Category Archives: Natural Personal Care

Health Update and Dry Skin Brushing

Dry BrushingYesterday, I should have been posting my Crunchy Tuesday link-up post, but was unable to, as I was feeling quite unwell. It made me realize that I am still not well enough to commit to running a weekly link-up. In fact, I still hadn’t found the energy to properly promote the Crunchy Tuesday link-up, by inviting others to link up and so forth. So I am going to discontinue the link-up, after only two weeks, which is lame, I know.

It saddens me, as I had been feeling soooo much better since starting the meds for my connective tissue disease. Alas, “better” is not fully recovered. As an example, I have been trying to start walking and was really happy and encouraged that I had been able to do this. I even secretly daydreamed that I might be able to start running again, some day. Then I had an appointment with the rheumatologist yesterday and she pointed out that while my joint pain had improved, several of my other, more serious symptoms had actually gotten worse. Connective tissue diseases can be weird that way, the symptoms that feel the worst are not per se the ones that are the most serious. My diagnosis is still undifferentiated connective tissue disorder, but things are pointing more towards a diagnosis of scleroderma. It was the one connective tissue disease that I thought I did not have, but that was because I did not know what thickened skin looked like. Now I know that I have had it for some time, just no doctor noticed it, even though it is on my hands. Also, my kidneys may not be doing as well as I had been lead to believe by my nephrologist. So it was a a bit of a depressing appointment, all around, and normally my rheumatologist is quite optimistic. Though she was very encouraging of me continuing to walk every day, just no more than three miles a day. So, no marathons in my near future….

With, scleroderma in mind, I now having even more of a reason to have concern for taking care of my skin, so I thought I would post about dry brushing. I use dry brushing in addition to my homemade body custard  tin an attempt to keep my skin as supple and non-itchy as possible. I am not going to make any claims about dry brushing removing cellulite or detoxing your body, as some people do, but it certainly helps to keep my skin looking and feeling much healthier.

Dry brushing, ironically, entails brushing your dry skin with a dry brush. There are a variety of brushes and loofahs out there that claim to be for dry brushing, but the first one I tried, hurt like “H” “E” “double hockey sticks”. Currently, I use the Yerba Prima Tampico Skin Brush, which has a nice long handle, which helps me reach all of my back, which tends to be really dry (have you ever tried moisturizing your back?!?!). I really recommend, however, that you look at a health food store, if possible, so you can test the brushes yourself to see which feels the best for your skin (do try for natural bristles though).

  • As this exfoliates a lot of skin, I dry brush in my shower (The first time I did this, the amount of skin that came off was just disgusting and I worried that I might be exfoliating off too much skin, but I was fine afterwards. Since then, I haven’t exfoliated anywhere near as much skin.)
  • I rub firmly, but not so hard that it causes pain, in a circular motion first, and then brush towards the heart afterwards
  • I usually start with my toes and work my way up. (If you vigorously brush your leg hair in an upwards direction and then shave right after you finish dry brushing, you will get an incredibly close shave.)
  • Then I move on to my fingers and work my way upward, towards my heart
  • Finally, I do my back.
  • I do try to brush of my front, which many healers recommend, but I find that most of my skin in that area is just too sensitive.
  • NEVER brush your face!
  • I shower or bathe to remove any remaining loose skin.
  • Afterwards, I apply a good moisturizer afterwards to protect the newly revealed layers of skin.

The one thing that happened to me after dry brushing that I had not expected is that it is incredibly invigorating. I guess it’s because it stimulates the circulation or something, but I feel so refreshed and alert after dry brushing.

I only do it once a week, any more frequently and I start to get eczema. I have heard of some people dry brushing every day though, so it is clearly a personal preference that one needs to experiment with to get just right.

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.


Labels: Natural Personal Care
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Crunchy Tuesday–Body Custard Recipe

Crunchy TuesdaySorry for my absence last week, but I was working on a project for this blog and then Dora and I came down with colds, so hopefully everyone can forgive me (since I know that everyone noticed my absence). Recently several weekly link-ups/memes that I participated in have closed. It has been very disappointing, though I totally understand why the bloggers who ran them felt the need to close them. After awhile, it occurred to me that I should start hosting a weekly link-up/meme to help fill the void. It took awhile for me to come up with a common theme between all the link-ups that I participated in, but I finally realized that the one thing they all had in common was crunchy-ness. So I created “Crunchy Tuesday”. You can read more about this link-up at the bottom of this post.Body Custard RecipeFor my first “Crunchy Tuesday” post, I’m going to share with you the body custard recipe that I feel is finally ready to post. What is “body custard” you ask? That is a really good question! I was originally trying to make a creamy body lotion recipe from the book Better Basics for the Home, by Annie Berthold-Bond. Unfortunately, Annie never clarifies in the book (that I could find anyway) whether or not to use fluid ounces or weight ounces in her recipes. I e-mailed her to ask for clarification, but never heard back. So I finally just opted to muddle through the recipe to the best of my abilities. My best abilities were apparently not good enough, but I ended up creating an interestingly textured product, though not something that was truly useable. Once I figured out how to make the original recipe from the book (all measurements are in weight ounces), I decided that what I really wanted was something that was in between the actual recipe and my goof-up recipe.The problems that I had with the original recipe and many other natural body lotions and butters is that my very dry skin doesn’t seem to absorb oil. So these products just sit on top of my skin until I brush up against something, at which point I have dry skin AND oil-stained clothing and furniture. After months and months of experimenting, I ended up with what I believe, is a perfect recipe (at least for my skin). The texture is very custardy, so if the thought of a custardy body lotion seems gross to you, then don’t even bother with this recipe. I use it twice a day and it keeps my skin perfectly moisturized with no lotion build-up, like I get from commercial products and no oily residue, like I get from other natural lotion recipes.

Anyway, without further adieu, here is my recipe (and please be kind if something goes awry, this is the first recipe that I have ever written/made, even though it is actually a variation of someone else’s recipe).

Body Custard

* All measurements in ounces refer to weight, not volume

** Disclosure: I am providing Amazon affiliate links for all the ingredients to the exact brands of products that I personally use for your reference, but any brand should work just fine. If you click on these links and subsequently purchase from Amazon, I will earn a small percentage.

  1. Mix aloe vera gel, distilled water, glycerin, and grapefruit seed extract in a medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl.
  2. Melt the oils and beeswax in a pan over low heat.
  3. As soon as the oils and beeswax are melted, pour them into the mixing bowl with the aloe vera mixture (do NOT allow the mixture to cool as the beeswax will begin to form into small bits if you do)
  4. Mix with a hand mixer, working your way up to full speed setting (start on speed as it will splash at first, when it is very liquidy). Beat until the mixture is the texture of warm custard.
  5. Store in a glass jar with top. The mixture will become even thicker as it cools.
  6. Depending on the temperature and humidity, the mixture may begin to separate a bit, but it is still safe to use for 3 months (I go through a batch within 3 weeks, so I can’t verify this estimate, but the grapefruit seed extract acts as a preservative.) Obviously, if the “custard” begins to smell or you can see any mold, dispose of the product immediately.



Labels: Crunchy Tuesday, Natural Personal Care
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Natural Face Care Regimen

Natural Facial Skin Care RegimenAs I have continued to look into natural personal care products, I have often found myself sticker-shocked by the cost of many store-bought natural personal care products. So, I have really been focusing on making my own products, yet I really don’t have the energy to make a lot of complicated products. I also am not interested in any product where I have to either refrigerate it or make a new batch every day, as neither practices are practical for my lifestyle. After doing quite a bit of a research, I have found that I can take care of my the extremely sensitive skin on my face with a relatively simple routine that is much cheaper and more effective than the expensive store-bought routine that I used previously (complete with alpha-hydroxy peels and what not). It is my understanding that these products should work for most skins types. My routine is:

  1. Once per week: exfoliate with a mixture of baking soda and water
  2. Daily: wash face, neck, and chest with witch hazel
  3. Daily: moisturize face, neck, and chest with aloe vera
  4. Two-three times per week: apply a couple of drops of avocado oil to my eye area

That’s it! There’s no need for complicated facial creams or cleansers. I will admit that it took about 1 week for me to get used to the feeling of my skin after this regimen. Aloe vera definitely does not leave my skin feeling like the lotions I was used to. At the same time, I’ve been using this regimen for about six weeks now and have not had any acne break-outs,  eczema, new rashes, etc. I still have a few weird red patches across my nose, that are not rough, itchy, or dry and I believe are related to my autoimmune disorder. These did not got better or worse with the change in my skin care, but my acne and eczema completely cleared up (even when Aunt Flo made a visit!). So I have been very happy with how easy and cheap it has been to take care of my skin in a healthy and natural way.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.


Labels: Natural Personal Care
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Going Poo Free

Going Poo Free

As I continue on my quest to eliminate toxins from my lifestyle in an effort to lighten the load on my kidneys, I am trying to start with the areas of my body that seem to be showing signs of the most damage. My hair and skin, in particular, have been showing major evidence of systemic illness. My hair has been very dry and brittle and it may just be my imagination, but I believe I may be losing some of it also. Obviously, the first step I took was to discontinue coloring my hair. I also had been spending a fortune on trying various salon hair care products in an effort to moisturize my hair, all to no avail. So I finally decided to do what so many “crunchy” bloggers have done and go “poo” free (as in sham”poo”).

I have spent  a lot of time researching a variety of DIY hair care products, but finally decided that I really don’t have the energy to make complicated recipes that often use oils that either need to be refrigerated or risk going rancid. So I decided to try the most basic shampoo-free hair care regimen that I could find. I started washing my hair/scalp with baking soda and then rinsing with apple cider vinegar. I have been doing this for two weeks and my hair is as clean and soft as before. I cannot say that my hair is suddenly softer, but it may be that as I continue this regimen, the new growth will be healthier. Regardless, this combination is certainly healthier for my kidneys and costs about $30/month less than the expensive salon hair care products that I had been experimenting with.

There are a few minor drawbacks to this system that I wanted to address. The first is the practicality of using baking soda in the shower without. I have addressed this issue by putting the baking soda in a glass jar, which I store outside of the shower when I’m not using it. Then, when I do open the jar to use it, I make sure the water is pointed in the other direction and I pour some baking soda in my hand, then promptly put the lid on the jar before rinsing my hair. In the future, I may look into making some sort of shaker/dispenser for the jar.

The second negative issue I have to deal with is the smell of apple cider vinegar. I personally detest the smell of vinegar, though I do find apple cider vinegar to be less offensive than other vinegars. I essentially have had to “suck it up” in this regards. I rinse the vinegar out as well as I can and by the time my hair dries, the smell is gone. The only time I find that the smell returns is when I start sweating and even then, it is faint. I have asked family members and friends if they can smell it then and no one else can smell it. I do have a super strong olfactory sense, so I don’t think you have to worry about offending other people with the smell, if you want to try this yourself, but you do need to be aware that you may have a slight scent of apple cider vinegar on you.

The final drawback that I have found and that I have read other blogger mention is that I need to at least rinse your hair daily. I wash my hair daily anyway, as I always end up getting sweaty and grungy by the evening, due to my lifestyle (sometimes I even have the added element of paint, flour, glitter, snot, etc. in my hair, and despite my efforts to start some sort of “mom hair” trend, it continues to remain an unpopular hairstyle). So while my hair looks fine 24 hours after I last “washed” my hair, I personally can detect a slight oiliness in my hair, such that I know that were I not to at least rinse my hair, I’d risk looking like Severus Snape the next day. I’m currently choosing to use the baking soda/vinegar combination everyday, but some bloggers have mentioned that they only do it every other day or every couple of days.

What about you? Have you gone “poo” free? If so, what combination of products do you use and with what frequency?

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Labels: Natural Personal Care
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff