Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


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Baby Balm for Baby’s Sensitive Skin

As I get ready for Baby’s arrival, I’ve started to wonder why kind of moisturizer, if any, he will need?

Baby’s Dry, Flaky Skin

I know lots of friends who’ve had little babies with dry, flaky skin.  They’ve tried  all kinds of things to address it, including:

a) Nothing (waiting it out, often to no avail)

b) Lotions and creams from the drug store.  Sometimes, these worked.

c) All-natural moisturizers — I think these worked more often than the products from the drug store.

Babies Have Sensitive Skin!

It’s no secret that babies have super sensitive skin.  They’re brand new to this world and they’re not accustomed to all the chemicals (both synthetic and naturally occurring ones) that can be found in everyday products, like soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers.  If you read my post on essential oils, you’ll see that it seems better to avoid using any kind of essential oil on a newborn for the first three months, at least.

Ingredients to Avoid

Off the top of my head, I know that, if faced with this issue, I would do everything I could to avoid any synthetic ingredients or unnecessary chemicals in my baby’s skin care.  This would include things like Vaseline, anything highly scented, and any moisturizers that had the unnecessary chemicals that I myself avoid.  It’s also important to avoid essential oils for the first few months.

Would I use the lotion or cream that I make for myself?Ultra Moisturizing Lotion

Well…maybe.  I take a lot of pride in my homemade lotions and creams.  They are made with the best ingredients that I can find.  However, I think that I would go one step further and use a homemade balm instead.  I would use one that is based on beeswax and moisturizing butters, like shea butter or mango butter.

Why a Balm and not a Lotion or Cream?

The most important difference between my lotions and creams and the balm that I’m proposing is that there is no water in the balm.  When water is involved, there’s a need for a preservative.  Why introduce a preservative when  there’s no real need?  Balms are also really easy to make in small batches.  The last thing I like about homemade balms is that you can control the consistency.  I like it best when the balm is solid in the jar, but softens and warms as soon as you touch it.  This makes it easy to spread on the skin.

Another great option would be a plain coconut oil.  Coconut oil is great for the skin and works well on its own.

How Do I Deal With Skin Irritation?

For mild skin irritation, in babies and adults, zinc oxide is a great additive to help soothe and heal skin.  Zinc oxide is an easy additive for homemade products.

Of course, if the skin irritation is anything more than mild and doesn’t go away with a bit of zinc oxide cream, then I’m sure a visit to the doctor may be in order, just to be sure.

This all sounds a bit idealistic…

AloeYes, I admit, this all sounds a bit idealistic.  After all, what new mom has time to make homemade skin care products, learn how to be a mom, and deal with all the hubbub that comes with a new baby?

I’m sure there are some out there who do it all and make it look easy.  I doubt that I will fall into that category.

Instead, I’ll be busy over the next few weeks experimenting with different balm recipes to find one that I think it neutral enough to use on a newborn’s skin.  Stay tuned for pictures and updates!

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Making the Best Use of Essential Oils

Over the past couple of years, I’ve accumulated a few different essential oils and have learned a lot about them.  I am by no means an expert.  Rather, I’ve picked up a few hints and tips along the way and have learned the importance of researching an essential oil before putting it into use.  One of my favorite resources for this type of research is The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless. This post is all about the few things I’ve learned along the way.

How can I use essential oils?

Essential oils play a big role in our lives, whether we know it or not!  Given that they are so concentrated, it’s important to be aware of the ones that pop up in our daily routines.

They are used to add scent to lots of products, such as lotions and soaps.   I’ve experimented quite a bit with different combinations and amounts of essential oils.   If nothing else, I’ve learned that a few drops go a long way when scenting a product!

Some essential oils, like peppermint, can have a cooling effect and are added to creams for that purpose.  This works great in a foot bath at the end of long day!

Essential oils may also have healing properties.  Tea Tree Oil is often used to help address infection.

Other essential oils, like the ones in the citrus family, may have a photosensitizing effect on your skin.  That means these are not always the best oils to use on your skin before going out in the sun.

Can I use essential oils directly on my skin?

I’ve found a mixed opinion on this question.  There are some who swear that essential oils must be diluted in a base oil, milk or cream before applying to the skin or hair.

There are also others who say that some are OK to put directly on your skin.

The fact is that essential oils are highly concentrated.  Many pounds of dried flowers or resins are used in the creation of these essential oils.  Therefore, a small amount goes a long way.  In my own personal experiments, I’ve found that a drop or two can make a big difference to a recipe.  I’m also a big fan of dilution, just to be on the safe side.

Essential Oils During Pregnancy

A woman’s body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy.  As someone who is experiencing those changes for the first time, I can personally attest to the truth of that statement!  Since essential oils can be so strong, it’s important to research any essential oil that you use on your skin during this time of your life.

If you believe that certain essential oils, such as jasmine absolute,  can assist in the childbirth process, you might also agree that it would be important NOT to use that particular essential oil until the right time in the pregnancy!

Does that mean you have to avoid all essential oils (and perhaps your favorite scent) during pregnancy?  No!  Go ahead and use safe essential oils in dilution and in moderation.  I’ve been using a blend of essential oils on my belly to help keep my skin supple.  It’s called Mama To Be Oil and I love it!

Essential Oils for Babies

Newborns’ sense of smell is an important one.  Knowing that, it makes sense to ensure that your newborn’s environment is filled with soothing, non-toxic, smells.  You can create that environment by infusing your home with a soothing scent, like lavender.  However, it doesn’t mean that you should be slathering your newborn’s skin with the same essential oils!  Baby’s skin is sensitive and, for at least the first three months, you’ll want to stay away from any kind of essential oil, or chemicals for that matter, directly on their skin.

If you’re interested in more tips on how to use essential oils for babies, check out Natural Baby Care by Colleen K. Dodt.  This is an easy read and has lots of helpful hints on baby care.

How Do YOU Use Essential Oils?

I hope this is a helpful post, especially if you’re exploring the use of essential oils.    For those of you who use them regularly, what tips can you add to this list?


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Soap vs. Detergent

There are lots of products that are labelled as cleansers and soap that are somewhat removed from that actual process of making soap.  These products are often closer to a detergent.  Both soaps and detergents are used for cleaning.  While they serve the same purpose, they differ in their structure and ingredient list.

So, what are these differences?

Detergents are made from petroleum products.  They use chemicals to create foam and they usually have a strong undesirable smell.  Therefore, these products are scented with strong, often artificial, fragrance.  These products usually also have preservatives, such as parabens.

Soap is from a mixture of lye and oils or fats.  The lye is most often made from potassium for liquid soap and from sodium for hard soap.  The best soap is made from naturally occurring oils, such as coconut oil, castor oil, or olive oil.  Soap will have an alkaline pH of about 9 to 10, making it a great cleansing agent.  With natural soap, there is no need for preservatives, such as those used in detergents.  The best natural soaps retain the glycerin, rather than removing it and selling it in bulk, like many large manufacturers.

Some detergents, often called cleansing bars, or facial cleansers, market a balanced pH level.  In other words, they have created a product that has a pH of about 7.  This tends to be less effective at cleaning the skin.  To compensate, harsher stripping ingredients are used to penetrate the skin.

Even when the detergent hasn’t marketed a balanced pH level, if you ever get that feeling of tight skin after you have washed your face of skin, you have probably used a product that penetrated into the deep layers of your skin and stripped the moisture away.

Since I started using a natural soap, I have eliminated the need for a moisturizer!  I’ve always thought that I had dry skin and consequently, have always used a moisturizer.  Imagine my surprise when I skipped the moisturizer step of my routine and didn’t even miss it!

Have a look at the ingredient list on your list of skin care products.  It’s worth knowing what exactly you’re rubbing all over your skin every day.


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Creating my own perfume scent

I’ve run out of my favorite perfume.  In the past, I would never have let my supply run out.  Never.

Today, after everything that I’ve learned about the mysterious ingredients in fragrances and perfumes, I’m OK with that.  In fact, I finished the bottle quite calmly!

Now, I am busy experimenting with my own scents.  After all, I’ve collected quite a supply of essential oils.  Why not make my own scent?

This week, the scent that I’m trying has a bit of citrus mixed with some spice, all in a base of vanilla to give it some grounding.  I love it!  I can’t wait to use that up and then try out a different scent next week!