Organic Hair Color

Image courtesy of marin /

I’m not a big fan of coloring my hair, but when gray strands starting making an appearance right above my forehead, it was time to make a move. Thankfully, Richmond is home to Red Salon Organics which carries Organic Color Systems, a completely ammonia-free line of hair color. I was a little nervous to try out this organic line because gray can be tough to cover and organic products are typically not as powerful as their chemical-laden cousins. But my stylist said the gray wouldn’t be a problem so I went for it. The color turned out beautiful. It was like a lush shiny version of my own color. The best part is that you don’t leave the salon smelling like chemicals. The color has a slight licorice smell that I actually kind of like.

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Olive Oil as a Cleanser

Image courtesy of dusky/

This may sound a little counterintuitive, but I’ve been washing my face with oil. Not an oil wash from a cosmetics company, but olive oil from my kitchen cabinet. And I’ve been pretty pleased with the results.

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‘Tis the Season for Dry Skin

Every time I hear the heat click on, I start thinking about how important it is to keep my skin moisturized this time of year. I’m one of those people who can tell it’s winter just by my extra-dry skin. Since I try to stay natural, I was really pleased to find out that you can use pure coconut or olive oil instead of a bottled lotion. When I was on vacation in Africa a few years back, I had a massage where the therapist used pure olive oil instead of the processed oils that are used in the states. After a quick shower to remove the excess oil, my skin felt soft for days.

Using oil tends to be a little more messy than a traditional moisturizer, but can be easily applied with a cotton ball or pad. If you decide to head to the kitchen cupboard the next time you need a lotion, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, use cold pressed oil. Cold pressed oils are made using low temperatures. That means more of the nutrients and antioxidants are preserved in the oil and will make it to your skin.

The oil will absorb better if your skin is slightly damp, so try using a couple drops after you wash your hands or get out of the shower.

There are a few downsides to using oil. One is that you don’t get the mix of oils and antioxidants you’ll find in a formulated moisturizer. That means you’re not getting a range of benefits. You can combat this by mixing a few different oils together.

The other thing to remember is that pure oil doesn’t contain SPF like many lotions, so it’s important to follow the oil with an SPF before heading outdoors.

Photo credit: m_bartosch

Getting Your Manicure and Staying Non-Toxic Too

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Going to the salon for a mani/pedi is one of the ways I like to relax and unwind. But worrying about toxins in the nail polish that is used can really be a buzzkill. A while back, chemicals in nail polish, specifically dibutyl phthalate (DBP), were linked to birth defects in future baby boys. Finally, the big nail polish companies have caught up and created a distinction called “3-Free.” That means that the polishes are free of DBP, toluene and formaldehyde. These chemicals have all been linked to ailments from headaches and dizziness to more serious conditions like cancer and reproductive issues.

Here’s a great article from All Lacquered Up that breaks it all down. Basically, DBP is a plasticizer that’s used to prevent chips and cracks, toluene is a solvent that makes nail polish easy to apply and formaldehyde makes the finish tough and resistant, but is usually not found in polishes so it’s less of a concern.

The author of the All Lacquered Up article says she’s not sure these chemicals are bad for you, but I say why take the chance?

Popular salon brands like CND, Essie and OPI have 3-free bottles. All the Essie polishes with a blue label are 3-free, as are green-labeled OPI bottles.

If you want to chose a polish made with even fewer chemicals, try brands like butter LONDON, Aquarella or Honeybee Gardens. There are even some brands for kids like Piggy Paint, so you and your little ones can look polished without the fumes, toxins or worry.

Homemade Body Scrub

Written by Lora Moncheck

Lora's Homemade Body Scrub

Lately I have been searching for a good body scrub.  I tried all sorts of body scrubs from the store, and nothing really impressed me so I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I looked up different recipes and decided to take what I liked from all of them and make my own.  I took 1/4  cup of Sugar in the Raw, 1/4 cup of regular white cane sugar and 1/3 cup of salt.  I then mixed them all in a bowl and added olive oil and baby oil until it was completely saturated.  (If you want to make it all-natural you can use only olive oil and omit the baby oil.)

That night I scrubbed my whole body down with my homemade scrub.  Rinsing it off was kind of a pain since it was so gritty, but it was worth it.  My skin felt so smooth and soft.  I was really impressed, it worked so much better then anything I had bought from the store. And the best part about it was how cheap it was since I used all products found in my pantry!

Easy Way to Get Free Natural Skin Care

Nelson's Pure & Clear Anti-acne Line

I was very excited when Nelson’s asked me to be a part of the Pure & Clear Challenge. Over the past year it seems I’ve constantly had a breakout on my chin or cheek. I’ve tried the products in the past and have been impressed. They use natural plant extracts to break the cycle of blemishes and are free from artificial colorings, fragrances and chemical skin irritants like parabens, PEG’s, silicone and others.

The challenge is simple: submit a “before picture” that shows your problem skin and the first 150 people to respond will get 4 full size products from the line for free! Then after using the products for a month, send an “after” picture. Everyone who completes the challenge will receive Nelson’s goodies and be entered to win an iPod.

Click here to find out all the details and when you’re ready to get your products, email your name, address & photo to

So for the month of August I’ll be using the products and I’ll report back in September with hopefully good results! I’ll post my before and after pictures at that time too.

Spa – Turkish Style

While recently in Istanbul, I made a point to visit a local Hamam, or Turkish bath. We decided to go to the Cemberlitas Hamam. It is a little more touristy, but still offered the traditional service of a scrub and oil massage. This hamam was built in 1584 by famed Turkish architect Sinan. It has identical separate spaces for men and woman.

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