Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Be Your Own Apothecary: Non-Toxic Deodorant that Actually Works

Apotheca products have always been free of Parabens and synthetic chemicals and fragrances. Lately there has been a lot of well-deserved terrible press about just how bad these ingredients are. So lately a lot of my clients have been asking for my recommendations of natural products that don't contain toxic chemicals but that actually work. You see, many well-liked faux-natural lines (such as that airport favorite that looks like a twee apothecary and whose name rhymes with "Bhiel's") have gross ingredients like aluminum and artificial fragrance. And your usual health food store deodorant may not have parabens or aluminum in it, but it also leaves many lovely ladies and gentlemen feeling. . . not so fresh.

I'm sorry, Tom's. I'm looking at you.

Our own k23 skincare makes a fab-smelling, sweat-stopping, Earth-saving deodorant/antiperspirant with shea butter, French cosmetic clay, and a host of ridiculously good-smelling essential oils. A steal at $15.95, it's redolent of an enchanted valley and makes you feel like raising your hand all day long, even when you don't know the answer.

But it's dead easy to make a perfectly serviceable product yourself with stuff you probably already have on hand. So, BEHOLD- my recipe for a super-easy deodorant:

Supplies needed:


SOMETHING TO STIR WITH (I like cocktail swizzles, but use what you've got.)

Ingredients needed:



ESSENTIAL OILS in a scent you like (something like this would give you a fresh scent with great antibacterial action)

To Make:

1. Melt some coconut oil in a double-broiler
2. Pour it into a jar and add enough baking soda to make a paste
3. Add a couple drops of essential oils if you like
4. The end.

Oh, you thought cosmetic formulation should be a touch more complex? Okay- here are longer directions for you, but really you are just fine doing the above. This isn't rocket surgery.

To Make, Complicated:

1. Make a double broiler (or bain marie, if you're feeling French and/or fancy) by putting your mixing bowl atop a sauce pan that you have filled halfway with some water.

2. Bring the water to a boil and as you do so, scoop out some coconut oil into the bowl. Eyeball it- you're talking maybe five tablespoons, depending on the size of your jar.

3. Heat the coconut oil until it is just liquified.  (Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. If it's a hot day and you happen to be starting with liquified coconut oil then you may skip this whole melting step.)

4.  Pour liquified coconut oil into your jar and add approximately 1/2 cup of baking soda to the jar. Mix well.

5. Add 5-10 drops of essential oils of your choosing if you are inclined.

Optional, 6: If you are a sensitive sort or if you have just had hair removal, the baking soda may sting a bit. If this is you, try substituting part cornstarch for part of your baking soda.

Et voila, you're done and you smell darned fine.

don't you just want to stop by an author event and start asking some questions?

Want more recipes? Check out our sister blog, SF Slow Kitchen: The Home Cooking Project, for more stuff to eat and stuff to make, for healthy beauty inside and out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Bugs Make You Beautiful

Think microorganisms are yucky little germs? Think again! Good "bugs" like probiotics keep the bad microbes in check, and this is crucial to maintaining a healthy body and healthy skin. The human intestinal tract is lined with bacteria – both good and bad. There is no question that intestinal health IS overall health, and you can't have one without the other. There is also no question that unhealthy digestion comes out in the skin. When intestinal flora are out of balance, we not only get constipation, bloating, and allergies,but also acne, reactive skin, and overall inflammation. Not a pretty picture.

Too many of us eat diets rich in processed carbohydrates and sugars. And too often, we think we are doing right by our bodies when we reach all too quickly for the antibiotics. I can't tell you how angry I get when I have clients with treatment-resistant acne come to see me for the first time and their medical histories show they have been on round after round of antibiotics to treat their skin. Talk about ignoring the cause and just slapping a band-aid on the problem. Only in this case, the band-aid actually makes the problem far worse. I don't blame clients for this but their dermatologists should know better.

One easy, cheap, and delicious way of restoring the balance of good to bad bacteria in the body is to eat a diet rich in natural probiotics. Probiotics are great in a supplement form (and I highly recommend them to clients with chronically poor diets and/or a history of frequent antibiotic use). But even simpler, probiotics come in some of the tastiest and easiest foods we can make.

For skin and body health, try to eat at least one serving per day of one of the following fermented foods:
  • Good yogurt (whole fat, organic, preferably raw, and definitely unsweetened. Even better to make it yourself.)
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented soy foods (and only fermented soy foods): Miso, tempeh and natto
  • Kimchi
  • Real buttermilk from raw cream - easy to make and so delicious! (Recipe coming soon.)
To get you started, come on over to the Home Cooking Project for my recipe for the easiest raw sauerkraut ever.

Here's to good health and beautiful skin!