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

Skin & Hair Care

How To Whiten Teeth Naturally (Without Borax)

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 0 comments

How To Whiten Teeth Naturally (Without Borax)

Kim and I regularly review the analytics for A Green Routine and lately we’ve seen a disturbing trend: more and more people searching for information on how to whiten teeth naturally with borax. This makes us wish search terms where paired with cell phone numbers. If they were, we’d call each and every person to tell them NOT to use borax to whiten teeth. Borax is a bleaching agent used in commercial teeth whiteners, but its use is questionable since borax is a skin and lung irritant that should not be handled without gloves and a mask, and it should not be ingested. Does that sound like a safe thing to be putting in your mouth? I hope not! Another one of our concerns is that bleaching should only be performed after talking to your dentist, who can recommend the proper strength, length and products for your treatment. Needless to say, we aren’t going to give you any advice on bleaching. Instead, I want to talk about naturally whitening your teeth by oil pulling. What Is Oil Pulling? Oil pulling is a traditional Indian remedy used to health the mouth where a person swishes oil in their mouth for 20 minutes. The practice of swishing oil in your mouth is supposed to dissolve plague and cleanse your mouth of harmful bacteria, improving the health of your gums and teeth, which in turn, make your teeth whiter. I first heard about oil pulling in January at the HealTHY Mouth World Summit, which I listened to online while it was in session. At the time, I thought it was too weird for me to ever try, but the same is true for so many steps I’ve taken to green my lifestyle. Six months after the summit I went to the dentist for my regular cleaning, and despite the fact I had a bad taste in my mouth that wouldn’t go away, I got a perfect review. I started oil pulling after that visit because I knew something was going on in my mouth and didn’t know what else to try since the professional cleaning didn’t solve the problem. Within a week of oil pulling the bad taste had started to go away, my gums looked healthier and my teeth where whiter. How To Oil Pull Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil in your mouth. Ensure it’s pure oil by reading the label and only use food grade oils (not the oils you use for your personal products). I use coconut oil because it tastes best to me. Swish the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. Timing is key. Cut the time short and you won’t break through the plaque. Swish too long and you risk re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria into your system. Spit the oil into the trash can. Don’t spit it into the sink since it’s likely to clog the drain. Also, remember, the oil is full of plague and bacteria, so never swallow it. Swish vigorously with warm water, then spit....

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How To Clean Makeup Brushes Naturally

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Green Clean, Skin & Hair Care | 3 comments

How To Clean Makeup Brushes Naturally

Replacing disposable or one-time use makeup applicators with reusable makeup brushes is the green thing to do but you have to clean them regularly to keep them sanitary. Reusable makeup brushes collect dirt, oil and dead skin from your face and that can turn them into a breeding ground for bacteria. So let’s talk about how you can easily clean makeup brushes naturally. Before you begin, collect everything you need. all your dirty makeup brushes brush guards 3 cups a plate clean towel (optional) extra virgin olive oil castile soap (or any mild soap) warm water white vinegar Now your ready to start cleaning your brushes. Throughout the cleaning process remember to be gentle with your brushes. Don’t press the bristles too hard, splay the bristles or tug at the bristles. Also keep in mind that you are only cleaning the bristles, you don’t want to dip the shaft of the brush into the water or vinegar since it may ruin the the glue that keeps the bristles on the brush. In one of the cups mix warm water and castile soap to make a bath for your brushes. Fill another cup with enough vinegar to dip the bristles of your longest brush. Pour a small puddle of extra virgin olive oil on a plate. Dip a dirty makeup brush in the olive oil and run it back and forth across the plate until it stops leaving dirty streaks. This step helps clean the brush, but it’s also important if you have natural bristle brushes because the oil conditions the bristles to keep them soft. Next, dip the brush in the soapy water. Remove the brush from the soapy water and gentle swirl it in the palm of your hand. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the brush is clean. Gently squeeze the bristles to remove excess water. Dip the bristles in white vinegar to sanitize them, then rinse them under a faucet with warm water. If you want to clean the handle of the brush, wipe it with a moist, clean towel. Place the brush in a brush guard, leaving about an inch of the guard past the bristles. Always pull the brush through the brush guard by the handle to keep from bending the bristles. Stand the brush on the brush guard, bristles down, in a cup to dry. It’s obvious you wouldn’t want to dry your brush by standing it on the bristles alone because that would ruin them, but most people don’t realize that standing it on it’s handle to dry will cause the water to seep into the shaft of the brush, thus loosening the glue that hold the bristles on. Additionally, the water could cause wood handles to swell and split. I know it looks like a lot of steps, but it probably took you longer to read this post than it will to clean your brushes, so get to it and let us know how it works out! Like this post? Subscribe...

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Homemade Shaving Cream Recipe

Posted by on Jul 27, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 2 comments

Homemade Shaving Cream Recipe

These days, I make nearly all of my own beauty products. It’s easy. It’s inexpensive. It’s eco-friendly. Until recently, however, I hadn’t had any luck finding or creating a shaving cream recipe that lived up the commercial product. But I finally found a homemade shaving cream recipe on the food for my family blog that works, although I changed it slightly to suit my taste, and I can live with the compromises using this homemade version requires.   Differences Between Commercial And Homemade Shaving Cream If you’re going to use this recipe instead of a commercial product, there are two compromises you must be willing to make. First, you must be willing to give up lather, which I believe might be the case for any natural product. I’m not aware of any natural ingredient that would create a lather like commercial shaving creams and gels. Second, you will probably want to shave in the back of your shower or over the drain. The shea butter and oil mixture is slick and can make the surface of the bathtub slippery. Shaving at the back of the tub keeps residue in areas where you probably don’t walk. Ingredients The recipe I worked from had three main ingredients – shea butter, coconut oil and a liquid oil. It suggested sweet almond oil or jojoba oil, so I went with the more cost effective sweet almond oil. It also suggested rosemary and peppermint essential oils, but I didn’t have rosemary oil on hand and peppermint oil can be a little harsh for sensitive skin. You can use any essential oil you’d like, but I used lavender essential oil. The second time I made the recipe, I didn’t have enough shea butter so I added a tablespoon or two of cocoa butter. It made the final product a little thicker which I cant’ say made a significant difference – good or bad – but it’s an option. Keep It Clean All of the ingredients have a pretty long shelf life, but you’ll very likely introduce impurities to the product when you’re using it. I find it impossible to keep all drops of water out of the jar. For that reason, you may want to mix the shaving cream in relatively small batches and keep an eye on it. I haven’t had any problems with mold, but if you see any mold start to form in the product or it smells off, throw it away and mix a fresh batch. Or if you want to make a big batch by doubling or tripling the recipe below, spoon it into several small jars and store the extras in a cool, dark place until needed. Lavender Shaving Cream 2014-12-19 20:58:24 Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 1/4 cup shea butter 1/4 cup coconut oil 4 tablespoons sweet almond oil 7 drops lavender essential oil (optional) Instructions Melt the shea butter and coconut oil in a double boiler. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the sweet almond oil...

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Colloidal Oatmeal Sugar Scrub Recipe

Posted by on Jul 21, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 0 comments

Colloidal Oatmeal Sugar Scrub Recipe

Until recently, I’d never given any thought to using a body scrub, but a couple of patches of dry skin at the beginning of the summer changed that. After some trial and error, I came up with a sugar scrub recipe that makes an awesome body scrub and an amazing pore-refining facial scrub. I love when a product has more than one use! Why Use Colloidal Oatmeal? I wanted to include colloidal oatmeal in the scrub because it helps relieve itching and, when combined with the sugar, it help exfoliate the skin. Once I started using the scrub, I was amazed at how well it refined pores which, I think, is because colloidal oatmeal is a natural cleanser that draws dirt out of the skin. I later learned that colloidal oatmeal is basically the complete package for skin care – it’s a moisturizer, cleanser, anti-inflammatory agent and buffer, which means that it helps restore the normal pH of skin. That’s why it’s been used for centuries to treat skin conditions. How to Make Colloidal Oatmeal To make colloidal oatmeal, use a spice or coffee grinder to grind oatmeal into a fine powder. If you’re making the powder for a scrub, you’re done. If you’re making the colloidal oatmeal for a bath, you may want to test it in a cup of water first. The oatmeal should suspend in the water and make the water look milky. If the oatmeal sinks to the bottom, try grinding it into a finer powder. Sugar & Sweet Almond Oil To complete the body scrub, I used organic sugar to exfoliate the skin and sweet almond oil to hydrate the skin and give the scrub a nice consistency. The first time I made the scrub, I didn’t add any essential oils. The second time, I added sweet orange oil to give it a scent. As a bonus, sweet orange oil is soothing for skin. As with all natural scrubs, it’s a good idea to use a spoon to scoop the scrub out of the jar so you don’t introduce any impurities that could make the scrub go bad more quickly. I like these small bamboo spoons. Bamboo’s water and mold resistant properties make it a good choice for shower accessories. Colloidal Oatmeal Sugar Scrub 2015-01-01 19:07:37 This is a great body scrub and pore-refining facial scrub. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 5 min Prep Time 5 min Ingredients 1/4 cup colloidal oatmeal 1/4 cup organic sugar 1/4 cup sweet almond oil 7 drops sweet orange essential oil Instructions Mix all the ingredients together and store in a cool, dark place. Notes Use a spoon to scoop the scrub out of the jar so you don’t introduce any impurities that could make the scrub go bad more quickly. 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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Luxurious, Rejuvenating Homemade Lotion

Posted by on Jul 13, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 1 comment

Luxurious, Rejuvenating Homemade Lotion

A few months ago, I went to make Kim’s Coconut Orange Body Butter and realized I was out of coconut oil. I looked through my recipes to find another lotion and re-discovered this lotion recipe from the Mom Photographer blog for a homemade lotion using common kitchen ingredients. I remember bookmarking the recipe over a year ago, but never made it because the directions were not completely clear to me and I didn’t like the idea of storing lotion in the refrigerator. Out of options at the time, I decided to take my best guesses at how to make the lotion and get over the fact that I would have to store it in the fridge. Why Does This Lotion Need To Be Refrigerated? Two ingredients in this lotion make it less stable than other lotion recipes we’ve shared: milk and water. Milk will spoil at room temperature and water causes the lotion to go rancid more quickly. Since all true preservatives that would prolong the life of the lotion and allow it to be stored at room temperature are chemicals and most contain parabens and other harmful compounds, I don’t use them. Although storing the lotion in the refrigerator is the best way to keep it stable, many of the natural ingredients  in the lotion also help it stay fresher, longer. Citric acid raises the pH to prevent bacteria growth. Honey is antimicrobial and will inhibit the growth of microorganisms (like bacteria) that may still grow in the lotion. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and will remove free radicals released as the lotion breaks down. Other than the lotion simply “expiring”, the biggest concern is bacteria growth. To prevent bacteria from getting into the lotion, it’s best to keep your fingers out of the jar and use a sterilized spoon as a scoop. But, if you’re lazy like me, you can put a week’s worth of lotion into a small container and use your fingers. This way, if you do introduce bacteria into the lotion, you’ll only ruin a small amount of it. Since I usually apply lotion after I shower, I haven’t had an issue with bacteria growth yet. About The Ingredients In This Homemade Lotion Oatmeal, milk and honey are 3 foods found in most kitchens that will do wonders for your skin. They are full of vitamins to help heal and soothe your skin, antioxidants to rejuvenate it and healthy fats to moisturize. Choosing top quality ingredients will result in the best quality lotion. Use real honey, not the cheap stuff which is mostly sugar. Choose an organic full fat milk  produced by grass fed cows to add the most vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to your lotion. You may use refined or unrefined cocoa butter, but remember that you will get a nutty, chocolaty smell from the unrefined varieties. I have unrefinded cocoa butter and although I don’t mind the scent, it’s not my favorite, so I covered it up with vanilla fragrance oil the...

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My Green(er) Sunscreen Choice for 2013

Posted by on Jun 15, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 2 comments

My Green(er) Sunscreen Choice for 2013

Last year I attempted to trade up and buy Loving Naturals Sunscreen instead of my usual spray can of Coppertone Sport. Loving Naturals Sunscreen is 100% natural and vegan, and it has a score of 1 in the EWG Skin Deep database. The score is the reason I originally chose the sunscreen, it was the best ranked sunscreen that was also available on Amazon.com. This was an epic fail. The sunscreen is thick and doesn’t absorb well into skin, leaving bright white streaks behind. Applying the sunscreen ended up being an unpleasant, time consuming task that left me looking ridiculous. Needless to say, I rarely used it. The Sunscreen Paradox A few years ago someone said to me “I don’t use sunscreen because it causes cancer” and I replied, “So does sun.” It is true, the majority of commercial sunscreens have cancer causing ingredients, however, over exposure to sun also causes cancer. Additionally, many commercial sunscreens include ingredients that persist in the environment when you wash them down the drain, and that’s less than ideal. So, what should you do? Especially when the safest, greenest sunscreen is so unpleasant. The answer is going to be different for everyone, but I’d like to share with you my decision for this summer, and the reasoning behind it. Where I’m Coming From Six years ago I was diagnosed with a cancer for which I had no known risk factors, it was caused by environmental exposure to something, but we don’t know what. On the one hand, this tells me I am susceptible to the bad things in my environment, perhaps more so than other people, and I should be more careful about what I expose myself to. The chemotherapy treatments I received left me more sensitive to light than I had been before so I must wear sunscreen since I burn more easily now. I work in an office and I’m not the type to lay out in the sun to tan, so I mostly wear sunscreen when I garden and participate in outdoor activities. And here you have the other side of things, I have to wear sunscreen but I also live in the real world where I’m not going to spend 20 minutes applying it every time I want to go outside. In order for me to consistently use sunscreen, it needs to be a spray and it needs to absorb into my skin so I don’t look ghostly on the golf course. The Big Decision I’m not one to give up easily. Even though I failed to find a safe, green sunscreen last year I wanted to try again this year and I set a few rules this time. The sunscreen must be a spray. The sunscreen must be available in a local store where I could test it out. I should take a moment to clarify rule number 1. Earlier this week, we told you the FDA is looking into the safety and effectiveness of spray sunscreens because there are concerns that enough of the product does not...

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How To Find A Green(er) Sunscreen

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in Skin & Hair Care | 1 comment

How To Find A Green(er) Sunscreen

It’d be nice if we could spend all day in the sun without applying, and reapplying, sunscreen. But, unfortunately, that’s just not an option … and neither is staying indoors all summer. So, today we’ll talk about what to consider when buying a sunscreen and how to find a greener, healthier alternative to some traditional options. Hopefully, this guide will help you find a sunscreen that fits your needs and your ideals. Why Sunscreen? Younger looking skin and minimizing your risk of the most common type of cancer are two great reasons to wear sunscreen. A new study confirms that wearing sunscreen regularly keeps your skin from aging prematurely. The impact has even been quantified! Those who wore sunscreen regularly for 4.5 years showed 24% less skin aging than those who did not. As you probably know, exposure to UV rays has more detrimental effects than wrinkles. It can increase your risk of skin cancer, which is the most common of all cancers with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed every year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Chemical vs Physical Sunscreens There are two major types of sunscreens, chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens are the ones most of us are familiar with. They absorb into the skin and work by absorbing UV rays. The active ingredients are a wide range of chemicals, many of which raise health concerns. For example, retinyl palmitate can cause free radicals that can damage DNA and cause gene mutations, a precursor to cancer. It’s listed as a “high hazard” ingredient in the Skin Deep database. Others, like avobenzone, seem more innocuous with a “low hazard” rating. Physical sunscreens are opaque, often leaving a white cast or tint on the skin, and work by reflecting UV rays. The active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which both have a low to moderate hazard rating depending on how they’re used. There are also hybrid sunscreens which combine some of the active ingredients in chemical and physical sunscreens to make a product that does not leave an a white cast and may contain fewer ingredients that raise health concerns. If you’re looking to go green but physical sunscreens don’t appeal to you, you’ll likely end up with a hybrid. Decoding The Sunscreen’s Label Sunscreen labels have some unique terms. Here are key phrases to look for and and what they mean: SPF 30 – 50 – The sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of how much light the sunscreen filters out. SPF 15 filters out about 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 filters out 97% and SPF 50 filters out 98%. The SPF also give you an indication of how long the sunscreen will work. For example, with an SPF 15 sunscreen, it will take 15 times longer for you to burn than it would without protection. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends looking for a sunscreen of at least SPF 30. However, there may be no benefit to using sunscreen with an SPF over 50. The FDA has...

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Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Green Clean, Skin & Hair Care | 2 comments

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Clean but far from a germaphobe is how I’d describe myself. You don’t normally see me toting around hand sanitizer unless I’m traveling, camping or there’s a serious threat. What counts as a serious threat? Earlier this year when the flu was at its worst, I was going to be taking public transportation (not the norm for someone who lives in New Hampshire) to a busy office in a city where the virus had run rampant, causing the mayor to declare a public health emergency. So the night before I made the trip, I surfed the web for something that I could make at home that would help keep me from picking up any germs. I came across a recipe in Prevention magazine that seemed to be the basis for most of the other recipes I found online. It was created by a doctor, which gave me the confidence the proportion of antibacterial agents to liquid would be sufficient to kill germs. I didn’t have all of the essential oils recommended so I substituted the cinnamon and clove essential oils for lavender and tea tree. I wanted to include the widest variety of oils so the germs I came in contact with wouldn’t have a chance at surviving. As an added bonus, this hand sanitizer can be used as an air spray too. For more information on why you might want to consider making your own antibacterial products with essential oils or buying ones with natural ingredients, check out our War on Germs: Has It Helped or Hurt Us? post. Hand Santizier 2015-03-06 18:09:06 Use a mix of essential oils to kill germs naturally. Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 3 ounces distilled water 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel 10 drops tea tree essential oil 10 drops lavender essential oil 10 drops rosemary essential oil 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil 20 drops lemon essential oil Instructions Mix the ingredients in a spray dispenser. Shake gently before use and spray onto hands (3-5 sprays). Massage the spray into hands for 5-10 seconds. 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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