Natural Favorites

Best Natural Deodorant

It’s so easy to go natural when it comes to lotion, shampoo and many other beauty products, but I think deodorant is the hardest yet most worthwhile natural switch to make. Yes, it’s true that the natural brands don’t actually stop you from sweating like the commercial brands do, but they definitely can keep sweat under control with natural ingredients (like baking soda). Plus, sweating is a key part of detoxifying your system so it’s really not a bad thing, especially if you can find a natural deodorant that actually keeps you smelling pleasantly.

Well after many, many years and many, many natural deodorants, I think I have finally found one that I’m going to stick with. It’s Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant.  I specifically like the Vanilla Lavender version of this silky deodorant, but there are a few other great scent options. I have to warn you about the price… it’s $18… I know, so expensive for a deodorant, but my thrifty self actually thinks it’s worth it. It smells so nice and the scent really lasts all day. In a way, you can consider it an $18 perfume — now that’s a good deal, right? Let me know if you give it a try!

Acure Organics

I recently found a new line and new product that I’m seriously impressed with.  The line is Acure Organics and the product is their brightening facial scrub sea kelp + chlorella growth factor($14.99).

This scrub thoroughly, but not harshly, exfoliates skin through two main ingredients — sea kelp and walnut. After using this scrub your face immediately feels super clean and refreshed, but not dry. The natural ingredients in this scrub actually accomplish 3 goals with 1 product –  the top layer of skin is exfoliated, pores are cleansed and new cell growth is stimulated. The scent? Mild, refreshing and minty. Oh and did I mention the color? Dark, dark green – like shockingly green – it’s quite fun.  This is a strong claim, but I really think it might be the best scrub I’ve used to date!

 

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New Partnership & a New Line!

I have some news I’ve been meaning to share… I am now collaborating with House of Steep (soon to be a Tea House and Foot Sanctuary in the VA/DC area) to create part of their signature line of bath and beauty products! Currently, my foot and bath soaks and foot spray are available on House of Steep’s online store amongst a fabulous array of teas, candles and other goodies. I’ve made natural beauty products for years, but this is the first time I’ve done it professionally so I’m really excited to see this dream come true AND to launch my own beauty line as a result.

A couple of shots from creating the bath soaks…

(adding lavender to a batch of the Balanced & Carefree soak)

(some completed Grounded soaks)

The bath soaks are available in 3 varieties (notice each one has a type of tea included):

Balanced & Carefree – A stress-relieving combination of lavender and chamomile tea
Grounded – A stabilizing tonic of patchouli, cinnamon and ginger with oolong tea
Invigorating – A refreshing blend of peppermint and sweet orange with green tea

And the the Cleansing Calm Foot Spray is blend of black tea, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree oils, which is ideal for reducing foot odor and refreshing tired feet.

 

I hope you might give one (or more) of these a try. If you do, I would love to hear what you think. Thank you in advance for the support!

Exciting News x 2

Hello!  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and a great start to the week. For me, the past fews days have been filled with packing. We’re not leaving DC, but moving to a new place. I drastically underestimated how stuff we had to pack (I think that’s typical?). Little by little, we’ve gotten rid of so many things, but  we’re  amazed at how much is still left. I’m really looking forward to Wednesday when we’re 100% in our new home!

In addition to the move, I’ve been meaning to tell everyone some other exciting news… I’ve previously mentioned a relatively new company called blissmo, which is an amazing site for finding and purchasing the best organic and eco-friendly products at up to 70% off. Well, I’m very excited to announce that I recently became one of the blissmo curators helping to find the fab lines and products being featured on a daily basis! (That’s me bottom left)

Have a great rest of the week (in case I’m not back from unpacking before it ends)!

Happiest Birthday to You

I want to wish the happiest of birthdays to my amazing husband! Dylan, I hope you and Gavin have the best day today and I can’t wait to celebrate more tonight!

Back-story: I plotted with Dylan’s younger brother, Gavin, to surprise him and come to DC for the day from NY. Dylan almost jumped out of his skin last night when there was a knock on the door at 11:30pm and Gavin was standing there. It was SOOO great. I had told Dylan to take today off because I had something planned so now the two of them have the day together to wander around DC :)

A few of our favorite places from the past and for the future…

{New Zealand}

{Belgium}

{San Francisco}

{Bora Bora}

{Ireland}

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LOVE!!!

HollyBeth’s Grits & Honey Scrub

To me, an ideal facial scrub is one that thoroughly exfoliates, but in the most gentle way. With HollyBeth’s Natural Luxury Grits & Honey Scrub, that’s the exact balance you get — it has the perfect grittiness (thanks to the grits :)) with a calming and antibacterial base of sweet honey.  This super natural scrub is literally good enough to eat! And don’t worry, it’s not messy or sticky.  Your skin will feel noticeably smoother after just one use.

Grits & Honey Scrub

Other great products by HollyBeth:

Wildflower Dry Oil – so nourishing to the face and neck with a regenerative mix of oils and plant extracts.

Lavender Hand Cream (98% organic) – rich and relaxing with sweet almond oil as the #1 ingredient and of course, lavender.

Happy happy weekend everyone!

Peacock Republic

I recently discovered another awesome green beauty line called Peacock Republic and it has quickly become one of my favorites. I’m especially loving having this gem in my shower right now – their lemongrass love body wash. The scent is just perfect – invigorating in the morning yet calming in the evening and enjoyed by male and female noses alike. I also love their fragrant sugar scrubs and rich body lotions.

Bottom line: definitely add Peacock Republic to your must-try list of natural beauty companies!

Peacock Republic doesn’t stop at making luxurious, green body care products – for each bottle and bar sold, they donate a bar to those without basic necessities. And for all other products sold, they donate a portion of the profits to charities. Even more of a reason to give them a try (if you haven’t already).

You can purchase online or check out the list of boutiques that carry them across the U.S. here: peacockrepublic.myshopify.com/pages/stockists AND starting next month Peacock Republic will be at Anthropologie and online at www.anthropologie.com!


DOLLY&MILA

Dolly and Mila originated in a tiny kitchen in NYC after the founders traveled through Central America and spent years studying Indigenous remedies, anthropology and holistic nutrition. The founders are best friends from childhood, but they’re names are actually not Dolly and Mila. The line was named after two special women who inspired them throughout their lives (so sweet!). Having always dreamed of starting a company with a best friend, I especially love the story and bond behind this fabulous line. And of course, I also love that everything  is 100% natural and wild-crafted using organic, free and fair trade ingredients.

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So far, the Blossom Honey and Organic Coffee Intensive Facial Exfoliant is definitely my favorite from the line. Talk about a perfect morning beauty product! It truly perks you up inside and out. If you like natural products, you’ll just love how unprocessed and raw this scrub smells and feels. Its ingredient list is superbly clean and pure with not a single questionable ingredient.  It also doubles as a natural cellulite treatment – use it as a mask and scrub for any current or potential areas of concern. What a great bonus, right?!

SOS for PMS

One of my favorite natural beauty companies, BUDDHA NOSE, makes this seriously awesome Girl Balm. It’s specifically meant to aid the common woes of PMS. Simply rub the balm on your lower belly and/or lower back to ease cramps and brighten your mood. The warming and mellowing mix of Clary Sage, Rose Geranium, Ginger Root and Black Pepper are sure to leave you feeling noticeably calmer and skin noticeably softer within minutes. The smell of it alone makes me feel better – it’s definitely one of my favorites!


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Unfortunately, so many of us females deal with the negative side effects of fluctuating hormones, but in addition to this magical balm there are other easy efforts you can make on a daily basis.

Some other tips to ease PMS and help stabilize hormones include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Stress reduction (yoga, meditation, just plain old relaxation, etc)
  • Reducing your intakes of refined sugar, salt, alcohol, and caffeine.
  • Increasing your intake of complex carbohydrates, omega 3-rich foods, fruits, and veggies (especially leafy green ones).
  • More tips here: 5 Natural Tips to Take the Syndrome Out of PMS

The Girl Balm is currently on sale and the price ($21.60) is really worth every penny for the high quality ingredients and therapeutic benefits. Plus, a little truly goes a long way. If you give it a try, I would love to hear what you think!

First Taste of San Fran

Our very first taste of San Fran – Lattes with local, organic milk and homemade rosemary, olive oil shortbread from Blue Bottle (the Mint St. location).  In one word? Perfection.


This was my first meal in San Fran at Grandeho’s Kamekyo II (on Hyde St. between the GoCars and The Buena Vista Cafe). Heaven on earth aka vegeterian pho.  This would have been incredibly delicious and satisfying no matter what, but it was especially relished after not having eaten since 5am AND walking 3 miles to get from our hotel to here. I made a point to go back again for the same meal plus a side of delicious and very spicy kimchi. The owner commented how much I like spicy things (indeed I do)…yum yum yummm!

There were many, many more delicious teas, coffees, snacks, and meals to follow, but unfortunately I didn’t keep up with my picture taking! Basically, nothing ever dissapointed and I can truly understand all of the raving about the food of San Fran.

Natural Beauty Buyer’s Guide

This list contains some of my favorite natural brands and items in a variety of categories. They are perfect natural choices for yourself or someone you really love (I say “really love” because these products are EXCELLENT) Happy shopping! :)

REN ~ Frankincense Revitalising Night Cream ($55)

A supremely rich and therapeutic night cream with one of my favorite natural ingredients – frankincense! Frankincense is anti-inflammatory and highly effective at healing scars. The scent has also become one of my favorites.  Back to REN – I love so many of their products and I’m making it a point to try them all!

By Nieves ~ Face Fix ($32)

This is my latest face scrub. It’s super earthy – ingredients include organic white willow, organic neem leaf powder, & organic rose petal powder just to name a few. The consistency is perfect for exfoliating skin effectively, which to me means that it’s not too rough, but it definitely feels like you’re accomplishing something! I love that it can also double as a mask – just add water, honey, or yogurt.

The Organic Pharmacy ~ Carrot Butter Cleanser ($50)

I adore the look of their website and packaging, not to mention the high quality of all of their amazing products. This cleanser is perfect for the winter with skin softening ingredients like jojoba oil and cocoa butter. It even takes off eye makeup! I’ve also tried their Flower Petal Deep Cleanser and Exfoliating Mask – it’s multi-functional (like the By Nieves), which I love because why buy 2 products if you can buy 1 really great one?

Buddha Nose ~ I Booster Spray ($24)

For the germaphobes in your life (half joking) or just anyone who likes spraying lovely smelling mixtures that are also beneficial to your health. I’ve mentioned it before here and I’m talking about it again because it’s definitely one of my favorite natural products, especially in the winter months. A spray or two of this mixture and it just instantly perks you up internally and externally!

eos ~ lip balm in pomegranate raspberry ($3.29)

Great flavor, great packaging and a great price! This one is 95% organic, 100% natural and 100% effective at keeping lips moisturized. It really takes lip balm up a notch without upping the typical price tag.

California Baby ~ Welcome Baby Tote ($34.99)

One of my fav brands for babies. This is perfect for the new moms in your life. Set includes Calming™ Shampoo & Bodywash, Diaper Rash Cream, Non-Talc Powder, on-Burning & Calming™ Diaper Area Wash Spray, Natural Wool Sea Sponge, and Calendula Cream.

Aubrey Organics ~ City Rhythms Face Scrub ($8.93) & City Rhythms Shave Cream ($7.30)

And last but not least, some natural products for the men.With a fresh and woodsy scent (think cedar, sandalwood & bergamot), this scrub is ideal for smooth skin – it clears pores and loosens ingrown hairs hence preventing razor burn. Combined with Aubrey’s shave cream, it’s the perfect pairing to keep the guys naturally beautified as well!  There are other scent options (North Woods & Spice Island), but Dylan and I both agree this one is the best.

I could go on and on (and maybe I will in another post soon), but here’s some natural favorites to get you started!

HealthDesigns.com

I recently discovered this site called Health Designs and decided to place a rare online order.  I have to say that I am loving this site now for two main reasons: (1) the wonderful selection of some of the best natural health and beauty products and (2) the awesome prices.  I found so many of my favorite brands at the lowest prices I’ve seen. Love that and love how you get to pick an unlimited amount of available free samples!

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I’ve never been one for online shopping, but this is one website that makes me want to skip the health store.  Shipping is currently free on First Class USPS orders over $25 and it’s just so fun to see how much you can put in your shopping cart for that price point (my order below).  Also, if you’re a first time buyer use Discount Code FTC5DO to get $5 off your first order. Writing this post is really making me want to place another order today! I highly suggest checking them out - healthdesigns.com

This is exactly what I got for $25:

  • Avalon Organics, CoQ10 Facial Cleansing Milk 8.5 fl oz
  • Yogi, DeTox Tea 16 Tea Bags
  • Now Foods, Unsweetened Medium Coconut 10 oz
  • ShiKai, Hand & Body Lotion Honeysuckle 8 fl oz
  • Chandrika, Ayurvedic Soap 2.64 oz
  • Queen Helene, Aloe Deodorant 2.7 oz
  • 6 free samples (like Nordic Naturals, DHA Sample Pack 500 mg Strawberry 2 softgels)


Favorite Natural Moisturizers

It’s always important to keep our skin well hydrated, but now that the weather is turning cooler for many of is, it’s especially important (and challenging) to keep dry skin away.

Here are a few of my absolute favorite body moisturizers. I now have my sister in love with the Shikai Gardenia lotion too. Are you a fan of any of these or do you have some other natural favorites?

Shikai (around $7.99)

I especially adore the Gardenia (it truly smells JUST like the flower), but there also a lot of other fun scents (yuzu, honeysuckle, etc)

Hugo Naturals (around $10.99)

This lotion is SO rich without being greasy. The Shea Butter & Oatmeal is such a delicious and comforting scent.

Rainbow Research Inc. (around $7.99)

Best choice for really sensitive skin!

Dr. Hauschka (around $12.99)

So rich and perfect for dry, winter hands! Specifically helps to keep the appropriate pH balance of skin.

Desert Essence (around $8.99)

Can’t forget the feet! Often one of the hardest areas to keep moisturized, but this foot cream does wonders. And it’s pistachio – a fun & unique scent!

Another Reason to Soak Your Feet

I’m so excited to tell you all that I have yet another reason to keep up one of my favorite daily habits – soaking my feet. I just read in this month’s Natural Health Magazine that according to Chinese medicine, the meridians (or channels of energy) that run through the ovaries and uterus begin in the feet.  By soaking your feet in warm water, you dilate the blood vessels hence shifting the blood flow to that area.  Good blood flow to the ovaries is crucial to ovarian health and follicular growth. If there is a lack of blood flow then there is usually a corresponding lack of egg health. The same goes for the uterus. This means that soaking your feet can be added to the list of natural things that have a positive effect on fertility!

So what are you waiting for? Whether it’s filling up the bath tub just enough to cover your feet, using an actual foot bath (like this one) or any other container that can fit your feet, foot baths are so easy to do, so relaxing and so good for your overall health! Very warm water alone is great, but I also love to add Epsom salt, sea salt, baking soda, essential oils (especially lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus) and even some flower petals or dried lavender.  It makes the foot bath even more fun and therapeutic!

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My dad started me on this habit when I was a kid and I’ve loved it ever since. When I was little, it was followed by slathering our feet with Vaseline and putting on cozy socks right before heading to bed. Now it’s still followed by cozy socks and usually before bed, but these days it’s usually an all natural shea butter (like Organic Essence) instead. It’s especially great to do when you’re feeling stressed or run down. I just love how much better it ALWAYS makes me feel.

I already have Nikki and Dylan on board (did you both smile at this post?) and maybe you next!

Perfect Weekend Snack

What is it? Marinated anchovies on baguette slices lightly grilled in olive oil and brushed with fresh tomato and garlic, drizzled with a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Yummmm! Personally I love anchovies, but I realize it’s not the most common love. If you haven’t already, please give them a try – you might be pleasantly surprised! Plus, they’re loaded with heart-healthy omega-3s.

We usually pair this with white wine and sit outside on the patio while we eat..really feels like vacation that way! It’s the perfect weekend (or anytime) snack or light meal.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend filled with delicious and healthy meals! :)

Quick Headache Relief

This is a simple acupressure technique that is excellent to prevent a looming headache or to lessen the pain of an existing one. This is definitely one of my favorite natural remedies!

How to:

  1. Use your thumb and first two fingers (pointer & middle) of your right hand to press and massage the soft area between your thumb and pointer finger on the left hand.  Your right thumb should be on the top or back (nail side) of your hand and the other 2 fingers beneath on the palm side (You pretty much end up making the shape of a claw).
  2. Next, simply apply light to medium pressure and alternate between massaging and pressing that fleshy area of the left hand. Do this for 5-10 seconds.
  3. Switch and alternate hands.
  4. Continue this for a few minutes and continue doing it periodically throughout the day.

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Massaging this area topically hits the acupuncture point known as He Gu or Large Intestine 4*. This point is commonly used in acupuncture for the relief of frontal headaches that might be a result from sinus pressure or congestion or jaw issues (like TMJ).

*Not recommended for pregnant women (it can induce labor!!)

I LOVE acupressure!! More posts coming soon…

Some Fav Natural Lip Balms

Has anyone tried any of these before? Any other great natural options come to mind?

These are just a few of my favorites…

john masters organics ~ lip calm – contains soothing ingredients like flax seed oil, vitamin E, beeswax, and vanilla essential oil

(I only bought mint chap stick until I tried this one a few years ago. It definitely broadened my horizons.)

Skincando ~ Combat-Ready Lip Balm – very moisturizing and the mintiest I’ve tried yet!

Sweet Beauty ~ Tropical Treat Lip Confection (Coconut, Pineapple & White Chocolate)

- this line has some of the most decadent, all natural flavors in existence! (other flavors include Mojito, Dark Chocolate & Tangerine Truffle)

Lulu Organics ~ Cardamom Lip Balm ~ unique flavor, great shine and very therapeutic (more info in this previous post)

Baked & Wired

I figured a post about a great source for caffeinated beverages would be quite fitting for this morning after the long weekend, don’t you agree? The source – Baked & Wired in Georgetown, which is definitely my favorite quirky coffee shop in the DC area. Their coffee and espresso are a mix of  Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia Coffee (2 great, high-quality brands) and they use only organic milk (from Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania). All of their baked goods (minus the bagels)  are homemade too! They’re becoming quite acclaimed for their cupcakes, which come in so many fun flavors like Smurfette (= fresh blueberries baked into vanilla cake, topped with lemon buttercream).

My regular beverage favs include their oolong tea and soy lattes. Has anyone else been? If so, what are your favorite picks?

Photo Credit: Dylan Price

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Skincando

I think Skincando might be one of the most unique and altruistic natural lines in existence right now. Founder, Sara Damelio’s search for answers to her own skin ailments led her to the formation of her first and most acclaimed product - Combat-Ready Balm.  This balm not only graces the pages of women’s fashion magazines, but has also been regularly donated to troops in Iraq for years now.

Founder, Sara Damelio

One soldier wrote, “Send more of that magic balm!” after he and fellow soldiers found it worked for sand flea bites, sunburn and chapping from sandstorms and 140-degree days. When Sara was telling me about the feedback and the requests she receives on a daily basis, I realized that her product and her efforts are truly miracles to our troops.  Can you even imagine trying to serve while covered in skin ailments on a daily basis? Unbearable. Sara’s efforts are making such an impact on the quality of life for our troops and the awesome thing is that anyone can help this worthy cause by donating a product(s) of choice to a service member (specific or non-specific). Last year, Sara and Skincando.com customers donated 5,000 jars!

I was so curious to see what a “miracle balm” like this one consisted of and it turns out there is a pretty special ingredient – exotic fish oils! But please don’t be scared – there is not even the faintest scent of anything aquatic. The scent is light, refreshing and equally enjoyable for men and women.  Some of the other nourishing ingredients in the Combat-Ready Balm include apricot kernel oil, coconut oil, shea butter, black tea, and beeswax. I can see why this balm is great for so many things. I even put it on my face and it doesn’t clog my pores. It really is such a versatile product.

Also, let me not forget to mention the lipbalm! I love it so much.  I would equate using it to rubbing a perfectly moisturizing candy cane on your lips (if a candy cane was moisturizing).  I gave one to my husband recently – I thought he would definitely be a fan of it (no super girly packaging or flavors), but somehow it keeps wondering back into my bag… every day. I just keep taking it and giving it back, taking it and…I just need to buy a second already! This is definitely another one for my favorite list.

{Photo Credits: Gunnar Larson}

Naturopathica

I love a lot of natural companies out there, but Naturopathica really brings it all together for me – a holistic approach to skin care, artisanal sourcing of ingredients, incredible natural scents, and visible as well as therapeutic benefits.

I added a few natural beauty products to my regime recently and Naturopathica’s Sweet Cherry Brightening Enyzme Peel was one of them. Let me just say that ever since I tried a peel, I’ve been in love.  Reason number one being that it’s so much easier to get off than a mask.  And number two being that a good peel, like this one, just seems to make your skin effortlessly refined and glowing almost immediately.  Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to cleaning pores, I swear by masks that are usually green, hard, and positively enraging at times to remove (example: Aztec Indian Healing Clay). But masks like that really feel like work. Not this one.

This peel by Naturopathica smells and looks like they just mashed up the cherries yesterday – it’s simply amazing (if you like cherries, you’ll really be in heaven). There are sweet benefits to go with that sweet scent – cherries’ are high in Vitamin C and Beta Carotene and when applied topically they refine skin, decrease inflammation, as well as prevent skin discoloration.  After just 3-5 minutes (1-2 times/week), you can remove the fruity blend to reveal a fresher faced version of yourself. That’s only 10 minutes tops per week!

Originally being from Long Island, I love that this company is based in East Hampton. It’s always nice to see a great company come out of your neck of the woods.  I also love the packaging – blue glass is my fav, not only because it’s so pretty, but also because it’s excellent for maintaining the integrity of products containing essential oils.

Now there’s only two things I want to do after trying this mask: (1) Try every single product made my Naturopathica; (2) Take a trip to East Hampton asap to experience their spa, which includes an Apothecary Bar (the “destination for custom blended beauty products and remedies”) I can barely describe  how incredible that sounds to me… like heaven, especially if I could have the chance to get behind that bar!