Archive for Natural Beauty

How to Make Your Own Natural, Non Toxic Shampoos

Although most people are happy with the huge array of choices we have in our department stores and find that most commercial products work well for them, there are many of us who find hair care challenging and difficult. For me, it’s an allergy to fragrances and a sensitivity to chemical additives. If I use the wrong shampoo, my head itches, flakes, gets a rash and sometimes burns for long periods of time, even as long it might take me to wash the residue out with another shampoo. So my search for shampoo has become a real challenge. I just can’t use whatever my sister leaves in the shower. Mine has to be fragrance free, without dyes or chemicals and usually has to have organic ingredients. Same for my hair color. I have found a few products that work for both purposes, dyeing and washing, but they are expensive and I have to order them online. In the meantime, I have come up with a lot of homemade alternatives and most of them are really good.

In my next post, I will give recipes for making homemade rinses and conditioners. I am also working on an ebook about homemade hair dyes and the methods for using them. Here, in this post, I want to share some of my recipes for homemade shampoos. These are safe, non toxic, hypoallergenic, easy to make and to make adjustments to. You will see when you get started on the recipes and after you use this stuff, you may be inclined to give up the commercial chemical based products you’ve been using most of your life.

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Flowers as Gifts: Going Beyond the Bouquet

Just about everybody loves flowers. Flowers are a beautiful gift from nature that smell great, look great and have come to represent love to most of us. They are the most popular gift in the world, given for the many events in our lives, from Mothers Day to birthdays to weddings and even at our funerals. They seem to be everywhere, popping out of the foilage around us, brightening the world whereever they are. We love to give a bit of that beauty to our loved ones when we can. But did you know that flowers are useful in gifts other than bouquets? That you don’t have to put them in vases to give them and there are a lot of ways you can give flowers as inexpensive gifts, even at Christmas. You don’t even have to know anything about flowers to take advantage.

As fall peeks around the corner, we start to see the summer blooms fading and falling in our yards. The grass is littered with slowly wilting bright colors and the last scent of the blooms lingers in the air. Why not capture this now and make gifts you can give later? Homemade food gifts like pickled flowers, flower honey or flower jellies and jams. Homemade beauty gifts like floral perfumes, toners or cleansing creams. Homemade floral soaps, potpourri or candles. Cards and stationary made with pressed flowers. All personalized and special, made by you. And you don’t have to be some creative genius to do these things because I have the recipes, the plans, the step by step instructions. All you need is to round up the dieing blooms you find in your yard and beyond. So get the basket and go picking!

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The Magic of Mullein

From soothing your cough to flavoring your liqueurs, Mullein has a lot of uses, some of them you’ve never heard of. The seeds are cheap and they are easy to grow; simply put in a pot full of soil and water. And if you don’t want to grow Mullein, there are many sources for it online, most of them inexpensive. There are about 250 genuses of Mullein, which is a member of the Figwort family. Mullein is also called by about 30 common names including Velvet Dock, Candlewick Plant, Cow Lungwort, Hags Taper and Aaron’s Rod. These cultivars grow all over Europe, Asia and the Meditteranean. They are also widely cultivated in North America and can sometimes be found growing wild. Very common varieties include Moth Mullein, Dark Mullein, Wooly Mullein and Common Mullein. The cultivar I have used the most and whole heartedly recommend is Verbascum Thapsus or Common Mullein. This particular cultivar has been naturalized all over the US, mostly in Hawaii and also in Australia. So it can be grown almost anywhere. I highly recommend planting Mullein in your garden and using it year round. I have recipes and guidelines for you to use when making use of the plant so bookmark this page for after your plants are growing and blooming. You can use Mullein for many things during every stage of it’s growth so it is well worth the few cents it costs to buy a packet of seeds.

Mullien was considered a magical herb in antiquity and it was given to Ulysses to protect him from the magic of Circe, who had changed his crew into pigs. The soft fine hairs on the leaves and stems of this plant makes a superb tinder and it was used this way throughout history. Hence, the popular name, Velvet Plant. These same soft hairs protect the herb from moisture loss, creeping insects and grazing animals because the down irritates mucus membranes. So this plant has few enemies in the garden, making it even easier to grow. So here are my hints on how to cultivate Mullein and how to use every part of the plant in every stage of it’s growth.

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Natural Homemade Summer Skin Care

Not too long ago I wrote a post on sunscreens. I investigated their ingredients, the effectiveness of those ingredients and any known hazards presented by their use. You can read that post HERE . And, from that, you can decide whether sunscreens are for you and whether the benefits outweigh the risks in your situation. But there is a wide range of needs in the area of sun care for your skin, from the professional tanner who spends endless hours in the sun to the weekend tourist who is exposing tender white skin for the first time. I have been on both ends of this spectrum, living in Florida and growing up in the 1960s when every girl on TV was blond and tan. Even the English ladies had tans! So I wanted to be dark, blond and thin, of course.

Young girls have every reason to want a tan. It is considered a form of beauty in white culture and girls who are “too white” are laughed at. And although suntanning can be dangerous to the skin, especially if you have a history of cancer or a family history of skin cancer, most people do it anyways. So I want to offer some projects to make your own homemade skin products for suntanning that will be natural, sustainable, safe, non toxic and good for your skin. If you read my post on sunscreens, you will realize that most sun products are made of chemicals. Why expose yourself to that, as well as whatever danger and / or damage the sun might do to your skin. Here are my recipes:

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Fall Projects for Roses

You have been enjoying the Rose Garden all summer, watching the lovely flowers bloom and smelling their luscious fragrance. Now you are left with the coming of fall and the bloom is off the Rose. You have a house full of fallen petals from those lovely stalks you had in vases. You have a garden covered in pretty red, pink and yellow petals as your plants thin down, preparing for the colder, darker days ahead. You are thinking about raking them up but maybe just let them scatter. DON’T! Get busy and gather them all up. Don’t throw them out and let them fly off in a gust. There are many wonderful things you can make using these Rose petals, leaves and stems! They will make fodder for fascinating fall projects during the boring, indoor days you must now face. The beach and the sun may be fading, but the flowers are about to take over your life.

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Are Sunscreens Effective or Dangerous?

Sunscreens have a history of being greatly desired, on the one hand, and generally feared, on the other. This is because everyone has become convinced that sun exposure causes skin cancer and sunscreens are the only remedy for this while, at the same time, coming to the realization that sunscreens are made up of unnatural chemicals and additives that are suspected of toxicity. Very few of us remember this, but the very first sunscreen made for public use was made up of red vetinary petrolatum (yes, I said vetinary) and it was just a horrible, sticky goop that wasn’t proven to do much of anything. And, yet, it was the only product offered at the time. In contrast, today we have more than 500 choices for sunscreen, mostly because people have become terrified of sun exposure and this has carved out a an enormous wallet in the market.

But regardless of the fact that we have come to believe that sun exposure causes skin cancer and sun screens are somehow a miraculous barrier to that exposure, and thereby desired and, in some cases necessary, tools in the summer safety kit, the only thing that sunscreens are truly proven to do is prevent sunburn. In fact, according to the FDA’s 2007 draft sunscreen safety regulations, the “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) agrees with this and, in fact, they recommend clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation. Their materials also say that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun. In other words, there is NO PROOF that sunscreen prevents skin cancer.

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Natural Teeth Whitening Experiment Update

I wrote an article here awhile ago about natural methods of whitening teeth. I do believe that natural methods are far more desirable than chemical commercial products that are known to be toxic and are even banned in other countries. In many of these countries, they have government funded health care and they do not want to pay for all the teeth at break, crack or shatter after the enamel has been stripped by these commercial “whiteners”. But beside this fact and whether or not you base judgements on the actions of other countries or whether or not you approve of government funded health care, the down skinny is that these products don’t work. I have friends that have used just about every one of them, from the high dollar bleaches to the Wal-Mart brand whitening toothpastes. And everyone is saying that none of them work and the results are even more disappointing if you drink tea, red wine, coffee, chew tobacco or smoke cigarettes or cigars. I, myself, have tried a few of these in passing over time but was always hesitant because I am one of those who cares about toxins and when my Dentist told me, himself, that these products were toxic I feel the choice was the right one.

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