DIY: Natural Toothpaste

We’re probably all guilty of not really thinking too much about what is in our toothpaste. We squeeze it onto our toothbrush and 2-3 minutes later we’re done, with minty fresh breath and a set of pearly whites to show for it. However, a lot of ingredients used in conventional toothpaste can be harmful to our bodies and our health.

The Tooth About Conventional Toothpaste

Most conventional toothpaste is filled with artificial colors and sweeteners, like aspartame. Do we really need to have red and blue stripes swirled into our toothpaste? I don’t think we’re getting any marks for patriotism there.

These conventional pastes also contain fluoride, which can cause tooth discoloration and stomach problems. The FDA actually requires a warning label on every tube of toothpaste sold in the US that contains fluoride, true story folks.

So, you know that rich foamy/bubbly lather you get when brushing your teeth? That stuff is made possible by Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which is a surfactant that is used in a range of products from industrial cleaners to toothpaste, its main purpose is to provide a foaming lather. The problem with SLS however, is that it may cause canker sores, mouth ulcers, stomach issues, and cancer.

Call me crazy, but something that we are putting into our mouths upwards of two times a day, and inevitably ingesting, shouldn’t be dangerous to our health, right? This is why I switched over to natural toothpaste several years ago, and eventually started making my own, because ain’t nobody got money to pay $5 for a tube of toothpaste that you can make for less than $1. Can I get an Amen?

Brush It Off

If DIYing just isn’t for you, here is a list of natural toothpaste recommendations. These toothpastes are all from respected and trusted natural brands. Number 5 on the list is actually the toothpaste I used and loved before I started making my own.

Anyway, I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram just about a year ago now, when I came across a post from SW Basics, where they shared a simple, and boy do I mean simple, toothpaste recipe. When I saw this I thought to myself, shit I can do that, so I did. And I’ve been making a slightly modified version of their toothpaste recipe ever since.

Here is the recipe I found:

  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 20 drops peppermint oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional)

Combine all the ingredients into a paste, store in a sealed container. It will last up to six months.

In my version, I omit the salt altogether as the baking soda has enough of a salty taste to me and I didn’t feel the need to add it in; the taste just wasn’t as appealing to me. I also use around 25 drops of peppermint essential oil, to boost the minty flavor of the paste. I am a huge peppermint fan, but if you aren’t there is no need to add more, 20 drops is sufficient in helping to freshen your breath reduce bacteria and mask the majority of the baking soda taste.

It’s always important to remember too that a simple recipe like this can easily be adjusted and modified to fit the needs of each individual person. Add a little more, or less of each ingredient until it has the consistency and taste you like best. It is your toothpaste after all; you should make it how you want!

I will say it did take me several weeks to fully adjust to the new taste and texture of my new homemade toothpaste. This stuff doesn’t foam and bubble, nor does it have a fake overpowering spear-minty flavor. It may not taste great to you at first, but trust me you will get used to it, and let’s be real for a second, does our toothpaste really need to taste good? As long as it freshens our breath and gets rid of plaque and bacteria we’re all good, and this stuff definitely does that.

So, please guys, let’s get brushing and give this stuff a chance. I promise your teeth, health, wallet and the environment will be thanking you! And the satisfaction you’ll feel from making your own health/body care products is such a great feeling in and of itself.

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This Too Shall Pass: Treating PMS Symptoms Naturally 

Alright, ladies, it’s that time of the month again, let the collective groans begin. Yes, I’m talking about PMS, shocker, I know. We all get it, but that doesn’t mean it needs to ruin our day, week, or even the entire month for some of us. Fortunately, there are ways that we can help reduce the symptoms and stress of dealing with PMS in natural and healing ways. 

It always feels like the beginning of a long hard battle each month when we start gearing up to deal with our PMS symptoms; it’s a bit ridiculous. All the time and energy we put into thinking about when we are getting our periods and how that will affect our activities for the month. Can I go to the beach this week? Can I schedule a bikini wax? Do I need more cover- up, for the acne, I’m bound to get? The questions and problems quite honestly, are endless. Having a period is already an inconvenience on multiple levels; we shouldn’t have to struggle any more than we need to.  

Sure, there are things we can’t change, or magically make disappear with a single downward dog or a big whiff of essential oils, but there are definitely steps and actions we can take to dramatically reduce PMS naturally.  

The Good, The Bad, And The Bloaty 

We’ve all experienced the sweat-inducing struggle of trying to squeeze into a pair of pants that fit last week and are now straining at the seams. Bloating is a losing battle that we as women are constantly fighting. This, while a minor PMS side effect, is definitely one of the most irritating ones to deal with. Fluid retention can be the result of fluctuating hormones and can leave us feeling like Violet Beauregarde, post blueberry incident. 

Snacking on bananas, tomatoes, celery and citrus fruits pre-period, can help to alleviate bloating and other symptoms. 

Coconut Oil is amazing for hormonal health. It can assist in weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. 

While eating certain foods can help to reduce or even diminish some PMS symptoms, other foods can actually aid in, or bring on more symptoms. We should try to avoid certain foods around the time of our periods, such as inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, and vegetable oils, which can actually create inflammation in the body. 

Go With The Flow 

Exercise, in general, is always a good idea, to help relieve stress and anxiety, or just to get a good sweat in. Case in point, working out not only releases pain-busting endorphins, but it also triggers serotonin (a depression and anxiety fighter), which can be a major help during times of PMS, and hormonal mood swings. However, intense exercise leading up to our periods can actually make our PMS symptoms worse. It’s actually better to practice mild forms of exercise such as yoga, swimming, or going on walks to better help alleviate our symptoms.  

Doing hip and back stretches can increase blood flow to abdominal and lower-back muscles, easing the tension that leads to cramping. It would be helpful to practice yoga stretches that help to relieve tension and get our blood moving, such as child’s pose, pigeon or happy baby during the week before our periods to avoid PMS.  

Stick It To The Man, And PMS   

Acupuncture is not a new practice by any means, but it is starting to become more mainstream as of late, even in the western medicine world. Getting stuck with a needle has never felt so good! Hear me out here guys, research shows acupuncture is very effective at treating PMS. One study found that acupuncture quelled symptoms in 78 percent of women. They believe acupuncture may increase circulation and elevate endorphins, which enhances mood and alleviates pain. Most women experience PMS relief within 24 hours after a session.  

With results such as these, it’s definitely worth checking out at least once to see if acupuncture would be a good solution for you. There are so many great acupuncture facilities around that offer great deals, such as Brooklyn Open Acupuncture in downtown Brooklyn, that operates on a sliding scale, meaning you pay between  $20-$50 for an appointment; you get to choose what you pay depending on your financial situation.   

Poppin Pills Like Candy 

Supplements are a great way to get a ton of extra nutrients and beautifying superfoods by simply adding them to a smoothie or taking them as pills with our other daily vitamins. There are so many great superfood supplements out there that can help to naturally relieve PMS symptoms; it seems silly to not take advantage of their awesome healing powers. 

  • Vitamin D– We can get our daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun, but in most places it’s hard to get enough exposure on a regular basis, which means that many of us are actually deficient in Vitamin D. Fortunately, in this case, there are many ways in which we can supplement our vitamin D intake. We can do this my taking Vitamin D supplements, or by consuming foods and other supplements that are high in vitamin D, such as cod liver oil, margarine, egg yolks and oily fish. 
  • A recent trial discovered that Vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced anxiety, irritability, and sadness in young women with associated mood disorders linked to PMS. “Researchers found that vitamin D levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. In addition, studies have shown vitamin D levels are related to anxiety and depression. Based on these observations, researchers conducted a study to assess whether Vitamin D supplementation reduces the severity of mood disorders associated with PMS in young women,” spoiler alert, it does. 
  • Maca– Maca has a history of boosting hormone production. Many women notice fewer PMS symptoms, increased fertility, and improved skin. Maca is also high in minerals and essential fatty acids, making it great for hormones. As an added bonus Maca has a rich caramel taste, making it a great add-on in a sweet smoothie! 
  • Magnesium– Magnesium often contributes to better sleep (which is great for our hormones). Natural Calm is a great magnesium product to help calm and relax our bodies and often greatly helps both PMS symptoms and menstrual cramping, especially during stressful times, such as that time of the month (wink, wink.) 
  • Calcium- Calcium is a very effective supplement in helping to reduce PMS symptoms. In a recent study, researchers found that women with PMS who took a 500-milligram calcium supplement twice a day for three months had significantly reduced levels of fatigue and appetite changes. Another study revealed that taking 1200 mg of calcium a day helped reduce women’s emotional and physical PMS symptoms.  
  • Vitamin B– B Vitamins are essential to cellular functions throughout the body including metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In addition, they balance mood, reduce anxiety and soothe irritability. 

Smells Like Teen Spirit 

Essential oils are blowing up right now and for good reason. These potent little guys are natural remedy powerhouses. Essential oils have benefits ranging from cleaning products, bug repellent, anti-depressant, and yep, you guessed it PMS relief

Essential oils can be an effective natural treatment for PMS. Clary sage oilhelps to naturally balance hormones, by rubbing 2-3 drops of oil on our lower abdomen. Cypress oil can improve circulation and lessen pain from cramping by applying several drops onto our lower abdomen as well.  

Several drops of ylang-ylang oil along with lavender oil can be applied to the back of the neck to help reduce tension and stress. Peppermint oil can also be used with a warm compress to help reduce pain. 

Whichever method you choose, just remember that we are all different and some of these natural remedies may work better for you than others, but make sure to do what is best for you and your body. If you feel good and are happy with what you are doing, then that’s all that matters!

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Favorite Night Cream of The Moment

I have been using the same night cream for the last 6 months and I have really been enjoying it. I figured if I have been using it this long and still like it, I should probably share it with all of you. I use Reviva Labs, Alpha Lipoic Acid Vitamin C Ester and DMAE Cream, which I realize is quite a mouthful, but I pretty much like everything about it. I feel like that is a bold statement, but it hasn’t disappointed me yet. It could be a bit thicker, when I have some dry patches or flakey skin, from an acne scar, that I most likely picked at, sorry if that’s gross, but I’m human. However that is normally my own doing and not the creams fault that it can’t fix it, anyway besides that it normally does exactly what I expect it to do.

I realized I just complained that it could be thicker, but I actually like the consistency of this cream, it is just thick enough for night time, but light enough that I can, and have, used a very thin layer of it in the morning in lieu of a day cream, if I have run out, or if my face is feeling a bit dull and dry in the morning and it needs a little pick me up.

 

The cream is an antioxidant; this is the alpha lipoic acid, which helps to prevent future damage, as well as to treat past damage. I can definitely see this in regards to my acne scars. It also contains DMAE which helps to firm and tone skin.

I buy my cream on, surprise surprise, Vitacost. I buy most all of my skin and body care products there. I find that they have the best deals and everything ships out very quickly; I think I have gotten every order I have placed within a week or less. The only hitch is that you only get free shipping if you spend fifty dollars or more. I normally don’t have a problem finding enough stuff to fill up my cart to reach that amount, but my bank account might have a bit of a problem with it. Besides that I couldn’t be a bigger advocate for their site.

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The Many Ways You Can Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is like an all in one miracle product. I use it for so many different things and I’m sure there are about a thousand different uses for it that I haven’t figured out yet.

It seems the jar of coconut oil lasts forever. I feel like I use so much of it and then I look in the container and it’s still half full. I feel like my jars of coconut oil seem to be half full for 6 months, then all of a sudden it’s just gone, which is terrible, since I use it for almost everything.

I love using coconut oil as a moisturizer and that is probably my favorite way to use it, not to mention my most frequent. It is lightweight and very moisturizing and I love the smell of it. Like most oils, it does take a bit longer to soak into your skin than lotion does, but I find coconut oil to be a bit faster than other oils I have tried. I use it to moisturize my face, day and night, then as an arm and elbow moisturizer at night. Since I shower at night and would rather not have the oil get on my sheets, I use a lotion on my legs, but it would work great on legs as well.

Piggy backing off my last statement, coconut oil makes a great shaving cream. It is a bit messy and makes your shower a little slippery, but it leaves my legs feeling super soft and one of the cleanest shaves, with a shaving cream, that I’ve ever had.

A lot of people use coconut oil to remove their makeup and I do that as well, but I like to do it on a light makeup day. When I am going out at night or an event or something and am wearing more makeup, I like to use a cleanser to remove my makeup and then cleanse again, once I removed the makeup. I do this because I think that coconut oil is a bit messy and the more makeup I’m wearing the messier it is, so I just find it easier to only use coconut oil to remove a light day. This is just my personal preference; no matter how much or little makeup you have on, coconut oil will be able to remove it all.

You can also use coconut oil when you are oil pulling. I think it is one of the better tasting oils to pull with. I have tried olive oil and sesame oils and I definitely prefer coconut oil out of the three. I know that some people put the oil in their mouth and swish it around until it warms up and melt in your mouth, but I find that to feel weird so I just melt or stir the oil up a bit before putting in my mouth. I don’t oil pull on a regular basis but I am trying to make it a part of my regular routine and to do it more often.

You can also use coconut oil in your hair as a mask before you take a shower. To do this, just put it all over in your hair and let it sit for about a half an hour, then rinse it out in the shower. You may have to shampoo your hair a couple times to make sure that all of the oil got out, but it leaves your hair feeling really smooth and shiny. You can also put it on the ends of your hair to help moisturize and condition the ends.

You can also use coconut oil to cook with and can ingest it orally to help with weight loss, brain health, to combat heart disease and to help strengthen your immune system, plus so much more! Coconut oil has endless uses and health benefits and would be a great addition to both your pantry and your makeup bag.

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DIY: Lavender Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

A few months ago I was staring at a huge tub of coconut oil that was sitting on my bathroom counter wondering how I was ever going to use all of it when I thought to myself; maybe I can make something out of this that will get rid of a bunch of it. That is when I decided to create a body scrub.

Ingredients

Coconut oil is very moisturizing and nourishing and sugar is a great exfoliator, and I had run out of soap; it seemed like a great idea.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of Organic coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup of Organic sugar
  • 3-8 drops (I used 5) of Essential oil
  • A container to store it in

Coconut Oil

Add a ½ cup of softened coconut oil into a bowl (You can put it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it, but you do not want it to be completely melted as the sugar will settle at the bottom of the jar separating from the oil. Once the liquefied oil hardens, the two ingredients will not be combined well).

 

Then add in your sugar and essential oil. I used lavender but you can choose whatever you like, orange or lemon would be very refreshing for the summer.

Mix until everything is combined well.

IMG_0248

You can put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to help the oil harden up faster for immediate use, or just put it in your shower and use it tomorrow!

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