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!
Happy cold and flu season!
Here’s something I think about every day: When it comes to my health, I’m really pretty lucky. I almost never get sick. I’ve never broken a bone. For years I was convinced that as a little girl, I’d dislocated my shoulder playing Ring Around the Rosie, but that one didn’t make it through fact checking (my mom). Turns out I just did the fall-down part too early and my shoulder got yanked. It hurt, and we went to the hospital, but I was fine.* Fine.
I know how rare this is. I work at a major health magazine, Prevention, where we think about the diseases that affect our readers—and Americans in general—every single day. (Come to our website! I’m biased but it’s awesome.) We run this healthy-living and beauty site in our spare time. And I’ve seen so much illness in my own family that I don’t know where to begin, nor do I want to. Point is, I’m blessed and I’m grateful.
That’s why it’s sort of lame that I become a big fat whiny baby every time I feel a slight burn behind my eyes or a tickle in my throat. No one especially likes getting sick the same way no one especially likes raw eggplant, or condoms, or conference calls. But I know plenty of people who tolerate the common cold better than I do. Me, I panic, then I pull out all the stops. I’d invent my own snake oil and buy it from myself at a premium if I thought it would work.
I don’t have to, though, because I’ve come to rely on a few strategies that I’m convinced make a huge difference. Being proactive about health and focusing on prevention whenever possible is my MO. But am I actually onto something or is this just another episode of Siobhan Plays Placebo and Hopes For the Best?
I decided to, like my mom, do a little fact checking. Here, the 6 tricks I use to fight off colds—plus, a little research to confirm how on (or off) the mark these natural tricks are. Here’s what I found.
1. Ginger everything Health nuts love to put the stuff in their tea and smoothies when they’re getting sick so I was shocked to find that science doesn’t appear to support it. There’s some decent data that says it’s helpful for nausea, morning sickness, upset stomach etc. There’s also great new research about its possible ability to blast cancerous cells. But it’s not, from what I can tell, the everyday “immune booster” we like to think it is. That being said, I go crazy on the stuff whenever I feel a little something coming on. The other night, I made carrot-ginger soup and ate it at every meal for three days. Today, I asked the juice lady to put extra ginger in my smoothie. Before bed tonight, I’ll probably grate some into a mug of piping-hot water. I don’t know if it works, but I think it does. Tasty, too.
2. Hope Gillerman’s Travel Remedy We have told you before how much we love Hope’s essential oil blends. I keep a few handy, and as soon as the season started changing here in New York, I was super drawn to her Travel Remedy. I’d heard it could help with seasonal shifts, but I thought that was mostly in promoting wakefulness when it’s dark out and deeper sleep at night. I’ve used it for jet lag in the past (it works), but a few weeks ago, I started massaging some of this oil to my chest and shoulders before I shower in the morning. It smells unreal, and it’s a lovely way to start the day, but I wanted to know if I was onto something or just flying by the seat of my pants for no reason. Here’s what Hope said:
“You are not just placebo-ing. You are using a perfect oil to support the immune system and ward off cold and flu this time of year!”
Oh reeeeeally. Here’s what else she said: “Litsea, the lemony oil you smell, is an important oil when you get sick during seasonal change or when weather becomes damp and cold. Plus this blend is antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral for super immune support.” Well I’ll be damned. I’m 1 for 2.
3. Sleep Right. So when I feel like I’m getting sick, I tend to cancel plans a lot, drink less wine, and sleep more. I believe this works, and science supports me on that. You know this already, and I do too.
4. Massage, yoga, sex I lump these together because they have proven immune-boosting benefits, can help balance your hormones, and feel really, really good. As long as you have enough energy to make it to class or the spa, or have a buddy around who isn’t a germophobe, I say it’s worth a shot. No hard science on cold-prevention, though.
5. Honey You already know that honey is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. So at the very first sign of any throat discomfort, I recommend sucking on a spoonful of raw honey (with the propolis and enzymes, naturally). The science here is equivocal, but it’s been a folk remedy for millennia, and I think history might beat peer-reviewed double blinds in this case. And if you’re already sick, a cool new study showed it to be an effective cough suppressant, too.
6. Turning your head when other people cough or sneeze. I dug up an interesting bit of research that supports my very strong urge to move to another car on the train when some guy sneezes not into his shirt sleeve. We’re coded to react this way in order to protect ourselves from catching whatever contagious sick people have. Another bit I heard recently—from an expert, though I don’t have the supporting research—is that turning away your face when someone coughs or sneezes can mean the difference between feeling fine and wasting a weekend in cold-and-flu hell. That’s because your eyes, nose and mouth are how most bad airborne germs make their way into your body. Shield these three entry points and you have a better chance of staying healthy.
So I’m 4 for 6. Your turn! What do you swear by to fight off colds—or cure them once they’ve started? Everyone does something. DIY? OTC? Herbs? Magical spells? We want to know what YOU do.
* Yes, I knocked wood like 10 times while writing this paragraph.
Crop of one of my favorite Richard Prince paintings, Nurse In Love, via his site
This is a totally selfish post. LA has been hot as heck, and I’m basically out of all working deodorants. I’ve been testing a few I have around the house, but none are actually doing the trick. In short, I smell. Tosha, who lives by my in-laws in beautiful Midway (I’ll be there this weekend!) and whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, also has her own line called Essentially Basic. So the girl’s been cooking up recipes in her kitchen for ages and is a total pro. Enjoy!
—Name: Tosha Arnout
—Current hometown: Midway, UT
—Product name that I made up: So Fresh Deodorant
—Ingredients list: Coconut oil, beeswax, baking soda, redmond clay, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil.
—How I made It: melted the ingredients and stirred everything in
—How it smelled, felt, worked: It smelled refreshing and clean. It worked great for me, I was having a stinky problem since I had my baby boy.
Why I will or won’t do this again: I will do this again if I need it. Sometimes I don’t need deodorant, sometimes I do, crazy hormones.
Here’s the recipe!
Coconut Oil 1/2 cup
Baking Soda 3 TBS
Redmond Clay 4 TBS
Beeswax 2 TBS
Tea Tree Essential Oil 60 drops
Eucalyptus Essential Oil 60 drops
Lavender Essential Oil 15 drops
Melt coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler. I put a 2 cup glass pyrex container in a pan of water on low
heat. Make sure the water doesn’t get in the cup.
When they are melted, stir in the remaining ingredients and remove from heat. The redmond clay is to absorb
oil. You may also use kaolin clay. Pour into old deodorant containers or something that you can push up.
This worked great. It was my third batch so I learned from my mistakes! It did eliminate body odor which I have
been struggling with since the birth of my baby boy. The first batch didn’t have enough clay so I had coconut
pit stains, pretty unattractive! Adding clay eliminated that problem.
Other essential oils to add: orange, tangerine, lime, ylang ylang and grapefruit.
Sounds amazing! Sorry there hasn’t been more Alexandra and Siobhan original content this week—there’s been a lot going on! I do have a slew of things I’m dying to write about: like my new favorite cleanser (from a girl who doesn’t even like cleansers), the world’s most amazing nail file, and of course my Why Am I Like This? I look forward to some quiet writing time in the mountains this weekend—what do you guys have planned?
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?