Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


Homemade Hair Gel

For years, literally, I’ve had a couple of outstanding requests for a homemade natural hair gel.

I was totally intimidated by the request, so I conveniently ignored it for, well, years.

And then my son was born with a full head of hair and my husband appointed himself as his official stylist.  Next thing I know, he was asking for a hair product for our infant son!  I was out of excuses and couldn’t ignore the request any longer.  So, off I went to find a recipe for a homemade hair gel.

Emir with a full head of hair

Crunchy Betty

I’m a big fan of Crunchy Betty, so I started out by looking at the Crunchy Betty site.  Sure enough, I found a recipe for Flaxseed Hair Gel.  Click here to have a look at it.

I also had a look at a tutorial video online.  It was done by Naptural85 and was referenced a few times in the comments on the Crunch Betty site.  It’s a great tutorial.  Click here to see it.

Flaxseed Hair Gel

The recipe itself is very simple.

I used just over 1 cup of water, 2 Tbsp of flax seeds, a dollop of aloe vera gel, and some lavender essential oil.

I boiled the water and then put the flax seeds into it.  I stirred the seeds regularly until the liquid started to thicken and I started to see a gel.  Once it was quite thick, I strained the seeds using pantyhose and a pair of chopsticks.  Finally, after I had strained the gel, I added some aloe vera gel and the essential oil.

I have stored this in the fridge and it is keeping well.  As an experiment, I kept a small amount in jar on the counter and it didn’t smell so great after a few days.  It’s important to keep this in the fridge!

This recipe made a fair amount.  Considering it’s only for my son, I expect it to last quite a while.

Flaxseed Hair Gel

Flaxseed Hair Gel

Does The Hair Gel Work?

Yes, it works!  Not only was it easy to make, it actually works!  This is a shot of my son with it in his hair.  It was enough to style his hair and it held his style, more or less, for the whole day!  A couple of times, when it was a bit flat, we just added a bit of water to his hair and it reactivated the gel.  I’ll definitely be making this again!

Styled Hair


Skincare Tips for the Spring

Spring is almost here!

hydrangeasA few weeks ago, we started to have double-digit temperatures!  It was such a treat to be given a sneak peek into Spring.  I celebrated by going for a long walk with my son in the baby carrier.  Sadly, the high temps did not last and we’ve had more snow since then.  In fact, as I write this, I’m looking out the window at a snow shower.  Nevertheless, I know that Spring is close and it’s time to get ready for sunshine and outdoor fun!

Spring also means that my skin will have different needs. Here’s how I’m planning on taking care of my skin.

Spring Soap


I just whipped up two small batches of Goat’s Milk Melt and Pour Soap.  I made a few bars of soap using green clay and scented them with Patchouli.  In the past, I’ve sometimes overdone it with the Patchouli scent.  Fortunately, I’ve learned from that and these bars are nicely scented.

I also made some bars of soap with pink clay.  I use these on my face.  They are gentle and are able to clean my skin without removing all of the natural oils. I scented these bars with Grapefruit essential oil.  I like to call these bars Pink Grapefruits!

Light Moisturizers

I’ve been using the Emollient Wheatgerm cream this winter.  It’s been great.  Now that the weather is turning, I’ll be using face oils only.  I love the Suti face oils.  They have a delicious scent and are light on the skin.  I also make my own face oils and have experimented with all kinds of oils.  Once I finish the batch that I have in my cabinet, I’ll be making some more to try!

It’s also time to switch to a light lotion.  I always need to help my skin with moisture.  However, I can get away with a light lotion during the warmer months, rather than a thicker lotion or cream.

Coconut on BeachHair Care

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll already know that I’m a big fan of reverse hair washing.  I just love the results and I continue to wash my hair this way.  With the added humidity that comes with Spring, my hair can get a bit frizzy. I find that a weekly hair mask is just what it needs to stay under control.  My favorite mask right now is plain coconut oil.

How do you pamper your skin during the spring months?

This post is part of the GiG Spotlight #5: Spring Fever.  Thanks to Caity of Moi Contre La Vie and Mari of I Love Green Inspiration for hosting this wonderful event.  Are you wondering what GiG is?  It’s the Girls Inspired Group.  Click on the image below to check out their blog and join!



Tips for Healthy Hair

I’ve struggled to care for my hair properly for a long time now.  While I was pregnant, it got a bit easier and now I think I may have figured out what works for me!

Hair looks great during pregnancy

While I was pregnant, my hair grew so well!   I used to leave the bathroom floor littered with strands of hair after my shower.  However, that all stopped while I was pregnant.  My hair got thicker and was looking great.

I got in the habit of applying a hair mask at least once a week and washing my hair backwards.  All of that lead to me having the best hair I had ever had!  Woo hoo!

Post-Pregnancy Hair

As soon as my son was born, I adopted a new hair style.  It was a top knot secured with a butterfly clip. I admit, it’s not the most elegant look, but it keeps it out of my face and away from my son’s grabbing hands.  I can put it up whether it’s wet or dry and it’s a passable look. Did I mention that it’s quick too?

About 10 weeks after my son was born, my hair started to drop again.  I had expected it, so I wasn’t too distressed.  Fortunately, it wasn’t more than usual, so I felt like my hair was just getting back to normal.

I completely stopped applying my hair masks after my son was born.  I just kept forgetting to think ahead and prepare one!  I also stopped blow drying my hair completely.  When I’ve had some down time, blow drying my hair simply has not been the first thing on my mind!

Healthy Hair

A few days ago, I decided it was time to put some attention on my precious locks.  I applied a simple hair mask of coconut oil to my Coconut Oil in Handhair about 30 minutes before washing.  I also decided to blow dry my hair, just for the fun of it.  I thought it would be nice to have a different style, even if it was just for one day.

Who knew that it would take three times as long to dry my hair?!  Seriously…it used to take me 10 minutes at the most.  I must have worked on my hair for at least half an hour.

So, why is that?  Well, I can only come to one conclusion.  After not blow drying my hair for several months, my hair is far less dry than it used to be.  So, instead of drying out on its own, it took a lot of work to get those locks looking sleek!

Alia’s Tips for Healthy Hair

Here are my tips for healthy hair.  Keep in mind, these are all based on my own experience only.  I am certainly not trained in this field and I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination.  Rather, these are the things that have worked for me.

Carrot Banana Hair Mask

Carrot Banana Hair Mask

– Apply a hair mask to your hair every so often.  I try  to do it weekly, but as you can see from above, it doesn’t always work out.  You don’t have to use coconut oil on your hair.  There are lots of different recipes out there.

Wash your hair backwards. I have been doing this for months and I love the way my hair turns out.

– Minimize the amount of blow drying and curling/straightening that you do to your hair.  If you can, let it air dry.

– Brush your hair before you go to bed.  This helps spread the natural oils throughout your hair.

– Don’t wash you hair every day.  Rather, wash it every other day or even less often.  I tend to wash mine twice a week, though since my son arrived, I’ve kind of lost track of the days!

What are your secrets for keeping your hair shiny and healthy?


Moving from 2012 to 2013 – Happy New Year!

A quick review of 2012…

2012 was an exciting year for me, both for my blog and on a personal front.

My Blog – Au Naturel Essence

All Natural Treats for Body and SoulOn my blog, I set out to boost the number of views I got each day.  I got two major increases in readership throughout the year.  In the first quarter, I saw a big improvement and about half way through the year, my numbers went up again.  It was so exciting to know that others were keeping track of my blog.  To all of you – thank you!

I also set out to post at least once a week.  I’m quite proud to say that I exceeded that goal.  In total, I had over 90 posts in 2012!

Unexpectedly, I was nominated for several blog awards throughout the year.  You can learn all kinds of odd tidbits about me and my blog in the following posts:

Super Sweet Blogger Award

Sunshine Award

Beautiful Blogger Award

Inspiring Blog Award

Blog of the Year Award

I love the concept of blog awards.  They are a great way to learn about other blogs and to recognize other blogs that you follow.

On a Personal Front

The highlight of this year was the birth of my little boy.  I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant around Easter time.  The next few months went so quickly and yet so slowly!  Our little bundle of joy was born just a few weeks ago and he’s been keeping me very busy ever since.

Looking forward to 2013…

Looking forward, I would love to keep up with my blog at the same pace as I had in 2012.  However, I want to be realistic. Having a new baby on hand has slowed me down a little bit!  As I soon as I learn how to blog with a baby in one arm, I’ll be right on track!

Gentle Goat's Milk Soap for Baby

Gentle Goat’s Milk Soap for Baby

When I have the time, I’m looking forward to making more baby products.  In particular, I’d love to experiment with my own homemade shampoo.

Thank you for all of your support throughout the year.  I look forward to sharing more ideas and projects with you in 2013.  Happy New Year!


Special Edition: Round ‘Em Up with Cool Bloggers! Beauty, Blog Tweaks

Hello November! Or New-vember for this blog, I’d say. This blog will be going through some major changes and improvement that I’m hoping I’ll be sticking forever! Kind of. Just a heads up, although I’ll be posting on a topic on this separately as well.
For now, let’s take a look into what I call ‘special edition’ Round ‘Em Up post! I know this should have been yesterday’s post but I completely did not realize that it was the end of the month already! I was not on this plane yesterday,  apparently.
This is a special edition because, instead of my own posts monthly round up, I decided to actually get a few of my cool blogger friends involved and get their post featured here! Why? So you can browse around and perhaps find more blogs to follow, of course!
So let’s peruse this post and see these bloggers most…

View original post 263 more words


The Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil has become a staple in my daily routine, both for cooking and for my homemade skin care products.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a high percentage of lauric acid.  According to Organic,

The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Coconut Oil has been touted as being helpful when dealing with diabetes, weight loss, bone and dental health, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.

Is it really a saturated fat?

Yes, coconut oil is a saturated fat!  And, contrary to what we’ve been told for years, it can be good for you.  The saturated fat in coconut oil is natural and is responsible, in part, for many of the health benefits listed above.

There are lots of blog posts on the benefits of coconut oil.  Here a few that I’ve managed to see in recent weeks.

BiosilBaums Natural FoodsPounds and Prints

Uses for Coconut Oil

I use coconut oil primarily when I’m cooking.  It’s great for pan-frying and roasting as it can take high heat levels, without turning rancid.  I also love the aroma of coconut in my kitchen as soon as I start heating the oil.  Depending on what I’m cooking, I can detect a sweet coconut flavour in my food when I cook with coconut oil.

I also use coconut oil in many of my homemade skin care products, including my liquid soap, soaps, and lotion.  This oil is nourishing and adds a lot of moisture to each of these products.  It’s also great to add to a moisturizing face mask.

Most recently, I started using coconut oil as a hair mask.  When I’m in a rush and don’t have time to prepare something more elaborate, coconut oil is a great stand-by product.  Even with my thick hair, I don’t have to use a lot of coconut oil to give my scalp some deep moisturization.

If nothing else, coconut oil makes a great moisturizer for your skin.  It can be used on its own to help hydrate your skin.    Coconut oil is safe enough to use on baby’s skin too.   If you do this, use it sparingly.  A little goes a long way!


Are you using coconut oil in your daily routine?  If yes, how do you use it?


Giveaway: Suti’s Skincare Giveaway – Ended Beauty, Blog Tweaks

The winner have been chosen: Alia & Saran. 

If you’ve read my previous post on Suti’s Clease Balm and you thought, ohh that sounds lovely. Well, marvel no more, and join this giveaway for a chance to win the samples above! (3ml pots/ 7ml bottles)

I’ve been planning to launch this event for a while now since I really wanted to share their products with you, and luckily, Tina from Suti kindly sent a few samples so you could try them. How great is that? All shipping arrangement and cost will be covered by yours truly, but hey, I’m more than happy to treat you all, and hopefully, your skin will love Suti’s products, like mine does.

Now, it’s so simple to join. And I’m not counting beans this time. 😛

This giveaway is open worldwide and is only for a week!

To enter:

Cumpolsary – otherwise you’ll get…

View original post 390 more words


The Most Common Toxic Ingredients in Cosmetics

I stumbled across this infographic a little while ago.  It was posted on the Toxic Beauty Blog via Facebook.

Which Ingredients are the Good Ones, again?

There is a lot of information out there about what ingredients to avoid and which ones to use more.  I find that there’s a lot of information about it all and it can sometimes be contradictory.  This infographic is a great visual of some of the most common toxic ingredients in everyday cosmetics. (If this infographic is too small for you to read clearly, just click on it to see the bigger version).

Related Posts:

Is Your Nail Polish Safe To Use?

One Step Closer to Banning Triclosan

Seeking Safe Skincare

Try to Look Pretty Without Poisoning Yourself

No More Dirty Looks

Not Just a Pretty Face:  The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry

Petroleum Jelly:  Should you Use it your skin or not?

There’s Lead in Your Lipstick – Definitely worth a read

What’s In Your Facial Cleanser?


Go Deep! A Treat For Your Locks

I’ve been dying to try out some DIY hair masks and over the past couple of months, have finally had a chance.  The experiments have been fun and I’ve got a few favorites.

What is a Hair Mask?

Hair Masks are great at providing deep conditioning to your hair.  It’s not something I would recommend doing every day.  However, it’s a nice weekly treat, if you can make the time.  The ingredients of a hair mask can vary.  There are masks you can buy and there are lots that you can make at home with regular ingredients from your kitchen.

Years ago, I used to indulge in a hot oil treatment every few weeks.  It felt great on my hair and was easy to manage.  I also used to do overnight treatments of mayonnaise on my hair.  It worked great, but I wasn’t a fan of the “scent” of mayo on my head all through the night.

Recently, I’ve been venturing into my kitchen to find ingredients.  In all cases, I reversed washed my hair.  After the hair mask, I shampooed, but didn’t have a need to re-condition my hair again.  Here’s my assessment of my experiments so far:

Avocado/Egg Hair Mask

I mixed half an avocado (mashed) and a beaten egg in this mask.  The mixture was pretty thin and it spread easily throughout my hair.  I massaged it into my dry hair and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  I rinsed it out in the shower with cold water. (You never want to use hot water when there is egg involved, in case you accidentally cook the eggs!).  After rinsing, I shampooed my hair and skipped the conditioning step.

Not only was my hair not tangled at the end of it, it was so soft.  My hair felt great!

This mask also works great if you add honey to the mixture.  It makes the mask a bit thicker and easier to handle.

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

This hair mask had only one ingredient – coconut oil.  I massaged the oil into my dry hair and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  I loved the smell of coconut while I was doing this.  Unfortunately, I think I used too much that day, because it took my several rounds of shampoo to wash out the coconut oil.  Perhaps I should have had an ACV rinse on hand to help me get the excess out.

I tried this a few weeks later, using less oil (maybe 1.5 tsp in total).  I was able to wash it out easily with my regular shampoo.

Both times, my hair felt great afterwards and I would recommend it, provided that the amount of coconut oil used is scant!

Carrot/Banana Hair Mask 

I was inspired to try this hair mask after reading Stilishbabe’s blog.  I blended two small peeled and chopped carrots with half of a banana, 1 T of Manuka honey and 1 tsp of coconut oil.  I did my best to massage the mixture into my hair.  However, it was quite crumbly, so it was a bit of a challenge.  I let it sit on my hair, under the cover of a shower cap, for about 30 minutes.  Before getting into the shower, I shook out my hair to get most of the mixture out.  Then, I washed my hair with my regular shampoo.

This mask was a bit more work than others and it was worth it.  My hair was soft and shiny at the end of it.

Have YOU Tried a Hair Mask?

Have you ever tried a deep conditioning hair mask? If you have, was it worth it?

If you haven’t had a chance to try one yet, go for it and try one of these easy recipes!


Wash Your Hair Backwards!

A few weeks ago, I started washing my hair backwards.  Or, maybe a better way to say it is that I’ve started washing my hair in reverse order.  First, I condition and second, I shampoo.

Is That Co-Washing?

Nope.  Co-washing is different from what I’m doing.  Co-washing is when you “wash” your hair with conditioner only.  The theory behind it is that by conditioning your hair, without using a shampoo, you are adding moisture to your hair without stripping it.  You would apply your conditioner and then rinse it out after it has sat on your head for a while.  Many women swear by this method of washing their hair. 

Reverse Hair Washing

By conditioning my hair first, I ensure that it gets lots of moisture. I gently massage it into my scalp. I’m also sure to cover the tips of my hair.  I leave it in for about 10 minutes while I shower and then rinse it out.  If I were to stop there, I would end up with quite the build up in my hair (I learned that the hard way), leaving it feeling heavy and greasy over time.  So, I use a bit of shampoo to get the excess conditioner out.

The Benefits of Reverse Washing

The first time I tried this, I was worried that my hair would be full of knots and tangles at the end of my shower.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have long hair that goes to the middle of my back and I had no problem running a comb straight through it.  Phew!  I had no need for an extra leave-in conditioner or to have a war with my hair. 

Even better, my hair felt softer and looked shinier when I was done.  I’ve now had those great results for a few weeks, so I know it wasn’t just a one time thing!

Who Else is Reverse Washing?

As much as this was a personal discovery for me, I’m not the only Reverse Washer out there!  Reverse Washing is referenced in the book No More Dirty Looks and also on their blog.  They’ve had a great experience with Reverse Washing as well!

AloeHow has Reverse Washing worked for you?

Have you ever tried washing your hair in reverse?  If you did, how did it work for you?  If haven’t had a chance to try it yet, would you be willing to give it a shot and tell me how it worked?  I’d love to hear from you!