Posts Tagged ‘all-natural skincare’

Natural Beauty: Winter Routine + Why You Should Stop Eating High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted on December 20th, 2012 by Tonia 6 Comments

I can feel it happening–the itchy, tight feeling my skin gets as we enter winter and the air becomes dry and cold. I believe the not-so-scientific term for it is “winter skin”, and it can actually be painful. You know what I’m talking about–that feeling that you will die if you don’t scratch the itch immediately, only the problem is that everywhere itches!

Thankfully there are a number of ways to combat winter skin and keep yourself feeling and looking your best. Here is my recipe for success/winter beauty routine:


Olive Oil and Sugar Scrub: Follow the link and whip up a jar of this glorious scrub. Use it in the shower after your usual soap. It exfoliates dead skin and leaves you moisturized and protected. Hot water is very drying…But I love a good hot shower. The olive oil in the scrub will help keep the water from drying you out, and contains fatty acids that are great for your skin {You can also use it to make homemade hair conditioner!}

I also like this recipe. It’s more time consuming to make, but the ginger and coconut together smells amazing. I add a little bit of orange essential oil as well, which makes it smell like sherbet!

Coconut Oil: This oil improves skin firmness and elasticity, and conveniently hardens into a solid at any temp below 75 degrees. I keep it in the bathroom vanity and slather it on all over my body after showers. It’s very light and absorbs quickly. I even use it on my face and it does not make me break out, even though I have sensitive skin. I buy a tub of it {the organic kind} at the health food store, and it’s very economical.


Argan Oil: Rich in Vit. E and fatty acids, this oil gives your face a beautiful glow and smooth texture without sitting heavily on the skin. It’s perhaps a little too much for the summertime {unless you have dry skin}, but it’s perfect as a daily moisturizer in the winter. It’s pricey, so I use it only on my face.

I wear less make-up in the winter because it tends to dry my skin out {I use this in the summer. LOVE it.}. My daily winter make-up routine consists of a little eye-brow filler and some cheek color. Pretty easy!

I love the Argon Color Stick by Josie Maran because it is moisturizing, but recently I came across this blog post, showing how to make cheek stain from beet juice. I tried it, and I LOVE it! It works great and the color is really natural and pretty–like you just walked in from the cold. It also lasted all day without needing to be re-applied.

The only trick is to not cook the beets too long. The juice turns brown instead of staying that pretty purple-pink color if you do. I tried to make this cheek stain in large batches so I could give it to friends as a gift, and found that it was better done in small one-off batches. You don’t get much juice out of a couple beets, but since a tiny bit of it is enough to color your whole cheek, a little goes a long way.

Since I wear less makeup in the winter, I don’t feel the need to I wash my face every day. Sometimes I splash it with water in the morning to get the sleep out of my eyes, but I don’t wash my face with soap more than once every few days. Soap dries out my skin and the hot water expands my pores–two undesirable things. When I do wash it, I use a face soap with exfoliates in it to slough away dead skin. If I can feel a break-out coming on, I use a homemade mask like this one to draw out the impurities in my skin.

I used to have problem skin–zit break-outs happening on a regular basis with very little “clear” time in between–but I have seen a dramatic change in the past year and I believe it’s due to two things: Not washing my face more than a couple times a week, and avoiding high-fructose corn syrup like the plague. I discovered both by accident.

Mike and I went camping last fall with a couple friends, and I did not wash my face for a week. When we left home I had zits in the usual places: my chin and forehead. When we emerged from the woods, my face was dirty from hiking and camping but perfectly clear of acne! I decided to wash my face as infrequently as possible after that, leaving my skin alone to do its thing. It is, afterall, an organ. My skin is now capable of achieving a natural balance of oil because I’m no longer stripping it of its natural oil and then replacing it with different oil (from a moisturizer) all the time.

These days, when I get a zit here and there I know it’s because of keeping a poor diet that week (like around the holidays when I eat too many sweets). I’m especially sensitive to high-fructose corn syrup. Last summer Mike announced that he had read somewhere about how high-fructose corn syrup causes inflammation in the body and that we should purge our home of anything that contains it.

Into the trash went the katsup, the salad dressing, the crackers, the cookies, and more. I was shocked at how many things had it in it, especially because we try our best to keep whole, unprocessed, organic foods in the house. But it’s a sneaky ingredient and it really is in almost everything that comes in a package. Tossing out all that food was a great wake-up call.

Since then we haven’t eaten the stuff unless it’s completely unavoidable, like when you’re stuck on a plane and you’re super hungry and they bring you a packet of those little gingerbread cookies and so you eat them. Desperate moments of weakness aside, my skin thanks me for abstaining from high-fructose corn syrup. I’m sure there are many other health reasons you should not eat high-fructose corn syrup as well, but for me having clear skin for the first time since I was 13 is reason enough. I am so, so, so happy to have left the problem-skin era of my life behind me!

Homemade Holiday Gifts: Sugar Scrub

Posted on November 18th, 2011 by Tonia 5 Comments

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about what we’re going to give our loved ones for Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. Mike and I love to give and receive handmade gifts because the thought and time put into them make them so meaningful, they’re always one-of-a-kind, and usually it’s more economical than going to the store and buying something.

I’d love to hear what some of you are working on, and I’ll be sharing my gift ideas as well occasionally between now and Christmas.

First up, Jess asked me to share a recipe for homemade sugar scrub- a perfect gift for anyone! It’s all-natural, luxurious, and makes your body silky smooth by exfoliating and moisturizing.

It’s pretty inexpensive to make, but I would recommend splurging a little on a high-quality olive oil so you get the benefit of the most antioxidants possible. Cheap olive oil is more likely to be rancid, expired, or over-processed. I used Lucero Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They’re family-owned and operated and take the art of making olive oil very seriously.

Use equal parts brown sugar and white sugar {about 1/4 cup each for a 6 oz. jar} Fill to the top with olive oil, covering the sugars by an extra 1/2 inch.

Optional: Add 1-2 Tbs of vanilla extract for flavor, a couple drops of your favorite essential oil {something that you know your recipient is not allergic or sensitive to}, or 2-4 Tbs lemon juice for a scrub that lightens dark/age spots on skin.

Wrap it up pretty with a piece of scrap fabric and a ribbon. Done! Easiest gift ever! Thanks for the idea, Jess!

Winter Skin Therapy

Posted on March 11th, 2011 by Tonia No Comments

It’s March, which means my skin hasn’t seen the sun for about four months…and you can tell. Winter is really rough on our skin- especially a winter full of hockey games {the chin-strap on my hockey helmet is no doubt a happy haven for bacteria which causes pimples…}, followed by really hot showers {very, very relaxing but very, very drying for my skin.} It’s really no surprise that my face has been acting up with a combination of dry skin and pimples.

This is the most difficult combo to deal with because what treats the dry skin usually aggravates the pimples, and what dries out the pimples dries out the rest of my face even more! Needles to say, I am ready for summer, for sunshine, and for my skin to get back to normal!

But here we are in March, and we’re a few months away from summer still. So, I turn to yogurt and honey. Two delicious things to eat, and two wonderful things to put on your face! The yogurt balances your skin, calms and reduces redness, and makes your skin soft. The honey moisturizes.

A big key here is to use quality, organic yogurt and honey. The stuff with added sugar and preservatives should be avoided. I buy the most natural kind of yogurt I can find. Some people make their own yogurt, which I plan on doing sometime soon as well.

This honey was made by a close family friend who raises bees. We usually enjoy it on toast and in tea, but it works great for this purpose too.

It only takes a small amount of both ingredients to make enough for a couple people to enjoy this facial mask. You can store the mixture in the refrigerator for a few days if you cover it with something.

Keep mixing until the honey is incorporated into the yogurt. If your honey came right out of the refigerator, this step could take several minutes.

It can be slightly drippy, so do this over your sink. Just keep applying it until there is a good coating all over your face. It feels so cool and soothing on your skin. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes or so, and then splash it off with cool or warm water.

You might not even need a moisturizer afterward, but in my case I did apply a light lotion to lock in the moisture from the honey. If you have oilier skin, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice into the mask mixture. Lemon juice lightens dark spots and absorbs oil. I dab it directly on dark spots left by old pimples, and it works really well to fade them.

So easy!! And you will see and feel the difference immediately after washing the mask off. Tighter, smoother, calmer, happier skin. I hope this little pick-me-up facial helps get you through until summer!

Product Review: Wen Shampoo & Conditioner

Posted on November 10th, 2010 by Tonia 7 Comments

Remember when I complained about biodegradable hair products?  All the brands I have tried so far have left my hair feeling sticky and coarse.  I may be a rural-farm-dweller now.  I may chop firewood and chase mice with brooms…but why shouldn’t I still be able to have smooth and silky hair??  Ugh.  Luckily, my aunt Barbara, who is a vegan and a big inspiration to me, swooped to my rescue by sending me a sampling of her favorite all-natural hair products. 

The brand is called Wen, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I liked their “cleansing conditioner”.  They call it that because it is moisturizing for your hair like conditioner, yet still cleans it like shampoo.  I decided to do an official product review, since {hopefully} there are a lot of you out there who want to switch to environmentally-safe hygiene products.  Say goodbye to sulfates, people!


Wen’s Cleansing Conditioner & Re Moist Treatment:


 -Gives hair a light, natural and delicious smell

-Smooths layers and split ends

-Tames fly-aways and frizz

-Leaves hair shiny and silky….YAY!

-Sulfate free and vegan

-Protects color-treated hair and is gentle enough to use every day


-No suds.  It feels like conditioner, even though it’s technically a shampoo, and even after vigorously massaging it into my hair, it doesn’t suds up.  That’s a little strange, but I’ll get used to it.

-You need to use like 20+ pumps of it to cover your whole head/hair {according to the package directions, and if you have long hair like me}, so a bottle of this stuff will not last very long.

-No “squeaky clean” feeling.  If you like to have that “tight” clean feeling after a shower, this product may not be for you.  It doesn’t really cut through oil very well- which is actually one of the good things about it {it doesn’t strip your hair of its natural/healthy oils}.  I will probably use the Wen product most days, and then throw in a “purifying” shampoo once a week to rid my scalp of any build-up that the Wen is not able to remove.

-Need to wash hair every day.  My hair feels dirty again about 24 hours after washing with Wen.  Other shampoos make my hair feel clean/un-greasy for at least 48 hours {unless I go running or do something to work up a sweat, obvs.}


Thanks again, Aunt Barbara!  Back-story, this particular aunt has always been my go-to beauty consultant.  I learned how to wear makeup and style my hair from her when I was in junior high.  More recently, she has taught me how to make the most delicious green-smoothies to help keep my skin healthy.  

Aunt B has managed to make the move to veganism in her adult life without sacrificing things like beauty regimen and fashion…two things near and dear to my girly heart.  She keeps promising she’s going to write a post for me about being a vegan, so most likely this won’t be the last time Aunt B graces the blog with her presence.  :)