A few of my favorite things…

Favorite Natural ProductsMy transition to a more natural lifestyle has been gradual…. I never had a dramatic throw out all products/food moment, mostly because it’s expensive to replace everything all at once.  I first changed my diet for optimal nutrition and as I read more books and blogs, I began to learn how the products we breathe and absorb through our skin affect our bodies just as much as what we eat.  So, I started to change the hygiene and cleaning products that I use in our home. Someday, I’d love to make all my own products… the recipes online are abundant and it’s certainly cheaper, but for now, I buy what I need.  I’ve written about quite a few of these products, but I thought I would put it all together in one easy place for those of you looking for recommendations.  Here’s a very random list of a few of my favorite health and home products:

HIMG_6800ealthy Mouth – Cavities, bleeding gums, root canals, bad breath… chances are that many of you don’t like going to the dentist. Gum disease, in particular, is a serious epidemic now – in 9 out of 10 adults – so, obviously the toothpaste & mouthwash out there isn’t doing a darn thing to help.  The OraWellness brushing blend, made only with organic essential oils, completely transformed the health of my mouth (read more here).  My gum bacterial infection is gone and I’ve healed two cavities – no fillings for me! I also use the toothbrush that they sell – specifically designed with less bristles to gently clean the tooth at the gum line. If you want to give the whole system a try, here’s the basic starter kit.


IMG_6811Living Clay
 – Used by some of the world’s finest spas, this Bentonite clay is not only beneficial for your skin, but has many other healing properties as well. It’s extremely absorptive properties help cleanse the body of toxins – I use it as a purifying face mask, any time I have a rash, as a detox bath, and even drink it in liquid form to cleanse my digestive system when I’m sick. For a comprehensive guide on the many ways to use it, I highly recommend this book – Living Clay: Nature’s Own Miracle Cure; you can also read some excerpts here.

IMG_6810Activated Charcoal – Read my blog post on this amazing substance and how it can be used for teeth whitening, acne, food poisoning, digestive issues, bug bites & stings and even hangovers. Add the capsule or powder version to your first aid kit today.

Coconut Oil – I’m begging you… please throw away those harmful vegetable/canola oils in your pantry and buy this next time you are at the grocery store.  I have replaced all oils in baking and cooking with this – it has incredible healing properties and is really easy to use. And I use it to wash my face and moisturize my whole body; my skin has never been better. Read more about the miracles of coconut oil here.

Natural Deodorants – Last October, with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in mind, I wrote all about some great natural deodorant options that are free of cancer-causing aluminium and parabens.  I recently found another product I love – Primal Pit Paste.  I find the best success in alternating deodorants every other day, so I also currently use Silver Shield Deodorant. Bonus: Both products are made locally and are also man-approved by my husband!

Essential Oils – I’m obsessed.  Sometimes, I wonder what I ever did without them; then, I remember that I took medicine… and suffered for it.  Instead of reaching for side-effect-causing pharmaceuticals, I can now use something safe and natural for my whole family (dog too!). Now’s the time to update your medicine cabinet!

IMG_6804Diva Cup – For women only: that “time of the month” may be a strange topic to discuss, but you should seriously rethink the hormones and chemicals going into your body through the feminine hygiene products you use.  Since the chemical glyphosate is used in growing cotton, you are exposing your body to this cancer-causing toxin every time you use a tampon. I am so thankful for this product; not only is it much safer for my body, but it’s also made a huge difference in the debilitating cramps I used to experience each month.

All-Purpose Cleaners – This is one of the few products I do actually make myself with lemon essential oil because it is just so easy. But, in the past, I have loved using each of these natural products: J.R. Watkins All Purpose Cleaner, Branch Basics, and Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner.  Each of those have great hand soap options as well!

Detergents – Most options you find in the stores have lots of chemicals, and with the items we clean being so close to our skin or even what we eat off of, the ingredients in these products do matter. I highly suggest visiting your local farmer’s market to find a local vendor who sells these as they often work the best, but Seventh Generation makes a couple of mostly natural items I IMG_6802use when I run out and need to buy at the store. The Laundry Detergent can be used in cold water & HE machines effectively and is free of fragrances & brighteners, as well as environmentally-friendly.  The Dishwasher Gel works great too!

Wool Dryer Balls – Did you know that the chemicals in dyer sheets are terrible for the longevity of your clothes and your dryer, as well as bad for the environment? As soon as I learned there was an option that was not only safe in all those aspects, but also dried clothes faster and make clothes softer, I was totally on board.  These are forever reusable and I can add a few drops of whatever essential oil aroma I’m feeling like.  Buy the package of 6 and use them all at once for even better effectiveness.

Do you have any other favorite, natural products to recommend? Will you be trying anything listed above?

*A few of the links above are affiliate links, which means I make a very small commission if you decide to purchase that product.  I appreciate the support to be able to keep this blog going.

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Healthy Hygiene Part 2: Deodorant

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to share a little something about a simple way that you can help decrease your risk of developing breast cancer: change your deodorant.

There are two very common ingredients in deodorant that continue to be implicated as one of the possible causes of breast cancer – Aluminum & Parabens. Aluminum is used as an antiperspirant; it blocks pores and therefore prevents sweat. Parabens (look for: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or benzylparaben) are found in most beauty products and are used to prevent bacteria growth, which helps both the shelf life of a product and preventing odors from developing as you use the product.  The issue with both of these compounds is that they are proven to mimic estrogen in the body and cause hormone disruption.  Estrogen promotes the growth of breast tissue, but when disrupted, it can lead to an abnormal & excessive growth of cancerous breast tissue.

Your underarms are a very sensitive area, with thin skin covering many blood vessels and a large cluster of lymph nodes.  The materials that you spray or roll on that location are absorbed easily by the skin.  If you shave under your arms and then roll on deodorant, you have even increased your exposure and allowed these chemicals to go straight into your blood stream.  Aluminum is a toxic metal to our bodies and if you take a look at the back of your product, you’ll find many other questionable, hard-to-pronounce ingredients on there as well. Any toxicity can limit the function of your lymphatic system, which contributes to your overall immune function.  I don’t know about you, but this is simply not a health risk I am willing to take for beauty’s sake.  Fortunately, there are safe, alternative options.  Here’s a few I recommend checking out:

Silver Botanicals – Silver Shield Deodorant

I found this awesome company at my local farmer’s market one Saturday and I am thrilled to be sharing them with y’all.  They use a blend of essential oils and colloidal silver.  Essential oils have a long list of medicinal benefits and are naturally deodorizing, anti-bacterial and have a long-lasting aroma.  Colloidal silver also has many healing properties as an anti-microbial preventing the growth of bacteria. I take it every day as an immune supplement and double up when I’m sick, so it only makes sense to put it under my arms also.  I have found this to be the best natural deodorant out there; it keeps me smelling good all day and the more I use it, the less I sweat – it’s getting my body back in balance.  One caution: it will sting a lot if you try to apply right after shaving… wait an hour or so.

Coming in at only $7.50 for a 2 oz spray bottle (it’s lasted me two months) with the option to buy discounted refills in the future, it’s a great deal. Silver Botanicals also has a great line of other hygiene & household products, my favorite being the Oral Disinfectant mouthwash.  If you don’t live in Austin, you can buy online.

Sam’s Natural Deodorant

This was recommended to me by my friends Emily & Ben – they both said that it keeps them smelling fresh the longest of any option they’ve tried.  Their list of ingredients contains several essential oils, coconut oil (which I love!), and does not contain harsh chemicals. I am excited to try it soon and see if it works for my hubby!

Buy the handmade 3 oz stick online for only $8.95 and read more about the cool company living out their American Dream.

Lafes Organic Mineral Salt Deodorant

I wrote about this product in my first installment of Health Hygiene Routines and continue to have great success with it.  I love that the list of ingredients is simple: mineral salts, essential oils and aloe vera.  I still use this regularly because it’s the most effective at preventing sweat.  How? Because of it’s use of natural mineral salts.  These mineral salts are potassium alum, which I recently  learned are technically aluminum, but with molecules too large to fit through your skin’s pores.  Essentially, it creates an outer layer that helps block perspiration instead of  actually going in your pores like aluminum.  While there are not studies yet on if on if our bodies absorb any of the toxic metal from these crystal salts, if perspiration is a problem for you (or you are looking for an option for Summer or exercise), I think it’s worth giving it a go; it still doesn’t contain parabens or other harmful chemicals.

I use both the unscented spray and the roll on lavender version.  You can find a 4 oz bottle for only $4.50 at Natural Grocers or online.

Tom’s of Maine Natural Sensitive Care Deodorant

One last option, especially for those of you with easily irritated skin or bad razor burn. I find that the more often I switch on and off of different deodorants, they seem to stay more effective (shampoo is the same way for me… anyone else?).  This deodorant has such a cooling effect that it is my go-to after I shave.  It doesn’t last very long for me, so I have to reapply once more a day, but I love the smell and it feels so smooth. Again, this option is paraben & aluminum free and the list of ingredients is simple.  It uses chamomile to soothe and hops to prevent odor-causing bacteria.

You should be able to find the 2.25 oz gel stick at your regular grocery store for $5.00 – I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and H-E-B.

Deodorant

The great thing about these natural options are that they have plenty of other benefits as well…

  1. For those of you with sensitive skin (like my friend Emily who gets blisters when she uses regular deodorant), you should see the irritation you experience drastically decrease with options that don’t contain lots of chemicals.
  2. Wives who do their husband’s laundry, rejoice: You’ll no longer have to deal with trying to bleach those gross yellow stains on all of their white shirts!
  3. You’ll be supporting small businesses & companies who truly care about the health of their customers.

Is this a change you would make? Which one are you interested to try?

Sources: Dr. Mercola, Livestrong, Silver Botanicals