Tag Archives: skincare

Why I EAT Collagen

collagen

I’d like to introduce one of my favorite beauty products- collagen!

Let start with the basics. Did you know that the collagen molecule is too big to soak into your skin? All those creams and serums that claim to help with wrinkles because they contain collagen are completely worthless. Seriously- completely a waste of your money.

Collagen hydrolysate, on the other hand, is for ingesting. It’s far superior to eat your collagen, because your body uses it to fight against wrinkles, and a ton of other building and repairing functions, too.

Collagen hydrolysate is made from gelatin. The only difference between the two is that the collagen hydrolysate has been broken down into individual amino acids, so it’s more bio-available (your body absorbs it more easily).

Collagen hydrolysate contains 20 amino acids that are essential for building and doing just about everything in your body including (but not limited to) strong hair & nails, better muscle tone, and supple skin that can rebuild its own elasticity. To me, that sounds like the perfect beauty product!

I like using this because it dissolves easily into my coffee and is virtually tasteless. It’s not all just for superficial reasons, either. Our ancestors’ diets contained far more gelatin (and therefore collagen) than ours do today- creating a huge deficit in our diet. To me, this simple addition to my daily routine is essential!

I buy Great Lakes grass-fed, kosher beef collagen.

By Nieves

Spotlight On: By Nieves Natural Skincare

ByNievesSkincare

I recently discovered and was able to sample the products from “By Nieves” thanks to some readers, who saw that I was into non-toxic, organic skincare.

You’ll recall that in my last skincare post, I said that I used to have dressers full of skincare products (true). I also said that I like my stuff to work. (I can be fairly impatient when it comes to seeing results, I’ll admit. Those “see results in 6-8weeks!” lines really don’t draw me in.)

All this is to say that if I am going to be a repeat user of any product, it should be doing something for me that my organic coconut oil, caster oil, and apple cider vinegar can’t already do for less cost.

That said, you certainly won’t be surprised when I tell you that in order to see how I felt about these products, I first scoured through and read their entire website, along with any reviews I could find.

I’ll tell you the first thing that really struck me: the ingredients lists. Nieves likes to say that every ingredient is an active ingredient, so you’re never paying for fillers or preservatives. What a brilliant philosophy. It shouldn’t be revolutionary, but unfortunately, no big label skincare lines (even organic ones!) that I’ve come across can boast the same thing.

I know enough about herbs and essentials oils by now to see, at first glance, that these ingredients pack a powerful punch. It would cost me way too much to gather all these together myself, though, so I’m happy that Nieves has done it and has it available for me in an affordable size and quantity. (God knows I wouldn’t have pulled off the beautiful scents they all somehow also have.)

So the herbs and oils are promising. They’re also almost completely organic. Another bonus.

“Face Fix” herbal/clay scrub and mask.

I wore this mask overnight for maximum effectiveness. (The ingredients were too fancy to waste on just a scrub that I would rinse off right away!) The mask doesn’t change form too much or harden like some masks might, so I slept with a towel over my pillow to protect it from the mask rubbing off.
I mixed my mask with a coconut oil/ghee combination to make a paste, and rubbed it in to exfoliate the skin so that it could absorb the nutrients even better.

Here I am, looking really beautiful, with the coconut oil/ghee/herbal-clay mask on. (Sorry about the picture quality)

Here I am, looking really beautiful, with the coconut oil/ghee/herbal-clay mask on. (Sorry about the picture quality)

So, I’ll admit, I haven’t been exfoliating my face very often these days, and that helped me feel like the skin-smoothing results of this mask were really wonderful. My makeup went on smoother, and stayed put longer, and overall I had a nice “glow” that I wasn’t super used to after the winter months. I could swear something in the mask made everything less puffy, something made my skin brighter, too, but I haven’t pinpointed which. Like I said, this stuff is full of ingredients that do good things.

I can’t say much about how this mask works for acne, because I haven’t had any breakouts yet since I’ve had the mask on hand. But I do like that I wake up feeling like I can notice a difference, versus the clay masks I usually have in my regime, which soak up oil while they’re on my skin but don’t have any noticeable results after removing them. That’s a big plus.

Check out this ridic ingredients list:

Organic Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), Organic Chamomile Flower Powder (Anthemis nobilis), Organic Comfrey Root Powder (Symphytum officinale), Organic Grapefruit Peel Powder(Citrus paradisi), Organic Horsetail Powder (Equisetum arvense), Jojoba Beads (Simmondsia chinensis), Organic Lavender Flower Powder (Lavandula angustifolia), Organic Licorice Root Powder (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Organic Neem Leaf Powder (Azadirachta indica), Organic Orange Peel Powder (Citrus aurantium amara), Organic Rose Petal Powder (Rosa centifolia), Organic Rosehip Powder (Rosa canina),White Kaolin Clay, Organic White Willow (Salix alba)

“C” Perfect Skin Moisturizer/Serum

Alright, this was my favorite product, I think. It felt so luxurious to put on my skin. We all know I’m not afraid of slathering oils all over my body, face, and hair, so with ingredients like sesame oil, jojoba oil, seven different essential oils and a few antioxidants to boot, this was right up my alley.

Luckily, this is not like my old friend castor oil, which is not for the faint of heart. These ingredients may be intense, but the serum itself, surprisingly, is not. It was so light and absorbed so nicely that it didn’t seem like an oil at all, while still providing all the benefits of one (because it is one!). It smelled great and made my skin feel heavenly.

I would buy this serum again and again. I’ve used many serums, all full of silicones, to achieve the same effect that Nieves achieves here without synthetic plastics on top of your skin. I know I keep repeating this, but it feels so good to put something on my skin that is actually good for it, and really WORKS, too. I call this one “glow-in-a-bottle” because that’s what it is. Perfect, healthy, dewy skin in one little serum. My under-eye circles loved it, too.

I ran out of this product the fastest because I slathered it on every day, sometimes twice a day. I got a little jealous of Nieves when I read that she does this too, saying, “I can- I make it!” Ah, Nieves. To live like you do..

“Cloud of Protection” Aromatherapy/sanitizing spray

Ah, this is tied for first as my favorite product. This product describes itself as “defense against illness, bad vibes, and stinkiness”. And it smells soooooo good. I even used it as a perfume some days. I also used this as an air sanitizer, hand sanitizer, bad-odor-eraser, and mood uplifter. I loved to use it during meditation. It seemed to work well for each job. I haven’t been sick since I got it four months ago. And I work with a LOT of sick people at my job, and I have a small child. I’m talking about coming into contact with a crazy amount of germs. Still, nada, no illness, not once.

I love that this product naturally protects against germs, because I am not particularly fond of most anti-bacterial products, as the main germ-killing chemicals are carcinogens (cancer-causing). Not so with Cloud of Protection, which is made up completely of essential oils. (That’s why it smells so amazing!)

I was thrilled that even with multiple-times-daily use, my little bottle lasted me a nice long time. It’s actually about time to get a new one.

Bath Salt

This bath salt was “magical”. On a couple of occasions, when I had a stressful day, I would run myself a bath and pour some of Nieves’ bath salts into it. I never expected much, because I’m a girl who likes her “spa days”, so I’m an old pro at salts and oils and detox mixes in the tub. But let me tell you what: I usually have trouble falling asleep, a mixture of poor circulation (similar to RLS) in my legs which can be painful, caffeine, and a busy mind. Each time when I had a bath with these salts, I was so relaxed that I was able to get to sleep two hours early. I woke up in the morning feeling completely refreshed. From bath salts! I know!

I definitely thought it was the epsom salts, which are magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is known to relax your muscles and your mind and deficiencies of it are known to make a person prone to stress and anxiety. So I went and bought myself epsom salts and took baths with cups of it. Nada. I have lavender essential oil which is very calming and good for sleep. Nothing. Both of them together? Still nothing.

I would try and duplicate the formula myself, but as I stated earlier, she has pretty fancy ingredients, so it’s easier for me to just let her work her magic and enjoy the benefits.

Repeat buys: Perfect “C” Serum and Cloud of Protection Spray
Special splurge: Face Fix Mask
If I Had More Money: The rest!

Total Grade: A++

To order By Nieves or view the products, click here. To view the ingredients lists of all these products and what they do, click here.

Beautiful Skin, The Natural Way

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(Clear, healthy skin without any chemicals! I do still get a few “time of the month” breakouts, like you see here, but usually my skin is pretty flawless!)

Yesterday I talked about the process I’ve gone through to rid my life of unnecessary toxic chemicals as it pertained to haircare. Due to the response it received, I wanted to follow up with the changes I’ve made for skincare as well.

The most important part about natural skincare is that they don’t need any toxic chemicals or synthetic fragrances or fancy packages to get the job done. And I’m not talking about mushing up an avocado or banana to wear as a face mask- that’s probably good for you, but I never noticed a difference in my skin doing something like that. I like skincare that DOES something. Isn’t that the point?

So I wrote up a list for you consisting of my natural skincare products that actually work, what they’re supposed to do, and why. If that’s not enough to convince you, it’ll be easy to try it out yourself, as most of these products are in your kitchen or bathroom already. Anything that’s not in there won’t cost more than $10 to go out and get. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the cost benefits of natural skincare!

Without further ado, “the list”:

FACE

Exfoliate:

-Baking soda scrub

Clarisonic (okay, so this isn’t a product AND it’s spendy, but it supplements any skincare regimen nicely- including my own)

-Organic coffee grounds

It’s important to scrub away the dead skin to improve cell turnover for collogen production, as well as keeping them from building up and mixing with the sticky sebum from your pores, clogging them and causing white heads, black heads, and pimples.

Baking soda is a cheap, quick, and gentle way to exfoliate. All you need is a tablespoon on a wet face. Be careful not too mix too much water, because it can dissolve fairly quickly. Simple, and effective!

Organic coffee grounds don’t dissolve, but are a little coarser. I make sure to use organic coffee for this and for consuming, because there are loads of toxic chemicals in normal coffee. Especially the flavored kind!

The cool part about coffee grounds on your face is that caffeine can work as a vasoconstrictor, which makes it really good for de-puffing your eyes (it’s included in a lot of expensive department store eye gels!), temporarily tighten skin, reduce dark circles, as well as stimulate the circulation under the skin, helping produce a nice, rosy glow. The best part about this is, it doesn’t have to be un-used coffee grounds (although it can’t be decaf, or you don’t get the benefits!). You can recycle your grounds from your morning brew, or use fresh unused grounds if you’re not a coffee drinker. If I’m not using my grounds after I make some coffee, I put them in a jar that I keep in the fridge. For a quick-morning de-puff, I press the cold coffee grounds under my eyes for 10 minutes or so. You can also take it into the shower for an all-over body scrub with the same circulation benefits, as well as de-puffing benefits that have been known to temporarily improve cellulite.

The Clarisonic is fairly expensive, but is extremely effective at exfoliating thoroughly. After using the sensitive brush for only a couple days in a row, it feels just like my skin did after a microdermabrasion! It’s the smoothest my skin has ever felt.

 
Cleansing:
 
-Natural, organic bar soap like this one
 
I like using soap because it still gives me a nice lather, which breaks the surface tension of water and washes away dirt, oil and makeup. I use this method when I want an effective makeup removal or cleanse without having to rub very much on my skin or eyelashes, the way I would with oil. I really like using this with the Clarisonic brush. This is the only cleansing method I use that strips away a lot of the oils on my face, so I make sure to moisturize afterwards- because I don’t want my face feeling too dry and feeling like it needs to produce extra oil (like I explained in my I’ll Never Shampoo My Hair Again post.)
 
Makeup remover:
 
-Unrefined/raw coconut oil
 
Like dissolves like, so oil cleansing actually dissolves the surface sebum on your skin. Some people have really finicky skin, so this doesn’t necessarily work for them. I’ve never met anyone who this doesn’t work for, personally, but I’m not going to recommend it as a one-size-fits-all if I’m not positive that’s true! Test it out and see if it works for you. Chances are, it will. It removes all mascaras and face makeup as well as any remover I’ve tried, sans nasty chemicals. You can just rub a couple teaspoons worth over your face and eyes, and wipe with a dry or wet washcloth.
 
Moisturizer:
 
-Unrefined/raw coconut oil
-Cold-pressed caster oil
 
Some people don’t like the “greasy” feel of oil on their face. They liken it to the feeling of really oily skin (the bad kind) and to acne, but it’s nothing like that. I actually think it feels rather luxurious! I’ve been using oil on my face for 6 or 7 years without any adverse reactions or breakouts. I even use it to clear my skin up after a breakout! I used to have really sensitive skin and eczema (which have cleared up since clean-eating), and it helped them both significantly as well. I slather it on before bedtime, since it isn’t really practical to be shiny and oily during the day, or putting under makeup, since the makeup will just slide right off. While coconut oil is my go-to, I like to use castor for its other benefits on top of hydrating my skin as well. 
 
Anti-aging, skin tone corrector:
 
-Cold-pressed caster oil
 
Caster oil has been known to reduce wrinkles and age spots/sun spots. I use it in place of my old Clinique “Even better” Dark Spot Corrector Serum and it works just the same!
 
Eyelash moisturizer and growth serum: 
 
-Cold-pressed caster oil
 
It’s not Latisse, but caster oil has been known even to grow hair back on bald spots on people’s heads after long periods of continued use. My results haven’t been crazy, but they’ve been good. I’ve been using this on and off for 8-10 months now, and while it took quite a while to notice any difference (probably in part because I don’t use it super consistently), I have noticed this summer that when I apply mascara, my lashes are definitely longer and thicker than they were before using caster oil. So I do use a bit more mascara these days, but I won’t complain!
 
Sun protection:
 
-Unrefined/raw coconut oil
 
The trouble with most sunscreens is that they rub in or go on clear, because people don’t like those white-zinc streaks from old sunscreen. Unfortunately, this means that the molecules are small enough to penetrate the first layer or two of skin, and thus has actually has been known to cause cancer. Being wrinkle-free is not worth getting cancer for, especially when you’re trying to protect yourself from it in the first place. The white-streaks are actually the only safe kind of sunscreen, because it’s not getting into your bloodstream and filling your body with toxins. Plus, all that means is you have to rub in it a little more. Is that really so bad? For full coverage I use Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 for myself and my two year old.
 
Unlike man-made sunscreens, coconut oil has a natural SPF 10. For a nice golden-brown tan I just grab a jar from the kitchen cupboard!
 
Toner:
 
-Raw apple cider vinegar
 
ACV wipes away extra oil and dirt that cleansing may have missed, just like a regular toner, with the added benefit of restoring your skin’s natural pH. This helps to reduce the oil production and balance the skin’s natural hydration levels, as well as fight acne with its anti-bacterial properties. The measurements for this method are 1:1 apple cider vinegar to water.
 
Acne spot treatment:
 
-Raw apple cider vinegar
 
Dab a q-tip’s worth of undiluted apple cider vinegar right onto a pimple to help dry it up and the kill bacteria, all while healing the skin.
 
NAILS 
 
Nail conditioner + strengthener:
 
-Raw apple cider vinegar
 
Just like it says in my no-more-shampoo post, ACV is an excellent skin, hair, and nails conditioner, as it helps to restore their natural pH for strength, health, and beauty. I am pretty hard on my nails, and this really helps! You can also use it to condition your nails before adding polish to wipe away extra oil and balance the pH for extra long-wear nail polish. I know they always brush something on to balance the nail’s pH before I get my gel manicures for this very reason, and that stuff is much more expensive! This formula is 1:2 apple cider vinegar to water (1 part apple cider vinegar, 2 parts water)
 
Teeth, Mouth & Gums
 
Toothpaste: 
 
-Baking soda
 
 
Baking soda has long been known to be an effective breath-freshener, tooth polisher, and teeth whitener. Mixing it into a paste with water works as well as toothpaste, without unnecessary chemicals. While it does not contain fluoride, your teeth might never miss it anyway. Studies are increasingly showing that fluoride is incredibly toxic to ingest, and while it can be beneficial for your teeth topically, is not inherently necessary for the health of your teeth. Not to get all political on you, but the only studies that show fluoride IS beneficial for your teeth are funded by American Dental Association-approved programs. (In fact, this organization works really hard to run all holistic-dentistry out of business. Look into it!)
 
To improve the strength and health of your teeth fluoride-free, Dr. Collin’s Restore is an excellent choice. It re-mineralizes your teeth to protect against enamel breakdown, sensitivity, and cavities. Plus you still get that minty-fresh taste. My daughter’s paternal grandfather is an oral surgeon who has confirmed that the ingredients of this toothpaste suggest the efficacy in all its claims! 
 
Teeth whitener & oral health:
 
-Cold-pressed untoasted sesame oil or unrefined coconut oil
 
Oil pulling, the act of swishing oil around in your mouth for a period of time, has been used for hundreds of years in Eastern Medicine to detox the entire body for a wide array of health benefits. While the scientific evidence has yet to show whether these claims are true or not, it has already confirmed one thing: your entire mouth will be cleaner and healthier. Oil pulling has been shown to stop the growth of Streptoccus bacteria- the main cause of tooth decay, protect against plaque/gingivitus, and significantly whiten teeth in just a couple uses. 
 
I brush my teeth with baking soda and floss beforehand, so the oil doesn’t work on cleaning what it doesn’t need to, and swish 1 tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil around in my mouth for 15-20 minutes. Sometimes it mixes with my spit a lot and my mouth gets really full, so I spit it out and grab some new coconut oil to keep going if my 20 minutes aren’t up yet. Make sure you spit the oil out in the garbage, not the sink! Coconut oil solidifies at certain temperatures, and you don’t want it doing that in your pipes and clogging them up! I rinse my mouth out thoroughly when I’m through (it’s thought to contain a lot of the toxins from your mouth after oil pulling) and that’s it!
 
Extra, extra white teeth:
 
-Hydrogen peroxide
 
Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in all tooth-whitening products. The reason there are so many strips, trays, and gels on the market is because they supply a concentrated dose, as well as being sticky enough to stay on your teeth for a while so it can actually get to work in a short period of time. The additional chemicals and gunk that they add are not good for your teeth, and even worse for you body- which is not good news because you end up ingesting them in small amounts every time you put them on your teeth. A hydrogen peroxide rinse works as well as any high-end whitener if you use it consistently, and sometimes better. A Crest White Strip can’t get in between all the cracks and crevices of your teeth- those stay stained. Not so with the hydrogen peroxide rinse! Add one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water and swish for a couple minutes every day for professional-like results.
 
What about acne?
 
Although I’ve had my fair share of breakouts, I’m blessed enough to not struggle with them very frequently or significantly. Even so, thanks to the above natural skincare methods and a clean diet, my skin is the best it’s ever been. I used to be crazy about my skincare- spending most of my money on expensive and trendy products, washing once or twice a day, a new mask or skin cream at night, eye creams, anti-acne spot treatments, you name it. I had drawers full of department store and drug store products that worked half as well as an organic, vegan diet does for me now. Cutting out dairy and having a green smoothie every morning does more for me than that entire chest of drawers ever did! 
 
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(My morning “Glowing Green Smoothie“!)
 
I read a story recently in a magazine about women who eat Ramen noodles to afford pricey skin creams, and I was horrified. If these women only knew that they need to do the opposite for good skin! Fruits and vegetables, more than any other foods, contain a wide array of vitamins, nutrients, and anti-oxidants that are necessary for proper functioning and beauty alike. The more real nutrition that you get from your food, the more your body can use it for beauty and wellness. Your body needs nutrition first for normal, every day processes (because these are necessary for life). If there’s anything left over, your body can devote that to beauty, detoxification and wellness (because these are secondary). And that’s only if there’s any LEFT OVER. Most of us only get a serving or two of raw fruits and vegetables a day- if any- and it ALL goes to the basic processes! No wonder we see signs of gray hair and crow’s feet at age 28. 
 
I could talk about nutrition all day, as it’s a huge passion of mine, but I’ll move on. Another way to combat acne healthfully is to detoxify your body from fluoride. I just got on a little rant about fluoride in the toothpaste section, but let me tell you how it relates to your skin. Fluoride, as I said, is incredibly toxic for the human body when ingested. There are zero proven benefits, and only shown detriments. It likes to accumulate it in your body- like your brain, disrupting mental processes, and your bones, significantly weakening them. Did you know countries with fluorinated drinking water all have significantly higher osteoporosis rates? It’s uncanny.
 
Aside from many other hazards, it has an effect on a small portion of the population that is lesser-known in the dermatological community called “fluoroderma“, which is a condition caused by fluoride sensitivity that produces extreme acne that does not clear up very well even with the help of prescriptions or topical treatments. 
 
A cheap and easy way to protect your brain, bones, and skin from fluoride in your drinking water is to detox it out. This can be done by supplementing either boron or melatonin, both of which are very good for you outside of the detoxing purposes, too. I take melatonin supplements when I go to bed, and they improve my sleep. They’re cheap and safe, as melatonin naturally occurs in your body. Fluoride disrupts the production of melatonin in your brain, however, so putting it back in your body through a supplement helps replace it again. 
 
Boron is very effective for getting fluoride out from all areas of your body, and one easy way to take it is in simple old Borax. Yeah, Borax, the stuff in the laundry isle. Borax is not regulated by the FDA, so they don’t recommend it for human ingestion, although it is perfectly safe. Borax is just sodium tetraborate- a type of salt. It’s not a very tastey type of salt, which is why we don’t usually eat it, but we certainly could, if we wanted to. 1/8 of a teaspoon is all you need a day to continually detox the fluoride from your body and protect against buildup. Because it doesn’t taste very good, I add it to citrus drinks like orange juice to mask the flavor. Similar to adding a pinch of table salt to orange juice, a pinch of borax just cuts down on the acidity of the orange juice and makes it taste a little sweeter. I also add it to my morning cup of coffee, and it cuts down on the acidity level of that too, making it less bitter. A pinch here and there quickly adds up to 1/8 tsp, and that’s all it takes. A box of the stuff costs under $10, and you can imagine how long it takes to get through one when you use 1/8 tsp at a time. That’s a small price to pay for your well being!
 
If you have well water, don’t think you don’t need to detox fluoride too! Juices, sodas, soups, and all sorts of other processed and pre-packaged foods or restaurant foods and drinks contain fluorinated water. Even some bottled-waters, and the frappe you got at Starbucks last week. It’s all over the place, and your body has a hard time getting rid of it. If you haven’t detoxed it, chances are almost certain that you need to.
 
So there you have it! A little lesson on good skin and health, the natural way. Don’t take my word for it- try it out for yourself! 🙂