Remember when we told you that thyme is a more effective acne treatment than benzoyl peroxide?
So why is it that we hardly ever see thyme used as an ingredient? Granted, it is present in one of our favorites, Osmia Organics Spot Treatment (love this gem!), but what if you need something more? Something that you could smear liberally across your shoulders if your yoga sweats were so intense it caused the dreaded bacne (ew, that word!).
One of our lovely readers couldn’t find her ideal acne-fighting product either, so she made her own! Check out this fun DIY and let us know what you think. If you’re still looking for answers after this, don’t forget about our Best of NMDL post on Natural Adult-Acne Cures.
—Current hometown: New Prague, MN
—Product name that I made up: BB oil (Blemish Banish)
- 7 1/2 tsp apricot kernel oil (can be substituted with meadowfoam or cherry kernel oil)
- 3 tsp neem oil
- 140 drops thyme extract (that’s 1/2 tsp+80 drops)
- 40 drops tea tree oil
- fragrant essential oil (optional)
Hint: If you really don’t want to stink like neem, feel free to replace it with tamanu or whatever other potent oil you like.
—How I made it: I know most people measure oils in ounces or grams, but I’m too lazy to bother with the hassle and just converted it to everyday teaspoons instead. I sterilized everything with alcohol and poured the ingredients into an amber 2-oz bottle with a dropper attached. It’s best to shake really well before using because the oils still tend to separate a bit.
—How it smelled, felt, worked: It smells like neem, which is very pungent and strong. Some people like the smell, but most are turned off by it. Loading up on essential oils could mask it somewhat, but if you can’t stand it, use something else. It feels like, well, oil. It works very verrry well, but I’m not going to claim this is a miracle product. You still have to watch your diet.
—Why I will or won’t do this again: Since the results are good, I will make this again, probably tweaking ingredients around and adding something new. I hardly ever stick with original formulas, and this one is very basic.
Random tips: to really give acne the boot, I make two masks once or twice weekly: (1) Fuller’s earth clay, and (2) this Ayurveda inspired hydrating and purifying face mask. Fuller’s earth is the strongest of all clays and is super effective at pulling out all kinds of gunk, so it’s probably not the best choice for really sensitive or mature skin. The Ayurvedic mask uses pretty simple ingredients, but it packs a powerful punch. I first let the clay sit for half an hour, then wash it off and follow with the Ayurvedic one. Why I use them together—the clay pulls everything out and the second one puts nutrients in. It works.
P.S. This oil is not greasy, but in hot weather anything can happen. To keep the shine off I top it with Coastal Scents Silica spheres (a cheaper equivalent to RMS Un-Powder).
As a little safety precaution to our readers, please note that the recipe calls for thyme EXTRACT, not thyme essential oil, which is super sensitizing and should be only be used in highly diluted formulations. 140 drops of thyme essential oil would probably melt your skin.
It’s Friday and I’m thinking about my weekend. I’ll be traveling, which means figuring out how to recharge without the luxury of time to myself. No lounging about au naturel with my newspapers and a rich face mask. No long walks in the arboretum or people gazing from the patio of my favorite Capitol Hill cafe. This weekend will be a fast-paced punch in the face, leaving stars in my eyes come Monday morning, but I say bring it! I’ve got this.
Even in a rush or away from home, you can build in moments of pure detachment from your daily thought load and engage your senses in an elemental way, the kind that really hits reset. For me, the answer is always flowers. The biggest reason I’m drawn to natural products—at least the most carnal reason—is the heavenly (earthly?) scent of expertly blended essential oils and flower essences.
Flowers are my greatest source of therapy and I suspect they play a role in your pretty life, too.
Here are my flower picks for a hectic weekend on the go…
Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy: This weekend I’ll be driving up the east coast in heavy Friday evening traffic. Tomorrow I’ll venture even further up the coast by train. Hope Gillerman’s Travel Remedy will steady any motion sickness and help me feel grounded as my surroundings change. The lemon-balm scent comes from a blend of some of my favorite oils: litsea cubeba, lavender, palmarosa, orange, atlas cedar, petitgrain, and birch. This travel staple comes in a small roll-on bottle, perfect for your purse.
LURK PRJ V1: Have you tried this natural fragrance line? Are these precious little bottles to die for or what? It was a great pleasure to sample the LURK line and speak with the lovely founder, Anne Sanford, at the Night For Green Beauty. PRJ V1 is a heady, sensuous blend with a crisp finish that keeps the overall effect fresh. Expect a perfect marriage of jasmine, rose, and petitgrain. Dab it generously on your wrists and behind your ears and come back for more as often as you please.
Bach’s White Chestnut Flower Essence: The unfinished chores or other loose ends in my life won’t bother me while I’m away. Nope, White Chestnut flower essence will interrupt the endless to-do lists that run through my head and help me live in the moment, unencumbered by worries that just aren’t productive. Have you tried flower essences?
One Love Organics Vitamin D Mist: The latest collaboration from dream team Suzanne LeRoux and Elizabeth Dehn is a gorgeous aromatic mist that kisses your face with gentle alpine rose, and this baby is multifaceted. I’ll use it to rehydrate throughout my trip, set my makeup in the mornings, and tone my face in the evening. The bottle delivers a super fine mist that floats onto your skin, unlike some that drench your face in one spot. The formula features antibacterial Shiitake mushroom extract, which soothes irritation and redness. The rosey scent is faint but marvelous.
Pratima Amla Collagen Cream: This is the only cream that can lure me away from my precious oils. It has a cooling effect on my Pitta skin, and though it is meant to treat dry skin, this cream is not heavy and sinks in beautifully. I love to smooth this over my neck and décolleté. The texture and Ayurvedic ingredients are simple and divine, but it’s the scent that has me hooked. Organic essential oils of rose, geranium, lemon, and cardamom give this cream a sweet, delicate aroma that makes me feel well-loved and dreamy. Its skin-plumping effect doesn’t hurt, either.
Rishi Wild Rose Tea: This tea is one of those little luxuries that makes me stop and appreciate my position in life. The delicate rose aroma soothes and rejuvenates my spirit. The flavor is subtle, not overpowering or too floral. I like to add some mint leaves to the blend for a mid-morning refresher, or drink with some honey in the evening to wind down. Traveling with loose tea can be impractical, but T-Sacs make it easy. Pop into a Starbucks, grab a free cup of hot water, and brew your own elevating rose tea.
Erbaviva Relax Spray: Organic lavender, rose, and neroli lend a tranquilizing sensation to this travel-worthy blend. I spritz this in the air and on my pillow just before hopping into bed. It helps me feel at ease, open to rest, and at home in an unfamiliar bed. Get the travel size and thank me latter.
What are your flower powers? How do you enhance your wellbeing on the go?
“Does anyone actually use aromatherapy every day?!”
I was asked this very reasonable question the other day at work. My answer: “Have you ever been in my office?”
I get it, though. Even for those of us who embrace integrative medicine, use organic beauty products and regularly get stuck with tiny needles, aromatherapy can seem a little frou-frou: an indulgence, a touch cosmetic. For a long time, that’s how I felt. Sure, I always had some cheap lavender by the bed. An old friend called it my “sleep juice” because I’d developed a habit of dabbing a little on the skin under my nose before retiring, but that’s as far as I went. I suspected aromatherapy might be a very useful tool, if only I could remember to use the stuff.
Since then I’ve developed a more sophisticated relationship with essential oils. If you haven’t done the same, I’d like to encourage you to.
That’s because aromatherapy can, I believe, kill a cold in its tracks, transform your stressful day into a productive one, help you unwind after work, gear you up for important meetings, and, much more simply, make you feel happy. It also has the added benefit of helping those around you, too, without them even realizing it.
I’m getting pretty deep into researching how aromatherapy really works and when I’m done, I’ll share that. For now, I’ll share the six products, from three lines, that I use every single day:
We’ve discussed this one before. As much as it is, in fact, an irritability zapper, this is also my daily perfume. There’s no getting around it: People freak out when they smell it. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s complex and gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. A lady on the train stopped me the other week—it’s the only way I can handle commuting on the jam-packed 4 train at 8 am—and asked me what I was wearing. I dug into my giant bag and produced the little vial to show her. Her eyes went wild while she smelled it, so I invited her to put some on. She did, and then pulled out a notebook to write down its name. “You made everyone on the train happy just by coming on this car!” I melted…and I kind of think she was right.
When I use it: Before I get on the subway in the morning, before hot dates, before important meetings.
How it makes me feel: Like…myself? In a good way.
We wrote in the book that we’d wear this as perfume, too, if it weren’t for its completely unsubtle narcotic properties. This stuff knocks me out, inducing sleep as deep as a baby’s. I like to shake a few drops onto my hands, cup them over my nose, then take 10 very deep breaths. I try not to do this every night, lest it stop working at some point. I gave this stuff to a colleague when she was going through a terrible breakup and she swore up and down it worked. I’ve subjected boyfriends to it, too. I’ve yet to find someone upon whom it does not cast a sleepy spell.
When I use it: Only the second I’m ready to sleep. It works usually within 10 minutes.
How it makes me feel: Couldn’t tell you. I’m asleep, remember?
3. Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy. Hope Gillerman is, I’m convinced, the standard-bearer for high-quality, potent EOs that work almost medicinally—and I’m not just saying that because she’s my next-door neighbor. She’s a natural healer, and I first met her a couple of years ago when she gave me a complimentary Alexander Technique treatment. That was so cool! Even cooler, for me at the time, was the aromatherapy 101 class she gave me before the session. I left her office with the Stress Remedy, which I adore. But lately, my go-to is her Travel Remedy. I wrote about it recently, when I started using it to fend off a seasonal cold. I’ve also used her Muscle Relief on my achey bones (and the achey bones of skeptics): always works. And on my desk at work, I have her Tension Remedy. It’s invigorating and a little zesty, perking me up when I’m computer-tired or anxious about a big meeting. Works every time.
When I use it: All day. Travel Remedy when I feel rundown; Stress when I’m feeling unshiny and haggard from a tough day; Muscle after a killer yoga glass or boot camp; Tension on the go, during the work day.
How it makes me feel: I’ve already explained this, but let me add: The Stress and Tension remedies make me feel much more present, much more in the moment.
Your turn. What’s been your experience with aromatherapy? Anything you love or—gasp—can’t live without?
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.]
Last week I fretted over all the terrible, toxic things in my toothpaste. Lo and behold, Lindsay has sent us a wonderful—and beautifully photographed, I might add—recipe to make our own clean toothpaste at home. I’ve gone in and out of using baking soda on my teeth, and really enjoy it (and notice a difference in my teeth) when I do. Is this something you’ve given a whirl?
—Current hometown: Seattle, WA
—Product name that I made up: Remineralizing Tooth Powder
—Ingredients list: 2 T. calcium carbonate, 2 T. baking soda, 1 T. myrrh powder, 1 T. sage, 1 t. raspberry leaves (or dried lemon peel or fennel or cloves), 10-20 drops essential oils (peppermint, lemon, clove, cinnamon, tea tree, spearmint, or wintergreen are good choices)
—How I made it: Toss all ingredients into a spice grinder and give it a good whirl. Transfer into a flip top bottle for easy and hygienic application onto a wet toothbrush or put a pea-sized amount on your palm and pick it up with a wet toothbrush.
—How it smelled, felt, worked: I used lemon and peppermint essential oils, so together with the sage, it smelled a bit earthy and minty fresh! My teeth felt squeaky clean just like after a trip to the dentist. I’ve been using it for the last several months, so I’m used to it not tasting sweet, but if you prefer a touch of sweetness, ~1 T. of Xylitol or Stevia may be added.
—Why I will or won’t do this again: I’ll totally do this again! I’ve never felt that commercial or even all-natural toothpastes got my teeth very clean. My mouth has never felt so healthy, even though I haven’t been to the dentist in two years (Yikes! Must fix that soon. Any holistic dentist recommendations in the Seattle area?). My gums don’t bleed anymore when I (occasionally) floss. My next step is to try oil pulling!
P.S. Some people might be concerned with the abrasiveness of baking soda, but according to an abrasive index of toothpastes called the RDA index, it’s actually just a step above water. A toothpaste or powder needs a certain amount of abrasiveness to be effective, but it’s important to grind the myrrh powder, sage, and raspberry leaves into small enough particles so that they don’t damage your enamel.
Oooh, interesting note. Thanks for sending Lindsay!