Mother Earth Living

Real Beauty

Tips and tricks for natural body care

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Nobody looks forward to aging, much less to its visible effects. Unfortunately, our skin is prone to the effects of aging in the form of wrinkles and change in texture due to a number of factors, including sun exposure, pollution and more. The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy youthful skin for a long time. There are many natural solutions, including foods that prevent early signs of aging and some basic skin-care dos and don’ts. But first, let’s understand exactly how the aging process takes place.

Face Mask

What Causes Skin to Sag?

The skin is made up of several layers. The topmost layer, which is just under the layer visible to us, is made of a framework of two proteins,collagen and elastin, that keep the skin supple, smooth and in shape. Over the years, this layer weakens, making the skin lose its elasticity.

Besides this, there are other reasons for skin damage. Skin may naturally thin due to the loss of fat. Gravity can also play a role in causing the skin to sag, as can genetics. Some people inherit firm skin and some don’t. One of the most common reasons for skin damage is too much sun exposure. When the sun’s UV rays enter the skin, it can weaken the protein framework, causing it to sag. It can also cause sun spots and wrinkles.

So, while aging cannot actually be avoided, certain steps can be taken to ensure the skin maintains its shape for as long as possible.

Prevent the Effects of Aging

Here are 10 natural skin-care solutions that will keep your skin looking young:

1. Avoid exposure to the sun. If you have to go out, protect your skin with natural sunscreen. (Don’t forget about protecting your scalp!) Minimize your time in the afternoon sun, as this is when the rays are most destructive on the skin.

2. Stop smoking. Smoking creates wrinkles, in addition to arresting the blood circulation to your face. This results in crow’s feet and drooping skin around the eyes.

3. Cut down on alcohol. Too much alcohol shows on the skin, as well as your overall health. Drinking can also prevent you from making health-conscious eating choices, and the lack of nutritious food can speed up the aging of your skin.

4. Exercise regularly. This keeps up healthy blood circulation, nourishing the skin inside and out, letting it breathe and remain firm.

5. Skip junk food. Include at least five daily helpings of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

6. Get enough sleep. Sleep helps our body rejuvenate and rest itself, keeping us healthy.

7. Maintain good hygiene by keeping your skin clean and free from dirt. If you sweat profusely, make sure to wash your sweat off.

8. Invest in a good moisturizer for your skin to keep it soft and smooth.

9. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.

10. Avoid harsh skin-care products that can rapidly age your skin.

Avocado Oil 

Foods for Healthy Skin

The skin also needs antioxidants and vitamins to stay healthy. Here are 10 foods that can help you keep your skin looking great:

1. Vegetables and fresh fruits must be part of any healthy diet. In particular, focus on tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots, citrus fruits and veggies.

2. Complex carbohydrates such as oats, which have a low glycemic index (GI), help keep your skin healthy. Too much sugar and foods with a higher GI can result in skin problems such as acne and wrinkles. Include whole grains in your diet.

3. Oranges are good for your skin as they keep it moisturized and supply you with the vitamin C you need. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation, which keeps your skin flexible.

4. Avocado, a super-fruit, is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which is the right type of fat to consume. It gives your skin the vitamins it needs. Other sources of good fats include olives and walnuts.

5. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and collard greens are a great source of vitamin A and C and folate. These protect your skin from damage due to sun exposure.

6. Grapes, which are a source of antioxidants, also heal inflammation of the skin.

7. Omega-3 have been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Source this essential fatty acid from flax seeds, walnuts, eggs and milk.

8. Antioxidants repair and guard your skin cells. Some additional sources include berries, pomegranate and cherries.

9. Beans are a great source of flavonoids, a group of healthy compounds that promote anti-aging.

10. Water is perhaps the most important anti-aging food for skin. Make sure you drink at least eight to 10 glasses each day. Replace soda and other caffeine-loving drinks with water, as drinking too much caffeine can result in unhealthy skin.

If you suffer from prematurely aging skin, you can still take action and arrest the aging process with the above natural skin-care tips.

Alana is a passionate blogger and writer. She is obsessed with beauty and fashion and enjoys writing about beauty, makeup and skin-care tips. Find her at Your Beauty Advisor.


Summer has been rough on my feet. Beyond rough—it’s been plain cruel. And even though I would love to wear sandals well into fall, I often don’t want people to see just how bad my heels look. In and around my constant moisturizing regimen with the various lotions I have on hand, I have found a wonderful solution. Derma e’s Cracked Skin Relief Crème is a blend of herbs and vitamins that keeps my heels soft and ready for flip flop season.  

Cracked Skin Relief Creme 

Derma E’s Cracked Skin Relief Crème Ingredients

First let’s take a look at everything that derma e uses in their skin relief cream.

Water (Aqua), Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Laurus Nobilis (Bay Leaf) Oil, Glycerin, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate and Peg-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Allantoin, Panthenol, Dimethicone, Polysorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), *Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (0.1%), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil (0.1%), Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate

The bold ingredients in this list scored between a 3 and 4 on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, sparking low-moderate concern, except for retinyl palmitate. Retinyl palmitate was ranked in the red zone at an 8 concern.

A Word About Retinyl Palmitate

In general, Mother Earth Living advises you to avoid body-care products that use this ingredient. Although retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) is rich in antioxidants and anti-aging properties, it may be more sensitive to sun and is susceptible to risks such as sunburns and skin cancers. Studies show that high doses of retinoids (the class retinol is part of) may be harmful to children in utero and nursing infants, so don’t use if you’re pregnant. With this in mind, I feel comfortable recommending this specific product, even with the use of retinyl palmitate (except to pregnant women and nursing mothers). Beauty experts say you should avoid this ingredient in daytime skin products such as anti-aging moisturizers or sunscreens, as its risks are associated with sun sensitivity. This specific product—which works best when applied at night before going to bed—is a cream for feet, an area of the body that does not enjoy a lot of attention from the sun.

Here’s what derma e had to say about their use of retinyl palmitate:

"Over the course of many years, derma e has in fact reviewed a vast array of scientific research in support of the topical benefits of vitamin A retinyl palmitate balanced with the isolated few emerging tests that raise questions as to this ingredient’s safety."

"The net amount of retinyl palmitate contained in the derma e Cracked Skin Relief Crème is in the low single digits as a percentage of the total formula. And the Cracked Skin Relief Crème does not contain SPF. Hence, the risk of hazard is reduced to virtually zero."

"None of our SPF formulas contain retinyl palmitate. That being stated, we absolutely stand behind the safety and efficacy of our all our skin-care formulas because we have independent clinical tests conducted to verify their non-irritating, non-sensitizing nature."

My Thoughts

Now that I’ve made you cautious, rest assured that I wouldn’t be recommending this product if it didn’t really, really work. I am in love with this cream—the results speak for themselves. My skin underwent noticeable changes, making me feel completely confident to wear my new wedge sandals in public. What’s more, a little goes a long way! I apply the cream to my feet nightly before tucking them into a pair of socks and going to sleep. This non-greasy cream smells heavily of clove essential oil, a natural antiseptic that is commonly used to treat wounds and heal fungal infections. Its formula also includes arnica extract, a homeopathic herb that is used to treat sore muscles. Treat your feet to this cream a couple of times a week to score perfect-looking feet.

For a 2-ounce jar of this cream, find it at a store near you or buy it online for $14. They sell derma e products at my local co-op, and believe me when I say I will be going there to snag a jar when my current one finally runs out.

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.


When I first discovered Garden Apothecary’s Vanilla + Balsam Sugar Scrub I was excited to try it out. The packaging is adorable and the ingredients are all natural. But I never could have imagined the joy that would overtake me as soon as I opened my jar. Upon removing the lid I was hit with the wonderfully delicious scent of vanilla. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but I was immediately transported to my kitchen baking Christmas cookies I couldn’t wait to share with friends and family.

Vanilla Sugar Scrub 

Garden Apothecary’s Vanilla Sugar Scrub Ingredients

If you are not a vanilla fan, then this vanilla sugar scrub, which even contains a whole vanilla bean pod, is not for you. The winter oils comprised in this sugar scrub offer a bevy of benefits. Vanilla oil (Vanilla planifolia) is a natural antioxidant, sedative and aphrodisiac. This scrub also features balsam oil (Myroxylon balsamum), a natural stimulant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Often mistaken for brown sugar, organic turbinado sugar is also used in this scrub to exfoliate skin. Here is a full list of the ingredients:

Organic turbinado sugar, organic almond oil, vitamin e, organic vanilla beans/powder/oils, organic balsam oils

After double checking the safety of these ingredients on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, I confirmed that none of these ingredients show any signs of concern. Use this product to your heart’s desire!

My Thoughts

Not only do I love this sugar scrub, but I love this company. Launched by professional horticulturist Jennifer Lee Segale in 2008, Garden Apothecary offers organic bath and body products made with whole botanicals in Half Moon Bay, California. All Garden Apothecary products are handmade in small batches to ensure quality and freshness, and can last for up to two years.  

I highly recommend this scrub, especially for wintertime use. Its vanilla scent evokes the holiday season and candy cane cocktails. That being said, I would use this scrub any time of the year. Scrubs help rid complexions of dead and flaky skin, and sugar scrubs in particular are great for cleansing and softening dry skin. This one from Garden Apothecary is too abrasive for facial use, but feels great on the rest of the body, especially rough patches such as elbows and heels. Plus, smelling its intoxicating scent generally lifts my spirits. Apply it to damp skin, massaging until the grains dissolve into the skin. You can then further massage the oil left behind into your skin, then rinse. The scrub won’t leave your skin feeling sticky—only well-nourished.

To care for your skin with this vanilla-y treat, buy a 9-ounce jar of this vanilla sugar scrub online for $25

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.


Caring for our hair can become somewhat of an obsession, but using conventional beauty products doesn't always seem like enough. That’s when we start to seek products that will give our tresses that extra-needed boost. Supplement your hair care with these nutrient-rich herbs. Homemade hair rinses and shampoos infused with the following may give you exactly what you’re looking for.

Herbs For Healthy Hair 


Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is rich in falconoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals, and the scalp from bacterial growth. Use this sunny flower to soothe sensitive scalps, as it is also rich in antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. You can even use calendula to brighten blonde hair. To use calendula on your hair, steep 1/4 cup calendula flower petals in 1 cup boiling water overnight; strain, then use directly on your scalp as a final rinse post-shampoo.


Appreciated worldwide for its calming effects, chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is rich in antioxidant, cleansing and moisturizing properties. This daisy-like herb is wonderful for conditioning the hair and soothing an itchy, irritated or sensitive scalp. You can also use chamomile to lighten tresses, which is probably its most popular beauty use. If your hair is already blond, it will brighten your hair; if your hair is brown, it will lighten your hair by a couple of shades. To soothe your scalp or give your hair a golden hue, treat your hair with a chamomile rinse. Simply steep 1/4 cup fresh or dried chamomile flowers in two cups boiling water, then strain. To use, pour the rinse over clean hair as a final rinse; do not rinse.


Another herb rich in antioxidants, as well as astringent and antibacterial qualities, sage (Salvia officinalis) is excellent for soothing dry, itchy scalp. Use it to curb dandruff and eliminate buildup from the hair and scalp. You can also use sage leaves to darken hair and cover gray hairs. To use, combine sage with apple cider vinegar, a great product for hair that has a high natural pH and can help get rid of styling product residue. Mix 4 ounces of apple cider vinegar with 4 ounces cooled sage tea. Pour the mixture on your scalp, wrap your tresses into a towel or plastic cap for 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse and shampoo as usual.


Promote hair growth with hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa). This beautiful, vibrant flower can do a lot for hair. It can treat scalp conditions such as dandruff and hair loss. It can also seal in moisture as well as promote shine, aid with tangles and promote healthy hair growth by feeding the follicles with nutrients. Finally, it can also give red highlights to light or dark hair. To use, steep 1/4 cup fresh or dried hibiscus flowers with 2 cups boiling water; strain. Then pour over clean hair as a final rinse and do not rinse out.


Nourishing and hydrating, horsetail (Equisetum arvense) contains high concentrations of silicic acid. Silica strengthens weak, brittle and damaged hair at its core and may even restore body and luster. Horsetail is also great for treating oily scalps and remedying troubling skin ailments such as dandruff, eczema and psoriasis. Finally, it has been used for centuries to stimulate hair growth. Care for your hair with homemade horsetail shampoo. To make, simply steep 2 to 3 tablespoons dried horsetail in 1/2 cup hot water, add the mixture to your favorite chemical-free baby shampoo, and use to wash hair as usual. Because horsetail has antiseptic properties, excessive use could dry out your hair. You can also take horsetail orally (in capsule or tincture form, found at your local health-food store) to boost your hair health. Horsetail is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.

Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, where she manages the health section of the magazine.


Caring for oneself is important—of course it is! It’s amazing sometimes just how often we need to hear that treating ourselves well should be a priority. Taking time to move our bodies, prepare nutritious meals, exalt in nature: It can feel indulgent, but it’s incredibly important to nurture our minds, bodies and souls. Pamper yourself properly with these natural personal-care products and services.

Relaxing Woman
Photo by Veer

1. Lip Smoother

Eco Lips Lip Balm

Reach for Eco Lips One World Revive hydrating lip balm to chase away a chapped kisser. It has a delightful mint flavor, thanks to the peppermint oil, and chia seed oil is supermoisturizing. The biodegradable, compostable, FSC-certified packaging is just another bonus. $6, Eco Lips

2. Take Your Vitamins

Mad Hippie Serum

For a brighter, smoother complexion, try this vitamin C serum from Mad Hippie. It has the added benefits of clary sage, aloe leaf and chamomile. $34, Mad Hippie

3. The Eyes Have It

Wild Carrot Herbals

Indulge the delicate skin around your eyes with this Luminous Lemon & Lavender Eye Brightening Cream from Wild Carrot Herbals. It also has shea butter, coconut oil and elder flower-infused extravirgin olive oil. $14, Wild Carrot Herbals

4. Wash Up

Herbal Choice Face Wash

On the lookout for an all-natural skin-care option? Herbal Choice Mari’s organic facial wash has you covered. Try this soothing blend of aloe juice, castile soap and jojoba oil, complete with lavender, sweet orange and geranium essential oils. $28, Herbal Choice Mari

5. Tone Time

Everclen Facial Toner

Reach for this gentle Everclen toner, developed to be hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic for sensitive skin. It boasts skin-soothing lavender and green tea extracts, plus aloe leaf juice. $15, Everclen

6. Don’t Dry Out

Facial Oil

Moisturize like you mean it with Aura Cacia’s SoothingTamanu Facial Oil. It only takes a bit of this potent blend of tamanu and jojoba oils with lavender and tea tree essential oils to chase away flakiness. $20, Aura Cacia

7. About Face

Acne Serum

Face acne head-on with this acne serum from Suki. Its blemish-fighting power comes from echinacea, goldenseal and the salicylic acid in white willow. $51, Suki

8. Errand Eraser

ePantry Box

If you are tired of running out for that crucial item—toilet paper, dish soap and the like—or have trouble finding sustainable options for household essentials, take advantage of ePantry. When you sign up for the subscription service, you can schedule delivery of sustainable home basics at a great price—no latenight run to the store required! Prices vary; ePantry


I am constantly struggling with my hair. Whether it’s dealing with the humidity that comes with living in Kansas during the summer or the dried-out effects of winter in general, my long hair can be a pain to deal with. So finding a product that helps tame my tresses is always worth raving about.

John Masters Organic’s Green Tea & Calendula Leave-In Conditioning Mist helps tame frizz without the heavy feeling many antifrizz treatments leave behind. This natural leave-in conditioner is a lightweight mist that uses myriad herbal ingredients to strengthen and revitalize hair. A company that excels in natural hair care, John Masters Organics offers many other tout-worthy hair-care products. But if you’re looking for a finishing product rich with natural ingredients, snag a bottle of their leave-in conditioning mist.

Natural Leave In Conditioner 

John Masters Organics’ Leave-In Conditioning Ingredients

Although finding hair-care products that are free of nasty chemicals can be tough, you can usually count on John Masters Organics to load up on the good stuff. The company promises products made with 70 to 100 percent organic content. Let’s take a look at what it’s packing in this product:

Aqua (water), aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, glycerin, panthenol, hydrolyzed soy protein, polyglyceryl-10 laurate*, **sodium benzoate, **potassium sorbate, guar hydroxypropyl trimonium chloride, cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil, pogostemon cablin (patchouli) oil, citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel oil, juniperus mexicana (cedarwood) oil, chamomilla recutita (chamomile) extract*, calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract*, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract*, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil*, urtica dioica (nettle) root extract*, citrus limon (lemon) peel oil, pelargonium pelatum graveolens (geranium) flower oil, linum usitatissimum (flax) seed oil*, borago officinalis (borage) seed oil*, helianthus anuus (sunflower) seed oil*, broccoli seed oil*
*Certified Organic

Of this herb-rich list, only two products show minimal sign of worry, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: sodium benzoate (ranks 3) and potassium sorbate (ranks 3), two compounds that are typically used as preservatives. Both of these risks are low, so it’s up to you and what you feel comfortable putting on your body.

My Thoughts

Loaded with green tea and calendula—the stars of this hair-care product—as well as chamomile, geranium, ylang ylang, rosemary, nettle and other nutrient-rich botanicals, this leave-in conditioning mist feels great on hair. Anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial calendula helps condition oily hair while giving hair body and luster. This bright flower contains falconoids, antioxidants that protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals. Using green tea for hair is another great natural beauty trick, as it is an antiseptic that can treat irritating skin conditions such as dandruff and psoriasis, and can inhibit the growth of dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that hinders hair growth.

My favorite thing about this product is how well it works—it really tames my frizz! Best of all, it smells amazing, thanks to all the wonderful ingredients. Although you can spray it through your tresses right after getting out of the shower, I like to use it after I finish styling my hair to give it that final touch. Simply spray this mist all over (three to four squirts), paying special attention to the roots for added volume and the ends of your hair for extra shine. Buy this conditioning mist for $24 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.


We’re all trying to be a little more conscious of our carbon footprint, but we tend to overlook the little things. If you’re not ready to commit to a makeupless life or change brands to an environmentally friendly option, you can start with one simple change in your morning beauty routine: Don’t toss those old makeup compacts in the garbage.

Keep your makeup out of a landfill by repurposing those plastic cosmetic containers into something you can use. Maybe you’re thinking this might be a little too crafty for you, but these upcycled makeup compacts are a cinch whatever your skill level.

Cosmetic Container
Photo by Flickr/lilivanili

10 Uses for Old Makeup Containers

1. Store solid perfume. Turn those old makeup compacts into a solid perfume container. It’s as easy as melting some beeswax or coconut oil and adding your favorite essential oil or fragrance. Just make sure you clean out all of the makeup residue and then pour your custom perfume into the old makeup compact where it will solidify as it cools. Now you’ve got yourself an easy-to-carry perfume and you won’t have to worry about spilling it in your purse.

2. Cut the clutter. So you’ve decided to clean out your purse and now you have a pile of tiny odds and ends that you don’t want to sink back into the abyss at the bottom of your bag. Well, repurpose an old makeup compact to store everything from paperclips to earring backs. You could also keep other small items including mints, pills, coins, or an extra set of nails. You could even use them at the office to organize your desk drawers too.

3. Make your own makeup. The best way to save money while being environmentally conscious is to make your own makeup. Use an old makeup compact to carry homemade lip tint or lip balm. Simply melt together some beeswax and coconut oil, adding a natural tint like beet juice if desired, and pour it into the clean compact.

4. Be a smart consumer. Some makeup companies already have a recycling program in place that allows you to send back used compacts and makeup containers for recycling. You might even earn a freebie like with the Back to MAC program. A few companies providing recycling programs include beautyblender, MAC, and Origins. Other makeup companies provide the option for purchasing a refill instead of having to buy another bottle including Chanel and Burberry. If you have a favorite product that does not have a recycling program, let them know. It never hurts to send a letter or email expressing your concerns.

5. Keepsake or keep organized. Upcycle those old makeup compacts into a mini-photo album or notepad. Just place a stack of mini-sticky notes in the clean compact and use them to jot down your to-do list or important numbers in case you loose your cell. You can make a simple accordion type photo album by cutting the pictures to fit in the makeup compact and connecting them with ribbon and glue.

6. Emergency sewing kit. It happens, maybe you loose a button or the hem on your dress comes loose. Why not be prepared? Just glue a small piece of sponge or felt into your old compact to hold needles, throw in some thread and a button or two and you have a ready made sewing kit for quick fixes on the go.

7. Travel paint pallet. Use your old compact to make a mini pallet for painting while you travel. Put a little liquid watercolor, primary colors are best, in the clean compact, let it dry and use an old makeup brush for a paintbrush. You could even cut small pieces of watercolor paper to store in your upcycled compact and with a little water you’ll be painting wherever you are.

8. Stocking stuffer for kids. Turn a used compact into a memory game by using slips of paper with different images or family photos. You could also make a faux makeup kit by filling an empty compact with nail polish or acrylic paint. Cut out small paper dolls and store them in the empty compact, or make a miniature doll and bed inside.

9. Mod podge makeup compact. Decoupage is one craft anyone can do. Find some images you like and decorate an old makeup compact to use as a money clip or glue a magnet to the back and you have a unique work of art for your refrigerator.

10. Upcycled wall art. If nothing less, make wall art from your old makeup compacts. You can separate the mirrors and cluster them on the wall or use them as mini picture frames for favorite family photos.

Whether you decide to recycle or upcycle your old makeup compacts, you should never toss them just because they cracked. There’s an easy fix for broken powder, just mix it with a bit of rubbing alcohol, put it back in the compact and let it dry out again. Good as new without the waste of a new purchase.

Kate Hunter is an upcycling guru and an expert on natural beauty as well as organic gardening and sustainable farming. When she’s not working on the family’s organic farm, Hunter Farm, she makes and sells natural products and upcycled clothing on her Etsy shop Turnip Mims. Kate enjoys whole food cooking and following up on politics and the latest health food news. Kate is a mother of three, speaks sarcasm, some Spanish, but mostly English and spends her time baking, taking pictures, canning, growing and drying herbs, raising heritage breed chickens, reading, writing, and checking food labels, of course.

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