Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Build Your Own Body Scrub

There are few luxurious, indulgent beauty products quite like a good body scrub. Retailers and spas have been cashing in on this fact for years!  Exfoliation is recommended 1-2 times a week to scrub away dead skin cells, encourage cell turnover, and keep your skin looking fresh and youthful. They make great gifts too, and can suit any budget. And that's the secret!  It doesn't have to cost you big bucks. I'm here to set you free! Free to customize and design your very own body scrub for that silky soft skin that has always seemed so expensive to come by.

Making your own body scrub is very simple--taking only 2-3 ingredients you probably already have--not to mention it's economical! 

All you need to make a body scrub is a coarse solid plus a carrier oil, and if desired, essential oils to target skin care, or other embellishment. I have found a good ratio is the following:

1 tablespoon of carrier oil 
1/4 cup of solid base
2-6 drops of Essential Oils

That give you a nice, spreadable texture and enough oil to condition and moisturize your skin, without being so much oil that it seems soupy.

Now, on to customizing!

The first thing you need to choose is which scrubby base you want. Choose one that meets the quality and texture standards you are looking for.

Salt Scrubs:
  • Himalayan pink salt--pretty, course, and filled with minerals that are great for your skin! It is a little more expensive and would make a really lovely gift.
  • Epsom salts--So accessible, aka, affordable! Moderately coarse, made of soothing magnesium
  • Straight up table salt-- cheap, most fine salt texture 

Sugar scrubs:
  • Sugar in the Raw--most coarse sugar, more like salts, but sweet smelling!
  • Cane sugar--More coarse sugar, although finer than -in the Raw and most salts
  • Brown Sugar--sweet smell, rich color, fine texture
  • Powdered texture--Super fine texture, making a very gentle scrub for sensitive skin

Coffee Scrubs:
IMO, coffee is the most luxurious scrub! Remember to pair oils cautiously, since it has such a strong and distinctive scent on its own.
  • Fresh coffee grinds--full of antioxidants; caffeine can (temporarily!) reduce the appearance of puffy eyes and cellulite; you control texture with the grind
  • Used coffee grinds--some of those good qualities get filtered out in to the coffee you drink, but this is a good way to upcycle

Don't forget you can mix and match, ie, coffee + cane sugar or Himalayan salt + brown sugar--get creative!

A carrier oil is a clean, ideally organic and cold-pressed, plant-based oil. This step may take a little trial and error, especially for a facial scrub, to see which one best suits your skin type. All of these oils have some comedogenic risk (aka, they could clog your pores), but the right one for you will work with your skin, not against it! I have combination skin that has been acne-prone for more than 20 years and my sweet spot is grapeseed + coconut oils. Keep in mind that the skin on your body is different and probably much more tolerant than the skin on your face.

Here is a conservative list of some more economical, easy-to-come-by carrier oils, but don't be afraid to branch out from these!

Coconut Oil:
  • Widely available, has its own cleansing properties, but a higher comedogenic rating
  • Can feel heavy, but moisturizing for dry-normal skin
  • Beware for texture! Its melting point is around 75℉, so if it's cold where you are, it may turn solid
  • Fractionated coconut oil is an option, and has been altered to stay liquid at cooler temps. Keep in mine coconut oil has a relatively strong scent, if that factors in to your choice!

Grapeseed Oil:
My personal favorite for my face.
  • Thin and light, ideal for normal-oily skin, with some nice cleansing properties and Vitamin E
  • Sometimes available in grocery stores

Jojoba Oil:
  • A perennial favorite for normal skin
  • Gentle and often preferred for sensitive and/or aging skin 

Olive Oil:
  • Widely available (probably already in your kitchen!)
  • Moisturizing for dry skin

Similar to carrier oils, there is no shortage of choices for essential oils to use in a body scrub. You could simply choose your favorite smell, or explore their therapeutic properties to choose one that meets your needs. Again, here is a very brief list suggestions for essential oils with both a pleasing fragrance and excellent therapeutic value for skin care.

  • Pretty, floral, slightly spicy scent
  • Go-to for all things skin! You really can't go wrong with a good lavender body scrub!

  • Rich and spicy, luxurious and indulgent
  • Excellent for skin care, especially dry or aging skin

  • Bold, floral scent
  • Balancing for all skin types (one of my preferred favorites for my combo skin)

  • Clean, refreshing scent from lemongrass, tea tree, and rosemary oils
  • Cleansing for oily and acne-prone skin

So, what kinds of combinations can you make?
How about Epsom salts with coconut oil and lavender? Maybe sprinkle in a tablespoon of dried rosemary for color, texture, and aroma...
Or maybe mix up organic brown sugar with grapeseed oil and geranium?
I know! Fresh, fine grind coffee with light jojoba oil and frankincense! See, the options really are endless... 

I hope this will spark your creative juices to whip up a body scrub that is just right for you! Go raid the pantry and get to work!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Non-Toxic Oven Cleaner

My family is wrapping up moving. Like big time, across an ocean moving! With moving comes great responsibilities--mostly cleaning, BOO!

Every time we do this--and we do this more than most as a military family--I swear the next time I'm just going to hire someone!  But then, every time, we think about what we need to do and how much time we have to do it and we convince ourselves "It's really not so much," and "We can spread it out," and "We got this." And every time we end up slaving and sweating in to the night, cleaning ceiling fans and base boards for the first time since we moved in, while roasting ourselves out with the oven's self-cleaning cycle stinking up the house burning off 2-3 years worth of stuck on grease!

This time, I'm happy to report, was different!  Well, a little different.  We came close to hiring someone, at least to clean the windows. Mind you, we live in Hawaii and we had 30 sets of jalousie windows. Don't know what those are? Check these babies out (I count that as 2):

Now, we do have a pressure washer, but those little slats just can't quite get a seal, so unless you want water spraying inside with all the gook it's supposed to be washing off, each one is going to need to be wiped down by hand! But, my husband's "let me just see how long 1 takes" turned in to me demonstrating a suggestion to make it go a little faster, magically evolved in to both of us and our 4 year old knocking out 80% before dinner! So, no we didn't hire anyone!  I mostly covered the mom stuff and kept the kids out of the house while the hubs cranked out most of the cleaning, a lot of which he finished while the packers were there and you can't do much else anyway! This was a great opportunity to put my clean cleaning products to the ultimate test and they didn't disappoint!

However, after several days of transition craziness and sleeping in strange beds, while largely on exclusive parent duty, I was begging for my turn in a quiet, empty house, even if it meant until I was scrubbing until I was sore! One of my tasks included the oven... so thanks for sticking around through the epilogue to finally get to the good stuff!

Now, like I mentioned before, we are leaving Hawaii, so even though it is December, it was still 80 degrees outside and our house had no air conditioning. The self-cleaning cycle is, let's just say, less than appealing. Plus, I didn't have the time to wait for it to cook and cool so I could wipe it out. That seriously takes 5-6 hours!  And nasty oven cleaner?  No thank you!  That aerosol can of chemicals won't come near my home again!  I whipped up a magic solution and was done in no time!

1/2-1 cup baking soda (less baking soda for a dirtier oven!)
1 capful Thieves Household Cleaner concentrate
a splash of water, 1 TBSP or so to thin it out and combine

Mix ingredients, scrub on with scouring pad, wipe off with a damp rag. DONE!

*Extra degreasing, deodorizing, stain fighting power of lemon essential oil or Citrus Fresh essential oil blend would be a nice touch here! 8-16 drops should do the trick.  I simply didn't have any on hand this time and it did a very good job!

OMG, this was SO super easy!  Even with the self-cleaning cycle, you still have to wipe it out. This method really required very little elbow grease to just wipe the gunk away.  There were a few spots I had to do twice, but even the tough spots went down! I was so blown away by how easy and how effective this was.  I may or may not have gone on Facebook right in the middle of the job to share how amazing it was! You can catch my video here and watch the magic in action!

The baking soda is an excellent, gentle abrasive and a great little deodorizing scrubber all on its own.  It makes for the perfect base for this product.  The Thieves Household Cleaner concentrate packs an incredibly strong degreasing punch! Not to mention, it's completely plant-and mineral based, non-toxic, and smells great! It is a Young Living exclusive and you can learn how to get it wholesale here. Check out these before-and-after pics. I think they speak loud and clear:

I will admit this is obviously more labor intensive than the self-cleaning cycle, simply due to the effort in covering the surface area. But it was really worth it to me to not have to run that cycle or use a harmful product. The labor involved really wasn't bad. And, in the end, I can confidently say that no brain cells (or any cells, for that matter) were harmed in the fantastic, get-your-security-deposit-back cleaning of my oven! And the rest of the house looked pretty good too ;)