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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Acne Prone Skin? Check out my new Zit Zapper and Facial Serum recipes!

I’ve struggled with acne since going off hormonal birth control a couple years ago and it’s wreaked havoc on my self-esteem.  Since then I’ve been on the quest for the perfect skin care regimen to help keep my acne under control.  In fact, searching for the perfect facial cleanser was what led me down the crunchy rabbit hole and I’ve been all in ever since! Over the years I have tried many different natural approaches to skin care including Oil Cleansing (OCM), cleaning my face with honey, African black soap, castile soap, and water only.  Most cleansing methods strip my face of its natural oil and while this may sound like a good thing it’s really not.  See, if you strip the skin of its natural, protective oils then it over produces sebum to compensate which can clog pores even more.  So these days I tend to use water only to clean my face, a Lemon Sugar Scrub to exfoliate every week or so, my Melrose and Witch Hazel astringent (find that recipe here in my blog post When You Vacation with an OIL Addict!) and a spot treatment for those particularly obnoxious pimples.  Historically I’ve just used Tea Tree oil as my spot treatment and while it works well on day to day pimples it doesn’t tackle the tough ones as much as I’d like.  I had used Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick in the past and was pretty happy with it overall.  I’d always wanted to make my own DIY version and had finally built up my oil collection enough I thought I’d give it a go.  So let’s check out the ingredients in the Burt’s Bees roll-on and why they are good for acne.

Doctor Burt’s Herbal Blemish Stick ingredients:

SD Alcohol 40-B – This is basically denatured alcohol.  It bothers me that this is the first ingredient on the list because that means that it is the ingredient of highest concentration in the product. There’s nothing really wrong with this ingredient but honestly it doesn’t really add much to the recipe either.  I tend to avoid alcohol because it has a drying effect on the skin and can strip the skin of it’s natural oils.

Calendula extract – Calendula is more commonly known as Marigold.  It is often used in skin care products because of it’s ability to calm the skin.  Calendula may help reduce redness and helps cleanse the skin of pore clogging gunk and reduce acne breakouts.

Borage extract – Borage, or Starflower, is an annual herb native to the Mediterranean region.  It’s remarkably effective at soothing irritated or damaged skin and can help calm skin by reducing swelling and redness.  Borage is high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is a fatty acid that is beneficial in maintaining healthy skin.  Borage oil or extract are excellent ingredients to add to DIY skin care recipes help reduce the appearance of acne scarring or redness and irritation from skin conditions like rosacea or eczema.

Yarrow extract – Yarrow is actually a common weed that grows native in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is an ancient herbal medicine, often referred to as Soldier’s herb and Nosebleed grass, known to staunch bleeding and reduce pain.  It’s also renowned for it’s ability to bring down a fever and help clear the sinuses! As far as skin care is concerned, yarrow is great for oily skin to help balance the oil, draw out blackheads, and tighten your pores! Do yourself a favor and google the medicinal uses of Yarrow.  Its an amazing herb to add to your herbal first aid kit!

Parsley extract – Parsley extract is excellent for helping cleanse and purify the skin which helps reduce acne breakouts.  In addition, parsley also contains high amounts of Vitamin C, chlorophyll and Vitamin K which are good for reducing dark circles and puffiness under your eyes.

Willowbark extract – Willow bark is usually harvested from white willow trees and is highly valued as a skin care ingredient because it is a natural source of salicylic acid (yup, the same stuff that is in over the counter acne products like Neutragena’s acne line, Clearasil, and Clean & Clear!).  In addition to helping reduce breakouts, willow bark extract also helps promote youthful, radiant skin by minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It also contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals and promote skin rejuvenation!

Lemon oil – Lemon essential oil helps balance overactive oil glands in the skin and encourages exfoliation of dead skin cells, both of which can clog pores and lead to breakouts.

Fennel oil – Fennel essential oil encourages skin cell repair and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It helps balance oil production without over drying the skin.

Water – used to dilute the mixture.  However, water can also promote the growth of bacteria in DIY products so I tend to not use it, or use distilled water if I do add to my products.

Tea Tree oil – Tea tree oil has been my go to for acne spot treatment for years.  It is renowned for it’s ability to not only dry out pimples but reduce acne breakouts when used regularly.

Juniper oil – Juniper essential oil helps cleanse and promotes healing by stimulate blood circulation.  It helps remove toxins and purifies the skin.  Overuse can increase redness, however.

Eucalyptus oil – Eucalyptus essential oil helps cleanse the skin and unclog pores.  In addition, it helps reduce inflammation that may result from acne breakouts.

Zit Zapper

Zit Zapper: A spot treatment for Acne-Prone Skin

Combine the following ingredients in a 3 ml roll-on:

  • 5 drops Tea Tree
  • 5 drops Lemon
  • 5 drops Lavender (I added Lavender because of it’s ability to help calm and soothe irritated skin, especially since I didn’t have an calendula extract in my recipe.  In addition, Lavender essential oil also helps regulate oil production and promotes healing.  I tend to pick at my acne so it’s always nice to add healing oils to my skincare regimen.)
  • 4 drops Ginger (I chose to add Ginger because it removes toxins and stimulates circulation.  In addition, it promotes a youthful, radiant complexion by helping rejuvenate the skin and improving skin’s elasticity.)
  • 3 drops Fennel
  • 3 drops Juniper 
  • 3 drops Eucalyptus Globulus (because this is the Eucalyptus I had on hand, but Eucalyptus Radiata might actually be a better choice because it tends to be lighter and more gentle than Globulus, making it the preferred chemotype for skincare)
  • top off with White Willow Bark extract (I bought mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)

Next time I might actually make my own Calendula and Borage extract to add as well.  If I do that I’ll probably use a larger, 4 or 5 ml, roll on.  Both Calendula and Borage (as well as White Willow Bark) can be purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs if you are interested in making it your own.  Extracts aren’t difficult to make at all.  Check out Humblebee and Me’s post below for a recipe that includes Calendula extract and Borage oil.

*Note: This is a strong mixture and is only intended to be used as a spot treatment, not all over your face.  If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test first.  You may want to reduce the amount of essential oils or dilute with something like Calendula extract or Borage oil. 

Inspired by Burt’s Bee’s Herbal Blemish Stick and Humblebee and Me’s Indigo Acne Blaster

New & Improved Facial Serum

Perhaps you’ve been following me for awhile and remember my DIY Facial Serum from back in August of last year.  I still stand by that facial serum as a good starting point for anyone wanting to make their own skin care products.  It’s wonderfully moisturizing and I used it for months.  However, as my daughter started eating more solids and decreased the amount of breastmilk she was demanding day to day my hormones started returning back to “normal” (which is anything but) and my face started breaking out like a teenager’s again (sad face). My DIY Facial Serum uses fractionated coconut oil as a base which feels lovely on the skin but does have a high comedogenic rating (meaning it can cause acne breakouts).  Coconut oil rates a 4, meaning it has a “fairly high” chance of clogging pores.  So naturally I wanted to reduce anything that would contribute to my breakouts.  For awhile I switched to jojoba oil, which has a comedogenic rating of 2, or “moderately low” chance.  I was pretty pleased with this combo for awhile.

Recently, however, I was hearing a lot of buzz about Rosehip Seed Oil for skincare.  Rosehip seed oil is chalk full of vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants that help hydrate the skin, relieves dry, itchy skin, reduces dark circles and minimizes the appearance of scaring.  Plus, it’s lightweight and non greasy, making it an ideal carrier oil for facial serums. And it has an even lower comedogenic rating that jojoba (1 = “low”) so I figured I’d give it a shot.

See how other carrier oils measure up with regards to comedogenic ratings here from Beneficial Botanicals.

I’d also been really curious about a new-to-me essential oil blend, White Angelica.  White Angelica is Young Living’s proprietary blend of Bergamot, Myrrh, Geranium, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Spruce, Hyssop, Melissa, and Rose in a Sweet Almond oil carrier.  While there are tons of amazing uses for White Angelica, including emotional healing, meditation, and Raindrop massage, all of these oils have amazing skin care properties and many are quite expensive (and as a result not members of my growing collection yet).  Let’s look at each of these oils individually.

Bergamot – Bergamot is a tropical citrus fruit with a lovely fragrance.  It is well known for it’s cleansing and immune enhancing properties.  In addition, it helps reduce the appearance of scars or age spots on the skin resulting in a more even skin tone.

Myrrh – Myrrh comes from a dried resin extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree, which is in the same family as the Frankincense tree.  It has a long history of medicinal use, highly valued for its wound healing properties, as well as an ingredient in incense and holy oil for ritual and religious ceremonies.  As far as skin care benefits, Myrrh promotes healing and helps soothe minor skin irritations like chapped or cracked skin and acne.  It helps sustain healthy looking skin and promotes a more youthful, radiant appearance by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Geranium – Geranium essential oil has a long history as a beneficial ingredient in skin care.  Even the ancient Egyptians used Geranium oil to help promote beautiful, radiant skin.  It helps defy the effects of aging by improving muscle tone and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  In addition, Geranium essential oil helps reduce inflammation and has been used to help soothe acne and other skin irritations by promoting cell growth and healing.

Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood – Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood is renowned for it’s healing properties.  It helps cleanse and protect the skin from infection resulting from acne, sores, or other wounds and is often added to skin care and beauty products for it’s ability to help tighten skin tone and minimize the appearance of scars and age spots.

Rosewood – Rosewood oil is extracted from the Aniba rosaeodora, an evergreen tree indigenous to Peru and Brazil.  It is a member of the Laurel family of plants like bay, camphor, cassia, and cinnamon.  Rosewood oil has a warm, woodsy yet spicy, floral fragrance that has been used in the perfume industry since the 1900’s.  In addition to it’s alluring fragrance, Rosewood oil helps fight the signs of aging by regenerating skin cell growth and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps balance sebum production thereby helping to reduce acne breakouts.

Ylang Ylang – Ylang Ylang is steam distilled from the signature yellow flowers of the ylang ylang tree native to the South Pacific Islands.  As you may imagine, it has a delicate yet romantic floral fragrance.  In addition, Ylang Ylang essential oil has amazing skin benefits.  It helps promote the appearance of healthy skin and hair by balancing sebum production, soothing skin irritations, cleansing the skin and promotes healing, and reducing redness and inflammation.

Spruce – Spruce essential oil is distilled from the needles of the Spruce tree and helps cleanse and purify the skin thereby helping to maintain the appearance of healthy looking skin.

Hyssop – Hyssop is a sacred oil referenced in many ancient texts, including the Bible, for it’s restorative health benefits.  Hyssop not only helps support healthy respiratory and digestive systems but also to help relieve pain and promote a sense of calm.  As for skin care benefits, Hyssop essential oil helps soothe skin irritations and reduce the appearance of scars and age spots.

Melissa – Melissa, or more commonly known as Lemon Balm, is a plant in the mint family.  The essential oil is distilled from the tiny buds and seeds of the plant.  It takes somewhere between 3 and 7 tons of plant material to yield 1 pound of essential oil which makes it one of the more pricey oils.  It is a gentle oil known for it’s ability to help soothe irritation and rejuvenate the skin.

and last but not least, Rose – Rose, ah how I covet thee…  Rose essential oil is probably the most expensive essential oil that Young Living sells because of the sheer volume of rose petals required to make a small 5 ml bottle.  But it is highly prized for many reasons, the least of which is its ability to moisturize, calm and soothe red or irritated skin.   Research suggests that it may also help reduce acne breakouts and regenerate skin cell growth!  It’s a must-have for anti-aging DIY beauty products!

So, even though I can’t afford to add oils like Myrrh, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Melissa, or Rose to my collection just yet, I’m thrilled to have them in a nice affordable (only $28 Wholesale) little blend like White Angelica! So naturally, I wanted to find a way to incorporate this into my New & Improved DIY Facial Serum! Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

New & Improved DIY Facial Serum

Combine the following in a 2 oz container:

 

So there you have it! My new favorite skin care recipes! Have you tried these recipes or have other recipes you would like to share? I’d love to hear about them! Comment below.

 

Want more information on natural ways to help rid your skin of acne? Check out this post by Thank Your Skin on How To Get Rid of Acne: The Ultimate Guide: 21 Easy Things You Can Do Today To Get Rid of Acne Fast and Naturally! I have to admit, I learned a few things I will be incorporating into my diet and skincare regimen! They also do some pretty awesome product reviews over there to help you find the best skincare products and makeup for acne-prone skin! So head on over and show them some oily love! 😉

 

I only use Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils because of their commitment to quality and Seed to Seal guarantee.

*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.

Acne Prone Skin? Check out my new Zit Zapper and Facial Serum recipes! was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures

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Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!)

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays with an Essential Oils Twist

Last week Huffington Post published a Top 10 list called the  “Very Best Smells of the Holidays.”   These Holiday smells really resonated with me but I thought surely my oily peeps would want to know how to mimic some of these fragrances with their essential oils collection.  And thus, the following list was inspired! So check out my

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!)

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

1.   Hot Chocolate

Number one on Huffington Post’s list was Hot Chocolate, always a cold weather favorite of mine, especially during the Holiday season! I used to think that there wasn’t much you could do to make Hot Chocolate taste any better… until I met the heavenly combo of Peppermint essential oil and Hot Chocolate! Just 1 drop = Heaven in a cup!

 

Essential Oil Sugar Cookie Recipes

2.   Freshly Baked Sugar Cookies

Adding essential oils to your favorite sugar cookie recipe can take your party from traditional to something your friends and family will be talking about for years to come! Check out a few of these awesome sugar cookie recipes with Young Living essential oils!

No time (or just not in the mood) to bake? Try diffusing 5-6 drops of Stress Away essential oil blend! It’s a lovely blend of Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea (which is very cinnamon-like), and Lavender.  Perfect for making your home smell like you just baked something delicious without the hard work or mess!

 

Fireplace Oils

3.   A Fire

A fun and creative way to use essential oils is to add a few drops to your logs for your fireplace to amplify the energy of your fire and enhance the smell of evergreen in your home!  You can add the drops to dry firewood days or weeks before you burn it.  Also a great gift idea for family and friends who have a wood burning fireplace in their home!

Fireplace Oils – When adding essential oils to fireplace logs use 1 drop of essential oil per log and only one log per fire. After applying the essential oil to the log be sure to let it sit for enough time that the essential oil soaks through the log (at least 30 minutes). Some choices are Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cypress, and Cedarwood.

 

Peppermint

4.   Peppermint

Who doesn’t love Peppermint?  Candy canes are so symbolic of the Holiday season and Peppermint everything infiltrates our coffee shops and supermarket shelves.  And I, for one, don’t mind at all! There are so many ways you can enjoy Peppermint essential oil this season in addition to the aforementioned Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

  • Love baking? Try making some Peppermint Brownies! Just add 3 drops of Peppermint essential oil to your favorite brownie mix for a tasty Holiday treat!
  • Want your house to smell like one of my favorite peppermint treats? Try the Peppermint Bark Diffuser Recipe = 2 drops of Peppermint + 2 drops of Stress Away essential oil blend!
  • Looking for the perfect DIY gifts? Someone on your list is sure to love a Peppermint Pedicure in a Jar, or Candy Cane Bath Salts, or how about Raspberry Mint Lip Balm? Check out my DIY Holiday Gift Guide for these, and many more, recipes!

 

Spiced Apple Cider with Young Living essential oils

5.   Mulled Cider

Ah cider! One of my favorite Holiday drinks! I love sitting back, relaxing in front of a toasty winter fire with a warm glass of spiced Apple Cider!  I was super excited to find a recipe for Spiced Apple Cider using Young Living essential oils as the spices and tried it out at my DIY Holiday Gift Guide essential oils class I taught back in November! It was a huge it!

  • Spiced Apple Cider = In a crockpot, combine 3 qts organic Apple Juice + 5 drops of Clove + 5 drops of Cinnamon Bark + 8 drops of Orange + 2 drops of Nutmeg.  Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Serve hot and garnish with orange slices, whole cloves, and/or cinnamon sticks.  Have the recipe handy because your Holiday party guests are sure to thank you!
  • Love the way cider smells but don’t want to make a whole batch? Check out this Apple Cider Diffuser Recipe = 3-4 drops Orange + 3 drops Cinnamon Bark + 3 drops Ginger

Evergreen Essence: For that fresh cut Christmas Tree smell

6.   Pine

Young Living has several “woody” essential oils, including Pine, Idaho Balsam Fir, Blue Spruce, Northern Lights Black Spruce, Cedarwood, and Evergreen Essence (which is a blend of Blue Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Scotch Pine, Red Fir, Western Red Cedar, White Fir, Black Pine, Pinyon Pine, and Lodgepole Pine essential oils)!  They also ran a special promotional oil back in August of 2014 if you were lucky enough to score some White Fir with your Essential Rewards order (but alas, this was before my time)! Any one of these by themselves would make a great oil to diffuse to get into the holiday spirit, especially if you are like me and LOVE the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees but the hippy inside you dies a little every time you think about cutting down a tree!   Here’s a few diffuser recipes to get you started!

Want a simple Diffuser blend? Try adding 4 or 5 drops of Evergreen Essence to your diffuser to fill your home with the smell of freshly cut Christmas trees!  Or try one of these recipes:

 

7.   Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes are a flat potato pancake traditionally served during Hanukkah celebrations.  It is not the potatoes but rather the oil that the latkes are cooked in that is important in this tradition, symbolizing the oil in the Hannukah story that miraculously kept the Menorah burning for 8 days after the rededication of the Temple in ancient Isreal when it should have only lasted for one.  While I haven’t had the pleasure of actually partaking in Potato Latkes (although now I’m inspired to ask my little sister to make some for me sometime) I’m pretty sure this is a smell that is pretty unique to this particular dish.  Try as I might I cannot find any recipes that suggest using essential oils in potato latkes or any friend potato recipe for that matter.   And I’m pretty sure I can’t replicate this smell in a diffuser recipe either…

However, in keeping with the symbolism of the importance of the oil in Jewish tradition, lets look at other oils that hold similar significance.  The little bit of research that I have done (although admittedly I am not Jewish and limited my research to what I could find on google), indicates that the oil that miraculously lit the Temple’s menorah was a sacred blend of olive oil.  But oils have held a long tradition of being important to religious and spiritual practices and ceremonies.  Young Living actually has a whole collection of oils that are frequently mentioned in both the Torah and the New Testament called the Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit, many of which are not sold individually, and includes:

12 OIls of Ancient Scripture

  • Aloes/sandalwood (Santalum album)
  • Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia)
  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • Frankincense (Olibanum — Boswellia carteri)
  • Galbanum (Ferula gummosa)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
  • Onycha (pronounced oh-nigh-kah, a very thick oil, remove the plastic orifice and warm the bottle in your hand so that the oil will flow — Styrax benzoin)
  • Rose of Sharon/cistus (Labdanum — Cistus ladanifer) and
  • Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)

Young Living is a Christian based company so there are tons and tons of references to these oils in sacred Christian texts.  Essential oils don’t seem to be quite so popular in Jewish circles, or at least Jewish bloggers aren’t quite so vocal.  But a little bit of digging  (which I didn’t have time to do before writing this blog) would likely turn up references in Jewish scripture as well.  In fact, many of the references I could find were Old Testament references.  Living Anointed has a pretty comprehensive post on Bible and Ancient References to Essential Oils if anyone is curious.  And here is a great training on the 12 Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit and how to use them by Gary Young.

 

pumpkin pie

8.   Pie

What smells like the holidays more than a freshly baked pumpkin pie! I love cooking with Young Living essential oils because there are so many recipes that can be enhanced with just a drop of an essential oil.  So you know I had to find the perfect pumpkin pie recipe to share with you! It’s listed below.  But just in case your not into baking, or if you want to enjoy the wonderful goodness of freshly baked pumpkin pie without the calories, here are a few diffuser recipe blends to try out:

Pumpkin Pie with Young Living Essential Oils:

Ingredients:

  • 9″ prepared pie crust
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 drops Cinnamon Bark essential oil
  • 1 drop Nutmeg essential oil
  • 1 drop Clove essential oil
  • 1 drop Ginger essential oil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, salt, pumpkin and essential oils.
  2. Separate eggs, reserving whites.  Beat yolks well.
  3. Stir egg yolks into pumpkin mixture.
  4. Add sour cream and mix.
  5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold into pumpkin mixture.
  6. Pour into unbaked pie crust.
  7. Bake 10 minutes at 450° then lower temperature to 350°.  Bake for 1 ½ hours longer. Cool before serving.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Just say no to toxic candles

9.   Candles

Candles are overrated.  Scented candles are made from paraffin wax and release toxic chemicals like benzene and toluene when burned (both of which are known carcinogens). In fact, these toxins are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes…  Blech! Many candles may contain wicks that contain heavy metals, like lead.  In the U.S. candle wicks are supposed to be made from cotton or paper, but some studies have shown that as much as 30% of candle wicks can contain heavy metals.  In addition, scented candles contain synthetic fragrances and artificial colors that can release even more toxins into the air when burned.  And that’s not even mentioning the soot! I don’t know about you but once I learned about the nasty chemicals in my beloved Yankee candles, I tossed them.  Opting instead for my diffuser and essential oils and blends to cleanse and purify the air while filling my home with amazing, all natural frangrances! Here are a few Holiday diffuser blends to use in lieu of candles this year:

 

Gingerbread diffuser recipe

10.   Gingerbread

Gingerbread has a special place in my heart.  My grandmother and I used to make Gingerbread people every year for Christmas when I was a little girl, a tradition that I hope to continue with my daughter when she gets bigger.  So naturally I adore the idea of a gingerbread diffuser recipe.  Try it out and tell me what you think!

 

So there you have it! Some of the very best Holiday smells, with an essential oils twist! What are some of your favorite holiday smells? Do you use essential oils in your home, cooking or DIY Holiday crafts? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below!

 

Diffuser Recipes from or inspired by various sources

 

*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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!) was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures