One Ingredient Wonders

Recently, a friend suggested I start posting more about my secret obsession (not so secret anymore!) with natural skin and body care.  The more I read about the harmful chemicals and preservatives we put in our skincare, the more I obsess about finding natural alternatives.  The good news is that often you don’t have to look much further than your kitchen to find ingredients that really work and that are good for your skin, hair and body.  Everyone’s body is different so what works for one person doesn’t always work for the next, but here are a few of the single ingredient items I keep stashed in my bathroom.

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Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil:  Is there anything this oil doesn’t do?  I absolutely love it as an all over body moisturizer, and perhaps my favorite use for it is as an eye makeup remover.   More effective than anything else I have tried, coconut oil is excellent at dissolving even waterproof makeup.  As a bonus, it adds extra moisture to your eyes and it smells delicious!
Organic Raw Honey:  Honey is antimicrobial and moisturizing so it makes a great cleanser.  Ideally, you should rinse or wipe your makeup off and then gently massage the honey into your skin.  You can let it sit for a few minutes or immediately wipe it off with a warm wet wash cloth.   It is important to get raw organic honey because pasteurization kills all of the good bacteria in the honey.
Argan Oil:  I had heard a bunch of hype about the wonders of this oil for your skin and hair, and even bought a bottle of argan hair oil, only to be unimpressed by the fact that the oil was heavily diluted with fillers.  The key is to get pure argan oil that has not been diluted by any fillers.  It’s not cheap, but it will last you forever.   I am in love with what it does to my hair.  I drop 4-5 drops (less is more) in my hand and warm it in between my fingers.  I then massage it into my hair, concentrating on the ends.  It leaves my hair so much softer and less frizzy than it normally is.  I also use it on my curly headed little peanut and it adds definition and softness to her curls.   I also use this as the base for the face oil I am using currently.  It’s a great choice for your face because it won’t clog your pores and absorbs quickly.
Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: Great for restoring the Ph balance to your skin and hair.  In the summer, when my hair tends to be a bit oilier, I like to use it as a clarifying hair rinse.  You can also use it as a toner for your skin by applying a few drops to a makeup pad and diluting it with water.  Make sure that the vinegar you use is raw with the mother still in it because that is where all the good nourishing tidbits are.
There you have it! Have you tried any of these ingredients?  What do you think?  Also, I’d love to hear what you all think of these types of posts.  Do you want to see more of them?
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Summer Sunscreen Edition

The weather (at least in the Midwest) is finally getting warm, which means the girls and I are outside as much as possible so we can get our Vitamin D fix before the never ending Midwest winter sets in.  Being the fair skinned gals that we are, sunscreen is a must.  The problem is that many of the commercial sunscreens on the market are full of chemicals and preservatives that are terrible for your body and some of them have even been linked to cancer (ahhh the irony).   Luckily, there are some options out there that are safe for both you and your kiddos and also provide fabulous sun protection!

I have a couple of favorites that we’ll look at below, but first I thought we should look at the ingredients I avoid when looking for the right sunscreen for me and my kids.  If you want more info take a look at the EWG Sunscreen Database.

  • Parabens: This is a nasty little preservative that has been linked to cancer and hormonal disruption.
  • Oxybenzone and Octinoxate:   These are the main active ingredients in many commercial sunscreens.  They are appealing because they go on without leaving any white film and also work well in the popular spray sunscreens on the market.   However, they are linked to hormone disruption, endometriosis, and reproductive abnormalities.  A safer alternative is titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

There are plenty of sunscreens on the market that are healthy alternatives, but here are a couple that I use on myself and/or my kids.

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  • Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Unscented Sunscreen –  I love this sunscreen because it leaves almost no white residue that is common with zinc oxide sunscreens.  It has a fairly runny consistency so it rubs in easily and is great for both kids and adults.  It’s also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, which is a bonus for all you pool goers.
  • Badger All Season Face Stick-  There are just a few ingredients in this face stick and most of them are organic so I feel good about using this on my kids.  I’ll admit that it does leave a slight white film, but it’s perfect for my fair skinned little peanut.
  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient Facial Sunscreen:  This is my go to facial sunscreen because it is non-oily and rubs in easily.
  • All Terrain KidSport Spray:  This is probably my favorite brand for my kids.  They have several formulations, but this spray version is awesome because it is super easy to apply and is very water/sweat resistant .

You can buy all of these sunscreens at Vitacost and I’ve also seen several at Whole Foods.  These are all just suggestions so be sure to explore and find the ones you like best for yourself!

My Very Favorite Moisturizer

    I had my first child back in 2010 and while I was pregnant, I started looking at the ingredient list on my product bottles and thought, “Uhhh…what is this stuff?  Ethyl-para-what???”   There had to be something better I could rub into my expanding belly without all these ingredients I couldn’t pronounce.  So, I grabbed a bunch of different oils and started experimenting.   This recipe has sort of evolved over the last few years and I now have two versions: a body butter (ideal for pregnant bellies or seriously dry skin) and body oil (ideal for the rest of us).  Today I’ll share the body oil version, because seriously, you will love it.  I think its the perfect blend of nourishing oils that soaks into your skin quickly without leaving a greasy residue.  Winter usually leaves my legs looking like some sort of scaly swamp animal, but this stuff really does the trick.  I apply it right after I hop out of the shower and the next day my legs are still soft and smooth.  It’s also a great shaving oil and eye make-up remover. I’m pretty sure you need to try this for yourself!

Ok, here’s what you’ll need for an 8oz bottle:
  • 4 oz grapeseed oil
  • 1 oz coconut oil
  • 1 oz almond oil
  • 1 oz plant butter such as cocoa, shea or mango
  • 1 oz jojoba oil
  • a few drops of vitamin e oil (optional, but great as a natural preservative).
  • 10-15 drops of an essential oil of your choosing (optional– I usually opt for the unscented version).
Melt coconut oil and plant butter in a double boiler.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and pour into an 8 oz container.