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Tips and tricks for natural body care

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12/30/2013

Looking to splurge on a new organic skin-care system? I recently started using the ORGO 7 Serums by Organic to Green, which is a seven day skin regimen working to maintain a healthy complexion. If you’re a fan of skin serums, you will love this array of organic formulas.

First things first: What is a serum?

A serum is a lightweight, water-based formulation of natural ingredients. Unlike a facial oil, which is a concentration of pure plant oils (whether it be a single plant or a blend), a serum contains extra beneficial ingredients for the skin such as antioxidants, peptides and skin brighteners. More often than not, serums are brimming with anti-aging ingredients. Varying in texture, some serums should first be layered with a facial oil, cream or other moisturizer as serums can leave your skin feeling slightly sticky.

The best part about a high-quality serum is that most of the fluid is eliminated, leaving you with a high concentration of active ingredients. As such, most serums can cost a pretty penny (active ingredients are typically more expensive than thickeners), but when applied properly a small bottle can last for a long time.

ORGO 7 Serums
Photo courtesy ORGO Beauty

ORGO 7 Serums: Ingredients

This set of seven botanical serums from ORGO targets common skin deficiencies. It includes:

Sunday: Super Hyaluronic Hydration Serum
Designed to increase the suppleness and firmness of skin.
Ingredients include purified water, hyaluronic acid high molecular weight, hyaluronic acid low molecular weight, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Monday: Anti-Aging Multi-Peptide Serum
Designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Ingredients include seaweed extract, purified water, hyaluronic acid, acetyl hexapeptide-8, pentapeptide-18, dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate, acetyl glutamyl heptapeptide-1, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Tuesday: Youth Collagen Serum
Designed to boost the quantity and quality of collagen as we age.
Ingredients include chondrus crispus (seaweed) extract, purified water (aqua), hyaluronic acid, pseudoalteromonas ferment extract, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed soy protein, tripeptide-10 citrulline, tripeptide-1, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Wednesday: Botanical Stem Cell Serum
Designed to increase the longevity of skin cells and prevent wrinkles.
Ingredients include chondrus crispus (seaweed) extract, purified water (aqua), hyaluronic acid, malus domestica fruit cell culture, xanthan gum, glycerin, *lecithin, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Thursday: Antioxidant Plus Red Tea Serum
Designed to protect against pollution and environmental damage.
Ingredients include purified water, hyaluronic acid, red tea extract, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Friday: Oxygen Infusion Serum
Designed to help stimulate skin renewal and blood circulation.
Ingredients include purified water, perfluorodecalin, perfluoro poly methyl isopropyl ether, *isoceteth-20, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Saturday: Essential Protection Serum
Designed to protect the skin’s barrier.
Ingredients include cyclomethicone, octyl cocoate, dimethiconol, glycoceramides, ceramides, cholesterol

A few ingredients raise moderate concern (*) according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. These include phenoxyethanol (ranks 4), lecithin (ranks 3-4) and isoceteth-20 (ranks 3).

My Thoughts

I loved the variety of products in this set, my favorite probably being the Antioxidant Plus Red Tea Serum—it smelled divine. I also love that ORGO’s products are packaged in reusable glass. Plus, there are seven bottles of skin-beneficial goodies that can easily last you more than a year.

Although the serums are lightweight, my skin was definitely a little sticky after using each one. You will want to layer them with your favorite moisturizer, as is the case with serums in general. Also, you may only want to splurge for this product if you are worried about aging skin. Otherwise, a high-quality blend of more cost-effective facial oils may be suitable for your skin-care needs. Buy this skin-care set for $350 online.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  



9/11/2013

Green Beauty Event
This year marked the first year of the green products beauty event A Night of Green Beauty.

This past weekend I was able to experience New York Fashion Week in all its girly goodness, as well as the fashion week kick-off natural beauty pop-up event, A Night For Green Beauty. Hosted by La Bella Figura and The Chalkboard Magazine, the green beauty event took place at the James Corbett Studio in the heart of the Flatiron District. It was so wonderful meeting enthusiastic green beauty bloggers and getting acquainted with the many fabulous green beauty brands.

A Night of Green Beauty Products

I’ve gone ahead and compiled just a handful of products that caught my eye at this inaugural event. Here’s hoping it becomes an annual event!

La Bella Figura Skin Aficionado 

La Bella Figura’s Skin Aficionado, $90

This brand new product is a harmonious blend of natural, healing oils, including passionfruit, tea tree and sacha inchi. Rich in plant nutrients and vitamins essential for healthy skin, this beauty product felt light and nourishing on my skin. I would love to incorporate it into my nighttime facial oil ritual.

One Love Organics Chia Whip 

One Love Organics’ Chia Whip, $28

Chia—what a surprising ingredient in a beauty product! This popular superfood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and fiber, and excels at helping ease digestion. And while I was familiar with these healing powers as a superfood, I was curious about how it could be helpful in my arsenal of body-care products. Evidently, researchers have been investigating its skin benefits for awhile now and found that it may hydrate skin and alleviate itchy skin. I can’t wait to try this fragrance-free foaming cleanser.

May Lindstrom The Good Stuff 

May Lindstrom Skin’s radiance oil “The Good Stuff,” $110

I was probably the most enamored with this high-end beauty product, if not for its luscious scent then for the sexy glow it leaves behind on your skin. Infused with cocoa, rose, lavender, ylang ylang and mica—the mineral that gives this oil its glittery shimmer—this product is both illuminating and hydrating. Although it’s very pricey, I would consider adding it to my beauty shelf, using it sparingly for special occasions.

H. Gillerman Clear Mind 

H. Gillerman Organic’s Clear Mind Jaw Clenching Remedy, $48

This aromatherapy product caught my eye for personal reasons: my dentist is constantly telling me I clench my jaw at night. (I’m sorry doc! I’m not responsible for sleepy Gina! She has a sleepy mind of her own!) So I wonder if this essential oil blend would help me ease up on the clenching. Infused with lavender, palmarosa, vetiver, German chamomile and patchouli essential oil, this earthy roll-on EO blend may help relax facial muscles and relieve headaches.

Ilia Multi Stick 

Ilia’s Multi-Stick “I Put A Spell On You,” $34

What impressed me the most about this line of natural makeup is its wide selection of colors. This company makes beautiful lipsticks, lip crayons, lip balms and lip conditioners that all of the beauty bloggers I met rave about. However, I was most fascinated with their multi-purpose multi-sticks. As a pretty pale person, I am constantly looking for ways to illuminate my cheeks without having to soak up harsh UV rays. This tangerine multi-stick looked so great on my skin in the salon; I think it would also make an excellent addition to my makeup bag for the pending fall!

Are you familiar with any of these companies? Would you add any of these products to your beauty bag? Let me know in the comments below!


Gina DeBacker Headshot

Gina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  



8/19/2013

Have you heard of the no-poo movement? It’s definitely not my favorite term, but the philosophy behind it is worth exploring. It refers to the droves of people turning away from expensive commercial shampoo and conditioner. These products often contain harsh synthetic fragrances, sodium laureth sulfate, propylene glycol and other creepy ingredients that come from mystery labs around the world. We trust that these products will make our hair gorgeous and drench ourselves in weird chemicals without knowing how they affect our overall health. Plus, think of the millions of plastic bottles that end up in the recycling bin, or worse, from all of the hair products we use.

But you HAVE to use shampoo, right? Nope! 

We’ve been told to lather, rinse, and repeat for decades now—and with dreams of healthy, shiny, flowy, bouncy perfection, we have complied. But what happens? The first day after a wash, your hair is kinda frizzy and dried out. On the second day it’s looking pretty good. By the third day, it’s a crazy greasy mess again and time to shampoo. This cycle happens as your scalp desperately tries to maintain balance. Most shampoo strips your hair of sebum, the natural oil produced by sebaceous glands to help condition and protect each strand. When it’s completely washed away, your glands sound the alarm bells and produce even more sebum to compensate for the sudden loss of protection. Using gentle cleansers and washing less often allows your body to function the way it was meant to.

Going "no-poo" is a different experience for everyone, depending on your natural hair and scalp condition. I have very fine, curly hair with a normal-to-dry scalp, so the transition was super easy for me. I started using the Chamomile Rose rinse recipe below just once a week. My hair immediately looked so much healthier and had more body and shine. Suddenly, instead of one good hair day a week, my hair was consistently awesome with less frizz and no scalp irritation at all. I know other people with thicker, oilier hair go through a not so fun transitional phase where the sebaceous glands continue to produce more and more sebum in anticipation of that regular shampooing. If you can stick it out, the process will eventually find homeostasis and revert back to a normal sebum production rate. This usually only takes a few weeks and is well worth the wait. Just think of all those neglected hats waiting in your closet!

Shampoo Replacement: Herbal Hair Rinses

Ready to try it out? These herbal hair rinses are amazing. They are so easy to make and will leave your hair feeling soft and your scalp clean and revitalized, but not stripped or dried out. Use once a week to replace your shampoo for good and allow your natural oils to condition each strand from root to tip.

Herbal Hair Rinses

Rose-Chamomile Hair Rinse

• 1 1/2 cups organic chamomile tea, brewed strong
• 1 cup organic rose petal tea, brewed strong
• 1 tablespoon baking soda

The deep golden-yellow produced by the chamomile flowers makes this a wonderful choice for light-colored hair or to enhance natural highlights in darker hair. My hair is dirty blond and I really notice a lightening effect like a sunny glow to my hair when I let it soak in for at least five minutes before rinsing out.

Rose Chamomile

Cacao-Rosemary Hair Rinse

• 1 1/2 cups organic cacao nib tea, brewed strong
• 1 cup organic rosemary leaf tea, brewed strong
• 3 drops organic peppermint essential oil
• 1 tablespoon baking soda

Rosemary is a classic herb for hair health. It brings circulation to the scalp and stimulates the follicles. It is also known to enhance the richness in dark-colored hair. The naturally conditioning cocoa butter fats found in cacao nibs will leave your hair feeling soft, and the chocolate-colored infusion is perfect for all shades of brown hair. Peppermint oil adds an invigoratingly clean scent, and is great for oily or sensitive scalps.

Cacao Rosemary

Nettle-Lavender Hair Rinse

• 2 1/2 cups organic nettle leaf tea, brewed strong
• 5 drops organic lavender essential oil
• 1 tablespoon baking soda

Nettle is a wonderfully strengthening tonic herb for hair. Its high mineral and vitamin content nourishes all hair types. Lavender essential oil is calming and helps normalize both dry and oily scalp conditions, and its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory nature makes it a nice choice for irritated or sensitive scalps, too. This formula is perfect for all hair colors and types.

Nettle Lavender

Hair Rinse Directions

1. Using a covered pot, decoct your herbs for 10 to 15 minutes. I generally use 1/4 cup of herbs per cup of water.

2. Strain out the herbs and combine your herbal infusion, essential oils and baking soda in a glass jar. You want the baking soda to be completely dissolved and well mixed.

3. Allow the infusion to cool to body temperature.

4. Pour over dry hair or soak hair in the mixture for at least five minutes. Massage the scalp gently using a circular motion.

5. Rinse out with clean running water.

6. You can follow the herbal rinse with an apple cider vinegar rinse if you’d like, which is a really popular method, but I usually skip it. Note: Apple cider vinegar balances the alkalinity of baking soda, removes buildup and residue and closes hair cuticles.

Feel free to experiment with other herb and essential oil combinations. For more information and guidance about what herbs are good for hair care, check out Naturally Healthy Hair by Mary Beth Janssen.

Enjoy your natural hair rinses!


Erin McIntoshErin is the Communications Manager at Mountain Rose Herbs and a graduate of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days photographing flowers, creating herbal treats and wildcrafting medicinal plants in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.



7/12/2013

Hello. My name is Gina, I am 27 years old and I still get acne. (Come on. I can’t be the only one, right? Right?)

Whenever a nasty blemish finds its way to my skin I grab my trusted vial of tea tree oil. But sometimes I have somewhere important to be the next day and I need a stronger solution that will make that blemish go away even faster. Enter Santalia’s Intensive Spot Treatment. This beauty product surprisingly uses sandalwood instead of tea tree to calm irritations and combat bacteria, as well as 2 percent salicylic acid.

Santalia What I like about this product is its soothing nature. The go-to ingredient in most store-bought acne treatments—benzoyl peroxide—leaves my skin feeling very dry and flaky. This product does not have that effect, which may have something to do with the remaining ingredients in the Santalia formula: Kakadu plum, a rich source of vitamin C; witch hazel, a natural astringent; and lemon myrtle extract, a popular extract for acne and oily skin. But don’t let its soothing nature fool you into thinking it’s not a strong acne fighter. The Santalia formula effectively reduced the size of my blemishes overnight: salicylic acid decreases inflammation and onion extract (yes, onion extract!) can help combat scarring, according to the website.

Unlike most spot treatments I have tried, this product is a gel, not a cream. Be careful when using this product—the gel comes out of the squeeze bottle very fast and you only need to use a little at a time.

Its use of salicylic acid may be an area of concern for some people, as it scores a 4 on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. In my opinion, salicylic acid is a better choice for acne emergencies than benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in mainstream acne treatment brands such as Proactive and Neutrogena. In low concentrations, salicylic acid is gentler on my skin and it doesn’t have the bleaching effect on clothes like benzoyl peroxide.

Santalia’s use of sandalwood for skin first surprised me, but then I discovered that sandalwood is actually an excellent skin healer, and that the company’s entire line of skin-care products is based on this ancient herb. Recent research shows that sandalwood oil is more effective at controlling bacteria and stopping inflammation than other botanical extracts or essential oils, according to the company’s website. Interesting!

Try this spot treatment for $28; click here to buy it online.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



6/13/2013

If you consider yourself a beauty buff, or even just pay attention to some of the ongoing beauty trends, you’ve no doubt heard of BB cream. It seems that nearly every beauty company is chomping at the bit to get one of these bad boys on the market. But what the heck is a BB cream? What does it do, why should you care, and what should you look for if you decide to buy one?

BB Cream
A good BB cream will even out skin tone without clogging pores or drying out skin, but it shouldn’t completely replace your other beauty products.

What is a BB Cream?

BB cream, or “blemish balm,” has actually been around since the 1960s, but has just now made its way to the U.S. market. This beauty wonder is supposedly a moisturizer, primer, foundation, setting powder and sunscreen all in one bottle. Essentially, a BB cream is simply a tinted moisturizer marketed as a “miracle cream.”

Every BB cream is different—some provide excellent coverage, while others are better suited for their moisturizing or sun-shielding benefits. In my opinion, a good BB cream evens out skin tone and provides full coverage.

If you’re all about low-key beauty, you might want to buy a BB cream for its multitasking personality. While it shouldn’t entirely take the place of your morning application of moisturizer or sunscreen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to occasionally skip these steps in lieu of a multifunctional BB cream.

What should I look for in a BB cream?

This is where things get tricky. Most every BB cream that has recently hit the market claims to be the best, promising an all-in-one product enriched with powerful antioxidants and ingredients from nature. They also claim to combat issues such as acne or aging. Unfortunately, many of the active ingredients that make such claims possible include harsh chemicals such as parabens, a preservative that has been linked to reproductive disorders with moderate to high hazard risk, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Don’t go out and buy a BB cream because it promises to defend against aging or packs the most SPF punch. Instead, shop for a BB cream that provides full coverage for your unique skin tone without harmful parabens. The benefit of a BB cream opposed to a basic foundation is that it will even out skin tone without clogging pores, drying out skin or feeling like your makeup is caked-on. But a BB cream shouldn’t completely replace your other beauty products. You should still apply your moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning, and you may still need to cover up troublesome spots with a thicker concealer.

If you decide to hunt for a BB cream, read the list of ingredients before buying it. Because most of the popular creams are enriched with ingredients that you may not want to put on your face, such as parabens, search for safer options.  

I have only tried a couple BB creams myself, so I will point you to a couple positive online BB cream reviews; these two natural BB cream products are free of parabens and have a low hazard risk in the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, although the Suntegrity product contains dimethicone, a controversial silicone-based polymer with low-moderate hazard risk, according to the EWG.

Suntegrity’s “5 In 1” Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen

Marie Veronique Organics’ Moisturizing Face Screen

To Sum Up

THE PROS: BB creams typically provide better coverage than your basic foundation; they won’t leave your skin feeling dry thanks to their moisturizing qualities; and they will provide some sun coverage (which is better than none!).

THE CONS: While they may provide excellent coverage, they might not be the all-in-one beauty secret you were hoping for (keep using your morning moisturizer and sunscreen for healthy skin); some of the most popular creams contain harmful ingredients like parabens; and most of them are rather expensive.

I hope this helps you understand BB creams a little bit more. Although by the time I’ve published this you’ll have no doubt heard about the next beauty craze: CC creams. (Yes. That’s a thing. I swear I’m not making this up.)

Have you experimented with BB creams? What have you learned? Leave me a comment below!


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



5/22/2013

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial CreamFinding the perfect moisturizer can be tricky for me—I want something that’s not too heavy, but still provides adequate moisture and additional benefits, whether that means built-in sunscreen or damage-preventing antioxidants. With my heavier, winter-appropriate moisturizer running out a few months ago, I began the search for a lighter moisturizer for summer. Luckily my coworker Gina had brought back several samples from Expo West—including this Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial Cream from Sibu Beauty.

Sibu Beauty’s line of skincare products are all made with sea buckthorn berry. Long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, sea buckthorn boasts an array of vitamins, omega fatty acids and antioxidants, and its oil is beneficial for skin, helping to relieve certain conditions and even stimulate wound healing. Sibu Beauty employs fair trade workers in Tibet to sustainably harvest the sea buckthorn berries the company uses. Its products are also vegan and cruelty-free, and all packaging meets FSC standards, meaning conscious consumers can feel good purchasing from Sibu.

On a performance level, Sibu Beauty’s Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial Cream holds up. The formula is lightweight, non-greasy and absorbs quickly into my skin, making it easy to apply right before my makeup. It also has a light-but-pleasant citrus scent that comes from orange and lemon essential oils. No synthetic fragrances here—nor parabens for that matter! And at just $21, Sibu Beauty’s Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial Cream is an affordable choice.

Sibu Beauty products can be found at Whole Food Markets, Akins Natural Food, GNC stores and more.



4/26/2013

Dark under-eye circles plague many of us. While short-term under-eye circles may be caused by lack of sleep, if the problem is consistent for you, it’s probably a cause of one of two things: genetics or allergies. Most under-eye circles are a result of genetically programmed pigmentation. The tissue around our eyes is also delicate, and as we age that skin becomes thinner and the fat from behind our eyes detaches and moves forward, pushing the pigment out. (Fair-skinned people and people with deep-set eyes tend to experience this problem more.) Dark under-eye circles can also be caused by allergies, which can create a congestion of fluid underneath the eyes and may also cause us to rub our eyes, which can worsen the appearance of dark circles. To keep your face looking refreshed, try these home remedies for dark under-eye circles.

Home Remedies for Dark Under-Eye Circles
Photo By Elena Stepanova/Fotolia

Home Remedies for Dark Under-Eye Circles

Treat your allergies. If you suspect that allergies may be worsening your dark under-eye circles, start by treating them. Find gentle treatments for your symptoms by checking out the article "Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies."

Sleep with extra pillows. Gravity causes fluid to collect under your eyes, so changing the position in which you sleep can affect how your eyes look the next day. If you sleep on your back, try adding an extra pillow under your head to encourage fluid away from your eyes.

Wake up tired eyes with caffeine! It works for your mind, so why not your eyes? Dark under-eye circles are hard to treat topically, but a few types of eye creams can help. One option is eye creams containing caffeine, such as this Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream from 100% Pure. Caffeine constricts blood vessels around the eye and reduces water retention, helping to reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles. While not a long-term cure, caffeine-enriched eye creams can remedy dark under-eye circles on a day-to-day basis.

Eye creams made with vitamin A or vitamin C, such as this 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream from NOW Foods, are another good option as they can help firm up the skin around eyes and reduce the thinness that makes dark under-eye circles so prominent.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make skin appear dull and lifeless and can even thin it. Drinking plenty of fluids can contribute to a healthy glow and can help your skin remain elastic.

Use cooled tea bags. If your circles are also combined with puffiness, try placing cooled tea bags over the eyes to reduce swelling.

Have you tried any home remedies for treating dark under-eye circles? What have you found to be effective? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!





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