Household Staples

I spend a lot of time talking about beauty products, but greening your household products is something I consider equally important.  Nothing made it more clear to me than the year and a half I spent working in a retail position that sometimes included hours of dusting with Windex.  [Confession: After the first little bit, I totally faked the Windex part and dusted with dry paper towels instead.]  

You probably already know that incomplete ingredient disclosure is a big pet peeve of mine and cleaning products are notoriously misleading in this regard (even those found in natural stores!)  Labelling laws are different for food, cosmetics, and household products, so I'm not even sure one can expect full disclosure in this area.  Take this 'natural, hypoallergenic' dish soap, for instance:
"Ingredients: Natural based surfactants (derived from coconut and vegetable oils), citrus oil, natural softeners made from plant fiber, water, preservative."
Maybe it's natural, maybe it's not, but we'll never know since the only ingredient they've actually identified is water.  The rest are vague and fairly meaningless.

But, the point of this post isn't to call out any specific brands or products.  Instead, I want to share some basic staples that I wouldn't want to be without.  

Starting off with a couple hard-hitting, inexpensive multi-taskers: baking soda and vinegar.  Baking soda sucks up odors, can be added to laundry, and is a gentle abrasive that can be used to scrub just about anything.  Vinegar kills germs and is great for shining things, and when diluted with water, makes a great all-purpose cleaning spray.   My most common use for these two is actually together, as a drain cleaner.  

Dr. Bronner's Soaps have minimal ingredients, but SO MANY uses.  I use them to clean my makeup brushes and to hand wash any delicates.  But that's just the tip of the iceberg here - you can also use this goody for a whole host of other purposes, including dog washing and cleaning the floor.

The Laundry Tarts are a cute Canadian company making, as the name suggest, laundry products.  The only thing I've tried from the line, thus far, is The Sweet Spot, an unscented stain remover bar that works like a charm.  I've used it to get out oil and sweat stains, as well as blood out of the dog's (white) bed, and I haven't been disappointed yet.  It's basically a bar of soap (palm oil free!) but it works better on stains than any other soap I've used.

Lastly, essential oils are great, both for boosting the scent of other other products - vinegar sprays, for instance, become much more palatable with a few drops of something yummy mixed in - and for their own properties.  Just a few drops of lemon or tea tree in water will disinfect your counters, and Young Living's Thieves blend has even been shown to kill mold spores!

How do you feel about household products?  Is using healthier options in this area as important to you as eating well and using non-toxic personal care products?

The Going Green Tag

This is a fun tag that was started by Rachel of All Natural Aspirations.  If you read other green blogs, I'm sure you've seen it making the rounds over the last couple weeks!  I was tagged by the lovely Mary B of Makeup by Mary B.  Keep reading to learn a little more about me and how I got to this point in my green  journey...

Image by Mary B

What started it all off for you?

My story is pretty different from most everyone else's that I've read!  Growing up, my parents were always very into being natural, eating healthy, and using chemical-free products.  I moved away from all this when I started getting into makeup in my early teens and used a lot of drugstore products, but there was always a thought in the back of my mind that those weren't the best choices.  By the end of high school, I'd stopped wearing toxic makeup...really, I wasn't wearing much makeup at all!  Getting back into makeup - and specifically, natural, non-toxic makeup - in my early 20's was a great feeling.  I had more spending money and was able to research and shop online, plus I got to get excited about makeup again without that niggling guilt of using dirty products.  

What was the first thing to go? (Ingredient or product)
Really, the only thing to go has been mainstream makeup.  
My skincare/bodycare/haircare has always been basically clean, although I've gotten more particular over the years about specific ingredients that I will or won't use.  

What are you or what did you struggle to let go of?
Honestly, I don't think I struggled very much.  There were a couple drugstore lip products and a MAC eye shadow that I held onto for a while in the hopes of finding natural dupes.  (I was successful with the MAC, but I ended up giving up on the lippies.)

What has been your best find? (i.e a green product or a tip that you're really glad you've found/learnt)
Face oils!  I was admittedly slow to fully embrace them, but now that I have, I can't imagine ever going back.  My skin is super soft and radiant and looks the best it ever has.

What has been the worst thing about going green? What has been the hardest to transition or find an adequate green replacement of?

For me, the worst thing has been adapting to mainly shopping online.  I'd love to walk into a store and just buy things again, but these days, I purchase probably 90% of my cosmetics/personal care products online.  Even for items I can find locally, I usually hold off and order online, since I know how much cheaper they'll end up being!  (A couple examples: Zuzu Luxe mascara is $16.70 online vs. $29.99 locally.  Desert Essence conditioner is $6.05 on iherb vs. $12.99 in Canadian health food stores.)

The hardest thing to transition was probably nail polish remover.  There are a lot of natural alternatives, but to be blunt, most of them just don't work very well.  I tried several others before discovering Priti NYC's remover, which is amazing.   Natural concealers have also been a challenge, but are something I struggled with before going completely natural too, so I'm not sure they really count!

Anything else to add? Any tips or tricks to pass on?
Nothing revolutionary, I'm sure, but -
1. Research, research, research.  There's so much marketing that goes into any product label that the only thing you can really count on is the ingredients list.  If you're just starting, make yourself a list of ingredients you want to avoid and carry it with you so you can crosscheck it against product ingredients.  Even now, I'll sometimes pull out my phone and google an ingredient if I can't remember what it is or where it falls safety-wise.

2. Go at your own pace.  Don't feel like you have to replace everything all at once, but equally, don't feel like you have to wait for things to run out before replacing them.  Do whichever works for you, your circumstances, and your budget, or even a combination of the two.  

3. Don't be afraid to DIY.  I love luxe beauty products as much as the next girl, but sometimes I find myself reading ingredients lists and thinking "I could make this."  And so, I try.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it's always a fun effort.  It's also a great way to get to know your ingredients and figure out what does and doesn't work for you.

Now to pass it on...I tag: Vivi of Eco Beauty Secrets, Ru of Short, Small & Sweet, and Marcella of Naturally Marcy.  I can't wait to read your answers, ladies! :)

The Natural Deodorant Dream Team

Deodorant is unarguably one of the hardest products to switch over when trying to green your personal care routine.  About two years ago, I begrudgingly gave up the search and have been making different variations of my DIY cream deodorant ever since.  While that recipe is the opposite of difficult, there have been many times I've lamented the ease and convenience of store-bought versions.  Not to mention, working in the bodycare department of a health food store as I do means that I'm frequently asked for deodorant recommendations.  Really, it was well past time I found something on store shelves that I like and can feel confident recommending....and I'm happy to say I've found two!

Nourish had their sitewide 50% off sale for Black Friday and I was able to snag their Fig deodorant for a mere $5.  (Regular $9.99, but available for $5.99 on Vitacost.)  Like the rest of Nourish's line, the deodorant holds USDA organic certification and the ingredients are impeccable.  It's made with coconut oil and shea and cocoa butters and feels like you're applying a rich body butter to your pits.  For wetness and odor control it relies on cornstarch and a plant enzyme ferment.  

But, I'm sure what you're really wondering about is how it works.  The fig scent - which you may remember I got a bit sick of in the body wash - is fresh, fruity, and perfect for deodorant.  For the first month and a half, everything was perfect.  But, just as I was getting ready to declare this deodorant a winner, it started struggling a little.  Full disclosure: I don't sweat a lot and I'm not generally a very stinky person, but for whatever reason, the Nourish has stopped holding up quite as well as it did in the beginning.  It's still fine for days when I'm not doing much, but if I'm running around all day or exercising, I've started needing a little something extra.

I certainly could reapply throughout the day, but right around the same time, Weleda's Citrus Deodorant just about fell into my lap and I remembered Mary B (of Makeup by Mary B) writing about layering these two products.  That's what I've been doing ever since and I'm happy to say it's been working amazingly well!  The Weleda is alcohol based - great for killing any odor-causing bacteria - and adding a spritz or two on top of the Nourish works like a dream.  And, by applying Nourish's creamy deodorant first, I feel like I'm creating a protective barrier against any potential dryness from the high alcohol content in the Weleda.  The combination keeps me stink-free all day and the two also blend together into the most delightful fruity scent.  

The Bottom Line
I haven't completely written off making my own deodorant, but I'm thoroughly enjoying having other options.  Natural deodorants are always something of a trial and error situation, but I like both of these and I'd recommend trying them - especially the combination of the two, but even individually.  Both deodorants are also free of mineral salts, which are somewhat questionable, safety-wise, and baking soda, which can cause irritation for a lot of people.

Have you tried either of these?  What's your favorite natural deodorant?

Nourish Ingredients: Organic cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, organic beeswax, organic zea mays (corn) starch, organic theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, organic butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), organic saccharomyces ferment, organic fragrance.

Weleda Ingredients: Alcohol, water, fragrance*, citrus medica limonum peel oil, limonene*, linelool*, geraniol*, citral*, farnesol*
*From essential oils

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Sample Stash #4: Peppy Galore, Green Beaver & More

It's taking some time to work through my somewhat oversized cache of samples, but here's the latest batch.  It's a bit of a mixed bag of body products: Canadian goodies from Green Beaver, Peppy Galore from across the pond, and a couple other randoms thrown in.  Keep reading to see how these fared...

Peppy Galore Nurse Peppy
Nurse Peppy is a multi-purpose healing balm recommended for everything from chapped lips, dry cuticles, rough elbows and cracked heels to frizzy hair.  I used it mainly as a hand balm and it worked very well at healing any damage caused by this year's colder than usual temperatures.  It does tend to sit on top of the skin for a while and can be a little greasy, but it was perfect before bed.  
Buy it? Not sure.  It's not an expensive product, but using it on my hands, I think I'd go through it way too fast to justify the cost.  

Peppy Galore Herbs de Provence Body Mousse
I've seen lots of UK bloggers rave about this product and now that I've tried it, I can see why!  Made of mainly mango butter and avocado oil, Peppy's mousse is pretty dreamy.  It spreads easily and moisturizes incredibly well without feeling heavy or greasy.  I also can't imagine a better texture than the airy whipped consistency of this mousse.
Buy it? Possibly.  I wasn't crazy in love with either this scent or the vanilla, but I may inquire about the possibility of ordering an unscented version.  Alternately, I'm considering trying to DIY my own instead.  

Seaweed Bath Co. Eucalyptus & Peppermint Body Wash
A really nice body wash.  I usually use castile soaps, so in comparison, this seemed to produce a lot of lather.  It was still very gentle and non-stripping and also smelled fantastic - mostly peppermint, with just a hint of earthy eucalyptus peeking through.
Buy it? Maybe.

Aroma Naturals Tea Tree Eucalyptus Castile 4-in-1 Soap
Marketed as a 4-in-1 body wash, shaving cream, shampoo, and hand soap, I think this has a lot of potential.  Used as is, I found it too drying on the skin, but it seemed like a very concentrated formula, so in retrospect, I'm wondering if diluting it, à la Dr. Bronner's, might have helped with that.  
Buy it? Maybe.  Not as a body wash/soap, but I liked the smell and would consider picking it up in place of Dr. Bronner's for brush cleaning and other household uses.  

Green Beaver Cilantro Mint Castile Sunflower Liquid Soap
This and the next are new products to the Green Beaver line.  The liquid soap is supposed to be a Canadian alternative to Dr. Bronner's, and while I love that it's made here from Canadian sunflower oil, it just didn't compare to Dr. B.  The consistency was thinner and the scent wasn't well-dispersed.  The top half of the bottle smelled fresh and lovely, but the bottom just smelled like sunflower oil.  Perhaps a simple shake would have fixed this?  I should also mention that I got this sample at a trade show several months ago, long before the soap actually launched, so it's entirely possible this problem has been remedied in the version that's currently for sale.
Buy it? Probably not.

Green Beaver Lavender Castile Sunflower Bar Soap
Before trying this product, I didn't think I could be so thoroughly wow-ed by a bar soap, but this soap really is that good.  Made from a combination of sunflower, coconut, and castor oils, it manages to be both free of palm oil and the gentlest, most moisturizing bar soap I can remember using to date.  It easily creates a rich lather and is completely non-drying.
Buy it?  Yes, yes, yes!  The zesty orange and cilantro mint are on the top of my shopping list.

Have you used any of these?

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HoneyColony + PurO3 Ozonated Jojoba Oil

I first connected with HoneyColony on Twitter back in December and was immediately curious to learn more.  HoneyColony is a fairly new magazine and marketplace geared towards people interested in adopting healthier lifestyles.  Through an interesting mix of articles and community contribution, HoneyColony offers a wealth of healthy living information as well as a marketplace where you can purchase carefully curated products.  

In their own words -
"HoneyColony is dedicated to cross-pollinating with companies who uphold high-quality standards that value planet, humanity, honesty, and fair-trade practices.  Real people hand-select all the brands and products you see on our site and we refuse to compromise excellence for profit. Empowerment is our bottom line and you are our main concern."
Sounds pretty great, right?  As an added perk, HoneyColony also awards BeeBucks for sharing articles, reviewing products, and referring friends.  Once the BeeBucks add up, you can redeem them for discounts off any product for sale in the shop.  This short video further explains the full HoneyColony concept:

HoneyColony also generously offered to send me a product to review and I chose to try PurO3's Ozonated Organic Jojoba Oil.  

Let's start off with some science.  (Not too much, I promise.)

Ozone contains three oxygen atoms, as opposed to the two in the oxygen we breathe.  The extra oxygen atom becomes a scavenger, destroying pollutants, bacteria, viruses, odors, free radicals and more.  For this reason, ozone has historically been used to disinfect operating rooms, sterilize surgical instruments, purify water, and kill bacteria and viruses.  Today, ozone is also used in a variety of applications in holistic dentistry and alternative medicine.  I was curious to see how this would translate into skincare!

PurO3's oils were a new concept to me, whereby pure ozone is bubbled through and slowly infused into raw oils.  The oil captures and preserves the ozone and takes on a gel or cream consistency that is easily applied to the skin.  The creamy oil is kind of a halfway point between a liquid oil and a cream.  Different oils hold more or less ozone, depending on the oil's percentage of Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.  Oils on the lower end of the spectrum, like coconut and jojoba, typically absorb better, while ozonated hemp oil, which holds the most ozone, absorbs poorly and tends to act as more of a water-resistant salve.  According to PurO3, ozonated oils have been used extensively in Europe for decades and can help the appearance of blemishes, age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and soothe minor skin irritations, dry skin, redness, bug bites and more.  

Since I'm already a huge fan of regular jojoba oil, I expected to love the ozonated version.  I really wanted to love it.  Unfortunately, the smell really does this product in for me.  As HoneyColony writes, "since [the oil] is saturated with oxygen and ozone, when you open the lid, it smells like a lightning bolt just went off nearby."  Now I've never actually smelled a lightning bolt, but reading that description conjured up an idea of a light, clean scent.  Instead, the ozone is, to me anyways, quite heavy and overpowering.  It's also not a smell that dissipates quickly.  

Bearing that in mind, when I use the ozonated oil on my face, the results are glowing, hydrated, plump skin, just as promised.  The oil is a cream consistency in the jar, but it melts into the skin and, much like liquid jojoba, absorbs easily, without any greasy residue.  The problem is, because of the smell, it's a product I really have to force myself to use.  HoneyColony also sells a lavender-scented jojoba oil, but I'm not sure ozone is the kind of scent that can be covered up.  My attempts at layering other scented products (and even straight essential oils) on top of the unscented jojoba did very little to counteract the ozone smell.

The Bottom Line
HoneyColony is a great resource that successfully straddles the line between magazine, social media, and online store.  The site has a lot of quality content and good information to share and I love the emphasis on community engagement! 

I was somewhat less enamored with PurO3's Ozonated Jojoba Oil, though only because of the strong smell.  If you're familiar with how ozone smells and don't think you'd be bothered by it, I do think PurO3's ozonated oils are worth trying.  If you're more sensitive to smells or just not sure, I recommend sniffing the oils in person or trying to track down samples.

Are you familiar with HoneyColony or ozonated oils?  Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: Product provided for review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review in return for free product, nor was I compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.

The End of #NoBuyJanuary + January Favorites

#NoBuyJanuary is officially over and I'd say it went exceptionally well.  I stuck to it and didn't buy anything beauty related for the entire month and the fact that it didn't end up being all that difficult, leaves me feeling pretty good about my spending habits.  I always strive for conscious spending, so I guess not spending anything at all is just an extension of that.  

Along those same lines, I want to talk about a few products that stood out as favorites while "shopping my stash" this past month...

Amala Brightening Toning Essence*
I did a full review of this toner back in November, and even though I liked it, in true beauty blogger fashion, I moved onto other things shortly after that.  So, what's so great about this product?  It completely lives up to its claims and brightens like nothing else I've tried.  However, keep in mind that it isn't something that makes your skin instantly look brighter or more luminous.  Instead, it brightens by improving skin tone and evenness over a period of time.  Since I last pulled it out, I've had a couple blemishes that left behind those charming dark spots and once I reincorporated Amala's toner into my routine, I could see a difference within about a week (of morning and night use.)  They still aren't 100% gone, but I'm confident that the toner is helping them fade. 

Nourish Organic Purely Unscented Body Butter
These body butters are the perfect consistency!  They're solid (though not overly hard) in the pot, but as soon as they touch your skin, they transform into a creamy butter.  I especially love slathering this rich, unscented butter all over my hands and feet.  It's been working wonders at keeping them soft and hydrated through all the cold weather we've been having.

Devita Moisture Tint in Light
I purchased this sample from White Rabbit Beauty and I really like it.  It's a tinted moisturizer with SPF 15 and very minimal, light coverage, but it just about evens out the skin and leaves you looking incredibly glowy and healthy.  My favorite way to wear it has been with a light dusting of Honeybee Gardens' powder on top.  The powder adds a bit more coverage and takes down the dewiness of the moisturizer just slightly, to a point where I'm more comfortable with it.  Together, these make the perfect pair to counteract dull winter skin.  The color I've been using, Light, leans pretty golden/yellow, but the coverage is so sheer that it blends into my skin just fine.  

Homemade Lip Balm
The pink pot in the middle of the photo is a tinted lip balm I made a while back.  I don't remember the exact recipe, but I know I used a base of coconut oil and beeswax and colored it using a mineral blush sample.  It's really soft and lovely on the lips and pulling it out again this month has reminded me that I need to get back into the habit of making my own lip balms.

Vapour Organic Illusionist Concealer in 010*
This is another rediscovered favorite.  010 is a fantastic color match for me and while I've always loved it for under the eyes, I've just recently started using it for more spot concealing.  I apply it straight from the tube and just blend it out with a finger, so application is a breeze, and as long as I set it with some kind of a powder, it lasts all day.  I've also sheered the concealer out and used it as an all over light foundation (à la RMS Un Cover-up) and it works well that way too!

What products did you love in January?

* Denotes press sample.  
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