Saturday, February 7, 2015

Natural Product Review- Tea Tree Oil

Next on my list of items to replace was my acne cream.

Although I've never had awful acne, I do suffer from occasional breakouts, usually associated with PMS.

Because of the frequent breakouts, I used to keep acne cream on hand.

After reading up on natural remedies, I noticed tea tree oil kept coming up in magazines and books as a very effective treatment for acne.  So I decided to give it a try.

So far, I've been impressed.  You can use the essential oil straight up, or combine it with other things to make it a bit less powerful.  I use it straight up.  I put it on a cotton ball and apply it wherever I need it.  Actually, I've begun using it once a day in the spots I know I have trouble, to see if I can ward off breakouts before they happen.  I'll let you know if it works.

I will say that this stuff is fairly odiferous.  I don't mind the smell- it's sort of piney.  But some folks might not like it.

Natural Product Review- Jane Iredale Dream Tint Moisturizer

This was one of the first natural products I invested in when I decided to eliminate chemicals from my daily routine.

This was pricey.  I mean, like it hurt to place the order.  I paid $39.00 for this stuff.  I think I sat and stared at the screen for about 5 minutes before I mustered up the courage to hit the "confirm order" button.  But I'm so glad I did!

I read about this company in the book No More Dirty Looks.  I highly recommend this book for people who want to learn about the dangers of chemicals in personal care products.  Dream Tint was a product they recommended by name.  After looking at the whole line of Jane Iredale products, I'm pretty sure this won't be my only purchase from them.

I adore this stuff.  Firstly, I don't use very much, so this tube could last at least 6 months.  The coverage is light.  It makes my skin feel so soft, and the tint is very subtle.  It almost has a matte effect.  And I love the fact that it has safe SPF built in!  I have used other BB creams in the past.  My biggest gripe about most of them was that they looked cakey on my skin.  I'm 46, and I am developing lines and wrinkles around my mouth and eyes.  Normally, tinted moisturizers and liquid foundations find those lines and wrinkles and pile in.  I look worse with those products on, than I do when I go without makeup at all!  This is very different.

I know it's hard to commit to eliminating chemicals when the natural products come with a price tag like this.  But I guess the reason I finally did it was the thought that treating all the conditions that could present themselves because of exposing myself to chemicals would be more expensive than investing in safe products and paying more for them now.  Not to mention, I don't hesitate on splurging in other areas of my life that aren't nearly this important for my overall health.

My next purchase from these folks will be their mineral make up loose powder.  Sometimes I feel like I need a bit more coverage in the winter.  I'm going to order the powder as soon as we get paid this month.  I'll be sure to post about it after I've tried it out.

Going Green

I have been struggling with making a decision for a long time now.  For the last few years I've been making great strides in eliminating processed foods from my diet, and switching over to mostly organic foods.  I understand the need to be careful about what goes into my body.  But there was one area I seemed blissfully ignorant about- my personal care products.  I'm not sure why I never thought about the zillions of chemicals that get absorbed through my skin.

So I started educating myself about it.  And what I learned scared me to death.  I started with the book No More Dirty Looks.  After I finished that, I read The Green Beauty Guide.  Then I checked out the Environmental Working Group website.  I use their cosmetic ingredient database, as well as their new FoodScores app, which identifies safe, organic food options.

Now I'm slowly but surely replacing my chemically dirty personal care products with clean, natural options.  I am finding that this is a daunting, sometimes expensive process.  And it is a trial and error journey.

Because I have committed to making almost everything we eat from scratch, I really don't have time to concoct all my beauty products as well.  So I also made the financial commitment to buy the things I don't have time to make.  So just know- if you have the time, this doesn't have to be hugely expensive.  Most of the products you buy, can be made much more cheaply, and safely, at home.  I just don't have that kinda time.  But there are a few things I make myself.

The simplest of those things is face wash.  I simply take a handful of oatmeal and run it through my small coffee bean grinder.  I have one I use only for grinding spices.  I cleaned it out with some white rice, then blitzed the oatmeal in it.  I grind it to a fine powder.  Most nights I just put about a tablespoon of it in the palm of my hand, then add a few drops of warm water to make a paste.  I smear the paste all over my face, let it set a minute, then wash it off with warm water.  Once a week I treat my skin to the deluxe treatment.  For this, I use the tablespoon of ground oatmeal, add a little greek yogurt, and a little warm water.  I use it the same way I do the plain oatmeal.  I let it sit on my face a little longer- maybe 5 minutes- then I rinse it off.

So don't automatically assume you have to buy a ton of stuff.  As a matter of fact, I've learned to use one product for several different applications.

I use coconut oil for tons of things.  I cook with it.  I use it as a night time facial moisturizer.  I also use it to condition my hair.  I also use it speed up the healing of small cuts and bruises.  The best thing about this is that it's relatively cheap, compared to buying a separate cooking oil, moisturizer and deep hair conditioner.

You owe it to yourself to do a little homework.  Educate yourself about what you're putting in your body.  The government is not looking out for you on this.  There is little, if any, real regulation of the cosmetic industry.  Companies are out to make money- not look after your health.

My Favorite BBQ Sauce Recipe

These are the raw ingredients for my favorite bbq sauce.  I have tried quite a few different recipes, but none of them grab me the way this one does.  I think it's because of the molasses and chipotle.

I found this recipe on the Foodnetwork.com site years ago-way before I ever started blogging.  As a matter of fact, I think it was the first from-scratch condiment I ever attempted.  Now I regularly make bbq sauce, ketchup and mustard.

This is a Bobby Flay recipe.  It went with a burger recipe, but that part of it was lost years ago.  It looks like there are 3,000 ingredients, but honestly, I have every single one of them in my pantry at any given time, so it really isn't hard.  Oh- and I ALWAYS double it.  I give a few small jars away, then find excuses to slather the rest on anything I can find! :)

Here's the rundown:

Bobby's BBQ Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup ketchup (I use my own homemade, but if you don't make your own, splurge on organic)
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder (you could sub regular store-bought chile powder)
1 tablespoon paprika (I use smoked paprika)
1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (I always sub apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon molasses
salt and pepper to taste

Heat canola oil over medium heat and add onion.  Let it sauté around for about 4 or 5 minutes, until it gets soft.  You don't need to put any color on it.  Then add the garlic, and let it cook for about a minute, stirring constantly.  Then dump everything else in (except the salt and pepper) and let it come to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

If you want smoother sauce, use an immersion blender, or blend it in very small amounts in a regular blender (be careful blending hot sauces- it can splatter out and burn you).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  The recipe makes 1 cup.

I have never tried to water bath can this stuff.  Honestly, it doesn't last long enough.  So, put it in a mason jar, label it (and date it) and put it in the ice box.  Mine has lasted as much as a month without growing any visible ickies.  But like I said, it rarely lasts a month.
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