come out in terms of how toxic they are.

Okay. What do we got? (Scans the product) Oh boy. This is an eight and the reason is fragrance. Okay, let’s try another one then. Just to be clear, I mean an eight out of 10? That’s too high, especially for daily use! So that’s something that I would be removing from the bathroom.

Let’s see what else we got here. Garnier Whole Blends, replenishing conditioner, legendary olive nourishes, softens and shine. So here we go. Let’s try this. See what we got. (scans the product) This is an eight out of 10 again, fragrance. Okay. Wow. It’s not good to see the numbers that high over and over again. I will be talking you through some of those things that I’m using now that are non-toxic, so stay tuned for that in future videos. I have gotten rid of these toxic things because an eight and a nine that’s pretty bad. That’s bad.

Testing Products at My House

I’m Carmen Shank and I’m right here in my own kitchen. I’m going to scan a few of my own products for you this time. I do have some things left. I’ve been detoxing my life for a long time, but I do have some products left here and there and I’m going to walk through them with you. I’ve got my Think Dirty app here and let’s give it a try.

The first thing is Herbal Essences Mousse, so let’s see what we can do here. This app will scan the barcode using the camera on the iPad. This is an 8 out of 10! The reason is fragrance, and then the rest of the ingredients are clean. So eight out of 10 because of fragrance.

So let’s try this one: Fructis Extreme Control hairspray. Let’s see what we got here. Shall We? All right, this one comes up as an 8 out of 10. There’s two toxins here that come in at eight, two that come in at half and half and the rest are clean. So we are getting a good solid 8 on that one.

So in your hair care products, toxins are a thing. My approach to handling hair care products that I knew were toxic was to simply don’t use them. I’m wearing a super simple minimalist haircut, as you can see, I have a video on how I cut my hair online as well, so check that out. That really keeps things simple and I don’t need any styling products as a result of having hair that is this simple.

There you have it. Those are the two remaining products in my hair arsenal that aren’t very good. So I will be sharing some DIY alternatives and other product reviews, or just continue as I have and don’t use styling products at all. Cause that’s a very viable option and that is where I’ve been for the last five years is that I simply don’t use stalling products at all.

Some these have been products that I held on to because of the rare occasion that I went out with costume hair or something a little bit special. I hadn’t scanned them until now. So now that I know that they score an 8, I will find decent alternatives or just to continue to not wear any styling products in my hair at all. That works.

Take some time to download the Think Dirty App, and scan the products in your collection. Remove the ones that score an 8 – 10 on the scale, and mark the ones that score a 5-8 so that when you run out of those, you can choose a better quality product as a replacement. Just like we’ve outgrown some clothing in our closet, we’ve also outgrown using products that contain toxic ingredients.

Thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate it.

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Hair #001 Simply Vibrant Session One: Inventory

Session One

Welcome to Session One of my brand new series that will help you simplify self care! I’m calling it “Simply Vibrant: Elegant Non-Toxic Personal Care Routines”. In this series I talk about hair, skin, hands, face, makeup, and radical self acceptance… (And we’re starting with HAIR) because it doesn’t matter what you do to the body if you still look in the mirror and hate your reflection. Plus, I share some of my favorite DIY recipes and share product reviews in order to help you find the products that are right for you. I’ve been working on this series for quite a while, and I just realized today that it’s going to take 12 WEEKS to release all the content I have planned – and the list includes over 72 videos! Stick around, it’s going to be EPIC!

I’ll also release this video this week, so I thought I’d put it here as an extra bonus. ❤ I don’t find it fun to make videos about toxins, but it’s important information. I think we are all ready for companies to do better by us, and I’m ready to vote with my dollars that they do!


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After this series is a little series I am calling “Mennonite Clean” and it’s all about how to care for our homes. It’s very similar to this series that is all about simple self care – except that it’s focused on the home rather than the body. Then I’ve got another new series planned that I’m calling “Women of the Cloth” which is all about an empowering spirituality. I love simplicity, self care, and empowering spirituality and I look forward to sharing this content with you! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these topics!

Minimalist Hair

New HairI cut my own hair. I have for years. I can’t count the times people have been shocked and wonder how on earth?!! Well… this video will answer that question. I had the camera rolling the last time I cut my hair and this is the result.
BTW, I know this isn’t for everyone.  I would not for a moment suggest cutting long glorious hair to this style!  If this suits you, then I hope you find this video helpful in learning how I do it so that you can create your own simple hair self care routines.
Perhaps a more interesting question than “how?!” is “why?!!” and that may not be what you think.
I fought my hair for many years! It didn’t do what I wanted it to. It wouldn’t hold a curl – ever. I have a cowlick that made it do weird things – no matter how I tried to counteract that. I could complain at length about my hair! LOL!
At some point I gave up the fight against my hair and made peace. Now it gets to do exactly as it pleases without me getting all bent out of shape about it! Ah peace.  It felt good to donate the curling irons and hair dryer. Plus, that made tiny house living easier. We didn’t have space or electrical power for anything extra – so it was a real perk to decide I didn’t need any of that stuff anyway.  fragrance
Plus, it helped me detox my life to quit using shampoo and conditioner with synthetic perfumes, hairspray and all the other hair care products that are loaded with toxins.  And as an additional perk – my bathroom is no longer coated in a thin film of shellac.  LOL!  That stuff is hard to clean.  Did I mention how much money I save this way?

When my hair is it’s natural color, all I need to keep it extremely happy and healthy is a bar of handmade soap from Magellan’s Gift. I asked her about a “shampoo bar” and she said that was just great marketing. LOL!  Her hand made soap products are amazing!

I also make hand made Castile soap every few years, and that is also perfect for hair that is not color treated, plus it’s good for everything else around here.  It’s just so cool that a great quality olive oil, lye, and water are all that is needed for a great bar of soap that is perfect in every way!  Love that stuff!  I loved the simplicity of not even needing shampoo or conditioner, but then I started coloring my hair again.
1 SLSOnce I started coloring my hair again, I have found that Young Living’s Lavender Mint shampoo and conditioner are my favorites by far! The shampoo takes some getting used to since it is SLS free – and that means it doesn’t bubble up.  Sodium Laurel Sulfate is a toxin that is often used to make those “scrubbing bubbles” and when it’s not in the shampoo – it just feels strange since it’s not what we’re used to.  But it leaves my hair clean, and that’s the important thing.
shampoo conditionerMy favorite is the Young Living conditioner – the Lavender Mint.  That stuff is remarkable for healing hair after bleach and dye! It works better than some VERY expensive brands (ahem Olaplex) and it’s non-toxic.  WIN!

Of course I still dye my hair – and that is an arguably toxic process.  That is a form of self expression that won’t change any time soon!! I love all  my colors!

I also love being at peace with my hair. I also love riding in my MGB with the top down!! This hair style is impossible to mess up! 🧡❤️💜 And styling this hair is so insanely easy!  So if you are curious how a super simple pixie haircut works – check out the video above.
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Developing the Skill of Letting Go

Photo May 30, 9 46 51 AMThis truth has been rocking my world this week. I didn’t realize the connection between letting go in a simple physical way – like opening my hand – is the same skill as letting go of stuff I don’t use – is the same skill as letting go of what other people think of me… or envy, or judgment. I’m not there yet, on those last three… but I know my life will be more content if I decide to grow my letting go muscle.

Photo May 30, 12 13 35 PMWhere do I start? I sat down yesterday and wrote a whole brainstorm whiteboard full of ideas that were about letting go and self care. From that board I picked out 32 favorites. Then I decided to go after those things – one each day for every day of June. It’ll be 31 days (I picked my favorites) of self care and it’s all stuff that I know I can do.  If you’d like to join in on the fun, then connect with me on Instagram @CarmenRoseShenk and we’ll go through this together.  I will post a simple self care activity each day – and we can all take a few moments to do these simple things to make our lives more contented.  We can all get better at taking care of ourselves – especially when things are busy and chaotic around us.  And that’s when self care matters the most!

Photo May 30, 11 09 02 AMHere’s an example: I know I should do the whole thing of going to the gym, working my bum off, and getting in shape. See? There’s that little word “should” that gets me every time. Could+Shame=Should. No thanks!! I have a negative reaction to the word “exercise”.  (I can’t believe I’m confessing this!) LOL! However, I love very physical activities like dancing and cleaning out a closet, and painting, and walking around the neighborhood with my dawg who loves to stop and smell everything! Funny, those are all examples of exercise, but don’t tell. Because I want to be a person who exercises… and I want to do yoga and be thin and willowy and yada yada, but I’m not. That COULD change.  (See how I took the shame out by changing “should” to “could”?)

Letting go is just like that. I can start with small things – like getting rid of ugly silverware. We’ve got some beautiful silverware, and plenty of it. So why do I still have some ugly silverware in the house? So that’s me thinking of ways I can start small and let go of some easy things in order to get the hang of letting go of some bigger things.  This is a skill I want to develop.  A muscle I want to grow.

Someone got in my car this morning and her energy was pulsing with wrath.  I had a pretty big reaction to someone showing up on my turf and immediately throwing a sarcastic accusation in my face. I WANTED to be kind in response. I was direct. I was forthright – and that is progress.  In the face of so much anger, I did not keep my peace.  Letting go makes space for the good stuff. Like peace. Peace is good stuff!  I’ve got my peace back now, but man… what a morning!

Personal development is a thing.  Let’s grow some skills together, shall we?  Follow me on Instagram and let’s do some intentional self care for the 31 days of June, ok?  It’ll be fun.

Stay Tuned.

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