Sunday, August 24, 2014

Detoxifying Bathtime Rituals

Bathtub, take me away! I love love love my bath. Whenever I'm having a rotten day or am feeling sick a nice, long soak in the tub always makes me feel better - never fails. Add a little lavender essential oil and a glass of red wine = total bliss. I've recently incorporated a couple new elements to my routine that make my bath time even better and help your body detox at the same time: Dry Brushing and a weekly Epson Salt soak. You'll feel like you're at the spa minus the hefty price tag!

Your skin plays a vital role in ridding the body of toxins and is the largest "elimination" organ - some people actually consider it to be the body's "third kidney".  Up to a third of impurities in your body are excreted through your skin, which grossly can equate to about a pound a day. This is why sometimes you break out if you're doing a cleanse of any sort - your body is flushing all the built up crap out thru your pores, and on your face sometimes they release in the form of zits. If you suffer from rashes, hives, acne, itchiness, eczema or body odor it could be because your skin isn't able to properly release toxins. I will eventually write a deodorant post - but this is why antiperspirants are bad news; the toxins are forced to stay in and build up inside your body. There has been mounting evidence linking breast cancer to antiperspirants, which has been dismissed by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. I'm not risking it - best to let your pores breathe!!

A great way to help your skin eliminate waste is by dry brushing. According to the blog Healthy Living How To, dry brushing may benefit you by:
  • Regulates and increases blood circulation and lymph flow
  • Revitalizes and increases your skins ability to eliminate toxins out of the system
  • Rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin
  • Contributes to healthier muscle tone and diminishes appearance of cellulite (say no more!)
  • Gently removes dead layers of skin and other impurities
  • Stimulates the hormone and oil producing glands responsible for keeping your skin looking and feeling young, smooth and strong (those are my key words right there!)
I love having someone brush or wash my hair and get the same tingling sensation with dry brushing. Here's how you do it: before you get in the shower or bath and are still dry (hence the name dry brushing…), brush in gentle upwards, circular motions toward your heart.  Start at your feet and move up your legs, then move to your arms brushing toward your chest. Avoid your delicate d├ęcolletage and any irritated areas. There will be no pictures of me dry brushing, but the chart below really helps. Ideally brush for five minutes before you shower or bathe every day. There is no way I have time for that with a two year old, so I usually brush for a minute or so (I'm lucky to have 5 minutes in the shower at all!). 

Buy a brush with natural fiber bristles and a long handle - I bought the Yerba Prima Tampico brush on Amazon for only $7.80 (I bought a few for Christmas stocking stuffers - big hit!). It seems a little coarse and firm at first, but my skin quickly adjusted. If you have ultra sensitive skin I would recommend finding something gentler. Brusha Brusha Brusha!
Detox Bath Spa Treatment:
Once a week I like to take an extra long 30 minute or longer soak in HOT water - like as hot as I can stand it. This combination will draw out toxins, release stress-related hormones and help balance your pH levels. I add:
  • a cup of Epson salt (which I buy Dr. Teal's in bulk from Costco). Magnesium sulfate is the scientific name for Epson salt and it's pretty magical stuff. The magnesium and sulfates are easily absorbed through your skin and are popular for softening and exfoliating, relaxing and drawing out impurities, relieving migraines, colds and flu symptoms. The relaxation component is no joke - the magnesium actually binds to the serotonin in your brain for perfect stress relief.
  • about 10 drops of essential oil depending on what you want to focus on: lavender for relaxation, tea tree for colds, or eucalyptus for aches. The scent of lavender almost instantly relaxes me - I love it. I'm so sold on lavender that I've never tried adding eucalyptus or tea tree oil (melaleuca), but both have detoxifying properties.
  • about 1/2 cup of baking soda (which I also buy from Costco). Baking soda is a great detox from radiation type exposures like x-rays, cancer treatments, etc and also helps restore pH balance. It is very cleansing, has anti-fungal properties and will make your skin really soft.
  • 1/3 cup or so of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, which will help make your body more alkaline. 
Even better if you have an amazing tub and view like this - heavenly!
I also recently read that adding ginger (sprinkled from your spice cabinet or by steeping ginger tea in the bath) will increase your body temperature making you sweat even more.

Enjoy for 30 minutes, although you might want to start out at only 20. Be careful getting out of the tub - you might be a little light headed. Also, you don't wanna eat right before or after - just drink lots of water to hydrate yourself during and after. I keep a glass of water by the tub, trust me you'll be sweating a ton! I'm not able to do this one right now because I'm pregnant, but look forward to adding it back once I'm done nursing. It's so worth the effort!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Eco-Friendly USA Mama Buying Club

One of my favorite Facebook groups and blogs I follow is the Eco-friendly baby/family products made in the USA site. Jess and Jolene, who run the site, are absolute warriors and sticklers for finding the cleanest, purest, most non-toxic products available in the market and they must be made in the USA. The site features 3 lists based on their research - approved, so-so/not the best, not the worst and greenwasher. Reference the products you use - you'll probably be surprised and it will definitely open your eyes to "green washers." So many companies use marketing terms like "natural" and "pure" yet their products are still full of junk - anything to make a buck. I use the site to determine safety and am usually comfortable with anything in the green zone (0-2) depending on the ingredients, but these ladies insist on the cleanest available - only zeros so you know its the safest stuff out there! 

Every quarter they offer a free buying club that allows you to try products from their favorite, trusted manufacturers and the majority are mom & pop, Etsy type suppliers which I love to support! Some shops offer specials or discounts but the deal is you save on shipping. I always hesitate to order things online because I hate paying for shipping - especially if it's for a cheaper item. With the buying club you can order things from as many stores as you want, they are delivered to Jess and then she ships them all to you in one box. You get to try lots of different stores and products but only have to pay one shipping fee. I think it's great and have ordered four quarters in a row. We've discovered lots of great products that I would have never had the chance to try. I'm a little late getting this post out - the deadline to order is August 17,  which still gives you two weeks! All of the details are on this page.

There are 25 different vendors and tons of products to chose from - here are some of my favorite finds that I recommend trying (also, just so you know I'm not getting paid anything to promote this, just sharing what has worked for me!):

  • Glass straws from Glass Dharma - they sound kinda scary and dangerous, but they're made of borosilicate tubing which is the strongest glass commercially available and meets Corning specifications (a process that strengthens the glass) - they're guaranteed! We LOVE them because they don't leach toxins into your drink like plastic and one glass straw will replace thousands of plastic straws during your lifetime. The size I use every single every single day is the 8 inch ice tea. I also bought the shorty smoothie straw for Olivia but it's a little too short and too thick. Try one out!
  • Josiah's Oils DIY Cleaning Oils are awesome if you want to try making your own cleaning supplies that fight all three categories of infectious organisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses), kill mold on contact, repel insects and can even help you clear congestion. Plus it smells divine - you can inhale all you want and it will actually help improve your body's immune system. For $12 you get approximately 300 drops which will last you a long long time. The recipe to make the basic general cleaner is easy-peasy: simply fill a bottle with 2 TBS of white vinegar, 1 tsp baking soda, 60-100 drops of cleaning oil and top off with water. Trust me, you'll love this stuff!!
  • Switching to a natural deodorant can really ruin your day. Traditional deodorant is probably the #1 worst personal care products and is linked to countless cancers, so switching to a natural option can be a little change that makes a huge difference in your health (I've been meaning to write a post about it, just hasn't happened yet….). The problem is that most options out there are horrible and don't work, which is extremely frustrating. I tried probably seven different brands (Primal Pit Paste worked for a while, then quit on me) before I found Jess's homemade deodorant. It's made of coconut oil, arrowroot powder, corn starch, baking soda, tea tree oil and the essential oil of your choice (or nothing at all!). I personally like her favorite blend which is orange, lavender and a little bit of peppermint. It comes in a mason jar, which is a little different but very eco-friendly - I just put a little bit on my finger and rub it on. Works all day for me and I've been using it successfully for almost a year! One jar will last me about a year and she charges $8 per 4oz jar. Jess also offers samples if you just want to try it out (which you should!)
  • I can confidently state that I am a lip balm/chapstick connoisseur and expert. It is my one major vice and addiction. If you ever need some ask me because I can guarantee I will have something to offer - most likely Burt's Bees. I have used Burt's almost exclusively for about a decade now but this buying club prompted me to try a new brand called Simply Rustic. 100% from nature skin care using fair trade, organic, raw and wildcrafted ingredients - plus their prices are super reasonable. Their lip balm comes in tempting flavors like orange lavender, chocolate covered strawberries and pomegranate vanilla coconut but my FAVORITE is Minty which subtly smells just like an Andes mint. They are only $2.50 each!!
  • I still wash my face with honey every night but needed something to remove eye makeup and a new serum. Last quarter I bought a sample set of Simply Rustic's Simply Face Sample Bundle to test out their products. It includes a cleansing oil, toner, "Face Food Mask" and serum based on your skin type for $13 (3 months later I am still using the face food and serum, haven't run out yet!). I really really like the cleansing oil for eye makeup removal and when I want to mix up my routine a bit - it is especially nice in a steamy bath for a deep cleanse. The toner is really refreshing in the morning and doesn't dry my skin. I use it and then apply my day time moisturizer. The serum is amazing - I love how it makes my skin feel, absorbs completely and isn't too heavy like others I've tried. PLUS IT IS ONLY $15 FOR A WHOLE OUNCE!!!! Everything comes in cobalt glass containers that I'll hoard forever and never be able to throw away.Try out the sample bundle to see how you like it. I already put in my order for their full sized gift bundle for only $46, can't be beat!
  • Laundry detergent is another product that is important to go all-natural. You wear your clothes all day (for the most part), so those chemicals are in constant contact with your skin and being absorbed. We switched to Molly's Suds for laundry and to clean Olivia's cloth diapers and have been very happy. They do offer sample sizes if you want to just try it out - their dryer balls are my Christmas wish list :)
  • I purchased a set of Neat-os reusable storage bags before they became a part of the buying club and use them every day. They're a little pricey but I consider it an investment since we no longer have to buy Zip-locks. We like the zipper closure (velcro and food don't mix), they're easy to wash and I like being able to see what is inside - they'll last us hundreds of uses! We have one gallon sized, two snacks and one sandwich - eventually I'll buy more. 
  • Poofy Organics is one of my favorite new brands and I've been thrilled with every product that I've tried. We use their "baby poof" line on Olivia exclusively and love their body wash/shampoo, happy tush diaper ointment and lotion. I am going to be trying their shampoo and conditioner when I run out of what I have now. The one product they sell that I think every single woman (or man if nail polish is your thing) needs is their nail polish remover. I don't think that anyone doubts how toxic traditional nail polish is - I put the cap back on as soon as possible to keep all the fumes and chemicals in! This remover is very different and is oil based with no offensive chemical smell - it scores a zero on EWG. It does take several more swipes to remove the polish, but it removes ALL of it which my Cutex stuff didn't do. Your nails will also look healthy and nourished by the oil - they'll be so happy and appreciative.