Category Archives: Natural Beauty Tips

Green (with envy), Volume 1

Posted by: Emily

When I first heard about Birchbox, from my cool friend, Anna, a few months ago, I became very jealous. She, and about one-hundred thousand other people, receive deluxe samples of fabulous beauty products every month, for a small membership fee, along with discounts, tips, and other special offers. Since Birchbox only occasionally includes natural or organic products– they have sent samples of great  natural brands like Vapour and Dr. Hauschka in the past– it means that, if I joined, I’d be throwing away most of the offerings every month, from old temptations like Kiehl’s and Smashbox. This beauty junkie doesn’t need that temptation.

I started feeling pretty sorry for myself. It seemed everywhere I looked, other subscription companies were popping up. One could pay a monthly fee to receive kids’ toys, women’s clothes, men’s grooming products, baby products, you name it, there’s a delivery “box” company for it. So I began looking for a beauty box that delivered only natural and organic brands– something like Birchbox, but only full of things a Product Junkie’s Rehab devotee would use. Four such companies were nice enough to send me sample boxes to try out and tell you about! Lucky me– I was no longer green with envy. Just green, with a lot of little samples to try!

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting reviews of each of the boxes, one at a time. I will give you a brief description of each box I received, why you might want to subscribe, how much it costs, and my favorite product from each box. (Since the samples in each box each month are different, this doesn’t mean they’re products you’ll necessarily receive in the boxes, but it’ll give you an idea of the kinds of things the company delivers).

First up: Green Grab Bag

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Price: $15/month for AT LEAST 6 samples (I got 7)

Shipping: Free

Description from their website:  A Fun, Affordable Way to Try the Best Natural Beauty Products Before You Buy! At least Six Samples Delivered to Your Door for Just $15 a Month and Shipping is Free! White Apricot has been covering natural, organic and vegan beauty productsfor five years. We like to think w´re experts at reporting on all of the best of the best in skin care, haircare, makeup and fragrance. But, we got to thinking – why should we get to have all the fun?! Why shouldn´t you be able to experience the products too. After all, you shouldn´t have to spend a lot of money on products you haven´t tried. So, we created Green Grab Bag! For just $15 a month and free shipping, we hope you´ll join us! What makes this even more fun is that every month is a surprise subscription box, with at least six minis delivered right to your door!

My favorite product:  GGB introduced me to EO Certified Organic Deodorant Spray, and I’m hooked! This is the best product I’ve ever tried in this category, what I like to call “pit perfumes”– they are marketed as stand-alone deodorant sprays, but like Weleda’s Wild Rose spray that I love, and Bubble and Bee’s that Jordan reviewed, I find that they work best when used WITH an actual deodorant (you all know I love DeodoMom). The EO spray they sent me is Vetiver, and I can’t get enough of it’s vetiver, bergamot, grapefruit, geranium, lavender and cedarwood scented blend. This was my gateway drug to EO products– I now love their hand sanitizer sprays, gels, etc. and fully recommend this California Certified Organic Farmers-approved brand.

My take: I got 6 great beauty products, all from brands of which I had not heard before, and each came with a discount code, all but one for 20% off (the other was for 15% off, so not too shabby!) the full-sized product online. I think it’s a fantastic deal, and the price is great. A nice way to try out new brands. I also got in my box a sample of Mighty Leaf Tea, also with a 20% off coupon, so this box isn’t solely beauty products– you might also learn about other natural/organic things! Bonus!!

Here are the other 3 boxes I’ll be reviewing in the coming weeks. Stay Tuned!

Conscious Box

Beauty Box 5

and my new favorite, Goodebox

Check them out, and I will post reviews soon. I will also be reviewing sample offers from Spirit Beauty Lounge (which offers an incredible deal, free shipping, $10 towards your next purchase, and you get to pick your own samples!!– this one is the best) and the Future Favorites box from Hip Apotheca.

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Filed under Cool Companies We Love, Giveaways/Freebies/Discounts, Natural Beauty Tips

Fun Uses for Essential Oils

Posted by:  Jordan

I became interested in essential oils when I started making my own home beauty products such as deodorants, body/bath oils, and masks.  At first I used whatever oils were cheapest at Whole Foods or Fairway Market.  But then I realized what a difference a high-quality oil makes.  In honoring full disclosure, I became an Independent Sales Consultant for DoTerra Essential Oils after trying their products and discovering how much I liked them and how superior they were to the cheapo stuff I was using.  But this is NOT a sales pitch, I promise!  I’m just going to discuss essential oils in general, but to be totally open and clear, I only use DoTerra oils now because they are certified to be pure of fillers, pesticides, and preservatives (obviously important to me, as you can tell from this blog!).  In fact, these oils are so pure that you can use most of them internally, whereas cheaper brands of essential oils say “not for internal use” on the bottle.  Like most things in life, you get what you pay for (except when you’re paying for a brand name, like the big names in the beauty industry who spend billions on advertising.  But those are full of nasty ingredients anyway, so we aren’t going to get suckered by their advertising, are we?!).  So anyway, I liked DoTerra oils so much that I decided to become a consultant, which you can kind of think of like a Costco/Sam’s Club membership where you pay a one-time $35 fee and thereafter get the wholesale pricing.  Or, instead of paying the one-time fee, you could buy a starter kit, which is what I did because it gave me the opportunity to try a lot of different oils for different uses.

Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk about all the fun uses for essential oils!

  • Making my own natural cleaning products.  Lemon is my all-time favorite for cleaning, but I also love grapefruit, peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  For a completely natural and inexpensive all-purpose cleaner, I just add water, vinegar, and a few drops of essential oil to a spray bottle.  The citrus oils are especially good for cleaning due to their disinfecting properties.
  • A gentle daily detox (which I like to tell myself counterbalances my nightly glass–or two–of wine) and immune system boost.  In the morning I fill my stainless steel water bottle with filtered water and a few drops each of lemon and peppermint oils.  AGAIN, do NOT use essential oils for internal use unless they’re therapeutic grade and state clearly on the bottle that they’re safe for internal use!
  • Cooking and baking.  Just use the oils like you would any flavor extract, such as vanilla or almond.  My very sweet and talented resident ice cream maker/husband made an amazing Dreamsicle flavored ice cream for me by adding a few drops of orange oil to vanilla ice cream.  Incredible!
  • Home remedies for ailments.  Eucalyptus is great for relieving a cough.  Lavender and peppermint oils applied to your temples relieves tension headaches.    Peppermint helps cure hiccups!  Just add 4-5 drops of peppermint to 1-2 Tbs of room temperature water and drink.  The hiccups will usually stop immediately–I tried this once and it totally worked right away.  Another time it took a few times of doing it.  Either way, I ended up with really fresh breath! 🙂 This is just the tip of the iceberg on what you can use essential oils for in natural healing, though.
  • Mosquito repellent.  Here’s a link for making your own natural mosquito repellent, but I personally love DoTerra’s oil blend, TerraShield, which I applied to my family yesterday when we were sitting on our stoop.  We actually saw the mosquitoes swarming around our legs, yet they didn’t bite us!!  Amazing and completely free of the harmful chemicals found in conventional mosquito repellent!
  • And of course–my personal favorite–beauty!  I like to add a few drops to my homemade deodorants or any unscented deodorants I have.  Tea Tree Oil or Lavender applied directly to blemishes helps them go away quicker.  Making my own scented body oils is another fun use…just add whatever oil you are in the mood for with a carrier oil (Jojoba or coconut oils are what I usually use.)  Another use I love is adding a few drops of Lavender to some rosewater and putting it in a spray bottle to mist my face and body with–very refreshing and also helps set your makeup!


Of course there are about a gazillion more uses for essential oils, but these are just some of my favorites.  What do you guys like to use essential oils for?  Please leave tips for us below!

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Filed under Natural Beauty Tips

Guest Post: DIY Clear Mascara & a New Treatment for Wrinkles and Scars

Posted by:  Jordan

I’m so excited to introduce our first Guest Post from a reader (not just my husband who I begged and pleaded to write a product review).  Reader (and talented writer), Tina, emailed us wanting to share her enthusiasm for natural and homemade cosmetics.  We knew Tina would be a perfect match for us after reading her blog, Smashed Picket Fences.  Tina is such a witty, funny, and honest writer that Emily and I knew immediately we’d love to feature her views on the world of natural beauty with our readers.  So, with that, I’ll let Tina take it away!

When I was a young girl, someone taught me a trick using Vaseline. It was during the clear mascara craze and I was experimenting with different types of make up, but too young to really wear a lot.  The older lady said that if I curled my eyelashes and then put some Vaseline on them it would give it that same “wet” look as clear mascara.I tried it and it became my little secret. People always commented me on my nice long wet looking lashes, begging me for the name of the brand I used. It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered that Vaseline was petroleum and now that I am a natural junkie I can’t quite bring myself to put that anywhere near my face again.

I set out on a quest to make my own Vaseline type product. Through trial and error I finally found a great mixture that has the same consistency as Vaseline and will give your lashes that wet look clear mascaras give, but without all the pesky additives, preservatives, and chemicals.

Ingredients:

  • Beeswax
  • Oil (almond oil, grape seed oil, olive oil, are all good choices)
  • Vitamin E (optional)
  • Baby food jar or other small container


Directions:
Melt one part beeswax to two parts oil in the microwave or over the stove. As soon as the wax is melted mix and pour into a glass or tin container.  Add Vitamin E while the mixture is cooling and off the heat.  Vitamin E is a natural preservative and will help keep the mixture fresh for longer.  Mixture will last for 6 to 9 months. To apply just curl your eyelashes as usual and then put a small amount onto your fingertips and coat your lashes with a thin layer.

If you are looking for good deals on beeswax, oils, or containers I usually find the best deal at Mountain Rose Herbs

But wait, there’s more!!  I also want to share another recent find to Product Junkies Rehab readers: Rosehip seed oil.  This oil has been used in studies to test its properties and it was found that Rosehip seed oil could reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scarring. It is also safe to apply to your face in small amounts. Since the oil is similar to our own sebum in our skin it is less likely to cause breakouts than other products. Rosehip seed oil may sound familiar because it used in a number of natural products on the market. The one caveat to using the oil is it’s recommended not to use on skin with recent or active breakouts.

Thank you to Tina for these wonderful tips!  I just tried a wonderful Rosehip seed oil from Melvita, which you can buy for about $27 on SkinBotanica.  And I’m incredibly anxious to try out this clear mascara recipe to replace my former long-standing fascination with Vaseline.

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Filed under DIY Beauty, Natural Beauty Tips

The Most Natural Product Ever

Posted by: Emily
True story.
(I don’t know why I’m telling it to you– it doesn’t paint me in the best light– but if it is useful to you, then I’ve done my job.)
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a focus group. I love focus groups. If I could be a professional focus group participant for a living, I would do it. I love giving my opinion; you may have noticed that by reading this blog! I love trying new things and telling people what I think about them. I love being an expert for a few hours or so and imagining the execs behind the 2-way mirror taking notes on my feedback. (Lest you be confused, focus groups utilize the 2-way mirror; I have never been to jail.)
So, last Thursday, to be exact, I was asked to be in a focus group. The group was meeting in midtown– ah, lovely midtown!– after work, so upon leaving my office, I had to grab a quick dinner on my way. The pickings were slim, and I was low on time, so I went for a slice of pizza. To make myself feel better about this choice, I had spinach pizza– there was probably a whole garden’s worth of spinach crammed on top of this one slice of pizza, and it was delicious as I scarfed it down on the subway. The dinner of champions.
As I exited the subway, I had a feeling there might be some spinach in my teeth– I could kind of feel it in between some incisors (those are a kind of teeth, right?) so I pulled out my cute Shiseido pocket mirror (their products may be chemical-laden, but I will never give up this cute mirror) and checked my teeth. Wow– there was so much spinach there! Practically any place there could have been some, there was spinach. And the thing about a focus group is that– forget those ad execs behind the 2-way mirror– you’re at a table with 8 or 10 other people, talking for 2 hours, while everyone is looking at one another, in pretty good lighting, I must add, and the last thing you want is to have really obvious spinach in your teeth in that situation. I tried to suck it out of my teeth, but with no success.
I was panicked. I was entering the lobby of the building where the focus group was to take place, and while I knew they’d have a bathroom upstairs, I don’t carry dental floss around with me, so I realized I was totally stuck! What to do?…
And then, it hit me.
On my person, at all times, I have an incredibly natural beauty product. And it works darn well as floss. It’s my hair.
Before you judge me, and you know you are, think about it: My hair is created from my body, in which I, this pizza aside, put mostly organic, natural food. And then I wash and condition this hair with all-natural products. So what could be more natural?
Luckily, I have been blessed with thick, strong hair, and, FYI, this definitely requires long-ish strands, so I pulled one from my scalp, used the mirror inside the elevator, and, ta-da, the spinach was all gone from my teeth by the time we reached the 11th floor! And yes, when I say “we,” there were other people with me in the elevator when I did this hair-as-floss-trick. So sue me. Is that so wrong? Yeah, that’s kind of gross, and I definitely advise you to do this in the privacy of a restroom, should you ever be in a similar predicament, but it worked in a pinch, and I am kind of proud of myself for my quick thinking.
You may be shaking your head now. You think you’d never stoop to using your hair as dental floss. But just you wait; next time you’re on your way to some important meeting and you’ve just eaten something stringy and green, be glad you’re taking good care of your hair. You never know when it might actually start earning its keep.

See, it's important to always check your teeth in the mirror! (Me on the set of the webseries "Chaos Theory")

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Filed under Natural Beauty Tips, Surprisingly Good Cheap Green Find of the Day

The Great Deodorant Hunt: Home Remedies

Posted by:  Jordan

In my never-ending search of perfect natural deodorants, I had to try out some homemade versions.  They run the gamut of actually working really well to working about as well as splashing plain water on my underarms.  Let’s start in order of smelliest to most effective:

  1. The Lemondrop cocktail…er, deodorant
  2. Milk of Magnesia
  3. Baking soda paste

 

1. The Lemondrop was basically a waste of good vodka.  Here is the recipe I found and, full of sparkle-in-my-eye hope, tried:

Put 2 parts vodka, 1 part lemon or lime juice (if fresh, be sure to strain the pulp), and 1 part water in a container. (Optional: Use a few drops of the essential oils of lemon, lime, and/or lavender) for fragrance. Pour final mixture in a small pump (non-aerosol) spray bottle. Use liberally and adjust water content if skin sensitivity ensues.

The first day I tried this, I was wearing a sleeveless dress and was actually somewhat surprised that I didn’t smell within 5 minutes of walking out my door when it was 85 degrees outside at 7:45 am.  Tried it the second day with a short sleeve shirt and…hold your nose, people within 3 feet of me.  If I hadn’t added the lavender essential oil, I would probably just add a little club soda to this “deodorant” and call it more of a success.

  

2. Applying a thin layer of Milk of Magnesia to my underarms actually worked better than expected.  It seems to work pretty well until about 4pm, and then the deodorizing powers seem to dissipate.  Still, not awful for something that was already in my medicine cabinet (reference Milk of Magnesia mask for breakouts).  I’d use it in a pinch again!

 

 3. Here’s the natural homemade deodorant that is so far one of my favorites of any (including store-bought) natural deodorants .  It’s slightly more high-maintenance than a store-bought version because you have to rub it on with your hands, but it’s cheap and it works amazingly well!  All I did was combine baking soda with my Thayer’s rose witch hazel toner.  Then, I made a smooth paste which can stored in a small jar.  If it starts to dry after a few days, just add a bit more liquid.  This deodorant recipe survived walking around outside during a 90 degree afternoon, followed by a 3 hour train ride, and I still smelled completely odor-free!  You have to be slightly careful about a white residue, but no more than you would any other solid deodorant.  I put it on a few minutes after I get out of the shower and then finish applying makeup and doing my hair before getting dressed.  Whiteness hasn’t been a problem at all, and if anything gets on my shirt, you can easily rub it off.  If you don’t have a bottle of the awesome Thayer’s toner on hand you can use any natural liquid–I tried both water and orange blossom water, and while both mixtures worked, for some reason the Thayer’s/baking soda combo worked the best for me and was the most long-lasting.  Maybe it’s just my deep-rooted love for my Thayer’s toner.  Try it out…it’s simple, cheap, and completely natural!

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Natural blemish relief: Milk of Magnesia

Posted by:  Jordan

Happy 4th of July!  Summer is in full gear here in New York–it’s going to be 94 degrees today in my un-air-conditioned apartment.  If you have sensitive skin that is anything like mine and breaks out at the slightest change in humidity, altitude, or even which city’s water I use to wash my face, you might benefit from this skin-clearing tip. I learned this trick from The Green Beauty Guide and it really has been working for me!  When my complexion is refusing to cooperate with me, I do this mini-mask and my skin is appearing to suddenly obey my commands.  After removing your makeup at night, apply a thin layer of regular, unflavored Milk of Magnesia (found at the drugstore next to the Tum’s and Pepto-Bismol) to your face with either your hands or a cotton round.  In a few minutes you’ll look like a geisha and the white mask will feel tight.  Then, simply rinse off and apply your nighttime moisturizer.  It’s simple, cheap, and is really working to clear up any little breakouts I’ve been getting.  Let me know if it works for anyone else!

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Filed under Acne treatments, Natural Beauty Tips, Product Reviews

Orange Blossom Water

Posted by:  Jordan

For the past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with a bottle of orange blossom water that we bought for a mere $4 at the grocery store.  If you’re not familiar with orange blossom water or its sister, rose water, I’d like to enlighten you, because my world is so much more pleasant now that I’ve been playing with different uses for this product!  The intended use for this product–which is available at most specialty and Middle Eastern markets–is for culinary and bartending recipes, but I’m discovering new beauty uses all the time.  Orange blossom water, sometimes called neroli water, is made from the water used during the steam distillation process to make essential oil from blossoms of the Seville orange.  Its beauty benefits include helping to refine pores and restoring suppleness/vitality.  Due to its mildly astringent properties, orange blossom water supposedly also refreshes oily skin and prevents blemishes from forming.  There are claims that it also naturally soothes sensitive, irritated skin.  These all sound like things my skin could benefit from, and all this for only $4 for a big bottle!!!  Plus it smells insanely Spring-y.  Here’s what I’ve been using it for so far:

  • I have a great chocolate mask that needs to be mixed with water or milk to form a paste.  I tried mixing it with the orange blossom water instead and it smelled heavenly!
  • I pour a little straight from the bottle onto a cotton ball and use as a gentle toner after cleansing.
  • I created a refreshing toner spray.  I saw this toner on Saffron Rouge selling for $20, and I thought, “well, I can make that!  It’s just vodka and orange blossom water.”  So I did just that, at a fraction of the cost…and it’s unbelievable!  All I did was combine a very unscientific mixture of the two ingredients (maybe about 3/4 orange blossom water and 1/4 vodka?  Totally guessed at what proportions to use!), then I poured the mixture into a small spray bottle to use as a toner.  Or try spritzing it on your face after applying your makeup to “set” it.  I’ve read this advice from beauty pros several times in magazines, and I still don’t understand how spritzing your face with a liquid sets your makeup, but apparently it works.  A tip for the summer: store the spray bottle in your fridge and then spritz on your face, neck, chest, and hair for a beautifully scented refresher on a hot day!
  • I made a shower gel using this recipe, found online:
1 cup orange-blossom water
2 cups liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s unscented)
30 drops peppermint essential oil
30 drops lemon essential oil

Because I didn’t have lemon essential oil on hand, I substituted lemongrass essential oil.  I also reduced this recipe by a third because I wanted to make a smaller batch.  It’s a really uplifting scent!

  • I’d love to make this simple, citrusy perfume sometime soon, but I need to get a few more of these essential oils that I don’t currently own:
4 drops Grapefruit essential oil
3 drops Lemon essential oil
2 drops Patchouli essential oil
3 drops Coriander essential oil
40 ml (1.3fl oz) vodka
40 ml (1.3fl oz) Orange Blossom water
  • If none of the above sound at all enticing to you, try pouring just a tiny bit of orange blossom water over vanilla ice cream.  So delicious!  After all, the best beauty tip I could possibly give you is to eat ice cream (or whatever makes you as happy as really good ice cream makes me!).  Happiness equals beauty, so if ice cream equals happiness…well, you get the idea!

So, that’s the fun I’ve been having experimenting with orange blossom water.  I’m excited to learn about additional uses…if you know of any more ideas please share your tips in the comments!

 

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Filed under DIY Beauty, Natural Beauty Tips