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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Looking for a Gluten, Soy and Dairy Free Whole Foods Snack? Look no further! Forth Bars Do NOT Disappoint!!!

Since starting my fitness journey I’ve been experimenting with different healthy eating strategies (I refuse to say I’m dieting because this is a lifestyle change not a diet!).  Within the last couple months I’ve been loosely following the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) program that focuses on finding a balance between the three main Macro Nutrient groups: Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. You can read more about it here on the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) website.  They also have an awesome Macro Calculator and an IIFYM Official Facebook group for support.  A couple weeks ago I saw this promotion in the IIFYM Official Facebook group for a new gluten, soy and dairy free whole foods snack bar that I intrigued me.  So I entered the contest and was blessed to have been given the opportunity to review the new Forth bars as part of this contest!

So a little about this new company.  Forth was founded by Terri Mintz who has struggled with profound food allergies.  She lives an active lifestyle and became frustrated with not being able to find healthy, nutrient dense, whole food choices and thus decided to start making them herself.  As others took notice of her improving health, stamina and performance she decided to create a whole line of products designed for people with similar nutritional needs.  “Forth products are filled with FDA identified functional foods, superfoods, whole carbs, proteins and healthy fats. Made from minimally processed, plant based ingredients, Forth products leave you satisfied and energized.  Each Forth product contains targeted ingredients – whether functional food, traditional remedy or superfood – known to positively affect our body and mood. All Forth Bars and Bites are:

  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy Free
  • Soy Free
  • Plant Based
  • Minimally Processed
  • Very Low in Salt
  • Low Fat
  • Free of fillers, preservatives and unnecessary ingredients”

Needless to say that’s an impressive list so if I could find a wholesome, nutrient dense snack food that met the above requirements for my friends with dietary restrictions then I was excited to give them a try!  You can learn more about their products on the We Are Forth website and follow We Are Forth on Facebook and Instagram for special promotions.

I was lucky enough to get a variety pack to try so below you will find my reviews of each of the 7 varieties of Forth Bars that are currently available.

Calm Bar

Lavender + Vanilla + Honey + Berries

The first bar I tried out of my variety pack was the Calm Bar.  In the midst of kitchen renovations I figured I could use a little more calm in my life plus the essential oiler in me was super excited to see lavender as an ingredient! I absolutely love the unique flavor profile of this bar!!!  It is a little “herby,” for lack of a better description, due to the lavender buds.  While I truly appreciate the unique flavor it might be an acquired taste for some.  I was impressed that the bar was sweet enough without being overly sweet or filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners like most snack bars you can buy in the grocery store.  It does have 14g of Sugar and a total of 29g of Carbs so for those on a low-carb or keto diet this may not be for you.  But I’m trying to conquer my fear of carbs as they are necessary for sustained energy and to build strength and muscle and 29g of Carbs is about the equivalent of a slice of organic, whole wheat bread.  Plus, the Forth Bars are Gluten Free so those who need a little carb fueled energy boost but can’t eat gluten containing products will love Forth Bars!  I was also super impressed that all of the Forth Bars are low in Sodium.  Most snack bars like this are super high in sodium which is one of the main reasons I tend to avoid processed foods.  These seem like they will be a healthy, nutritional option for those who need a quick snack or energy boost throughout their day!  I’m looking forward to trying out the rest of the bars in the variety pack!!!

Macro Breakdown: 29 g Carbs (64%), 5 g Fat (25%), 5 g Protein (11%)

Ingredients Bar: Gluten Free Oats, Puffed Quinoa, Peanut Butter, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Date Paste, Aronia Berries (apple juice sweetened), Freeze Dried Cherries, Hemp Protein Powder, Freeze Dried Mango, Honey, Spray Dried Lemon Juice, Acai Resveratrol (The only ingredient I didn’t recognize so I had to look it up.  Turns out this is an all natural and powerful antioxidant to help your body fight free radicals and support your immune system!), Lavender, Vanilla Powder, Lemon Balm, Spices

Ingredients Topping: Date Paste, Cherry Powder, Vanilla, Lavender, Spray Dried Lemon Juice, Honey

You can check out the full Nutritional Information on their website: Calm Bar Nutrition and Information

Body Bar

Chocolate + Molasses + Spices

The second bar I tried was the Body Bar.  Our routine has been super messed up by the kitchen renovations and the tiny human did not sleep well  the last couple hours of the night making it nearly impossible to get up and work out.  So I chose to sleep in which meant that I wanted to get in a good run on my lunch break to get in at least some exercise that day.  With back to back clients all morning I don’t have a lot of time to snack and knew my energy would be low by noon when I would finally get a chance to go for a run.  So around 10:50 am I decided to open up the Body Bar for a quick little pick me up and to provide some energy to help get me through my run.  My first impression was that it smelled amazing!!! The combination of molasses and spices was a beautiful balance of savory and just sweet enough.  I was pleasantly surprised on my lunch run how much energy I had.  The week prior I had allowed stress to get the better of me and hadn’t run much at all so I was really working on getting my stamina back up and I ran nearly a mile further than I had a couple days earlier without feeling as tired and run down.  So the Body Bar definitely gets a winning review from me!!! Might have to order a 12 pack of this one! 😉

Macro Breakdown: 32 g Carbs (66%), 5 g Fat (23%), 5 g Protein (10%)

Ingredients Bar: Gluten Free Oats, Puffed Quinoa, Peanut Butter, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Date Paste, Dried Cranberries, Undutched Cocoa Powder, Dark Chocolate (undutched cocoa powder and evaporated cane juice), Dried Aronia Berries (apple juice sweetened), Molasses, Pumpkin Puree, Pea Protein Powder, Maca, Drum Dried Bananas, Acai Resveratrol, Spices

Ingredients Topping: Date Paste, Undutched Cocoa Powder, Maca, Pea Protein, Molasses, Coconut Electrolytes, Probiotics, Spices

You can check out the full Nutritional Information on their website: Body Bar Nutrition and Information

Belly Bar

Cranberry + Ginger + Lemon

The third bar I tried from the Forth variety pack was the Belly Bar.  My stomach was a little upset so I figured it would be a good time to try out their bar that was designed to help soothe the stomach. After all, keeping the gut and urinary tract healthy are important in maintaining overall health and wellness so we can use all the help we can get!  Let me just tell you guys, this bar is awesome!!! I love the ginger zing!  Ginger is one of my favorite flavors and this bar has just enough of the ginger spice and it balances beautifully with the citrusy flavor of the lemon and the sweetness of the dried cranberries!  A little higher on the carbs and lower on the protein than the first two bars I tried but overall a win and a really good mid-morning snack to help keep me energized until lunch.

Macro Breakdown: 33 g Carbs (68%), 5 g Fat (23%), 4 g Protein (8%)

Ingredients Bar: Gluten Free Oats, Quinoa Puffs, Date Paste, Peanut Butter, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Dried Apricots, Dried Aronia Berries (apple juice sweetened), Dried Cranberries, Honey, Spray Dried Lemon, Acai Resveratrol, Spices

Ingredients Topping: Date Paste, Drum Dried Cranberry Powder, Maca, Honey, Spray Dried Lemon Juice, Probiotics, Spices

You can check out the full Nutritional Information on their website: Belly Bar Nutrition and Information

Heart Bar

Mango + Papaya + Coconut

Saturday, March 25 was the suggested race date for my 10K & S.P.E.W. race, sponsored by Hogwarts Running Club (yes, it’s a real thing!) so I wanted a snack that morning to help give me enough energy to help me run the entire race without weighing me down (because I wanted to help free house elves not lose my lunch! lol).  Naturally, I turned to my Forth bar variety pack and decided to give the Heart Bar a try.  Figured a little support for my cardiovascular system while running a 10K would be just what the doctor ordered!  Thankfully, it didn’t let me down!  This bar was a little sweeter than the others I had tried so far and had a nice tropical flavor profile with the mango, papaya and coconut.  There were also a few larger chunks of fruit in the bar which made for a nice little surprise when I would get one in my bite!  30 minutes later I went for my run and was pleased to know I shaved 2 minutes off my run time and finished the 10K in 1 hour flat!  While I can’t promise the Heart Bar will make you run faster I can say it did help provide the energy I needed to run the entire race without stopping to walk!  This and the Body Bar would be excellent choices for any of my runner friends looking for a healthy snack option before races!

Macro Breakdown: 32 g Carbs (61%), 7 g Fat (30%), 5 g Protein (9%)

Ingredients Bar: Gluten Free Oats, Quinoa Puffs, Peanut Butter, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Jungle Peanuts, Date Paste, Dried Blueberries, Freeze Dried Mango, Raisins, Freeze Dried Strawberries, Dried Aronia Berries (apple juice sweetened), Coconut Flakes, Honey, Acai Resveratrol, Spices

Ingredients Topping: Date Paste, Honey, Drum Dried Mango, Drum Dried Banana, Coconut Electrolytes, Maca, Vitamin D Oil

You can check out the full Nutritional Information on their website: Heart Bar Nutrition and Information

O’Mama Bar

Berry + Figs + Ginger

After my race the day before, Sunday was my rest day and time to spend with my daughter.  So naturally the O’Mama Bar seemed like a good choice for my afternoon snack while she was napping!  Like the Belly Bar, the O’Mama Bar does have a bit of a ginger zing but it was more subtle and had a sweeter, richer flavor overall.   This bar is lower on the carbs so for days when you are less active or don’t need quite as much of an energy boost this would make for a great snack!

Macro Breakdown: 27 g Carbs (58%), 7 g Fat (34%), 4 g Protein (9%)

Ingredients Bar: Gluten Free Oats, Puffed Quinoa, Peanut Butter, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Date Paste, Aronia Berries (apple juice sweetened), Drum Dried Bananas, Freeze Dried Strawberries, Dried Cranberries, Dried Blueberries, Dried Figs, Honey, Acai Resveratrol

Ingredients Topping: Date Paste, Drum Dried Banana Powder, Freeze Dried Strawberries, Freeze Dried Cranberries, Honey, Probiotics, Vitamin D Oil

You can check out the full Nutritional Information on their website: O’Mama Bar Nutrition and Information

Sexy Bar

Spicy Chipotle + Chocolate + Jungle Peanuts

If you have been reading closely or follow me on Instagram then you know that I am in the middle of kitchen repairs and renovations.  I don’t know about you but I find new appliances super sexy (guess that’s a sign I’m officially an “adult,” whatever that means…) so it seemed apropos that I should choose the Sexy Bar to try out the day they were delivered!  It smelled super rich when I first pulled it out of the wrapping so I was excited to give it a try.  OMG!  It was like a flavor explosion in my mouth!  I loved the spicy chipotle and chocolate combo!!! It was so good I took extra small bites so I could enjoy it longer! Definitely had a little kick but oh so good!  Hands down, this is my FAVORITE Forth Bar!  I will be ordering more! ❤ 🙂 Plus, it has Goji berries in it and you all know how much I love my NingXia Red so any other healthy snack that includes the immune supporting Goji berry is a win in my book!

Macro Breakdown: 27 g Carbs (64%), 4.5 g Fat (24%), 5 g Protein (12%)

Ingredients Bar: Gluten Free Oats, Puffed Quinoa, Peanut butter, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Date Paste, Undutched Cocoa, Chocolate (undutched cocoa and evaporated cane juice), Jungle Peanuts, Freeze Dried Raspberries, Aronia Berries (sweetened with apple juice), Dried Cranberries, Goji, Berries, Maca, Honey, Acai Resveratrol, Chili Powder, Spices

Ingredients Topping: Date Paste, Undutched Cocoa, Freeze Dried Raspberries, Chili Powder, Spices

You can check out the full Nutritional Information on their website: Sexy Bar Nutrition and Information

Brain Bar

Espresso + Chocolate + Coconut

I was feeling a little sluggish when I returned to work after my 3 day weekend so I figured a little extra brainpower couldn’t hurt!  Thankfully, the Brain Bar was the last bar left in my variety pack for me to try.  It has a subtle espresso flavor with chunks of dark chocolate without being overly sweet.  A similar flavor profile to the Sexy Bar which I loved so much but without the chipotle kick.  So if spicy isn’t your thing or you just love coffee, then this bar is definitely for you!

Macro Breakdown: 35 g Carbs (70%), 5 g Fat (22%), 4 g Protein (8%)

Ingredients Bar: Gluten Free Oats, Quinoa Puffs, Peanut Butter, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Date Paste, Freeze Dried Strawberries, Dried Blueberries, Dried Aronia Berries (apple juice sweetened), Undutched Cocoa Powder, Dark Chocolate (cocoa powder and evaporated cane juice), Coconut Flakes, Molasses, Acai Resveratrol, Maca, Dehydrated Coffee, Spices

Ingredients Topping: Date Paste, Drum Dried Blueberry Powder, Undutched Cocoa Powder, Coconut Electrolytes, Coffee Powder, Spices

You can check out the full Nutritional Information on their website: Brain Bar Nutrition and Information

Final Review

Overall I’m really impressed by all of the Forth Bars!  They taste great and provide sustained energy for workouts, chasing toddlers or to get through a grueling work day!  I love the unique flavor combinations and that they give me just enough of a hint of sweetness without being overly sweet.  But perhaps the biggest selling point to me is that they are all natural, with no artificial ingredients, are low sodium and are all gluten, soy and dairy free making them the perfect snack for those with dietary restrictions or who are just mindful of what they put into their bodies!

Pros

  • Taste great!
  • Unique flavor combinations
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Naturally sweetened with fruit juices or honey – just sweet enough without being overly sweet or triggering my sugar addiction!
  • Gluten, Soy and Dairy Free – perfect for those with dietary restrictions.  They are not nut free, however.  Most of the bars I tried have peanut butter in them so be mindful if you or a family member have a nut allergy.
  • Low Fat – ranging from 4.5-7 g per bar
  • Low Sodium
  • Reasonable Calories – ranging from 180 – 210 calories each, the Forth Bars are an excellent choice for a quick, nutrient dense snack to provide sustainable energy for an active lifestyle without adding unnecessary calories.  Plus, if you wanted slightly fewer calories to help you stick with your goals, you can also check out their “Bite” options, available in the same great flavor combinations but coming in at less than 100 calories each!
  • Available in packs of 12 in variety packs or single flavors if you find your favorite!

Cons

  • Cost – coming in at $47.40 per 12 pack these bars will run you $3.95 per bar.  However, this is comparable to buying other snack bar singles at your grocery store but without any of the nasty artificial ingredients, high sugar or insane sodium content of what you’re used to finding in the energy bar aisles!
  • Low(ish) Protein – these are not a high protein bar like you might want for post-workout recovery (grab the protein powder instead) but they do seem to provide the sustained energy that the company boasts making them ideal for snacks on the go for afternoon hikes or a pre-workout energy boost!

So overall, I highly recommend supporting this new company so that they can continue to bring healthy, nutrient dense, whole food snack options to the market!  So head on over to the We Are Forth website and order your Bars or Bites today!  And make sure to tell your friends!

 

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. I am an aromatherapy student but I am not a medical doctor. Products and techniques mentioned here are to help support your specific areas of concern and 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.

Looking for a Gluten, Soy and Dairy Free Whole Foods Snack? Look no further! Forth Bars Do NOT Disappoint!!! was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures


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2016 – My Year for Crushin’ Health & Fitness Goals! (Part 2: My Supplement and Protein Shake Reviews)

2016 – My Year for Crushin’ Health & Fitness Goals! (Part 2: My Supplement and Protein Shake Reviews) was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures


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Norwex & Young Living: a “Natural” Fit! (A Product Review)

Norwex

I finally did it, I jumped on the Norwex bandwagon.  I’ve known about Norwex for awhile, having first encountered their products at a local vendor expo that had a lot of chemical-free, natural living companies represented.  I was more than impressed but I honestly couldn’t justify the pricetag that came with their products.  I have been invited to several Norwex Facebook “parties” over the years and resisted for a long time because I used to be pretty anti-MLM.  But after joining Young Living and really jumping in headfirst into this crazy business I started to really reconsider my stance on MLM companies and began attending my friend’s various parties in order to help support their growing businesses.  It was only a matter of time before I finally attended a Norwex party.

In mid-January a friend invited me to attend her Norwex Facebook party and I figured I’d check it out.  I was impressed so I commented on a few of the posts and asked a few questions.  I was fortunate enough to be selected as a random winner for a free EnviroCloth.  This was fortuitous, because I still probably wouldn’t have spent the money on it myself.  So, early February rolls around and my new, free, baby pink (a color I never would’ve purchased myself) Envirocloth arrives in the mail.  I send my obligatory “Thank You” message to my friend who sent it to me and go on about my day.  The cloth probably sat on my dining room table untouched for several days before I finally admitted to myself that I should probably get some cleaning done and reached for it to try it out.  Y’all… Norwex is a GAME CHANGER!!!

Seriously, it was Facebook status worthy.  Here’s my post from February 7th, 2016:

“Okay y’all, as much as I’ve resisted I am officially on the Norwex bandwagon. I had attended a friend’s party a couple weeks ago and was lucky enough to win a free EnviroCloth. It arrived in the mail this past week and I had some cleaning to do today so thought “what the hell, I’ll give it a shot!” Let me just tell you, I cleaned my ENTIRE kitchen with this one cloth!

I have historically not enjoyed cleaning with microfiber because it leaves little balls of fluff everywhere and isn’t very absorbent (like the water just sort of sits on top of it you know?). Well, this Envirocloth is in a whole other league! It was absorbent enough to clean my kitchen counters, my glass stove top (and even got all the crusty bits off), and was still going so I actually cleaned the front of my oven/stove (I’m embarrassed to say when the last time it was cleaned was).

So yeah, Norwex’s Envirocloth and Young Living’s Thieves Household Cleaner will never not be a part of my cleaning routine!!! (There will be a very positive product review on my blog in the near future) Now to invest in the travel size envirocloths, the dusting mitt, and that kitchen scrubby cloth thing! Maybe I’ll find some extra cash lying around when I clean the sofa cushions….”

The very next week, another friend decided to host a Norwex Facebook party.  I was so impressed with how my new EnviroCloth had tackled my kitchen cleaning that jumped on her party and shared the testimonial that I had posted to my own timeline.  I decided to stick around and learned even more about Norwex’s products.

So, what makes Norwex microfiber so special, you ask? Really it seems to come down to quality.  I’ve used lots of microfiber cloths and I have to admit, I’m not a fan.  They just don’t seem to really absorb anything and I wind up with all kinds of fluffy balled up bits that come off them in the wash.  Honestly, paper towels just seemed to work better for cleaning my counters and dusting.  But my inner hippy dies a little every time I use a dozen (or two) paper towels when I get around the cleaning.  But Norwex Microfiber is made up of teeny tiny (1/200th the size of a human hair is what they say) polyester and polyamide fibers which are tightly woven together to create a really strong piece of fabric.  You can literally feel the difference when you pick up an EnviroCloth. The microfiber helps create an electrostatic charge which picks up dirt and debris rather than just moving it around.  In addition, many of their products, including the ever popular EnviroCloth, contain what they call BacLock which is a natural antibacterial silver-based agent that is activated when wet and helps prevent bacterial odor, mold or mildew growth within the cloth itself.  So you can toss that old sponge you keep microwaving… blech!

I can’t do justice to their products like their sales reps can when it comes to explaining all the amazing products that Norwex has to offer so you should totally attend a party (local or online) if you get a chance.  But in the meantime, it was this video that really impressed me:

x

 

So I was pretty much sold and created a wish list of products I was really interested in trying.  I loved my EnviroCloth and was using it to dust in addition to cleaning my kitchen counters so I knew I wanted to try Norwex’s Dusting Mitt!  Plus, I’ve got 5 dogs and a tiny human that love to put finger prints on my French doors and figured the Window Cloth would get some use.  Plus there were some other products I was interested in like their Makeup Removal Cloths, Baby Body Cloths, the All Purpose Kitchen Cloth, and maybe even one day their famous Mop System.  So my wish list quickly became bigger than my pocket book would allow.

Turns out, Norwex does these incentives to encourage people to join their sales team where you can get a sampling of their products (or even a whole starter kit some months) for FREE (just pay s&h).  My friend who hosted the party had jumped on board and decided to be a Norwex consultant already. The February 2016 Jump On Starter Kit consisted of an EnviroCloth, a Window Cloth, a Dusting Mitt, and a 2-pack of SpiriSponges.  While technically this is to encourage people to join their team, there is no sales requirement but you do have an opportunity to work the business and earn more free product if you choose.  I know I don’t have time to dedicate to learning a new business with my Young Living commitment but I couldn’t pass up a good bargain.  So I “jumped on” and paid my $9.99 s&h to get my free stuff ($42 worth of products)!  (You can get this deal too if you order before March 16, 2016 by following this link: http://www.norwex.biz/pws/idakostur/tabs/join-us-jump-on.aspx)

I’ve honestly never been as excited to clean as I was when my package arrived (which was surprisingly fast, so kudos to the packaging and shipping department at Norwex)!  Now, they recommend using just water with their microfiber products but y’all know I’m super in love my with Thieves Household Cleaner  and my DIY cleaning products (like my Natural Dust Repellent) so I opted to use both.  While it may not be necessary with the BacLock antibacterial silver I feel extra confident when I combine that with the cleaning power of Thieves and Lemon essential oils!  As before, my new EnviroCloth (that thankfully isn’t pink) didn’t let me down.  I was not only able to clean my entire countertop, my glass top coffee table (which I finished off with the Window Cloth and I honestly don’t think it’s ever been so clean) and my glass stove top but I also decided to clean the inside and outside of my microwave! I did use my natural microwave cleaning method for the inside but it was even easier to clean out with the EnviroCloth than a sponge like I have used in the past.  Plus, no nasty sponge germs! Winning!  And the outside of my microwave, which is the only stainless steel appliance in my kitchen so far, sparkles without having to use my stainless cleaning trick!

The Dusting Mitt also surpassed my expectations.  Norwex says you can use the Dusting Mitt dry or wet.  So I started with it dry and cleaned my television screen and the other electronic gadgets like the modem, router, and PlayStation 4. The amount of dust that my house produces is a little bit insane so by the time I had tackled these things my dusting Mitt was getting a bit dusty.  But I was able to shake most of it off in the trashcan and then used my DIY Natural Dust Repellent with it to help provide a protective coating on my wooden entertainment center, end tables, and the bottom of my coffee table.  Well, by then the Dusting Mitt was completely covered in dust.  I was really impressed with how well it picked up the big chunks on the bottom of my coffee table instead of just spreading them onto the freshly vacuumed floor (because I never have the sense to dust first and vacuum second…).  But I was curious how much further I could take this thing.  So I shook off the big chunks and rinsed the Dusting Mitt in my sink and set to taking on my bookcases.  Seriously, this thing just kept on picking up dirt and dust! I probably could’ve dusted my whole house, but I was way too lazy to give that a try last weekend!  That’s a challenge for another day.

And last but not least is the SpiriSponge. I honestly didn’t really care if I got this or not but it came with the Jump On special and was fortuitously timed.  My husband, who is an amazing cook, had just roasted a turkey in the oven the night before and the roasting pan still had some stuck on grime.  I had been scrubbing with our Ocello dish wand before I remembered about the SpiriSponge and thought I’d give it a try on the second half of the roasting pan.  Let me tell you, this was SO much easier.  Still required a bit of elbow grease but nothing like I was having to scrub with my dish wand.  Now I’m really intrigued by Norwex’s Spirinett and Pot Scrubbers! I may just get one to see if they help the hubby clean the cast iron (because I refuse to learn how to do it the right way so it’s the one cleaning job that remains his and his alone).

I haven’t had a chance to really use the Window Cloth a lot, besides on my glass top coffee table and my microwave and oven doors.  It did an exceptional job but the real challenge will be my front storm door and French Doors leading to the back porch.  Lots of puppy noses and tiny human hand prints to clean.  But that’s on the agenda for this coming weekend and I couldn’t wait that long to share my excitement about these amazing products with you.

In summary, the Pros and Cons of these Norwex products are:

Pros:

  • Safe for your whole family – No toxic cleaning chemicals necessary!
  • Prevents the spread of germs – Antibacterial silver agent prevents odor, mold, and mildew
  • Environmentally friendly – No paper towels mean you save a small forest over time!
  • Gets the job done and keeps on cleaning – You can use one EnviroCloth or Dusting Mitt to clean many things

Cons:

  • Cost – but if you factor in the fact that you’ll save a ton of money on paper towels when you use Norwex microfiber instead, then you come out ahead

So there you have it.  My wish list keeps on growing and I hope to be able to share reviews of more amazing Norwex product with you in the future.  I’m super excited to be planning a non-toxic home class with my friend and Norwex rep, Jane Kostur, in the next couple months where we will spotlight both Norwex and Young Living products that can help you rid your home of toxic chemicals and learn how to keep your home clean naturally.  I’ll share the dates of that class in the Events section of my website if you’re interested in attending.  Don’t want to wait that long? Contact Jane Kostur to learn how you can host a Norwex party or to find out when her next party is being held!  Many of the parties these days are online so you don’t have to be local or take too much time out of your busy schedule! Just hop on the Facebook event page and read at your leisure!

Note: I have not been compensated, either monetarily or with free product, for this review by Norwex or any independent sales consultant.  I merely like to share my love of natural products with my readers and when I can help our a friend in the process I love to pay it forward! 

 

Norwex & Young Living: a “Natural” Fit! (A Product Review) was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures


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Set Yourself (or Someone You Love) Up For Breastfeeding Success: Products I Love and Gift Basket Ideas #WBW2015

Nothing is more natural than breastfeeding! And in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share some of the products that I love that have helped me along my breastfeeding adventure.  Not all of these products themselves are “natural” per se, although I do have some DIY natural options as well, but they are proved their worth time and again over the last 6 1/2 months in my home.  Check them out to help you on your natural breastfeeding adventure or even better, build a gift basket for someone you love who is expecting to set them up for breastfeeding success!!!

A Local Lactation Consultant – Few things are as natural as breastfeeding but unfortunately it doesn’t come naturally to every mom and baby.   A Lactation Consultant (LC) is a healthcare professional who has been trained as a breastfeeding specialist who helps teach mothers how to properly nurse their babies.   They can be especially valuable if you are experiencing difficulties getting a proper latch, having painful nursing sessions, or have low milk production.  They are trained to diagnose conditions such as lip or tongue tie in babies, thrush in mothers and babies, as well as clogged ducts and mastitis.  LC’s can offer invaluable advice on how to increase milk production through massage, pumping techniques such as “power pumping,” and recommending vitamins and supplements that may help. Lactation Consultants are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc. under the direction of US National Commission for Certifying Agencies. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) may be found in a wide variety of health care settings, including hospitals, pediatric offices, public health clinics, and private practice.  You may be lucky enough to not need an LC but knowing how to find one locally is important.

Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) here: International Lactation Consultant Association: Find a Lactation Consultant.

Find a FREE Lactation Consultant – even if you are not income eligible for WIC you can still speak to a lactation consultant or nutritionist at your local WIC office for FREE.  Find your local WIC office here.

 

 A Nice Water Bottle – Hydration is key to keeping your milk supply up and nursing will make you thirsty, especially in the early days!!!  Our hospital provided us with a big ol drinking cup with a lid and straw that I kept by my side all throughout my maternity leave.  I did really well keeping up with my water intake until I went back to work and started to slack off a bit.  So recently I invested in a pair of really nice glass water bottles, I purchased Zulu brand because I found them for $16.99 for a pair at Costco (you can find them for $14.99 a piece at Target if your Costco has sold out for the season.  I add a drop or two of Lemon essential oil to my bottle (it’s 20 oz – if it was an 8 oz glass I’d only add 1 because it can be a strong lemon flavor).  Having the slight lemon flavor keeps me picking up the bottle and ensures that I get at least 60 oz throughout my work day! Plus, it helps curb my appetite and prevents me from snacking on unhealthy snacks in between meals (Bonus!).  It is important that you have glass or stainless steel (although I prefer glass so it doesn’t have the slight metallic taste that steel water bottles have) if you intend to add any essential oils since the  oils can break down plastics over time.  Otherwise, a nice BPA/phalate free plastic water bottle (like Nalgene) would work just fine!

 

womanly art of breastfeeding Book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International – The La Leche League International is an international nonprofit agency that advocates for breastfeeding and helps provide mothers with information about the benefits of breastfeeding worldwide.  Their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a national best seller that helps guide new mothers through what to expect from their breastfeeding relationship with their newborns, helps problem solve some of the most common difficulties with breastfeeding that cause many mothers to give up,  and provides the latest scientific research on the benefits of breastfeeding.  It’s a valuable resource and good reference whether this is your first, or fifth, child!

More information about the book or to buy it visit the La Leche League International website: http://www.llli.org/thewomanlyartofbreastfeeding 

 

tank-top Nursing Tanks and PJ’s – You won’t want to put on clothes during the first several weeks after the baby is born… Hell, you’ll be lucky to get a shower.  But one thing I did before I had my daughter, that I highly recommend to all new moms, was to invest in brand new lounge wear.  I bought myself two nursing tanks, a pair of lounge pants, and a pair of yoga pants. I lovingly packed them away in my hospital bag and never put them on until after she was born.  It was so nice to feel like I was getting something new to treat myself yet something comfy that I actually wanted to wear.  The nursing tanks are amazing because they provide some, limited support, but are super easy to snap down and nurse your little one.  They are especially nice for when those cluster feeding sessions start and you feel like you constantly have a baby attached to your boob! After almost 7 months of nursing, still the first thing I do when I come home from work in the evenings is change into my comfy tank and lounge pants! You can get comfy nursing tanks almost anywhere but I preferred Target brand nursing tanks because they were inexpensive and came up to a size XXL (which is important for all us buxom mamas!).

 

essential-embrace_black A Good, Supportive, Nursing Bra – This is especially important if you are well endowed already because once you decide to brave leaving the house you will likely find that those comfy nursing tanks aren’t supportive enough.  Yes they will get bigger (Ugh, I know! Sorry…) so make sure to get fitted by a professional in your last month of pregnancy to have a better idea of what size the girls will be postpartum. You want to make sure that the bra is supportive but not too tight and many LC’s recommend avoiding underwires in nursing bras because the wire or bras that are too tight can contribute to developing mastitis (which as I understand it is no fun at all!). I know a lot of women really like the nursing bras they can get at Target (because of the price point) or Motherhood Maternity (because they have a cute selection) but I was unfortunate enough to be a large enough cup size prepregnancy that neither company offered nursing bras in my size.  The style bra that I found that I love is the Bravado Essential Embrace (pictured) because it was wire free yet still supportive, comfortable, and came in 3 colors (I hate bra shopping – it’s seriously traumatic – so I’m the type of girl that when I find a bra that fits I buy one in every color!).  The price point is pretty high on these bras, usually around $45-50 each, and while I’m normally quite frugal I cannot overemphasize the importance of a good bra in general, let alone a good nursing bra.  Well worth the money, hands down!

 

 

breast padsReusable Breast Pads – Boobies leak and reusable breast pads are a must if you don’t want to be throwing them away constantly (and if you’re reading my blog then you are probably hyper aware of your waste and carbon footprint too!).  You can find reusable breast pads at most retailers or boutiques nowadays but they tend to be really expensive.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m super cheap frugal so naturally I looked for the least expensive options.  I originally planned to DIY my nursing pads but stumbled upon a promotion for FREE breast pads so figured I’d give them a go before I took the time and effort to make them (besides I was busy making burp cloths, bibs, and baby blankets in my last couple months of pregnancy.  Apparently “nesting” for me means I must make ALL the things! lol).  My only constructive criticism of the free breast pads is that they do tend to show a bit through tighter fitting clothes.  So if your wardrobe is more fitted or this is a concern for you then you make want to invest in a more expensive brand like Bamboobies, which advertise that they are less visible (but I cannot attest to this as I personally have not tried them because I didn’t want to invest the money).  But the people I know who use Bamboobies swear by them!

Get 10 pairs FREE (just pay s&h – $12.95 – which seems expensive but is still cheaper per pair than buying reusable breast pads other places) from https://www.breastpads.com/ Current promo code for World Breastfeeding Week: WBWBP15 (If this code has expired a quick internet search will turn up several codes that should work on this site, including AThriftyMom1 or PJBABY)

Check out Bamboobies at their website: http://www.buybamboobies.com/

Feeling crafty? Make your own with this tutorial I found on Pinterest from DIY Mommy: DIY Nursing Pads (That Actually Work!)

B10-232-02_natural_nipple_butter_box_and_jar_whiteA Good Salve or Balm – Breastfeeding is hard work and nipples get raw and sore, especially in the beginning (or when those little teefers start coming in!) and a good salve or balm is a must!

medela-pisa1A Good Breast Pump – Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act most insurance companies will now cover the cost of a breast pump for nursing mothers. I have a Medela Pump in Style that my health insurance covered in full and I love it!!! There are lots of brands to choose from but availability will depend on your insurance company.  Medela, Ameda, AVENT, and Hygeia all get great reviews so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.  Something to consider, there are two types of breast pump systems: open and closed. An open system means that there is no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pumping mechanism which may allow your milk to be exposed to impurities in the air, such as dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria or viruses.  There is also the possibility that the milk could be sucked back up into the tubing and pump itself where it cannot be cleaned and could allow mold or mildew to grow (This is why you should NEVER resell or buy a used open pump system – no matter how many people you may see selling theirs online or in yard sales. Reputable consignment shops and sales will not accept open pump systems). All current Medela styles are open systems.  Closed systems have a barrier in place that protects the milk from impurities as well as protects the pump mechanism from sucking milk back up into it.  The AVENT Comfort Double Electric, Ameda Purely Yours, Lanisoh Affinity and Signature Pro breast pump series, and Hygeia Q are closed systems.  The Hygeia Q, although less well known, is the only pump endorsed by the La Leche League International.

Call your insurance company for more information on which pumps are covered by your plan.

Tips on how you can get your FREE breast pump in this article by USA Today: How To Get Breast Pumps Covered By Insurance

Also check out Baby Gear Lab’s Top Ranked Breast Pumps and breastpumpratings.org’s Pump Comparison Chart.  Both websites offer great side by side comparison of all the different features as well as lists of pros and cons of each pump.  This is a great resource when trying to decide which pump is the best choice for your family!

 

milksaverproductMilkies Milk Saver – Breastmilk is called liquid gold for a reason! You don’t want to waste even one precious drop and the Milkies Milk-Saver is a reusable, recyclable, BPA/Phalate free tool to help you capture every last drop!!! Simply place on the other breast when nursing or pumping to catch the milk from your let-down.  This is especially helpful in the early months when your supply is still regulating or after baby starts sleeping through the night and you wake up engorged. The down side? The price point on this item is really high at $27.99 but it is so worth it and makes a great gift!

For more information, reviews or to purchase visit Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Milkies-Milk-Saver-Breast-Collector-Storage/

 

Lanisoh TheraPearlCooling Gel Pads – Cooling gel pads are a wonderful idea for when your breasts become engorged or painful.  Simply throw in the fridge or freezer then place over your nipple for instant relief.  Most brands of breast pumps make their own line of cooling gel pads, including Lanisoh, Medela, and Avent as well as a few other non pump brands. I personally prefer the Lanisoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy pads (pictured) because they can be cooled to help with swelling or engorgement, heated to help with clogged ducts or mastitis, or even used as a let down aide while pumping. The Lanisoh TheraPearl pads are available at most major retailers but you can check them out here for more information.

 

Mother's Milk TeaTeas, Herbs, and Oils: 

Traditional Medicine’s Organic Mother’s Milk Tea is a favorite among nursing mothers and widely available at most supermarkets and health food stores.  It is comprised of several herbs known to help promote lactation, including organic bitter fennel fruit, organic anise fruit, organic coriander fruit, organic fenugreek seed, organic blessed thistle herb, organic spearmint, organic lemongrass, organic lemon verbana leaf, and organic marshmallow root.  (Note: some mothers do not like the subtle licorice flavor from the anise fruit)

Get your free sample of Mother’s Milk Tea by sharing your breastfeeding story here: http://www.askthelactationconsultant.com/freebies.html

Other Herbs:

  • Fenugreek – Fenugreek is probably the best known herbal supplement to boost milk supply.  Fenugreek is a middle-eastern spice that comes from a plant in the pea family. It is found in capsule form as well as in tea.  The tea may not be as strong as taking it in capsule form. It can be used in conjunction with Blessed Thistle. Warning: a common side effect is that it may make you smell like maple syrup, so if you are opposed to this smell you may want to avoid it.  You can buy Fenugreek capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon.  Or you can buy the seeds, extract, powder, or capsules through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Blessed Thistle – Blessed Thistle is another really common herbal supplement recommended to help increase breastmilk production.  Often recommended to be used in conjunction with Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle is highly regarded by the breastfeeding specialist, Jack Newman. Traditionally used to help with indigestion and with loss of appetite. Blessed Thistle is not the same thing as Milk Thistle, although both have been identified as galactagogues.  Milk Thistle is more often used as a food (peeled, tender shoots) rather than an herbal supplement.  YOu can buy blessed thistle capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. Or you can buy blessed thistle in bulk to make your own tea or get the extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf – Red Raspberry Leaf is a common ingredient in nursing teas and tinctures.  It is high in vitamins and minerals, including niacin (in the B Vitamin family). Also known as a uterine toner it can help the uterus return to it’s normal size immediately following birth.  Some recommend Red Raspberry Leaf to help support uterine health while trying to conceive as well as to prepare for birth after 40+ weeks gestation.  You can buy Red Raspberry Leaf capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. I buy mine in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs and make my own tea.
  • Chasteberry (Vitex) – Chasteberry is actually a prolactin-inhibitor usually recommended to help balance hormones but has been proven through repeated studies to increase breastmilk production in nursing mothers.  This may be an ideal choice if you are struggling with hormonal imbalances while breastfeeding, including PMS. Note: Chasteberry may start menses in nursing women so avoid if you are relying on lactational amenorrhea as a birth control method.  You can buy Chasteberry (Vitex) capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon.  Or you can buy the berry, seed, powder, or extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Other less common herbal galactagogues include: Fennel seed (may help with let down and to ease mother’s digestive issues), Goat’s Rue, Alfalfa (avoid if you have an auto-immune disorder), Wild Asparagus, Nettle and Hops.

Get your free Guide to Herbs and Breastfeeding published by Earth Mama Angel Baby here: http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/herbs-for-breastfeeding-ebook 

Essential Oils – There is a lot of information out there about essential oil safety that lists oils that should be avoided when pregnant or nursing and you would do well to take heed and research any essential oil before using it to know your risks.  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 (I prefer Young Living – for more information on why check out my blog post Why I Chose Young Living Essential Oils). But there are several essential oils that 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, including Fennel, Basil, Geranium, Lavender, and Myrrh to name a few.  For more information on essential oils and nursing check out my previous blog post How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience!

 

IMG_2779 Lactation Cookies – Want to go the extra mile when making a gift basket for a new mom in your life? How about throwing in some homemade lactation cookies! Check out my favorite recipe in my previous blog post Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies!

 

Do you have a product you love that I failed to mention? Share it in the comments below to keep the conversation going!


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The Tekhni Arche Peacock Woven Wrap – The Perfect Wrap for the Eco-Conscious Babywearing Noob!

When I was pregnant with my little one I went to a local Green Expo and met a girl who was manning a cloth diaper table and wearing her babies wrapped up on her back and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I vowed then and there to learn everything I could about babywearing!  She informed me that she was a member of a local babywearing swap group and invited me to join their Facebook page and attend a Babywearing 101 meeting to learn all about it.  I then proceeded to seek out a variety of Babywearing apparatuses and by the time my baby was born I had a Moby stretchy wrap, a Maya ring sling, a K’Tan Breeze, and an Ergobaby soft-structured carrier (SSC) – as you can see, I don’t do anything half-assed, I was all in!

After my daughter was born I was super excited to start trying out all my new carriers.  My Maya ring sling was the first I used and it was wonderful for keeping my newborn up close to me during our bi-weekly Costco trips and to keep strangers hands out of my baby’s face (I still to this day do not understand what it is about being pregnant and having a baby that means you no longer have any right to personal space).  Once I learned to adjust the rails and get a good seat I loved it and I still keep it in my car for quick, unexpected trips to the grocery store, etc. because who really wants to lug that infant car seat around the store!?!

The next one I tried was my Moby stretchy wrap and this one quickly became my favorite way to carry.  Took a little bit to learn how to adjust the rails so that my baby was tight enough but after a few tries around the house we were ready for big adventures into the great outdoors! But my baby was over 9 lbs at birth and I knew she would quickly outgrow a stretchy wrap and while I love my Ergobaby for quick planned trips or errands that have multiple stops it just really wasn’t as comfortable to me as wrapping.  (And I’ll be honest, I don’t love my K’Tan, not really sure why, just not my preferred way to babywear). So I began my quest for the perfect woven wrap.

I had previously done a bit of browsing in the woven wrap arena and quickly learned that for the most part they were out of my price range, at least until I learned how to wrap well and felt I could justify the expense. After getting pretty comfortable with using the Moby and the Front-Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) I knew I wanted to invest in a woven wrap to learn new carries and eventually to get my baby on my back.  So back to the online babywearing swap groups I went.  I searched and searched and cried a little every time I fell in love with a $300-400 woven wrap.  Until one day on the Babywearing on a Budget Facebook group I saw the perfect wrap, in my ideal color scheme, for a price I could afford!!! I was so excited… until I read the comments and learned that it had already been sold…. I shed more than one tear that day.  But not to be thwarted I set out with a new DISO (desperately in search of) wrap: the Tekhni Arche Peacock.

At the time I didn’t even realize how perfect this wrap was for me but after a little research, this is what I learned:

Tekhni is a relatively new brand of woven wraps that was started by Alisa DeMarco, a mom and textile designer, in 2013.  Her mission was to share her love of babywearing and bring woven wraps to babywearing enthusiasts at affordable prices.

The Arche line of woven wraps are an introductory line geared towards babywearing beginners and smaller babies.  It is woven out of thin, flexible, lightweight material.  Arche blends are 35% cotton and 65% repreve.  Now you may be wondering what in the world repreve is… I know I was.  And honestly, this is what sold me on the Arche line.  Repreve is a recycled fiber made out of post-consumer waste and plastic bottles.  In fact, a size M wrap is made of approximately 25 recycled water bottles!

The Arche line is an affordable line of woven wraps available brand new for $99 regardless of which size you purchase.  It is available in three sizes: Small (4.2 meters), Medium (4.7 meters), and Large (5.2 meters) and available in three colors: Peacock (pictured below), Storm (blue hues), and Sunset (multi-colored with reds and blues).

So firmly set on my mission to find a Tekhni Arche Peacock I scoured the interwebz.  I checked every online babywearing swap group and was so disappointed that I couldn’t find one in my base size wrap (my base size is a size 6 – typically around 4.7 meters long) and wasn’t ready to try a shortie wrap yet.  I had perused Tekhni’s etsy page and at the time she only had a size S in stock (I’m kind of a “fluffy” mom and in hindsight probably could’ve worn a S, which is the equivalent of a size 5 wrap but I was scared it would be too short at the time).  So I took a chance and sent a message to Alisa through the etsy page and asked her if the line had been discontinued.   Alisa responded quickly and said she would check her inventory to see if she had any in stock and to my surprise she later sent me a message saying she had ONE size M and that she would list it on her etsy page for me to purchase.  I had hoped to ask for a wrap for Mother’s Day and this was late April.  But knowing that I couldn’t afford to wait I jumped at the opportunity and purchased it as my early Mother’s Day present to myself!

new tekhni

My Tekhni Arche Peacock fresh out of the package! 

When my new wrap came in the mail I was so excited I could barely wait to start wearing my baby! But like a good little consumer I read the instructions and washed my wrap as suggested before wrapping. After the first wash my wrap was already super soft and flexible (you will often hear this referred to as “floppy” and many woven wraps have to be broken in first before they are easily mold-able).  I was pleased to learn that it was an easy transition from my stretchy Moby wrap to my Arche Peacock and I was easily able to wrap my little one up using the FWCC carry that I was familiar with.  The wrap was nice and comfortable and didn’t cut into me even when wearing my daughter on long walks around the neighborhood.  In addition, the material is very breathable and we are comfortable wrapped up together even in the warm, Alabama climate (it’s been in the 90’s the last week or so) even though my little one is a furnace just like her daddy!

I’ve now had my Tekhni Arche Peacock for about a month and a half and have been pleased with how easy my wrap has been to work with while learning new carries.  I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through the 30 Day Wrap Challenge list, although its going to take me more like 6 months than 30 days to complete it (see pic below), and my Arche Peacock has done beautifully with all the base carries (just gotta get on making my DIY Osnaburg shortie wrap to go back and learn the shortie carries).  I haven’t braved the back carry yet but my little one is only just starting to sit up unassisted so it’s only a matter of time before I beg the hubby to be a spotter and start practicing my superman throw to get her back there!  I’m confident that my Arche Peacock is up for the task!

30DayWrapChallenge

30 Day Wrap Challenge

kangaroo carry

Kangaroo carry with the Tekhni Arche Peacock

As I mentioned previously, my daughter is not so little.  Born at 9 lbs 4 oz she has maintained her growth trajectory at the 90th percentile and was 16 lbs at her 4 month check up.  So sadly, we will be outgrowing the Arche Peacock before too long.  But currently it is still up for the challenge and it is easy to wrap her up and feel like she is well supported despite not being a “smaller baby” like the wrap is geared towards.

My ONLY constructive criticism of the Arche line is the thread shifting (pictured below) but Tekhni was up front about this tendency on their etsy page so it was no big surprise.  It is due to this particular fabric weave and not common with their other lines of woven wraps. I followed their washing instructions to help lock the threads into place and prevent excessive thread shifting but still notice it in a few places, mostly where I tend to grab in order to tighten my rails.  It looks like this:

arche pulls

thread shifting

But I can actually shift the threads back into place for the most part, it just takes a little time and TLC to do so.  Overall, this is something I can live with.

In summary, the pros and cons of the Tekhni Arche Peacock with Repreve are:

Pros:

  • cost, any size for $99 brand new
  • repreve blend for the eco-conscious
  • lightweight and breathable – excellent choice for warmer climates
  • good beginner wrap
  • beautiful colors!
  • great customer service!
  • supports a work-at-home-mom (WAHM)

Cons:

  • designed for smaller babies so you would have to upgrade when baby gets above 20 lbs
  • tendency towards thread shifting

Overall I’m in love with my Tekhni Arche Peacock wrap and will be sad when my baby grows out of it but am thankful to have discovered such a wonderful company and will likely buy another Tekhni when I’m ready to upgrade and invest more in my next woven!

Want to know more? Check out Tekhni’s website for more information about the Arche line of woven wraps or to learn about their other wrap designs!

More pics and info of the Arche Peacock on Tekhni’s Facebook page.

More information on Repreve here: What is Repreve? 

Check out the feature article on Tekhni in Babywearing Magazine’s Budget Issue.


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I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara!

I think makeup artists are amazing and I love to see before and after transformations – they truly are artists! But when it comes to makeup, as much as I love to see my smooth, scar-free complexion and dramatic smoky eyes reflected back at me, I just can’t justify the time and energy on a daily basis.  I guess I’m just SUPER lazy low-maintenance! But the one product I can’t live without is my mascara.  I feel like I’ve tried them all trying to find a way to darken and lengthen my naturally boring lashes.  I used to work for a skincare line in a major department store so had the opportunity to learn about all the different major department store brands of mascara and tried nearly all of them.  But not only am I super low-maintenance, I’m also super cheap frugal! I just couldn’t bring myself to pay department store prices for a product that didn’t work any better than my tried and true CoverGirl mascara which I could purchase at drug store prices…

As I began my adventure in living a natural lifestyle I resisted the urge to look up my mascara on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database for a long time because quite frankly, I didn’t want to know.  Out of sight, out of mind, right? Until the day I did… Here’s what I found out about the ingredients in my beloved CoverGirl LashBlast mascara:

Propylparaben – EWG rates this ingredient a 7 (“high hazard”) because there was strong evidence that it is an endocrine disruptor, which can cause developmental and reproductive toxicity, as well as being toxic to the environment, according to research done by the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption.  Propylparabens are also an allergy risk with strong evidence that they could be an immunotoxicant. And while parabens are an acceptable ingredient in cosmetics in limited concentrations there is enough concern that they are restricted by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS).

Petroleum Distillates – Petroleum Distillates are a carcinogen and possible cancer risk as well as potentially toxic to gastrointestinal and liver function.  They also may contain Butadiene, an impurity which is a known human carcinogen and rated a 10 (the highest hazard score) by EWG. There is enough concern that the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List has classified petroleum distillates as expected to be toxic or harmful. In addition, they are persistent in the environment and toxic to wildlife.

Phenoxyethanol – Phenoxyethanol has a moderate risk of skin allergies and immunotoxicity.  Japan has even restricted the concentration of phenoxyethanol used in Japanese cosmetics.

Tocopheryl Acetate – Tocopheryl acetate itself has strong evidence to suggest that it is a skin irritant and allergen but it also has a high contamination concern with an impurity called Hydroquinone, a known carcinogen that EWG rates a 9 (“high hazard”) for organ toxicity.

In addition to the above concerns there’s a whole slew of ingredients that, although they present limited concern, I still can’t pronounce, including Pentaerythrityl Hydrogenated Rosinate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, and Trihydroxystearin…  Whatever those are! In fact, the only ingredients I could pronounce and/or had any idea what they are were Ultramarines (a blue pigment), Titanium Dioxide, Talc, Iron Oxides, and Carnauba Wax…

Now I COULD make my own mascara.  That would be the super crunchy thing to do.  But alas, every mascara recipe I found either got really bad reviews and/or included a whole bunch of ingredients that I don’t usually have on hand.  So I just tried to forget about my guilt and kept on using my beloved (now not-so-beloved) CoverGirl mascara…

I don’t know about you but for a long time I resisted the urge to check out Younique’s infamous Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash mascara for a couple reasons: 1) I HATE high pressure sales (same reason I resisted Young Living for so long) and couldn’t stand the fact that my Facebook events was cluttered up with sales “parties” that not only did I not want to be invited to but expected me to spend my hard earned money on stuff (like makeup) that I didn’t really need, or want. 2) Most things that look too good to be true usually are.  Hell, they use falsies in mascara commercials for television, which seems like the very definition of false advertising, so I honestly thought they used falsies in all the “after” pics you have thrown at you in your Newsfeed.

Until one day I asked a friend who always has amazing lashes (and brows – total brow envy!) what she used.  Much like how my Young Living adventure started, my friend had just started selling Younique products and told me that she used their 3D Fiber Lash Mascara and told me why she liked their products – specifically that they were paraben free, gluten free, cruelty free, hypoallergenic, etc.  Okay, now she had my attention!  She showed me her before and after pics and assured me that even I, the makeup minimalist, could do it.  She told me that she was having an online party and (here’s the key) ASKED if I would like to be invited.  So I said sure.  But as you may have guessed I didn’t just jump online and order the mascara, no, I’m way too skeptical for that.  So I did my research.

Here is what I found.

While Younique is not a brand that is searchable on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database, which is always my first stop, they do make their ingredient list available publicly on their website (I liked that).  This ingredient list is copied verbatim from their website:

Transplanting Gel Ingredients: Water, Beeswax (Natural Propolis), Carnauba (Brazilian palm glue), Iron Oxide Cl 77499 (Black), Collagen, Acrylates Copolymer, Nylon, Stearic Acid, Propylene Glycol. .23 FL OZ / 7 ml

Natural Fibers Ingredients: 100% Natural Fibers taken from Green Tea. Net WT .02 OZ/ .5g.

Collagen is a type of protein that works with elastin to give skin its texture, structure, and appearance. It contains antioxidants, and may help add volume and shine to the appearance of eyelashes.

Water (Aqua) is the liquid of life! Hydrates and cleanses the skin, and works as a natural spreading component, helping to distribute other ingredients evenly over the skin.

Beeswax (Natural Propolis) is a brownish, resinous material collected by bees and believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Carnauba (Brazilian Palm Glue) is extracted and refined through a pressing and crushing process that turns the palm glue into an oil, creating the sticky nature of the transplanting gel. It is also believed to act as a natural preservative.

Iron Oxide Cl 77499 (Black) is a technical name for Black Iron Oxide. This naturally-occurring mineral acts a colorant, giving the gel its striking black color.

Acrylates Copolymer is an adhesive and binder, as well as a suspending agent.

Nylon is a powder substance that is used as an absorbent and thickening agent.

Stearic Acid (also known as Palmitic Acid) is an organic nutrient derived from palm trees that is often used to soothe and soften the skin.

Propylene Glycol is a humidifying and delivery ingredient.

Sounds great! But I’m a natural born skeptic so I took it upon myself to search each of the ingredients individually.  I knew what collagen, water, beeswax,  carnauba wax, and iron oxide was (in fact many of these are used in DIY mascara recipes) so skipped these and focused on the later half of the ingredient list.

  • Acrylates Copolymer sounds scary because I can’t pronounce it and that’s always my first red flag when a product claims to be “all natural” or “naturally based/derived.” While it is essentially plastic, according to EWG, acrylates copolymer is generally regarded as safe for use in cosmetics because it is assumed to have low absorption.  They score it as a 2 (“low hazard”) on their 10 point scale.
  • Nylon is another synthetic ingredient and never something I ever considered to be in cosmetics.  But apparently nylon is quite commonly added as an absorbent and thickening agent just like the Younique website states.  EWG rates it as a 0 for hazard risk.
  • Stearic Acid occurs naturally in vegetable and animal fats but has to undergo an hydrogenation process to convert it to the final product that is used in food and cosmetics.  It has a “low hazard” risk of 1 on EWG primarily due to some concern that it might be an environmental toxin but there doesn’t really seem to be much supporting evidence.  In fact, it’s approved by the FDA as a food additive (not that that is saying a whole lot, as I’m generally distrustful of the FDA, but at least I know I could eat it and not die…).
  • Propylene Glycol is the most concerning ingredient listed, often feared as a toxin, especially by particularly crunchy crowds, but even it only scores a 3 (or “moderate hazard”) by EWG for potential skin irritation.  It is actually a form of mineral oil that is produced through fermentation of yeast and carbohydrates.  If you’re interested, read more on propylene glycol here from Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/023138_propylene_glycol_products_natural.html 

So, convinced that this product was indeed way more crunchy than my trusted mascara I decided to bite the bullet and drop the $29 to support my friend in her new business venture and to give the product a shot.  I ordered the product on Friday, May 22 and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it arrived on my doorstep by Tuesday, May 26. So, naturally this morning I was excited to try it out and see if I got the same kind of results that people were raving about all over the internet.

When you open your package you will discover that Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara actually comes in two tubes (that come packaged in cute but totally unnecessary carrying case  – kind of like you would carry your glasses in) that looks like this:

 

US-1017-00-alt1

The largest tube is their Transplanting Gel, which is pretty much just a typical mascara.  It honestly looks good even by itself but wasn’t the same kind of dramatic results.  Basically this gel is applied just like your regular mascara from the root to tip of your lashes (optional: you can choose to do this over your regular mascara but that seemed like an unnecessary step and quite frankly this already adds extra steps to my morning routine so I didn’t want to add any more.  Plus, why bother?).  This wets your lashes and acts like a glue for the natural fibers (somehow made from green tea apparently) in the second tube.  They look like this:

 

 

US-1017-00-alt3

So after you’ve applied your first coat of the Transplanting Gel over your entire lashes you gently brush the Natural Fibers over just the tips of your lashes.  This is what creates the extra length. If you are like me you will immediately second guess your decision and wonder if you just wasted $29 of your hard earned money.  But then you take the Transplanting Gel again and “seal” in the natural fibers.  This smooths out the little fluffy bits that were clinging to your lashes and somehow makes them longer, smooth, and beautiful.  It’s like magic!  You can repeat this process as many times as you’d like to get more dramatic results.

Seriously, if I can do apply this mascara, you can too! Here is my comparison of my natural (boring) lashes, using my CoverGirl mascara. and using Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara (on the eye pictured on the right in the bottom pic).

mascara comparison

I only used two really quick applications to get the length you see pictured above.  This was also the very first time I tried applying it so you could get a sense of what it’s like for a newbie. I’m sure I could take the extra time to get wicked amazing looking lashes if I had an event I wanted to get all dolled up for (like the wedding we are going to this weekend). But if you want to know more, here’s a how-to video on how to take that extra step to get amazing lashes using Younique’s 3D Fiber Lash Mascara.

Final Verdict: I’m sold! Here’s my celebratory selfie so you can see how it looked as I left for work this morning!

new mascara selfie

Nothing but no-poo hair, my DIY Facial Serum, and my new mascara! 

So, to summarize, here is my pros/cons list of Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara:

Pros:

  • Naturally based
  • Cruelty Free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Paraben Free
  • Safe for contact lens wearers
  • Amazing looking lashes
  • NO Falsies needed! 

Cons:

  • Cost – $29 (plus shipping) vs $7-8. But since this is the only real makeup I wear on a daily basis, I feel I can justify the cost.
  • Time – It does take a little bit of extra time, especially if you want wicked awesome lashes.  But the little bit of time to get the added length I got from just two quick applications is worth it to me.
  • Mess – This mascara does seem to be a bit messier than my old mascara, easily corrected with a q-tip, but I think it’ll diminish as I get better at applying it.
  • Unnecessary packaging

Want to try out Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara for yourself? Shop for it and other Younique products (and support my friend) here: https://www.youniqueproducts.com/savannamcgrew/ 

Want to know how your mascara (or other cosmetics) measure up? Check them out here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ 


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I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara!

**Update: Since I wrote this original product review, Younique has reformulated their Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara.  Please read my more recent product review of the “new and improved” formula here: “New and Improved” with toxic chemicals and no longer my perfect mascara

mascara comparison

I think makeup artists are amazing and I love to see before and after transformations – they truly are artists! But when it comes to makeup, as much as I love to see my smooth, scar-free complexion and dramatic smoky eyes reflected back at me, I just can’t justify the time and energy on a daily basis.  I guess I’m just SUPER lazy low-maintenance! But the one product I can’t live without is my mascara.  I feel like I’ve tried them all trying to find a way to darken and lengthen my naturally boring lashes.  I used to work for a skincare line in a major department store so had the opportunity to learn about all the different major department store brands of mascara and tried nearly all of them.  But not only am I super low-maintenance, I’m also super cheap frugal! I just couldn’t bring myself to pay department store prices for a product that didn’t work any better than my tried and true CoverGirl mascara which I could purchase at drug store prices…

As I began my adventure in living a natural lifestyle I resisted the urge to look up my mascara on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database for a long time because quite frankly, I didn’t want to know.  Out of sight, out of mind, right? Until the day I did… Here’s what I found out about the ingredients in my beloved CoverGirl LashBlast mascara:

Propylparaben – EWG rates this ingredient a 7 (“high hazard”) because there was strong evidence that it is an endocrine disruptor, which can cause developmental and reproductive toxicity, as well as being toxic to the environment, according to research done by the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption.  Propylparabens are also an allergy risk with strong evidence that they could be an immunotoxicant. And while parabens are an acceptable ingredient in cosmetics in limited concentrations there is enough concern that they are restricted by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS).

Petroleum Distillates – Petroleum Distillates are a carcinogen and possible cancer risk as well as potentially toxic to gastrointestinal and liver function.  They also may contain Butadiene, an impurity which is a known human carcinogen and rated a 10 (the highest hazard score) by EWG. There is enough concern that the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List has classified petroleum distillates as expected to be toxic or harmful. In addition, they are persistent in the environment and toxic to wildlife.

Phenoxyethanol – Phenoxyethanol has a moderate risk of skin allergies and immunotoxicity.  Japan has even restricted the concentration of phenoxyethanol used in Japanese cosmetics.

Tocopheryl Acetate – Tocopheryl acetate itself has strong evidence to suggest that it is a skin irritant and allergen but it also has a high contamination concern with an impurity called Hydroquinone, a known carcinogen that EWG rates a 9 (“high hazard”) for organ toxicity.

In addition to the above concerns there’s a whole slew of ingredients that, although they present limited concern, I still can’t pronounce, including Pentaerythrityl Hydrogenated Rosinate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, and Trihydroxystearin…  Whatever those are! In fact, the only ingredients I could pronounce and/or had any idea what they are were Ultramarines (a blue pigment), Titanium Dioxide, Talc, Iron Oxides, and Carnauba Wax…

Now I COULD make my own mascara.  That would be the super crunchy thing to do.  But alas, every mascara recipe I found either got really bad reviews and/or included a whole bunch of ingredients that I don’t usually have on hand.  So I just tried to forget about my guilt and kept on using my beloved (now not-so-beloved) CoverGirl mascara…

I don’t know about you but for a long time I resisted the urge to check out Younique’s infamous Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash mascara for a couple reasons: 1) I HATE high pressure sales (same reason I resisted Young Living for so long) and couldn’t stand the fact that my Facebook events was cluttered up with sales “parties” that not only did I not want to be invited to but expected me to spend my hard earned money on stuff (like makeup) that I didn’t really need, or want. 2) Most things that look too good to be true usually are.  Hell, they use falsies in mascara commercials for television, which seems like the very definition of false advertising, so I honestly thought they used falsies in all the “after” pics you have thrown at you in your Newsfeed.

Until one day I asked a friend who always has amazing lashes (and brows – total brow envy!) what she used.  Much like how my Young Living adventure started, my friend had just started selling Younique products and told me that she used their 3D Fiber Lash Mascara and told me why she liked their products – specifically that they were paraben free, gluten free, cruelty free, hypoallergenic, etc.  Okay, now she had my attention!  She showed me her before and after pics and assured me that even I, the makeup minimalist, could do it.  She told me that she was having an online party and (here’s the key) ASKED if I would like to be invited.  So I said sure.  But as you may have guessed I didn’t just jump online and order the mascara, no, I’m way too skeptical for that.  So I did my research.

Here is what I found.

While Younique is not a brand that is searchable on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database, which is always my first stop, they do make their ingredient list available publicly on their website (I liked that).  This ingredient list is copied verbatim from their website:

Transplanting Gel Ingredients: Water, Beeswax (Natural Propolis), Carnauba (Brazilian palm glue), Iron Oxide Cl 77499 (Black), Collagen, Acrylates Copolymer, Nylon, Stearic Acid, Propylene Glycol. .23 FL OZ / 7 ml

Natural Fibers Ingredients: 100% Natural Fibers taken from Green Tea. Net WT .02 OZ/ .5g.

Collagen is a type of protein that works with elastin to give skin its texture, structure, and appearance. It contains antioxidants, and may help add volume and shine to the appearance of eyelashes.

Water (Aqua) is the liquid of life! Hydrates and cleanses the skin, and works as a natural spreading component, helping to distribute other ingredients evenly over the skin.

Beeswax (Natural Propolis) is a brownish, resinous material collected by bees and believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Carnauba (Brazilian Palm Glue) is extracted and refined through a pressing and crushing process that turns the palm glue into an oil, creating the sticky nature of the transplanting gel. It is also believed to act as a natural preservative.

Iron Oxide Cl 77499 (Black) is a technical name for Black Iron Oxide. This naturally-occurring mineral acts a colorant, giving the gel its striking black color.

Acrylates Copolymer is an adhesive and binder, as well as a suspending agent.

Nylon is a powder substance that is used as an absorbent and thickening agent.

Stearic Acid (also known as Palmitic Acid) is an organic nutrient derived from palm trees that is often used to soothe and soften the skin.

Propylene Glycol is a humidifying and delivery ingredient.

Sounds great! But I’m a natural born skeptic so I took it upon myself to search each of the ingredients individually.  I knew what collagen, water, beeswax,  carnauba wax, and iron oxide was (in fact many of these are used in DIY mascara recipes) so skipped these and focused on the later half of the ingredient list.

  • Acrylates Copolymer sounds scary because I can’t pronounce it and that’s always my first red flag when a product claims to be “all natural” or “naturally based/derived.” While it is essentially plastic, according to EWG, acrylates copolymer is generally regarded as safe for use in cosmetics because it is assumed to have low absorption.  They score it as a 2 (“low hazard”) on their 10 point scale.
  • Nylon is another synthetic ingredient and never something I ever considered to be in cosmetics.  But apparently nylon is quite commonly added as an absorbent and thickening agent just like the Younique website states.  EWG rates it as a 0 for hazard risk.
  • Stearic Acid occurs naturally in vegetable and animal fats but has to undergo an hydrogenation process to convert it to the final product that is used in food and cosmetics.  It has a “low hazard” risk of 1 on EWG primarily due to some concern that it might be an environmental toxin but there doesn’t really seem to be much supporting evidence.  In fact, it’s approved by the FDA as a food additive (not that that is saying a whole lot, as I’m generally distrustful of the FDA, but at least I know I could eat it and not die…).
  • Propylene Glycol is the most concerning ingredient listed, often feared as a toxin, especially by particularly crunchy crowds, but even it only scores a 3 (or “moderate hazard”) by EWG for potential skin irritation.  It is actually a form of mineral oil that is produced through fermentation of yeast and carbohydrates.  If you’re interested, read more on propylene glycol here from Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/023138_propylene_glycol_products_natural.html 

So, convinced that this product was indeed way more crunchy than my trusted mascara I decided to bite the bullet and drop the $29 to support my friend in her new business venture and to give the product a shot.  I ordered the product on Friday, May 22 and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it arrived on my doorstep by Tuesday, May 26. So, naturally this morning I was excited to try it out and see if I got the same kind of results that people were raving about all over the internet.

When you open your package you will discover that Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara actually comes in two tubes (that come packaged in cute but totally unnecessary carrying case  – kind of like you would carry your glasses in) that looks like this:

 

US-1017-00-alt1

The largest tube is their Transplanting Gel, which is pretty much just a typical mascara.  It honestly looks good even by itself but wasn’t the same kind of dramatic results.  Basically this gel is applied just like your regular mascara from the root to tip of your lashes (optional: you can choose to do this over your regular mascara but that seemed like an unnecessary step and quite frankly this already adds extra steps to my morning routine so I didn’t want to add any more.  Plus, why bother?).  This wets your lashes and acts like a glue for the natural fibers (somehow made from green tea apparently) in the second tube.  They look like this:

 

 

US-1017-00-alt3

So after you’ve applied your first coat of the Transplanting Gel over your entire lashes you gently brush the Natural Fibers over just the tips of your lashes.  This is what creates the extra length. If you are like me you will immediately second guess your decision and wonder if you just wasted $29 of your hard earned money.  But then you take the Transplanting Gel again and “seal” in the natural fibers.  This smooths out the little fluffy bits that were clinging to your lashes and somehow makes them longer, smooth, and beautiful.  It’s like magic!  You can repeat this process as many times as you’d like to get more dramatic results.

Seriously, if I can do apply this mascara, you can too! Here is my comparison of my natural (boring) lashes, using my CoverGirl mascara. and using Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara (on the eye pictured on the right in the bottom pic).

mascara comparison

I only used two really quick applications to get the length you see pictured above.  This was also the very first time I tried applying it so you could get a sense of what it’s like for a newbie. I’m sure I could take the extra time to get wicked amazing looking lashes if I had an event I wanted to get all dolled up for (like the wedding we are going to this weekend). But if you want to know more, here’s a how-to video on how to take that extra step to get amazing lashes using Younique’s 3D Fiber Lash Mascara.

Final Verdict: I’m sold! Here’s my celebratory selfie so you can see how it looked as I left for work this morning!

new mascara selfie

Nothing but no-poo hair, my DIY Facial Serum, and my new mascara! 

So, to summarize, here is my pros/cons list of Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara:

Pros:

  • Naturally based
  • Cruelty Free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Paraben Free
  • Safe for contact lens wearers
  • Amazing looking lashes
  • NO Falsies needed! 

Cons:

  • Cost – $29 (plus shipping) vs $7-8. But since this is the only real makeup I wear on a daily basis, I feel I can justify the cost.
  • Time – It does take a little bit of extra time, especially if you want wicked awesome lashes.  But the little bit of time to get the added length I got from just two quick applications is worth it to me.
  • Mess – This mascara does seem to be a bit messier than my old mascara, easily corrected with a q-tip, but I think it’ll diminish as I get better at applying it.
  • Unnecessary packaging

Want to try out Younique’s Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara for yourself? Shop for it and other Younique products (and support my friend) here: https://www.youniqueproducts.com/savannamcgrew/ 

Want to know how your mascara (or other cosmetics) measure up? Check them out here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ 

I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara! was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures