Friday, July 31, 2015

Savor Summer -- Nurture Yourself with Natural Beauty Rituals: A Bit of My Story, Some Recipes and A Resource List

Last week I serendipitously checked out the current issue of the magazine Mother Earth Living from the library. As I was paging through the magazine I noticed a statistic that reminded me, again, of why I like to use natural beauty products:

The FDA has banned 11 ingredients from use in cosmetics in the U.S.
The EU Cosmetics Directive has banned 1, 378 ingredients from use in Europe*

If you're in the US like I am, does it bother you a little bit to know that products for sale in your local stores probably contain ingredients that have been banned from use elsewhere in the world?

I know that talking about natural can get a bit controversial. I very clearly remember one of the first lectures in my college organic chemistry class where my professor ranted about how (hippie/granola/crunchy) people liked to talk about wanting products (or food) that don't contain chemicals when in fact that is impossible. Everything is made up of chemicals. Water, itself, is a chemical and yet no one aims to avoid water. He argued that many ingredients in food and cosmetics are made out of chemicals that, although artificially created, are chemically identical to their natural counterparts.

Personally I'd rather use a lotion that I made with my own hands that's scented with lavender essential oil than buy a lotion that's fragranced with chemicals created in a laboratory designed to smell like lavender (doing it myself also ensures that the lotion is not tested on animals... another of my big concerns, and another issue I know is controversial).

lavender, flowers, herbs, garden, harvest, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

What about you?

If nothing else, creating our own products is fun and using them is wonderfully soothing and nurturing -- plus, many of them make great gifts! Perfect if you're planning ahead for the holidays.

I want to share a story before I share some recipe inspirations. For years and years I struggled with "bad" skin. I had painful, ugly acne. I don't like to think about it, let alone talk about it, but I want to share this story in case maybe you're struggling with your skin (or another ailment), too.

I tried everything... drugstore brands, high end brands, health food store brands, "cosmeceuticals". I also tried all sorts of diets and supplements, exercise and meditation. Nothing helped to clear it up. If I had listened to my body, I could have cleared up the problem fairly quickly. What was the problem? It wasn't "bad" skin that needed to be controlled. It was sensitive skin that needed to be treated gently. My husband would tell me, "stop putting all that stuff on your face", but I couldn't. I thought I needed to do something (a lot of somethings, actually) to control my misbehaving skin. Cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize -- twice a day, every day -- other masks and treatments weekly. I eventually figured out that the biggest culprit (other than the overtaxing of my skin with all those products) was the very ingredient included in those products to treat the problem. Whether artificially created or naturally derived (from willow bark) salicylic acid was causing my skin to break out. When I started to make the connection I tried an experiment: I switched to the gentlest cleanser and lotion I could find (without any salicylic acid). Within a week I stopped breaking out. My skin healed and continued to heal. A few years later I simplified things even further and switched to a cleanser that contains only one ingredient. It's been nearly two years of using only honey to wash my face. It's the best cleanser I have ever used.

I'm not trying to sell you honey or convince you that all chemicals are bad. What I want you to take away from my story is simple. Treat yourself gently and listen to your body. For some reason those things can be so hard for many of us. I know I'm not the only one.

local honey, natural beauty, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And if you're curious...

How to wash your face with honey** (my way):
  • Rinse your face with warm water
  • Dry your hands (to keep from dissolving the honey in your hands) and take a small amount of (about the size of a nickel works fine) and massage it into your damp skin 
  • Finish with a rinse of cool water.

In the summer I don't seem to need any moisturizers -- the honey itself is moisturizing enough. (It's taken me a long time to be able to listen to my skin and decide that for myself!) When I need more moisture I use either a variation of this cream or a carrier oil (shea butter, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil and kukui oil are some of my favorites) mixed with essential oils (lavender, geranium and lemongrass is a favorite combination). I just started harvesting borage from the gigantic borage plant in my garden. I'm drying the leaves so I can use them to infuse oils to make my creams even more beneficial. (Calendula flowers and comfrey leaves are also great herbs for infusing oils... try it if you grow them in your garden).

borage, garden, summer, savor summer, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Try a honey mask:
  • (This is especially relaxing when done in the bath... plus then you don't need to worry at all about drips on clothing or furniture).
  • Apply a thin layer of honey to dry skin. 
  • Leave on for at least 10 minutes. 
  • Rinse well with warm water followed by cool. 

Refreshing Summer Facial Mist:
  • Pour rosewater into a bottle with a misting/spray top.
  • Alternatively pour distilled water into your misting/spray bottle and add essential oils or a blend of essential oils (about 10-20 drops for a 2 oz. bottle).
  • Store in the refrigerator.
  • Mist skin whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Interested in finding other recipes and suggestions for making natural products? Here are some great resources:

In my summer newsletter I wrote about a soothing ritual for cooling down on hot days and giving your feet a little love (Missed it? No problem, you can sign up today and catch up with my summer newsletter and receive your free gift, too).  


What about you? Do you like making natural beauty products? Do you have a favorite DIY or a favorite source for information or supplies? I'd love to hear about it.

It's been a fast month, but I hope that you have found it to be a joy-filled month with lots to savor.

Savor Summer, #ssjuly2015, Watercolor, watercolor logo, watercolor lettering, watercolor flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Although I'm saying goodbye to Savor Summer, I will continue to savor my days and I hope you will, too. Remember to take each day as it comes and try to be aware of (and grateful for) all of life's little beauties, graces and joys.



*scroll down to "Fun Facts" on this page of their website

** the best kind of honey to use is raw and local. Many commercial honeys have been heat treated and filtered to a degree that they no longer contain all the good stuff that makes honey nourishing in the first place (take a look at this article for more information).

11 comments:

  1. Anne I have so loved sharing the savor summer journey with you. Didn't it go by quickly? Time flies when your having fun! Like you for years I followed the ritual of cleanse, tone and moisturize as we were constantly advised to do in 'teen' and 'women's' magazines. All I was doing was clogging up my pores so they couldn't breathe and often experienced acne and breakouts. Now sometimes I use only water to wash my face and a wash cloth to exfoliate. I do moisturize from time to time and must definitely try honey on my skin. As I have got older I only seem to put things on my skin that I would be happy to put in my mouth such as mashed avocado, banana, strawberries yogurt etc. I also find that oatmeal put into a muslin bag and tied over the bath taps makes a lovely oat milk bath to soothe irritated and inflamed skin. Have a lovely weekend! :-)

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    1. Thank you for joining me, Simone!

      I always forget about oatmeal baths. Thanks for reminding me. A nice cool one would be so refreshing on a hot day.

      Hope your weekend has been lovely.

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  2. This was such a fun post, Anne!
    I love making my own salves and giving them away to in tiny containers to family/friends. The favorites are my calendula/comfrey blend and my jewelweed salve and spray for bug bites/rashes. I use royal jelly face cream but you've got intrigued to use honey as a face wash. Going to try that, thanks!

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. I'm determined to make more salves this year. Just tried a solid perfume and it smells delicious (the fragrance of the beeswax coordinated nicely with the essential oils), but ended up being a bit too solid. I'll have to tweak the recipe a bit.

      I've never used royal jelly face cream, but it sounds nice. Thanks for that idea, too.

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  3. Anne, I just love your blog! Thank you so much for your wisdom, talent and inspiration!

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    1. Thank you, Aga! You are so sweet. I love your blog, too. Your thoughtful posts. You seem to really think about and savor life.

      Have a lovely week!

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  5. Thank you Anne for a lovely Savor Summer series. I suffered with acne when I was teen and young adult. Ugh. It was awful and sometimes I still get break outs. I have never heard of trying honey to wash your face. Wow. That sounds great. I've been using Dr.Bronner's lavender castile soap but for my face it can be a bit drying.

    Thanks for all the links and recipes. It's a good reminder to practice good self care. :)

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  6. Thanks, Dana. I'm glad you liked the series.

    I love Dr. Bronner's lavender castile soap. So versatile and smells so good.

    And you're right, it's all about self care, which is so important. Easy to forget or put it off, but not so good for us.

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  7. What a pretty salve to use for summer! Like Dana, I like Dr. Bronner's lavender soap but I use it for hands only. Your summer series has been so enjoyable. Are you going to do a Fall Frolic series or perhaps Fall Favorites? Your gentle outlook on life permeates your blog and stories with peace and grace. I love to stop by and see what country goodness you are up to.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. Glad you enjoyed it. Not sure what I'll do for fall (trying to let summer last as long as possible!!).

      I always enjoy your beautiful blog, too.

      Have a lovely rest of your week!

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