Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coffee Body Scrub

This recipe is very easy to make, and smells delicious. Coffee is a great antioxidant for the skin, and can temporarily relieve the appearance of cellulite. The oil in the scrub will keep skin moisturized and healthy. After using this scrub, I find that I can skip my post-shower moisturizing routine.

So, first, get a small plastic jar. I use one that is about 4 oz. Plastic is safer than glass, in case you drop it into your bathtub while showering (yikes).

Fill the jar one third of the way with finely ground coffee beans (I use coffee that I grind at the grocery store to an espresso or turkish coffee maker setting), and another third with sugar.

Now, add about 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. This is optional; it just makes the scrub smell good.

Add about 1/2 teaspoon of honey. Honey preserves the moisture in skin, and it will help to kind of stick the coffee grinds together.

Add about 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. Almond oil, jojoba oil, apricot oil, or avocado oil work just fine. Use one or a combination of whichever ones are your favorites. Adding a little vitamin E oil is also a good option, as it nourishes the skin.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly until the oil is distributed evenly. You may have to add more oil if the scrub seems too dry, so just use your own judgement.

Use the scrub in the shower or bathtub and enjoy your glowing skin.

Oh, and try not to slip on the oil that gets on the floor of the tub, we all know its not fun to fall on your butt during a shower. And if that's never happened to you, consider yourself lucky.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Homemade Deodorant

So I have been wanting to make my own deodorant for a while now, but anyone who has done this knows that it is a big and scary commitment. Like, really scary. Once you make your own deodorant, you are officially on your way to hippiedom, at least in your head. Traditional deodorants just weren't doing it for me anymore. I hate the smell the artificial fragrance smell they leave on your clothes, blegh.

So, during this time of inner turmoil and deliberation, I began to do some research about recipes. I combined a few together into one recipe that I thought would work for me. And guess what. IT WORKS. Better than any store-bought deodorant I have ever used. I have been completely stink-free and moisture-free since I started using it. In fact, I cant stop sniffing myself out of disbelief (too much information?).

Homemade deodorants are actually not supposed to prevent moisture. Sweating is a natural process which is necessary for your body to get rid of toxins. Your pharmacy deodorant stops you from sweating because it contains aluminum. And you dont want aluminum in your body, so try to avoid that, k? However, my homemade deodorant has so far prevented me from sweating, and I think that this is due to the arrowroot powder in it. Anyway, I'm not complaining.

So for all you fearless gals (and guys) out there, here is my recipe:

  • Beeswax. 1.5 tablespoons. This is used to maintain a hard consistency. If you live in a hot climate, you might want to use a little more.
  • Coconut oil. 5 tablespoons. Coconut oil has antibacterial properties, which is why it is the best oil to use for deodorant.
  • Shea butter. 1 tablespoon. This moisturizes your skin.
  • Mango butter. 1 teaspoon. This is optional. I added it because I just like mango butter and I feel like it has kind of a drying effect on my skin.
  • Baking soda. 1/4 cup. This is to keep you from stinking!
  • Arrowroot powder. 1/4 cup. This keeps you dry. You can find it near the starch in the baking section of your local Whole Foods.
  • 20-25 drops essential oils. I used a combination of tea tree, lavender, sweet orange, and ylang ylang. The tea tree oil is an antibacterial and an antiseptic, so I highly recommend it. Just go easy on it, because it has a strong fragrance that will overpower all of the other essential oils if you use too much.  Use your own judgement to combine these, depending on the smell you like. Ylang ylang is especially flowery, feminine, and fragrant. Your pits will smell great!
Melt the beeswax in a double boiler first, then add the coconut oil, shea butter, and mango butter. Once this is all melted, take your container off of the heat. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Wait until the consistency of the liquid is syrup-ey. Now, you can pour your deodorant into an old deodorant container (clean it and roll it all the way down first!) or into a jar, so you can apply with your fingers. I put mine into an old deodorant container because this is just more convenient. 

Here are some other tips:

Some people find that baking soda irritates their skin. If you have this problem, lower the amount of baking soda until you have a mixture that does not irritate your skin. If you find that the arrowroot irritates you, try adding less. Another option is to substitute cosmetic grade clay (the kind you use for facial masks) for the baking soda or arrowroot. If the deodorant is too drying, try adding more shea butter. You can always remelt the deodorant and fix your recipe, so do not be afraid to make changes.

There are other deodorant recipes around the web that you may find helpful:

  • Here is one from Crunchy Betty, which is an alternative to the baking soda and arrowroot, for those with sensitive skin.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Orange Face and Body Cream

This is a light, refreshing, non-oily versatile cream to be used for your face or body.

  • Emulsifying wax. 1/2 teaspoon. An emulsifier is used as a medium to bind water and oil substances. I buy vegetable emulsifying wax at Mountain Rose Herbs. Some health stores may carry it as well. Palm oil works too (the ingredient in a lot of baking shortening). My mom uses organic baking shortener for this and it works just as well!
  • Mango Butter. 2 teaspoons.
  • Shea Butter. 1 teaspoon. 
  • Sea Buckthorn Oil. 1 teaspoon. I ordered mine from Russia (sea buckthorn is a plant that is native there, so it is cheaper). However, it can be ordered online from various sources. It is very rich in vitamins and is traditionally used to treat many skin conditions, including radiation burns, eczema, acne, and stretch marks. It has a nice orange color and a fruity smell.
  • Jojoba oil. 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Almond Oil. 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Vitamin E oil. 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Aloe. 3 teaspoons. 
  • Vegetable Glycerin. 1/4 teaspoon
  • Sweet Orange Essential oil. 4 drops.
  • Optional: Rosemary Antioxidant. 4 drops. This is a preservative to extend shelf life. I add it to my creams because I make so many and it takes me a long time to get through them all. There are other alternatives for preservatives out there, this is just the one that I happen to use.
These amounts are approximate, and you can experiment with the quantities to get the texture and consistency you like.

In a double boiler, melt all of the ingredients together, starting with the emulsifying wax: 

(as you can see, my double boiler is simply a small pyrex bowl inside a pot filled with water.)

Next, add the mango butter and shea butter. Once they melt, add all of the liquid oils. Then, add the aloe, glycerin, essential oil, and rosemary antioxidant:

Stir well, until mixture is thoroughly blended:

Pour into a jar (I used a 2 ounce glass jar for this recipe).
Stir or shake the mixture very well a few times as it is cooling, so that it does not separate. Voila!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants

Hello readers!

I wanted to write a post about one of my favorite references for herbal medicine: The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, by Andrew Chevallier. (Note: here are some other editions of this book, The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine being one of them, but their content is almost the same. If you have a choice, I would recommend purchasing the most recent edition for the most updated information).

This book has beautiful photographs and illustrations, as well as comprehensive instructions on the uses of most common herbs. It is a great basic guide on how to grow and harvest plants and how to use them to make herbal remedies. You will learn how to make simple infusions, decoctions, tinctures, syrups, ointments and more. There is a fantastic little section about putting together an herbal first-aid kit. The content is organized by herb, and also by ailment, so that you can find the proper remedies for a specific problem.

I would like to share my favorite little recipe from this book. This is a quick and effective remedy for colds.

  • 20 ml lemon juice
  • 50 ml hot water
  • a crushed clove of garlic
  • pinch of cinnamon

Mix these ingredients together and drink immediately, up to three times a day.

I make this remedy every time I feel a cold coming on. It is an amazing, bacteria killing, powerful mixture. It makes your throat feel like it is on fire, but in a good way! It may be difficult to stomach the first time, but it is easy to get used to. I actually enjoy it now!

Be sure to check out Andrew Chevallier's book next time you are at a bookstore:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rose Moisturizer

This is a light and smooth face moisturizer. It wears well under makeup and won't make your face feel greasy. I use this every morning after I wash my face. I find that it tightens and smooths my skin. This recipe is for a 1 ounce jar:

  • Jojoba oil. 1/2 teaspoonDesert Essence Jojoba Oil for Hair, Skin & Scalp 4 fl oz (120 ml).
  • Aloe. 4 1/2 teaspoons. Make sure you purchase the purest aloe possible. I order mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. The Aubrey Organics brand aloe is good as well, and you can purchase it at most local health food stores ( Aubrey Organics - 100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel, 4 fl oz gel ).
  • Vitamin E oil. 1/8 teaspoon
  • Vegetable glycerin. 1/4 teaspoon. I use this one: Vegetable Glycerin 4 Ounces.
  • Rose essential oil. 5 drops. I use Rose Absolute essential oil, but there are other rose oils that will work just as well.
  • Rosemary Antioxidant. 2 drops. This is a natural preservative that will extend the shelf life of your moisturizer. It can also be used as a preservative for food products. I got mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. A small bottle of this stuff will last you for years.

Combine the jojoba oil and aloe in a 1 ounce jar. Stir very well, until the mixture reaches a smooth, creamy consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Note that the consistency of your moisturizer will vary, depending on the type of aloe you have. A more gel like aloe will produce a thicker, creamier mixture. Watery aloe will produce a more watery mixture that is likely to separate. This is okay, it just means that you should shake the jar before each use. 

Note: Aloe is water based, so it does not always mix with oil  easily. In commercial products, there are chemicals used which suspend the oil particles, making them easy to mix with water-based ingredients. I choose to skip these chemicals and go the small extra step of just shaking my homemade products before each use.

Lavender Tea Tree Foot Balm

This foot balm is rich, nourishing, moisturizing, and anti-fungal. For an extra overnight moisturizing treatment, rub feet with this balm and cover with cotton socks before going to bed. This recipe is for a 2 ounce jar.

  • Beeswax. 1 teaspoon. If you get beeswax in pellet form, it will be easier to measure and melt.
  • Emulsifying wax. 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Mango butter. 2 tablespoons. I get my mango butter from www.mehandi.com, but it can be found in most local health food stores, along with these other ingredients.
  • Shea butter. 1 tablespoon. I get mine from www.mountainroseherbs.com.
  • Jojoba oil. 2 teaspoons. I use the NOW foods brand or this one: Desert Essence 100% Pure Jojoba Oil, 4-Ounce, Bottle.
  • Vitamin E oil. 1/2 teaspoon. Check the label and make sure you are not buying one with lots of additives. I like the one from Trader Joe's.
  • Aloe. 1 teaspoon.
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil. 1/4 teaspoon. You can find this at your local health food store. I use this one: Desert Essence - 100% Pure Austrailian Tea Tree Oil, 2 fl oz liquid.
  • Lavender Essential Oil. 6 drops. Available at local health food stores. I use the Aura Cacia brand.

  • Optional: Cedarwood Essential oil and Rosemary Antioxidant. These are two ingredients that I like to add, but they are not absolutely necessary. I like the smell of cedarwood in combination with lavender and tea tree, so I added 3 drops of this at the same time as I added the other oils. The Rosemary Antioxidant is a natural preservative that slows down oxidization. This recipe can do without it because it is for a small volume and does not have perishable ingredients, but I added 4 drops anyway, to extend its shelf life (I add 2 drops of rosemary antioxidant per ounce). This ingredient is very useful for preserving face and body creams in a natural way.

Melt the beeswax, mango butter, and shea butter in a double boiler until they liquify. Take these off of the heat, and mix in the remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a jar and let it sit for a few hours (I find that it takes up to 12 hours for the mixture to harden to its final consistancy). If you are not happy with the consistency, you can add more beeswax to make the balm harder, or more jojoba oil to make it softer. Enjoy!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cleansing Face Wash

I have developed a face wash recipe which I absolutely love. I make this wash in a small, 3 oz bottle (I bought a package of small travel bottles at a local pharmacy; they work great for this), so that it lasts about two weeks. This way, it always stays fresh and I have the option of creating different scents and combinations each time. I recommend making a small bottle of this wash, so that you can see what works best for your skin. Then, once you create the perfect mix, you can increase the ingredient ratios and mix it in a larger bottle. So, the following ingredient amounts are based on a 3 oz bottle size.

  • Castile soap. 3 tablespoons. I use castile soap for everything, so I will be writing about it a lot. There are several brands out there, but my current favorite is Dr. Bronners. Their soaps are made with all organic ingredients, and are fair trade. They also come in some lovely scents, like lavender, rose, eucalyptus, peppermint, etc. For my current face wash, I used the rose scent. Next time, I plan on using eucalyptus. You can buy castile soap at most local supermarkets. I suggest buying it online for a better price. This is the one I purchased and I absolutely love the smell: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, 18-in-1 Hemp Eucalyptus, 32-Ounce

  • Rose water. 1 1/2 teaspoons. Rosewater smells wonderful and soothes the skin. I use it in face wash to dilute the harshness of the castile soap. You can put rose water into a spray bottle and use it as a mild perfume, a refreshing after-shower mist, or as an air freshener. You can buy it at most health food stores or online. Here is the one that I use: Heritage Products Rosewater, Rose Petals, 8-Ounces (Pack of 3).

  • Vitamin E oil. 1/2 teaspoon. Vitamin E oil is nourishing and healing and anti-inflammatory. It is also an antioxidant. I buy mine at Trader Joe's, but it is available in most health food stores. Just make sure you read the label! Do not buy anything that is actually 90% corn oil or soybean oil, because that is a rip off.

  • Jojoba oil. 1/2 teaspoon. I use jojoba oil for just about everything. It is a great carrier oil to use for diluting other oils. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is beneficial for both hair and skin. It is a drier oil, so it does not leave you feeling greasy. Jojoba oil also works really well as a makeup remover! My personal favorite is the Desert Essence brand: Desert Essence Jojoba Oil for Hair, Skin & Scalp 4 fl oz (120 ml). I also just bought the NOW brand, and I really like it: NOW Foods Organic Jojoba Oil, 4 ounce.

  • Tea Tree oil. 1/4 teaspoon. Tea tree oil has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. It has extensive health benefits and uses. If you have acne-prone skin, tea tree oil will work especially well to clear up your skin. It is a great thing to keep in your first aid kit, since it is a natural antibiotic. I also use it on arthritic pain on my knees. Caution must be taken when using this product, however. It is very powerful and can cause allergic reactions in some users. Never use it directly on the face, always dilute a very small amount of it in a carrier oil (such as jojoba). Do not use more than the recommended amount, and do not use it if you are pregnant. I will write more about the uses of tea tree oil in future posts. I use the Desert Essence brand: Desert Essence - 100% Pure Austrailian Tea Tree Oil, 2 fl oz liquid.

  • Vegetable Glycerin. 3/4 teaspoon. Vegetable glycerin softens skin and is a humectant (it keeps moisture in). Make sure you buy a food grade, pure glycerin, made from vegetable oils. This is the one I use: Vegetable Glycerin 4 Ounces

  • Aloe. 2 teaspoons. Aloe is my favorite skin moisturizer. It works well by itself or mixed with other ingredients. It can be used as a toner and even as a hair gel. The tricky part is finding PURE aloe vera gel. Most of the products on the market contain very dangerous additives that are harmful to your health. Always read the labels. If there are weird ingredients and you have no idea what they are, then you probably do not need to be putting them on your body. I recommend Aubrey Organics Aloe: Aubrey Organics - 100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel, 4 fl oz gel, or Mountain Rose Herbs Aloe: Mountain Rose Aloe Vera Gel. Both of these have limited preservatives, so keep the bottle in the fridge! There are tons of uses for aloe, so it is good to keep a bottle handy.

So thats it! Just mix those ingredients and use it once or twice a day, whatever your routine. Follow with a toner or a moisturizer (or just aloe or jojoba oil!) Shake the bottle before each use, to keep the ingredients from separating. Don't be afraid to experiment with the ingredients. Everyone skin is different. If your skin feels too dry after you wash it, try adding some more jojoba oil to your mixture. If you feel that it is too oily, at a little more castile soap and aloe. And last but not least, enjoy having naturally clean and healthy skin!