Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


Pampering Your Pout

I recently had a request to make some small gifts.  This person was travelling for a couple of weeks and wanted to have a few small tokens on hand to give to friends and family.

Lip Care Gift

Luscious Lips

Right away, I knew we had a few options available.  After all, I can make just about anything in a small size!  We talked about it for a while and ended up agreeing to some lip care.

She was very interested in the Lip Scuff, mainly because she had never used one before and wanted to try it herself.  A tube of Lip Scuff on its own seemed a bit lonely, so we decided to give it a partner tube of Lip Lube.  I set to work and made a few tubes of both.

Lip Scuff and Lip Lube


I wanted to package this gift so that it was easy to carry in a purse or small bag, without getting lost.  I played with ribbon, small boxes, and bags.  In the end, I chose to go with a small organza pouch to hold the two tubes together.

Each tube has its own label that clearly shows all of the ingredients I used.  I also sealed each tube with a shrink wrap band.

Pampering for your Pout

In the end, I was very happy with this little gift bag.  It was easily portable and great for pampering your pout!   Of course, this dainty organza bag can be reused for gift giving some other time.

Lip Scuff and Lip Lube in Organza Pouch


Try to Look Pretty Without Poisoning Yourself

Cosmetic companies do not have to disclose all of the ingredients that they use in their products.  No matter how much you read a label, you will never know what is included in that all-inclusive term parfum.  Not only do they not have to disclose each ingredient, but many cosmetic products contain harmful ingredients.

Environmental Defence Canada

Environmental Defence Canada - Inspiring Change

Environmental Defence Canada is one of Canada’s most effective environmental action organizations. It challenges and inspires change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.  A quick look at their website reveals that Environmental Defence raises awareness on a number of different issues.  Their work is aimed at positively influencing people on environmental issues.

Try to Look Pretty Without Poisoning Yourself

On January 9, 2012, Environmental Defence launched a 60 second video to highlight the dangers of the cosmetic products that many women use today.  It’s an entertaining 60 seconds that sends a strong message to the viewer.  Many of the cosmetics that we use today, like lipstick and mascara, include ingredients that are harmful to you.  Check it out!


Switching to Mineral Makeup

After reading No More Dirty Looks, There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, and Not Just a Pretty Face last year, I ditched all of my regular makeup. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to survive, but I knew enough to know that I didn’t want to put those chemical-laden products on my face anymore. It wasn’t pretty…

My old make up routine

I had a regular morning routine like many of you. In getting ready for work every morning, I would carefully apply eye shadow, blush, and of course, lipstick. On important days, I’d add a bit of eye liner and maybe even some mascara. On top of everything, to ensure an even look, I’d puff on the powder. I didn’t use a lot of any one item, but I did it every day. It doesn’t take a lot of product to add a lot of synthetics to your skin.

No more chemical-laden products

I went away for a little vacation for about a week last summer. When I came back, I couldn’t stomach the thought of more makeup. I’d been doing a lot of reading and I knew that my regime wasn’t the best for me. So, I stopped. I went back to work after my time off with no makeup whatsoever. I felt a bit naked for the first few days. But, before I knew it, I actually enjoyed the new look. I had less to do in the morning and my skin felt cleaner (go figure!).  Except for a few special days, my new routine worked well.

Those special occasions…

It was fine, except for those special occasions, like the day when I had to get a professional photo taken or when I was co-hosting a fundraising event, or the Christmas party! I broke down. I dug out what was left of my old regime and brushed it on. Except for all of the chemicals, it was just what I needed for those special days. The photos came out great, I looked the part of a fundraiser host, and I was ready for the Christmas party. If nothing else, it confirmed that I needed to find a solution that would work for me.

My new regime of natural makeup

My sister-in-law had recognized my dilemma. She herself has been using natural products for much longer than me. She first gently suggested and then Natural Makeupprodded and finally reminded me again about the line that she uses. She recommended the Jane Iredale line of makeup. After the New Year’s Eve party (when she saw me once again drag out my old makeup) we went to the store together and she showed me all of the lovely options that this line offers. This line doesn’t include any parabens or extra chemicals. It uses minerals and has not been tested on animals. Could it get any better? Yes…the products rate very well on the Skin Deep site.  And one last thing, they smell great!

I left with a beautiful bag full of goodies. Thanks to my lovely sister-in-law, I am now equipped with eye shadow, mascara, lip stick, rouge and a few other luxuries. I’m not convinced that I will start wearing makeup every day just yet, but I definitely feel ready for the next special event that I get to attend!


How do you keep your lips smooth?

I used a lip scuff for the first time a few months ago, after I made my very own at a workshop at Soap & More.  I wasn’t quite sure if I would ever use it, seeing as how I’d never had a need before. Or so I thought….

I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

I started using it each night before bed.  It was supposed to help with smoothing out my lips and getting rid of any dry and flaky pieces of skin.  Not only did it do that, it was a great conditioner for my lips, keeping them moist all night long.

A basic lip scuff is a great addition to your routine, especially if you live in a dry climate or are subject to winter conditions, which can often be drying.  I use my lip scuff each night now and my lips are in great shape.  I even take it with me when I travel out of town.

I went from thinking I’d never need a lip scuff to using it every day!  I won’t leave home without it!

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Emergency Gifts

You know by now that I start the planning process for the Christmas gift bags a couple of months ahead of time in October.  So, when I started to receive adhoc requests for gift bags at the end of November, I was bit unprepared and knew I wouldn’t have enough time to fill the requests.  So, I got creative and put together a few of my favourite products for some special gifts.  Here are some of the products I chose:

  1.  Spice Scrub.  This is a scrub for your hands and feet.  It exfoliates as well as moisturizes and uses all natural ingredients.  My scrub is quite a bit oilier than the ones you can buy in the store.  If you limit your use it will leave your hands and feet soft and moisturized, but not oily.  Better yet, it won’t leave your skin feeling dry or itchy.
  2. Lip Gloss.  This is a fun lip gloss.  It’s not sticky, but it will certainly keep your lips moist.  I coloured these ones blue for fun.  It’s enough colour to look good in the tube, but not enough to show up blue on your lips.
  3. Lip Scuff.  This is another one of my favourite products.  Before I learned how to make this, I had never heard of or considered using a lip scuff.  However, after trying it a couple of times, I realized it was great for removing dry skin and keeping your lips smooth and soft.  I live in a dry climate, so anything that helps combat the dry weather is a treat.

Between these few extra treats and some extra products that I’d had the foresight to make, I was able to put together a few extra gifts for the Christmas season.  It’s such a pleasure to gift gifts at any time of the year.  It has given me a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I was able to give the gift of pampering to our friends and family this year.

Enjoy the holiday season!


Christmas Gift Bags

Each year for the past three years, I put together a gift bag of handmade products for the majority of the Christmas gifts that we give to our friends and family.  This year was no exception.  In fact, it was slightly challenging since I had a number of different products to choose from!  Honestly, it was a great problem to have.

This year, I started planning out the gift bags in October.  I wanted to ensure that I gave myself enough time to make all of the different pieces.  I started putting everything together in November and into the beginning of December.  I attended my first Christmas party for the season on November 18th.  There’s nothing like an early holiday party to be a good kick in the butt!

Here’s what I chose for most of the gift bags:

  1.  Foaming Soap.  I made this soap from scratch, so I know it’s full of great ingredients.  I love fresh scents in soap, so most of the bottles were scented with orange, lemongrass and other citrus scents.
  2. Two bars of melt and pour soap.  I made several bars of soap in preparation for this year’s gift bags.  I used Goat’s Milk and Coconut M&P soap as a base.  I added charcoal, green clay and pink clay to them.  In the end, each bag got two bars of soap.
  3. Lip Lube.  I made my own special recipe for these lip balms.  Mine are all made from scratch and they are soft enough that they can be used on the coldest winter days.  There’s nothing worse than a lip balm that won’t slide on.  I experimented quite a bit this year to land on just the right combination of oils and wax.
  4. Smoothing Serum.  This is one of my favourite concoctions.  It’s a gel that you can use to help tighten those fine lines.  It’s good for men and women and feels great when you put it on.
  5. Ultra Moisturizing Lotion.  I included a small sample of lotion in the gift bags.  I have used lotion all my life and this is the best one I’ve ever used.  Seriously – I’m not just saying that because I made it!  It’s highly moisturizing without being greasy.  I love it.

Inevitably, I also get a few last minute requests for gifts to give out and of course, I usually don’t have quite enough to made complete gift bags.  Fortunately, I’ve learned a few great staples to make that I was able to use to put together some extra gifts at the last minute.  More about those to come…

Merry Christmas!


Mind Your Own Beeswax

If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I recently discovered a company that makes skin care products which advocates against using natural waxes, such as beeswax, so as to avoid ingesting the same. It was the first time I’d heard that there could be a problem in using beeswax in skin care products, like lip stick or lip balm, and, as promised, I have spent the last few days researching it.

Beeswax is largely considered safe, provided it is used in limited amounts.  It is an inert substance, meaning that it does not interact with the human digestive system at all.  In other words, it would pass through the body unaltered.  Beeswax can be used to create a non-allergenic protective film on the human skin.  In this way, it protects against moisture loss.  That’s at least part of the reason that you see beeswax as an ingredient in many skin care products.  We see beeswax is lip balms, soaps, candles and other products.  It is generally considered non toxic.

It’s true that beeswax can cause a serious intestinal blockage.  However, you would have to ingest it in large amounts.  This would cause symptoms such as stomach upset and swelling or nausea.  (Don’t worry – the amount of beeswax that you would ingest inadvertently from your lip balm should not lead to a serious intestinal blockage.)

As far as I’m concerned, I am comfortable in using beeswax in my own skin care products or buying products that include this ingredient.  Unless you plan to eat a large chunk of it, I think you’ll be safe!  If you want to read more, check out these links.  They provided great information for my research project.

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Natural long lasting lip colour – is it worth it?

How many of you have tried to find a lipstick that both lasts all day and feels good on your lips?  It’s one that doesn`t end up on your teeth or your glass of water.  It’s a lipstick that feels smooth on your lips, not sticky.  And of course, it has to be a great colour!

The fact is, there are many products that claim to do all of these things.  They usually come with two coats – one with the color and a top coat to seal in the colour.  They work reasonably well and they tend to made with all kinds of non-natural products.

One of my friends recently asked me about a new lip colour that she had purchased.  When she tried it on, she noticed three sensations that she was not expecting.

  1.  Stinging on her lips
  2. Stench of the product
  3. Significant drying of her lips

Yes, the colour stayed on, but she wasn’t too impressed with the unexpected side effects.

After hearing this horrific review, I decided I had to try it as well.  (Knowing her experience, I was the only test subject I could identify!).  I had the very same experience…stinging, stench and significant drying.

I’ve investigated the ingredient list and, to my surprise, none of the individual ingredients have a high toxicity rating.  That really surprised me.

I did learn however, that this product is alcohol based.  It is different from other lip colours and lip balms that are based in wax.  I`ve also learned that there is a theory that ingesting natural wax (i.e. beeswax) is harmful, even in the small amounts that you would get from a natural lip product.  That’s the first that I had heard of this theory.  I will certainly be investigating further.

In the meantime, natural or not, any lip product that makes your lips sting when you put it on should not be one that you feel compelled to use.


Working on a Lip Gloss

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a workshop dedicated to Mineral Makeup for Lips at Soap & More. (

As usual, the workshop was great.  It was hands-on and full of tips and tricks.  We made four different products and in doing so, experimented with lots of different materials.

The most fun lip product for me was the lip gloss.  We packaged the lip gloss in lip balm tubes with wand applicators.  Many of us chose to include a color in the mix to give it an extra pizzazz.  It was great!

Over the past week, I have been working on recreating the lip gloss, with a couple of my own alterations, of course.  My goal was to modify the recipe that I learned at the workshop into something a bit more liquidy.  As I suspected, this has a lot of do with the carrier oil and wax that you use.  Fortunately, after much experimenting, I’m proud to say that I’ve hit on the combination that suits my tastes.  The side benefit of having so many different combinations of ingredients is that I got to try out different colors and flavours in each tube.


Petroleum Jelly — should you use it on your skin or not?

There seems to be an ongoing debate on whether or not you should use petroleum jelly on your skin.  There are some who swear by it and there are some who have sworn themselves off of it.

Until recently, I used Vaseline for years.  I put it on my lips each night to ensure they stayed nice and moist.  It worked like a charm.   I stopped that a few months ago, only because I discovered that I could make my own lip balm and that it did a better job of keeping my lip moisturized all night.  It was only after that point that I started reading about the debate on petroleum jelly.

There are those who focus on the fact that petroleum jelly is derived from crude oil, a non-renewable resource.  Others comment on the fact that it seals your skin, but doesn’t allow your skin to breathe.  When it comes to cosmetics, petroleum jelly seems to be in many of them.   Some authorities say that it is safe and others indicate that more testing is required to make that determination.

All of that to say that there are conflicting opinions out there.  I recently read the article and thought it outlined the various sides of this debate clearly.  It’s worth a read, if this is a question interests you.

For myself, I just don’t see the need anymore to use petroleum jelly.  I’ve discovered many other ways to use natural plant-based products that are good for my skin.