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Natural Beauty

April 7, 2011

By Jennifer Chaky

Yesterday I was putting up groceries after a trip to a local Asian market and I was struck by how differently I now shop from how I used to. Everything I buy now is an ingredient, not a product. I buy flour and sugar instead of packaged cookies, fresh vegetables instead of frozen, dried legumes, nuts, and grains in bulk instead of pre-made or canned.

Even for my personal care products, I buy ingredients instead of products. And a lot of what I buy for personal care are the same ingredients I buy for cooking. This has seriously streamlined things—and saved me a bundle of money.  Here’s what I do now:

  • Instead of moisturizers with dubious chemical ingredients, I keep it simple so I know what is going onto my skin (and thereby into my body): Coconut Oil, Shea butter, Coco Butter, and Olive Oil are all I use. Sometimes I mix these ingredients, sometimes I use them straight. Coconut oil is my favorite for a facial moisturizer. It does not leave a greasy residue and it’s an excellent detox for skin. For my day cream I mix it with a natural sunscreen, for a night cream I thicken it with olive oil (or grapeseed, sesame, or almond oils) and add Vitamin C crystals for antioxidant power.
  • I never run out of toothpaste anymore since I make my own for pennies a pop:  2 oz. calcium carbonate (available at hardware stores), 1 oz. baking soda, pinch of stevia (for sweetness), vegetable glycerin, and 5-6 drops peppermint, cinnamon, lemon or clove essential oil. Combine dry ingredients and oils in a jar with enough glycerin to make a paste. Put on your brush with a little spoon or spatula.
  • Commercial anti-perspirants are not good for you or the planet. They are very heavily packaged and put heavy metals into your body. Plus, perspiring is a natural way for your body to rid itself of toxins–it’s a good thing; you shouldn’t fight it. I keep baking soda in a small dish and scent it with essential oils. I use a damp deodorant crystal to apply the baking soda to my underarms. This works! Also, some witch hazel scented with a few drops of essential oil of your choice in a spray bottle is a great spray-on deodorant.
  • Kill germs, not your skin, with DIY hand sanitizer. A batch of cinnamon, clove, lemon, clary sage, and rosemary oil in a base of aloe gel will keep those germs away. Germs cannot become resistant to essential oils because the proprieties of the plants the oils come from change from crop to crop. It’s a dangerous thing to use commercial antibacterial products because they are creating Supergerms that are getting harder and harder to fight.
  • A good, simple glycerin or castile soap is all I use for handwashing. I especially like liquid castile that I can add essential oils, like cinnamon or tea tree, to for safe germ-killing. This can also be used for shampoo and shaving.
  • My medicine cabinet looks more like an apothecary’s cupboard. I am always adding to my collection of essential oils and use them in various ways: gentian violet for cuts, eucalyptus in a vaporizer for colds, lemon oil for cleaning, peppermint oil for pest control.


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