Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


65 Comments

Indie Lee’s DIY Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

Who doesn’t love a little bit of pumpkin pie?  It’s creamy, smooth and tasty.  Now, you can have that for your skin too!  Want to know more?  Read on!

Indie Lee

I was recently approached by the marketing firm for Indie Lee.  As described right on Indie Lee’s website,

Indie Lee is devoted to making all natural beauty products from the world’s finest ingredients. What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. We must nurture our soul to let our inner beauty shine through. Live life to its fullest, one moment at a time.”

Indie Lee also likes to share DIY recipes and that’s where I came into the picture.  I was asked to try out this DIY body scrub recipe and write about it.  There’s absolutely nothing in this for me, except of course, I get to try out a new body scrub and pamper myself.  Tough life, isn’t it?

Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

Here’s the recipe, as it was sent to me:

Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand.  So, I made do with what I had and made a modified version of this body scrub.

My Modified Recipe:

1 cup of white granulated sugar
1/8 cup of coconut palm brown sugar
4 tsp of pumpkin spice*
1/8 cup of coconut oil
4 T of olive oil

Ingredients From My Cupboard

Ingredients From My Cupboard

As you can see from the photo of my ingredients, I didn’t have a whole lot of white sugar left.  So, I opted to make half of the amount in this recipe, just so I could have a cup of sugar left over at the end.

I used coconut palm brown sugar. It’s not quite as soft as regular brown sugar, but it worked just fine in this recipe.

I used my homemade pumpkin spice instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg.  My pumpkin spice recipe comes directly from Heidi at Lightly Crunchy.  It’s a great little recipe that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves.  Check out the recipe here.  I used quite a bit more spice than the original recipe calls for.  I did that to compensate for the lack of actual pumpkin in my concoction.  I used the spice to simulate that spicy pumpkin pie scent.  If only I could transmit smells through my blog, you would know that it worked.

Sugars and Pumpkin Spice

Sugars and Pumpkin Spice

I used both coconut oil and olive oil.  While the original recipe did not call for olive oil, I found that I needed to add some moisture to compensate for the lack of pumpkin.  I could have just as easily added more coconut oil.  Both coconut oil and olive oil are good for your skin, so I didn’t mind having both in this scrub.

Adding Coconut Oil

Adding Coconut Oil

Finally, it’s obvious that I didn’t include any actual pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie mix is just not something that I have on hand.  I would have loved to include some pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree.  Alas, I had used my entire supply up already (mostly on baby food).  So, I did without and added both olive oil and a lot of pumpkin spice to compensate.

The Result

The result of my little concoction looked like this.

Final Product

Final Product

The mixture was fine and felt pretty smooth.  It smelled like baking, which was exactly what I wanted.  I used it on my arms and legs and ended up with very soft and polished skin.  I could feel the difference right away.

Would I Make It Again?

Sure!  I would certainly make this again.

This scrub, like most scrubs, serves two main purposes. It exfoliates the skin and it also provides moisture, by virtue of all the oils.  I’m someone who always has to apply lotion to my skin after a shower.  However, I was able to skip that step when I had used this scrub.

I love recipes like this one because you can make it with common ingredients found in your kitchen.  And if you’re faced with a problem like I was, in that you didn’t actually have some of the ingredients, you can use substitutes and still come up with a great product for your skin.


58 Comments

Homemade Deodorant

After many years of searching for a store-bought deodorant that works for my body, I have resigned myself to admitting defeat.  And in order to pick myself up, I decided to (finally) learn how to make my own!

Inspiration!

A few months ago, I was browsing some of my favorite blogs and I saw a post on Homemade Wellbeing by Kristina.  She had written about making her own deodorant and how successful it had been for her.  She made it sound so easy and I was inspired to finally get off my butt and do something about my deodorant situation.  Check out her post here!

Off I went to the Crunchy Betty website to read about making deodorant at home.  I almost fell off my chair when I saw how easy it is!  With nothing in my way, I was off to the races.  Click here to see the recipe that I used.

Making my Own Deodorant

It was really easy.  I followed the recipe on the Crunchy Betty site to the letter and I was not disappointed.

First, I took some coconut oil and some sweet almond oil and infused with dried chamomile and calendula flowers.  She recommends that you leave it alone to infuse for a couple of weeks.  I ended up getting a little busy and it sat there for about 7 weeks.  It wasn’t a problem.  If anything, the oil came out with a stronger infusion of the flowers.

Infused Oil

Infused Oil

Second, I strained the oil.  I ended up getting about 8 tablespoons of oil.

Strained Oil

Strained Oil

Third, I mixed in equal parts of arrowroot powder and baking soda.  You use 1/4 cups and 2 tablespoons of each one.   Stir well.

Homemade Deodorant

Homemade Deodorant

And Voila, you’re done!

Testing my Own Deodorant

It was easy to make, but did it work?

I tested it for 10 days.  I applied it once each day, in the morning after my shower.

During that time, I continued with my daily routine just like normal.  This included things like my Jillian Michaels workouts (there’s a lot of sweating involved in those!) and long walks in the sun with my little boy.  I even used it when I was around other people!

This deodorant worked for me for every single minute of the ten-day trial. That’s more than I can say for any of the other store-bought deodorants I have ever tried.  It simple works perfectly with my body!

I did find that the mixture separated in the jar throughout the day.  So, I kept a small spatula on hand so that I could give it a vigorous stir before applying it in the morning.

Three Jars of Homemade Deodorant

Three Jars of Homemade Deodorant

One Huge Step Forward

Finding a natural deodorant to use has been a long time coming for me.  I’ve learned how to make many of my own skin care products, like lotion, cream and soap, over the past couple of years.  I’m so excited to have a product that works for me.  It’s got a handful of ingredients, it’s easy to make and most importantly, it works for me!  The only drawback for me with this deodorant is the need to mix it up again each morning.  Perhaps I’ll have to keep experimenting with the recipe.

Do you use a homemade or natural deodorant?  If you do, what’s YOUR secret for the perfect product?


47 Comments

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

DSC_0017

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!

gigspotlight1


34 Comments

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?


18 Comments

Oil vs. Lotion – Which One Do You Use?

Do you use a moisturizer on your face or skin at least once a day?  My guess is that most of you do, even if you are one of the lucky ones who does not suffer from dry skin.   Assuming you do use a moisturizer, what do you use?  Oil or lotion?  Or, do you use a combination?

My Daily Routine

For as long as I could remember, I have used a moisturizer on my face.  I have tried various different creams and lotions to treat my dry skin and keep it hydrated.

Then, some time ago, I learned how to put together a face oil.  I tried it on my face and I loved it!  I was so anxious about applying an oil to my face.  Fortunately, it turned out great and I was so happy to have found a moisturizer to use on my face that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg at the store!  Plus, I could make this on my own.

Suti SamplesA few months ago, I tried a sample of Suti’s Nourishing Oil.  I liked it even more than the one I had made.  The scent was lovely and it made my skin feel great.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I had a facial.  It was pointed out to me that my skin was a bit dry.  What?!  How could it be?  It certainly didn’t feel dry to me!  Yet, after an hour of exfoliating, steaming and moisturizing, I could feel a marked difference in my skin.  It felt so smooth!  I even received a few comments on how great my skin looked.  I left the spa with a jar of Pure Creations’ Emollient Wheat Germ Cream that was used on my face.  It’s a rich cream and good for moisturizing my skin during the dry winter months.  I’ve used it once a day ever since the facial and my skin still feels great.  Stay tuned to my blog for a full review on this product!

And all of this lead me to ask which is better, lotion or oil?  Did I make a wrong turn when I started using a face oil?

Lotion

There are so many lotions and creams available on the market.  They can have all kinds of additives, like Vitamin E and oils that are beneficial for our skin (my most recent favorite oil to use is Kukui Nut Oil).  Lotions come in varying degrees of greasiness.  The ideal lotion is one that doesn’t leave a greasy film on your skin.

Lotions are designed to penetrate the skin.  This allows your skin to absorb all of the great ingredients in that lotion, thus replenishing the look and feel of your skin.

Oil

Body and face oils are used widely in certain parts of the world.  Like lotion, they can contain oils that are beneficial for your skin. Oil Where oils differ from lotion is that they tend to prevent moisture from leaving your skin.  However, they are not necessarily designed to penetrate your skin like a lotion.

Check out these links to learn more about the differences between lotion and oil.

http://www.rodale.com/moisturizers

http://www.vivawoman.net/2009/11/24/is-oil-better-than-a-moisturizing-lotion/

Baby’s Skin

The best test I’ve found was on my son’s skin.  Like many babies, he had dry spots on his skin in the first few weeks following his birth.  I used a bit of coconut oil on them and for the most part, they went away.  However, there were a few very persistent spots that the coconut oil simply would not address.  On a whim, I tried a wee bit of lotion that I had made. It was very basic and did not have any essential oils in it.  Surprisingly, it worked immediately and eliminated those pesky dry spots. I couldn’t believe it!

Baby Skin

Oil vs. Lotion – The Verdict

So, which one is best?  Well, it depends!  Both oils and lotions have their place in providing extra moisture for your skin.  Right now, I use an oil on my face in the morning and a cream on my face at night before bed.  That combination has worked great during the dry months of winter.  I have no doubt that I will have to change that routine when the weather warms up a bit and it’s not so dry.

What do you use to keep your skin hydrated?


8 Comments

Baby Skincare

Before my son was born, I made some baby balm and some special soap to use on his skin.  I did this with full knowledge that I had a 50% chance, at best, that they would be good for his skin.  After all, I had no idea what he would need!

Baby’s Bottom

While I was in the hospital, the nurses insisted that I use Vaseline on my son’s bottom.  I’m not a big fan of Vaseline whatsoever, but I had no other option

Unscented Baby Balm

Unscented Baby Balm

while I was in the hospital.   The Vaseline was great at creating a barrier between his dirty diapers and his sensitive skin.

As soon as I got home, I started using my homemade baby balm.  It worked exactly the same as the Vaseline.  The benefit of the baby balm is that it is made from a few oils and some beeswax, but no petroleum products!

I have continued using the Baby Balm at every diaper change since we got home!

Baby Skincare

Coconut Oil in HandWe live in a fairly dry climate, so I wasn’t surprised when my son’s skin was a bit dry.  To moisturize his skin, I give him a massage with coconut oil each day. The oil works great on his skin.  It is moisturized without being oily.

Soap in the Bath

I received many differing opinions about how often to bath my baby and what DSC_0206kind of soap to use.  In the end, I decided to give him a bath each morning, using the mild soap that I made before he was born.  It’s a goat’s milk soap with no scent or additives.  It is gentle enough on his skin that I don’t mind using it each morning in the bath.

What’s Next?

I’m looking forward to concocting some more baby products, using some essential oils, once my son gets a bit older.  I’ll be sure to post about those when that time comes!


14 Comments

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!