twenty four + the beauty products, recipes + methods i love

Since moving to the country I go out into the world a lot less.  Since there isn’t even the off chance that I might run into the mail lady, I find I put less and less into my appearance and wardrobe.  At first it was liberating, but I have grown tired of always looking like a rumpled rag.

Every morning I think it will be the morning that I get myself into the shower before Mike leaves for work, but I always find something else to tidy or it is just too damn cold.  This morning, though, I forced myself into the rather unwelcoming shower stall; the worst part is always the wall of ice that smacks up against you just after shutting off the water and opening the glass door.  Once I had some warm layers on again I felt so much better.  I know, I know, poor little Muffin and her First World problems!  😉

Now, I love a good jammie day just as much as the next person; probably even more so.  But I have noticed a marked improvement in my mood, patience, productivity, and general well being when I take that 20 or 30 minutes of self care each morning.

I used to be a bit of a product whore.  I loved going to the drug store to find new products that would make my hair shinier, my skin dewier, and my eyes poppier.  I have admitted to you on many occasions just how much I enjoy shopping and browsing, but in the last few years I have really begun to think about the nasty, carcinogenic crap they put in our products and have made it a goal to remove it from our home.  I have found wonderful replacements for pretty much everything, but my hair products.  I often have people ask me what  products I use and have been meaning to make a post telling you just that for quite some time.  To cram it into this post feels quite suitable, no?

Shampoo + Conditioner:  Let me first tell you that I have insanely thick hair which has natural loose curls.  My favourite product is Dove, but they still test on animals and contain all the usual chemicals so I try to buy the products not tested on animals.  I have tried going “poo free” in which I used baking soda, water and apple cider vinegar and I thought I liked it until I caved about a month and half in and washed my hair with real shampoo and it felt like my scalp could breathe again.  I have tried pretty much every natural product out there, but it always makes it feel heavy, frizzy, or just unclean.  I am not quite so picky about my conditioner and do like Nature’s Gate.

Mousse: Again, I have tried all the natural brands in hopes of finding something that makes my hair work, but my favourites are Herbal Essences or Dove though they are, once again, full of chemicals and tested on animals.  I even boiled flax seeds in hopes of using the gloopy bi-product for hair gel.  It was nasty and turned really fast.  I am still searching.

Hair Dryer:  I use a  Barbar Ceramic hair dryer (I bought it a couple years ago with a free shipping and 60% off coupon).  I also have a CHI hair straightener which I bought on clearance when we were a dual income household.  It is covered in hideous skull and crossbones, but the colour just wasn’t worth paying a premium.  I only use it when I have bangs..

Moisturizer:  For the body I like to use my homemade sugar scrub in the bath or shower which removed the need to moisturize afterwards.  For my face, I mix a little cocoa into my Green Beaver facial moisturizer to create a chemical free, sun free self tanner because I am of the opinion that everyone looks best with a little tan (how very 1980’s of me).

Face Wash:  Water.  Though I have heard good things about the oil cleansing method.  I use Witch Hazel as a toner.

Lips: I use my homemade lip balm and am wanting to try a decent DIY lip stain for the days I need a little colour.

 Makeup:  I am a minimalist when it comes to makeup.  Nearly everything I would use (mascara, eyeshadow, and eye liner) was in this kit for 24.99 at our local-ish health food store and sometimes I will use their subtle blush for these white wintry days.  I feel better when I wear a touch of makeup, but usually only where it when I leave the house.

Toothpaste:  As a formal dental hygienist, I feel a little torn about the whole fluoride controversy.  In an ideal world we wouldn’t need it and everyone would eat whole foods and have impeccable oral hygiene, but that just isn’t the case.  I don’t believe it should be in our drinking water.  We have been using this toothpaste for nearly 2 years and love it.

Deodorant:  I will only use the very best homemade deodorant ever created.  Some people say it can stain your clothes if you dress right after, but I have never found that.  Some people think baking soda contains aluminum, but apparently it is our baking powder that we should be looking more closely at.  If you’re still unsure, just get the aluminum free stuff like I did before I read that post.

Baby Wash/Shampoo – If you’re like me, you thought you were safe buying the unscented baby shampoos, but they contain all the shitty chemicals our stuff contains so I stopped buying it.  First I stopped washing Poppy’s curly hair and just used a tiny bit of conditioner, but when I ran out of that I just started wetting and/or brushing her hair at bath time each night and it is just the same.  I don’t even have to brush Silas’ hair.  You’d think their hair would stink or get oily, but it never does.  I just use homemade soap that I always seem to have given to me as gifts.

Bubble Bath:  Bubble bath just isn’t bubble bath without Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.  So I try to use epsom salts and essential oils instead, but I miss my bubbles.

Perfume/Cologne:  Pachouli has always been my scent and I have never ever been able to use anything but the more beyond The Body Shop’s perfume oils (I am sure they contain just as many chemicals.  Also they don’t make them anymore).  I have not bought new perfume in years, but when my oils run out I will just use Pachouli.  Mike has been saying he’d like a signature scent; something that when the kids smell it they think fondly of their daddy and his love. I am hoping one of these recipes will fit the bill.

Laundry Soap: I love this homemade recipe, but when I don’t have all the ingredients on hand or just don’t feel like taking the time, I use Ecos Laundry Soap.


There you have it.  My biggest pet peeve is when something doesn’t do what it it supposed to do so these are the recipes, products and methods I have found to be better for us, the earth, and are actually effective.  I have started a Pinterest board where I will be pinning recipes and ideas I would like to try so if you’d like to see more of what catches my eye, feel free to follow me.

What are your tried and true recipes, methods, and products?  What little things make a big difference in your day?


go gently + be wonderful



Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in 365 photo project, frugal living, life, recipes, tutorials + DIY, wellness. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm by Stephanie K. | Permalink

    Brushing my teeth and mascara, and a little lip balm…that’s the minimum! I cut my long hair a couple of weeks ago so have a tea-tree oil paste kind of thing for styling my short ‘do. I love Alba products, esp. their kukui nut oil for massages, moisturizing baths, etc. I tried a homemade shampoo recently and it had the weirdest grossest effect…oily roots and frizzy ends right after using it. Yuck. I too loved the Body Shoppe’s perfumed oils..Mostly Musk or Rose Musk were my faves. Still like the scent of tea rose but go scentless these days with a new babe so she knows my true scent.
    Funny how “signature scents” work…my kids always say I smell like Norah or that she smells like me, when I wear no scent at all. And aside from deo, Robin wears no scent but always smells yummy…love his “natural” scent! I hear you re. the restorative power of a shower…you should see my horrible outfit/hairdo right now! Try to perk myself up before Robin gets home but it happens less and less these days. Some day I’ll wear the Chanel red lipstick (my one true weakness) that makes me look like a Hollywood actress from the 40s when he gets home…

  2. Posted January 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm by Nicole | Permalink

    Hi Erin, I made the switch to natural products about 7 years ago and have always struggled with shampoo as well. I too have thick hair and have always found the natural shampoos make it just plain drap. About half a year ago I tried Live Clean clarifying shampoo which contains Bragg’s organic apple cider vinager in it, and I absolutely love it. I don’t think it is completely “natural” as there is some unrecognizable ingredients listed near the end. However, it is 98% plant derived, vegan, SLS free and paraben free, petroleum free etc…The beauty of it is that I only have to wash my hair once a week due to the apple cider vinager’s clarifying ability. With other natural shampoos I was washing my hair everyday or every other day because it would get rather greasy when I left it. Now my hair looks great after I wash it and actually gets better looking and more managable everyday there after for a week. I don’t mind if there is a few unnatural ingredients when I am only washing my hair once a week and all my other body care products are completely natural. Sorry for the ramble and spelling errors, trying to make supper at the same time. Oh, you can find it at Shopper’s Drug Mart. I have never seen it at Joanne’s probably beause its not 100% natural.
    Love the post, take care.

  3. Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm by Margot | Permalink

    I use a homemade bath mix on my little guy, I posted about it here:
    Since that post I have reduced it to oatmeal, lavender buds and calendula petals, sometimes with the chamomile oil. It works really well, gentle, moisturizing, natural and it cleans. I even just rub the bag on his head and then rinse with bath water. And it smells good!
    I have yet to find a good shampoo either, but I have replaced all my other products. I make my own balms and lotions and I’m looking into making my own deodorant, and I don’t wear make-up really.
    Also, a friend of mine recently started working for Arbonne which claims to use only botanical ingredients and have very strict product policies ( I have used a few of their products and really like them (esp the baby products), but they are expensive… They do have a shampoo, haven’t tried it yet though.

  4. Posted January 25, 2013 at 7:26 am by Emma | Permalink

    Wow I can totally relate to most of that. We don’t live anywhere near a shopping mall/center. Even just basic grocery shopping is an epic! I’m also at home all day every day but despite my best intentions to get up shower and dress as if I might be leaving the house, I generally end up in sweat pants and no make up. In the past I spent a fortune on shampoo to try and make my fine straight hair thick and full of volume but to no avail. I also tried the baking soda and cider vinegar method but the ends of my hair ended up totally frazzled after a month or so. Baby shampoo seems to be a good compromise.
    I use a homemade coconut deodorant which I love and it doesn’t stain my clothes. Also make homemade laundry powder but the ‘borax’ is impossible to find here so I have to order it online which then makes the powder quite expensive!
    Oh and Honey for washing my face!

  5. Posted January 25, 2013 at 11:12 am by April | Permalink

    I love the idea of a homemade lip stain! How do you apply it? How long does it keep?

    • Posted January 25, 2013 at 11:21 am by erin | Permalink

      I tried making one from coconut oil and koolaid powder…it looked pretty, but it was really tart and only clung to the raw parts of my lips…it make help to exfoliate first though…the granules didn’t dissolve in the oil either…The one I linked to looks a bit better, but not sure that it would keep very long…let me know if you try something you like!

  6. Posted January 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm by laura | Permalink

    Ok lady,
    I too have thick unruly hair, and mine is coarse with a capitol C!I have gotten things under control by doing a wash once a week only shampooing the roots (any shampoo will do they are all basically slight variations on the same formula) afterwards I pull out as much water from the hair as I can with my hands and put Aveda Damage Remedy conditioner on and leave it in as my hair dries. It’s expensive, but a little dab will do you and you are only using it once a week…

    I have also found a tiny bit of Moroccan oil in wet/damp hair works great too in place of mousse or silicon shine products. remember a little dab will do ya! It made my friends hair silky, on mine it was still coarse but took down the frizz a great deal. I use this oil to tame the fly aways when I want to wear my hair pulled back smooth and also to give my ends a piecy look (a tiny bit will do you or you will be greasy). They make a cream as well if you like working with that sort of texture better than an oil, my husband took the cream one I had and used it on his curly hair as a finishing product after it was towel dry. Soft but piecy finish, not crunchy like mousse.

    Like you I don’t dry my hair, instead I put it up in a loose bun at night and let it do its thing while I sleep. But don’t use a ponytail holder or you get a crappy bump, have you tried goodie spin pins yet? They are the best thing ever invented, super easy to get a mop of hair up and holds all day with no fussing, or at night while it dries (pile it up loose though). Check it out Basically you grab up your hair in the bun shape you want (or low nape chignon) and twist a pin in NS and another pin in EW done and up all day, it’s a miracle! Fyi if you have thick curly hair it doesn’t matter if you get the blonde or brown pins, they will be hidden either way, just get what’s left or on sale. You can get these at walmart or online. They changed my life!

    As for face…It’s just a couple times a week washing with kiehls ultra facial cleanser for me (I am super dry in the winter but pretty balanced the rest of the time) followed by a few drops of this magic stuff. It’s expensive but one bottle should last you a year. 3 drops…that’s it! Makes your skin glow and dewy. The oil gets sucked up right away and is a nice change from feeling all dry and chappy in the winter. In the summer I don’t use anything for moisture so this would likely last you 2 years if you are like me. Plus my husband always says, mmm you smell great after I have it on. A nice sage/not floral Herbal goodness not unlike the Aveda smell. You want a signature scent, this and the aveda conditioner will do it for you, mmmmm.

    Looking for a good lip stain/balm. Sign up for kiehls fan club and periodically they will send out freebees for this lovely item. L Comes in a berry and a peachy hue and both look great on my lips and smell minty. The kiehls site for some reason doesn’t show this product, but it’s there. Again one tube will likely provide a year of spf goodness for your pucker!

    If you want to glam it up, this stuff is wonderful! Funny French blog here showing you an accurate picture of how it wears. The 065 ravishing rouge red is a little shocking at first, but just own it. After a few wears and loads of compliments you will ease into it with the type of confidence this kind of lip demands. Looks great when you are shleping around in converse and jeans w a black T or stripy shirt and you want to dress up the pontytale or bun and not feel so drab. Doesn’t bleed or need constant reapplication (of course after eating you need to) and it smells great, kinda like grape candy, mmm. Again one stick will last you years and approx $8.

    At Christmas I bought a HUGE set of joe fresh makeup that came in a shiny white box. It was 19 bucks and had every colour known to man as well as a second tray of blush and other stuff. Upper right That should last forever. Usually I am a pinky blush and pale eye shadow, combined with liquid eyeliner and Black L’Oreal voluminous mascara kinda gal. It’s a pretty classic look that works with any outfit and makes you look polish even though you likely only had 2 min to get ready. A little reflective concealer under the eye (bah who needs sleep) and you should be good to go. Jazz it up with the red lip and you are channeling your inner Holly Golightly.

    For what it’s worth, I think you always look fresh and lovely in your picture.
    Effortless! So whatever you are doing it seems to be working.

    • Posted January 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm by erin | Permalink

      Like whoa!
      This is some great advice and, by far, the most effort anyone has put into a comment! Love it :)
      Will be perusing these ASAP!

  7. Posted January 26, 2013 at 11:25 am by cindy baldwin | Permalink

    I absolutely love the oil cleansing method, made with castor oil, coconut oil, and a tiny bit of extra-virgin olive oil in the winter for extra moisturizing. I have NEVER had a cleanser this effective before – and I haven’t needed to use any kind of moisturizer in years, even living in the desert! I swear by the stuff. (I’ve blogged about it a few times too but don’t have a label for it… you can find the posts I’ve done about my experiences/tips I’ve learned by searching “OCM”, if interested.) I told my husband that despite my complete loathing for multi-level marketing, if the OCM was a multi-level product I’d become a consultant just because I love it so much! 😉

    • Posted January 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm by erin | Permalink

      Everyone says great things so I may have to try it! My skin is starting to show some age :(

  8. Posted January 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm by Danielle G | Permalink

    Hair – no advice because mine is straight and fine. Tried the no poo method and ended up a tangly mess. I use natures gate. Cheapest of the nearly all natural brands.

    Skin: a mixture of olive oil, castor and almond as cleanser and moisturizer (and mascara remover occasionally). I once read all the details about the oil cleansing “method”, but really, you can do it using common sense. I use this all over my face and body. I also use a locally made goat milk soap for other, um, areas.

    Nails: a 3 sided buffer will give you the look of clear polish. Love that!

    Would love recommendations for cheek and lip stain and mascara – anyone? I too feel better with a touch of makeup. Also, I work from home but occasionally have meetings and court appearances so would also love ideas about how to prevent wet armpits?

    • Posted January 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm by erin | Permalink

      I used to do the nail buffing but have not in a long while! Will be doing it again as you’re right it does look like polish :)
      The homemade deodorant isn’t for wetness, but for stink…I doubt there is anything natural that would stop wetness unfortunately. The mascara I use may not be perfect, but it does do the job quite well…I was used to the classic pink and green maybelline mascara and this is just as good. I have seen make your own mascara recipes on pinterest.

  9. Posted August 23, 2013 at 6:15 am by Essential Fragrances | Permalink

    I really enjoyed reading this post and I love that you are taking action to stop buying products tested on animals. There are many great products out there which don’t and I thank you for sharing them.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>