natural skincare

Get Rid of the All-Or-Nothing Attitude About Naturals

While lugging boxes up the stairs of our new office last week, I got into a conversation with Adina and Elana about exercise. While we all make an attempt to work out regularly, I am pretty sure our exercises of choice couldn’t be more different (Elana loves yoga and is a ClassPass devotee, Adina prefers at-home workout videos and park runs with Adam, and I opt for early morning “power walks” mixed up with gym visits). What unites us, though, is the attitude: Every little bit counts – even ten minutes of carrying boxes up the stairs.

In fact, Adina admitted that she’d actually gotten into better shape when she gave up the “all-or-nothing” perspective towards exercise. She laughed, “I used to feel like if I couldn’t work out for an hour, then it wasn’t worth it. Now, I’ll fit in thirty minutes of Pilates each day and be like – I’m done.” I’m definitely in Adina’s camp, here: you don’t always (or ever) have the time, energy, or desire to be a full-fledged workout junkie – and that’s more than okay.


Applying this logic, then, I would argue that just because you’re using our products – or interested in using them – you don’t need to be diehard about “naturals.” Very few people are 100% natural, and that’s just fine.

See, there is an intimidating “all-or-nothing” attitude surrounding natural skincare and beauty – it’s a real barrier for mass adoption and that’s a damn shame. I blame a lot of this on the marketing associated with natural products, which insists that adopting a 100% all-natural lifestyle is a requirement. That’s silly. I mean, must you grow your own micro-greens to use an S.W. Basics Cleanser? That’s awesome if you’re doing so, but it’s absolutely not expected (I mean, I don’t!). More importantly, do you need to use every single product in the S.W. Basics line to see the benefits of a natural skincare routine? Nope! We’re just happy that you’re testing something out.

See, we will never be the type of company that alienates people because they’re not living a 100% natural lifestyle (or a 100% S.W. Basics lifestyle). While we happen to think natural skincare rocks – and is better for your skin, too – there’s no judgment if you want to pair your Proactiv cleanser with our Cream. We won’t look down on you if you drink a Diet Coke with your kale salad. You shouldn’t feel ashamed because your hair really likes that drugstore staple you’ve been using for years and you just aren’t ready to switch to a natural alternative.


What we’re asking of you isn’t to adopt an “all-or-nothing” attitude – far from it, in fact. We want you to come hang out with us and listen to what we have to say with an open mind. We promise we’ll do the same for you.

-Julia

Skincare Basics: Benefits of a Serum

A serum is a great way to improve the overall texture and tone of your skin and if your moisturiser is just not cutting it, chances are a serum will do the trick. 

I’m a big fan of facial oils but I also love a good serum. You don’t have to use one or the other just put the two together and you’ve got a supercharged skincare routine. 

Keep reading

{ DIY } lavender & milk bath

I recently discovered The Chic Site, which is completely awesome by the way! …and I stumbled across this super lovely DIY bath recipe by author Brandee Lee!

I love all things Lavender, so when I saw this Lavender & Milk bath recipe I had to try it.  Lavender is the perfect remedy to melt away stress  and regain balance.  I also love how this recipe incorporates coconut oil and milk!  Both provide skin calming, nourishing and moisturizing benefits.  When you combine everything together, you basically get the perfect recipe for the ultimate R&R experience!  Enjoy! 

“You don’t need to steal away for hours to reap the relaxing benefits of a bath. Just 20 minutes with this healthy and hydrating bath recipe and your winter scales skin will be clean and soft. Try it once a week if you can sneak it in to help keep dry skin at bay during these winter months. Brandee

{ The Ingredients Sound Delicious But What Do They Do? }

Epsom Salt — Relaxes sore muscles.

Lavender Essential Oil — Promotes relaxation.

Coconut Oil — Hydrates and softens skin.

Baking Soda —  Acts as a cleanser and has anti-fungal properties.

Milk —  Lactic acid helps remove dead skin cells and soothes irritated skin.

Lavender Buds — Simply because it makes you feel fancy & the spa-like atmosphere reduces stress.

For more lovely recipes from Brandlee James at The Chic Site, click here!  Also check out TheChicSite.com

merci beaucoup, 

                       kelley 

4

My Skincare Essentials: Face Edition

I saw someone else’s post about their Skincare pickups and I wanted to share too.

1. Hemp Oil - for oil cleansing, also used as a facial moisturizer after toning
2. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar - diluted with water and used as a toner (I’ve noticed that this has really made my acne scars fade faster)
3. Rosehip Seed Oil - for spot treating hyper-pigmentation, acne scars, and also can be used as an under-eye serum
4. Tamanu Oil - AMAZING for spot treating & healing acne (especially when combined with rosehip seed oil and a few drops of tea tree oil), also for fading hyper-pigmentation and acne scars

(The first two are brand specific. I use and will continue to use those specific brands because I really like them. The last two on the list are not brand specific. I use a no-name version of these oils from a website that sells organic oils and other natural products -butters, clays, etc- wholesale. I buy these oils in BULK!)

My goal is to completely eliminate commercial products from my skincare routine (face & body). So far it seems to be working great.

UNDER HYPED: Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil

Organic and natural skincare is often overlooked and believed to be not as effective as normal, commercial skincare. Boscia is one of my favourite skincare brands and their Makeup Breakup Cleansing oil doesn’t get enough hype. This is an amazing cleansing oil; it isn’t too oily or greasy, it doesn’t cause breakouts, it removes all traces of makeup and it lathers into a lovely milky texture after having water massaged over it. The disappointing side? This cleansing oil isn’t great for removing eye makeup/being used with an eye makeup remover, it often makes my vision quite blurry, other than that it is a fantastic cleansing oil as quite possibly the best I’ve tried.

Get the most out of your Crate ~ Black Soap

This post is a little lengthy and based on a blog I did a few years ago, but it is filled with useful information.  African black soap is one of the products included in the October 2012 Crunchy Crate.

Traditional African Black Soap

Blemishes, acne, uneven skin tone, eczema, psoriasis…. the list of skin and hair conditions that Traditional African Black Soap has been found to effectively treat goes on and on.   In my personal experience, black soap is a wonderful all over cleanser; as well I have had numerous customers rave about its use as a shampoo and all around soap.

In honor of the unique history of Traditional African Black Soap, I’ve decided to give you some valuable information regarding this wonderful product.

History of Black Soap

In every culture, through a need to clean hair, skin and clothing, homemakers developed a means of combining readily available oils, salts and botanicals to create “soap”.

The more I learn about natural soap making, the more I am amazed at this very technical, chemical process, because unlike many other scientific innovations, this was first developed by women working to maintain their households.

In Africa, Ghana specifically, this soap was developed centuries ago by women using nearby natural resources to create a soap not only effective as a cleansing agent, but also maintaining healthy skin and hair. So effective, the recipe has not changed much since first formulated. If you look at the soap created by other cultures, it has been in constantly re-engineered to make it more suitable for use.

Traditional African Black Soap has been used to help relieve acne, oily skin, clear blemishes and various other skin issues. Many swear by it for skin irritations and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Traditional African Black soap can be used to achieve beautiful skin as well as for washing hair and bathing.

African Black Soap is known by many names based on the language in the area of Africa. It is also called Ose Dudu or Alata Samina.

How is Black Soap made?

Making African Black Soap begins with plantain skin. Plantains are a natural source of vitamins A & E and iron. (The Plantain is a popular food in Africa, South America & other parts of the world. It can be found in ethnic or international grocery stores.  It looks like banana but much bigger. However, the taste does not resemble that of a banana very much and plantains cannot be eaten raw.) The skin of the plantain is dried in the sun prior to being roasted in a clay oven. The heat must be constant in order to achieve a particular color, texture & smell. In some recipes, Cocoa Pod is used in combination with or instead of plantain skins. Cocoa Pod is the shell of the Cocoa fruit. The cocoa beans are used for making chocolate or cocoa butter among other things. The roasting of the plantains determines the color of the soap. The longer the plantains are roasted, the darker the soap.

The next step in the process is extremely important because if it is not done properly, with the right ingredients, there will be no soap. The roasted plantain skin is mixed water and filtered, then combined with palm oil, coconut oil and/or palm kernel oil to form the soap. For you more experienced soap makers, the ashes of the plantain skins and/or cocoa pod ashes are used as the alkaline agent (potash) in the saponifcation (mixing of alkali and oils to create soap) process – basically, it would be the “lye” component.   Handling the varying levels of alkalinity in this handmade potash is one of the reasons this recipe is not easily replicated outside of Africa.

The soap is then hand-stirred by local women for at least a day and then set out to cure for two weeks. 

African Black Soap is centuries old, has numerous benefits & is not scented. It can be used by anyone who wishes to improve the quality of their skin. 

Benefits of Black Soap

- Black soap is also a natural source of vitamins A & E and iron. This helps to strengthen the skin and hair.
- Black soap contains a high amount of glycerin, which absorbs moisture from the air and literally deposits it into the skin, making the skin soft and supple.
- For centuries, Ghanaians and Nigerians have used black soap to help relieve acne, oily skin, clear blemishes and various other skin issues. Many swear by it for skin irritations and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Men can use black soap in shaving. The high shea butter content leaves the skin smooth and protected.
- African black soap is unique in that it contains no preservatives, color enhancers, or fragrances.  African black soap creates a soft lather without the animal fat additives that are commonly used in soaps made in the US.                                                     

The Commercialization of Black Soap

As the popularity of black soap and natural soaps increases, some retailers are using the label African black soap for commercially produced cleansers. Many of these soaps are not made based on a Traditional African Soap recipe at all. African Black Soap is soft in texture, sometimes crumbly and varies in color from very dark brown to very pale tan. Most have a marbled color combination of these hues. This variation in color is due in part to the natural nature of the soap, roasting times of the plantain skins and/or cocoa pods, different combinations/levels of natural oils and shea butter in soap.

The easiest Black Soaps on the market to identify as not Traditional African Black Soap are those that are molded into smooth perfectly formed bars. The soft texture and properties of natural African Black Soap are not malleable into perfectly smooth bars. Also, contrary to its name, Traditional African Black Soap is NEVER black in color. Black colored Black Soap is made that way by adding artificial colors or dyes. 

However, the best way to make sure the soap you are considering purchasing is Traditional African Black Soap is to read the label. Genuine Black Soap will only have plantain and/or coco pod ash, indigenous oils (palm, palm kernel, coconut) and other natural ingredients such as shea butter which is used as an added moisturizer.   If you notice any other chemicals such as SLS, artificial color or triclosan, it can be pretty safe to assume it is not Natural African Black soap.

Liquid Black Soap

Would you believe that there is no such thing as Liquid Traditional African Black Soap? In actuality, when you see this statement, the truth lies in the fact that there is no way to produce liquid African Black Soap in the way one would produce a liquid soap beginning with alkaline and oils. However, it is possible to liquefy African Black Soap. Traditional African Black Soap’s soft and crumbly textures make it ideal for liquefaction. 

It is just as important to read the label on Liquid African Black Soap as it is on African Black Soap. The best liquefied versions of Traditional African Black Soap will have a high content of actual African Black Soap in the product, meaning it should be very high on the ingredients list – second only to water would be the ideal.  Such as the liquid black soap offered by Duafe Naturals. The lower African Black Soap is on the ingredients list, the less actual African Black Soap is contained in the product. Many producers use as little as 5% African Black Soap in their liquid African Black Soap products.

Remember, the ingredients list will also identify any artificial chemical additives, which should be avoided.

Storage

Black soap has a high glycerin content.  Glycerin is a humectant.  Humectants work to attract moisture from the atmosphere and moisture is GREAT for skin and hair.  However, this can have an odd effect on the soap itself.  If you are familiar with glycerin soaps – some of them tend to “sweat” or form beads of moisture.  This is because of the glycerin natural humectant process.  The sweat not only appears as droplets of moisture on the soap, it also acts to soften the soap.  The reason bar soap works is because when you add water to it, the exterior softens and can be easily applied to your skin or hair – so when moisture is attracted back onto the bar, it begins to soften. 

This same process happens to black soap, but because the soap is dark in color, the moisture appears to “grey” the soap.  When this greyed soap dries it turns almost white in color, giving the soap the appearance of being moldy.  However, one should not mistake this as mold; it is simply the soap doing what it naturally does.  The soap is still safe, viable and effective.   Because of the active salt content of all soaps, rarely will you see mold form in soap.  (When adding high water content additives such as flowers, there is a possibility, but that is a lesson for a soap making class).

To lessen the greying of your black soap, store it in an air tight container whenever not in use.

Use

You would use black soap as you would any bar soap.  For your face, simply lather up and wash as normal.  Many use it to wash their hair and body as well.  Before using any new soap, test by washing your hands with it first to see if you have any reaction.

It is quite a bit softer than other soap, so it may crumble apart when dry.  What is great about this soft consistency is that you can take pieces of the soap and mush them together in your hands to form a larger piece. 

Some people say that the soap has a drying effect on their skin and can leave skin a bit irritated.  I would recommend using a liquid black soap such as Duafe Naturals which has some added glycerin and natural skin conditioners which help with alleviating irritation.  You can also try this:

Liquid Black Soap Recipe

Utensils :

Knife/cutting board

2 cup sealed container (wide mouth jar with screw lid or Tupperware type container)

Stick blender (optional)

Ingredients:

¾  cup filtered or spring water

½ cup of finely chopped black soap

2 tablespoons honey or glycerin (optional)

2 tablespoons pure citrus juice (lemon, lime or grapefruit)

1 teaspoon potassium sorbate (optional)

Cheese cloth or a fine strainer

Funnel

  1.  Cut up black soap pieces with knife into the smallest pieces possible (this will make the liquefying process much easier.  I recommend you take the 5 minutes to really get the black soap almost to a powder phase)
  2. Add water and juice to the container along with honey or glycerin and potassium sorbate if available.   Stir well.  (The citrus juice scents the soap a bit but also adds just a little preservation and ph balance.  Potassium sorbate is a food safe preservative that inhibits mold and bacterial growth.  You can use at your own discretion.  With potassium sorbate, this liquid soap will keep for 8-10 months.  Without it, you will need to discard it after 3 days.)
  3.  Add black soap crumbs and stir carefully (stirring two briskly will cause a lot of foaming).  Make sure that the black soap is not forming clumps and is fully soaked.  
  4.  Let sit for 24 hours
  5. If you have a stick blender, blend the combination well.  If not, stir well.  If you find the combination is too thick, add about 3 tablespoons of water.  Do not add too much at a time, it will thin down quickly.  Mix well again if you added additional water
  6.  Let sit for 24 more hours
  7. At this point, especially if you used a stick blender – you should have a nice, dark brown liquid soap.  If it is still lumpy, mix well and let sit for 24 more hours.  If not, using a funnel, pour the liquid through the cheese cloth or strainer into a clean bottle.  You may find large lumps of plantain, cocoa pod or ash left in your strainer.

To make this soap even more nourishing you can add a bit of aloe juice and/or a teaspoon of oatmeal powder (whisk in well or add with the chopped black soap in the initial stage). 

Foods That Produce Healthy, Glowing Skin


Don’t obsess over or spend too much money on creams, lotions, and treatments. These things are a nice indulgence from time to time and some of them do help the appearance of skin, but the best way to keep your skin looking great is to keep your diet healthy! Certain foods are especially good for your skin, so not only will you keep your body healthy and feel great on the inside, you’ll glow on the outside! Check out this list of foods that will give you beautiful, glowing skin:


Tomatoes (Eliminate acne, pores, and oily skin)

Tomatoes are very healthy for you and contain a ton of benefits, some of which benefit your skin. Here are some ways tomatoes help you get beautiful, healthy looking skin:
Tomatoes truly are a miracle worker when it comes to clearing out acne. You may have seen that many acne clearing products contain Vitamin A and Vitamin C. This is because these two Vitamins are key when it comes to treating and getting rid of acne. Tomatoes are naturally rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. They also contain a phytochemical known as lycopene that is vital to eliminating acne. Simply eating tomatoes will do wonders for your skin. You can also cut a tomato in half and rub the inner juicy part all over your face and neck.

Tomatoes have the ability to shrink pores. Dip a cotton ball in the juice of a cut tomato and massage into your skin in circular motions. For immediate results, follow this routine everyday.

They also a natural Astringent and get rid of oily skin. Eat tomatoes regularly to see an amazing change!

Avocados (Acts as a face wash & mask, reducing wrinkles & producing soft skin)

You may have noticed that the oil of avocado is used in many beauty products. This is because it’s a natural conditioner gifted by nature to help us nurture ourselves! Avocados are natural face washes! The main difference is that avocados are naturally infused with skin healthy products and have no adverse effects. Avocados are packed with vitamin A, which acts as an excellent remover of dead skin cells. They also contain an amino acid called Glutamine that completely cleans your skin and protects it from harsh environmental damage.

Avocados are also crammed with Antioxidants. These antioxidants help eradicate toxins that cause early pigmentation and wrinkling of the skin. Just mash & smooth the avocado and apply on your skin like a mask.

Avocados are a miracle skin softener. They help clean and restore lost nutrients and stimulate the growth of new skin cells. Naturally, avocados are commonly used in moisturizers and lotions. Why spend on your money on these expensive products when you can buy an avocado?

Green Tea (Acts as sunscreen & keeps skin looking young)

Green tea is amazing for your overall health – it fights cancer, stimulates digestion, and speeds up your metabolism. It even helps reduce stress. Truly a remarkable drink!
On top of these great health benefits, green tea also has the amazing ability to protect your skin from sun rays. Sun rays can darken and loosen your skin, and create oxidization, causing you to lose the free electrons from your skin. When consumed, green tea acts as a natural shield to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Green tea also happens to be the secret to youthful skin. It is rich in antioxidants which acts as an anti aging remedy that fights off harmful free radicals and reduces wrinkles.

Berries

High in fiber and low in sugar, berries are an ideal summer snack. They all are filled with Vitamin C which is an antioxidant that is essential for healthy, glowing skin. Fill yourself with all kinds of berries! A tasty, low calorie snack that also improves the appearance of your skin? What more can you ask for?!

Almonds and Hemp Seeds

Vitamin E and omega -3 fatty acids have an important role in maintaining healthy skin. Almonds are low in calories and packed with nutrients. They contain astounding levels of vitamin E, which replenishs your skin and removes the signs of aging.
Hemp seeds are rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and in vitamin E. Sprinkle almonds or hemp seeds on your cereal or oatmeal, or grab a handful of them to snack on. Easy and effective!

Water

We’ve all heard this one before, but it’s always worth mentioning. Drink plenty of water! Drinking water moisturizes the skin from the inside out. Keeping yourself hydrated means keeping your skin moisturized. Water flushes the toxins from your body, so you’re keeping your skin and overall body healthy by drinking it.

Source: http://www.fitnessrepublic.com/