Monat: Natural Product Review

Over the past few years, I’ve transitioned to using non-toxic products for health and home.  Some of the changes were quick and easy, but others have been hard- like hair and make up products. I’ve struggled to find a reasonable replacement, in cost or effectiveness.

effortless-styleToday, I want to share that I’ve finally found a natural hair care line that I can say, with confidence, works well AND is safe.  The product is MONAT (wondering how to pronounce? it stands for modern nature)!

I was initially wary because it is a multi-level marketing organization and I wasn’t interested in distributing anything. Plus, the price was high and it’s not grocery-store convenient. But dealing with terrible postpartum hair, I was desperate to try something that worked as well as everyone raved.  My expectations were low.

First, what I love about this product is the ingredients.  It’s made with essential oils (the products smell incredible!) and antioxidants to support hair health.  And it has none of the super harmful chemicals in almost everything else on the market – there’s NO:

  • Parabens – preservative in nearly all cosmetics that mimics estrogen, therefore disrupting hormone function; studies show it causes cancer
  • Sulfates – foaming agent that dries out your hair and irritates your scalp
  • Cyclic Silicones – makes the product spreadable, but causes lots of build up which is especially bad for curly hair like mine
  • DEA/MEA – a cutting agent you’ll find in most bath products to help mix oil-soluble with water-soluble ingredients; it increases risk for kidney and liver cancer because they are especially tough chemicals for our bodies to break down
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) – helps with product penetration; this ingredient may irritate sensitive skin, but the worse risk is how it helps other toxic chemicals in a product get into your system
  • Phthalates – a dissolving agent and fragrance carrier; disrupts estrogen and testosterone levels linking to infertility, effects unborn babies and young children most due to inability to metabolize through digestive system (source)
  • Phenoxyethanol – a common cosmetic preservative; the FDA has admitted it depresses central nervous system and European studies show it is a skin irritant and potential effects on fertility (source)
  • Petrolatum / Mineral Oil – our bodies cannot metabolize so levels continue to build over use, especially bad because it is linked to estrogen dominance and potential carcinogen (source)
  • Triclosan – antimicrobial that causes gut inflammation
  • Formaldehyde Releasers – common preservative and antimicrobial is known to inhibit the immune system and studies show it is a carcinogen (source)

Now that the SAFETY of this product is clear, let me share my experience with the EFFECTIVENESS…

Monat has several different systems depending on your hair type- a distributor could help you identify the best one for you.  I was wanting to tackle a couple problem areas for myself… through all the products I’ve tried, my hair has always ended up oily, frizzy and easily tangled. A bonus would be for my air-dried hair to look better and be easier to achieve.  For reference- my hair is fine but there’s lots of it, is uncolored and is long and naturally wavy.

Based on this, I chose the Effortless Style/Soothing system. Shampooing with this product is a bit different- you have to put a little bit on first and let it sit- there will be no lather. Rinse and repeat and the second time it lathers a bunch. Let that sit and rinse and your hair will feel cleaner than ever!  Conditioning is normal, except you need to let it sit for 5 minutes.

air-dry-newI used the product for a few weeks and was totally disappointed / felt I had completely wasted my money.  My hair was only slightly less oily, but it was tangled worse than ever and still didn’t air-dry well.  The system comes with a blow-out cream, which I never used because I only blow dry my hair once a month. When I told my distributor about this issue, she switched it for the Air Dry Cream.

The new cream was a GAME CHANGER. Suddenly, my hair was healthy, didn’t tangle and air-dried fantastic. I use just a tiny bit (even on my long hair) after towel-drying and brushing and end up with nearly frizz-free (I do live in humid Texas after all) wavy hair.  While I do still have to use some dry shampoo to go a day between washes, the oiliness is much better than it used to be and continues to improve.

As for the cost, I agree it is super expensive, but I do believe it is worth it.  I became a “VIP” to get that discounted pricing with no obligation.  Also, it helps that it lasts- I bought my first bottles of shampoo/conditioner in mid-March and here I am just halfway through my second bottles nearly 6 months later.

I’m not a distributor of this product, but if you are interested in purchasing, I would be happy to connect you with the friend I buy from!

 

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Thrive Market: Favorite Toddler Snacks

If you know me, you know I LOVE Thrive Market. I’ve been a member for a few years now and the savings are real.  I am passionate about buying all organic groceries for my family and I’ve shared lots of tips about how to do so on a budget; Thrive Market is one of the ways I do it.  See some of my favorite deals here.

I shared some of my favorite toddler snacks on Instagram a while ago and many of you were interested in more, so I thought I would share what I buy specifically at Thrive Market because it is cheaper than at the grocery store:

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Applesauce PouchPear Pea Spinach Pouch

 

 

 

 

Simple Mills: Cheddar Almond Flour Crackers – a healthy alternative to goldfish

Siete: Lime Grain-Free Tortilla Chips – she loves to dip these in guacamole; besides being grain-free, I love that these are fried in avocado oil instead of canola oil (read why you should avoid canola/vegetable oil here)

GoGo Squeez: Applesauce Pouches – perfect for the diaper bag

nurturme: Organic Power Blends Pear + Pea + Spinach Pouches – for the days when she doesn’t eat her veggies or needs some digestive help

The New Primal: Turkey Sticks – for a protein boost

Larabar: Apple Pie Bars – I love that it’s a simple mix of fruits and nuts sweetened only by dates. All the flavors are great (especially these, carrot cake, blueberry muffin & cashew cookie).

Gimme: Organic Roasted Seaweed – my toddler calls these “chips” and they are a salty snack that’s a great source of vitamins and minerals

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Interested in trying Thrive Market? Get 25% off your first order by using this link to shop!

Effective Non-Toxic Oral Care

Happy Shark Week!!

5 years ago during Shark Week, I shared about my experience using OraWellness to brush my teeth.  I get asked constantly what natural products I use for oral care, so I thought I would write a follow up post.single-bottle-original

I originally chose OraWellness because it was free of fluoride, added sweeteners and other chemicals that most commercial toothpastes have.  It is a completely natural product that’s simply a blend of essential oils.  It took a few times to get used to brushing my teeth with oil instead of paste, but since it leaves you with the same clean feeling and minty freshness, it was an easy switch.

Since I was so sick during pregnancy, I went over a year without a dental cleaning.  I was eager to visit the dentist after my daughter was born because I knew that pregnancy can cause more rapid tooth decay with hormones inhibiting the body’s ability to fight plaque.  I ended up having one small cavity (I hadn’t had one in years) and asked my dentist if we could delay the filling to see if I could heal it. She laughed at me, but agreed it could wait.

Shine-cinn-with-scoop-scaledI decided to try a new product OraWellness had just released called Shine – a remineralizing powder that also helps whiten your teeth.  I started using it each night right after brushing with the oil blend; you simply add a bit of powder to a wet toothbrush and brush again. It’s made of the same minerals our teeth are made of to help restore what’s lost through our diet.

1 year later, my teeth are whiter and my dentist was simply shocked to find my cavity had disappeared!  Also, all signs of previous gum-disease are still completely gone.

Seeing my success using the OraWellness HealThy Mouth blend, I convinced my husband to try it (a hard sell!) and he’s now been using the product for 5 years with me.  He just visited the dentist this week after not going for over 2 years and after almost always getting bad reports, they said his teeth and gums looked fantastic!

If you are experiencing any issues with your mouth / bad reports from the dentist, I highly recommend you check out the OraWellness website. They have some phenomenal resources and blog posts with practical tips on how to prevent and reverse a variety of oral health problems.  I wish this post was sponsored, but it’s not. I just love and believe in this product! I share in hopes you’ll try it and experience the same healing.

Cloth Diapering

My mom used cloth diapers with me and I always assumed I would do the same.  Seemed an easy way to save some money, while also giving my little one less exposure to harmful chemicals.  Plus, it is a great way to help out the environment a bit, keeping (on average) 6,000 diapers out of the landfill.

When I was pregnant and started to research it, it was beyond overwhelming.  There were so many different brands, types of diapers, opinions on how to wash, etc.  I had some friends give great advice to get me started, did a lot less research and decided to keep things as simple as possible. If you have been considering trying cloth diapers but have been scared that it would be too difficult or complicated, I want to share the easy way to cloth diaper that’s worked for me.

Newborn Days: We did not start cloth diapering until my daughter was around 3 months old for a couple reasons:

  1. Newborns don’t fit in cloth diapers until they are a bit chunkier.  You have to buy special newborn cloth diapers, which didn’t seem worth the investment to me. My daughter struggled to gain weight in the beginning, so it took her a few months for her skinny legs to fill them out.
  2. Life with a newborn can be hard. I did not have the emotional or physical energy or time to cloth diaper with the amount of diapers babies go through in the first weeks.  Once the diaper count slowed, it felt much more feasible.

We got lots of disposable diapers as gifts from people, so we just used those.  I will say that it is amazing how using cloth prevents blow outs SO much better; that reason alone may convince me to start earlier with another baby.

Saving Money: Cloth diapers can be a bit of an investment at the beginning, but overall it is much cheaper in the long-run.  There are a several ways to save on costs:

  • Register for them. When you create a gift registry for your baby shower, add cloth diapers to the list.  The covers can be cute like clothes and people like to buy them.  This saves you a ton in the up-front investment and was how I built my own stash.
  • Choose a cheaper type and splurge on the brand. Cloth diapers come in all types, with all-in-one and pockets being much more expensive than the prefold + covers. Brand matters too- I suggest choosing a top quality brand that lasts many washes and wears to avoid future replacement costs.
  • Buy gender-neutral. If you can use diapers for multiple kids, that helps save a lot on the investment.  I have some super girly options, but most of my patterns and colors are more gender neutral for more flexibility in the future.
  • Get them second-hand. I did not do this but wish I had known about the huge market for used cloth diapers.  You can strip clean used diapers. Or, if that is unappealing, I am constantly seeing people selling their stashes that they’ve never even used because they bought and never actually tried it.

My Routine:  I use prefolded cloth diapers in covers during the day.  There are lots of ways to fold the prefolds and it really depends on your baby’s gender and habits.  I have found that the angel fold has worked best so far for us.

Since they have wetness protection, I usually only change the covers when it is a poopy diaper.  Wet diapers go straight into a wet bag.  Before 6 months (starting solids), dirty diapers also went straight to the wet bag.  Now, I use a diaper sprayer attached to my toilet to rinse out any solids before putting in the wet bag until laundry day.

I use cloth wipes so that I can keep everything together and not need both a trash can and wet bag.  Cloth wipes are much better at wiping and more gentle on the skin anyway.  I put the wipes in a diaper warmer with a homemade solution of coconut oil, lavender essential oil and water.

At night, I use pocket diapers with extra hemp inserts for additional absorbency.

Laundry Routine: I end up washing my cloth diapers every 3-4 days.  I dump everything in the wet bag into the washer and throw the wet bag in too.  Wash cycles vary greatly based on your type of washing machine and hardness/softness of water.  I would recommend searching for your machine type on the Fluff Love University website for detailed instructions on the best way to clean your diapers thoroughly and keep them lasting.

For detergent, I prefer to use powder because I have to add Borax to my washes to prevent mineral build up with the hard water at our home.  You can see a list of recommended options here, but I generally use either Seventh Generation or Tide Free & Clear.  I have been able to get rid of all staining by laying the items in the sun; I have never used bleach on my diapers.

Using prefolds & covers helps reduce drying time.  I always air dry my covers on a rack to preserve the elastics and my wet bags too.  Inserts & prefolds can go in the dryer and it usually takes 2 cycles to dry them.

Traveling: I still use disposable diapers if we are traveling or will be out and about for a few hours.  Generally if we are just going to the grocery store or somewhere short & nearby, I will keep her in a cloth diaper.  I do keep a small wetbag in my diaper bag just in case.

Getting Started:  People definitely have their preferences for what style and brands to buy.  My goals were to save money and make things as simple as possible.  And I had two main things I looked for in deciding on a brand of covers:

  1. Double gussets = two layers of elastic around the leg holes. Gives a great, flexible fit even for a kid with skinny legs and I have never had a problem with leaking.
  2. Snap closure.  Velcro just doesn’t last and it sticks to everything.

Here’s what makes up my  stash of cloth diapering supplies:

Are cloth diapers something you would be willing to try?  What other questions do you have?  I would love to help you get started!

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

A few months ago, I received Thieves foaming hand soap complimentary in my essential oils order.  I used it and absolutely loved it.  But, I went to re-order and was astounded to find they cost $17 retail each. Ridiculous!

Refusing to spend that kind of money on hand soap and desperate for the soap that’s left my hands feeling cleaner than ever, I discovered a super easy DIY recipe.  I love that with this recipe I can use whatever essential oils I want, to change scent with the season.  The Thieves essential oil blend feels perfect for this time of year, especially with the added bonus of immune system support.

This only takes 1 minute to make and you probably already have all the ingredients in your cabinets.  I don’t think I’ll ever buy hand soap again after figuring out this simple trick.

What You’ll Need:

Steps:

  1. Fill an empty soap dispenser 2/3 full with water.  You must add water before soap to keep from bubbling up.
  2. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of castile soap.
  3. Add 4-5 drops of essential oil.
  4. Put the top on and shake slightly to mix all ingredients and it is ready.

Happy DIY-ing!  Let me know what you think!

My Favorite Safe & Natural Baby Items

Safe Natural Baby ItemsAs a first time mom, registering for baby items was totally overwhelming!  Luckily, I have plenty of friends with great advice that helped me out.  I thought I would share a few of my very favorite items that we’ve used with our baby girl so far, all of which you can be confident are very safe for your little one.

For Bath Time:

Natural Sea Sponge – I was so hesitant about this one because why not use a wash cloth?  But, this is SO soft and perfect for bathing a little one- it soaks up lots of water so you can squeeze it out over baby in better control than you could a cup.

Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo and Body Wash, Sulfate Free Bubble Bath and Daily Cleanser – Made locally here in Austin, we love using this for baths!  Baby girl always seems to get soap suds in her mouth when trying to suck on her hands, and I don’t have to worry about this one.

Coconut Oil – Cradle cap? dry skin? baby acne? cracked nipples? This has been more effective than any lotion or baby oil that I got, and it just has one very natural ingredient.  Plus, you can use it for SO many other things!

For Feeding:

Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer and Breast Milk Warmer – I did a lot of research and this was the best, safest warmer for bottles of breast milk.  It takes a little bit more time than the others, but I’m confident it is not harming any beneficial properties by warming too fast, and we have never had an issue with hot spots.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk Tea & Organic Moringa Capsules – I have used both to help keep up my milk supply, especially on the days I go to work and have to pump or when I don’t get much sleep.

Mommy’s Bliss Probiotic Drops Plus Vitamin D – More effective than gripe water or gas drops, these probiotics help her fragile digestive system and relieve gas. We give her a couple drops twice per day.

Lifefactory 4-Ounce BPA-Free Glass Baby Bottle with Protective Silicone Sleeve and Stage 1 Nipple – Absolutely love these glass bottles.  They are all we use and I feel great about the lack of chemical-leaching plastic.

For Sleep: 

Harlow’s Earth Waterproof Crib Mattress Cover – Organic mattresses are ridiculously expensive, so we found this super cheap solution to prevent the off-gassing of all the toxic chemicals and flame-retardants in regular mattresses.

Woombie Convertible Swaddle – Our baby girl was swaddled from birth and still is for both nighttime and naps.  Made with a two-way zipper, this is SO easy to use, even more so than the velcro ones.  Plus, it’s super breathable if you have a hot-natured babe like our little one. And, it has buttoned arm holes for when you need to transition out of the swaddle when they start to roll over or if your baby likes one or two arms out for comfort.  They have an organic cotton version too.

Organic Muslin Swaddle Blankets – While we haven’t used these for actual sleeping yet, they are the perfect lightweight, breathable blankets for Texas weather.  They double as burp cloths and car seat covers and nursing covers.  Plus, they come in the cutest fabric patterns!

Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard – This pack n play has no flame retardants, no PVC, no phthalates and no lead, so it’s totally safe for baby.  Plus, it is super lightweight, folds up into a small backpack carrying case and is easier to set up/take down than any I’ve seen.

For Diapering:

Prince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes Warmer – Everyone told me a wipe warmer was not worth it, but we love ours.  Baby girl hated diaper changes in the beginning, and cold wipes made it worse.  Now that we are using cloth, this is perfect for storing our cloth wipes in- I just add a mix of water, coconut oil and lavender essential oil and they are warm and ready to use. Baby girl’s bum is so spoiled!

Buttons Flannel Baby Wipes – Once you use cloth wipes, disposables will never compare; they are so much better at cleaning up the mess.

Planet Wise Wet Diaper Tote Bag – Perfect for putting your wet diapers in at home or get a smaller bag for on-the-go!

OsoCozy Natural Cotton Unbleached Cloth Diaper Prefolds – We love these natural cotton prefolds for simple cloth diapering; they are great as burp cloths too!

For the Nursery:

Lorena Canals Machine Washable Rug with Natural Cotton and Non-Toxic Dyes – The cutest, softest rug that’s perfectly safe for baby to lay on and totally washable for all the baby messes.

Diffuser/Humidifier &  Essential Oils – Great for little congested baby noses and for helping promote good sleep, we run lavender or peace & calming essential oil in the diffuser in her room.

For Play Time: 

Burt’s Bees – Organic Loop Bee Plush Toy – My daughter’s favorite toy… she loves the crinkly wings and holding onto the soft cotton loop.

Silicone Teething Rings – These rings are non-toxic, phthalate & BPA-free and have several different sensory bump patterns for baby to chew on.

Green Toys Shape Sorter – Baby girl is loving the colors and shapes and putting everything in her mouth.  I’ll be buying more of these Green Toys- they are 100% recycled plastic and have no BPA, phthalates, PVC, or external coatings.

A Recap of 2016

Wow… is it really almost 2017!?!  As I look forward to the huge life change that 2017 will bring, I wanted to take some time to reflect back on 2016.  If you’ve missed any of my blogs this year, this will be the perfect opportunity to catch up!

2016 was certainly a roller-coaster for my health.  The year started off with me still trying to figure out what was causing my random high cortisol responses and unexplained weight gain.  Then, in May, we found out we were expecting, even though doctors had told me I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant. Pregnancy brought on constant nausea and exhaustion that kept me down and out for a few months, and then a gestational diabetes diagnosis rocked my world.

Here’s a recap of the blogs I wrote in 2016:

Travel

VeniceI’m a huge believer that vacations are super important for your overall health and well-being.  We all need to take a break and relax, and traveling to experience different foods and cultures is great way to relieve stress. The past couple of years, we have taken two trips to Europe that were incredible.  I got so many requests for advice, I just decided to write all about our itineraries and recommendations right here:

My Favorite Natural Products & Organic Grocery Deals

BruschettaHealthy Recipes

Pregnancy:

Essential Oils

Thieves Essential OilHighlighting the benefits of some of my favorite essential oils to both your overall wellness and to creating and keeping a natural home.

Happy New Year!!

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