Inspiring DIY projects, beauty recipes and advice to green your daily routine.

Skin & Hair Care

Homemade Eczema Salve Recipe

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 4 comments

Homemade Eczema Salve Recipe

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend about her 5 year old niece who suffers from painful eczema that covers her back. She’s had it most of her life and doesn’t complain about the pain anymore, but she flinches whenever someone hugs her or pats her on the back. I didn’t know much about what causes eczema or how to treat it, so I went looking for information to find a way to help. What I learned is that eczema is a chronic skin condition that results in dry, cracked skin which is often further irritated by bacteria that gets into the rash when scratched. It can be hereditary, or it can be caused by everything from diet to stress to allergies. Unfortunately, it’s not curable, but it is managable. The best way to manage eczema is to be kind and gentle to your skin by: wearing cotton or other soft fabrics. taking warm baths with colloidal oatmeal. patting, instead of rubbing, yourself dry after a bath. using gentle cleansers. moisturizing regularly. used a gentle laundry detergent. In previous articles, Kim and I have discussed how many commercial products use strong antibacterial chemicals and petrochemicals that strip your skin of its natural oils and coats it with chemicals that don’t allow your skin to breath and recover. The chemical fragrances often added to both personal products and cleaning products can also be very irritating to the skin. Anyone with skin problems should be reading labels and leaning toward more natural, gentle products. My research and a conversation with a local woman who makes personal products led me to two recommendations for this little girl. The first was to try Grandma’s Lye Soap or, from the same company, Secrets of Suzanne’s Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Soap. At the time I had been testing out Grandma’s Lye Soap to write a review and, from experience, I knew how gentle and moisturizing their all-natural soap is. My second recommendation was to use an eczema salve made with shea butter, coconut oil and tea tree oil. The shea butter and coconut oil act as moisturizers and they nourish the skin. The coconut oil and tea tree essential oil are also antibacterial and fight the infections that make eczema outbreaks more painful. Tea tree oil is also a very safe essential oil. It can be used directly on the skin, without dilutions and is safe for children. I made the eczema salve for the family and got a heartfelt thank you from the little girl because it helped so much. For everyone interested in the salve recipe, I’ve posted it below. I don’t know if the family switched soaps yet. They had used natural soaps in the past but stopped when the local soapmaker they bought from closed the business. Get More Help Managing Your Eczema If you want more information about eczema, visit the National Eczema Associations website. Also, as luck would have it, Grandma’s Lye Soap contacted us recently because they also want to help children with eczema by sharing their soap with those who may need it but might not...

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Homemade Rhassoul Clay Face Mask Recipe

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 7 comments

Homemade Rhassoul Clay Face Mask Recipe

Rhassoul clay is unique because it’s rich in magnesium, silica, potassium and calcium. The magic of rhassoul clay is that it exchanges its minerals with the toxins in your skin to clarify and condition it, so it’s both a cleanser and rejuvenator. Here’s a rhassoul clay face mask to rejuvenate, soothe and tone your skin.

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An Eco-Friendly Men’s Shaving Routine (No Beard Required)

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 2 comments

An Eco-Friendly Men’s Shaving Routine (No Beard Required)

For years, I talked about wanting to change my shaving habits because I was tired of paying almost $4 per cartridge for the Mach insert-some-absurd-number-here refills. On top of that, I spoiled myself by buying shaving gel instead of shaving cream, which worked so much better for me that I couldn’t go back. But a can of men’s shaving gel was three times more expensive than the shaving cream and only lasted half as long. I needed to make a change, and although it was cost that got me motivated it was a very green thing to do too. Shaving Razors: Cut-Throat Straight vs Double-Edge Safety Cheap disposable razors are so uncomfortable that I think it would be less painful to pull out each hair individually with tweezers. Electric shavers are less painful but, over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the close shave that comes with blades. Plus, I didn’t want to invest almost $100 in an electric model to find out that I didn’t like it. I first looked into the cut-throat straight razor. This is just cool. It really can’t get any more badass than wielding a deadly weapon near one’s jugular. Plus, it gives the closest shave and it’s an environmentally friendly option since a high quality razor can last a lifetime.  I could say good-bye to wasteful disposable cartridges and their plastic packaging. After doing some research, I decided that the up-front cost was worth the savings in the long run. When I finally set out to buy my own straight razor the sales associate at the shaving store convinced me that it wasn’t such a great idea. He informed me that, even after I actually got the hang of it, I would need about 45 minutes each time I shaved. Face-prep with a hot towel and  pre-shave lotion, surgically slow strokes, and lathering up between each of the multiple passes are requirements for each shave. While this approach works for some people, I’m not a morning person. To wake up that much earlier and wield a deadly weapon didn’t sound like a great idea to me. The sales associate suggested that I go for a double-edge safety razor instead. It gets almost as close as a straight razors but without the risk of severing any arteries and at less than half  the cost of a quality cut-throat. While the routine for a safety razor is similar to the cut-throat, the shaving strokes can be much faster and longer, making the actual shaving time a fraction of what it is with a straight razor. This option also provides environmental advantages. Replacement blades are needed for a safety razor, but it’s possible to recycle used blades. The packaging is substantially smaller than traditional cartridges, and the blades can cost just pennies a piece when purchased in bulk. For me, they also last longer than the thin multi-blade cartridges. A Better Lather: Use A Shaving Brush And Shaving Soap The last piece to the puzzle was the lather, which I actually...

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Grandma’s Lye Soap – Giveaway & Coupon

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 26 comments

Grandma’s Lye Soap – Giveaway & Coupon

The nice folks at Grandma’s Lye Soap sent us some soap to review (it’s awesome, read on). Plus, they’re offering you the chance to win their winter skincare gift set and a coupon for a free bar of soap when you try their soaps. Good luck and enjoy! About Grandma’s Lye Soap As the name implies, Grandma’s Lye Soap was first made by Grandma in 2002. Today, she and her husband make a whole line of natural products. They never use detergents or additives, their product base of food grade lard comes from the U.S. and they make all of their soaps in the U.S. Is lye soap harsh? Lye corrodes metal! I’ve heard from some people who are afraid to use lye soap because lye is a corrosive material. Or they’ve had a bad experience with a lye soap or heard from others who had. So let’s set the record straight: it’s impossible to make soap without lye though it’s fair to say not all soaps are made equal. As a side note, many commercial “soaps” are made with chemicals and petroleum byproducts, they do not use lye but they are also not a real soap. A well-made bar of lye soap is great for skin and most will not find it harsh at all. Lye soap has three main ingredients – lard, water and lye – which combine to form glycerin, a substance naturally found in the skin. Glycerin is a cleansing agent – it removes dirt and oil – and it helps your skin attract and retain moisture. Usually, when someone has a bad experience with lye soap it’s because the ingredients in the soap were not mixed in the right proportions and the chemical reactions during the sopanification process did not complete, leaving lye behind. If there’s lye left in the soap, the user will find it harsh. When in doubt, smell or lick the soap. Soap that burns your nose or “zaps” you on the tongue has unprocessed lye and should never be used. Is lye soap environmentally friendly? Yes! Lye soap is all-natural and biodegradable as long as no chemicals, such as artificial fragrances, have been added to it. How good is Grandma’s Lye Soap? In January, I received a free trial sized 2 ounce bar of Grandma’s Lye Soap (original). The bar was small and I wondered if it would last long enough for me to give it a fair review. I had also been enjoying the homemade body wash I had been making and, being partial to body washes over bar soap, I was curious to see how they compared. I’ve been using the Grandma’s Lye Soap for about a month now, and it’s been bitterly cold in Pittsburgh with temperatures frequently below zero and not usually above freezing. This type of weather really dries out your skin so Grandma’s Lye Soap was put to the test to see how gentle and moisturizing it could be. The bar itself has a very mild, soap smell,...

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Product of the Month: Bamboo Spoons

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in For Beginners, Skin & Hair Care | 0 comments

Product of the Month: Bamboo Spoons

When going green, keeping things clean becomes a priority because your products are often made without preservatives or you’re using reusable, non-plastic containers that may not function likes ones you’ve used in the past. Being careful to not introduce impurities into your products will extend their life and keep those impurities out of your system as well. These bamboo spoons are the perfect accessory for green products in the kitchen and bathroom. Bamboo has natural antibacterial properties and is water resistant, which makes bamboo spoons a great companion for salt and sugar scrubs or lotions. They are also perfectly sized for dipping into spice jars or salt or sugar bowls, and they’re nice enough to be used when serving guests. You heard it here first – bamboo spoons are the must-have accessory for the eco-chic in 2014. What will you use your for? Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Homemade Body Wash Recipe

Posted by on Dec 21, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 4 comments

Homemade Body Wash Recipe

This homemade body wash recipe uses olive oil to create a thick lather of tiny bubbles that stay close to your skin. It feels luxurious and moisturizes well, so it’s great for the dry winter months. My friend, Helene first gave me a sample of this body wash several months ago and I’ve been making it myself ever since. Substitute the oil or essential oils for your own favorites if you feel inspired. Fractionated coconut oil would be a good substitute for the olive oil because it lathers well, is a little lighter and doesn’t have a strong smell. Switch up the essential oils based on the time of day you shower. Sweet orange essential oil will wake you up in the morning and since it improves circulation it will keep you warm in the winter. If you shower in the evening try lavender, clary sage or German chamomile essential oils. All of these are calming and will help you drift peacefully to sleep. Awakening Body Wash 2014-12-23 21:43:46 This homemade body wash recipe uses olive oil for a thick lather of tiny bubbles that stays close to your skin. It feels very luxurious and moisturizes well. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 5 min Prep Time 5 min Ingredients 1 cup liquid castile soap 3 tablespoons olive oil 8-12 drops sweet orange essential oil Instructions Mix all 3 ingredients in a bottle. Shake before use since the olive oil and soap will separate. Notes Yields 9 ounces. A Green Routine http://agreenroutine.com/ Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Coconut Mango Body Butter Recipe

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 6 comments

Coconut Mango Body Butter Recipe

A few weeks ago I finally dug into a box of new butters and essential oils that’s been sitting around the house for months. Life’s been hectic and I’ve been slacking on making my own skincare products. I was able to get away with that this summer because I discovered a shaving cream recipe that was so rich, I rarely needed to use a post-shave moisturizer.  But as the cold weather began to set in I had to get back into the kitchen to mix up a batch of body butter. This coconut mango body butter recipe, inspired by a recipe from Natural Girls Rock, has quickly become a personal favorite. Mango butter moisturizes and softens skin. It’s said to help regenerate skin as well which can help diminish the appearance of scars, stretch marks and wrinkles. Fractionated coconut oil absorbs quickly so it’s a great carrier for essential oils. Both mango butter and fractionated coconut oil have very light scents which can be enhanced with essential oils. Inspired by the tropical ingredients and the fall weather, I mixed sweet orange essential oil, cinnamon leaf essential oil and Tahitian vanilla fragrance oil. The result is a spicy, warming scent that’s perfect for this time of year. Plus, the cinnamon leaf improves circulation so the body butter has a warming effect – a nice bonus in colder weather. This body butter makes a great hand cream too because it is not greasy. Coconut Mango Body Butter 2015-03-06 17:25:29 Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 2.7 ounces mango butter 1 ounce fractionated coconut oil 1/8 teaspoon vitamin E 4 drops cinnamon essential oil 5 drops sweet orange essential oil 4 drops Tahitian vanilla fragrance oil Instructions Melt the mango butter in a double boiler. When the mango butter is melted, add the coconut oil, vitamin E and essential oils. Mix the oils together for a few minutes using a hand mixer. I use a whisk attachment, but beaters would work well too. Pour the liquid into a jar and let it cool. Leave the top off while it's cooling. You can put the mixture in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process. When the mixture is cool and has thickened, but not yet solidified, mix it again for a minute or two to combine the ingredients. Notes Yields 3.5 ounces. A Green Routine http://agreenroutine.com/ Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Product Of The Month: Organic Argan Oil

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 0 comments

Product Of The Month: Organic Argan Oil

I chose to feature argan oil this month because it’s been a very trendy product for the past few years, but I only recently started experimenting with it. I first began to pay attention to the buzz about argan oil after overhearing the owner of a hair salon schooling a customer on the benefits of using argan oil for her face and skin. The product the owner had in her hands was Moroccan oil, which is really just a small amount of argan oil mixed with a bunch of chemicals you are better off avoiding. After witnessing the exchange of misinformation shared about argan oil and the product in the salon owner’s hands, I decided to go home and educate myself, which lead to some experimentation and results that I would like to share with you. So let’s talk about argan oil! What Is Argan Oil? Argan oil is extracted from the fruit kernels of the agran tree, through a manual process. The argan tree only grows in North Africa, and mostly in Morocco, which is why imitation products are often called Moroccan oil. According to Mountain Rose Herbs “argan oil is rich in natural tocopherols (vitamin E) and phenols, carotenes, squalene and fatty acids.” And that’s why argan oil is the talk of the town. It’s jam packed with the goodness that your hair, skin and nails need to look beautiful and healthy. Also, argan oil is pleasant to use because it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave you feeling greasy, however, some people are bothered by they mild nutty, spicy scent of the oil. I’ll talk more about that later. How I Use Argan Oil Argan oil penetrates your skin, nails and hair quickly to hydrate, strengthen and heal. No matter how you use this golden oil remember the golden rule and only use a little bit. I’ve started using argan oil in my hair routine as heat protection. Before blow drying or flat ironing my hair I take one drop of argan oil, rub it into my palms and then rub my hands through my hair. One drop of argan oil is enough to protect 16 inches of hair from heat, and leave it looking healthier and shinier than before. I noticed the most significant improvement at ends of my hair which started to dry out when the cold, wintery weather hit a few weeks ago. The cold weather has also resulted in a need to moisturize my face before bed, so I tried argan oil as a night serum too. To moisturize my face and neck I rub 4-5 drops of argan oil into my palms, then gently massage it into my skin. Argan oil works well as a night serum, leaving my skin hydrated and toned. Unfortunately I can’t get used to the smell, which lingers on my skin for hours. Before you write off using argan oil as a night serum, I should mention that I am particularly sensitive to smell and am often bothered...

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