Archive for ‘Body Care’

February 28, 2010

Sharing…

It’s always fun to treat yourself to something homemade no matter if it’s warm, gooey & straight out of the oven or something shared with a friend. This weekend I made use of what little time I had in between shuffling to and from the library to make another oil blend for hair/scalp/body. Typically I find that I’m always in stock of all the supplies I’d need to make an ideal blend, though choosing which specific oils to fuse with different herbs always leaves me a bit lost.

I had no formula, except the want of something a bit romantic in scent and light, nothing heavy to clog the pores. I doubt I’ve mentioned on here before…but aside from the seductive smell of all things chocolate, I am a fiend for anything lavender scented. Feed me lavender vanilla anytime during the year, and I’m a sucker! The blend instantly brings a smile to my face, and I’ve been in love since my Mum bought home a lavender oil rub from Origins many years ago.

When my Mum did come for visit last holiday, I made her a shea-butter based lavender butter that was quite similar to her Origins collection, but this go-round, I was in the mood for using up my oil stash. Rather than making an oil blend targeting my scalp, I opted for a little wiggle room & had some fun playing around with Jasmine Flowers which has such a beautifully delicate fragrance.  Last year I treated myself to Anita Grant’s Coconut & Rosewood Dry Oil Spray, a lovely light oil spray with rose buds infused throughout. Versatile enough to use as an after bath/hair/body oil, I was anxious to try my hand at something similar.

Lavender is aromatic perennial evergreen shrub. Its woody stems bear lavender or purple flowers from late spring to early autumn, although there are varieties with blossoms of white or pink. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, but now cultivated in cool-winter, dry-summer areas in Europe and the Western United States. The use of Lavender goes back thousands of years, with the first recorded uses by the Egyptians during the mummification process. Both the Greeks and the Romans had many uses for it, the most popular being for bathing, cooking, as an ingredient in perfume, healing wounds, and as an insect repellent. Discorides wrote that taken internally, lavender would help with indigestion and sore throats, and externally to clean wounds and burns. Lavender was used as an after-bath perfume by the Romans, who gave the herb its name from the Latin lavare, to wash.

What I Used:

I love to use glass jars to store and mix the infusion, because no lie-I want to see the fruits of my labor…no matter how small or big;-). And for the sake of all things pretty…it looks nice simmering on my windowsill for what will be the next 3-4 wks before I opt to use. For the past two days I have been perpetually sniffing the jar! The smell of infused lavender is ridiculously enticing…you really do just want to lather it all over and take a long luxurious bath. The lavender mixed with the alluring jasmine flowers is…

*pausing to sniff the jar..

…it’s heaven. You must try it! The oils I used are fast penetrating, and sink into the skin almost immediately leaving behind a long lasting aroma.

Coltsfoot Herb Benefits:

  • Organic Coltsfoot is a medicated herb with an abundance of natural plant sulfur, silicic and amino acids.
  • Organic Coltsfoot helps to heal dandruff, reduce scalp build up and is purported to strengthen the hair shaft adding sheen and elasticity.
  • Organic Coltsfoot also helps to regulate over productive sebaceous (sebum) glands whilst increasing elasticity of the skin & scalp. Coltsfoot stimulates collagen production which makes it excellent for an herbal hair spritz or final hair rinse infusion.

My love for all things lavender also stems from it’s versatility. Whether it’s winter/spring/summer…it’s always appropriate & welcomed into any skin regimen. It’s a light enough scent to stand on it’s own, or mixed with mint, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli or my long time favorite Vanilla! Next up, I hope to share & mix up another blend using rose buds & petals, Hibiscus Flower, Chamomile, and perhaps an Almond Cookie devotion from another one of my favorite scents!

*For more great mixes & inspiration check out one of my fav mixtress gurus, Amina of Coup de Couer fame. Great places to check out herbs/essential oil & to purchase online:

Mountain Rose Herbs

From Nature With Love

Anita Grant

Texas Natural Supply

Advertisements
July 30, 2009

Spotlight Hodgepodge

 

 

zaja

 

Still playing catchup to what’s been floating around the blogosphere/Internet over the past few weeks due to my lack of computer.  A handful of product reviews that I wanted to bang out the door are still waiting in the wings, along with a few e-mails that I have yet to respond to (bear with me!).  But with no Spotlight last month, I felt it only necessary to hodgepodge this month’s finds and goodies!   Small favors that I’ve been diggin like crazy, mainly because of how well they worked, how yummy they smell and how much I’m looking forward to trying out even more from these lines!

Lately, the PJ in me has dimmed ever so slightly, forcing me to race past all the Sephoras that are loitered throughout the city…all the pretty & chic boutiques that line the avenues of my neighborhood, but most importantly all the on-line boutiques that have bombarded me with e-mails proclaiming SALE 50% OFF + FREE SHIPPING! ARrrgh!!

But you know what, as frustrating as it’s been…I’ve still been good.  I’m still dipping into the stash that I currently have (which is STILL a heaping mound of whatnots), and every so often I will indulge in a small treat. 

bee2One of the things I’m instantly attracted to whether it’s the dawn of winter or the height of summer is a smooth & nourishing lip balm.  Since I was a small kid I’ve had a thing for their cute packaging (umm…Hello Kitty!), ability to smell like watermelon, tangerine and all the other fruit drinks I had in my lunchbox growing up.  Naturally though, you begin to choose favorites and preferences emerge when your doctor uses words like ‘winter itch’, or ‘eczema’.  I know!  How could they.  But turning this negative into a positive, I was able to explore the world of Lip Butters!  I’ve found favorite vendors from EtsyAnita Grant, Bath & Body Works, and my new favorite, Honey House

What I like best about this line is their natural approach to producing bath & body products.  From their honey filled soaps to their signature moisturizing Bee Bar, a hand and body lotion bar, all their goodies look and feel like a serious treat for your skin.  I snagged the signature Bee Bar, (vanilla scented) & the Vanilla Almond Lip Butter which does an amazing job in keeping my lips smooth for hours at a time.  The lip butters come in either a tube or tin for easy carrying.

 Like a kiss to the lips… Pomegranate oil has been added to the Lip Butter tubes for its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory qualities. Other superior Natural Oils are Shea, Jojoba & Kukui Nut to soften, moisturize and protect. What a relief for dry, cracked lips! Other flavors are: Apple Pear, Mango, Peppermint, Vanilla Berry, Natural, and Mandarin. Try them all!

Right now I’ve got my eye on the lavendar scented Beer Bar, the Honey Blossom Soap and the vanilla berry lip butter.  They have several distrutors throuhgout the northeast, click here to find a store.

My next find has been a staple in my routine for the past few months simply because it’s managed to work better than any face zajawash, face polish, facial scrub I’ve tried over the years.  In the past I’ve sampled from St. Ives Apricot Scrub to Origin’s Never A Dull Moment  face polisher and neither has left my skin as clean and fresh feeling. Zaja Natural’s Dead Sea Mud Foaming Face & Body Scrub is honestly one of the best in making that ‘at home spa’ experience come to light. I purchased this months ago during a PJ frenzy along with their Amber Sandalwood Spa Soap Bar, and could not believe how much dirt and grime it sloughed away to leave me with and oil free T-zone and a clean face.

 

Descrip:

A wonderful skin confection that you won’t be able to resist diving into. Made with pure handmade cream soap, genuine dead sea mud, camelina meal, strawberry seeds, grape seeds, jojoba oil, pure cane sugar, dead sea clay and rhassoul clay. Formulated to lather into a soft creamy texture and gently scrub away all your worries without scratching or irritating your skin.

Dead sea mud has so many minerals that are just wonderful for the skin and has been used for many centuries are part of a daily beauty regimen. Camelina acts as a skin defoliant and opens up the pores so that the cleanser can take the bad stuff out of your skin so the good stuff can go to work. Rhassoul volcanic clay contains a high percentage of magnesium plus silica, potassium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc and lithium, the wonderful elements that we need to survival and purification. Added scrubbies to gently exfoliate dead skin cells so that your skin can begin to renew itself and reveal the gorgeous skin within. Couple this with our plain unscented unrefined Shea butter or our Pure Monoi De Tahiti oil and your skin will glow and you will look and feel great!

I use the scrub typically once-twice a week before going to bed.  I take a small scoop with my finger. which is really all you need to cover your entire face, and massage the mud until it becomes a frothy, creamy consistency.  By then, I move in circular motions for 3-5 minutes, cold rinse and apply moisturizer before heading to bed.  In the morning my face is clearer, and my pores look significantly smaller.  It truly does feel like a spa moment after that final rinse because of how FRESH & CLEAN your face becomes.  Zaidat, the creator and owner of Zaja Naturals has an AMAZING collection of bar soaps, butters, deodorants…and all are handmade! Soap names include the delicious sounding Coconut Cream Pie Soap & the Blackberry Vanilla Musk soap…all on my ‘get’ list.

 If you’re an avid Etsy shopper, stop by her shop and DO NOT sleep on these goodies.  The only problem you’ll find is the overwhelming need to buy up everything on the site because it all sounds and LOOKS yummy!  You can also visit her original stomping ground @ zajanatural.com.

If you guys have any Etsy sellers to shoutout drop me a line @backtocurly@gmail.com, or leave a comment down below, I’d love to hear any new discoveries from the handmade community;-).

May 14, 2009

Time on My Hands

Null 051

no...not ice cream

I had just an ounce of time on my hands while my PC was in the shop, and decided to play mixtress for one evening…or two or three!  Back in the beginnings of winter I finally took it upon myself to mix together my own shea butter creme, something that would help with my overly dry skin.  I was super succesful in sifting together a moisturizing butter with a raw-unrefined shea base.  I’d layer it on at night and wake up in the morning to soft, gleaming skin! It was a personal victory considering how far I’d come…over the years I’d tried a million-n-one different over the counter creams and balms to keep the dryness at bay…including taking antihistamines when the dry skin escalated into something surpassing drugstore help.  I was over the top misserable, partly because I’d grown so dependant on the pills to function through a regular day, and second…well I didn’t have insurance at the time, so seeking the help of a dermatologist was strickly out of the $uestion.

So, succesful in banishing my winter dryness I was bored the other day and tried to mix together leftover butters and oils I had lying around.  Using a butter in the spring/summer months is a rarity for me…for obvious reasons I guess.  The feeling of a thick butter being slathered over skin that’s already naturally moisturized is not cute.  Instead, I’m more likely to stick to light lotions and light/fluffy creams.  I didn’t have much to start but the end result was a good start:

  • 2  1/2 oz refined shea butter
  • 1 tablepoon aloe butter (you can be more generous if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet almond oil
  • three tablespoons emulsifying wax
  • 1 tablespoon grape-seed oil
  • half tablespoon cornstarch
  • half a teaspoon Vitamin E oil
Null 058

Almond Joy

Mixing was easy, but also a bit time consuming because I was looking for a lighter, fluffy consistency.  I melted the butters + emulsifying wax over a double boiler until soft and almost completely melted.  Removed butters from heat as soon as the bits of wax were almost dissolved, once removed you can add the oils and cornstarch.  The butters I used are rich with an already oily, creamy consistency when hard, so I did go sparingly with the carrier oils.  I eyeballed, but still managed  to use no more than listed above.  Once the oils and butters were mixed, I brought out a hand mixer to incorporate everything fully, and to also get the right consistency.  I started on a low speed than alternated as I went along…once the cream began to form bubbles and pull itself together, I added some fragrance oil. (3 tblsp. almond oil; 2tblsp. vanilla bean oil).

To get the right kind of fluffy texture, I ended up mixing for a good ten minutes (still working on how to cut this down), then placed the mix in 2 oz containers, enough to fill 2 equally.  Before allowing the cream to set I dusted the top with dark cocoa powder (cosmetic grade) for a dessert like look! The mix smelled so yummy, with the almond and vanilla that I could not resist! What I ended up with was a light souffle type butter creme, that goes on silky, but not greasy (thanks to the cornstarch), and light enough to use in the coming Summer months.  My skin was left moisturized and glowing after using.  I’m still playing around with scent, but this batch smells like pure almond/vanilla ice cream!

If you’ve been hesitant in the past to try your hand at mixing your own goodies…u need not fret! First of all, it’s easy peezy, COST EFFECTIVE, and you have sites like Mixology and countless others to lead you by the hand;-)!

April 28, 2009

Spotlight: Bath Junkie

bottle_lightpink

 

This past week I had the pleasure of sauntering into one of many hidden jems here in NYC.  Friday was sort of the kickstart to what turned out to be an amazingly beautiful weekend, weather wise at least.  The feeling in the air was carefree, and I decided to take a walk further downtown before heading home.  Walking along Mulberry Street in DT NYC, you’re likely to trip over….well hardly anything. These streets are mercifully less crowed than the tourist packed roads you leave behind.  Instead, what you will find are countless small-ended boutiques and shops tailored for the individual who harps on standing out and being on top of the newest trends.  Rarely do I include myself in this category, but somehow my PJ radar was arching in the direction of Bath Junkie, a concept store that allows you to mix, match and create your own Bath products!!

If you’re in bath & body PJ certifiable land…then this is most definitely your mecca.  No joke…I walked into this store with an all-n-out deadpan expression…took one look around  and knew for certain I was in trouble.  What you’ll find are tons of empty bottles, but more importantly…different ways to experiment with what actually goes into those bottles!

I’m talking creating and mixing your own bubble bath, moisturizer, salt scrub, body mist, shower gel, hair conditioner, body wash & so much more! Custom blend your moisturizer while choosing from 200 different scents that vary from botanical to spicy essential oils of almond, basil, french vanilla, sage & rosemary.  The ongoing list of scents is crazy, and like a PJ fool you could probably sit there and mix and match a million and one potions, but I did manage to come way with a sweet mix of Almond, Honey Oatmeal! If you’re at all familiar with Carol’s Daughter’s line of Almond Cookie, think along those lines…Yum!!

junkie1My scent was mixed to form a Body Dessert  an all over shea butter conditioning creme that doubles as a  light moisturizer that you can use in the shower, or afterwards as a  light body spritz.  Blended with shea, sweet almond oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter I was easily swayed into making my own 4oz. bottle to take home and sample!  The moisturizers are paraben/ mineral oil free for those with sensitive skin, and nary an animal is touched while testing the line of goodies, so cruelty free!  A self-declared ‘drop-in spa,’ with an ‘upscale Manhattan loft,’ appeal, this place will incite the mix-tress in anyone! 

All I could think of really while sniffing at the different scents and bases is how much fun my Mom would have! My mum luvs her some scrub and lotion to make her feel fresh & relaxed after taking a shower.  Her favorite line of products is from the Origins line…particularly their Lavender-Vanilla scent that is sooooo amazingly fresh scented and beautiful, she’d often scold me for using too much.  All in all, a great concept/idea for Mother’s day, friend’s birthday, special occasion etc.  They have locations well throughout the country, so hopefully if you’re not in the NYC area there’s one within power walking distance!  The prices are affordable but most importantly reasonable considering how everyone’s watching their pennies and dimes.  Not for nothing, but I was really  inspired to run home and seriously mix it up with all the goodies I had lying around;-)!

March 23, 2009

Body Beautiful: Giveaway

banner02

Here’s how I’m choosing to celebrate the beginnings of Spring….with a giveaway!! Last Friday was the official first day, but in all likelihood if you looked out your window in the a.m. like I did, you awoke to a freak snowstorm and not so friendly, nippy weather.  Yeah…we’re not off to the most predictable spring are we.  But I digressed in time to look on the bright side…I can officially begin my prep -work.

By prep work I do mean changing my approach to my skin, hair, and nail care.  It’s time to divy up my moisturizer plan by switching to lighter cremes.  Trimming my ends to prep for easy wash and go styles, and finally…FINALLY heading to my nearest nail salon for a long overdue manicure!

taylor1To accompany me on my transition I’m turning to this book, Dr. Susan Taylor’s Rx for brown skin, a comprehensive guide to managing and improving your beauty care regime.  Dr. Taylor covers a whole range of topics from skin, hair care, and nails and really delves into the do’s and don’ts of what it means to take care of pigmented skin.

There’s a pretty lengthy chapter devoted to hair and nail care which addresses both sides of the coin, basically how to best care for both relaxed and naturally textured hair.  She challenges basic myths related to hair growth, the basic composition of hair for women of color, as well as how to best condition and care for your hair by determining and working with hair texture.  She dives into the business of elasticity, density and porosity to help readers better understand what your hair is actually telling you! (i.e. strand tests and texture quizes to help check for elasticity, helping to determine hair breakage and proper maintenance for your hair)

This book has infinite amounts of info in it and is up for grabs because it’s always important to share;-)! Leave a comment down below or email be at backtocurly@gmail.com sharing some of your beauty secrets and I’ll draw a name at random by 5 p.m. Friday.  Hopefully by then the sun will be out, and remember to springify this side of the world.

 

Hope everyone’s weekend was a goody;-)!

February 25, 2009

Prelude

Summer is… 

Summer

 

…to me it’s anticipation.  It’s been a long winter and I long for cute print dresses, peep toe embroidered sandals, smelling like an almond cookie, sailing mile high on T-strap heels,  reeking of my favorite scents and oils no matter who’s next to me, carrying over sized embellished bags filled with summer reads…visiting Karen’s shop in BK for her wonderful creations…

Summer is also my time to divvy up my skin care routine, switching from heavy duty butters & cremes to light lotions.  I need my skin to BREATH in summer so I try to look for lotions that are not just light feeling, but the fragrance has to fit my personality as well.  During winter months I hardly experiment with scents,  usually I’m more preoccupied with finding a good moisturizer to combat winter dryness!  But the leeway summer offers is so enticing that I’m always inspired to try new body sprays, lotions on any given day of the week.

garnetMy absolute FAV over the years has been a lotion with the warmest of undertones, goes on light, yet moisturizes incredibly well.  Sage Jewelry’s Garnet Body Creme is hands down my go to scent for the summer because it last, last LASTS all day! You know something is worth the hype when you’re turning heads, and folks are hankering for advice on where to get.  I never worry about applying perfume afterwards, because really…I’d hate to mask the loveliness that is Amber & Vanilla!  On a whim I visited their site the other day and found a sale brewing! Needless to say I stocked up, mainly because rarely do they have a sale, and I’d be certain to kick myself later if I didn’t take advantage.

cookieMy other go to scent is another prized gem from Carol’s Daughter.  I can’t get enough of her Almond Cookie treats!! One of my new fav bloggers has been all over this line for some time and has blogged about the truly addicting smell, despite her love/torn relationship with the changing prices.  I’ll be honest, over the years the increase in price has deterred me from purchasing many things from Lisa Price’s line of goodies, but in the end I decided to pick just one item from her collection that I wouldn’t feel guilty when purchasing, and that ended up being the Almond Cookie Lotion and fragrance!  The highlight scent is sweet almond, mixed with marzipan, sandalwood and musk.  YUM!!  It’s sweet, without the over bearing smell of berries, which is why I’m so drawn to it.  I’m not gagging over the smell if I decide to slather it on, which I’ve been guilty of:-).

 

 

I know it’s early preaching about Summer, but I can’t be the only one!  What are your all time fav go-to products for summer?

 

January 29, 2009

Spotlight: Fresh Scrub

Yum!

Yum!

‘What a difference a year makes…’, I’ve heard this before but never has it meant so much until I took a step back the other day to envision parts of my life this time last year.  Basically I had started a new job, a second job really, that was intended to supplement the happy moments in my life, you know… those moments where you’re entitled to pay yourself first before paying your landlord. I’d delegate myself to be happy on those pay days, and liberally bought something, whether it was small or big that would make the fact that I was so tired all the time a meaningless slight.

What I also distinctly remember is lagging behind on really taking care of me, more specifically my skin! Last year I was running around on tip toes, arriving at the day job at 8am, leaving there around 5:30pm for the other job…then finally resting at home close to 11:00pm.  After only a couple of weeks of that routine, my skin was not adjusting to my negligence. 

Winter in NYC is certainly unforgivable if you don’t acknowledge it, and that’s pretty much what I did.  My skin for the first time began to flake, and I discovered dry patches that never used to exist! Still adjusting to my new schedule I had zero time to whip up a batch of shea-loe, or a shea mixture that would help alleviate my growing problem.

Instead I needed a quick fix…something that could easily slip into a routine that I hadn’t yet caught up with.  Thankfully, around the corner from my second job is one of those fancy shmancy type beauty stores that have white luminescent walls, ceilings and floors…it was almost dreamy…lol! It was the kind of place I simply did not trust myself going in alone, I’d need friendly support or the confidence to withstand the buckling pressure of over eager saleswomen.

Unfortunately the day I finally walked into fresh, I had none of that. All I did have was desperation and a new paycheck.  My skin was dry and cracking so I didn’t want a lotion I needed creme! I wanted something with a whole host of oils, milky ways and H2O, and the saleswomen had no problem shoving product after product down my throat.  By the time I approached checkout, I had two bars of soaps and a bottle of lotion she’d convinced me would work better than anything I’d ever tried.  Now, I was never really convinced, even after her recitation of all the ‘wholesome’ ingredients, so I continued to wander the store (this time alone!) and stumbled upon something so ideal and spot on, that I knew I’d be making the right choice in purchasing…their Brown Sugar Polish!

This is a great two-for product, a scrub AND a moisturizer in one…it smooths and scrubs away dead skin, while the natural oils hydrate and soften! The surprising factor for me, especially after trying it, was it’s ability to last all day.

Key ingredients:
– Real brown sugar crystals scrub away flakes without causing irritation
– Precious evening primrose, sweet almond, apricot kernel, and jojoba oils nourish skin and moisturize dry areas
– Passionflower oil and ginseng root extract invigorate the senses
– Citrus oils brighten and tone the skin

 

Last night I was able to treat myself to this stuff and instantly had no regrets.  I had no energy left to emulsify my shea butter and  needed a quick fix to moisturize my skin, and the fact that I could do that while in the shower was just too tempting!

At $65 for a 14 oz jar I now know just how desperate I was back then, yet at the same time it’s lasted well over a year and it’s been my secret winter spa moment:-).  So if you’re feeling lucky or just need to be reminded of a Calgon moment…this puppy will take you there!