Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!


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“New and Improved” with toxic chemicals and no longer my perfect mascara

**Note: It’s taken me awhile to write this blog because honestly I wondered whether I even wanted to after getting down and dirty with my research and learning more about this “new and improved” product.  But after much consideration I realized that goes against what I was hoping to do with writing reviews of natural products.  I felt I owed it to myself and my followers to write an honest review and let you know how disappointed I am in this company.  With that said, please keep in mind when you read the following post that the company I’m referring to is an MLM (direct sales) and there are many people, a lot of whom are Work At Home Moms (WAHM) who depend on the sales from this company to provide for their families.  I do not believe this formula change in any way is a reflection of the women who work so hard representing this company.  If you have a friend who is a presenter, please continue to provide love and support for them.  I encourage you to reach out and contact the company if you are as disappointed in their changes as I am.  I for one will be sending them links to both my original product review and this one so they can see how their decisions impact their customers. Maybe they will listen and have a change of heart, maybe they won’t. But we never know until we try. 

 

So back in May I wrote a blog called I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara! It was by far my biggest blog post to date! Well, after three months any girl knows it’s time to replace your mascara.  We had a good run but I knew it was time because my gel was getting clumpy and I found that by the end of the day my mascara was kind of flaking off.  So I hit up my friend and trusted Younique presenter, to re-order.

In the 3 months from my original order and blog post to the day I got my new mascara Younique had reformulated their Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara.  Now I am historically very resistant to change.  I find a product I love and I tend to stick with it.  But alas, my beloved mascara went the way of the bras I love (Am I the only one who buys my bras in every color because inevitably it will be discontinued by the time I go bra shopping again!?! Surely not. But I digress…) and I was faced with a decision, trust Younique and my dear friend that the new product is every bit as good as the last or start the search all over again.  So I practiced my cognitive restructuring and positive thinking skills (yay for listening to the advice I give client’s every single day!) and set my anxiety aside to try out the new formula.

I was super excited when I got my package in the mail and immediately tossed my old mascara before snapping some pics to show you the differences.  Thankfully, my Younique friend had some comparison pics and allowed me to use them as part of my blog.

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When you first open up your Younique package you’ll immediately see a difference between the old packaging and the new.  The old packaging was this hard case that was wrapped in plastic (top).  The new packaging has a fancy cut out box with the mascara inside (bottom).

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While I am pleased that they did away with the bulky, unnecessary hard case that the mascara used to come in (top) I feel like what they gained by minimizing the materials for the case they lost by adding the fancy cut out box (see previous pic).  So from an eco-friendly perspective they still leave something to be desired with the mascara packaging.  I’d love to see them minimize their mascara’s carbon footprint a bit in the future by doing away with the cardboard box.   It does have some, very minimal, application instructions which could be easily tucked inside the shipping package.

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I admit I do like the more modern, streamlined look of the new containers (right).  Plus, I really like that they new containers have a clear spot in them so you can see when your gel or fibers are starting to get a bit low and it’ll give you an idea of when you will need to reorder.

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They also changed the wand shape.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the shape of the old wand (top).  I felt like I was always making more of a mess than I ever did with my old mascara.  But truthfully, the new design didn’t seem to help my mess at all, so pretty sure that’s just operator error at this point. (I have, however, learned that I can take a q-tip with just the slightest bit of fractionated coconut oil on it and wipe off any of the mess I make easily!) I’m pretty sure the new wand is designed to be used such that the large part of the brush hits the lashes on the outermost part of your eye.  This makes sense and presumably helps curl them upwards a bit.  While great in theory, I fail somewhat in execution.  I can do my right eye easily but just can’t contort my hand enough to use it this way on my left eye.  Doesn’t seem to matter too much though.

 

Younique changed more than just appearances though.  They also “enhanced” their gel and fiber formulas. Here’s where you should always read your ingredients before you order.  Here’s the old ingredient list:

“Old” Transplanting Gel Ingredients: Water, Beeswax (Natural Propolis), Carnauba (Brazilian palm glue), Iron Oxide Cl 77499 (Black), Collagen, Acrylates Copolymer, Nylon, Stearic Acid, Propylene Glycol.  See my previous blog post I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara! for a breakdown of these ingredients.

Nine ingredients.  All of which I could live with.  Here’s the new list of ingredients (new ingredients in italics):

“New” Moodstruck Transplanting Gel Ingredients: Water/Eau, Butylene Glycol, Iron Oxides (Ci 77499), Acrylate Copolymer, Stearic Acid, Polyvinylalcohol, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Tromethamine, Beeswax, Bentonite, Microcrystalline Wax, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Alcohol, Allantoin, Silica, Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Ppg-2-Deceth-30, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Dehydroacetate

Seriously!?! They went from 9 ingredients to 23!?! And not only that, they added alcohol(s), Silicones, and Sulfates??? All ingredients I’ve tried desperately to throw out of my beauty and hygiene routine. Honestly, the ingredient list is now worse than my old school Cover Girl mascara ingredient list. Le sigh. Here’s a breakdown of all the new ingredients from Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Database:

  • Butylene Glycol – On the ingredient list, Butylene Glycol is described as a humidifying and delivery ingredient.  According to the EWG, Butylene Glycol is a small organic alcohol used as solvent and conditioning agent.  It has limited data but the overall hazard rating is only a 1 (out of 10).  I can live with that.
  • Polyvinylalcohol – On the ingredient list, Polyvinyalcohol is described as a gel acts as a film former and binder, and helps improve endurance of the product.  According to EWG, Polyvinylalcohol is a polymer of vinyl alcohol crosslinked with glyoxal that acts as a bulking agent.  They have no real data on this ingredient but the overall hazard ratting is only a 1. Again I can live with this but another alcohol?
  • Tromethamine – On the ingredient list, Tromethamine is described as a neutralizer to control the pH balance of the Transplanting Gel.  According to EWG, Tromethamine is an aliphetic compound commonly used as a fragrance ingredient, pH adjuster, for buffering or as a masking ingredient.  It has a fair bit more data on it than the previous two ingredients and is listed as a 2 for overall hazard.  So still, not too concerning.
  • Bentonite – Here’s another ingredient I’m actually happy to see on the list because not only do I know what it is and that it is non toxic but it’s naturally based and an ingredient I can pronounce.  Bentonite is an absorbent clay often used in DIY and naturally based beauty products.  Younique states that they add Bentonite to their Transplanting Gel to help absorb oils and as a thickening agent.  Cool! Why can’t they add more stuff like this!
  • Microcrystalline Wax – On the ingredient list, Micorcrystalline Wax is described as a highly refined wax and gives products a more solid texture.  According to EWG, Microcrystalline wax is a hydrocarbon wax derived from petroleum and often used as a binder, bulking agent, emulsion stabilizer, and viscosity increasing agent.  It has limited data available but does have a low overall hazard score of 1.  But petroleum is generally something I avoid in my beauty products as it is comedogenic (meaning tends to cause acne breakouts) and there is some concern that it could be linked with skin cancer.  Not sure how I feel about a petroleum derivative…
  • Glyceryl Stearate – Glyceryl Stearate is a lipid used in cosmetics as a surfectant and emulsifying agent. The name is hard to pronounce and sounds scary but overall this ingredient is thought to have a low risk of toxicity and environmental impact.  EWG rates it a 1 for low risk due to limited data.
  • Cetearyl Alcohol – Cetearyl Alcohol is a mixture of cetyl and stearyl alcohols that can come from vegetable or synthetic sources.  Younique adds it to their mascara as a thickener and an emulsion stabilizer. I usually try to avoid products with alcohol in them because of the skin drying properties of alcohol.  Younique claims to be naturally derived but I would be curious where they source their cetearyl alcohol from since it can also be synthetically derived.
  • Alcohol – According to Younique, alcohol acts as an anti-foaming agent and helps to decrease sticky residue.
  • Allantoin – Allantoin is a naturally occurring nitrogenous compound used as a skin conditioning agent.  However, according to PETA’s Caring Consumer, while also found in plants (like comfrey) this ingredient is derived from uric acid which is often harvested from animals, specifically cow urine.  So if it’s a vegan product you are after, you may want to write Younique and find out exactly where their allantoin is sourced from. That said, it is not suspected of being hazardous to health or an environmental toxin and again gets a rating of 1 on EWG’s Skin Deep Database.
  • Silica – Silica is the most common constituent of sand.  It is added to the gel as an absorbent powder and acts as a thickening agent.  Since it’s not being used in an aerosol product the concern for Silica as an ingredient is low.
  • Dimethicone – Dimethicone is a silicon-based polymer used as a lubricant and conditioning agent.  Younique claims to add it to their transplanting gel because it slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on its surface.  But part of my crunchy granola motivations in living a more natural lifestyle was to eliminate sulfates, parabens, and silicones from my beauty and hygeine products and yet here is a company I trusted adding it as a new ingredient! What’s worse is according to EWG, the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List classifies Dimethicone as “expected to be toxic or harmful” and as a suspected environmental toxin earning it a rating of 3, or Moderate Hazard, on the Skin Deep Database.
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose – Hydroxyethylcellulose is a modified cellulose polymer; used as a gelling and thickening agent.  It’s another ingredient that sounds scary because no one can pronounce it but its assumed risk is low.
  • Phenoxyethanol – Phenoxyethanol has a moderate risk of skin allergies and immunotoxicity, earning it a rating of 4 for Moderate Risk on EWG’s Skin Deep Database.  Japan has even restricted the concentration of phenoxyethanol used in Japanese cosmetics.  Younique has chosen to add it to their formula as a preservative and to help prevent microbial growth and spoiling.  But if it wasn’t necessary in the old formula, why is it necessary now?
  • Ppg-2-Deceth-30 – Okay, so how alarming is this? Ppg-2-Deceth-30 wasn’t even listed in the Skin Deep Database, but I was able to find it under EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning where it rated a C due to Some Concern for asthma and respiratory issues, skin allergies and irritation, developmental and reproductive toxicity (including the potential for genetic defects), cancer risk, and environmental concerns! Apparently it’s used as a sufactant and an emulsifying agent in some cleaning agents. Younique uses it to help stabilize liquid formulations, but why?  I wouldn’t want this in my cleaning products let alone a beauty product I use near my eye!
  • Ethylhexyglycerine – Ethylhexylglycerin is a glyceryl ether used as a weak preservative and skin conditioning agent which, while still rating a low score of 1 on the Skin Deep Database, does have the potential for irritation and toxicity of the eye according to the European Union, Classification & Labelling division.  And yet, Younique has added this ingredient to their mascara!?! A product used around the eye!  They claim that it is added as a skin conditioning agent that helps deliver and preserve the formula of their new transplanting gel but I have to wonder why they couldn’t have found an alternative means of preserving the product.  It does appear that the old formulation used Propelyne Glycol as a a humidifying and delivery agent.  An ingredient that did have a higher rating of concern in the database and that Younique chose to get rid of.  While I’m pleased with that choice it seems they replaced it with several other concerning ingredients thus nullifying the relief I might have felt otherwise.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate – I admit, I’m most alarmed with the decision to add Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) to Younique’s new transplanting gel formula.  I’ve spent years trying to rid my shampoo, body wash, soap, and other home, health, and beauty products of this ingredient and yet here it is showing up in my mascara! Why do I feel so strongly about SLES?  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are strong detergents and sufactants that are often used in shampoo and other body cleansers to help create a lather and increase the effectiveness of their cleaning power.  In fact, they are so effective at cleaning that these ingredients are commonly found in industrial cleaning agents such as engine degreaser and industrial strength detergents. It’s also widely known as a skin irritant!  EWG’s Skin Deep Database rates SLES as a 3, or Moderate Risk, due to strong evidence that it is a skin and eye irritant.  There are also contamination concerns that SLES could contain Ethylene Oxide (which rates a 10, or the highest possible hazard due to being a known carcinogen with organ toxicity and cancer risk) as well as 1-4 Dioxane (which rates an 8, or High Hazard, and another possible carcinogen). Younique’s website claims that SLES was added as an emulsifying agent.  But why in the world would they need to add such a controversial ingredient to a product that quite frankly worked better before being reformulated!?!
    • I pointed this ingredient specifically out to my friend and Younique presenter who contacted support. This is what she was told: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is not actually part of the formula for 3D Fiber Lashes+; however, it is used as a processing aid in the production of an ingredient in the formula, and, as such, European Union policies require the placement of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate on the label panel.  She was told there are several ingredients listed for this same reason.
    • She pressed the issue and was told by Bryce H from Younique Support that “Unfortunately, I would not be able to answer that as I do not have the needed information, however I can transfer you via email to a Product Related Specialist. Would that be okay?” She asked to be transferred to a product specialist and never received any new explanation of why Younique would choose to use SLES in the manufacturing of a product, despite pointing out that it didn’t seem safe or “in the best interest of our customers.” I have to say, customer service is huge to my (another reason why I love Young Living) and I’m very disappointed that Younique doesn’t care enough about their presenters to give them more information to settle the mind of a concerned customer.
  • Sodium Dehydroacetate – Sodium Dehydroacetate is an antimicrobial ingredient used as preservative.  According to EWG there is moderate concern over toxicity when used in products designed for the lips or around the mouth.  Overall it rates a 1 on the database, however, so the concern is low for this ingredient.

They also  changed the ingredients in the fibers.  One of the bigggest reason I liked the old formula was that the fibers were 100% natural derived from green tea.

“Old” Natural Fibers Ingredients: 100% Natural Fibers taken from Green Tea.

One ingredient.  Just ONE! But now they’ve replaced that one ingredient with 9.  Seriously!?! Again, I feel like we are going backwards here.  Here are the “new” fiber ingredients:

“New” Moodstruck 3D Fibers Ingredients: Rayon, Carbon Black CI77266, Squalane, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Iris Pallida Leaf Cell Extract, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate

According to Younique, the new fibers are coated in Younique’s Uplift Eye Serum which is what adds all the extra ingredients to the fiber list.  But I have to wonder, why is this necessary?  Here’s the breakdown of these ingredients according to EWG’s Skin Deep Database:

  • Rayon – Rayon is a composition of synthetic fibers and filaments composed of regenerated cellulose.  Younique puts a nice spin on it stating on their website that their Rayon is “made from plant cellulose, is environmentally friendly and made of biodegradable material that delivers longer-looking lashes and increased volume.” I’m not really worried about rayon though, it doesn’t particularly have any risk concerns.
  • Carbon Black CI77266 – Carbon Black CI77266 is a fine black powder used as a colorant in cosmetics.  It’s not even listed in EWG’s Skin Deep Database but was commonly listed as an ingredient in other products during a cursory Google search.  I did find out, however, that there is a potential for eye irritation and as of January 2014 the Nanotechnologies Industry Association (NIA) was calling for the Scientific Community on Consumer Safety to revisit their ruling that Carbon Black CI77266 was safe in it’s nano form.  You can read more about that here: http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Regulation-Safety/Nano-industry-calls-for-another-look-at-carbon-black 

The ingredients below are the added ingredients due to coating the fibers in Younique’s Uplift Eye Serum:

  • Squalane – Squalane is a naturally occuring lipid in both plants and animals often used in lubricating creams and lotions.  It is assumed to be a low risk and rated a 1 on EWG’s database.  However, Squalane is listed in the PETA’s Caring Consumer guide as primarily derived from animals, especially shark liver oil.  According to Younique, their squalane is sourced from Sugarcane and is added to their fibers to help with cell support.
  • Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) – I used Vitamin E all the time in my DIY beauty products so I never would’ve considered giving this another thought except I was looking up all the other ingredients so thought I would look this one up too.  Apparently, Vitamin E in it’s form Tocopheryl Acetate (other forms include: alpha-tocopherol, tocopherol, tocotrienol) warrants a rating of a 3, or Moderate Hazard, on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database due to potential for allergies and immunotoxicity as well as the potential of contamination with Hydroquinone, which is rates a 9 (out of 10) or High Hazard due to being a skin irritant and is restricted in use in cosmetics.
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C) – According to Younique Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate has “multi-functional properties provides antioxidants, nutrition, and other age-defying benefits and is already present in our bodies and skin.” It is presumed to be relatively low risk, rating a 1 for Low Hazard by the EWG.
  • Iris Pallida Leaf Cell Extract – Another ingredient not listed in EWG’s Skin Deep Database but a quick internet search indicates that Iris Pallida Leaf Cell Extract is of limited health concern. Younique claims it helps provide a more youthful appearance.
  • Ubiquinone (CoQ10) – The chemical name, Ubiquinone, sounds scary but is a skin conditioning agent with a low overall concern. In fact, CoQ10 is a popular supplement taken to promote cell growth and maintenance.
  • Caprylic Capric Triglyceride – Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is a mixed triester of glycerin and caprylic and capric acids often used as a skin conditioning agent.  It rates a 1 or Low Hazard on EWG’s database.
  • C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate – C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate is composed of benzoic acid and long-chain (C12-15) alcohols and is primarily used as a skin conditioning agent.  It also rates a 1 for Low Hazard but has limited data available.

I had already spent my hard earned money on the product so I decided to go ahead and use it.  Plus, I didn’t do my research (shame on me) until I was well beyond the 14 day “Younique Love It Guarantee” and couldn’t get my money back and as y’all know I don’t really wear much makeup and had already decided I wasn’t ever going to buy the Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara ever again (unless they reformulate it or even better go back to the old formula) so a product credit wouldn’t do me any good… So, in case you were still wondering, below is my impression of the new formula after using it for awhile.

This was after my first couple attempts.  I was pretty bummed because I really didn’t like how clumpy my eyelashes looked.  It wasn’t so bad when it wasn’t a close up photo and once I had my glasses on but I really wanted a more natural look.  So I sent a message to my friend and Younique presented and asked for some advice.  Here’s what she said:

So the new formula has a different gel and it takes a little getting use to. I like to thin mine out a little bit with rose water. I prefer a thinner, wetter mascara. And I scrape a lot of the gel off by pulling the wand out at an angle. Then I do a thin layer of gel one eye first then fibers. I pack the fibers down on the wand and apply only to my tips then move to the next eye with gel. After I do fibers on the second eye I deal with gel on the first.

I suppose it’s telling when even the presenter doesn’t love the new formula, but that’s what I love about her – she’s honest and not just trying to sell you on a product.

I had heard a lot of buzz lately about adding Lavender essential oil to your mascara in the oily community.  Apparently it is supposed to help strengthen and lengthen your lashes and keep lash mites away.  I didn’t have any rosewater as my friend suggested but thought the Lavender eo might just do the trick so I added 2 drops to my new tube of the Fiber Lash gel. When adding any liquid to your mascara, do NOT pump your wand up and down but rather swirl it around to mix the oil and the mascara up.  Pumping your wand in your container adds air and will dry your mascara up quicker (and if you’re buying any high $ mascara you want to make it last as long as possible!).

So much better after adding the Lavender eo! I’ll be honest, even if I didn’t have the concerns I do about the lengthening list of potentially toxic ingredients, I much preferred the old formula.  While I still love the length I can add to my lashes, which really makes my eyes pop, especially when I have my glasses on, I’m really disappointed in Younique’s decision to reformulate their Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara.  What drew me to the company to begin with was that they prided themselves in being  naturally based and cruelty free.  But I feel like they are straying from their values by adding potentially toxic ingredients.

Do you use Younique’s 3D Fiber Lash Mascara? What do you think of the new formula? Share your review below for readers to see!

Do you have a natural, non-toxic, cruelty-free (and bonus if it’s Vegan for some of my readers) brand of mascara? I’d love to know what it is so I can try it out.  Extra bonus points if it’s a drug store brand that won’t cost me half my paycheck.

I also ordered some of Younique’s Bb cream to try out at the same time I ordered the new mascara.  I’ll do a separate blog post on that soon so keep your eye out for it! Don’t want to miss any posts? Be sure to follow my blog by clicking on the link below my picture!


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The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant

Before I started my WordPress blog I had a Facebook page where I was sharing about my adventures and DIY ideas. This past Spring I shared a post per special request about my Quest for the Perfect Deodorant.  I never shared it here but it seems pertinent to do so in order to give you some background on just how long I’ve been seeking the what was starting to look like the Holy Grail of deodorant recipes. So here’s my original post:


(5/1/15) The Quest for the Perfect Deodorant:
There was a lot of hype on the interwebz about the dangers of antiperspirant a couple years ago, theorizing that your deodorant caused everything from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, science has pretty much debunked most of these rumors. But the gist of these rumors was that the active ingredient in antiperspirant, aluminum chlorohydrate, was the culprit.

In the 1960’s researchers found high levels of aluminum in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the safety of any household or cosmetic product containing aluminum was called into question. Since then, no sound scientific study has been able to prove that aluminum is a cause of Alzheimer’s disease (remember correlation does not equal causation). In fact, most researchers point out that the aluminum chlorohydrate in deodorants doesn’t enter into the body at all. It works by reacting with the sweat produced in your underarm area to form a plug or sorts into the sweat duct effectively blocking the sweat from being released. Which brings me to the rumors about breast cancer risk.

In the 1990’s a group of researchers theorized that aluminum chlorohydrate in antiperspirants was linked to breast cancer because the majority of breast cancers develop in the upper, outermost portion of the breast, the area closest to the armpit. Two theories emerged: 1) because antiperspirants block the sweat we are preventing the body from its natural ability to rid itself of heavy metals and thus leading to cancer, and 2) the chemicals in deodorant and antiperspirant are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving, and that these chemicals supposedly interact with DNA to interfere with estrogen levels and can lead to cancer cell growth. Again, neither of these hypotheses have been supported through peer reviewed research.

There is some legitimate risk concern over aluminum possibly leading to dementia in patients with kidney disease, however. This comes from several studies showing that dialysis patients given aluminum hydroxide had difficulty ridding the aluminum from their system due to improper kidney function and leading to higher percentage of these patients developing dementia. This lead to the FDA requiring the warning you may have seen on antiperspirants that says “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease.” Despite this relationship, however, most doctors believe that the likelihood of absorbing enough aluminum through the skin to harm the kidneys is unlikely.

My quest for the perfect deodorant began when I wanted to decrease the number of chemicals and questionable ingredients in my skincare and beauty products several years ago. Even if aluminum chlorohydrate doesn’t lead to cancer or Alzheimer’s there are still a lot of other questionable ingredients in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, including:

Phthalates– chemicals used to soften and increase flexibility in plastics that may* cause endocrine disruption or hormone imbalance. (* this relationship is largely unknown and more research is needed)

Propylene glycol– also called antifreeze. There is a lot of debate about adding this ingredient in skincare and beauty products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) propylene glycol carries a moderate risk of immunotoxicity and allergies.

Formaldehyde – recognized as a known carcinogen but commonly added to help kill germs.

Parabens – a preservative used in pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and even the food industry. There is some concern that Parabens cause estrogenic disruption but this is largely unsupported by the research.

Antibacterial Substances– There is emerging concern that antibacterial substances, such as triclocarban (commonly found in soaps), can be endocrine disruptors and thus negatively affect the immune system

So, armed with a list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce I declared that I would give up my beloved Secret Clinical Strength deodorant. I don’t know about any of you but I sweat… like a man – there is no “glisten” where my pits are concerned. And, I stink. I said it, I can have pretty wicked BO… So giving up my Clinical Strength deodorant that I had used for years was no small feat. I tried lots of products that claimed to be “better” than other deodorants that had more chemicals. Even falling victim to the “Natural” marketing campaign (which if you didn’t know marketers can put the words “natural” on pretty much anything when there may be nothing “natural” about that product – it means zilch in the real world…) and landing on Secret’s Natural Mineral Antiperspirant and Deodorant for a couple years thinking it was a better alternative.

Once my blinders were removed I transitioned to Tom’s of Maine deodorant as a healthier choice and was terribly disappointed because quite frankly it didn’t really work for me (hindsight is 20/20 and a lot of why I think it didn’t work was diet – more on that in a minute). So by that time I was getting into the whole crunchy granola lifestyle and thought “what the hell, why don’t I just make my own deo!?!” So I tried one of the most common homemade deodorant recipes out there:

• 1/4 c. baking soda

• 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

• 5 Tbsp. coconut oil

• Essential oils (optional – I used 3 drops of lavender, 4 drops of sweet orange, and 2 drops of tea tree)

Mix everything together very well in a small container. Pack it in an old deodorant container and use it just like you normally do.

And you know what? It worked!!! I was thrilled! But after using it for a while I discovered that, like many people out there, my skin is way too sensitive for baking soda as a deodorant. My pits turned an angry shade of red, peeled, and itched like crazy. Nothing so sexy as walking around scratching your pits like a monkey all day. So I tried decreasing the baking soda and added more arrowroot powder and much to my dismay I continued to have the same reaction, although slightly less severe. Saddened by this turn of events, I continued my quest.

Next I tried Milk of Magnesia (MoM) – yes, the same stuff you use for constipation and heartburn, but hear me out. Because the active ingredient, magnesium hydroxide, is alkaline it helps balance the acidity of the sweat and sebum (skin’s natural oils) mixture. This worked okay, but I wasn’t a super huge fan of having to rub a quarter sized dollop of MoM on my pits and wait for it to dry. Some critics of MoM as deo point out, however, that an inactive ingredient in MoM is sodium hypochlorite, which is essentially bleach and while this does a fantastic job of killing bacteria, it is a known skin irritant. These critics will often advocate for using magnesium oil (which can be purchased in an aerosol spray) as an alternative or even just increasing your magnesium through supplements to decrease body odor (but I take a mag supplement daily and still need deo).

Next I was led to the Natural Crystal deodorant, which is basically a “salt” crystal, or potassium alum. It has also received a lot of criticism for being a type of aluminum but since I know that the aluminum-cancer/dementia risk is slight (see above) I wasn’t particularly concerned. Again, I was surprised by how well this actually worked for me! But again, sadly disappointed when my pits started itching. Not as bad as BS but still not sexy and super annoying.

So feeling dismayed I went back to Tom’s of Maine. I was pleasantly surprised that it was working better than it did a couple years ago and I credit our change in diet/lifestyle as the reason behind this change. We gave up processed foods, cut back on sugar (although admittedly I’ve relapsed since the little one was born), and traded in “white” foods, like sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, etc. for whole and ancient grains, sweet potatoes, and sugar alternatives, like honey or agave nectar. I haven’t found a whole lot of evidence to support my claim that my healthier diet changed my BO (because I still drink caffeine and eat lots of garlic and onions as well as other BO-causing spices like curry) but that’s my anecdotal evidence for ya!

That said, I still wanted to get away from having to purchase store-bought deodorant and continued my quest for a homemade recipe that didn’t irritate my armpits. My recently re-ignited passion for essential oils lead me to search for new recipes. Below is what I discovered!

The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant:

A  fellow essential oil enthusiast recently shared with me that she was having luck using Rosemary oil as a deodorant alternative. Now, Rosemary essential oil is technically classified as a dietary supplement but I’m all about experimenting and finding new ways to use essential oils.  My friend had said she just dropped a few drops in her hands, rubbed them together and applied neat to her pits. I admit, I was super skeptical that one single oil, let alone something I associated more with cooking than sweat could tackle this challenge. But, willing to try pretty much anything, I added Rosemary oil to my Essential Rewards order back in July and gave it a whirl.


This stuff is amazing! For a month and a half I wore nothing but Rosemary oil, neat, as a deodorant alternative and I’m pleased to report that I didn’t stink! I still sweated but the Rosemary oil is a natural camphor so it provides a nice cooling sensation in warm summer breezes which was nice. But I did want to try to find something to provide some wetness protection.  I had such a bad reaction to Baking Soda in my deodorant that I wanted to find something else to help absorb sweat and set out to look for alternatives.  While scouring the interwebz I stumbled upon Simple Life Mom’s blog post and recipe for a Detoxing Homemade Clay Deodorant.  She skips the Baking Soda and adds Bentonite Clay to help absorb wetness and odor.  In addition to soothing the skin, the clay also helps detox heavy metals and other toxins from the skin!  The blog was originally published  on my daughter’s birthday so I thought that perhaps this was kismet.  I already had all the ingredients on hand and decided to give it a whirl.  Since I’d had such good luck with the Rosemary essential oil I knew I wanted it to be included and decided to add a bit of Lavender essential oil as well to help with any skin irritation that I might have from the Arrowroot powder or Bentonite Clay.  Here’s the recipe with my essential oil ratios:

 

DIY Rosemary & Lavender Detoxing Deodorant (for sensitive skin):

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Bentonite Clay (Simple Life Mom suggests substituting Kaolin or other clay if you desired to have a whiter deodorant)
  • 5 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 tsp Beeswax (I used pastilles because they melt easier and get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I use Carrington Farms brand and get it at Costco. That big ol tub is only like $14.99 and we use it for cooking in addition to my DIY projects.)
  • 2 tsp Shea Butter (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil
  • 8 drops of Lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Combine Beeswax, Coconut Oil, and Shea Butter in double boiler.  Heat on high and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
  2. Combine Arrowroot powder and Bentonite Clay in bowl.
  3. Pour oil mixture into powder mixture and stir until there are no lumps.
  4. Add essential oils and stir until well mixed.
  5. Pour into empty deodorant container (mine was gifted to me but you can find them on Amazon or at other online aromatherapy supplies dealers websites)

 

I’ve used this new deodorant for a week now.  I’ve made sure to wear every color and style shirt conceivable and the verdict is I freakin’ love this stuff!!! I feel like my long quest for the perfect deodorant is finally over.  This, my friends, is my holy grail of DIY deodorants!!! I absolutely love that I get the fragrance of the Rosemary essential oil, with just a touch of the Lavender, in addition to the wetness protection from the Arrowroot and Bentonite Clay.  It goes on smoothly which I also really like. For what it’s worth though, I have two (small) constructive criticisms of the recipe. First, it does show up on black (but not white as I feared) fabric.  It is not any more visible than a white solid deodorant, however.  But if I was going to wear a black tank top, or little black dress if you’re more fashionable than me, I would probably just use my Rosemary oil neat to avoid the powdery bits.  And second, because it is pretty soft, which makes it glide on easily, it does tend to ball up a little bit in the creases of my armpit.  However, this is very short lived as the melting point of the Coconut Oil and Shea Butter is pretty low so after 30 minutes to an hour it is all absorbed and no more balls or clumps.

So there it is.  Try it out and let me know what you think!  Comment below with your results to help keep the conversation going!!!

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant

Before I started my WordPress blog I had a Facebook page where I was sharing about my adventures and DIY ideas. This past Spring I shared a post per special request about my Quest for the Perfect Deodorant.  I never shared it here but it seems pertinent to do so in order to give you some background on just how long I’ve been seeking the what was starting to look like the Holy Grail of deodorant recipes. So here’s my original post:


(5/1/15) The Quest for the Perfect Deodorant:
There was a lot of hype on the interwebz about the dangers of antiperspirant a couple years ago, theorizing that your deodorant caused everything from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, science has pretty much debunked most of these rumors. But the gist of these rumors was that the active ingredient in antiperspirant, aluminum chlorohydrate, was the culprit.

In the 1960’s researchers found high levels of aluminum in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the safety of any household or cosmetic product containing aluminum was called into question. Since then, no sound scientific study has been able to prove that aluminum is a cause of Alzheimer’s disease (remember correlation does not equal causation). In fact, most researchers point out that the aluminum chlorohydrate in deodorants doesn’t enter into the body at all. It works by reacting with the sweat produced in your underarm area to form a plug or sorts into the sweat duct effectively blocking the sweat from being released. Which brings me to the rumors about breast cancer risk.

In the 1990’s a group of researchers theorized that aluminum chlorohydrate in antiperspirants was linked to breast cancer because the majority of breast cancers develop in the upper, outermost portion of the breast, the area closest to the armpit. Two theories emerged: 1) because antiperspirants block the sweat we are preventing the body from its natural ability to rid itself of heavy metals and thus leading to cancer, and 2) the chemicals in deodorant and antiperspirant are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving, and that these chemicals supposedly interact with DNA to interfere with estrogen levels and can lead to cancer cell growth. Again, neither of these hypotheses have been supported through peer reviewed research.

There is some legitimate risk concern over aluminum possibly leading to dementia in patients with kidney disease, however. This comes from several studies showing that dialysis patients given aluminum hydroxide had difficulty ridding the aluminum from their system due to improper kidney function and leading to higher percentage of these patients developing dementia. This lead to the FDA requiring the warning you may have seen on antiperspirants that says “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease.” Despite this relationship, however, most doctors believe that the likelihood of absorbing enough aluminum through the skin to harm the kidneys is unlikely.

My quest for the perfect deodorant began when I wanted to decrease the number of chemicals and questionable ingredients in my skincare and beauty products several years ago. Even if aluminum chlorohydrate doesn’t lead to cancer or Alzheimer’s there are still a lot of other questionable ingredients in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, including:

Phthalates– chemicals used to soften and increase flexibility in plastics that may* cause endocrine disruption or hormone imbalance. (* this relationship is largely unknown and more research is needed)

Propylene glycol– also called antifreeze. There is a lot of debate about adding this ingredient in skincare and beauty products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) propylene glycol carries a moderate risk of immunotoxicity and allergies.

Formaldehyde – recognized as a known carcinogen but commonly added to help kill germs.

Parabens – a preservative used in pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and even the food industry. There is some concern that Parabens cause estrogenic disruption but this is largely unsupported by the research.

Antibacterial Substances– There is emerging concern that antibacterial substances, such as triclocarban (commonly found in soaps), can be endocrine disruptors and thus negatively affect the immune system

So, armed with a list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce I declared that I would give up my beloved Secret Clinical Strength deodorant. I don’t know about any of you but I sweat… like a man – there is no “glisten” where my pits are concerned. And, I stink. I said it, I can have pretty wicked BO… So giving up my Clinical Strength deodorant that I had used for years was no small feat. I tried lots of products that claimed to be “better” than other deodorants that had more chemicals. Even falling victim to the “Natural” marketing campaign (which if you didn’t know marketers can put the words “natural” on pretty much anything when there may be nothing “natural” about that product – it means zilch in the real world…) and landing on Secret’s Natural Mineral Antiperspirant and Deodorant for a couple years thinking it was a better alternative.

Once my blinders were removed I transitioned to Tom’s of Maine deodorant as a healthier choice and was terribly disappointed because quite frankly it didn’t really work for me (hindsight is 20/20 and a lot of why I think it didn’t work was diet – more on that in a minute). So by that time I was getting into the whole crunchy granola lifestyle and thought “what the hell, why don’t I just make my own deo!?!” So I tried one of the most common homemade deodorant recipes out there:

• 1/4 c. baking soda

• 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

• 5 Tbsp. coconut oil

• Essential oils (optional – I used 3 drops of lavender, 4 drops of sweet orange, and 2 drops of tea tree)

Mix everything together very well in a small container. Pack it in an old deodorant container and use it just like you normally do.

And you know what? It worked!!! I was thrilled! But after using it for a while I discovered that, like many people out there, my skin is way too sensitive for baking soda as a deodorant. My pits turned an angry shade of red, peeled, and itched like crazy. Nothing so sexy as walking around scratching your pits like a monkey all day. So I tried decreasing the baking soda and added more arrowroot powder and much to my dismay I continued to have the same reaction, although slightly less severe. Saddened by this turn of events, I continued my quest.

Next I tried Milk of Magnesia (MoM) – yes, the same stuff you use for constipation and heartburn, but hear me out. Because the active ingredient, magnesium hydroxide, is alkaline it helps balance the acidity of the sweat and sebum (skin’s natural oils) mixture. This worked okay, but I wasn’t a super huge fan of having to rub a quarter sized dollop of MoM on my pits and wait for it to dry. Some critics of MoM as deo point out, however, that an inactive ingredient in MoM is sodium hypochlorite, which is essentially bleach and while this does a fantastic job of killing bacteria, it is a known skin irritant. These critics will often advocate for using magnesium oil (which can be purchased in an aerosol spray) as an alternative or even just increasing your magnesium through supplements to decrease body odor (but I take a mag supplement daily and still need deo).

Next I was led to the Natural Crystal deodorant, which is basically a “salt” crystal, or potassium alum. It has also received a lot of criticism for being a type of aluminum but since I know that the aluminum-cancer/dementia risk is slight (see above) I wasn’t particularly concerned. Again, I was surprised by how well this actually worked for me! But again, sadly disappointed when my pits started itching. Not as bad as BS but still not sexy and super annoying.

So feeling dismayed I went back to Tom’s of Maine. I was pleasantly surprised that it was working better than it did a couple years ago and I credit our change in diet/lifestyle as the reason behind this change. We gave up processed foods, cut back on sugar (although admittedly I’ve relapsed since the little one was born), and traded in “white” foods, like sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, etc. for whole and ancient grains, sweet potatoes, and sugar alternatives, like honey or agave nectar. I haven’t found a whole lot of evidence to support my claim that my healthier diet changed my BO (because I still drink caffeine and eat lots of garlic and onions as well as other BO-causing spices like curry) but that’s my anecdotal evidence for ya!

That said, I still wanted to get away from having to purchase store-bought deodorant and continued my quest for a homemade recipe that didn’t irritate my armpits. My recently re-ignited passion for essential oils lead me to search for new recipes. Below is what I discovered!

The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant:

A  fellow essential oil enthusiast recently shared with me that she was having luck using Rosemary oil as a deodorant alternative. Now, Rosemary essential oil is technically classified as a dietary supplement but I’m all about experimenting and finding new ways to use essential oils.  My friend had said she just dropped a few drops in her hands, rubbed them together and applied neat to her pits. I admit, I was super skeptical that one single oil, let alone something I associated more with cooking than sweat could tackle this challenge. But, willing to try pretty much anything, I added Rosemary oil to my Essential Rewards order back in July and gave it a whirl.


This stuff is amazing! For a month and a half I wore nothing but Rosemary oil, neat, as a deodorant alternative and I’m pleased to report that I didn’t stink! I still sweated but the Rosemary oil is a natural camphor so it provides a nice cooling sensation in warm summer breezes which was nice. But I did want to try to find something to provide some wetness protection.  I had such a bad reaction to Baking Soda in my deodorant that I wanted to find something else to help absorb sweat and set out to look for alternatives.  While scouring the interwebz I stumbled upon Simple Life Mom’s blog post and recipe for a Detoxing Homemade Clay Deodorant.  She skips the Baking Soda and adds Bentonite Clay to help absorb wetness and odor.  In addition to soothing the skin, the clay also helps detox heavy metals and other toxins from the skin!  The blog was originally published  on my daughter’s birthday so I thought that perhaps this was kismet.  I already had all the ingredients on hand and decided to give it a whirl.  Since I’d had such good luck with the Rosemary essential oil I knew I wanted it to be included and decided to add a bit of Lavender essential oil as well to help with any skin irritation that I might have from the Arrowroot powder or Bentonite Clay.  Here’s the recipe with my essential oil ratios:

 

DIY Rosemary & Lavender Detoxing Deodorant (for sensitive skin):

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Bentonite Clay (Simple Life Mom suggests substituting Kaolin or other clay if you desired to have a whiter deodorant)
  • 5 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 tsp Beeswax (I used pastilles because they melt easier and get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I use Carrington Farms brand and get it at Costco. That big ol tub is only like $14.99 and we use it for cooking in addition to my DIY projects.)
  • 2 tsp Shea Butter (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil
  • 8 drops of Lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Combine Beeswax, Coconut Oil, and Shea Butter in double boiler.  Heat on high and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
  2. Combine Arrowroot powder and Bentonite Clay in bowl.
  3. Pour oil mixture into powder mixture and stir until there are no lumps.
  4. Add essential oils and stir until well mixed.
  5. Pour into empty deodorant container (mine was gifted to me but you can find them on Amazon or at other online aromatherapy supplies dealers websites)

 

I’ve used this new deodorant for a week now.  I’ve made sure to wear every color and style shirt conceivable and the verdict is I freakin’ love this stuff!!! I feel like my long quest for the perfect deodorant is finally over.  This, my friends, is my holy grail of DIY deodorants!!! I absolutely love that I get the fragrance of the Rosemary essential oil, with just a touch of the Lavender, in addition to the wetness protection from the Arrowroot and Bentonite Clay.  It goes on smoothly which I also really like. For what it’s worth though, I have two (small) constructive criticisms of the recipe. First, it does show up on black (but not white as I feared) fabric.  It is not any more visible than a white solid deodorant, however.  But if I was going to wear a black tank top, or little black dress if you’re more fashionable than me, I would probably just use my Rosemary oil neat to avoid the powdery bits.  And second, because it is pretty soft, which makes it glide on easily, it does tend to ball up a little bit in the creases of my armpit.  However, this is very short lived as the melting point of the Coconut Oil and Shea Butter is pretty low so after 30 minutes to an hour it is all absorbed and no more balls or clumps.

So there it is.  Try it out and let me know what you think!  Comment below with your results to help keep the conversation going!!!

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.

The Holy Grail of DIY Deodorant was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures


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General Musings on Getting Started with Essential Oils and a Lemon Sugar Scrub Recipe to Share the Love!

Sorry I’ve been absent the last week! I was busy planning my first Essential Oil Make ‘N Take party that I hosted yesterday! We had so much fun using essential oils to make home, health and beauty products.  It can be really overwhelming to know where to start with essential oils so I always suggest taking a personal inventory of the areas in your life that you are unsatisfied with and starting your research there.  Maybe you want to rid your home of toxic cleaning chemicals.  Maybe you want to find natural hygiene and beauty routines.  Or maybe you just want to support your family’s health and wellness.  Whatever the need, there’s an oil for that! I love doing research on ways that essential oils can enhance the lives of my friends and readers because I learn so much about what these amazing oils can do! So feel free to message me with your areas of concern and I’d be glad to help!

At my Make ‘N Take party this past weekend I shared several options for my guests to choose from.  My skin has gone bonkers lately! I’m not sure if it’s hormones or my body trying to detox since I started adding Lemon essential oil to help me meet my daily water intake, but whatever the reason it’s not happy.  So I was most excited to try out a new recipe that I shared with my guests, a Lemon Sugar Scrub.  This recipe can be used on both the body and face. It’s ideal for rough spots like feet, knees, elbows and hands.  It’s also great for nail beds and cuticles.  And with a few simple modifications this scrub makes an excellent choice for people who suffer from occasional breakouts because it contains ingredients that are beneficial to acne-prone skin:

  • Lemon essential oil helps tightens pores and evens out the skin tone.
  • Sugar helps remove dead skin cells and cleans pores.
  • Substitute Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the Coconut Oil as it is less comedogenic (less likely to clog pores) and helps heals acne scarring.
  • And adding a bit of Honey helps prevent future breakouts.

I tried the recipe out last night and it was lovely! I love a good scrub and felt like my skin was so much smoother afterwards! Plus, the olive oil helped prevent my skin from feeling overly dry after I rinsed it off.  This one is definitely a keeper!

So without further ado, here it is:

Lemon Sugar Scrub

  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • ¼ cup Coconut Oil (can substitute EVOO, especially for acne-prone skin)
  • 5 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
  • 1 tsp Honey (optional)

Mix ingredients and store in 8 oz glass jar.

As a body scrub: Apply to body, paying extra close attention to elbows, knees, feet and hands (nails and cuticles especially), and rub in circular motions for 3 to 5 minutes.  Rinse.  Enjoy the silky softness of your impossibly smooth skin.

As a face scrub: Clean face as usual with warm to hot water to help open up pores.  Apply scrub to clean face in gentle, circular motions.  Be cautious of using on open wounds, as lemon has a tendency to sting. Leave on for a few minutes and rinse with cool water.

** The above is not my original recipe.  I modified it from one I found in one of my YL business Facebook groups and regretfully cannot find the post again to give proper credit.  So if it’s your original recipe, let me know and I’ll gladly give proper citation.

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience! #WBW2015

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share a little bit about how essential oils can be used in various ways to help enhance your breastfeeding experience. You will see tons of info about how essential oils should be avoided while pregnant or nursing.  But 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts.

Safety:

Essential oil use should always be practiced safely.  Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children.  Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using.

Please review the general safety guidelines listed in my previous blog post What Are Essential Oils?

Additional Safety Considerations for Nursing Mothers: There is a lot of contradictory information out there about essential oil safety and which oils to avoid while breastfeeding.  More often than not literature seems to lump pregnancy and breastfeeding together which makes it much more difficult for consumers to know what they can and can’t use (for instance Clary Sage should be avoided while pregnant as it can cause contractions but it a great oil to use during labor and delivery as it can help speed up labor once contractions have started.  But I’ve read conflicting reviews of Clary Sage during breastfeeding – some say that it can help bring on milk after baby is born and will boost lactation other sources say that it will decrease lactation. As a result, I generally avoid Clary Sage just to be safe).  I would recommend erring on the side of caution and doing your research before using any essential oil while nursing.  Much of the information listed below comes from two of my essential oil bibles Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern (you can buy it here) and Essential Oil Pocket Reference published by Life Science Publishing (you can buy it here).

Essential Oils and Uses: 

To Boost Lactation: 

  • Fennel – Fennel seed is often recommended as an herbal supplement to help increase breastmilk production.  Fennel essential oil may be more effective given that the concentration of the oil is much more potent than the plant or seed.  Fennel can be used as a dietary supplement, 1-2 drops added to tea or a tsp of honey, or it can be taken in a vegetable capsule.  Debra Raybern recommends taking Fennel every 2 hours and follow with a glass of water (hydration is important to keeping your supply up so always make sure you are drinking plenty of water!).  Fennel can also be applied topically.  For topical use, dilute 1-2 drops of Fennel essential oil with 1 Tbsp of carrier oil (Coconut oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex) and apply directly on the breast and lymph area under the arm, avoiding the nipple area*.  (note: Fennel should not be taken internally for more than 10 days as it could cause an increased flow through the urinary tract)
  • Basil – Basil is similar to Fennel essential oil in its lactation boosting properties and can be taken internally or applied topically in the same way.  Basil does not carry the same warning as Fennel, however, and can be taken internally for longer than 10 days if necessary.
  • Joy or Stress Away blends – Stress can have a negative impact on your supply so using essential oil blends such as Joy or Stress away, either diffused, dabbed on your wrist and behind your ears, or combined with Epsom Salt and Baking Soda for a relaxing bath!  Other oils that help reduce stress and promote relaxation include: Lavender and Sandalwood.

To Help Decrease Lactation and Relieve Engorgement (For Oversupply or When Weaning):

  • Peppermint – Most herbalists recommend avoiding peppermint while nursing as it can have an adverse effect on your supply (However, some mothers, like myself, will report that peppermint does not affect their lactation). However, if you have an over-supply issue or you are weaning your baby, adding Peppermint oil to your routine may help alleviate some of the pressure associated with engorgement.  Peppermint is a dietary supplement and can be taken internally.  Debra Raybern recommends taking 5 drops of peppermint orally several times a day to decrease supply.  You can add a few drops of peppermint oil to water, dip a wash cloth in it and wring out the excess water and apply directly to the breast as a cold compress.  Avoid heat application when engorged as this can increase swelling and inflammation.

In addition to peppermint oil, another natural remedy to relieve engorgement and help decrease supply are cabbage leaf compresses.  Simply take a chilled or room temperature cabbage leaf and apply directly to the breast between feedings for up to 20 minutes 3 times daily.  For weaning, you can leave the cabbage leaf on the breast until it wilts.  For more information on cabbage leaf compresses visit Kelly Mom’s blog.

For Sore, Dry, Cracked Nipples*: (Note: painful nursing and dry or cracked nipples could be due to another condition, such as improper latch or tongue or lip tie.  Please see a lactation consultant and/or pediatrician for evaluation)

  • Myrrh, Helichrysum, Geranium, Vetiver, or Sandalwood – When diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to the nipple these oils can help moisturize the skin and provide relief from dry, cracked nipples as well as help speed up the healing process.
  • Valor blend – a good alternative to the above oils to help provide relief from dry, cracked nipples.  Dilute with carrier oil and apply directly on nipple.
  • Lavender or Roman Chamomile – Sore nipples? Add a few drops of Lavender or Roman Chamomile to your nipple cream or apply directly on your nipples with some organic coconut oil to help minimize discomfort.

When applying any essential oil directly to nipples, always make sure they are diluted.  I would ensure that the oil was fully absorbed into the skin or wipe off any excess before my next nursing session.  While all these suggested oils can be taken used orally for adults it is not recommended that small infants ingest oils just to be safe. 

For Clogged Ducts:

  • Geranium, Lavender, and Melrose blend – Each of these oils individually or used together can help promote circulation, reduce pressure and alleviate aches associated with engorgement and clogged ducts.  Combine 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Lavender, and 2 drops of Melrose with 1 1/2 pints of cold water.  Dip washcloth into the mix and squeeze out excess water.  Apply as a cold compress directly to the affected area of the breast.  Repeat as often as once per hour for relief.  (Recipe from Gentle Babies)

In addition, hot showers, soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath that completely covers the breast, breast massage, frequent pumping or nursing, pointing your baby’s chin towards the affected area of the breast while nursing, and “dangle nursing” (where you nurse from a position of hands and knees and dangle your breast towards your baby’s mouth) are all recommended to help alleviate discomfort associated with clogged ducts and to prevent development of mastitis.

For Mastitis: (Note: Mastitis is a serious infection and should always be diagnosed and treated by a health professional of your choice.  You may choose to use the following blend to help provide some relief as a supplement to your prescriber’s treatment protocol.)

  • Breast Blend Recipe – combine 3 drops Myrrh, 3 drops Vetiver, 2 drops Copaiba, and 1 drop Blue Spruce with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (Coconut Oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex are good choices). Massage blend onto breasts and under armpits two times daily to help provide relief from pain, swelling, redness or warmth of the breast.  (Recipe from Essential Oils Pocket Reference)

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

 

Have you used essential oils as part of your breastfeeding journey?  I’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments below to keep the conversation going!

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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My All Natural Skin Care Routine: Plus My Favorite DIY Facial Serum Recipe (using Essential Oils)!

I just hosted my first Essential Oils 101 class two weekends ago and had so much fun sharing all about the oils I’m so passionate about with a great group of lovely ladies! And it occurred to me that it has been awhile since I had written a blog post about how I use my essential oils in my daily life.  I’ve shared a lot about using essential oils to clean and a few hygiene sort of recipes so figured it was time to share some of my beauty routine with y’all! First, a bit about my journey.  My husband and I started trying to conceive after our 1 year wedding anniversary, on May 19, 2013.  I had been on hormonal birth control pills for 17 years and when I went off of them my whole body went bonkers! I later learned that I had PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) and that’s what was causing my crazy hormonal issues and making it so difficult for us to conceive.  My hormonal imbalances were most obvious with my skin.  My once beautiful, soft, smooth skin suddenly became a nightmare of crazy teenage-type acne breakouts… at 32 years old!!!  I seriously tried everything shy of going to a dermatologist (which would’ve taken me 2+ months to get in and they likely would’ve prescribed medication that I’d have to discontinue when I got pregnant and/or antibiotics which I didn’t really want to take).  As a measure of last resort I started researching natural alternatives to skin care to find away to help clear up my skin.  That was when I discovered Crunchy Betty’s blog and started my adventures in living a natural lifestyle.

When I decided to rid my life of toxic chemicals, starting with my skin and beauty routines, I literally threw out 20+ bottles of skincare products, both drug store and expensive department store brands, none of which worked to control my acne. I found a fair bit of success using honey and even more luck when I switched to the oil cleansing method (OCM) to cleanse my face while I was having extreme acne breakouts.  My skin cleared almost completely once I got pregnant and my hormones got back in check (and my skin has so far stayed clear since having my darling little daughter with only the occasional breakouts) and I’m lazy, so I no longer use either of these methods.  But they were great alternatives to traditional, chemical filled store-bought cleansers. So rather than reinvent the wheel, here are some links to Crunchy Betty’s blog posts on both these methods:

Crunchy Betty’s Honey Challenge – all about how to wash your face with honey!

Nitty Gritty on the Oil Cleansing Method – a great intro to oil cleansing with descriptions of the various oils and the skin types they work best with.

Trying and Troubleshooting the Oil Cleansing Method – a follow up to her previous post that gives 5 new tips she learned through 2 years of trials and tribulations with the oil cleansing method.  Read both posts before you begin for the best success!

* I will add this, I personally had the most luck with a combo of Castor Oil and Jojoba Oil when I was using OCM to help reduce acne breakouts.  But try out different oils and find the best combo for your skin type.  You don’t have to have acneic skin for OCM to work for you!

So, want to know my current skin care routine? Of course you do! That’s why you’re reading this blog post after all, right?

  • Water only to clean my face.  No seriously, that’s it! When i take a shower I just rub my face with circular motions using hot water only.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m pretty lazy and I only actually “wash” my face at night.
  • Thayer’s Rosewater Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner as an astringent. I apply this with a cotton round after my showers at night and once again in the morning to get rid of any extra oil that my skin produced overnight. I love the rose petal one for it’s added moisturizing effect and lovely scent but I’ve also used the plain and the lavender as well.  I spend the extra money on Thayer’s because all the other brands I could find in the grocery/drug store witch hazel had alcohol in it and I didn’t want the drying effect that alcohol has on my skin. More info about Thayer’s Witch Hazel varieties here.
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil as my acne spot treatment – Tea Tree Oil is a natural antiseptic and can help cleanse the skin as well as dry up blemishes and reduce future breakouts. I use it “neat” – just a dab on a qtip, applied directly to the blemish.  Note: Tea Tree Oil may cause skin sensitivity with repeated exposure.  I haven’t had any problems yet and have been using it for a couple years now but I do personally know people that have had a reaction to it.  
  • Coconut Oil as eye makeup remover. If you haven’t caught my review of my awesome mascara, check it out here: I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara!  The downside is that I can no longer be lazy and absolutely must take my eye makeup off or it won’t apply right the next day and it doesn’t come off with water only or with my astringent.
  • DIY Natural Sunscreen as my daytime moisturizer. If you missed my previous post with the recipe, check it out here: DIY Natural Sunscreen
  • DIY Facial Serum as my nighttime moisturizer.  You want the recipe? Here it is!

DIY Facial Serum

DIY Facial Serum:

Ingredients:

  • Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • Melrose essential oil blend – Young Living’s proprietary blend of Tea Tree, Rosemary, and Clove essential oils designed to soothe and support healthy skin. The Tea Tree and Rosemary oils have an added benefit of a cleansing effect and the Clove helps support a healthy immune system.
  • Frankincense essential oil – a natural astringent that helps soothe and tone the skin as well as supporting a healthy immune system.  May help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to promote more radiant, younger looking skin!
  • Lavender essential oil – In addition to having a soothing effect, lavender essential oil is a natural antioxidant and moisturizer that can help soothe irritation as well as detox the skin and protect it from the daily barrage of sun and pollution damage. Plus it has a calming effect and can promote relaxation and a better night’s sleep!

Directions:

Combine 2 oz of Fractionated Coconut Oil with 7 drops each of the essential oils. Shake gently before use and apply to skin at night before bed (could also be used as a daytime moisturizer).  A little goes a long way!

There are lots of other essential oils that have amazing benefits for healthy skin, including but not limited to Carrot Seed (high SPF and rejuvenating effect), Geranium (helps regulate oil production and may reduce breakouts), Myrrh (helps improve skin tone and firmness promoting more youthful looking skin), Neroli (moisturizes, improves skin tone and may reduce fine lines and wrinkles), Patchouli (a natural antiseptic that helps soothe irritation and promotes skin regeneration), Rose (especially moisturizing and can promote healing), and Ylang Ylang (helps control oil production and reduce breakouts).  Feel free to mix and match to find the right combination of essential oils for your particular skin care needs!

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

** Both my DIY Natural Sunscreen and my DIY Facial Serum use Coconut Oil as the base.  However, Coconut Oil is comedogenic, meaning that it can clog pores.  I haven’t noticed any more than the occasional breakout but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this.  If you have acne prone skin or have found that Coconut Oil causes breakouts for your skin, here is a list of alternative carrier oils that you could use for your DIY facial serum.  I’ve also included approximate SPF information of the oils that may offer some SPF protection as alternatives to Coconut Oil in the DIY Sunscreen recipe.

Comedogenic Ratings of Alternative Carrier Oils for Facial Serums*:

Will not clog pores:

  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil

Low:

  • Castor Oil (SPF 5)

Moderately Low:

  • Almond Oil (SPF 4)
  • Apricot Kernel Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Olive Oil (SPF 4-7)
  • Peanut Oil (do NOT use if you have peanut allergies)
  • Sandalwood Seed Oil
  • Sesame Oil (SPF 1-2)

Moderate:

  • Corn Oil
  • Cotton Seed Oil
  • Soybean Oil

Fairly HIgh:

  • Coconut Oil (SPF 4-7)

High:

  • Wheat Germ Oil

* Adapted from the Lemondroppers Comedogenic Ratings graphic

For more information on alternative moisturizing oil blends check out Crunchy Betty’s Simple Homemade 3-Ingredient Facial Oil Moisturizer blog post! It’s got a lot of alternative carrier oil choices with descriptions of what types of skin they are good for as well as descriptions of other skin nourishing essential oils not listed here!

So there you have it! Do you have an all natural beauty routine? I’d love to hear what works for you! Comment below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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Are you brushing your teeth with toxic toothpaste? (Plus a DIY Thieves Toothpaste recipe!)

In 2013 I had to have oral surgery, a gum graft behind my lower front teeth to correct a receding gum line… Having only had 2 cavities in my entire life (don’t hate me) I was devastated.  (Interesting side note: according to my dental hygienist, apparently people who are not prone to cavities are often prone to periodontal disease… who knew?).  As a result of my gum loss I developed sensitivity to heat/cold as well as when brushing my teeth.  So like all good little patients I began using the recommended toothpaste, Sensodyne. It helped but is expensive compared to regular toothpaste so when I would run out I would often just use what we had on hand and my sensitivity would come back.  By this point I had started to embark on my crunchy journey so I started doing a little research into toothpaste.

What I first discovered is that my Sensodyne did not have one ingredient common in nearly all toothpaste brands, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).  SLS, along with Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALS), are detergents that are commonly added to personal hygiene products such as shampoo, toothpastes, mouthwash, body wash, soaps, etc. to help create a lather and make the products more effective at cleaning.  In fact, these ingredients are so effective that they are often included in industrial strength detergents and engine degreasers!!! Say what!?! By this point I had already begun my low-poo journey (more on that at a later date) because I wanted to avoid SLS and similar sulfates in my shampoo but I was still putting it in my mouth!?! So naturally, I vowed to never use an SLS toothpaste again! But my research wasn’t over yet.

Next I began to read about fluoride.  I’m a child of the 80’s and remember getting fluoride gel treatments as a regular dental procedure to help strengthen my teeth.  Walk down any toothpaste aisle at the supermarket and it’s all about “Now with added Fluoride for extra cavity protection!” So, fluoride is good right? Not necessarily.  Fluoride does help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities but in excess can be toxic.  In fact, before it was used in toothpaste it was also used as an insecticide and rat poison.

But first, a history lesson: Tooth powders and toothbrushes came into popular use in the 19th century in Britain. By the 1900’s a mixture of using a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide was the general recommendation for use with a toothbrush.  Pre-mixed pastes were available but did not gain in popularity until after WWI, most likely due to lack of financial means, access, and/or education on proper dental care.  Fluoride was first added to toothpaste in the 1980’s by a German company based on the research of chemist Albert Deninger.  Surprisingly, a similar recipe was developed by a US company in 1937 and was highly criticized by the American Dental Association (ADA). It wasn’t until the 1950’s that a fluoridated toothpaste was approved by the ADA and Proctor & Gamble’s original Crest formula entered the market as the first fluoridated toothpaste in America.

As awareness of the potential benefits of fluoride for dental health began to spread, the US Public Health Service (PHS) realized that many American’s didn’t have the financial means to purchase the new fluoridated toothpaste or access to proper dental care and in the 1940’s and 50’s they started added fluoride to community drinking water under the assumption that it was the main way that many US residents would have access to fluoride.  Since that time the incidents of dental decay have, in fact, decreased in the US and thus “led to the development of fluoride-containing products, including toothpaste (i.e., dentifrice), mouthrinse, dietary supplements, and professionally applied or prescribed gel, foam, or varnish. In addition, processed beverages, which constitute an increasing proportion of the diets of many U.S. residents, and food can contain small amounts of fluoride, especially if they are processed with fluoridated water. Thus, U.S. residents have more sources of fluoride available now than 50 years ago (CDC, 2001).”

But is the decrease due to the addition of fluoride in the water or to increased education about proper dental hygiene? During the same time frame, the incidents of dental decay has also decreased in most industrialized nations, including France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Iceland and Greece – yet the ONLY one that adds fluoride to the public drinking water is the US.

Why is this a concern? The PHS has set recommendations for the “optimally adjusted concentration of fluoride” in public drinking water as ranging from 0.7 ppm to 1.2 ppm.  Being aware that too much fluoride can be toxic, and having a responsibility to protect the safety and quality of our drinking water, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come in and set a maximum limit of 4 ppm and a “secondary limit (i.e., nonenforceable guideline)” at 2 ppm (CDC, 2001).  This doesn’t take into account any of the additional fluoride that we are exposed to in our daily diet and hygiene.  So clearly, we are getting more than the “optimally adjusted concentration of fluoride” daily.

So what happens if we are exposed to too much fluoride?  Ironically, too much fluoride can cause your teeth to yellow and crumble.  In addition, it can enhance the absorption of aluminum which presents concerns of Alzheimer’s disease, and has even been linked to cancer deaths (I don’t know the specifics of these studies so I can’t comment on the research).  And the FDA knows that fluoride in excess can lead to significant health problems, as evidenced by the FDA’s warnings on toothpaste read: “Keep out of the reach of children less than 6 years of age. In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact poison control center immediately.”  In fact, the ADA advises to only use a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste with children 24 months and older (although they are now encouraging prevention beginning even younger than 2 due to a rising number of cavities in youth) to prevent enamel fluorosis, a developmental disturbance of dental enamel caused by the consumption of excess fluoride during tooth development. Since children often do swallow their toothpaste while learning about proper dental hygiene, several non-fluoride children’s toothpastes have entered the US market.

Another concerning ingredient in traditional toothpaste is Triclosan.  Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is also often found in soaps, hand sanitizers, as well as detergents and other cleaning agents. It has received a great deal of media attention lately because it has been linked to health concerns, such as liver and thyroid dysfunction.  In addition, the American Medical Association has even discouraged the use of Triclosan in the home as it’s antibacterial properties may contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Given the concerns with a number of ingredients in traditional toothpaste I thought surely I can DIY this… besides, plenty of people brush their teeth with baking soda – hell, it’s even an added ingredient in many toothpaste brands. So I set out to find the perfect toothpaste recipe.  I’ve been using the same recipe for over a year now and I’m proud to say that I have no cavities and even my dental hygienist approves! I’ve recently modified my toothpaste recipe to add Thieves oil because it helps kill germs and bacteria that can thrive in the little nooks and crannies between your teeth.  Below is my new and improved DIY toothpaste recipe!

DIY Thieves Toothpaste:

Ingredients

  • 4-6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons baking soda
  • ½ – 1 small packet of stevia powder (1 packet = 1 tsp)
  • 2-5 drops Thieves oil – buy it here
  • 10-20 drops of peppermint oil* – buy it here

(oils can be adjusted to taste)

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, using a fork.

*Add about half of the amount of peppermint oil to start, and test the toothpaste to see how much you want/like. Using part spearmint oil will make the toothpaste not as “hot” as using all peppermint oil.  The stevia gives a sweet taste (which most toothpastes have). The baking soda taste isn’t over-powering, but it is there — and the toothpaste definitely works well! It doesn’t foam, however. Since coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, the toothpaste becomes liquid when you brush, and coats the teeth well. The oil is very runny, though, and doesn’t leave the mouth feeling greasy in the least. It will, however, stick to your bathroom sink if you use cold water to rinse. I definitely recommend using warm water with this toothpaste!

Note: If you are a nursing mom you may want to avoid using peppermint oil as there is some evidence that it can cause a decrease in your milk supply.  That stated, I’ve used it every day since I had my baby and haven’t noticed any difference (but I produce milk like a Jersey cow!).

–Modified from several sources, including http://www.tammysrecipes.com/homemade_toothpaste and http://www.growing4hisglory.com/homemade-thieves-toothpaste.html

See the CDC’s “Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States” (2001) here: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm

Get more information about Triclosan here from the Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-triclosan

Read more about sulfates in your personal hygiene products here: http://slsfree.net/

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.