Soothing Keratosis Pilaris Exfoliating Cream (DIY Recipe)

Have you ever noticed unsightly little red bumps on your skin? If so, they may be a condition called keratosis pilaris. Conventional treatments for the issue can be rather harsh on the skin, but there are natural options. This keratosis pilaris exfoliating cream helps moisturize and exfoliate for clearer skin.

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Also nicknamed “chicken skin,” keratosis pilaris is an unsightly skin condition that manifests as red patches and bumps. It resembles goosebumps and appears most often on the back of the arms and thighs. They feel rough like sandpaper and are very small, about the size of a salt grain. Sometimes they occur on the face and can be mistaken for acne. There may also be redness around the bumps that varies from light pink to bright red.

What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?

No one is exactly sure what triggers these little red bumps, but certain groups of people and those with dry skin are more prone to them. Pregnant women, overweight people, and those with eczema or dry skin are more likely to have keratosis pilaris.

Skin naturally contains the protein keratin, and about 50% of us are genetically predisposed to overproducing this protein. When excess keratin becomes trapped inside the hair follicle, it forms a rough, raised plug. These clogged hair follicles then cause inflammation, turning the surrounding skin red.

How to get rid of Chicken Skin

Since the hair follicles are plugged with excessive keratin, gently exfoliating the area will help clear them out. (Don’t use anything too rough however, as that can just further irritate the skin.) It’s also important to moisturize the skin, as the problem is caused by overly dry skin in the first place. Using anti-inflammatory products will soothe the skin and tame the accompanying redness.

Conventional treatments typically involve steroids, but here we’re using the potent anti-inflammatory plant turmeric and lavender essential oil.

Use the Right Ingredients

This recipe for keratosis pilaris cream uses baking soda to exfoliate the skin. It has a finer particle size that’s gentler and very cleansing for dry skin.

Baking soda has a very high pH of 9 though, which makes it very alkalizing. Long-term this can cause a problem, as skin is naturally acidic with a pH that ranges between 4 to 5.5. Citric acid makes the mixture more skin-friendly, with its pH of 2.2 to help balance the recipe out. (Just make sure to look for non-GMO citric acid.)

Some Himalayan sea salt provides extra exfoliating power and nourishes the skin with dozens of minerals. Turmeric powder also provides some exfoliation but primarily decreases inflammation. Lavender essential oil further soothes irritated skin and decreases inflammation.

Unrefined coconut oil rounds out the recipe to hold it all together and get that creamy consistency. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, an intense fatty acid that helps break up excess keratin.

Apply Consistently

It’s important to use this cream consistently to improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris, a few times a week or even daily for those prone to frequent outbreaks. Well exfoliated skin will be less likely to accumulate the dead skin cells and keratin that plug hair follicles.

Keratosis Pilaris Cream Recipe

Ingredients

2 TBSP baking soda
1/8 tsp citric acid (to balance the pH)
1 TBSP Himalayan sea salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 TBSP unrefined coconut oil
1 TBSP sweet almond or other liquid carrier oil of choice
10 drops lavender essential oil
Instructions

In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients and stir thoroughly. As you stir, the coconut oil will become creamier in consistency.
Stir until well combined, then store it in a glass jar.
To use, thoroughly rub the cream over the affected area, then rinse with warm water.
Tips for Using

Coconut oil may be too heavy a moisturizer for some facial skin types. Some people seem to do really well with it, while others get bad breakouts when using it on the face. You can follow the cream up with a gentle soap if you find that it doesn’t agree with you. Alternatively, you can omit the coconut oil entirely and use 2 tablespoons of another oil like olive oil.
Those with very light colored skin may find that the turmeric gives their skin a yellow tinge. If that happens, wash the keratosis pilaris cream off with soap, which should take care of it.
Are you affected by keratosis pilaris? Have you ever found a remedy, and what did you use? I’d love to hear!

Sources:

“Keratosis Pilaris.” (2015.) Medline Plus.
Melissa Foss. “4 effective treatments for keratosis pilaris.” RealSimple.
“What is skin pH.” Health 24.

How to Make Bath Bombs (Simple Recipe)

There is something incredibly relaxing about a warm bath, and these homemade salt bath bombs take the relaxation up a notch!

Bath bombs have skyrocketed in popularity lately with thousands of options available. Kids an adults love them and while they can cost up to $9 each to buy, you can make a whole batch for just a couple of dollars!

Bath Bombs- Natural DIY Version

When I was younger, I loved bath bombs, but avoided them as I’ve gotten older because store bought versions typically contain artificial ingredients such as dyes and fragrances.

These homemade bath fizzies are a great solution! Made from nourishing sea salt or epsom salts, alkalizing baking soda and fizzing citric acid with a nourishing oil and vanilla base.

These can be packaged for a great gift or made countless ways for relaxing baths anytime!

A Great DIY Project for Kids

Some DIY beauty recipes (especially homemade soap) require precise measuring and handling harsh chemicals such as lye, so they aren’t a great to do with children around. These bath bombs are completely opposite and are an amazing project to undertake with kids.

They are simple to make with kid-safe ingredients and are completely versatile. Let the kids think of ways to mix up the scents, colors, and other customizations.

Ingredients You’ll Need…

Bath bombs only take seconds to make, so it is important to have the ingredients on hand and measured before you start. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples in many homes, but make sure you have these on hand:

Baking Soda

The backbone of this recipe is alkalizing baking soda. It is a necessary complement to the acidic citric acid and part of the fizzing reaction. I order food-grade aluminum free baking soda from here.

Citric Acid

The more obscure ingredient in this recipe that a lot of people don’t have on hand is citric acid. It is necessary for the fizzing reaction that makes bath bombs feel like bathing in champagne. I order natural citric acid by the pound from here.

Corn Starch or Arrowroot

Corn starch provides the silky feel that we all love from bath bombs. I usually use organic corn starch powder in this recipe. Arrowroot also works but doesn’t provide quite as silky of a finished product.

Salt, Oil and Liquid

These are all very versatile and you can pick any combination that you have on hand. You’ll need some kind of:

Oil: Pick a simple oil like olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil or get more fancy with sea buckthorn oil, argan oil or apricot oil.
Salt: Stick to basic salt or take it up a notch with epsom salt or another favorite salt option.
Liquid: Basic water works, but I also love using organic witch hazel for some extra skin soothing.
Scents and Colors

This is where the options get endless. Use your favorite essential oils, add dried herbs or make them scent free. You can even add some natural dyes to change the color.

Other Equipment

These are easy to make with measuring cups and your hands, but for a fancier and more uniform product, it helps to also have:

A digital scale to get the proportions exactly right
Molds- For the easiest version, just form these into balls with your hands, but if you are making as gifts or just want fancier shapes, molds are the way to go. I have these metal round moldsand also this variety pack of assorted shapes that the girls love. Cupcake tins also make a pretty good mold.
Bath Bomb Ingredients

8 ounces Baking Soda (about 1 cup)
4 ounces Citric Acid (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Sea Salt or Epsom Salt
4 ounces Cornstarch (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons oil of choice (this is my personal favorite but any liquid oil will work)
2 teaspoons witch hazel (or water) plus a little more if needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or more water)
30-40 drops of Essential oils or powdered dried herbs (ginger is great)
Instructions: How to Make Bath Bombs

Combine dry ingredients (baking soda, salt, citric acid, and cornstarch) in a large bowl and mix well until combined.
In a small bowl, combine the oil, witch hazel and vanilla extract and stir well. Add essential oils if using.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients a few drops at a time. Mix well with hands (wear gloves if you have sensitive skin). Add powdered dried herbs if using.
Mixture should hold together when squeezed without crumbling. You may need to add slightly more witch hazel if it hasn’t achieved this consistency yet. I recommend using a spray bottle with additional liquid to evenly add.
Quickly push mixture into molds, greased muffin tins or any other greased container. Press in firmly and leave at least 24 hours (48 is better) or until hardened. It will expand some and this is normal. You can push it down into the mold several times while it is drying to keep it from expanding to much. Using the metal molds will create a stronger and more effective final bath bomb.
When dry, remove and store in air tight container or bag. Use within 2 weeks.
Bath bombs are a great way to relax in the tub after a long day of dealing with kids, cooking, and all the other activities that motherhood entails. If you’ve never tried them, I highly encourage it, as it’s one of my favorite things to do at the end of the day.

Natural Homemade Sunscreen Recipe

In the book Zero to One, Peter Thiel asks readers to consider what views/truths they believe that very few people agree with them on. For me, one such belief is that most sunscreen is not helpful in avoiding skin cancer and may actually increase the chances of it!

Sound crazy?

It’s definitely not a popular opinion, and I’m certainly not encouraging you to not wear sunscreen or to ignore the advice of your doctor. I am, however, encouraging you to do your own research, look at the actual studies, and use common sense when it comes to sun exposure.

Sunburn is harmful. But sunscreen isn’t the only way to avoid it.

The Problem of Sunscreen

Many sunscreens contain toxic ingredients or endocrine disrupting chemicals that in many cases can actually promote skin cancer growth and free radical production in the body.

In fact, in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen, and a 2007 document from the FDA stated that: “The FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” In fact, many reports show that most sunscreens actually raise skin cancer risk.

Even natural, commercially available sunscreens often have toxic ingredients! Check out your favorite brand here!

Many sunscreens also contain Oxybenzone, a known hormone disruptor that is not recommended for use on children.

Think about this:

Vitamin D= necessary for correct hormone formation. Sunscreen ingredients like Oxybenzone= endocrine disruptors that inhibit correct hormone formation. Starting to see the reason some sunscreens may do more harm than good?

The Environmental Factor

My husband and I are PADI certified SCUBA divers and the dive world is also aware of the problem with most sunscreens for different reasons…

Recent research is showing compounds in many types of sunscreen harm ocean life, especially coral. This is because these compounds may awaken dormant viruses in symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae. These Zooxanthellae algae provide food and color to the coral. Sunscreen chemicals cause the dormant viruses in these Zooxanthellae to replicate until the algae host dies. This, in turn, causes the coral to die.

Researchers estimate that over 5,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off of swimmers each year. This “swimmer pollution” threatens a large part of the coral life in the ocean and indirectly many other ocean species as well.

The Vitamin D Factor

Considering many people these days are actually Vitamin D deficient, I personally consider lack of sun exposure to be a much bigger problem than too much sun exposure.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many types of cancers including the most deadly types of breast cancer. Lack of Vitamin D has also been linked to problems during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature labor, and more.

As a society, we’ve literally cut off our nose to spite our face when it comes to sun exposure. To avoid skin cancer, we’ve shunned the sun and the Vitamin D our bodies produce when exposed to the sun.

On top of that, sun exposure itself is not the only factor linked to skin cancer, and many other factors, such as Omega-6 Vegetable Oil consumption can have a big impact on skin health!

I don’t buy the idea that even moderate sun exposure is harmful when our bodies need Vitamin D and light exposure for so many aspects of health. I personally take Astaxanthin daily to help protect my skin from the inside out (read about why I do this here).

A Common Sense Approach to Sun

In most cases, my approach to sun exposure is to get adequate daily exposure, without getting close to the point of burning. Since most of us don’t work outside these days, it actually takes effort to get daily sun, rather than to avoid it. I certainly don’t slather on the coral-destroying sunscreen in the off chance I might encounter a few stray rays of sunlight, and in fact, I welcome it!

In fact, thanks to 23 and Me, I know that I have mutations that make it very difficult to get enough Vitamin D. This puts me at risk for a lot of serious diseases and taking supplements doesn’t work very well to raise my levels. For this reason, my doctor advised me to get adequate vitamin D… from natural sun exposure.

Of course, there is a limit to how much sun a person needs or should get. When I reach this limit, I:

Use the Shade…

In the event that I’m going to be out in the sun for much longer than my skin is used to, it is often easy enough to just put on a hat or shirt to shield my skin. This is the approach that the Environmental Working Group recommends. It is more effective at stopping excess sun exposure, costs less, and doesn’t harm the ocean. A common sense win:win scenario.

Use Natural Sunscreen

If I’m going to be in intense sun and can’t easily cover up when I’ve gotten enough sun, I will very occasionally use natural sunscreen. I’m yet to use it this year, and hope not to at all, but I wanted to share my recipe (and best picks for pre-made) so that if you are in the sun for extended periods of time this summer, you have a natural option.

This homemade sunscreen would also be a more natural alternative for really young children, those taking medication that increases sun burn risk, or those who burn very easily.

Just to clarify, even though this natural sunscreen smells great and is naturally moisturizing, I don’t recommend using it daily since the Vitamin D you get from the sun will be more beneficial in the long run!

Is Homemade Sunscreen Dangerous?

Several recent articles claim that homemade sunscreens are harmful and that a person should never consider making their own sunscreen. Their reasoning is that you can’t verify the SPF with homemade sunscreens so the chance of burning is higher.

I certainly agree that homemade sunscreens don’t have the lab testing that conventional ones do, but you know what else they don’t have? Endocrine disruptors and coral killing compounds. Also, sunscreen should be a last resort, according to the EWG, and shade and getting out of the sun are better options anyway.

So we shouldn’t use homemade sunscreens in the same way we use conventional. I’d also argue that we shouldn’t use conventional sunscreens in the way we normally do either.

Bottom Line: Use common sense and get safe sun exposure. The amount and safety varies by person and I definitely recommend doing your own research and talking to a knowledgeable naturopath to figure out what works best for you.

Choosing Natural Sunscreen Ingredients

Many of the ingredients in this recipe have a natural SPF (sun protection factor). This is a natural recipe and has not been tested by a regulatory organization for exact SPF. For this reason, I can’t (and don’t) make any claims or even guesses as to the combined SPF.

The individual ingredients are considered low SPF and generally quoted at these levels:

Almond Oil- SPF around 5
Coconut Oil- SPF 4-6
Zinc Oxide SPF 2-20 depending on how much is used
Red Raspberry Seed Oil SPF 25-50
Carrot Seed Oil –  SPF 35-40
Shea Butter – SPF 4-6
The final version will have a varied sun protective ability depending on the amount of each ingredient used. For a simple version, even just coconut oil and shea butter with a little Raspberry Seed and Carrot Seed Oil or some Zinc oxide will work for moderate exposure.

As always check with your doctor or dermatologist before using any new products.

NOTE: This is an improved recipe since many people were having trouble getting the temperatures exactly right to get the lotion to emulsify (as per the comments below). This recipe will not have any of those issues!

Homemade Sunscreen Ingredients

½ cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
¼ cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
¼ cup beeswax
2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder).
Up to 1 teaspoon Red Raspberry Seed Oil– optional
Up to 1 teaspoon Carrot Seed Oil– optional
2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5)- optional
Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference (Do not use citrus essential oils as they increase sun sensitivity)
Homemade Sunscreen Instructions

Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives, or other foods.
Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage.
Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
Store at room temperature
Additional Notes:

This sunscreen is not waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming.
Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide– use a mask if necessary!
Add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen
I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance
Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge
I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like a body butter. It will be thicker, especially if you use coconut oil in the recipe.
Remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe!
An Even Faster Way To Make Sunscreen

Get a bottle of your favorite lotion (that doesn’t contain citrus oils!)
Add a couple Tablespoons of non-nano  Zinc Oxide
Mix well
You can also make Sunscreen Bars by using many of the same ingredients and which are easier to apply!

Pre-Made Natural Sunscreens

I’ve also gotten some questions about pre-made sunscreen options for those who don’t have the time or desire to make a homemade version of their own. The best brand I’ve found is Badger and they have several great organic, non-nano versions:

Sport sunscreen: Badger Organic SPF 35
For Baby: Badger Organic Baby Sunscreen SPF 30
Kids Sunscreen: Badger Organic Kids Sunscreen Tangerine and Vanilla SPF 30
Best smell (in my opinion): Badger Lavender Sunscreen SPF 30

Dry Brushing For Skin: 5 Benefits & How to Do It The Right Way

You probably brush your hair, and your teeth (hopefully with natural toothpaste), but do you brush your skin? And why would you?

Dry Brushing for Skin

This practice has been gaining popularity lately and with good reason. I’ve even noticed “dry brushing” as an offering on the menu at spas in hotels I stayed at recently. Dry Brushing has many potential benefits from smoother skin to helping with lymphatic drainage.

So what is it and why should you consider doing it?

Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like… brushing the skin in a particular pattern with a dry brush, usually before showering.

In dry brushing, the skin is typically brushed toward the heart, starting at the feet and hands and brushing toward the chest.

Benefits of Dry Brushing

I’ve been dry brushing my skin for years, mostly because it feels great and makes my skin softer, but there are other benefits as well:

1. Lymphatic Support:

The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It is made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body. Many of these lymph vessels run just below the skin and proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and help the body detoxify itself naturally.

2. Exfoliation

This benefit is often noticed the first time a person dry brushes. The process of running a firm, natural bristled brush over the skin helps loosen and remove dead skin cells, naturally exfoliating skin. I noticed much softer skin in the first few days and weeks after I started dry brushing and my skin has stayed soft. Dry brushing is one of the simplest and most natural ways to exfoliate skin. I love this benefit of skin brushing and how soft my skin feels when I do this regularly!

3. Clean Pores (& Smaller Pores!)

The added benefit of exfoliating the skin, is clearing oil, dirt and residue from the pores. Using a specialized smaller gentler dry brush for the face, I notice that my face is softer and my pores are much less noticeable.

4. Cellulite Help

Though the evidence is anecdotal, I’ve found many accounts of people who claimed that regular dry brushing greatly helped their cellulite. I talked about this and my other cellulite remedies here. There isn’t much research to back the cellulite claims, but dry brushing feels great and makes skin softer, so there isn’t really any downside to trying it!

5. Natural Energy Boost

I can’t explain why but dry brushing always gives me a natural energy boost. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend dry brushing at night but it is great in the morning. One theory is that because it increases circulation, it also increases energy. Either way, dry brushing is part of my morning routine.

Selecting a Dry Brush

I use a firm, natural bristle brush with a handle, which allows me to reach my entire back and easily brush the bottoms of my feet and the backs of my legs.

This set of brushes is my favorite because it includes a face brush and two body brushes with different firmness. When I started dry brushing, my skin was much more sensitive and I preferred the softer one, and now I much prefer the firmer brush. With the set, I have options.

How to Dry Brush: The Method

Dry brushing can be done daily, preferably in the morning before showering. Start with a gentle brush and soft pressure. Work up to a firmer brush and more firm pressure over time.

Here’s How to Dry Brush the Skin:

Starting at the feet, I brush the bottoms of my feet and up my legs in long, smooth strokes. I typically brush each section of skin 10 times. For lymph flow, I always brush toward the heart/chest area where the lymph system drains. As a good rule of thumb, always brush toward the center of the body.
Repeat the same process with the arms, starting with the palms of the hands and brushing up the arm toward the heart. Again, I brush each section of skin 10 times.
On the stomach and armpits, brush in a circular clockwise motion.
I then repeat the process on my abdomen and back and my face with a more delicate brush.
Note: Don’t brush too hard! A soft and smooth stroke often works best. My skin is slightly pink after brushing, but it should never be red or sting. If it hurts at all, use less pressure!

I brush before showering and use a natural lotion after showering.

Replace the brush every 6-12 months as the bristles will eventually wear out. I also recommend washing the brush every few weeks to remove dead skin cells.

But, Does Dry Brushing Actually Work?

The evidence is divided and several sources point out the obvious fact- there have not been any specific scientific studies about dry brushing. Much of the evidence, especially relating to the cellulite benefit, is anecdotal and much more research would be needed before dermatologists would consider it a legitimate medical treatment.

Here’s the thing:

It isn’t meant to be a medical treatment and shouldn’t be considered one. Dermatologists also claim that cellulite is genetic and that there is no cure, while podcast guest Dr. Cate Shanahan would disagree and points the finger at polyunsaturated Omega-6 fats in our diet.

Supporters of dry brushing claim that it can stimulate the lymph system, help the body rid itself of toxins and increase circulation or energy. Even dermatologists agree that gently brushing the skin does have exfoliating benefits and may stimulate the body in a way similar to massage, which certainly does have well-documented benefits

I’m not completely sold on all of those benefits, but this definitely falls in the “can’t hurt” category. I have personally dry brushed for years and noticed that my skin is softer (and possibly firmer, though this is hard to measure) from dry brushing. Skin brushing is very invigorating, and it can’t hurt, so it has become part of my daily routine.

Especially during pregnancy, I *personally* found that dry brushing seemed to help keep me from getting stretch marks and also seemed to help tighten skin after pregnancy.

Bottom Line: Find What Works for You

At the end of the day, researchers will likely never do studies on dry brushing. There is no incentive to do such a study when a good quality brush set costs around $20 and is available online. At the same time, it is generally agreed that the practice is harmless and at worst ineffective. Like any aspect of health (or life), it is important to do your own research, try things, and gauge the effects for yourself.

I personally like dry brushing for the smoother skin and burst of energy, but give it a try and see what you think.

Soothing Sea Buckthorn Face Cream Recipe (For Oily Skin)

I once had a friend who had to use natural lotion on her entire body every time she showered or else her skin would get so dry it flaked. This was a very foreign concept to me, as I have naturally oily skin and almost never need lotion.

When I was younger, my skin was always oily and acne-prone. It was super great as a high school girl (*sarcasm*). As an adult, it has evened out some but still tends to be on the oily side. But, it also decides sometimes to be dry while still somehow being oily too!

On the one hand, I hope it means I have the same genes as my 85 year old great aunt who never seems to age or get grey hair. On the other hand, I’ve been trying to figure out what on earth to do with dry but oily skin.

I found that taking Omega-3s and getting enough Vitamin D makes a big difference. I also found that my skin now loves a few natural ingredients. Thus, a natural face cream with oily skin and acne-friendly ingredients was born. At least after a few tries.

Why Make a Natural Face Cream?

When you have oily but dry, irritated or sensitive skin, it can be tempting to reach for a chemical concoction to try and alleviate the symptoms. Fortunately there are plenty of natural ingredients that are up for the task. Sea buckthorn oil is the star of this soothing face cream, and it has an impressive array of benefits for aging or irritated skin. Even my oily skin loves this natural oil.

Types of Sea Buckthorn Oil

There are two different types of sea buckthorn oil. One is extracted from the fruit, and one from the seed. They both have similar actions, but very different compositions. Some brands combine both the fruit and seed oil together. Just be sure to check the product information to see what kind of sea buckthorn you’re getting.

Sea Buckthorn Fruit vs Seed Oil

Oil expressed from the fruit is very high in palmitoleic and palmitic acids. Palmitoleic acid is an Omega 7 that’s naturally produced by our oil glands and comprises 20% of our sebum. It’s found in all tissues and helps speed healing and protects against infections. Our production of this necessary omega acid declines as we age, so it’s helpful to supplement our skin with topical applications. Sea buckthorn fruit oil also contains about 30% Palmitic acid. This acid makes up 22% of our sebum and it helps to form a protective barrier on the skin.

Sea buckthorn seed oil is rich in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that plays a crucial role in maintaining the barrier and passage functions of our skin. This allows the nutrients in, while keeping harmful substances out. You’ll also find high amounts of alpha-linoleic acid, which is an omega-3 that converts into the potent anti-inflammatory EPA and DHA.

Benefits of Sea Buckthorn

As a whole, sea buckthorn oil is high in essential fatty acids, phytosterols, antioxidants and trace elements like copper, iron and selenium. It promotes circulation in the skin and reduces inflammation to alleviate the pain of irritated skin. It also aids in skin regeneration, keeps skin supple, and slows down the signs of aging. Sea buckthorn is very high in the antioxidant and skin protector Vitamin E, which is what gives the oil its deep, orange color. It is also the reason that this finished cream looks like it has turmeric in it…

Sea Buckthorn Face Cream Recipe

This recipe uses a base of grapeseed oil since it’s a light oil and helps balance out the heavier feel from the beeswax and sea buckthorn. Kokum butter is a very hard, flaky butter that helps thicken without the waxy feel you get from using too much beeswax. And geranium and lavender essential oils are well known for their soothing and skin regenerating properties. Geranium also slows the signs of aging and helps to prevent and get rid of wrinkles.

Supplies Needed

Heat safe glass bowl
Pot
Metal spoon
Mixer with whisk attachment (optional but recommended)
Sea Buckthorn Face Cream Ingredients

1 teaspoon sea buckthorn oil (This one is sea buckthorn seed oil)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons beeswax pastilles
2 teaspoons kokum butter (you can substitute mango butter or cocoa butter)
16 drops Vitamin E oil
12 drops geranium or lavender essential oil
Sea Buckthorn Face Cream Instructions

In a heat safe glass bowl combine the grapeseed oil, beeswax, and kokum butter. Perch the glass bowl on a pot filled halfway with water and turn the heat to medium high. This creates a makeshift double boiler and prevents the oils from overheating.
Gently stir the mixture with a metal spoon until everything is melted, then very carefully remove the glass bowl from the heat. Stir in the sea buckthorn oil, vitamin E oil and the essential oils.
Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes before transferring to the fridge. If you’re not whipping the face cream, then skip this step and just pour the blend into a glass jar and allow it to cool until firm.
Refrigerate the face cream for 25 minutes, or until it’s no longer warm and has a hard salve consistency. You don’t want it to be rock hard solid though, or it won’t whip very well.
Use your mixer with the whisk attached and whip the face cream until its smooth and looks like lotion. Transfer it to a glass jar and use very sparingly.
Additional Tips

You can use a blend of your preferred skin friendly essential oils. I used 6 drops each of geranium and lavender because I wanted the benefits and scent of both.
Frankincense and rose essential oils are pricier, but are also great options for this recipe. You’re only using a tiny amount, so overall it’s still way cheaper than many conventional options.

Soothing DIY Salve for Cracked Heels

When I married my husband, he had horribly cracked heels. Apparently, he’d had these most of his life, but as we learned more about natural living, I set out to find natural remedies for it. In the summertime especially, when feet are more exposed (hopefully barefoot or in minimalist shoes), cracked heels can be a problem.

Beyond appearance, cracked heels can be really uncomfortable and can mean anything from minor discomfort to pain and bleeding. My husband and I met walking across the country (true story!) and cracked heels (let alone blisters, shin splints, and other ailments) were our constant companions, so we have a little experience with this.

Why Do I Have Cracked Heels?

Cracked heels can be the result of several things:

the way a person walks
poor circulation
a skin problem like eczema or psoriasis
fungal infection
nutritional deficiencies, especially omega-3 or zinc deficiency
Let’s see how to size up the situation.

Cracked Heels: The Cure Fits the Cause

Since cracked heels have a variety of causes, it is important to find the root of the problem.

The condition of skin often reflect internal health (or problems). Deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 can contribute to chronically cracked heels. I’ve seen this condition improve with dietary changes, such as adding fat-soluble vitamins and getting gelatin in the diet.

Personally, we take omega-3 supplements daily and make it a point to consume wild-caught fish to maintain omega-3 levels. Since zinc is important for men’s health, my husband also takes a zinc supplement regularly.

Externally, cracked heel causes can include skin conditions or fungal infections. Often these can be helped with regular detoxifying foot soaks or a concentrated salve.

As a general rule, I suggest trying any remedy for at least a few weeks to see if it is working. For best results, try external and internal approaches at the same time.

Cracked Heel Remedy #1: Diet

Consume enough zinc, magnesium and omega-3s in food or supplement form
Consume gelatin and vitamin C (which increases skin elasticity) to help reduce cracking
Optimize fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin K (found in grass-fed butter or supplements)
Consume foods like bone broth and organ meats
Drink more water and increase intake of trace minerals
Cracked Heel Remedy #2: A Little TLC

Exfoliate with a natural pumice stone or Ped Egg (looks like a cheese grater but it works)
Soak in detoxifying food baths or regular detox baths (here are my three favorite recipes)
Add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to a warm foot soak
Use magnesium oil on the feet before bed
Use a homemade nourishing foot salve (see below) each morning and night
Exfoliate feet in the shower with natural foot scrub like my homemade peppermint magnesium foot scrub
The Recipe: DIY Foot Salve for Cracked Heels

Ingredients:

¼ cup shea butter
¼ cup coconut oil
3 TBSP beeswax
¼ cup magnesium flakes + 2 TBSP boiling water (or ¼ cup of pre-made magnesium oil, though this won’t yield as much magnesium in the final product)
10 drops oregano essential oil (Not for use during pregnancy or on children.)
10 drops peppermint essential oil
Instructions:

Pour 2 tablespoons of boiling water into the magnesium flakes in a small container and stir until dissolved. This will create a thick liquid. Set aside to cool.
Set a quart-size mason jar inside a small pan with 1 inch of water. Add the coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter to the jar. Melt slowly over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
When melted, remove the jar from the pan and let the mixture cool until room temperature and slightly opaque. At this point, put into a medium bowl or into a blender.
If in a bowl, use a hand blender or immersion blender on medium speed and start blending the oil mixture.
Slowly (starting with a drop at a time) add the dissolved magnesium mixture to the oil mixture while continuing to blend. Continue until all of the magnesium mix is added and it is well mixed.
Add the oregano and peppermint essential oils (if using) and whip until combined.
Put in the fridge for 15 minutes and re-blend to get body butter consistency.
Store in fridge for best consistency (and a cooling lotion feel), or at room temperature for up to two months.
To Use:

Apply the salve to cracked heels at night.

For best results, a few steps are needed:

Exfoliate feet while dry, using the pumice or Ped Egg.
Do a detoxifying foot soak. Let skin dry fully.
Apply a thick coat of salve. Wear socks to bed to keep salve where it’s needed (and to keep sheets clean).
Repeat as needed until problem resolves!
Note: Do not use oregano or peppermint essential oils on children or while pregnant. As with any medical condition, check with a doctor if things don’t improve or if you have any specific concerns.

How to Make Sugar Scrub Cubes to Gently Exfoliate Skin

I’ve made my fair share of sugar scrubs before. I love their impressive results when they’re so simple and easy to make! This recipe kicks it up a notch by making single-use sugar scrub cubes that cleanse, exfoliate, and soften skin all in one easy step.

Sugar Scrub Cubes: A Better Way to Use Scrub

These little sugar scrubs in cube form are not only cute but practical, for two reasons:

They are single use to avoid contamination that can occur in regular sugar scrubs.
They contain soap so they won’t create the mess that regular sugar scrubs do.
Sugar Scrub Cubes = No Bacteria

Water used in skincare products makes them much more prone to microbial growth. Not only that, it can be a little frustrating trying to keep water from getting into the container when you’re using it in the shower (especially when dipping wet fingers into the scrub).

By using a sugar scrub cube, only what is needed for one use is brought in the shower, and the rest stay dry and ready for the next use.

Sugar Scrub Cubes = Less Oil Buildup

Unlike most sugar scrubs, these cubes contain soap. This serves a two-fold purpose. It helps avoid oil buildup in the showers and in drainpipes. It also helps avoid buildup on the skin for people who are sensitive to certain oils.

DIY Sugar Scrub, Taken Up a Notch!

Of course sugar scrub cubes work great unscented and without added color, but there are real advantages to adding natural colors and scents. French rose clay and coconut activated charcoal add color for a pretty presentation but also have additional benefits for the skin.

Sugar Scrub Cubes + French Rose Clay

French rose clay is a naturally occurring, mild clay that actually comes from France. Not only is it a beautiful dusty rose color, it helps pull impurities from the skin and acts as a mild exfoliant to rejuvenate skin. It’s frequently used to improve the appearance of skin and improve blood and lymphatic circulation.

This clay contains a variety of minerals for better skin health, including kaolinite, iron, illite, montmorillonite, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

Because it’s less drying than other clays, French rose clay is especially good for dry or sensitive skin.

Sugar Scrub Cubes + Activated Charcoal

I use activated charcoal in my drawing salve and to whiten teeth, but it’s also great for skin. Over the past few years charcoal has become the next trendy thing in skincare, but it was in use long before.

This light black powder pulls impurities from the skin and absorbs excess oil. It’s perfect for acne-prone and oily skin types, but it may be too drying for sensitive or mature skin.

Charcoal is oil soluble, so it combines well with this oil-based recipe. It can be very messy and it will stain clothing and white sinks, so be careful while mixing it in. This sugar scrub cube recipe shouldn’t stain the tub though, as the charcoal is diluted enough to easily rinse off.

The Recipe: Sugar Scrub Cubes

Here’s how to make these simple and adorable exfoliating cubes.

Ingredients:

5.5 ounces melt-and-pour soap, or about 1 cup + 1 TBSP
½ cup + 2 TBSP carrier oil (sweet almond, grapeseed, or coconut will all work)
½ tsp rose clay or activated charcoal powder
1 cup sugar
30 drops grapefruit, sweet orange, or lavender essential oil OR 20 drops peppermint essential oil
Medium-size heat-safe glass bowl
Accurate digital kitchen scale (optional but highly recommended)
Pot
Square mold of choice (I used this silicone ice cube tray)
Instructions:

Cut the melt-and-pour soap into small, even pieces to ensure even melting. If using a scale, place the glass bowl on the scale and hit the tare button. Add chunks of soap until the weight reads 5.5 ounces. Since soap cube size will vary, this recipe works much better if using a scale, as opposed to a measuring cup.
Fill the pot halfway with water and place over medium heat. Perch the glass bowl on top to create a double boiler effect.
Stir the soap occasionally until completely melted. The soap should be smooth and thin.
In the meantime, vigorously whisk the rose clay or charcoal into the carrier oil, if using.
Once the soap is thoroughly melted, whisk in the carrier oil. If the mixture clumps and seizes up, just keep the bowl over the heat until everything melts again.
Stir in the essential oil, then remove the liquid from the heat and set the glass bowl on a tabletop. Stir in the sugar and immediately pour into the mold. The mixture will harden quickly.
Place the mold in the fridge until the mixture is firm, about 1 hour. Pop the sugar scrub cubes out of the mold and store away from light and heat.
How to Use:

To use, simply squish one of the cubes in your hand, rub across the skin to exfoliate, and rinse off when done.

Caution: Since these contain a fair amount of oil, they can make the shower floor slippery!

Everyone appreciates a thoughtful homemade gift! These sugar scrub cubes make great gifts for birthdays and holidays. They can be gifted in a decorative glass jar with a cute personalized tag or label.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes Naturally

My favorite cream blush and many of the items in my natural makeup routine apply best with a brush. Keeping clean makeup brushes is almost as important to me as choosing non-toxic makeup.

Cleaning makeup brushes isn’t usually the first thing on our to-do lists … if it’s ever on there at all. But it’s undeniable that brushes can harbor all types of unsavory bacteria that cause breakouts and other problems.

Thankfully, these natural ways to clean makeup brushes make it simple and easy to get the job done.

Why Clean Makeup Brushes?

With so many other things going on in our lives, it can be easy to forget (or not even think about) cleaning up our makeup tools. However, clean makeup brushes last longer, as the bristles degrade more quickly if they’re not kept clean and maintained. For those who are investing in pricier, high quality brushes, it makes financial sense to keep them for as long as possible. I have an inexpensive set of brushes since I don’t wear much makeup that often, but I still want to keep them in good shape so they’ll last a long time!

Makeup residue builds up in the brushes, decreasing their performance and shortening the life of the brush. It can also prevent them from distributing powders properly. If I’m going to go through the trouble of putting makeup on, I don’t want to do a sub-par job because of a dirty brush.

Protecting the Skin

Research shows that a dirty makeup brush can clog pores and lead to skin irritation. Oil, dirt, and bacteria collect on the bristles over time, which are then brushed on the skin. In extreme cases, people have reported getting staph infections and pinkeye from bacteria on makeup brushes.

From a bacterial perspective using clean makeup brushes may be almost as important as washing your face!

How Often Should Makeup Brushes Be Cleaned?

Who knew there could be so much controversy about something so simple as cleaning makeup brushes!

Some experts recommend washing after every use, while others say it’s ok to slide by on once a month. It really depends on how often makeup is applied, how many products are used, and what the makeup routine is.

I try to clean mine every week or two since I’m the only one who uses them and this seems to work best for me.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

There seem to be two main camps when it comes to cleaning makeup brushes. One uses soap and rinses with water, while the other washes in an alcohol-based solution.

Supposedly the soap and water method can sometimes leave behind a stinky brush if not dried correctly. However, that may also be because synthetic makeup is being used. If you want a super-simple option, I’ve found that unscented baby/mild liquid castile soap works pretty well as long as the brushes dry quickly.

Some alcohol-based cleaners rely on ingredients I don’t feel comfortable using, and I’m not sure how effective they’d be if the toxic components were replaced.

This makeup brush cleaner recipe uses natural castile soap to break up the dirt and grease that accumulates. The alcohol is a natural disinfectant, and it also makes the solution dry faster. I’ve also added oil to the blend to keep bristles soft and conditioned.

Clean + Disinfect

There are two steps to truly getting makeup brushes clean: cleaning off dirt and oil, and disinfecting to remove bacteria. My recipe below is my go-to for accomplishing both of these.

If your brushes are really dirty or haven’t been cleaned in a while I’d suggest an additional first step:

Rub a small amount of warm olive or almond oil into the brush to help dissolve any oil clinging to the bristles. Then, rub a natural soap (like this one) into the bristles to dissolve the oil. This helps deep clean the brush but doesn’t disinfect it, so then I still use the brush cleaner recipe to disinfect.

The Recipe: Natural Makeup Brush Cleaner

Ingredients

1 ½ cup distilled water
2 TBSP vodka or rubbing alcohol
½ tsp sweet almond or olive oil (recommended for real hair brushes)
2 tsp castile soap
20 drops tea tree essential oil
8 oz glass bottle
Pour all of the ingredients, except the water, into the glass bottle. Swirl the mixture to combine everything.
Add the distilled water to the bottle until it’s almost full, leaving about ½ inch of headspace. Shake well to combine.
If you put the mixture in a glass spray bottle (like this one), this mixture can be used to spritz and rinse brushes after each use for an easier clean.
Instructions

Shake the cleaner well, and pour a small amount of it into a small bowl.
Swirl a makeup brush in the mixture, gently pushing it across the bottom to clean. Make sure the water level is below the ferrule (the part of the brush that connects the handle to the bristles). If cleaning multiple brushes, start with the cleanest feeling one first, then work up to the dirtiest. The cleaning solution may need to be changed between brushes.
Rinse the brush under running water, bristles pointing down and keeping water out of the ferrule. Then gently squeeze the bristles to remove the majority of the water.
Lay the brush flat on a clean towel and air dry.
Additional Tips

Don’t prop the brushes up to dry, as the water can drip into the glue on the handle.
The brushes should not be soaked, as this can degrade the glue and loosen the bristles.
Since this brush cleaning solution is mostly water, it won’t have a very long shelf life.
TIP: How to Deep Clean Makeup Brushes

For really greasy brushes, you may need a little bit stronger of a method like this one:

Apply a few drops of natural dish soap (or Sal Suds) to the palm.
Gently rub the brush bristles into the soap and across the palm of the hand.
Put the brush under running water, rubbing gently, and rinse the brush until the water runs clean.
Avoid getting water where the bristles connect to the handle, since this can degrade the glue.
Lay the brush flat on a clean towel to dry.
Hopefully this method will make your makeup brush cleaning routine a little bit easier, and healthier too!

DIY Foaming Face Wash with Hydrosol & Essential Oils

I’m a big fan of the oil cleansing method, and I’ve even been known to rub raw honey on my face. For those who are looking for a more traditional soapy way to cleanse skin, I’ve been experimenting with this foaming face wash recipe. It has a rich lather, and there are options for every skin type.

This recipe is very similar to my foaming hand soap, with a little added boost of skin nourishment. Distilled water can be used as a frugal option, but there are also suggestions for different hydrosols based on skin type. These have a much longer shelf life than water, and they have added skin benefits.

Hydrosols in Foaming Face Wash

Hydrosols are the by-product of essential oil production. While essential oils are highly concentrated, hydrosols are very gentle, but with many of the same properties. One big difference- Hydrosols are water soluble and essential oils are not.

Depending on how they’re made and what preservatives are used, they will typically last 12-18 months. Since homemade skincare products typically don’t contain preservatives, this keeps the homemade face wash from growing something nasty. Hydrosols can also be made at home if desired.

How to Choose a Hydrosol by Skin Type

Witch hazel hydrosol – This is different from the witch hazel found in most stores which contains alcohol. It’s an astringent and cleansing, making it good for oily and acne prone skin.
Rose hydrosol – This hydrosol is soothing and nourishing for all skin types, but it’s especially good for mature skin. Rose is hydrating and a humectant to lock in moisture.
Chamomile hydrosol – Very calming to irritated skin. Chamomile hydrosol improves skin elasticity, is anti-septic and anti-bacterial.
Cucumber hydrosol– This hydrosol is useful for all skin types and is especially cooling and calming for inflamed skin. It’s also very hydrating.
Clary sage hydrosol– This is a more potent smelling hydrosol, but it’s very soothing and calming to the skin. It’s also slightly astringent so it’s perfect for oily skin.
Geranium hydrosol – Geranium hydrosol is good for all skin types, but particularly aging skin. It’s soothing, anti-inflammatory and balancing.
Foaming Face Wash with Essential Oils

Each foaming face wash recipe has recommended essential oils for each skin type. However, these can be swapped out depending on specific skin conditions for a completely customized face wash. The essential oils are diluted to about two percent, and the dilutions should be kept to 1-5% to avoid skin irritation. This should be kept in mind if substitutions are being made.

A note on castile soap… The Dr. Bronners brand of castile soap is very thick, while some other brands are thinner. The amount of hydrosol or distilled water used will need reduced by half if the soap used is on the thin side.

Foaming Face Wash for Oily or Acne Prone Skin

8 ounce foaming dispenser
2/3 cup Castile soap
40 drops Tea tree essential oil
40 drops Lavender essential oil
1/3 cup Witch hazel hydrosol or Clary sage hydrosol OR distilled water
2 tsp Rosehip seed oil
Foaming Face Wash for Aging or Blemished skin

8 ounce foaming dispenser
2/3 cup castile soap
20 drops Frankincense essential oil
40 drops Lavender essential oil
20 drops Lemon essential oil *see safety note at end of article
1/3 cup Rose hydrosol chamomile or carrot seed hydrosol OR distilled water
2 tsp Avocado oil
Foaming Face Wash for Normal Skin

8 ounce foaming soap dispenser
2/3 cup castile soap
20 drops Patchouli essential oil
45 drops Sweet orange essential oil
1/3 cup Cucumber hydrosol or geranium hydrosol OR distilled water
2 tsp Sweet almond oil
In the soap dispenser add the essential oil, castile soap and carrier oil. Swirl the bottle until the ingredients are well combined.
Add the distilled water or the hydrosol, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top for the pump. You may not need a full ¼ cup to fill it. If the castile soap is thin, then reduce the hydrosol or water to 1/4 cup.
Cap the dispenser tightly and gently tip it back and forth to mix everything. Don’t shake it too much though or there will be a bunch of suds!
Safety Note

Lemon essential oil is phototoxic if used above 2% in a leave on product, like a lotion. Since this recipe uses it at only 1% and it’s washed off, it’s considered safe. However, it may not be wise to not go sunbathing or anything similar if lemon is used. The foaming face wash can also be used at night, or at least 12 hours before sun exposure if there’s any concern. Lemon essential oil is cleansing and helps to lighten age spots but can be left out if desired.