Is there anyone who doesn’t like a chance to soak in the tub?
Maybe it doesn’t happen too often, but that just means it should be more special. Even my son loves a soak after hockey – the warmth and the salts are great for healing muscles and general relaxing. But is there scientific evidence supporting the use of bath salts?
Bath salts are said to be good for all kinds of things, from treating psoriasis to muscle soreness to arthritis. There’s evidence for positive effects on the skin, such as cleansing, improving hydration, and decreasing redness (it seems most of the studies are done with Dead Sea salt). There are claims of the minerals in a sea salt bath being absorbed into the body, and though the amount may be small, it does seem that some absorption does occur (particularly magnesium). So, let’s just say that bath salts are good for the skin and may treat a variety of skin conditions, as well as helping conditions like sore muscles. I personally feel that a sea salt bath improves muscle soreness over a warm bath without salts. It definitely makes my skin softer, and helps heal inflamed spots, like a rash or pimple.
Bath salts are one of those things that I feel I can make so easily myself it’s rarely worth spending money on a brand. I’m not dissing the brands out there – and I’ve been known to keep some brands around or gift them – but especially if you use them often you may want to make your own. The other reason I like to make bath salts myself is that I don’t like a lot of oil mixed in with the salts. This is purely laziness, as I don’t like to have to scrub the tub out very often.
1. Choose your salts. There are so many to choose from, and you can use a single one or mix them. A mix is often pretty in a glass container, so nice for a gift or to pretty up your bathroom. My preference, based largely on simplicity and the nice grain size (I use it as a scrub, too), is plain Dead Sea Salt that I buy in bulk. Mountain Rose Herbs and SaltWorks carry a variety of salts, and have information about each.
2. Add essential oils, if you like. There are oils for energizing, relaxing, detoxing, etc. My favorite sources for info are Mountain Rose Herbs (you can buy the oils there too) and Hope Gillerman’s Essential Oils Deck. Add a few to several drops of a single EO or blend per cup of salts, depending on how strong you want the scent. Lately I’ve been leaving the salt plain, and adding my EO of choice directly to the bath after the salt goes in. That way I’m not committing to any particular scent in a big batch of salts. But premixing is a good way to go, too. My current favorite EO detox blend is a little different each time I make it, but let’s just say this: 5 drops sandalwood, 5 drops helichrysum, 15 drops grapefruit, 15 drops fennel, and 3 drops spearmint. This will last through several baths.
3. Add an oil, if you like. Jojoba, sunflower, or sweet almond are popular. But you can really use pretty much anything that doesn’t compete with your scent oils. You can decide your proportion of oil, probably 10-20% of the salt volume. Just remember the oils make it tougher to clean your tub!
4. Add any extras. Maybe crushed seaweed, or dried flowers or herbs. There may or may not be therapeutic benefits here, but it will make a pretty and nice smelling mix.
Often ½ cup to 1 cup of your mix per bath of comfortably warm water is recommended, but you can play with that as desired. Sometimes I put in lots of salt. Sometimes I sit in the tub, stick my legs out of the water, and use the salt as a scrub. Then when I get back under the water it mixes in so all my skin can benefit. I especially like to sink down so the salt water gets on my underarms. This feels very cleansing, and if I have any irritation there the salts help. If the water is too hot or you are recently shaved, the salt might sting a bit, especially at first, so be careful.
Do you use bath salts?
Meet Rachel and her eclectic routine that mixes DIY with off-the-shelf, and a lot of clean with a little dirty. She also blogs about clean beauty! Woot. (PS you guys, it’s supposed to be stars from the distant past, but these Canadian twins are pretty adorable so we’re letting it slide… :)
Hometown: St. Paul, MN
Weather: Winter. It’s mostly been below zero, but we’ve had a few warmer days. Mother Nature can’t make up her mind!
Hair: Shoulder length, henna-ed, limp and fine
Skin: Mostly clear, thanks to an 8-month round of low-dose Accutane I did about a year and a half ago (I know, I know… I hope you can trust me when I say I had previously tried everything and nothing helped. It truly was a last resort). After Accutane, my dermatologist put me on a prescription anti-acne topical cream to keep things clear. I stopped using it a few weeks ago, and I recently switched from the pill to a copper IUD, so I do have a few blemishes right now. Nothing serious. I do have some scarring and general sensitivity, and I blush easily (oh, the joys of being a fair-skinned redhead).
Favorite star: Tegan and Sara (sorry, I had to pick both, they’re kind of a package deal…)
In the shower…
I start out with a DIY sugar/argan oil/honey scrub and I tackle my face, pits, knees and elbows. I shampoo and condition with Acure (the mint version for fine/limp hair). While the conditioner works its magic, I exfoliate the rest of my body with a Shoba exfoliating cloth. I only use bar soap on my pits, feet, and nethers (right now it’s Shea Moisture Frankincense and Myrrh but I switch soaps after each bar). For shaving my pits, there’s usually enough oil leftover from the scrub for a smooth shave. Everywhere else, I just use soap.
I usually only shower every other day. On my off-days, I cleanse my pits and nethers with a hot washcloth, rinse my face with warm water, and use Acure dry shampoo in my hair. I really can’t get away with washing my hair less than every other day. It’s just too fine and it starts to look pretty greasy, especially in the bang area.
Outside the shower…
I moisturize my entire body with whatever carrier oil I’m in the mood for (I tend to rotate between grapeseed, apricot kernel, and just this week I started using coconut oil, which I LOVE). I make sure to moisturize my pits, either with coconut oil or a DIY cream I whipped up (made of shea butter, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and essential oils). Using one of these each morning seems to boost the effectiveness of deodorant. I use Soapwalla cream deodorant most days, and on shaving days I use one of those salt crystals you wet down. On my face, I use Pangea Organics Rose/White tea eye cream and 3 drops of argan oil all over my face. I do need to start incorporating sunscreen into my daily routine; I’m not getting any younger, and besides, I burn pretty easily. That will be my next project!
This is where my routine takes a turn for the dirty. I can’t seem to give up perfume or make-up. I enjoy them too much! I have switched some of my make-up products to slightly cleaner brands, but I know I can probably do better.
I use Tarte for most of my make-up products (undereye concealer, powder, bronzer, blush, eyelid primer, eyeshadow, and mascara). For eyeliner, I tend to alternate between Physician’s Formula, Urban Decay (both pencil), and Eyeko (liquid). To fill in my brows I use Alima Pure loose eyeshadow. I use S.W. Basics of Brooklyn (formerly Sprout) lip balm like it’s going out of style — it is hands-down the best lip balm I’ve ever used.
I don’t put any other product in my hair, I just blow it dry and go. On days/nights when I plan on going out or looking fancier, I use a bit of hairspray and gentle teasing to try and boost volume at the roots.
At night I remove my make-up with S.W. Basics make-up remover and a cotton ball and I wash with local raw organic honey. I just started mixing coconut oil with the honey before applying it to my face (it smells so good!) and I find that is a very nice touch for winter. Then I use eye cream and argan oil and I call it a night.
There you have it!
Acne sufferers, rejoice! We have a new mask to share!
Current hometown: New Orleans
Product name that I made up: Caroline’s Serious Acne-Busting Mask
Ingredients list: bentonite clay, 1 MSM capsule, spirulina powder, ACV or lemon juice
How I made it: Combine one teaspoon of bentonite clay, 1/4 teaspoon of spirulina powder, and the contents of one MSM capsule in a small bowl. Add enough ACV or lemon juice to make a paste. The acid reacts with the clay to make a beautiful fluffy texture so you don’t have to mix as much. Stir as needed. Apply to a clean face for 20-30 minutes and rinse off with warm water. Be sure not to rub the mask off until you have softened it up with water, or it can irritate your skin.
How it smelled, felt, worked: This mask smells like spirulina. It gives the mask a really gorgeous forest green color and protective antioxidants, but you can leave it out if the smell bothers you or add some essential oils to cover it up. As the mask dries it gets pretty tight. My skin is not the least bit sensitive, so if your skin is sensitive you could try making the mask with water instead of acid or washing it off sooner.
Why I will or won’t do this again: I have been using this mask for two or so weeks. I will do it once or twice a week to clear up any residual acne before school starts! That being said, this is a serious mask that might not work for more sensitive or mature skin types.
Sounds intense but great. Next time we break out, you can believe we’ll be trying this one. Anyone have a go-t0 acne mask?
We haven’t posted one of these in a while—and this is a goodie! Here’s why: I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve spent a very pretty penny on whipped shea butter in my day, especially for the ones that smell like vanilla and/or citrus. I’ve also given this as a luxurious gift to friends, and they always love it (boys too). But not once did I think of whipping my own, and scenting it with my favorite essential oils. This is a genius plan for the holidays, and also a great gift if you have any friends who are expecting (though in that case, we suggest going scent-free or just using a bit of vanilla).
Aw, thanks Aileen, and keep spreading the word! It feels like people are starting to catch on. :) Now, who’s gonna whip up some shea?[Note: We still have plenty of great recipes in our inbox, but we want more! Don't forget to send yours.]
If you had told me two years ago that I’d be making my own deodorant, I’d have thought you were crazy.
“I’m just not that crunchy, and I certainly don’t have the time,” I would have said, probably accompanied by an eye-roll and further snarky comments. But it turns out it’s fun to mix up potions. It suits both the scientist and the witch in me.
Like most of us, I’m sure, I’m crazy busy. I have a full-time job, plus another half a job, a kid, and a really immature husband (so it’s like having two kids). What ultimately motivated me to try DIY was my skin: I’m so sensitive that even clean products don’t always fit my needs. That’s why I want to encourage others to try DIY, especially those of you who think you’d never do it. Because it doesn’t have to be either/or: I will always love to use brand-name products, but there are a few things I regularly make for myself, too.
Remember that when it comes to DIY, it’s whatever you want it to be. You could make something really luxurious or something very simple and inexpensive. DIY can meet very specific needs, and is likely to be cheaper, especially in the long term. Your DIY will also make sweet gifts.
With that said, here are some pointers that may help you get started…
1. Keep it clean. Use your NMDL radar when researching DIY, because not all the people talking about it are into clean ingredients.
2. Use the right materials for mixing. Try Pyrex to heat/mix in, and wooden or silicone utensils. I’ve often seen the advice to avoid metal for DIY, and I find it easy to believe some ingredients could react with the metal. I break the rule a little with occasional use of an immersion mixer, and I measure dry ingredients in metal.
3. Don’t microwave. If you have to heat you ingredients, do so gently, double-boiler style, and avoid microwaving. You want to preserve the healing qualities of your ingredients. Also, if you overheat, it will change the consistency of your final product.
4. Recycle. Save pretty glass containers from your other products for storage, or you can buy these fairly cheaply. I have found some BPA-free plastics that I use for certain things.
5. Work with your own budget. DIY is as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be. You can choose fancy or common carrier oils and butters, high end or modestly priced essential oils, etc.
6. Start small. Begin with something simple to convince yourself you can do it. Get some bulk sea salt and a few essential oils you like, and mix up bath salts. Or melt your favorite butter (like shea or cocoa) with a lighter oil (try a 3:1 ratio), and add EOs (or not) to make a great body butter that will do wonders for your hands and feet.
7. Copy your favorites. When you are ready for something more advanced and experimental, use the ingredients list of your favorite products as a jumping off point.
8. Find a good shop. Look for a local brick and mortar to buy ingredients and packaging. Or try these:
Mountain Rose Herbs, for everything—EOs, butters, oils, packaging—and it’s all super clean.
Elements Bath and Body, for ingredients and packaging. They aren’t all clean, so use discretion. I mention them for their awesome BPA-free twist up tubes I use for deodorant.
Skin Actives, for active ingredients. I buy individual actives from them, but the ready-mades are not clean.
American Weigh, for a scale to weigh your actives. I have the AMW-70 Precision Pocket Scale.
I love the recipes readers have been posting (you can find them here, or by doing your own a DIY search on our site). Have you been inspired yet? If you have, what helped you get started?