Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Baking Soda and Dental Care

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Essentials about Essential Oils

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

Essential oils are perhaps the oldest known element in following a “natural health” regimen…dating back to the ancient Egyptians, who seem to have used them as far back as 3500BC for religious, cosmetic, and health purposes.

Essential oils have been called the “life blood” of the plant and are typically extracted from within the many shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes and seeds in which they are found through the process of steam distillation. These essential oils have been used for both physical and emotional benefits for thousands of years.

Each person will respond to the aroma, or these specific chemical elements, when breathing in the scent of an essential oil, in his or her own unique way…based on individual emotions, behaviors, memories, and experiences.

That being said, certain essential oils are always considered to have a certain effect regardless of these factors. Certain oils simply almost always seem more uplifting, more invigorating, more calming, more soothing….

In a future post, I will be sharing a list of the best essential oils to use when fighting insomnia.

 

But what good is that list of essential oils and a brand new vial of essential oil…if you’re like I was the first time that I purchased essential oil. It sat in my bathroom for years before I finally gave it away to my daughter because I had no clue what to do with it…(okay, did I just admit that?!)

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

Essential oils can have a huge positive influence on us both physically and psychologically.

Physically, using essential oils aromatically can help heal and maintain the respiratory system by improving the quality of the air we are breathing and protecting us from environmental threats…

Psychologically, using essential oils aromatically can help control moods, tension, and stress.

But first, how and why do essential oils work aromatically?

When you inhale essential oils, you are actually breathing in a fine mist or vapor of the actual oil. This vapor contains all the same properties of the actual liquid oil itself, just in a different format.

Once you have inhaled the vapor, the scent of the essential oil interacts with smell receptors located in the brain, known as “olfactory sensors.”

These “olfactory sensors” are part of the “olfactory system,” the part of the brain that regulates our sense of smell. The “olfactory system” part of the brain is located near and closely connected to the limbic system.

Once the scent is processed by the olfactory system, it travels through the olfactory nerve to the limbic system.

The “limbic system” is the part of the brain responsible for processing smell, emotions, behavior, memory, and thoughts…and that can help us feel calm, encouraged, and so forth. Here, the scent triggers responses in the brain based on memories and experiences.

Notice that the limbic system, the part of the brain most closely connected with the olfactory system, is not connected with processing sight, sound, or touch…explaining why smell, more than any of the other five senses, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.

And why essential oils have a particularly powerful effect when used aromatically.

 

Getting Dressed

8 Reasons Even Southern Women Who Like to Fish and Hunt Should Consider Switching to Organic Cosmetics


To a Southern woman, taking away our “beauty products” is similar to taking away firearms to a Southern man. We realize that “Even an old barn looks better with a fresh coat of paint. We consider putting on a full face of makeup is actually part of putting on the “full armor of God…after all, the higher the hair, the closer to God.

But even Southern women are becoming more and more concerned about the fact that many ingredients in our beauty and personal care products expose the wearer to a range of health concerns and may be linked to illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Even if most of us are not tree huggers…(after all, we love our bacon and fried chicken way too much to ever be vegetarians…the only reason we buy fabric shopping bags is so that our groceries won’t fall out of the bottom of the bag when we carry them into the house because the bagged at Walmart refused to double-bag them)…we do respect the idea that using certain products “harms the environment,” and we like river rafting and fishing way too much to simply stand by and let that happen.

Here are ten good reasons that even Southern women should consider switching to organic cosmetics instead of simply using the Cover Girl foundation and Bonne Belle bright blue eyeshadow that we all grew up with.

1. Organic 

cosmetics will not harm the environment

…and that’s one less thing to worry about while we’re getting dressed to go deer hunting or bass fishing….or watch some Bulldogs fight some Razorbacks.Conventional beauty products often contain aluminum and petroleum. Retrieving the aluminum and petroleum needed to make cosmetics requires a great deal of mining to be done in some of the world’s most beautiful and sensitive areas, such as the Amazon rainforest. Every year miles of land are destroyed and stripped of vital wildlife.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hesitant to all ask ourselves about every single product that we use while getting dressed…

  • Is the packaging recyclable?
  • Were the ingredients in the product grown with synthetic chemicals and fertilizers?
  • What happens when those chemicals go down the drain?
  • What will this do to our water supply and the local ecosystems?

2. Organic cosmetics contain no harsh chemicals...

Conventional makeup often contains chemicals that can not only cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, but many of these chemicals are downright poisonous to the endocrine system.

For example, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72M of damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades.

To make matters worse, The FDA has not formally regulated beauty ingredients since 1938.

A few of the main toxic chemicals found in beauty and skincare products include….

  • Formaldehyde, often found in baby ‘no tear’ shampoos and haircare products, liquid soaps, nail polish, may be a contributing factor in cancer development if inhaled or absorbed through the skin for a prolonged period of time.
  • Lead, often found in lipsticks and toothpaste, can cause brain damage, seizures, gastrointestinal issues, reproductive dysfunction, and kidney dysfunction.
  • Nitrosamine, found in almost everything, can form when certain chemical ingredients are mixed together and are usually not listed as an actual ingredient….yet many studies link nitrosamine to cancer. In 1996, the FDA “suggested” that cosmetic manufacturers remove any ingredients that create nitrosamine when combined with other chemicals, but this suggestion has been pretty much  ignored. In fact, ten percent of cosmetics still contain combinations of ingredients that create nitrosamines.
  •  Parabens…such as propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben….are found in almost any beauty product that has water added to it. Parabens have been shown to disrupt hormones and have the potential to cause cancer. A 2004 study found parabens in 18 out of 20 samples of human breast tissue. Parabens are in almost 100% of drugstore skincare products and cosmetics.
  • Phthalates…found in nail polish, air fresheners, perfumes, body sprays, detergents, and soaps…are not commonly listed as an ingredient, but a study by SafeCosmetics.org, found phthalates in at least 72 products they tested. Phthalates have been shown to disrupt hormones and decrease sperm count.

3. Organic makeup is better for your skin...

Products that are 100% vegan contain no artificial ingredients and are free of preservatives, parabens, additives and sulfates. USDA-certified organic beauty products only include organic ingredients that meet the same growing standards as organic food. Organic makeup is also free of mineral oils which can clog pores and cause skin irritation and breakouts.

4. Organic makeup does not contain harmful, mysterious “fragrances.”… 

Nearly all scented makeup products and perfumes list the word “fragrance,” but companies are not required by the FDA to list the actual ingredients that make up the “fragrance” in their products because that combination of ingredients is classified as a trade secret.

You may never know what harmful chemical components comprise those man-made scents that are actually behind that wonderful scent you so enjoy inhaling. You may actually be breathing in hormone-disrupting chemicals that could lead to infertility, cancer, nervous system disorders, allergies, and birth defects.

If a product is labeled as USDA-certified organic, each ingredient that makes up the “fragrance” will actually be listed individually on the packaging…and the product will include only 100% natural ingredients.

5. Organic makeup can help your skin have a smoother, more youthful appearance

Organic products often contains cocoa butter and various other nutrient-rich oils…such as extracts of white tea, grapes, apricots, and pomegranate seeds. Organic skincare products often contain oils…such as extra virgin coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, and olive oil.

These oils provide the essential fatty acids needed for healthy, youthful skin, act as an antioxidant protective barrier, and may inhibit the production of collagen and elastase, two enzymes that break down the integrity and elasticity of the skin.

 

6. Organic makeup provides a certain level of sun protection

The skin on the face is thinner and more susceptible to UV-related skin aging. Ingredients commonly found in organic cosmetics that can help protect your skin from the sun include…

  • Coconut oil
  • Iron oxide
  • Titanium oxide
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc oxide

 

7. Organic makeup is better for sensitive skin...

Chemical-based cosmetics are more likely to cause skin reactions such as dry rough patches, rashes, rosacia and breakouts.

8. Organic makeup often performs better than traditional products…

Certified-organic beauty products are made with superior ingredients…ingredients that are pure, fresh and simple. Just as the best meals are usually not made ingredients that are pure, fresh and simple, neither are the best beauty products. Better ingredients mean better results.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

As Warm As Toast

One of my original goals when I began this blog was to discover ways to create and enjoy more of a “natural” lifestyle…

But after I started this blog, my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes…

So my focus changed from creating a more natural lifestyle to helping him learn how to cope with having developed the “Southern man’s rite of passage.”

Lately we have been talking about different cooking methods so that we can get back to the Raw Foods Pyramid and learn how to eat better—now only better for your health, but also better than what you’re been eating for the last how many years.

The cooking method that we are learning about now is “deep frying”…

Now we will look at five different batter types…first of all, a baking soda batter…

But before we start looking at baking soda as batter, I thought that I would cover some more of the uses of baking soda…for “beauty,” health and home.

Starting with using baking soda as a deodorant…

Okay, enough of a road map…to try to convince you that I haven’t veered totally off course with my priorities…

Let’s move on…

—————————————————-

Becoming a Smarter Consumer

Many of us have started paying way more attention to the ingredients in the products that we buy…making sure that these products do not contain parabens, formaldehyde, aluminum, synthetics, and other harmful additives that might be harmful to both our bodies and our community.

Many of the current skincare and makeup products not only contain these ingredients, but are more likely to irritate the skin, clog the pores, cause even more skin problems.

But on many of these more “politically correct” products, you may find natural cosmetics are much less effective,,,so many of us are starting to make our own alternative products….

In this post, we will look at using baking soda as an alternative to store-bought deodorant…

After all we all have to use it…it’s cheap…and we’ll have to have it on hand when we actually start deep frying our French fries and onion rings…

—————————

Why Baking Soda?

Baking soda is one of the best natural ingredients to use when making your own deodorant…if not the best…for many reasons, including…

  • contains no harsh chemicals, artificial fragrance, or alcohol
  • having antibacterial properties that help control the bacteria that grows in our underarms, which cause odor when they break down sweat.
  • helps balance and regulate pH levels in the body
  • neutralizes strong and obtrusive odors effectively—as already proven in its use to deodorize drains, trashcans, dishwashers, and refrigerators
  • offers long-term protection
  • relatively inexpensive
  • removes harmful substances from your body

————————

The How

There are several different options as far as using baking soda for deodorant, including…

  • Adding Baking Soda to the Natural Deodorant You Already Have
  • Baking Soda and Arrowroot Powder
  • Making a Spray Deodorant
  • Plain Baking Soda

There are also ingredients to add that will make your deodorant more effective. These include…

  • Aloe  Vera
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Dried Flowers…such as lavender
  • Essential Oils
  • Shea Butter
  • Vitamin E Oil Gel Caps
  • Witch Hazel

———————-

Recipes

1.Adding Baking Soda to the Natural Deodorant You Already Have…If you find yourself with an arsenal of half-used natural deodorants that you quit using because they were ineffective…as so many are…then “fix” them by adding baking soda. To do this, roll out all of the remaining deodorant in the container. Mash the deodorant in a bowl with an old fork or spoon. Now add at least 3Tbsp baking soda and mix well. Once you have the right consistency – not too hard or too soft – pack your improved deodorant back into the original container and refrigerate for a few hours so it hardens.

2. Baking Soda and Arrowroot Powder…Combine 2Tbsp baking soda and 1/3C arrowroot powder to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine them thoroughly…(more on arrowroot powder later).

3. Making a Spray Deodorant…Combine ½tsp baking soda, ½C witch hazel, and ¼C aloe vera in a spray bottle….(More on witch hazel and aloe vera later)…Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. 

4. Plain Baking Soda…Simply put ⅛tsp…(no, I really don’t expect you to measure it, but you get the point)…in your palm. Now add ¼tsp water to your palm to dissolve the baking soda. The mixture should feel slippery, so add more water or more baking soda as needed. Apply the mixture to your underarms. Allow the mixture to dry before getting dressed.

5. Store Bought Options…Good choices as far as non-DIY OTC natural deodorants include the following…

  • Burt’s Bees
  • JASON
  • Kiss My Face
  • Trader Joe’s

6.  Add-Ins…Finally there are more ingredients that you can add to any of the above recipes, including…

    • Cocoa Butter…2Tbsp cocoa butter
    • Cornstarch…2Tbsp cornstarch
    • Essential oil…10-15 drops of essential oil—such as patchouli, myrrh, tea tree, lavender or orange.
    • Shea Butter…3Tbsp shea butter
    • Vitamin Oil…2 vitamin E oil gel caps

 

 

 


Storing

Regardless which baking soda deodorant you are making, once you finish making it you have two options as far as storing it….either transferring the mixture to a small lidded container or putting it into an empty deodorant stick that you already have.

When you’re not using the deodorant, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

———————-

Using

Regardless which baking soda deodorant you are making, rub a small amount of the mixture on your underarms. Wait up to five minutes before getting dressed to avoid smearing the paste onto your clothing.

Getting Dressed, Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Vegan Hair and Skin Care Ideas for Using The Rest of Your Avocados

IMG_4912

Okay, so now we’ve covered about twenty different ways to incorporate avocados into your daily diet, the reasons why you should add avocados to your family grocery list, and the choosing and care of avocados…

But wait…that’s not all…

 

Avocados and Skin Care…Avocados are good for your skin. Avocados are rich in nutrients—such as fat-soluble vitamins monounsaturated fats, various minerals, and essential fatty acids.Avocados have been shown to improve both the health and tone of your skin, as well as  eliminate signs of premature aging. Avocados are especially great for skin that is dry, chapped or damaged.

Many cosmetic manufacturers add avocado to their products for this reason, but given the fact that the avocados that you can purchase from your local grocer or market are relatively cheap, cruelty free, and contain no added synthetic chemicals, why not use real avocados to enjoy the real benefits of using what might be nature’s best moisturizer.

 

 

Avocado Body Scrub…Avocados can be easily paired with many different ingredients to make a healthy body scrub at home. Most of the following scrub ideas can be used not only in the shower as a body scrub, but also as a scrub or mask for your face, depending on the consistency of the second ingredient.

Here are a few ideas…

Almonds….1C smooshed avocado, 1/4C ground almonds…great for dry skin

Coconut…1C smooshed avocado, 1/4C grated avocado…great for healing scars

Coffee…1C smooshed avocado, 3Tbsp coffee granules…great for getting rid of stretch mark

Honey…1/2C smooshed avocado, 1/4C honey…great for dry skin

Lime…1/2 smooshed avocado, juice of 1 lemon, 1tsp baking soda…great for getting rid of tan lines

Oats…1C smooshed avocado, 1C oats…great for acne

Salt…1/2 smooshed avocado, 4Tbsp rock salt….great for exfoliating

Sugar...1C smooshed avocado, 4tsp sugar, 1tsp olive oil…great for acne

Yogurt…1C smooshed avocado, 1C plain Greek yogurt, 1Tbsp salt…great for moisturizing

 

 

Avocados and Hair…Avocados are also great for nourishing dry and damaged hair. The following avocado hair mask include smoothing and moisturizing your locks without weighing down fine hair, adding shine, and restoring natural luster to your hair.

Avocado Hair Mask…1/2 smooshed avocado, 1 egg, 2 drops peppermint essential oil, 2Tbsp olive oil

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

April Essential Oil of the Month—Chamomile—The How?

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

We are all familiar with chamomile tea, having been read The Tale of Peter Rabbit,  written by Beatrix Potter in 1902, and hearing how chamomile tea was given to Peter after being chased by Mr McGregor.

But chamomile tea has been around since the Indian days, at least.

And it seemed like the Indians enjoyed their chamomile tea. The Tzeltal Mayan Indians in the highlands of southern Mexico brew chamomile tea with an orange and a lime leaf to “lift the mood.” Aleuts brewed chamomile tea to alleviate gas. Drinking the tea was a Cherokee trick for “regularity.”

 

Today chamomile tea remains one of the most popular varieties of tea in the market. In fact more than one million cups of chamomile tea are consumed per day.

But not only has chamomile used for nearly 5,000 years for chamomile tea. Throughout the centuries, there have been many other uses also, including…

 

Bath Soaks…Lavender Chamomile Bath Soak…Combine 1C Epsom Salt, the contents of 2 chamomile tea bags in a blender. Pulverize into a fine powder. Add 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil and 5 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil.

Candles

  • Place soy wax chips in a heatproof glass measuring cup. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until completely melted.
  • Attach a wooden candle wick to its metal tab. Dip the tab in melted wax. Center at bottom of a glass jar.
  • Heat 1Tbsp cooking oil on a stovetop. Steep two chamomile tea bags and 10 drops lavender essential oil until the oil is scented.
  • Remove the tea-infused oil from the heat.
  • Combine tea-infused and oil and the melted wax together.
  • Slowly pour the mixture into your glass jar. Let the wax  cool and solidify. Trim the wood wick.

 Compresses..Steep a chamomile tea bag in boiling water, as if you were going to drink it. Pour tea into a bowl. Let tea cool completely. Add a few ice cubes. Soak a muslin cloth in the cool tea and squeeze out. Place on eyes or sore area and leave for at least ten minutes.

Hand Rinse…Chamomile has been used as a hand rinse for gamblers needing good luck, because of its supposed magical ability to attract money…Steep a chamomile teabag as if you were making yourself a cup of tea. Set aside 1/4C of the tea to cool. Combine ¼C liquid castile soap, ¾tsp olive oil, 8 drops chamomile essential oil, and several drops of Vitamin E oil. Add tea when completely cooled. Mix ingredients well. Pour into a labeled pump bottle.

 

Liqueur...Chamomile has also been used as a flavoring agent for liqueurs such as Benedictine and vermouth…so why not tequila?!

  • Measure out 1C reposado tequila. Add two chamomile tea bags. Let steep thirty minutes. Place this mixture in the fridge for later.
  • Combine 1/2C honey, 2tsp dried lavender, and 1/2C water in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm, stirring once or twice, until the honey melts to make a simple syrup.
  • Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice.
  • Shake 2oz of the tequila mixture, 3/4oz of the simple syrup, 3/4oz freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dash of bitters in a cocktail shaker.

Mouthwash…

  • Combine 1/4C witch hazel, 1/4C aloe vera juice, 1/8C distilled water. Add two drops of chamomile essential oil and two drops of mint essential oil. Shake well. After thirty minutes, set the mixture in the fridge.
  • To use, combine 2Tbsp mixture with 1/4C warm water. 

Perfume…Perfume has been made from the pulverized dry flowers.

  • Combine 6 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops chamomile essential oil, 1Tbsp carrier oil, and 3Tbsp vodka. Shake well. Place in a dark bottle. Let mixture remain undisturbed for two days.
  • After two days, add 2C distilled water. Let mixture stand for at least three weeks in a cool, dark place.
  • After this time, filter the mixture. Store it in a glass bottle that has a stopper.
  • To use, dab on pulse points.

 

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

April Essential Oil of the Month—Chamomile…The Why?

Chamomile, an aromatic herb, has been used throughout most of the world for many centuries and is one of the most ancient and versatile medicinal herbs known to mankind. The plant, with its white daisy like flowers and scent reminiscent of apples or pineapple, is native to Europe and western Asia.

  1. Stress and Anxiety...Chamomile is one the best medicinal herbs for helping to lower stress and anxiety because chamomile helps to increase the levels of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that slow down your mind and eliminate the classic symptoms of stress and anxiety—such as hysteria, nightmares, insomnia, and various digestive problems. Drinking one or two cups of chamomile tea per day or inhaling chamomile essential oils through a diffuser are often recommended as natural remedies for stress, anxiety, and depression.
  2. Skin…Chamomile is often used topically on the skin to help fight skin irritation, heal wounds, treat skin conditions such as eczema, and lessen the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles on the face. Try this recipe for a “natural” Calamine lotion to treat mosquito bites during the summer…
  3. Sleep…Drinking a warm cup of non-caffeinated chamomile tea or diffusing it in the home diffuser can be a very powerful sleep aid, particularly for people who are struggling with restless sleep, insomnia, or other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
  4. Menstrual Discomfort…Chamomile tea is often used when dealing with the symptoms of menstruation—like PMS, bloating, cramping, sweating, inability to sleep, and mood swings. Chamomile tea is often also used in some parts of the world, such as Mexico, to soothe the body and mind and to relax abdominal muscles after giving birth.
  5. Immune SystemChamomile works as both an anti-histamine and an antioxidant, meaning that it can strengthen your body’s immune response to allergens in the body and soothe these allergic reactions before they become serious. The phenolic compounds in chamomile tea have been proven specifically good at fighting bacterial infections in the body, and that six glasses of chamomile tea consumed over a two-week timeframe can significantly improve the body’s ability to fight off  any infections.
  6. Gastrointestinal Issues...Chamomile has been used in many cultures for various stomach ailments—such as upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, mild bloating, IBS symptoms, gas, acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, and motion sickness.
  7. Diabetes…Chamomile helps lower blood sugar levels, regulate the amount of insulin in the blood, and prevent massive drops and spikes in blood sugar.
  8. Pain…Chamomile has been referred to as an “herbal aspirin” and has been a popular home remedy for centuries in reducing pain—especially pain associated with arthritis, injuries, back pain, fevers, and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Essential Oils to Keep…If You’d Like to Be Able to Sleep

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

When I first started using essential oils, I felt overwhelmed by the selections and how little I knew. Which one should I choose, and why? Almost like being a kid in a candy store.

But as I have started reading and studying more about living a healthier lifestyle and beginning new habits, I have also learned more about which essential oils work best for what the problem is.

For example, these are the best essential oils for helping to cure insomnia that are out there…but instead of going into depth about each one of these in this post, I have decided to choose one oil per month, and detail more and more reasons and ways to use that particular essential oil that particular month…

For example, the Essential Oil of the Month is bergamot (see next post…oh wait, you can’t…because at this point I haven’t finished writing it)…

Anyway, here are the best options as far as essential oils to help you sleep…

1.  BergamotBergamot essential oil is a cold-pressed essential oil that is produced by cells inside the rind and peel of a bergamot orange, a citrus fruit that has been used as a fragrance ingredient since around the year 1714. It takes about one hundred bergamot oranges to yield three ounces of bergamot oil.

Bergamot essential oil smells like a sweet light orange peel oil with a floral note and has a bright, yet calming and relaxing, effect. Bergamot essential oil is used to give Earl Grey tea its flavor, to calm anxious feelings, and to reduce both the heart rate and blood pressure.

2.  Cedarwood…Cedarwood essential oil is an essential oil that is produced from the foliage of various types of pine and cypress trees. The oil has an earthy, woodsy smell and supports healthy function of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin, the body’s natural sleepy hormone.

3.  Frankincense…Frankincense essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil obtained from the tree resin of four main species of trees from the Boswellia genus. Frankincense essential oil has an earthy, balsamic fragrance and is perfect for balancing emotions, supporting healthy sleep, calming your mind and supporting your body’s natural response to healing.

4.  Juniper Berry…Juniper Berry essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil that has a calming, grounding effect and an earthy, woodsy smell. The oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of about fifty different species of junipers plant, a member of the cypress family that can grow anywhere within the Northern Hemisphere, all the way from the Arctic down towards tropical Africa, Pakistan, and the mountains of Central America. Most of the juniper berry essential oil that we use here in America has been harvested from juniper plants found in middle Tennessee, northern Alabama, and southern Kentucky.

5.  Lavender…Lavender essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil that is obtained from the flower spikes of certain species of the lavender plant, a member of the mint family. Lavender essential oil has a relaxing and calming effect…and is used to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, help reduce feelings of tension, and calm emotions.

Most of us are already familiar with the lavender plant because the plant has been used as ornamental plants in garden and landscaping, as a culinary herb, and was one of the common colors in that magical 64-count box of Crayola crayons…the bo that had the sharpener on the back of the box…and that every kid in the classroom envied unless they had one themselves.

6.  Marjoram…Marjoram essential oil is steam-distilled from from the flowering leaves and tops of the marjoram plant, a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub, that was referred to by the Romans as the “herb of happiness” and to the Greeks as the “joy of the mountains.”

The leaves have a unique mixture of sweet “pine” and citrus flavor. Most of us have had a marjoram spice container at least once in our spice cabinet of marjoram. If not an actual jar of marjoram by itself, perhaps a spice blend containing marjoram, such as herbes de Provence and za’atar…(I probably still have all three of these spices in the same container from back when I purchased thirty-one years ago when I first got married….let me go see)…

Anyway, marjoram essential oil is wonderful for muscles and joints, but it also excels in creating peaceful sleep and calming frazzled nerves.

7.  Roman Chamomile…Roman Chamomile essential oil has a calming, soothing, and relaxing effect and is perfect for helping to get rid of restlessness and anxious feelings.

The Roman chamomile plant is a low perennial plant found in dry fields, gardens, and cultivated grounds in Europe, North America, and in Argentina…and is used for making foods, herbal teas, perfumes, and cosmetics.

8.  Sandalwood...Sandalwood essential oil is a steam-distilled oil extracted from chips and billets cut from the heartwood of various species of sandalwood trees. Sandalwoods belong to the same botanical family as European mistletoe and can befound in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands. Sandalwood is the second most expensive wood in the world, after African blackwood.

Sandalwood has a distinctive rich, woodsy smell that has been highly valued for centuries as an ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics.

9.  Vetiver…Vetiver essential oil is distilled from the roots of a type of grass that is widely cultivated in tropical regions such as Haiti, India, and Indonesia. Vetiver has a psychologically grounding, calming and stabilizing effect and a rich and earthy smell.

10.  Ylang Ylang…Ylang ylang essential oil is extracted from the flowers of a ylang-ylang tree that is native in the rainforest habitats of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Ylang-ylang is also widely used in oriental- or floral-themed perfumes such as Chanel No. 5…and is also believed to relieve high blood pressure, to help with skin problems, and to be an aphrodisiac. In fact, in Indonesia, ylang-ylang flowers are spread on the bed of newlywed couples.

Getting Dressed, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

M&M’s List of the Best Vegan OTBC Body Lotions and Creams

We all know the importance of choosing skincare, hair care, cosmetics, and almost any other household product in terms of not only trying to “save the Rainforest”…

BUT does that mean that every product that we purchase from this moment forward will basically “suck” in comparison to every product that we have been using right up until that moment when you made the decision to embrace a cruelty free, vegan lifestyle?

Not necessarily…

As I begin doing my research and adopting a new lifestyle, I find that there are certain “terms and definitions” that I might need to be able to refer back to later. This is one of those posts that will hopefully beaded into one accumulating glossary.

Today’s “terms and definitions” list consists of ingredients to look for when choosing an OTBC product, particularly a OTBC vegan body lotion or cream…

 

 

1.  Alpha-Hydroxyl AcidAlpha hydroxyl acids are a group of natural acids that can be found naturally in specific foods, or manufactured synthetically. These acids include glycolic acid, sourced from sugar cane…lactic acid, from sour milk and tomato juice…malic acid, from apples…citric acid, from citrus fruits…and tartaric acid, from grapes. The most commonly used of these acids are glycolic acid and lactic acid because they most easily are absorbed by the skin.

Alpha-hydroxyl acids are quoted as providing amazing results as far as your skin is concerned—including making your skin firmer, stronger, and softer…while at the same time preventing wrinkles, softening wrinkles that already exist, stimulating collagen, treating acne, and improving the look and feel of your skin in general.

As far as aging is concerned, alpha hydroxy acids stimulate the growth of elastin and collagen, both of which become depleted with age, and studies have shown that they may also stimulate the production of skin-supporting collagen and elastin.

Most AHA-containing products sold over the counter usually have AHA concentrations that are below 10 percent, and are gentle as long as you follow the product’s directions.

Look for a product that has the AHA listed as the second or third ingredient. Better yet, check the label to see if the product states the concentration of active ingredients. If not, put that one down and look another similar product.

These products are generally safe when used on the skin, but like almost anything else may cause mild skin irritations, redness and flaking….(pretty much a disclaimer so that we can’t all sue them, right?!)…

 

2.  CeramidesCeramides are an oily wax found naturally in the cell membranes of our skin. The waxy or cheese-like coating on the skin of a newborn infant, also known as the vernix caseosa, that serves as a moisture barrier during pregnancy consists primarily of these ceramides.

As we age, our body stops producing as much ceramide, and our skin begins to lose many of the ceramides that had been existing before that point…resulting in our skin becoming thinner, dry, and more susceptible to dry skin and wrinkles.

Skincare products with ceramides help restore moisture, fortify the skin’s natural barrier, and help keep your skin youthful and soft. Most ceramides used in skin care products such as shampoos, shower gels, shaving creams, and body lotions. Even some products labeled “unscented” may contain

 

3. “Fragrances”…Although the FDA does require an accurate list of ingredients on each product marketed on a retail basis to consumers—whether in stores, on the Internet, or person-to-person…the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act allows manufacturers to protect the ingredients that might be considered “trade secrets.”

However these unknown “trade secrets” could be helping us all trade in our current good health and well-being–not just now, but many years down the road–for cancer, migraines, asthma, gastrointestinal troubles and cardiovascular problems…or even killing us if have particular allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients.

The term “fragrance” has become a catch-all through which many manufacturers of skincare products can “sneak” an undisclosed ingredient into their container while nobody’s looking.

Even though our nation in general is in the process of becoming smarter, more environmental-friendly, and health conscientious, it will be a long time before companies will ever simply stop slapping the word “fragrance” on their containers

Always take the time to check the ingredient list carefully. Stop buying products that follow the trade norm of using the “F-word” on their ingredient list to conceal over a dozen secret undisclosed ingredients in the container.

 

4.  Humectants…Humectants help hydrate the surface of your skin by pulling water from the deeper levels of skin to the surface of the skin, and delivering hydration and nutrients to the deeper layers. Humectants can also increase the ability of a product’s other active ingredients to be absorbed into the skin.

Humectants are important ingredients in anti-aging skincare because they lock moisture onto the surface of the skin, keeping it moist and healthy and minimizing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. Humectants also help keeping your skin looking and feeling smoother and softer and your complexion more youthful, supple, and radiant.

Look for products that contain such natural humectants as aloe, honey, hyaluronic acid, and vegetable glycerin.

5. Lanolin…Lanolin is the oil extracted from the wool of sheep after sheep have been sheared.  Lanolin enables nourishes and protects the sheep against environmental extremities.

While this may be considered an animal byproduct and therefore not cruelty free, the process does not actually harm the sheep and so can be considered cruelty free.

Lanolin is an excellent emollient that helps soften and soothe skin and resembles the sebaceous secretions of our own skin.

1.  100% Pure Whipped Body Butter

  • Fragrance Options…Coconut, Vanilla Bean, Blood Orange, Coconut Lime, Gingerade, Pink Grapefruit, Honey Almond, Mangosteen, French Lavender
  • Ingredients…anti-aging antioxidants and nutrients, vitamins, skin softening oils, and moisturizing cocoa and avocado butters
  • Kudos…no sulfates or other detergents, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances, dyes or any other toxins.
  • Price…$26

2. Avalon Organics Hand & Body Lotion

  • Availability…Kroger, Sprouts, Whole Foods
  • Fragrance Options…Aloe, Peppermint, Lemon, Rosemary, Cucumber, Lavender
  • Ingredients…include such natural ingredients as aloe vera, shea butter, calendula and nutrient-rich beta-glucan…based on fragrance selected
  • Kudos…”Humbled by a profound respect for all living beings, Avalon Organics® products are vegan* and cruelty-free. The Avalon Organics® brand never tests products on animals, and will only source ingredients that the supplier can document are not tested on animals. This commitment to kindness is represented by the leaping bunny logo that appears on product labels.”
  • Price…$8

3.  Beauty Without Cruelty Hand + Body Lotion

  • Fragrance Options…fragrance-free
  • Ingredients…shea butter, jojoba, kukui nut, arnica, and calendula…
  • Price…$12

4.  Desert Essence Organics Hand & Body Lotion

  • Availability…Sprouts
  • Fragrance Options…Island Mango, Italian Lemon, Tropical Coconut, Coconut Lime, Bulgarian Lavender, Spicy Vanilla Chai, Pumpkin Spice
  • Ingredients…such ingredients asIsland Mango. Coconut Oil, Shea Butter and Jojoba Oil
  • Price…$10
Getting Dressed, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Articles About Argan Oil…Argan Oil for Your Hair

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Sorry, but the last thing that I want to think about after taking my shower…especially since I take one as the very last thing of my day…is having to rifle through a dozen different products for my haircare and skincare needs…let’s keep things simple…

So I simply grab for a bottle of pure argan oil…and use it from head to toe…

I could even do that without my glasses on or my contacts in…which is a good thing because I am legally blind, right?!

Benefits of using Argan oil on your hair include…

  • improving the texture of your hair by making it softer, silkier and shinier
  • making your hair more manageable by helping to tame frizz and fly-aways
  • preventing and repairing protecting your hair from damage caused by the heat of hair dryers, curlers and flat irons…as well as pollution, chemicals and UV rays
  • promoting hair growth because of its vitamin E content
  • repairing split ends
  • stopping dandruff before it causes serious problems
  • moisturizing your hair because of its essential fatty acids content

Regular Use…Depending on the thickness, texture, condition and length of your hair, you may need anywhere from 1 drop to 3 drops. Getting the right amount may take some practice. Start with a drop (or for short hair a ½ drop may do) and warm in your palms before raking your fingers through your hair, paying special attention to your ends. Once complete, add a ½ drop to your fingertips and massage into your scalp. Rub any excess into your face, neck or hands.

Overnight Deep Conditioning Treatment...Using argan oil once a week as a deep conditioner for your hair will amplify its benefits even more. If you have dandruff or dry scalp, you should probably use this as an overnight treatment twice per week until the dandruff is gone.

Warm about seven drops in your hands. Massage into your hair, working from the scalp to the ends. Put on a shower cap. (Not only will this keep your pillowcase free from oil, but it will also help your body’s natural body heat, as retained in the shower cap, to help the oil work more efficiently.)

In the morning, wash your hair, rinsing until all residue is gone.