Real Beauty
Tips and tricks for natural body care

The Importance of Sun Protection for Healthy Skin

It started out as the tiniest bump on the right side of my nose. A pimple, I thought, which could be easily covered with makeup. I was in my early forties but getting a zit from time to time was not unheard of. One day while looking in the mirror, it dawned on me that this zit had been on my nose for longer than usual. I reasoned that we get blemishes on our skin as we age. Even my primary care physician said it was “probably nothing to worry about.” So, life got busy and I simply put it out of my mind. When blood would appear from time to time, a vague foreboding voice told me it needed a second look. It was my Mom who bluntly told me during a visit that I needed to see a dermatologist—immediately.

sun over field
Photo by John Steward/Unsplash

One biopsy later my Mom’s fears were confirmed. This little bump was skin cancer. Furthermore, I had let this molehill go on for so long that it had turned into a mountain and now needed something called Mohs surgery. I did get a bit of relatively good news that day, too; it was not melanoma, an aggressive and sometimes deadly skin cancer. Instead, I had a less aggressive form called basal cell carcinoma, a form that rarely metastasizes.

The name of the surgery sounded like some kind of medieval torture. In fact, it has become a standard procedure for nonmelanoma cancers. Using a local anesthetic, this specially-trained surgeon scraped a bit of the skin, sent me to the waiting room, and examined the tissue for cancer cells. Then he repeated a second time and a third until the cancer cells were gone. It was like having multiple biopsies in a single morning. Groundhog’s day in the dermatologist’s office.

kayak and setting sun
Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash

That wasn’t the end of it. Because the surgeon had needed to dig somewhat deeply to remove the cancer, I needed one more outpatient surgery. That afternoon a plastic surgeon would remove a small piece of skin from behind my ear and stitch it over the divot on my nose. Following this second surgery, as I was getting dressed in the recovery room, I glanced in the mirror and gasped. A large neon-yellow chunk of gauze was sutured to my nose. Panicking, I ran to find a nurse. “How long will this thing be on my nose?” “Oh, not long,” she replied, “only a week or two.”

Two weeks later, when I finally returned to public, I made a few important changes in my lifestyle.

1. The sun is my friend. But even good friends need boundaries. Each morning regardless of the season, I apply a face lotion with an SPF of at least 15. The drugstore shelf holds many brands; some are heavy or greasy. Neutrogena sells an oil-free SPF 15 lotion that works well for me. It provides protection during those short daily tasks outside like running errands, walking the dog or plucking some vegetables from the garden. During longer periods in the sun, like riding my bike or cross-country skiing, I use heavier armor. Dermatologists recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

2. I bought myself a big floppy hat. The sunscreen provides one line of defense, the hat provides a second. I try to wear it as often as possible when in the direct sun for a period of time such as sitting through my son’s soccer and baseball games or recreating near the water—swimming, canoeing, hanging out at the beach.

woman with big hat in pool
Photo by Anna Demianenko/Unsplash

3. Lips can be damaged from the sun just as skin can. I use a lip balm with an SPF of 30. Anyone who has gone out in the sun with a shiny lip gloss and has ended up with burned or even swollen lips knows just what I mean.

4. I monitor my skin much more closely. Dermatologists warn to watch for new growths or moles that have changed size or shape. Also, anything that bleeds is a red flag. I may be a step or two shy of paranoid, but I do go straight to the dermatologist when I question something new on my skin. (It’s only happened once since the surgery.) Otherwise, I see the dermatologist annually for a checkup.

5. Most importantly, I am making my health a priority. Fortunately, aside from this minor incident, I have been blessed with good health. However, in the future even if one doctor tells me things are fine, but I continue to have doubts, I will take the time to get a second opinion.

One in five people will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime. We can’t reverse those childhood days in the sun without protection, but we can be smart about skin care in the present. We can pass down our wisdom to our children, too.

5 Budget-Friendly Beauty Treatments

Everybody wants to be beautiful and keep this state during the whole life. However, most women consider beauty as a synonym to the word “expensive.” Is this true? Can you maintain your beauty without spending too much money? What’s more, do beauty treatments at an affordable price really work or do they just have a placebo effect? Let us consider a few budget-friendly tips that can help you stay young- and fresh-looking, even on a tight budget.

scrabble tiles spelling 'skin'
Photo via Flickr

Homemade Treatments

Many people are skeptical when talking about homemade skin care, or just don’t want to “cook” a mask, scrub or cream. Though, homemade skin-care products can really help improve the state of your skin. Of course, most of them have a cumulative effect, thus you should use it regularly to see the difference. On the other hand, you are 100% in control of the ingredients used and can add what is necessary for you. For instance, you can create an effective coffee scrub for your body, using the leftovers from your coffee grounds and mixing it with your body shower gel. Or create DIY masks for your face using ingredients you have in the fridge.

Organic Care

More and more people are searching for organic products now, thus prompting the appearance of many brands that are targeted at being natural and cruelty-free. These companies produce beauty products that are GMO-free, without antibiotics, hormones, preservatives, and, often, chemical ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, synthetic oils, and other harmful substances.  Amidst the best natural brands available today are KORA, 100% Pure, Weleda, RMS Beauty, and many others. They offer a wide variety of products, including everything from makeup and different creams to sulfate-free shampoos and shower gels.

Affordable Beauty Brands

Due to the abundance of skin care brands available on the market, many companies choose the affordable price policy to attract more clients. How do they try to lower the price? Some brands avoid using extra components and add only the most effective compounds or reduce funds for advertising and marketing campaigns. For example, the famous DECIEM company has created the subsidiary brand The Ordinary, which has affordable pricing because of no advertising and, what is more, use only ingredients that really work. They are mostly specialized in various serums, so if you wish to try their skin-care regimes, check their website.

lemon and lavender body scrubs
Photo via Flickr

Home Spa Treatments

Home spa treatments can help you to find relaxation after a long day and it is really cheap. You can use sea salt and essential oils together with bath bombs to get a real aromatic pleasure. Frankly, you can create these things yourself with ease having watched a DIY video tutorial and considering your own preferences. Another spa option is using body mud, which is rich in different minerals to clean your skin effectively and get soothing, exfoliating and renewing effects. These are very affordable and effective ways to pamper your skin.

Korean Skin Care

Korean cosmetics have received much hype recently. Having tried some of the Korean brands, I can say for sure that for the cost, they are magical. You should definitely try their peeling gels, AHA serums, famous aloe vera soothing gels, cleansing foams and masks. I could provide you an endless list of Korean must-have products that every woman should have to keep skin fresh and healthy.

If you’re interested in trying any Korean skin-care brands, check out brands like Mizon, CosRX, TONYMOLY, Nature Republic, and The Face Shop to decide what’s right for you. Most of the Korean brands pay careful attention to the packaging of their products, and for many people they look quite childish, but you will be really impressed with what is inside those bright and frilly boxes.

I hope this small list of tricks will come in handy as you change your daily skin routine or add new products to your existing regimen, without costing too much. However, don’t forget that you should always love yourself and stay positive no matter how you look, as beauty comes from the inside.

Nicole Cowart is a prolific freelance writer who has worked for EduBirdie for the last 10 years. She composes excellent papers paying extra attention to each detail to comply with all her clients’ requirements. In her free time, she likes playing sports, playing the guitar, and being in the stream of the last trends in the beauty world. She believes that beauty exists in many forms, but the most powerful and beautiful thing is self-confidence and self-love.

8 Benefits of Cannabis Oil

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve never smoked or have taken illegal drugs. I know several people who do use recreational intoxicants, and have made my distaste for anything related to cannabis well known.

So, it was a huge surprise to my husband when he opened the box of free body oils that Eden’s Garden recently sent me to review and found a bottle of Yuza Cannabis body oil that contains essential oils. Why would someone like me even consider using this oil? Well, the benefits of the oil intrigued me. I linked to several sources below. Because the topic of cannabis-related products is so controversial, it's difficult to find credible sources. Feel free to comment in the box under this post if you have any corrections for me!

Benefits of Cannabis Essential Oil

Can help fade the appearance of scars and shed dead skin
Promotes good sleep
Acts as a pain reliever.
Has antioxidant properties.
May protect the skin against eczema and psoriasis.
Can relieve headaches.
May treat PTSD
The oil is not an intoxicant (and is legal in the U.S.). It does not contain any CBD or THC.


As a common disclaimer for using any herbal remedy, I suggest that you talk to your care provider before using Cannabis oil. I particularly advise that you discuss this oil with a doctor before using on children, or pregnant or nursing women.

Review of Eden’s Garden Yuza Cannabis Oil

I hate the smell of cannabis when I’m around people who smoke it recreationally. However, the oil that I received smelled citrusy (thanks to the yuza) and not how I expected. Honestly, the patchouli-coconut-oil-salve that I use on my pores smells more “hippie-ish” than this body oil. I apply a little to my acne scars, and have seen some fading in those scars. Although I make my own salves with coconut oil and essential oils, I appreciate that I don’t have to mix this oil with a carrier oil for topical use. This means that I can directly apply the oil to my skin without first diluting it. I tend to use this particular body oil on acne scars on my face shortly before going to bed. It’s quick to apply (I use it after applying rose hydrosol to my face as a toner). The only issue that I have with this body oil is that it pours from the bottle too quickly. A little goes a long way, as with most oils. I suggest transferring the oil to another glass bottle or adding a roller ball to the orifice. Currently, this product is only offered from Eden’s Garden in their “Create Your Own” set of body oils. Their four-ounce bottles of body oils come with a little “pump”, so finding a soap or serum pump that fits the bottle may be another way to not waste product.

While I’m not about to change my stance on recreational drug use, I do appreciate other uses for cannabis plants and recognize that there is a difference between intoxicating and non-intoxicating products of the plant.

Marissa Coyle is a mother, blogger, and digital content assistant. You can follow her blog Transitioning to the Good Life, where she chronicles her adventures in learning how to live healthier, cleaner, and happier.

Counterfeit Beauty Products: Protect Yourself from Damage

Makeup has always been a fun hobby and the rise of YouTube's beauty vloggers and Instagram influencers has taken the obsession for the precise application of the perfect product to new heights. Also on board are celebrity makeup lines, from Kylie Jenner Lip Kits to Rihanna's newly launched Fenty Beauty. Makeup obsessed but cash-strapped teens and young adults sometimes turn to street vendors, eBay and other outlets to nab these coveted brands at a lower price. What they don't know is that these products may be counterfeit and could cause major damage, from eye infections to allergic reactions.

“The flood of fake products is a health crisis for consumers and an economic crisis for the beauty industry. Unfortunately, the flood of illegal, counterfeit cosmetics products coming into this country from abroad has escalated, and we need to bring awareness of these health risks involved with the use of counterfeit make-up to the consumers,” says James Ricaurte, founder and President of Allegiance Protection Group in New York City, a leading private investigation and security firm based in New York City. Ricaurte recently appeared on the Dr. Oz show to explain the dangers of counterfeit beauty products to consumers.

makeup application
Photo by Pixabay

Why are Counterfeit Products Bad for Consumers?

A recent Bloomberg investigation showed that counterfeit products are often made in unclean conditions, typically in China. Dirt floors, vats of dye and powders left open and exposed to bacteria, and the materials used even contain carcinogens. FBI investigators have found that toxins are rampant in these products, leading to rashes, burns, allergic reactions and even permanent disfigurement. Another danger is the long-term effects of these products, some of which may include high blood pressure and infertility.

Lead, mercury, arsenic and paint thinner are some of the most common dangers found in counterfeit beauty products. Some were even found to contain waste products from both humans and rats. Needless to say, these are things you don't want to be putting on your body — let alone your face.

Big Money Business

Counterfeiters literally do not care about the safety of the products they sell. Money — and lots of it — is what drives them to create these products. In fact, seizures in 2015 ended up costing the beauty industry about $75 million. Counterfeiters are targeting the YouTube generation, not only the typically expensive brands like La Mer, Chanel and Armani. Instead, they're counterfeiting Tarte, Benefit, Kat Von D and Ben Nye.

Big Brands Protect Their Customers

Clearly, beauty brands seek to protect their bottom lines, which are greatly affected by counterfeit products. But they also care about their customers and do not want their brand name associated with products that they don't manufacture and cause major damage to consumers.

It's becoming more and more difficult to spot fake products. In response, beauty brands are beginning to instill watermarks, holograms and RFID chips to their packaging so that consumers will know when they have an authentic product. They're so concerned that the industry reportedly spent $37 billion on defending brands through the packaging in 2014 alone. In fact, many of the largest brands, like Estee Lauder, employ their own global security divisions to track down counterfeits and help prosecute offenders.

How to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Beauty Products

The best rule of thumb is to only purchase beauty products directly from the manufacturer, or through authorized vendors like Sephora, Ulta or any department store. “Counterfeit products can destroy consumer trust and cause irreparable harm to a brand,” says Sujoy Bhattacharya, Founder and CEO of Falls River Soap Company, a handmade soap company specializing in natural and organic beauty products.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported a 25 percent increase in counterfeit beauty product seizures from 2011 to 2013. These seizures took place in China, Dubai, and coast-to-coast in America. The most terrifying part is that buyers of counterfeit products are often not aware that they're buying a knock-off; they assume that the products are regulated and safe, therefore, don't realize the danger of using them.

M.A.C. makeup, owned by Estee Lauder, is one of the most commonly seized counterfeit products. In 2016, more than 2.8 million counterfeit M.A.C. items were seized by customs agents. Operation Plastic Beauty is one investigation in the U.S. that has seized over $8 million worth of counterfeit cosmetics. Items that slip through customs can be found at flea markets, eBay and other online retailers.

The overall message from the Department of Homeland Security, which is also involved in prosecuting and seizing counterfeit products, is that consumers must be vigilant. If you're buying a Kylie Lip Kit for $3.99 on the street, it's likely not the real deal.

DIY Green Tea Face Toner Recipe

For the past several years, I had been using witch hazel as a toner and loved it! It didn’t over-dry my sensitive skin and seemed to help with breakouts. However, since moving to a dryer climate it wasn’t providing the same results; my skin constantly felt dry and tight no matter the moisturizer I used and breakouts were becoming more frequent. So, I resolved to give something new a try once the bottle was empty.

Rather than spend a pretty penny on a product I could 1) irritate my skin or 2) not work well, I tried my hand at making a homemade facial toner. A few friends had raved about a chamomile toner they’d recently made, but after a bit of research that didn’t seem quite right for my skin. Although my concoction varied slightly, to accommodate skin type and skin-specific issues, I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

skin care ingredients
Photo by Adobe Stock/kerdkanno.

Green Tea Toner Recipe

Makes approx. 2 ounces

• 1/4 cup green tea, cooled
• 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (ACV)
• 1-3 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
• 1-2 drops tea tree essential oil (optional)

1. Boil water for tea.

2. Place 1 tea bag into 1/4 cup of hot water (I recommend a glass measuring cup for easy transfer later). Let steep until cool.

3. Add ACV and essential oils to tea in measuring cup.

4. Pour into cobalt or amber bottle for storage.

To use: Gently mix ingredients by tilting bottle. Apply to cotton ball or round. Then apply to skin moving upward or outward toward the edges of face and down the neck.

The first time I made this, I only included lavender essential oil to help keep blemishes and redness to a minimum (plus, it smells good!). Since adding the tea tree oil, I’ve noticed even fewer breakouts and faster healing times! Although the finished product does have a slight, vinegary scent it dissipates quickly. And if you choose to include essential oils, they help mask that odor. The combination of lavender and tea tree has made any vinegar scent barely noticeable, in my opinion.

As with most forays into natural or DIY beauty, I was skeptical. I tried the original toner for a month—maybe a bit more—and saw quite a bit of improvement. Most notably the pores, particularly, around my nose seemed smaller, which was one of the main problems I had hoped to address, and my skin no longer felt dry, tight or itchy.

Although this recipe only makes a small amount (the only size bottle I had on hand, at the time), the recipe can be adapted so you don’t run out as quickly. Since it is made with green tea, it’s more prone to spoiling than if only made with water. Personally, I don’t mind the little bit of time this takes to make since most of the process is hands-off.

This recipe was adapted from The Nourished Life.

7 Recommended Cleansing Masks

1. Simply Exfoliate


Derma E combines simplicity and effectiveness with its Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask. The deep-detox mask uses activated charcoal to cleanse pores of dirt, oil and environmental toxins. Apricot seed powder exfoliates skin for a smoother, healthier appearance.

To Buy:$19, Derma E

2. High Five


In just five minutes once a week, C&Co. Chamomile & Oats Clay Facial Mask uses its five simple ingredients to promote gentle exfoliation and healthier new skin. Nourishing oatmeal and soothing chamomile balance natural oil production and promote increased circulation.

To Buy:$25, C&Co.

3. Prickly Hydration


If you suffer from dry skin, consider MyChelle Dermaceuticals’ Hydrating Cactus Mask. Blue agave and prickly pear cactus extracts are the surprising stars here, restoring natural hydration and balance, renewing prematurely aging skin and calming irritation.

To Buy: $18, MyChelle

4. Ancient Treatment


Auromère’s Ayurvedic Mud Bath & Mask is based on a recipe that’s been handed down for generations in a single family. Auromère products follow Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient holistic art that uses plants and minerals to promote whole-body health. The powder can also be used as a body wrap or body wash.

To Buy:$36, Auromere

5. Hot Chocolate


Calm Skin Care’s Hot Chocolate Powder Aromatherapy Facial Mask is a sweet-smelling treat that fights blemishes and tightens pores. For maximum effectiveness, warm the mask for 10 to 15seconds before applying.

To Buy:$16, Calm SkinCare

6. Facial on the Go


Try the variety of clay masks available from Bask & Co. with the travel-ready Mini Clay Mask + Facial Blend Kit. The kit’s four blends include powerful natural ingredients such as activated charcoal, rose and matcha, and can be mixed with a number of liquids — water, honey or even plain yogurt — to apply.

To Buy: $39 for a set of four, Bask & Co.

7. By the Sea


The detoxifying Firm + Lift mask from The Seaweed Bath Co. penetrates the skin’s surface layers to restore natural elasticity and firmness, promoting soft, youthful-looking skin, no matter your skin type. Use one single-use mask once or twice per week.

To Buy:$6 each, Seaweed Bath Co.

Spring Beauty Products for 2017

Spring is my favorite season. A Mother’s Day Baby, I was born in May and I adore everything about the season of REBIRTH. Flowers both wild and domestic, after a long season of cold, dark winter, emerge from Mother Earth reaching fresh, precious faces towards father sun and mother moon. And we like the flowers, all shapes, sizes, and colors emerge from the womb of winter as well. So beautiful!

CELLULAR TURNOVER, FRESH NEW SKIN at any age, and SMILE LINES are on my mind and in my heart!  So here are 4 SUSTAINABLE SPRING BEE-AUTY PICKS to help us polish our pretty petals and emerge as glorious as the flowers. All Products and Companies are clean, sustainable and powerfully plant based.

Khus Khus SURYA BODY POLISH with Mimosa, Neroil, Red Mandarin, Benzoin, Argan, Coconut, Babasu oils, & Bolivian Pink Salt stimulates cellular turnover, creating healthy new cells, while smelling like an alluring tropical oasis. It also stimulates lymph to drain, reduce + eliminate toxins, promotes muscle relaxation, balances PH and e-mineralizes the skin.

Kristi Blustein, Ayurvedic Specialist and founder/creator of Khus Khus Modern Herbal Fusion says, “When we think about our skin (issues) we think it's surface related most times, because that is what is reflected outward, but in reality (skin is) a reflection of internal health and balance and in this sense nothing compares to plants when it comes to supporting internal maintenance of the body and mind. They are our support system for true in depth healing.... Health begins with the mind and is then translated within the body and then reflected in the manifestation of skin health. Which is what KHUS+KHUS was created for, the maintenance and balance of deeper skin health”.

Para New York- Jasmine Sandalwood Tonic Mist with Silver Hydrosol and Ylang Ylang has become one of my spring staples. I use it liberally to freshen after workouts and counseling shifts at the teen mom shelter. Featuring Silver Hydrosol's anti-bacterial abilities to keep breakouts at bay and skin soothing Vanilla, Jasmine and Ylang Ylang, superb mood enhancers for when you need a little TLC.  It’s hydrating and calming, anti bacterial and aromatically on point.

Maya Chia HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY Illuminating Face Serum is not like any makeup you’ve ever tried. I never use face makeup because it feels stifling to my skin but this gal is ....different. The plant based highlighter adds a nice soft glow without looking or feeling makeup-y. It's got broccoli and calendula in a nutritious chia seed oil base. Feels nice, not heavy or sticky. It’s moisturizing and blends easily with your favorite face balm or lotion.

Spring Beauty wouldn’t be complete without a lip pick! Jane Iredale Pure Moist Lipsticks add just the right amount of color for those of us who don’t use a ton of makeup and drench lips in moisture so you don’t have to re apply often. Star plant ingredients in this luxurious lipstick include Moringa Butter, Avocado and Sunflower Oils, and Coffee Seed Extract. The Pure Moist Lipstick line also features Vitamin A and C for daily antioxidant protection that really makes a difference with long-term use. Lips feel protected, luxurious, conditioned and quenched.

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!


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