Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


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My bkr

A few weeks ago, I entered a giveaway contest by Eco Diva Beauty.  (If you haven’t heard of them, PLEASE click on the link and check out their site.  They’ve got all kinds of great skin products)

The giveaway was for a 1 Liter size bkr water bottle.

I hadn’t heard of bkr before, but I loved the look of the bottles right away.  More importantly, I loved that it was a glass bottle, free of any unnecessary chemicals that we sometimes find in plastic water bottles.

So, I entered the context and lo and behold, I won!!  Yahoo! THANK YOU Eco Diva Beauty!

My black bkr

My black bkr

I’ve been using this as my main water bottle at work for the past two weeks.  I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about carrying a 1L bottle around with me.  To my surprise, it hasn’t even been an issue.  Here’s what I love:

  • The bkr is made of glass.  No need to get a paraben-free one…they are all paraben free!
  • The silicone sleeve is so easy to slip on and off for cleaning.
  • The silicone sleeve dresses up the bottle, makes it easy to grip, and protects it from breaking.
  • The cap/handle — it’s genius!  The cap is a simple screw top that makes a great seal.  The handle is perfect for carrying a full bottle around by a few fingers. I love it.
bkr

My bkr – This is the funky cap/handle that functions perfectly

There’s just one more thing that I love about this water bottle.  It holds a full liter of water and I have found myself drinking way more water than before.  Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is the best thing you can do for your skin!

Here’s one last shot of my beautiful bkr.  (And yes, that’s my son in the background!)

My 1L bkr

My 1L bkr

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Annmarie Gianni Skin Care – A Product Review

During the month of February, I tried out another set of skin care products.

This set was given to me as a gift to enjoy and not necessarily for a review.  Overall, I’ve enjoyed the products, so I thought I’d put together a review for you.

The brand is Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.  Her tag line is organic, natural, and wild-crafted.  Seriously, how could you resist a tag line that has the words “wild-crafted” in it?

I had three products to try out.  The first was the Aloe-herb Facial Cleanser.  The second was a Neroli Toning Mist and third, the Herbal Facial Oil.  I used the cleanser and the oil every morning and every night.  I used the toner less often, probably once every couple of days.

Annmarie Gianni - Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer

Annmarie Gianni – Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer

Scent

Each of these products has a fairly strong scent.  I was not surprised, given the “wild-crafted” theme.  The scents are herbal and last for a few minutes.  However, even with the strong scents, I didn’t notice them for long.  For the record, they aren’t unpleasant.

Aloe-herb Facial Cleanser

This cleanser has the consistency of a thin lotion.  I experimented with different amounts and eventually settled on using two pumps each time I washed my face.  As you can see from the photo, two pumps from the bottle is not too much in my hand.  The cleanser does not foam up at all.  Rather, it coated my skin with a thin film until I washed it off.  I always find non-foaming cleanser and soaps to be a little deceiving.  I was brought up thinking that foam and suds were signs of effectiveness.  The cleanser washes off very easily, leaving skin clean, despite the lack of suds.

Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser

Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser

Neroli Toning Mist

This toner has a citrus scent, which I love.  I ended using a couple of sprays each time and I found that it was enough to cover my skin well.  It’s light and refreshing.  It also never caused my skin to break out!

Herbal Facial Oil

I’ve used many face oils in the past couple of years.  I went so far as to start making my own, which I have come to love.  This oil worked fairly well for me.  I found it to be a little on the thick side, so I used a scant single pump each time.  I found that any more than that was too much for my skin and I would end up feeling like I had greasy skin. Again, the scent is on the strong side, but pleasant.

Herbal Facial Oil

Herbal Facial Oil

Effectiveness

Like I said earlier, I like the set overall.  My preference would be to have a slightly thicker cleanser and a slightly thinner oil.  I think that would work a bit better for my skin.  Having said that, I had clean and moist skin all month while I was trying this out.  Perhaps it’s time for me to break out of my norms and get used to something new!

Packaging

The cleanser and the facial oil are both housed in dark glass bottles with pumps.  The dark glass (Miron Violet Glass) helps to protect the oils.  When I originally opened up the gift bag, I noticed that there was a little mesh bag of fresh lavender included.  It’s a lovely touch to the presentation of the products.

Ingredients

The entire Annmarie Gianni Skin Care line is made with natural, organic and wild crafted ingredients.  The ingredient list for the cleanser was included right on the bottle.  Here’s the list:

Love, aloe vera juice infused with (Lavender flowers, calendula flower, life everlasting flowers, hyssop, lemon balm, neem leaf, olive leaf, plantago leaf), coconut oil, cocoglucoside (coconut oil & glycerin), vegetable glycerin; aspen bark extract; ruby grapefruit oil, lemon oil, green mandarin oil, xanthan gym, rosemary oleoresin

I love that the first ingredient is Love!  I also love that the she explains right on the bottle what things like cocoglucoside are.  I always take a lot of comfort in knowing what I’m putting on my skin and this list of ingredients helps with that.

Aloe-herb facial Cleanser Ingredient List

Aloe-herb facial Cleanser Ingredient List

The sample of the toning mist was simple too small for an ingredient list.  A quick look at the website told me everything I needed to know about the toner.  It has a total of two ingredients, Love and pure organic neroli distillate.  That’s my kind of ingredient list!

The facial oil didn’t have an ingredient list on the bottle, which I found disappointing.  However, I suspect it’s an issue of space on the label.  I found the full ingredient list on the website:

Love, herb oil (grapeseed oil, life everlasting, green tea, gotu kola, rosemary, calendula, lavender, milk thistle, lemon balm, licorice root, roobibos, hibiscus, rhodiola, gingko, plantain, amla, ashwaghanda, acai, goji berry, horsetail, comfrey leaves, comfrey root, rose petal, echinacea, ginseng, lotus, boswellia, blue violet), fractionated coconut oil, oleic sunflower oil, olive oil, aloe vera oil, passion fruit oil, tamanu oil, carrot seed oil, vitamin E tocopherols, evening primrose extract, seabuckthorn berry extract, red raspberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil, rosehip extract, calendula extract, buriti fruit oil, sandalwood oil, jasmine sambac oil, bergamot oil, blue chamomile oil, rosemary oleoresin. Organic or Wildcrafted.

Affordability

With each of these products, a little goes a really long way.  For that reason, they will each last a long time.  I can’t get a great feel of exactly how much I’ve used in the past month, mainly because the Miron Violet Glass is so dark!

The Facial Cleanser is the more economical choice, if you’re looking for a deal. For about $25, you can get a 50 mL bottle.  I imagine that bottle would last a few months.  The Facial Oil, on the other hand, is a bit more pricey at about $35 for only 15 mL.  Though I only used one pump at a time of the facial oil, I find the price quite a bit more than for the cleanser.  And having said all of that, my personal opinion is that these products are priced within a reasonable range.

For what you pay, you are getting an effective product that is made with natural ingredients, free from all unnecessary chemicals.  Knowing that I’m using safe cosmetics on my skin goes a long way in my books.

My Recommendation?

If you’re looking for skin care products that are free of unnecessary chemicals, this is definitely a set to try out.  You need to be willing to accept a different texture for the cleanser.  If you can get past that, this might just work for you.  I would definitely recommend giving it a try!

Annmarie Gianni Skin Care

Annmarie Gianni Skin Care


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Vegan Belly Butter

I ran out of Beeswax!  What???

It’s a staple ingredient, after all.  How could I let that happen?

(Honestly, I don’t actually know how that happened at all…I just realized one day I was completely out!  Yikes!)

Out of Beeswax

I was left with two options, use the other waxes I had on hand or frantically try to get my hands on some beeswax.

Of course, not having the energy to be frantic, I did some research and decided to try out the other waxes that I had on hand.

Other Wax Options

After a wee bit of research, I learned that you use about half of the amount of “other” wax as compared to beeswax.   In other words, where you would use 2 tablespoons of beeswax, you would substitute 1 tablespoon of “other” wax.  Other waxes tend to be harder than beeswax, so you just need a little less of it.

Candellila Wax

I settled on trying out some of the Candellila wax.  I was charged with making some belly butter for a good friend who is quite pregnant.

I used exactly half of the amount of wax I would normally use.  I melted all of the ingredients together and then poured the butter into the jars.  I love the colour of this wax.  It’s a light yellow and it didn’t darken up even after it cooled off.  I was a bit worried that the mixture didn’t have enough wax because it didn’t start to harden for quite a while.  I ended up leaving it overnight and, lo and behold, it had turned into a beautiful butter by the morning.  I tried some out for myself and it was great.  It was soft enough to easily smear onto your skin and it was hard enough not to be runny in the jar.

Vegan Belly Butter

Vegan Belly Butter

That’s exactly how I stumbled on the art of making vegan belly butter.  I used some different oils and of course, the candellila wax.  However, the process was the same in that I simply melted everything together, added some essential oils, and then poured the liquid into jars to set.

I tried this butter out myself and thought it worked wonderfully.  However, sadly, it did not work out so well for my pregnant friend.  Something in it, either the different combination of oils or the wax itself (or that very combination of wax and oils) didn’t agree with her skin.  Fortunately, I got my hands on some beeswax in the interim and whipped up a batch of the regular stuff.  Phew!

Vegan Belly Butter


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Evande Facial Care – A Product Review

For the month of January, I have been using a whole new set of skin care products.  It’s the Evande Skin Care Set.  This set was sent to me free of charge.  In return, I’ve been using it religiously so that I could provide you all with my personal review of the set.

Evande

Scent

The scent of any skin care product is really important to me.  I have to like it or I simply won’t use it.

The scent of the Evande set reminds me of a light baby powder.  It’s a very feminine and delicate scent.  I love the way it smells when I put it on.  I also love that I catch a whiff of it every once in a while throughout the day.

Each of the products in the set has the same scent, so they work really well together.

Evande Cleanser and Make-Up Remover

The soap-free cleanser is light and creamy all at the same time.  It works well as a makeup remover.  The hardest makeup I had to remove was some lipstick that had lasted beyond its best before date.  It was very sticky on my lips and felt horrible.  A dab of the cleanser/makeup remover allowed me to wipe it off in one swipe.  So yes, it works as a makeup remover.

As a cleanser, it is gentle on my skin.  After I’m done using it, my skin feels clean without that dreaded squeaky clean feeling.  My skin doesn’t feel dry afterwards, either.

Evande Cleanser

Evande Cleanser

Evande Alcohol-Free Pore Minimizing Toner

This is the only toner I’ve ever been able to use without breaking out.  In fact, I had all but given up on toners until I received this set to try.  I figured I had to give it a try in order to do a complete review.  To my surprise, my skin didn’t react poorly at all.  I love spraying this toner on my face and neck after cleansing.  It seems like such a lovely way to ensure my skin stays moist.  I am totally hooked.

Evande Face and Neck Moisturizer

The moisturizer is light.  I just need a little bit for my face and neck, especially after the toner.  It leaves my skin well-balanced and hydrated, but not greasy or feeling heavy.

Evande Face and Neck Moisturizer

Evande Face and Neck Moisturizer

Effectiveness

This skin care set has served me well for a whole month.  It’s been cold and dry for most of the month and my skin has been well hydrated throughout.  The cleanser is gentle and the moisturizer is nourishing.  It’s exactly the right combination I need to keep my skin clean and moisturized.

Packaging

The packaging is simple.  The pumps for the cleanser and moisturizer and the spray nozzle for the toner make each product really easy to dispense.  I personally like the clean look of the white bottles and the touch of gold classes it up a little bit.

Evande

Ingredients

The Evande brand uses the tag line, “Feel the Natural Elegance”.  Evande prides itself on creating products that are great for your skin without using harsh unnecessary chemicals.  On their website, they have listed the chemicals that are prohibited from use in their product line:

  •    DEA (Diethanolamine)
  •     Dyes
  •     Mineral Oil
  •     PABA
  •     Parabens
  •     Paraffin
  •     phthlates
  •     Sulfates

I love that Evande uses more natural substances to create their products.  They also clearly list all their ingredients right on the back of each bottle.  I’ve also reproduced the ingredient list below, in case you’re interested.

Evande Ingredient Listings

Evande Ingredient Listings

Cleanser and Make-Up Remover:

Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbedensis Leaf Juice, passiflora Edulis (Passion Fruit) Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica (Amla) Fruit Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Glycol Distearate, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance

Pore-Minimizing Toner

Extracts of (Marigold, Chamomile, Rosemary, Cucumber, Elder, Arnica, Linden, Cornflower, Matricaria, St. John’s Wort, Hops, Horsetail, Pine Cone, Mallow, Ivy, Pellitory, Burdock, Sage and Soapwort) in Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Glycerin, Propylene Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbedensis Leaf Juice, Laureth-23, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance

Face and Neck Moisturizer

Water, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cetyl Alcohol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Aloe Barbedensis Leaf Juice, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Almond Butter), Silk Amino Acid, Ficus Carica (Fig) Extract, Kigelia Africana Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Niacinamide, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycol Distearate, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Propylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol,  Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance

I looked up this brand on the Good Guide and on Skin Deep.  Unfortunately, it was not listed on either site, most likely because it’s such a new brand.  I’d love to know how these products rate on either of those sites.

Affordability

Is this magic skin care set affordable?  In short, YES!

Each bottle contains 200 mL of product.  My best guess is that, after one month, at most, I’ve used about one-quarter of each bottle.

You can buy the whole set of three for $24.99!

Honestly, I didn’t even look at the price until it was time to write my review.  I was floored when I saw how well priced the set is.

Evande

Would I Recommend Evande?

Yes – I most definitely would.  I’ve had a great experience using this set for the past month.  My skin feels great and I’ve finally found a toner that works for my skin!  I also love the clean packaging and the great price.


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Two Tone Soap

Last year, just in time for Christmas, I started experimenting with using colours in my melt and pour soap.  I made a few striped soaps and was quite pleased with the result.

That is, until the colours started to bleed and blend with each other.  After that, I stayed away from the stripes for a while.  What’s the point of stripes if they just blend together?

Two-Toned Soap

This year, as the Christmas Soap Making spirit caught me, I decided to try a two-tone soap using a non-bleed colour.

Two Tone Soap

Two Tone Soap

Here it is!  This photo was taken quite some time after I had made the soap and as you can see, there is no bleeding!  The colours have stayed separate!

It may seem like a small victory to some, but it’s huge in my little world.  I’m so pleased with the result.

Blue and White Two Tone Soap

Blue and White Two Tone Soap


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Homemade Deodorant Using Clay

I recently took the plunge into the world of homemade deodorant.  I tried for months and years to find a store-bought brand that worked for me.  After absolutely no long-lasting success, I made my own.

I was thrilled with my first go at it.  Click here to read all about it.  This recipe worked SO well for me!  In fact, it worked better than my regular store bought deodorant. The one complaint I had was with the consistency.  I found that it separated easily, requiring a vigorous stir prior to each use.  I was also concerned that it would not travel all that well.

I set out to find a recipe that was more solid and would fit into a deodorant stick.  I didn’t have to look that hard.  I went back to the Crunch Betty site and found a recipe that fit the bill.  Click here to see exactly what Crunchy Betty says. 

Unlike many other deodorant recipes out there, this recipe doesn’t use baking soda, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder.  Instead, it uses clay to help absorb extra moisture.

The Ingredients:

1.5 Tablespoons of Beeswax beads

4 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

1 Tablespoon of Shea Butter

4 Teaspoons of clay ( I used White Kaolin Clay)

20-25 drops of Essential Oils ( I used Tea Tree, Rosemary, Lemon and Bergamot)

The Method:

I melted the beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter over low heat on the stove.  Had I actually done what the recipe said, I would have added the Shea Butter after the beeswax was melted.  Shea doesn’t do withstand heat all that well, so it’s best to heat it as little as possible.  Having said that, I was excited and put all three into the pot together.

Raw Ingredients

Raw Ingredients

Once that was melted, I removed the pot from heat and whisked in the clay.  The mixture turned a gray colour.  Then, I stirred in the essential oils.

Deodorant in the Making

Deodorant in the Making

I cooled the mixture by putting it in a cold water bath.  It wasn’t elegant, but it did the trick.  The mixture started to set up in about a minute.

Makeshift Water Bath

Makeshift Water Bath

Finally, I poured and scooped the mixture into 5 mini deodorant stick containers and popped them into the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Mini Deodorant Sticks

Mini Deodorant Sticks

Did It Work?

I tested this stick for 3 days.  I even managed to convince two good friends of mine to give it a try.

The texture of the stick was pretty slippery.  After coming out of the freezer, the mixture softened considerably.  While applying it one day, I thought it might do better in a roll-on applicator.

The scent was unique.  One friend of mine went through several love/hate cycles with the scent each day that she wore the deodorant.  I noticed the scent, but didn’t find it offensive.

The deodorant was effective for a few hours at a time, provided there was no undue stress or mild physical activity (like walking).  Yes, you read that right.  This stick just didn’t do the trick.  I really wanted to love it, but after several days of this, I couldn’t justify using it anymore.  This was far less effective than the first homemade deodorant that I made.

It’s back to the drawing board for me.

Disclaimer

Deodorant is a very personal thing.  What works for one person may not work for another person.  Further, what works for you one day may not be the solution on another day.

While this didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you.  If you walk down this path of homemade deodorant, I think you’ll learn, just as I am learning, that experimentation is key.  Don’t discount this recipe just because of my experience.  Who knows, this may be just the right concoction for you!


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A Lesson in Lip Balm

I make a lot of lip balm.  It’s easy and the lip balms actually work.  How easy, you ask?

Really easy.

Making Lip Balm

First, get your ingredients ready.  You’ll need oil, some wax, and some butter if you feel like it.

Next, melt all of the ingredients together.  I do this in a pot on the stove on the lowest heat setting possible.  If I had a double boiler, I would use that instead.  It’s important not to overheat the ingredients or burn the oil.

Melting the ingredients

Melting the ingredients

Once everything is melted, take the liquid off the heat and add your essential oils.

Melted Ingredients

Melted Ingredients

Finally, pour your lip balms.  I use this fancy lip balm tray to hold all of the tubes steady.  As it turns out, I actually need help holding my hand steady as there is always some spillage.

Lip Balm Tube Filling Tray

Lip Balm Tube Filling Tray

Finally, let the balms set and cool.  It’s a bit like watching the kettle boil, so it’s best to find something else to do in the meantime.  When possible, I like to let mine set overnight.  Once they are ready, you can taken them out of the tray and pop the lids on each tube.

The Result?

Do these simple steps and you’ll have a homemade lip balm.  I like to call mine Lip Lube.

Here’s a shot of two tubes I just made up for a friend who was brave enough to try out my formula.

Lip Lube

Lip Lube

The Recipe

It took me a long time and many trials to come up with the recipe that I use.  I like it because it’s soft enough to be used in the cold winter months, but doesn’t melt in your purse or pocket in the hot summer months.  I just might end up selling these tubes of Lip Lube one day. So, for now, I’m opting to keep the recipe to myself.

If you’re looking for ideas, check out one of my favorite sites here.  It’s the Crunchy Betty site.  It’s full of ideas, recipes and tips.  It’s a great starting point!  Or, if you’re more adventurous, try a few combinations out on your own.  It might take a few tries, but I’m sure you’ll end up with a formula that works.  Either way, have fun!