Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


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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?

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

This is one of my favorite times of year — full of good food, family get-togethers, and time spent with close friends.

This year, the holidays are extra special because we have a new family member, Emir.

For the past few years, I have made it my new custom to give handmade gifts to friends and family.  This year’s goodie bag was made back in November, as I waited for Emir’s arrival.

Here’s what it has in it!

Soap

There are at least two bars of soap.  Each bag has some combination of striped soap, floral soap or a solid bar of goat’s milk or coconut soap.  Each bar is mild enough for the skin and full of great ingredients.

Striped Soap

Striped Soap

Fancy Feet

Our feet all take such a beating. They deserve a treat.  Each gift bag has a jar of minty foot cream.  It’s thick and moisturizing and the scent is quite refreshing.  It’s a great treat for your feet!

Minty Foot Cream

Minty Foot Cream

Bath Bombs

I tried my hand at something new this year.  I made bath bombs!  As I suspected, it was actually quite easy and I have no idea why I never pursued this before. These provide fizzy fun for the bath and they smell great!

Lip Lube

What would a gift bag be without some homemade lip balm?  My lip balms are moisturizing and good for any season.  I added a variety of flavour oils to them this year.

The contents of each gift bag were meant to be used.  None of these products are good for a hoarder!

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season!


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The Third Trimester – In the Home Stretch

I’m in the home stretch!  With about 5-6 weeks to go, I’m almost at the end of my pregnancy.  I can barely believe how quickly time is flying! 

Kicking Up a Storm

One of my favorite parts of being pregnant has been feeling my little baby kick up a storm.  He kicks, punches, does somersaults, squirms and once in a while, he tires himself out and has a little snooze.  He regularly gets hiccups, but fortunately, they never last too long.  I’m fascinated by the movement I can feel and see in my pregnant belly.  I’m sure it seems quite alien to someone who hasn’t had this experience before.  For me, I’ve loved it so far. 

Getting Around

I’m not one to sit still for long.  I like to make lists, get things done and tick things off my list.  I’m still doing those things, but I’ve learned that it pays to slow down and physically move a bit slower.  It was frustrating when I first realized that I actually had to slow down.   However, it has become a necessity and a luxury.

Time For a Snooze?

I count myself quite lucky as I’m still able to sleep through the night.  With the help of my plethora of pillows, I’ve been able to find comfortable positions that allow me to get some rest.  The part that I didn’t expect was the exhaustion that I tend to feel during the day, even when I’ve had a good night’s rest!  I could easily insert a siesta into my afternoons these days.  In about three weeks, I’ll be off work and I’m already looking forward to napping in the afternoon!

What’s On My To-Do List?

While I still have energy, I’ve been doing my best to do some baking and cooking, in preparation for my little one’s arrival.   You’ll see a post on my baking experiments soon!  I’ve also been working on some very basic soap and lotions, for the whole family.  In the ideal world, I’ll have all of my Christmas preparation done before the big day arrives.  However, that might be a bit of a stretch, even for me!


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Natural Remedy for Swollen Gums

I’ve been counting myself pretty lucky throughout my pregnancy.   I’m into my third trimester.  Aside from being tired and some mild swelling in my feet, life is pretty good.  That is, it was until last week.

Attack of the Swollen Gums

One night last week, I was flossing my teeth.  I noticed that my gums on my bottom row of teeth on the right hand side were very sore.  I didn’t think too much of it.  After all, I take good care of my teeth and I figured it was nothing to worry about.

The next night, as I was flossing, the discomfort had spread all the way up to my front teeth.  I took a look in the mirror and sure enough, my gums were inflamed and red.  Really, they looked quite angry.  Even worse, my teeth felt a little bit loose.

A quick look in my pregnancy book and I confirmed that this is a normal symptom of being pregnant.  Gums can swell and bleed, all as a result of raging hormones.  Apparently, that can happen even if you take great care of your teeth!  Ack!

Of course, the recommendation was to visit the dentist and let them deal with it before the infection spread. The only thing is, I really didn’t like the idea of going to the dentist.  It was bound to be a painful visit as they dug around, poking and prodding at my poor gums.  Surely, I could come up with a less painful and easier way to handle this?

How About a Natural Remedy?

The next day, I did a quick search online for natural remedies.  I found a couple of things, ranging from swishing salt water or warm lemon water around in my mouth to applying clove oil.  I wasn’t surprised to see any of these remedies listed.  Since then, here’s what I’ve been doing:

– gargling/swishing salt water every chance I get.

– gargling/swishing lemon water (One of my favorite drinks anyway!).

– changed out my toothbrush and swapped toothpastes (I had just started using a new one a couple of weeks ago) to one that I had used before.

– drinking lots of freshly pressed green juice!

Juice

Did it Work?

Yes!  It worked and I avoided the painful dentist visit!  After gargling with salt water a few times a day for the past week, and also having a few doses of lemon in warm water, the swelling disappeared and my gums feel great once again.  The most immediate indication that I was making progress was that my teeth stopped feeling loose almost immediately.

What A Great Feeling!

I don’t write this to advocate dentist-avoidance. Rather, I just wanted to share a successful home remedy that worked for me.  It’s a such a relief to be able to handle my own minor ailments, without being completely dependent on someone else.  Of course, had my gums gotten worse (or even stayed the same), I would have made that appointment to see my trusty dentist.


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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?