Monday, 09 January 2017 00:00

When body aches, chills, fever, and fatigue come calling, natural resources may bring a sufficient level of comfort and relief. The winter months have settled in, and therefore the cold and flu season is well underway. Getting plenty of rest is extremely vital in helping your body cope and recover. In addition to resting your body, hydration is another important element. Keep hydrated by consuming water and vegetable broth. Vegetable broth loaded with onions and garlic is especially advantageous because these two vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties. Medicinal teas are a beneficial choice for many cold or flu-like symptoms. Consider trying ginger tea in order to relieve stomach nausea. Brew a bit of chamomile tea to aid in sleeping. Sip a cup of thyme tea as a treatment for coughs. National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies book states that thyme has a long history in Europe of being used to treat this symptom. Mix salt and warm water, and use the mixture to gargle several times a day to alleviate a sore throat. According to an Herbal Remedies magazine article, "First Aid for Travelers," written by Laurel Vukovic, using a eucalyptus and peppermint steam inhalation promotes the breakup of mucus, and opens sinus passages. Furthermore, eucalyptus and peppermint both have antimicrobial properties to fight infection. Boil 1½ quarts of water, and add 3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and 2 drops of peppermint essential oil. Put a towel over your head, and breathe in the steam for 10 minutes. Each of these treatments, met with a continued effort to live a healthy and natural life every day, can assist in coping with your cold successfully. Use this article and its sources in addition to consulting a licensed healthcare professional.

Sources:
Linda B. White, M.D., et al
National Geographic Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies (Home Remedies on Hand)
National Geographic Society, 2014
p. 25

Laurel Vukovic
"First Aid for Travelers"
Herbal Remedies
Harris Publications, 2016
p. 103

Saturday, 13 February 2016 00:00

I attended Rachel Belida’s Lip Balm and Deodorant Making Workshop to see what making your own cosmetic products was all about.  Rachel is a Certified Herbalist with a background in horticulture.  She has a line of products called Calendula Crafts that she sells on Etsy.  She has worked at her recipes to perfect her formulations.  At the workshop,  she made the process look easy.

The workshop was held in a lovely space called With Love From PDX, a Portland, OR, gift shop that curates locally-made artisanal gift boxes. Inger, the proprietor, greeted us warmly, and then went across the street to the bakery and came back with some lovely snacks for us.

The workshop was inspiring, and gave me a feeling that I can do this myself.  Take a look at the film below that I made of the workshop.

Media

Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:00

I’ve been meaning to write down some natural skincare recipes that I’ve used over the years. As a licensed esthetician, I’ve worked in several spas in the past, and have learned that skincare and body products can be really expensive as well as full of chemicals at times. Try some of these simple, one-ingredient (plus water) kitchen recipes for your skincare and beauty regimen. You will not only save money; you will know what ingredients are actually going on your skin, and will get equally great results to those with purchased products. Here is my roundup. I’ve always thought that good results with skincare are usually about 50% the product itself and 50% the way you apply and use the product. In this case, our products are our own, right out of our pantries, and they are so easy to use.

Baking soda and water make a great gentle exfoliant for your face. Put a quarter-sized amount into the palm of your hand, and mix it with water.  For a quick power cleanse, apply to the skin, using a round circular motion for one minute, and rinse. You will notice your skin become fresher and brighter.

Raw honey can be used as a great moisturizing face mask. Use a tablespoon of raw honey, and apply to your clean, dry skin.  This works especially well after the gentle baking soda exfoliant above.  Allow it to sit for 10–15 minutes before rinsing with warm water and drying. You will notice that your skin is brighter and well-moisturized.

 

Egg whites are great to use for a strengthening hair mask. Whisk two egg whites with 2 tablespoons of water, apply them as a paste to the hair, and let it set for 30 minutes. Rinse your hair with warm water, and condition as normal. You will notice that your hair is revitalized and stronger. Use this recipe over time for damaged hair and split ends.

 

Coconut oil can be used as a face moisturizer.  Use just a tiny, less-than-pea-sized amount for dry skin, allow it to warm and melt on your hands, and apply it to your face. Coconut oil can also be used to remove eye makeup and to apply on its own as a lip moisturizer. It’s one of the most versatile ingredients in your pantry as far as beauty and health routines go.

 

Oatmeal can be used as a calming/moisturizing face mask when mixed into a paste with water. Apply it in a thick layer, and allow it to sit for 15–20 minutes. Then remove it with warm water and a washcloth. Your skin will feel soft and renewed, with a less reddened appearance. Oatmeal can also be used in a bath to calm and moisturize your skin. The extract from the oats in the water is the active ingredient here. Soak as long as you like with about 1 cup of dry oats added to your bath. Make sure you plan ahead before draining your bath, so the oats don’t end up going down your bathroom drain.

 

Salts, e.g. Sea salt or Himalayan salts can be used in a bath for cleansing, detoxification, and purification. Try adding a handful of each to a warm bath and soaking for 30 minutes. It’s very relaxing for your skin and body. To boost your skincare routine, you can also try dry brushing before bathing. It’s a great practice to start, as it helps to purify your lymphatic system. Start from the outside of the limbs, and work your way in with small- to medium-sized brushstrokes, moving toward your heart’s center for detoxing. 

Thursday, 02 July 2015 00:00

Don’t you hate it when your lips itch and ache because they are chapped? And what’s the first thing you do? You slather your lips with lip balm only to realize your lips are dry within a few hours. This isn’t supposed to be a vicious cycle of constant application of lip balm to keep your lips lubricated and protected. That’s not the way a lip balm is supposed to work. 
Lips have a thin layer of skin to protect them and thereby are susceptible to drying out more often than any other part of your body. You may think of chapped lips as something that only happens in the winter. But the truth is, unless you take special care, your lips can get dry, sore, and scaly any time of year.
Here comes lip balm to the rescue. Except, most of the lip balms at the store contain ingredients like camphor, phenol, menthol, salicylic acid etc. which can lead your lips to ultimately cracking though they feel cool and refreshing. These lip balms do contain ingredients that feel good at first, but leave you with the need to put more on just an hour or 2 later as they dry up, and leave your skin even drier. They also lock out any moisture from the air by creating an oily barrier.
This is where homemade lip balms are a great option for so many reasons. Homemade balms are designed to help seal in moisture and not just dry up and off, but actually sink into your lips. They also won’t leave a slick, exclusive barrier. They don’t use chemicals and toxins and are made of all natural ingredients.
There are many DIY lip balm methods out there. However, the core ingredients remain the same - beeswax, coconut oil, vitamin E oil and any essential oil for fragrance and soothing qualities.
The most basic lip balm can be used as a balm for your hands as well! It’s like your personal brand of petroleum jelly, but a healthy and natural one. 

You will need…

●1 tablespoon grated beeswax - an emollient (moisturizer) as well as protection for your lips, but the most important role it plays is that it gives your lip balm its stiffness and body so that it can be easily transported and applied.

●1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil - coats and moisturizes your lips.

●few drops of vitamin E oil - full of antioxidants, vitamin E can neutralize the effect of free radicals that damage healthy skin cells and lead to dryness.

●Peppermint oil/Lavender oil (or any oil of your choice) - aroma and soothing qualities.Heat the beeswax in a double boiler until melted and stir in the coconut oil until they combine. Add a few drops of vitamin E oil followed by 10-12 drops of your essential oil of choice. In the end, pour the balm into little tins and let them sit out for an hour or two. Altoid tins are great as balm containers! This should create 4-6 tins.

Tips:

●Lemon and vanilla fragrances can be aromatic and fun!

●You can always add more ingredients, like a dash of organic raw honey for further hydration or a tablespoon of shea or cocoa butter to give it a real moisturizing boost! 

●Want a tinted lip balm? Add mica powder in shades of pink, red or golden!

●An extra teaspoon or two of beeswax makes a thicker and longer-lasting lip balm, or use slightly less if you prefer a smoother and softer lip balm. You can re-melt and add more of each ingredient during the melting process until you get the exact texture you want. 

Homemade lip balms are not only natural and healthy, but are great to give as gifts or favors for a birthday, bachelorette party or any occasion! Use your creativity and spread some natural love with your family and friends.

Wednesday, 03 June 2015 00:00

While many stores and companies now offer cosmetics made from natural sources that are free of harsh chemicals or preservatives, these products can be expensive and sometimes hard to find.

The convenience of being able to buy more natural-based cosmetics in stores and online is great, but we should also keep in mind that we can make cosmetics ourselves. Soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, make-up and lip balm are just a few examples of cosmetics that can easily be made at home.

Lotions, salves, and lip balms can all be made by melting and mixing the desired natural oils and butters together. Oils derived from coconut, almond, olive, avocado, and argan seeds are the most readily available and can be found at some co-ops and stores like Whole Foods or New Seasons. Butters derived from shea, cocoa, macadamia, and many other plants can also be bought at some stores as well as online. Most of these ingredients can also be used in homemade soaps, shampoos, and conditioners as well.

Overall, making your own cosmetics can be a fun activity and a great way to pay a fraction of the cost of store-bought options. It also gives you the ability to choose exactly what ingredients go into your daily cosmetics and is a great way to avoid harmful chemicals or unnecessary additives. Take a look below at some popular recipes for soap, lotion, and shampoo!

Lotion:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil or 2 tablespoons Shea/Cocoa Butter or other Essential Oils

Instructions
1. Combine ingredients in a pint sized or larger glass jar.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
3. Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
4. As the water heats and ingredients melt, shake or stir occasionally to incorporate.
5. When all ingredients are completely melted, pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (8 ounce) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!

*Use within 6 months for best moisturizing benefits.

Soap:


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Goats Milk Soap Base or Shea Butter Soap Base, cubed
  • 4-6 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • Dried Lemon zest of 3-4 lemons

Instructions
1. Cut soap into cubes and microwave in 30-second intervals.
2. Melt soap for about a minute. Add another 15-30 seconds if it’s not completely melted.
3. Once soap cubes have liquefied add a few drops of the lemon essential oil and the lemon zest; stir well.
4. Pour into soap molds and allow it to harden for at least one hour. Press mold to release soap. Makes three bars of soap.


Note: many soap recipes use lye, but these require precise measurement due to the compound’s reactive characteristics.

Shampoo:


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap (scented or unscented)
  • 1/2 teaspoon jojoba, grape seed, or other light vegetable oil
  • Optional 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint essential oil, tea tree essential oil, or other scent
  • Shake before use