The Truth About Reusable Hygiene Products.

If you would’ve told me 6 years ago that I’d be doing some of the things I do now, I would’ve raised an eyebrow at you.

And what I mean by that is how I’ve embraced this journey to living a life filled with less chemicals and opting for more natural alternatives. Sparing you the details of my reproductive history, I want to talk about some things I’ve been doing in the last couple of years that have a made a huge difference in my health.

But let’s start with the not so great news.

When it comes to disposable hygiene products like pads and tampons, did you know there are toxic chemicals in them?

Today, most cotton is genetically engineered (GE) and soaked in pesticides as it is not a consumable product. However, inserting a GE cotton tampon into your vagina several times each month may be worse than ingesting pesticides from GE food, considering the highly permeable nature of the vaginal wall. (Mercola)


The manufacturers of these products aren’t required by the FDA to disclose what is in their product. And while they want you to believe that the amount of chemicals in them is harmless, think about something for a moment. The skin in your lady parts is VERY thin and highly absorbent. ALSO I have a problem with the fact that the FDA isn’t requiring these companies to disclose the toxic ingredients they’re putting in their products? NOT COOL. Also not surprising.

Anyways.

Think about how many YEARS you use these products. The average women menstruates from the time she’s 14 until she’s 50. Many girls are getting their periods as early as 10 years old because of all the synthetic hormones in our food and water. That is a LONG TIME. It’s not hard to imagine that years and years of absorbing harmful chemicals can lead to serious health risks. I sometimes wonder how much those toxic chemicals have played a part in increasing the risk of things like cancer, PCOS, infertility and other reproductive health issues in women. Interesting thought.

I didn’t know any of this until a few years ago when I came across the silicone menstrual cup known as the Diva Cup. It’s exactly what it says it is. A silicone cup that you insert inside of you when you are menstruating. It can hold up to an ounce of liquid (don’t quote me on that) because there are different sizes (and brands) of cups. You can wear it for up to 12 hours but ideally would empty (and rinse it) every few hours.

The Pros:

  • No smell.
  • Can wear much longer (safely) than a tampon.
  • One time cost.
  • More regulated cycles
  • I experienced fewer and then NO cramps after a few cycles of using the cup.
  • Easy to clean once your cycle is over! You can boil your cup on the stove. Let air dry and store in it’s breathable, cloth bag for your next cycle. *Don’t do what I did and leave it out where a child or cat could get it. My cat chewed my first cup because he’s a little A-hole!

The Cons

  • Tricky to insert. It can take a few cycles to get used to inserting and removing the cup.
  • Messy. It CAN be (doesn’t have to be) messy to empty the cup if you aren’t at home. I’m generally home 99% of the time so I empty, rinse in the sink and re-insert. I avoid emptying my cup if I’m not home for sanitary reasons. I avoid public restrooms in general.
  • Can Leak. Leaks are possible if you aren’t wearing the correct size or it isn’t inserted properly.

After the birth of my first son when I had to wear those awesome mesh panties and giant sized pads because you know, afterbirth is just lovely-I discovered I was allergic to these things. All these years and I never knew thats what was going on. I developed a horrific infection and rash while still healing from blowing out a baby. I mean it was worse than labour and delivery, to be honest. I was miserable for at least a month if not longer.

I swore I would invest in cloth pads for after my next baby, when I found out I was pregnant again.

So let’s talk about Cloth Pads. They are exactly what you think they are. You wear them, store them after use and then wash them. Cloth pads can be overwhelming to navigate because there are so many different materials that people use to make them. You could even make your own cloth pads if you are handy with a sewing machine!

Pros:

  • One time cost.
  • Comfortable.
  • Chemical free
  • More regulated cycles
  • Less and then NO cramping after using these for a few cycles
  • Easy to wash! Throw in the wash ( I LOVE Nellie’s) NO fabric softener and then line dry or tumble in the dryer.

Cons:

  • Tricky to find the right style and fabric with the best absorption that feels comfortable for you.
  • A learning curve to store after use when on the go (you need a wet bag)
  • Expensive (deff an investment!)

It’s important to do your own research and figure out which reusable hygiene product works for you. There are so many different brands, materials and models available now. There are quizzes you can take online to determine fit for maximum protection and comfort.

And, again you could even make your own pads if you can sew!

I talked about experiencing less to no cramps and more regulated cycles when I started using a cup and cloth pads. You might have done a double take?

That isn’t an exaggeration. I used to get wicked PMS with accompanying cramps once my cycle started. I would often resort to OTC pain meds, a hot water bottle and lay on the couch because I was so miserable. But switching to reusable menstrual products has eliminated my cramps and almost all of the PMS I used to experience as well as helped regulate my cycles. You might wonder how that is possible?

I don’t have a super educated answer for you but I suspect it has to do with the fact that I’m no longer exposing my lady parts (inside and out) to toxic chemicals. I also noticed a huge difference in my cycles once I stopped using hormonal birth control, but we’ll save that topic for another day.

That is my spiel on reusable hygiene products. I personally have found the switch to be easy! That might be because I’ve embrace cloth diapers but I want to encourage you-don’t be afraid of reusable hygiene products. You can’t go wrong with something that is good for you AND our environment! IF you struggle with difficult, inconsistent, or painful cycles maybe think about it.

Do you use reusable hygiene products?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Let’s Talk Non-Toxic Skin Care!

Skin.

It’s the body’s largest organ and makes up for 16 percent of our body weight!

I’m really excited to share with you how I practice non-toxic skin care and how easy it can be.

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Before we dive in, lets talk about how much skin changes and how different our skin can become as we age. 

Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or skin care professional. The practices mentioned in this article are not medical advice and if you choose to practice anything mentioned here, you do so at your own risk.

As a teen, I was thankful to have minimal breakouts and skin issues. I’ve battled psoriasis and eczema since birth but those spots were in hidden places, not on my face. As I entered my late teens and early 20’s I started to experience more breakouts than I ever had before. I can now peg those breakouts down to a few factors: late nights, poor eating/drinking habits and stress! Those 3 factors are incredibly important when it comes to the skin on our face. When our skin starts to present problems, it’s time to listen to our bodies!

It took me into my mid-twenties to realize my lifestyle was impacting my skin negatively. Once I started removing stress factors, sleeping better and cutting out the excess sugar (and alcohol) my skin improved. From the ages of 25 to 30 were the best years with my skin. When I was working in tropical climates like Fiji and the Philippines my skin was the clearest it had ever been. I wasn’t wearing makeup, I was eating more servings of fruits, vegetables and drinking so much water.

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Ahhh the sun! I think very different about sun and skin. Obviously I don’t believe you should be frying yourself to get a nice, crispy tan and protection is important! But I don’t approach sun exposure traditionally (thanks mama!) Hear me out. I think we’ve gone a little crazy with the sun protection. Please, don’t yell at me! People today are facing an extreme Vitamin D deficiency. WHY?!

Medicalnewstoday.com says,

“Despite the importance of vitamin D, many people in the United States do not have sufficient levels in their bodies. For example, one study found that overall, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population was vitamin D deficient. So much so, that some authors have referred to vitamin D deficiency as a pandemic.”

One of our greatest resources for Vitamin D is the sun! Much of the sunscreen marketed today has carcinogenic (cancer causing) ingredients in it. Yeah, carcinogenic! Yuck and no thanks. I have an great home made sunscreen recipe here. I don’t apply sunscreen every day because I’m not in the sun everyday. I also wear hats in the sun, now. If I know I’m going to be exposed to the sun for long periods of time, I obviously apply sunscreen. Sun protection is important but I challenge you to do some research and re-think the way you approach sun protection.

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m serious about skin care. I wish I hadn’t waited so long. It’s never too early to start your anti aging skin care routine! My biggest skin issue is dryness. I have thin skin that easily becomes rough and dry, mostly on my face. Winter in Canada does not help my skin. Here are some things I use and practice to combat dry, rough skin:

  • Exfoliation. I use my own homemade sugar/salt scrubs with a carrier oil to exfoliate my skin a few times a week, in the shower.

  • Microneedling. What is this sorcery you ask? Essentially it’s the process of poking tiny, microscopic holes in your skin with a derma roller (a skin needling device) to boost collagen production. I don’t get this done professionally because I can do it at home using common sense. I did a ton of research before I tried it. I use the smallest needle roller and I’ve never bled. I don’t apply intense pressure, just enough that my face feels like I’ve had a sunburn afterwards. I always apply a serum with Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid in it before and after. I do not wear makeup or put anything on my face 12-24 hours after doing this so that my skin has a chance to breathe and recover. I’ve seen great results with the exfoliation, plumping and softening of my skin. The size of needles and how much pressure you apply will determine how often you need to do it. Please do your own research!

  • Hyaluronic Acid. Dr. Axe does an excellent job of explaining what this incredible stuff is and how it benefits our skin. Check his article out here.
  • Water. We can spend all the money we want on expensive products and treatments to hydrate and nourish our skin but if we aren’t working on our insides, we won’t see as much of a difference. I never leave my house without a water bottle, not even for a walk around the block. This will be the most inexpensive way you can nourish your skin.

  • Nourishing oils. I started making my own face oils a few years ago and have seen great results with softer, more hydrated and smoother skin on my face. I love blends of avocado oil, frankincense, myrrh, and geranium. They all have their own complex qualities that contribute to nourishing the skin. Camellia seed oil is newer to me but I’ve been LOVING it! It makes my skin feel silky soft but does not cause me to breakout.

  • Limited use of soap/face wash. Coconut oil and baby wipes are great for removing makeup. Seriously, so simple. I spent years using chemical laden makeup remover that burned the crap out of my eyes and dried out my skin. Coconut oil is 100x more efficient, chemical FREE AND it nourishes the skin. If I feel like I need an extra clean after removing my makeup, I use alcohol free witch hazel and a cotton ball all over my face.
  • I ALWAYS remove my makeup at night before I go to bed! I didn’t start practicing this until my 30’s. I know, embarrassing right? Just do it and thank yourself later.

A few of my body/hair care STAPLES right now are:

EVA-NYC dry shampoo: Very similar to Amika dry shampoo but $11 cheaper! It’s leaping bunny certified. It smells just as amazing. It uses rice starch like Amika and so far, I’ve been loving it.

Shea Moisture Soothing Body Lotion: I love this line! It’s HUGE with a variety of hair, body and baby care products. They are fair trade and cruelty free which is a bonus!

I think it goes without saying that less stress, a healthy diet and SLEEP are all very important when it comes to having healthier skin. Those are all FREE!

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You can easily establish a non-toxic, anti-aging, spa worthy skin care routine in your own home without spending a fortune. I bet you already have enough ingredients in your home to whip up a fun face mask or scrub. If you can eat it, put it on your face! There are so many ideas and recipes out there. Have fun with it!

What are some ways you practice non-toxic skin care? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

My Top Five Essential Oils And What I Use Them For.

“I have an oil for that.”

Essential oils are everywhere today. I have to chuckle because when I started using oils years ago, they weren’t the trend that they seem to have become today. When I started getting into essential oils all I could think was that I didn’t want to be the weird, hippie chick who didn’t bathe but smelled like patchouli all the time. NOW I love being the weird, hippie chick who often smells like oils. ALL THE OILS!

I personally think it’s great that essential oils have become such a trend because they are absolutely wonderful when used properly and with the right knowledge. That being said caution needs to be heeded when using essential oils.

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There are also a lot of articles out there that will try to scare you from using essential oils. Research. The average person can use essential oils without formal training if common sense is practiced. Dilution is very important when it comes to using these oils. I don’t currently advocate for any specific brand of oils. Many experts will recommend very specific oils for babies and children under the age of two. Some people will even advocate that you buy oils already diluted specifically for use on or around children. I am comfortable and careful enough in my usage of oils that I feel confident when I use them on and around my son. That being said, please don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. I can’t stress that enough!

Disclaimer: I am not a certified Aromatherapist nor do I sell essential oils. My experience with oils has been based solely on personal research as well as trial and error. While I am planning to obtain my Aromatherapist certification at some point, please do not take anything on my blog as certified medical advice. If you use oils based on my posts, you do so at your own risk and I’m not responsible for any injury resulting from improper use.

There is an essential oil for literally everything. That is not an exaggeration. I want to share today my top five oils that I reach for, sometimes on a daily basis and what or how I use them. I have never used my oils undiluted. That means I use a carrier oil, body butter, water, or witch hazel and add however many drops of oil I need.

  • Lavender (lavindula officinalis): I would call Lavender the workhorse of essential oils. It’s probably the most versatile of essential oils. It’s known for its relaxing properties, as well as antiseptic. I diffuse Lavender in my son’s humidifier to help him sleep and when any of us are getting sick. I also use it for minor scrapes, cuts and burns. When allergy season hits, I whip up a blend of lavender and lemon to help with my hay fever intolerance. Lavender is also fantastic for breathing in when nauseated. I also put it in my nourishing face oil blend as it’s great for hydrating dry skin.
  • Tea Tree (melaleuca alternifolia): If Lavender is the workhorse of essential oils, I would say Tea Tree is its partner, like a team of workhorses! The number one property of this oil is it’s anti fungal abilities. It’s incredible! Tea Tree has actually been used to treat serious staph infections like MRSA. Bacteria has the ability to mutate and become resistant to the antibiotics so often prescribed for infections. Bacteria reacts quite differently when treated with Tea Tree Oil. Great article here.  TTO is handy for things like ringworm and toenail fungal infections! I use TTO for cuts and scrapes. I diffuse with Lavender when my son has a slight fever or cold. I’ve added a few drops to my shampoo for dandruff. I’ve even added a drop on my toothbrush to fight plaque buildup. When I battle mastitis three TIMES while trying to breastfeed, I would take hot baths with lavender and TTO. I also use this in my baby bum cream. It’s fantastic for yeast related diaper rash as it’s anti fungal.
  • Lemom (citrus limon): Who doesn’t love the fresh scent of lemon? As a kid, I remember my mom throwing a lemon in the garbage disposal to kill the smell of decaying food. It’s also antiseptic so it’s great to use as an astringent for the skin. Take note that lemon is a photosensitive oil which means when it’s used on the skin, the skin will be more sensitive to UV rays. Basically, you could seriously burn your skin if you slather on something with Lemon oil in it and then go out in the sun. Use caution! Cover your skin if you’re using a citrus oil and planning to be in the sun. I use Lemon in my natural cleaning products since it’s antiseptic and gives such a great smell! Lemon is also known to help uplift mood. I’ll diffuse it with orange or bergamot when I’m in the worst of my morning sickness and it helps with my mood as well as nausea. High in Vitamin C, Lemon can boost the immune system. As I mentioned earlier, I also use lemon with lavender during allergy season for great relief! The coolest thing I’ve used it for is to remove stickers and sticker residue from bottles and containers! AMAZING. It’s  a great glass/window cleaner when combined with vinegar.
  • Peppermint (mentha piperita) is a great oil that some say is just as versatile as Lavender! Known for its cooling and calming properties, peppermint has a variety of uses. It’s antimicrobial meaning it can help bad breath and sooth digestive issues. I’ve used peppermint (diluted) for sunburns, many times. One summer my husband burned the tops of his feet so badly, he could barely walk. I had him soak his feet in an ice bath of lavender, peppermint and epsom salts. He said the relief was incredible as well as speeding up the recovery of his damaged skin. I make a salve of aloe vera and peppermint to rub on minor sunburns. I have a rollerball of diluted peppermint that I rub on my belly when I have stomach pains and nausea. I also inhale peppermint or rub onto my temples for headache relief.
  • Frankincense (boswellia carter): is one of the more pricey oils on the market. I’ve only ever used a diluted version of Frankincense though I’ve seen great results with it! Known for its astringent, antiseptic and disinfectant properties, it’s a very versatile oil. I diffuse Frankincense to boost our immune systems during flu season. I use it in a blend with my nourishing face oil as Frankincense has anti-aging properties. It also speeds up the healing of the skin so it’s great for minor cuts and scrapes. Frankincense was said to be used in ancient times for burials because it helped in delaying the decaying of the body.

Some of my favourite carrier oils would be:

  • Grapeseed Oil-Great for use on the skin as it’s light, contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Sweet Almond Oil-Also great for the skin as it’s light, contains vitamins and is very nourishing for the skin.
  • Fractionated Coconut Oil-This form of coconut oil is the kind that doesn’t solidify. I love it and have found it to be a fantastic carrier oil.

I have these roller ball bottles from Amazon to make my own blends. GREAT value for your money! I still have so many leftover.

I had to think really hard about what oils I reach for the most, these days. It was difficult! I love essential oils and they’ve really impacted the way I approach health and wellness. Oils are an investment and it’s taken me years to build the supply that I have. If you are new to essential oils, these five are a great place to start.

I would also recommend getting some books or reading some articles on oils for beginners. I hope you come to love oils if you don’t already and if you are a frequent user, maybe you found some new ideas of how to use your oils. What are some of your favourite oils and what do you use them for? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Lavender Vanilla Body Scrub with Himalayan Pink Salt and Cane Sugar.

Aging. Something no one can escape!

There’s the idea floating around that men tend to look younger from years of shaving their faces. If you think about it, they are exfoliating their skin every time they shave. When you exfoliate, you are sloughing off the dead skin cells and making way for fresh skin cells! Apparently women shaving their faces to achieve younger looking skin is now a thing but we aren’t going to get into that today.

There are a ton of products and tools on the beauty market today that can assist you in exfoliating your skin. I have found salt and sugar scrubs to be the most effective for myself. I struggle with dry skin especially during the winter season. Lets just be honest, winter in Ontario carries an all out assault on our skin. It’s brutal! I have to really up my skin care game come wintertime.

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Before you run out and purchase some fancy, organic, magical scrub that an expensive beauty retailer is selling, let me share with you a super easy, affordable salt sugar scrub you can make yourself. This scrub is a great way to exfoliate and nourish your skin with natural ingredients. Chances are you probably have all the ingredients you need to make some type of scrub, today! Below I’ve linked each ingredient and apart from the cane sugar, I used those brands in my recipe.

What You Will Need:

3 Tbsp Himalayan Pink Salt 

3 Tbsp Cane Sugar

1-2 Tbsp Grape seed Oil

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A bowl and fork for mixing

Lavender EO and *Vanilla Oleoresin (1-5 drops of each) This step is optional.

A container such as a 125ml mason jar with a lid. I’ve found these to work really well. I can’t remember for the life of me where I got the container showing in my photo. Voyageur Soap and Candle is great supplier in BC, if you are looking for really nice packaging. I find that mason jars are work just fine.

Add sugar, salt and oil into bowl and mix with fork. If you wish to add essential oils, do so at this time. I would suggest using a plastic fork so you aren’t putting essential oils onto your cutlery that you eat with. Once you’ve mixed your ingredients and are satisfied, transfer to your container.

*Caution with essential oils-if you haven’t used them much please test them for reactions, in small amounts with a carrier oil, on your wrist. Some great essential oils for body scrubs can be Lavender, Bergamot, or Sweet Orange. For the face I would suggest trying Geranium Egyptian EO (great for nourishing dry skin), Frankincense EO (great for healing and balancing the skin) and Myrrh EO (known for its anti aging properties). Avoid hot oils such as Cinnamon and Clove.

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The measurements provided are guess to be honest. I tend to experiment with the amounts I use. Play around with your ingredients to achieve the texture/consistency that you desire. As you can see above, the mixture is not overly wet from the oils. In the past I found too much oil makes the mixture slimy. Start with a little and add more if you need it.

To Use: take a small amount of scrub with your fingers and apply to desired area in small circular motions. Rinse off when finished. I use this in the shower as it tends to get messy. I use it on my face and body whenever I shower.

Some other great ingredient alternatives are white sugar, brown sugar, sea salt (I grind mine down for a finer consistency) fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil or jojoba oil. These are all nourishing for the skin, you can’t go wrong! Do you already make your own scrubs? What are some of your favourite ingredients? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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