Inspiring natural, happy, healthy families!

Skin-scare June 14, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 12:37 pm

I’m beginning to wonder if “dermatologist recommended” actually means anything.  A few years back I worked as an Arbonne consultant for about a day.  Turns out I’m an atrocious sales person, but I did manage to learn a lot about ingredients that are present in everything from shampoo to face cleansers to cosmetics.  It really opened my eyes to the fact that we may not be putting the healthiest things on our or our kids’ skin, and quite frankly it made me a little angry.  Not at consumers, of course, but at the companies who were touting “All Natural Ingredients,”  “Hypoallergenic” and “Noncomedegenic” (this means your face wash isn’t very funny), as if these buzz words were enough to promise a healthy solution to blocked pores, dry skin, and dull hair. 

I started dissecting ingredient labels on the products that claimed to be dermatologist recommended and all-natural: mineral oil, petrolatum (yes, this is a refined form of pertoleum…the stuff you use to fuel your car), sulfates, and parabens were in EVERYTHING I was using.  After doing some research and learning these ingredients are about the worst things you can put on your skin, both for superficial cosmetic reasons and not-so-superficial health reasons, I began to wonder why on earth these ingredients were even allowed to be in our skin care products.  It was more than unsettling to discover that the US is one of the only advanced countries where the FDA does not regulate the cosmetic industry (they don’t even regulate our food very well, in my opinion.  But that is neither here nor there), meaning you can fill a bottle with nothing but 100% “All Natural” mineral oil and call it Baby Oil.  An oil that can create an unpenetratable layer on one’s skin, making it impossible for pores to do their job and let the skin breathe, is marketed as a product for babies!  I decided one of my priorities would be taking the time to research ingredient labels on all my cosmetic and skin care products.  Thankfully, despite lax regulations, you can find quite a few companies here in the US that actually do use organic, truly natural products that are sulfate, paraben, and petrolatum-free (Badger Balm and Burt’s Bees products are my favorites).*

Maybe I’m just getting too crunchy for my own good, but it’s enough to make me one of those crazy moms who screams anytime someone tries to put Banana Boat Sunscreen on my child’s face.  Wonder why that would freak me out?  Check out to see how some of our most popular cosmetic and skin care products stack up in the eyes of the Environmental Working Group.  WARNING: you might accidentally spend the better half of your day on this website and leave feeling somewhat nauseous and perturbed.

*This post is not intended to be an add for Burt’s Bees or Badger Balm.  Simply, my personal experiences with these company’s products are good ones, and I respect their adherence to only putting natural and healthy ingredients in their products.


Doing Laundry Au Natural June 6, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 4:59 pm

I’ve discovered I love being wrong.  Not when it comes to debates with my husband, mind you.  In those instances I very much enjoy being right.  But when it comes to thinking a product can’t possibly work because it’s a) natural and b) inexpensive,  I am happy to realize I am sorely mistaken.

For example, at first I was quite content with my dryer sheets and didn’t care that they were composed of an assortment of chemicals and additives I couldn’t pronounce.  They made my clothes soft and fluffy and even glazed them in a flower-simulated scent that I very much enjoyed.  But when the itchy skin and sudden breakouts started happening, I attributed it to everything but what I was putting on my clothes and bedding during the laundry process.  At the recommendation of a dermatologist, I cut out dairy, soy, peanuts, bananas and anything else that might be causing my breakouts and rashes.  I spent tons of money on pricey body lotion and face washes that temporarily soothed the dryness and bumps, but didn’t do much to combat them for good.  I was at my wit’s end when a holistic-minded, somewhat crunchy friend suggested that all my problems could be attributed to my dryer sheets.  She said children are especially sensitive to them, but people can develop allergies to their ingredients at any point in adulthood as well.  Well, alright fine…but what on earth am I supposed to do about my clothes?  I’ve dried them before when I’ve run out of dryer sheets and they take FOREVER to dry and come out so stactic-y they could stick to the wall. 

Enter dryer balls.  When I first heard of them I figured they might help my clothes dry just as fast, but wouldn’t do much to ward off static of make them nice and soft.  Alas, I was desperate, so I figured $10 for two balls wasn’t too risky of a gamble.  This is that moment I previously mentioned where I discovered I love being wrong.  Not only did these little guys get my laundry dry in a mere 30 minutes, they made my clothes oh-so-soft and there was no hint of bothersome static!  I felt pretty swell when I realized that I just spent the same amount of money on a product that would last me a couple of years as I would have on dryer sheets that would only last me a few months.   And the best part:  my skins rashes are gone.  Sweet relief!  I still have my lovely acne outbreaks every now and then…like five days out of every month…but I suppose there’s only so much you can do when your body is subject to the whims of drastic hormonal changes. 

I love saving money.  I love having soft skin and clothes. I love my dryer balls.  (And if you live anywhere near Lincoln, know that circle ME now carries the Dryer Max brand dryer balls for the low price of $9.99 per pair 🙂 ).


A Little Baltic Amber Makes it Better. May 16, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 2:05 pm

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been a big fan of medicinal drugs.  I hate the idea of taking low-dosage Tylenol even if I have a splitting headache, and will only take a Midol if my monthly visitor has rendered me an invalid (yes, my cramps get THAT bad).  I’m not sure what my aversion is to taking over-the-counter painkillers…maybe it’s just because swallowing pills throws my gag-reflex into overdrive?  But beyond that fact, I just don’t like the idea of man-made chemicals flowing through my bloodstream.  I know that plenty of people take them on a daily basis without experiencing any adverse side-effects, but I guess I’m a little eccentric when it comes to fearing consequences of acetaminophen build-up later down the road (any medical doctor will probably tell you I’m nuts).

The bummer is, when it came to relieving my aches and pains I didn’t really believe in homeopathic/herbal/all-natural remedies either.  Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.  On a daily basis I would get searing headaches that would make me want to spontaneously throw hard objects at innocent people;  I wouldn’t want to take a measly ibuprofen no matter how bad they got, but at the same time I dismissed herbal remedies like feverfew, skullcap, and ginkgo biloba as a bunch of voodoo that wouldn’t really do anything to help me.  Needless to say, I was spending a majority of my time in a pain-induced fog.

Then, when I started working at circle ME (, I learned about Baltic amber necklaces that were used to treat and soothe inflammation.  circle ME sells the Baltic amber teething necklaces to help babies who are experiencing the pains of those incoming teeth, and also adult-sized necklaces, bracelets and anklets to help grown-ups with common ailments such as headaches, carpal tunnel, and other discomforts associated with inflammation.  I’m not gonna lie, I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud.  I thought it was yet another “homeopathic” gimmick created to get gullible people to spend copious amounts of money.  I thought this for only a short while, as I started to notice that mamma after mamma would come in and buy the necklaces for both her and her babies.  Still unconvinced, I figured it was the placebo effect that was making the moms feel better…but I couldn’t quite explain what excuses they’d make if their kid didn’t stop wailing through the night even with the amber wrapped securely around their neck.

Then, a line-backer-sized dad named Bryce came into the store and made me believe in the legitimacy of Baltic amber.  He had come in the day before and, in the act of complete and utter desperation, purchased a teething necklace for his four-month-old daughter.  She hadn’t slept through the night for four nights in a row and he and his wife, who had tried everything in the books to relieve their daughter’s teething pain, were one step away from completely losing their minds from sleep-deprivation.  Now, here he was again, with the necklace in his hand storming towards the front desk.

I was sure he was about to return the necklace, dissatisfied with the fact that his daughter had caused every one on the house to lose another night of sleep, but instead he exclaimed, “I need to exchange this for a slightly smaller size.  This thing is a God-send.”

“Oh wonderful!”  I said, truly elated for him but also fairly shocked. “We can exchange that for you, no problem at all.”

“My wife and I couldn’t believe it,” he continued, “but she slept through the night for the first time, and didn’t cry throughout her feeding.  I thought it was a bunch of witch-craft…but this thing actually works!”

As Bryce left the store with a smile on his face, I stared at the display of amber necklaces and thought, “Well, worst-case scenario is I spend a little too much money on a really stylish, beautiful necklace for myself.”  So I grabbed a necklace I had been eyeballing for the past couple weeks and placed it around my neck…and that was the last day I had one of my killer headaches.  Call it the placebo effect, call it coincidence, call it whatever you want:  my headaches are gone and innocent people everywhere are safe from my violent, pain-induced mood swings.  And I didn’t have to swallow a single, yucky pill!

I’ve never really been one to care about exactly how things work: if my car gets me from point A to point B, I don’t feel the need to know what’s going on in the engine.  But for those of you who aren’t satisfied with just knowing that Baltic amber works, but need to know how, here’s some scientific-y explanation from the Inspired by Finn website:

When Baltic amber is worn on the skin, the skin’s warmth releases trace amounts of healing oils from the amber. These oils contain succinic acid and are absorbed into the skin.

Baltic Amber has some of the highest concentrations of Succinic Acid found in nature, and this is what makes it so special. Succinic Acid is a natural component of plant and animal tissues, and it’s presence in the human body is beneficial in many ways.

How can Baltic amber help us?

  • Pain Relief –

Baltic amber contains analgesic properties and helps take the edge off of many types of discomfort associated with dental issues, headaches, joint pain, etc.

  • Strengthens the body’s immune system –

In many different and subtle ways, succinic acid helps boost the body’s own natural healing ability and immune system.

  • Restoring Energy –

 The human body naturally produces succinic acid. The salt of succinic acid (succinate) is one of the most active substances in the processes of cellular respiration and intercellular energy creation.  Succinic acid restores oxygen and energy supply to depleted cells and helps the body return to a normal, functioning state.

Succinate is a raw material and a catalyst in the Krebs Cycle which is one of our main sources of energy.  During the Krebs Cycle, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are metabolized for energy.

  • Maintaining Wellness –

When the human body reacts to stress, the body’s cells begin to use oxygen more quickly. Oxygen plays a central role in the intercellular creation of energy, and a lack of oxygen can result in feeling lethargic.

Oxygen is alkaline-forming in the blood and maintaining a slightly alkaline blood ph helps keep us healthy. Whenever the body functions in a state of low oxygen, it is much more susceptible to illness.

  • To help break a cycle of (chronic) inflammation

Where chronic inflammation is present, disease lurks.

When the body’s cells are chronically inflamed the human body’s immune system response is to increase production of free radicals. Chronic overproduction of free radicals results in inflammatory-related disease. Chronic inflammation is a common denominator of many seemingly unrelated diseases.

In conclusion, while wearing a piece or two of Baltic amber jewelry may not cure all that ails you, it has been a proven benefit to many!  And, at the very least, it sure is pretty!


Moms Can Go Cloth Too! February 14, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 1:18 pm

*Just a fair warning: to any dads reading this blog, now might be the time to hit the back button on your browser…just sayin’.

I did it.  I made the switch from disposable pads to cloth pads.   Honestly I’ve been staring at these Fuzzi Bunz Comfort Pads hanging on the wall for the past two months and my inner dialogue morphed from “Flippin’ gross!” to “Eh, maaybe,” to “Alright what the hey!”  The idea of having to wash micro-fleece that looked like it had been involved in a murder scene was at first horrifying to me…I mean, don’t you want to deal with that stuff as little as possible?!  Pad comes off, gets rolled up, goes in trash; you’re done and you never have to deal with it again, amen.  I had gotten used to the fact that they are uncomfortable as all get out (let’s be honest: it’s like walking around with a baseball diamond in your underwear), bulky, and leaked a little more than I would like.

But as my husband and I have been taking control of our budget and trying to figure out ways to cut our monthly expenses, I realized I was spending about $15/month on menstrual products (liners/pads/tampons) which doesn’t seem like such a huge deal initially, but that’s $180 per year!  Surely there are other things I’d rather be spending my money on.  I figured to buy a set (three each) of the Fuzzi Bunz cloth liners, regular size, and super absorbency size pads it would cost $43, and after doing some more research learned that, if taken care of properly, these things last for seven years!  So in a seven-year period, I could spend $43 on cloth pads or $1,260 on disposable pads.  The cloth was calling my name louder than ever.

Still, I was hesitant.  Would they work?  Would throwing blood-soaked pads into the laundry be the straw that broke my husband’s back?  The first day of my cycle, the day I had been waiting for (I never thought I’d say THAT) had arrived, and I eagerly snapped my cloth pad in.  I am so stoked to report that not only do they work fabulously (no leaks!), they are the most comfortable thing ever!  It was like sitting on a fluffy little cloud 🙂 Also, they’re not nearly as bulky as my disposables, and there’s none of that adhesive that would somehow end up sticking to me instead of my underwear almost every time.  They wash fantastically (I’ll admit it, I’ve even started hand-washing them and they come out looking like they’ve never been used)!  And I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that without all those irritants and non-breathable materials that make up disposable pads, I feel much “fresher.”

So now, not only do I feel good about saving money, I also can take a little pride in the fact that I’m contributing to less non-biodegradable waste (yay me).  I also don’t feel like a major hypocrite telling moms how wonderful cloth diapers are while buying disposable pads for myself (for shame).

Now all I have to do is conquer my fear of using a Diva Cup…