Your Guide To Healthy & Budget-Friendly Body Care

Your Guide To Healthy & Budget-Friendly Body Care

Health extends far beyond diet & exercise. There are many components to living a conscious, healthy lifestyle including mindset, stress management, cultivating positive relationships with yourself & others, & making sure you are getting proper sleep.

One of the aspects of health care I find often is SO overdone, yet also easily neglected, is that of body care. The products we expose our bodies to, internally & externally, is just as important as the foods we consume, water we drink and efforts we put into exercise.

Below are my tried & true practices in how I stay healthy with very few items & always, always without chemicals or hormone disruptors. The simplistic and eco-friendly nature of these products & practices make body care one of the least expensive investments in natural health care.

SKIN CARE

coconut oil

Coconut oil is an absolute staple in my life; I exclusively purchase organic, non-GMO, unrefined coconut oil in bulk.

I use it for pretty much everything including homemade toothpaste, lotion, scrubs, oil pulling, and as a base oil in soap. When I'm not in a drying environment or in the soil a lot (soil is very drying to the skin) I use it as my primary moisturizer. It's one of my favorite ways to keep my skin moisturized and smells great all on it’s own. I am able to use it on my whole body (face included), making sure to rub it in well. Since we all have different body constitutions, some people react negatively coconut oil and it may dry them out and/or cause breakouts. If this is you, try jojoba oil for your face and sweet almond oil on the rest of your body. Sweet almond oil works wonders for me in the wintertime, when coconut oil simply makes me feel more dried out.

Blending some coconut oil with your favorite essential oil(s), like frankincense, patchouli, lavender or rosemary, is a great way to add some subtle scent. Just add a few drops into a small mason jar, mix to blend & use like you would lotion or face cream.

Be sure to check the properties of any essential oil before mixing in as some may be drying or irritate the skin.

bentonite & kaolin clay

Clays are so incredible for detoxing the skin. I generally mix up a mask for my face every one to two weeks. The more regular you are with a mask, the clearer, softer & healthier your skin is. It works great to help clear breakouts for anyone suffering from persistent or hormonal acne. 

Bentonite clay has stronger absorptive properties, making it an excellent for people with oily skin. I only use bentonite in warmer, more humid months/climates. I’ve found that using bentonite in the winter irritates & drys my skin.

White Kaolin clay has more of a mild absorptive effect on the skin, making it a great choice for people with sensitive skin. White Kaolin doesn't draw out oils and thus is less drying. This is the clay I use in the winter months, as I feel it gives my skin a nice reset yet isn’t as harsh as bentonite.

How It Works: Clay carries a strong negative charge when it comes into contact with liquid. Thus, when applied externally (or taken internally), clay attracts & binds to the the positive charge of toxins, drawing them to the surface of the skin. Clays also help facilitate the oxygenation of your cells as the clay removes excess hydrogen & replaces them with oxygen. 

How To Use: In a small glass jar or mug, mix a couple tablespoons of clay with equal parts apple cider vinegar + warm water until you create a smooth paste. Cover your face evenly with the paste until you no longer see your skin through the clay; avoiding your eyes and lips (about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick). Allow the clay to dry (5-10 minutes for sensitive skin, 15-20 for normal skin). Once the clay appears dry and your face feels tight, rinse off gently with plenty of warm water. Pat skin to dry & apply your go-to facial moisturizer, such as coconut or jojoba oil. 

Note: Do not mix the clay paste with metal. This reduces the effectiveness of the ionic charge & renders your mask useless. I always use a wooden spoon.

dry brushing

Dry brushing has been a longtime favorite of mine to exfoliate, increase blood circulation, reduce cellulite, & stimulate the lymphatic system. All in just a few minutes a day.

Why To Brush:  As noted above, dry brushing promotes detoxification, reduces cellulite and increases blood circulation. 

  1. Detoxification Benefits: Dry brushing facilitates toxin removal through sweat by unclogging pores, through the blood by facilitating its movement towards the liver & kidneys for elimination, and through the lymph system by increasing lymphatic circulation. 

  2. Improved Beauty: Gently exfoliating the skin encourages the removal of dead skin cells, allowing for fresh, new skin cells to emerge. And for anyone with cellulite, this is an easy & safe way to reduce it through it's lymphatic stimulation. 

When To Brush: Most people dry brush first thing in the morning or before they shower. If you have a lot of dry skin I would suggest doing it before showering so you can wash the dead skin cells off, otherwise post-shower is just as effective. Many suggest not doing it right before bed, as it is stimulating and may affect your ability to relax & fall asleep. I am not sensitive to this and often find while I'm laying in bed reading at night, this is a perfect time to sneak it in... but I’m not attached to when and just do it when I can. Doing it first thing in the morning for 5-10 minutes, followed with a hearty dose of sweet almond or coconut oil to hydrate, is one of my favorite additions to my morning routine. It helps me feel more awake, move stagnant energy from sleeping, and of course start the day with fully hydrated skin. 

How To Brush Effectively: Brush your skin in a clockwise rotation OR make straight, upward strokes {with both methods just ensure to be brushing towards the heart}. Brushing the entirety of your body should be practiced daily as it truly is such a great way to stimulate your lymph system and increase blood circulation.

It's okay to be a bit rougher on areas that are less sensitive but for the face and other areas with heightened sensitivity (i.e. breasts), tread lightly or avoid all together.

diy salt & sugar scrubs

These right here are GOLD. One of my favorite ways to naturally have soft, smooth skin. I like to make small batches, roughly 12-16 ounces, at a time to ensure the oils don't go rancid. Sugar scrubs I use more regularly, as they are gentler on the skin. I love using just a teeny bit on my face as well, scrubbing very gently. This makes your face insanely smooth. Salt scrubs are great for a deeper exfoliation and work great on rougher areas like elbows, knees, feet, and to work through calluses. 

Sugar Scrubs: In a food processor or high speed blender, combine organic sugar, unrefined coconut, jojoba or sweet almond oils and whatever essentials oils/natural add-ins of choice. My all-time favorite combo is adding in a couple teaspoons of cacao powder + 15-20 drops lavender oil. Some of my other favorites are coffee, rosemary & lavender, or adding a touch of peppermint for a wonderful awakening effect. The combinations are endless! 

Salt Scrubs: In a food processor or high speed blender, combine high quality sea salt, unrefined coconut, jojoba or sweet almond oils and whatever essentials oils/natural add-ins of choice. Be careful if you have any cuts, they will burn! 

homemade, natural soaps

I have been making my own bar soap for over ten years now. With a base of only four ingredients, its one of the simplest & healthiest ways to gently yet effectively clean your skin. You can take a crack at making your own with my how-to post, but for those who aren’t feeling adventurous enough to make your own… I’ve gotcha covered! You can purchase some of mine here or drop me a line & you can place a special order.

ORAL CARE

For oral care, it all comes down to the basics. I have a toothbrush, homemade toothpaste, floss & tongue scraper.

eco-friendly toothbrushes

I have been using bamboo & Preserve brushes for years as I prefer to support companies that are lessening the impact of petroleum usage.

tongue scraper

Not quite sure what life was like before I got my stainless steel tongue scraper because it has been the very first thing I do in the morning for years. I notice such a difference when I am somewhere without it for a morning, on those rare, rare occasions. The scraper removes bacteria, plaque & anything that has accumulated on the tongue overnight; which exists on even the healthiest persons tongue. This is such a quick & simple way to guarantee you aren't re-ingesting all that bacteria and toxic buildup your body just worked hard to "bring up". Scrap your tongue, rinse it off and repeat until the gunk is gone and you are scraping a clear liquid, aka saliva. 

diy toothpaste

About once a month I mix some baking soda + coconut oil in my 4 ounce mason jar with some peppermint and/or wintergreen essential oils and voila, I have my minimal & affordable toothpaste. I see no valid reason to put all those chemicals & dyes that are the entirety of conventional toothpastes in my mouth (hello, you are consuming those!); they are a true disservice to your health. Another reason I prefer making my own is I utilize a reusable glass jar & thus am minimizing my consumption of plastic and packaging. WIN-WIN. 

activated charcoal for teeth whitening

Activated charcoal sounds like it wouldn't be safe for human consumption (right!?) but in actuality it has been a long-used remedy for cleansing & detoxifying. Similar to clay, it is highly absorbent and quickly adheres to toxins, removing them from your system. Speaking specifically to teeth whitening (again, what?!) it is a clean, natural abrasive that helps gently remove toxins and stains from the surface of your teeth. Careful in what charcoal you purchase; only use food-grade friendly charcoal! This is quite different from the charcoal at the bottom of your BBQ - do NOT use that!! :) 

I use to carefully cut the top off a capsule and sprinkle that on a wet toothbrush, gently brush for 2-3 minutes and rinse well. With this method, I would have a separate toothbrush for charcoal brushing, as it stains the entire brush. And I found it harder to stick to a regular routine of doing this, as it required careful attention to not staining the sink and cleaning up well after. 

Nowadays, I just have a jar of homemade toothpaste with charcoal mixed in. This way I don't have to worry about it staining everything during the process, my brush doesn't get stained, and I am gently whitening every time I brush, as opposed a more aggressive single use once a week or two. I have found I really prefer this method! 

Whichever route you choose, just be mindful to keep a close eye on the charcoal powder if it gets anywhere on the countertop, in the sink, etc. because it stains easily.

Once I'm done brushing, I make sure to follow up with floss. My teeth never feel as smooth & clean as they do after charcoal brushing.

HAIR CARE

This one is quite simple... I never use a blow dryer, I wash my hair 2-3x/week (all other showers I simply rinse the hair or keep dry) & if my ends needs a little extra hydration, I rub a very small bit of coconut oil, jojoba or argan oil into the ends. 

shampoos & conditioners

The number one issue I have with shampoo & conditioners is them merely all sold in plastic bottles (or at least to my knowledge!). For that reason alone, I have wanted to entirely work towards replacing with homemade shampoo bars. I once made a batch in 2012 but found it made my hair more knotty in trying to lather my hair than it was worth. Literally turned into a knot fest. Not fun.

So, in the meantime I use as natural of products that I can find on the market, ones that are free of parabens and unnatural additives. My favorite brands are Everyone & Acure. I’m quite particular about conditioners, especially, and these two brands seem to work best for my hair constitution.

For anyone reading this with really short hair, I highly recommend trying out a natural shampoo bar instead of conventional (or even healthier alternatives). Shampoo bars are amazing as they are made with natural ingredients & lightens your plastic footprint immensely!

coconut oil hair masks

Coconut oil hair masks are an incredible way to keep your hair hydrated, healthy and shiny! I try to do one for a full 24 hours once a week, to FULLY hydrate my hair and scalp. Before bed, I rub in roughly 1/3-1/4 cup of coconut oil throughout my hair, making sure to massage well into my scalp. I then toss it up in a bun, sleep on it and leave it in all the next day. The following evening I thoroughly wash my hair to make sure all the oil is removed. Sometimes this means doing two shampoos in one shower :)

Overnight the oil soaks in a great deal and the next day my hair looks wet vs greasy. Or perhaps that’s just my interpretation. But with it being in a bun and me not really caring a rat’s a$$ what I look like, rocking a coconut oil bun for a full day is absolutely worth it! My hair always feels so much healthier when I’m regular with this practice.

ETCETERA

women’s menstrual cycles ☽

Have you ever considered how unsustainable tampons, disposable pads & liners are?

To put the WASTE component into perspective, it’s estimated that over 12 BILLION pads & 7 MILLION tampons are disposed of annually (in the U.S. alone). The average women (whatever that means, ha!), menstrates 38 years of her life, and throws away 250-300 lbs of pads, tampons and applicators in her lifetime. Yikes! Even if you’re using applicator-free tampons, all those tampons contribute to so much waste. 

And then there are the health reasons. Tampons reside in one of the most vulnerable, sacred parts of our bodies, why expose it to toxins? While the industry has moved past the former standard of whitening with elemental chlorine gas, all tampon manufacturers, eco-friendly or conventional, still bleach their products. These less benign approaches are either elemental chlorine-free bleach or entirely chlorine-free… HOWEVER, the term chlorine-free is not regulated… so we don’t actually know what we are getting.

Tampons are made of cotton and the majority of tampons on the market are not derived from organic cotton. Cotton farming uses more pesticides than any other sector in agriculture… and without hesitating, we put THAT in our vaginas!? On top of that, so many of them are unnecessarily synthetically scented. Get that shit out of your vagina! 

The best alternatives for tampons are either the Moon or Diva Cup (silicone based), the Keeper (latex based), or SheThinx underwear. I have had my Diva Cup for over ten years now and while it took a few cycles to get used to, I love the simplicity of it. All you have to do is wash in warm, soapy water each time you remove it & at the end of your cycle, boil in water for 10-15 minutes to clean & sanitize it.

As for pads and liners… there are plenty of reusable ones on the market these days! Aim for ones used with organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. Ones I recommend are LunaPad, Glad Rags, Party In My Pants, and Huggable Earth (available on Etsy). They come in all sizes and absorbencies… so everyone’s needs are met. Plus, once you master one of the cups, you likely won’t need these at all. 

Ladies, I cannot stress switching off conventional tampons enough. These alternatives are not only reusable but so much healthier for your body!

neti pot for sinuses

If you haven't heard of or tried a neti pot yet, you are missing out! The neti pot is used for a nasal wash, a practice that has been used in Ayurvedic practices for nearly 5,000 years. Using a neti pot helps alleviate sinus pain, pressures, & congestion by rinsing clear the nasal passages of mucous. When I am congested I use the neti pot 1-2x/day to help facilitate the clearing & cleansing of my sinuses. Even when I don't have congested sinuses, I love to use the neti a few times per week just to keep everything clear & healthy. Regardless of if I'm sick or not, the neti pot helps me breath better & my sense of smell is heightened when I use it regularly.

But wait!

Not all neti pots are created equal! There are a lot of plastic ones on the market, which I don’t recommend. I have a Baraka neti pot - a beautiful, ceramic neti hand-crafted by a small company right here in the USA. You can order online or ask your local natural food market.

Not convinced yet?

For any of the naysayers, there are thankfully still plenty of healthier alternatives on the market. However, even the endless lists of these today are daunting. In this case, the product rating guides on Environmental Working Group - Skin Deep, are indispensable.