Cruelty Free life? YES PLEASE! Find out the cruelty free treasures I found in the makeup aisle!
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Cruelty Free life? YES PLEASE! Find out the cruelty free treasures I found in the makeup aisle!
Lets talk armpit health.
For 30 years, when it came to deodorants or anti-perspirants, I was a total Walmart girl. I’d buy whatever products were on sale, not caring for brand, ingredients, reputation or anything else. I wore Dove, Secret, Arid or whatever else smelled good. And it all worked out fine - until it didn’t.
When I turned 30 (so long ago!) I went through a period of stress - personal, professional, you name it. Now, normally, I compartmentalize and move on. Repress, repress, repress. I’m not saying its a healthy method, but its what I DO. This time, however, it was different - my body took over and metabolized that stress in a highly unusual way.
It all started under my arms. I quickly developed a red, painful rash in my armpits that would crack and bleed. The redness gave way to boils and flakes - at the same time. The pain was so bad, that I spent all of December 2010 with my hands under my arms, hunched over. I stopped using anti-perspirant - forget about shaving - and went to the doctor. The official diagnosis was “contact dermatitis” which is basically a reaction that appears when the skin connects to something it is intolerant of. Not a lot of help.
By the process of elimination, we figured out that I developed an adult onset allergy to chemical fragrances. How did this change my life? Let me list the ways…
-No more perfume
-No more hairspray (not that I wore tons. But occasionally…)
-Walking through Duty-Free was a nightmare
-No random lotions from the pharmacy
-Hugs with heavily perfumed or cologned loved ones was excruciating
-No more fabric softener
-Scented soaps and shampoos were out of the question
-Etc etc etc…
What’s a girl to do?
A girl researches and experiments, that is what she does.
My parents told me stories of oil massages and ayurvedic remedies from their childhoods in India. That got me thinking - how could I go back to basics?
I experimented by applying mustard oil under my arms. The mustard oil actually did a great job of healing and soothing my ravaged pits, but the scent was less than ideal. I graduated to coconut oil… and then shea butter mixed with coconut oil.. and then baking soda added to that. Gradually, my home made deodorant recipe evolved into the spray I now use every day. Its a soothing combination of natural ingredients and essential oils that works to soften my skin and prevents light odours.
This product grew into another and another, until I had replaced all my lotions and potions with natural alternatives. Lotion, face moisturizer, scrub, bath salts and more - the beginnings of the complete line I carry today.
As for my allergy, it’s still going strong. I get hives on my arms and neck if I use artificially scented body care, or if I get too close to someone wearing perfume. Certain laundry detergents and fabric softeners make my throat close up and I have banned air fresheners from our house and cars. Interestingly, each change in habit and lifestyle led me to more and more information on what is ACTUALLY in the every day body and house hold products we use - and what their effects could be. Its a strange world we live in, let me tell you.
I’ve adopted a cleaner life - and I am grateful for this bizarre chain of events that led me to this place. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would become any kind of “urban hippy”, but here we are.
These days, my armpits are doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. Seven years later, I still have scars on both from the burns, but otherwise doing well. And, in case you were wondering, they smell fab 😉
After an insanely long winter, it seems we are finally seeing the light (literally). All the sights, sounds and smells of the season are on display - pasty legs, drippy ice cream cones and barbecue!
As the days get longer and the nights get warmer, one thing I can’t get enough of is cold treats. i am one of those annoying people who prefers the fresh air (even if its oppressively hot) to the artificial freeze of an Air Conditioner. That means, if you drive anywhere with me, be prepared to have to shout over the sound of the wind through my sunroof. It also means that everything in my room is covered with a fine layer of dust because of my open windows. Its a small price to pay, I think.
The best thing about being warm all the time is the pleasure I get from getting cold. Sounds counter intuitive, right? Jumping into a swimming pool on a hot day, a sudden cool breeze or even an iced coffee are the simple pleasures I look forward to in the hot summers.
And so it was in pursuit of these little pleasures that I happened across two simple summer recipes that caught my eye. Now, I am in no way a domesticated goddess. I am a functional, if not inspired, cook. The best I can do is boast that no one under my direct care has ever been sick after eating my meals. Yes, I will consistently kill plants, but I do have a good track record with humans. Complaints don't count.
I love recipes. I love reading them, trading them, drooling over them, and, pinning them for the "future". The two recipes below, however, will added to the small list of things I actually do make. You'll see why!
First, an easy homemade popsicle recipe that looks absolutely divine! The recipe is for strawberry cheesecake popsicles but I’ve been toying around with modifying the recipe to be raspberry, rosewater and mint. Or maybe rosewater and pistachio… or maybe watermelon mint. The possibilities are endless!
Take a look and see how many interesting combos you can come up with (and share them with me!!).
Recently, I’ve been craving ginger beer like mad. I adore ginger beer - its a crazy spicy version of Ginger ale, technically, but when you taste it, it seriously just blows your mind. Since I've been on a low carb kick the last few months, ginger beer is something I’ve had to give up, sadly. Then, I found the holy grail: low carb ginger beer! Actually, its a ginger beer concentrate that just has to be mixed with sparkling water - or with your Soda Stream, if you have one. With the temps hitting the high 20’s - 30s this week, I’m making this one ASAP.
Again, I’m doing low carb (and loving it, I might add), but if you prefer the taste of real sugar, go ahead and use that. Once you let ginger beer into your life… everything changes!
Now if you will please excuse me - I need to go lay in the sun, turning into my favourite shade of Sweet Potato.
Happy Valentines Day, everyone!
Look around today and you'll find all kinds of people celebrating V-Day in many different ways. Some are showing off flowers from their beloveds while others are sulking in corners, eternally flowerless. The truly lucky ones are walking around completely oblivious to the candy, chocolates and paper hearts. These ones shall inherit the earth, I say.
As for me, Valentines Day is just one more day to cross off the calendar. I bought heart shaped candy moulds on sale last week, which is the extent of my acknowledgement of this “holiday”. Well, that and this Valentine’s Day themed blog.
What I’m more interested in is the idea of pampering someone you love - showing them (in a largely material way) that you care. This got me thinking - self love is considered love, right? When do we celebrate THAT kind of love?
Maybe February 14 is the day that we break out of the culturally acceptable shell of modesty, bashfulness and self deprecation and really celebrate ourselves. I’m sure that if we dig deep enough, we can find a couple of things we are good at and have improved on. Private victories can still be rewarded, after all.
Now, if we can identify some the various reasons we deserve to be loved (loved by ourselves), then surely we can find a way to pamper ourselves as well.
It could be something fancy (like gifting yourself with a season’s pass to a museum), or something simple (like a solo dance party with the music blaring), or it could be none of the above (like downloading 7 dirty books onto your Kindle).
Whichever way you decide to pamper yourself this Valentine’s Day, just make sure you DO.
So if you are smart/kind/hilarious/generous/sharp/beautiful/quirky or have a nice butt, celebrate it!
(And NEVER hack into my Kindle account).
For more ideas on gifts for yourself, check out our natural skincare at http://www.ruchyskincare.com/store/ - how about a luxurious rose lotion? Or a light face serum? Bath salts! Yes, bath salts for SURE.
Fall is here! Check out my winter skin tips which will make you love the cold weather as much as i do <3Read More
To be very honest, I have always been somewhat negligent about any body care rituals that go beyond soap and shampoo. Really, I didn’t even use conditioner till I turned 32. I never saw the point of primping and pampering my skin. Women who had actual night time grooming regimes were like aliens - inscrutable and slightly worrisome. What were they doing? Why? Who has time for this?
Now, as I cross my mid-30s, I have think I have come a long way. I take off my makeup before bed (mostly), I use hydrating hair masks (if I remember), and I bought an Amopé (for those of you that don’t know, thats an electronic foot file that was mistaken for a naughty toy by my sister. Google it. It looks nothing like a naughty toy).
I’m not saying that I am a grooming convert - by no stretch of the imagination. I still refuse to cut my hair more than once a year, and I probably don't wash it as much as I’m “supposed” to. My eyebrows wait months before I remember to get them threaded at the $5 place, and I don't acknowledge the reality of a moustache. Still, better than before.
In my line of work, I research incessantly about skincare and I am fascinated with unusual or lessor known tricks. Imagine my interest when I stumbled upon the importance of body exfoliation.
My interest was captured by the idea of Dry Brushing. Immediately, I ran out and bought a long handled, natural bristled brush. Before a shower, I’d start brushing: feet to centre, hands to centre, long sweeping motions. Gentle, circular motions on torso, towards the heart. Always towards the heart
You guys: I loved it.
What a gorgeous, energetic way to start the day! At first, I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was pain, but I soon figured out that no matter what that prickly, scratchy sensation was, I sure liked it. The dry brushing made me feel awake - and crazy smooth. Its quite drying, so lotion was a must after the shower. The only problem was, I’d usually remember to do it AFTER I had gotten into the shower. Oops.
Because I loved the results of dry brushing so much, I started experimenting with body scrubs. Similar concept, very different medium. I used many different scrubs on the market - salts, sugars, raw, treated, dry-ish, wet-ish, foaming, non foaming… It was a fun time.
Slowly, I figured out what I liked and what worked for me. I developed my own sugar scrub which I love to death. Its a blend of two different sugars and about 6 different oils. In the shower, twice a week, I use the scrub instead of soap. Why?
1) Exfoliation: scrubs work to remove dirt and dead skin. You know those bumpies you sometimes get on your upper arms? Gone. Its quite magical. Sometimes, when I know I will be dragged out for a pedicure, I scrub my feet first, so that I don't need to be embarrassed by the state of my calluses while I’m sitting in those God-awful massage chairs.
2) Blood Circulation: Like with dry brushing, scrubbing can/should be done from the extremities IN. The idea is to promote stimulation of the lymph nodes (some of which are located in the armpits and groin). Blood gets moving and toxins are released. A healthy lymphatic system equals a healthy body. The lymphatic system is hugely important and complex. A good resource I have found that explains its role much more elegantly than I can, is found here: https://www.davidwolfe.com/the-lymphatic-system-health/.
3) Throw out your lotion! Ok, don't throw out the lotion (try my amazing lotion!). This one really gets people excited. After scrubbing in the shower, there is no need to moisturize. Who doesn't like to skip a step? Normally, I don't need to use lotion on my alligator legs for two days after scrubbing (do you shower every day? I don’t. Another topic for another blog).
Expert tip: after scrubbing and rinsing, shave immediately. The residual oil on the skin result in the best, closest, smoothest shave EVER. No more shaving cream!
While I struggle with certain elements of grooming practices, body exfoliation is one ritual I have happily implemented into my life. I feel the immediate benefits of being super moisturized, clean and buzzing. The whole body feels so smooth and supple - like a baby seal. And i LOVE seals.
One thing to keep in mind: the shower floor can get slippery, so watch out! Rinse well and you’ll be fine.
Last thing: you might have heard that body exfoliation (with a brush or scrub) can reduce the appearance of cellulite. Im on it - will report back if I find any changes. So far… not so much.
So, two years ago I quit my job. I took that terrifying leap without a safety net. With a stupid mix of over-confidence and ignorance, I was convinced that it would be a simple thing to find another job… who was I kidding? There are no jobs - not in my field, anyways.
Ok, thats a lie. There ARE jobs in my field. The problem was I just didn't want them. With each online application, job description and interview, I felt more and more repelled by the idea of working in the same field. I felt like a part of me was shrivelling up and dying each time I opened my browser to search. So I stopped searching.
I decided to take a break from job hunting. I deserved a break, didn't I? And so I did - break.
I did a bunch of different things. I booked a european trip that spanned from Scotland to England and to France. I spent time with family and friends from out of town. I generally reacquainted myself with waking up without an alarm clock, showering on alternate days (more lies… way less frequent than alternate days) and getting back in touch with people i had lost track of. I renounced all my bras and stopped using concealer and corrector.
Another interesting thing happened: without the schedule and routine of a job, I suddenly had an abundance of time on my hands. Sure, some of this time was spent zombie-like in front of Netflix, but most was not.
Before this time, I didn't have any hobbies or interests. I would panic if anyone asked. Umm.. reading? “Film”? Seriously, who has time for hobbies? BUT NOW - I could find time.
Here’s what I decided to jump into (things to keep in mind: I am a 90 year old woman in a 36 year old’s body, who has been TOLD she looks not a day over 29):
—Recipes (Not cooking. Recipes)
—DIY (not well)
—Crafts (not well at ALL)
—Research (body care - hence the business, but thats another blog for another time)
—Online dating (yes, weird interest. Move along)
—Makeup trends (but not necessarily on my face)
—Pinterest (You guys! How come no one told me about Pinterest before?)
My interests are mainly sedentary - I can see that - but they make me so HAPPY and FULL. I’ve expanded my outlook on life and on myself. These little things made me cheerful and curious and generally a better person.
Career wise, my business idea actually sprang from this time of my life when i was exploring new things. Some of my DIY work (the better aspects of it) centred around natural beauty and skin care. I researched and tested and experimented till I had a skeleton of an idea. Again - another blog for another time.
This time to focus and breathe was probably the best gift I have ever given myself.
I now understand the predominantly European concept of a gap year. The time off from the ceaseless planning and coordinating of our lives offers a chance to break, regroup and refocus. Once those eyes are clear, theres a chance that we start seeing the right path, with clarity (or, at least, the next path that takes us to the right path).
And at the VERY least, we learn how to knit terrible hats for our families to keep their heads warm and crafty.
The pharmacy is my happy-place. Hand me $100 and in 25 minutes and I’ll come out armed with tons of “essential”, wondrous products that will keep me entertained for weeks on end.
Heart shaped cotton pads? Sure!
French fry slicer? Yes please!
PJ bottoms styled to look like jeans? Why not! (True story)
My decades long love affair with the pharmacy began when I was in my teens - I was (and am?) awkward, shy and covered in “bad” skin. In those days, I would pace up and down the facial cleanser aisle looking for that one miracle product that would transform my skin into an even toned and acne free masterpiece. In those days, I would gravitate towards anything that proclaimed to be Oil Free or Astringent. The logic was, my oily skin needed to be stripped down in order to regain normality. I would scrub, exfoliate, and basically attack my face with the harshest alcohol based products on the shelves.
It didn't work.
All that negative attention aggravated my acne and made my combination skin flare up and peel. I was devastated (in that pure, endless way teenagers often are).
Fast forward a few decades to today. I am still somewhat shy and awkward and I am still prone to adult acne. The difference? I’ve learned how to treat my skin with the love and dignity it deserves. In return, it has begun to love me back. Heres the irony: that substance which caused me so much angst in my early years is the very thing that solved the problem.
The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) hails from the ancient Indian system of medicine called Ayurveda. I am sure there is a very long and interesting history of Ayurveda which I need to get more familiar with, but my experience of this discipline stems from stories my parents used to tell me. These stories always revolved around a line of children, patiently waiting for the daily massage from their grandmother. The grandmother would lovingly and expertly massage oil into the children’s hair and skin and then send them off for a bath, one by one. Perfect skin for everyone.
With this hazy scene in mind, I learned more about the OCM. Briefly, the idea is this: the best way to clean off daily grime, clogged pores and makeup is to use oil. Truly, nothing gets makeup off better than an oil blend. Even my award winning mascara and eyeliner - built to survive on my face through a war - crumbles in defeat when faced with the OCM. Here is how its done:
One of the reasons I adore this process so much is that its so relaxing after a long day. A mini spa that I think I deserve! Also, because you can be very gentle with the circular motions, I find there is less pulling at the sensitive skin around my eyes and I don't lose as many precious eyelashes as I used to. BIG WIN.
The oils I selected for the blends were chosen for their cleansing and hydrating properties. I found oils that are non irritating and light and very, very lightly scented. The blends were heavily tested (you’re welcome, family/friends) and I use them myself every day.
I also found that the oil cleanser is multi purpose:
—Use an extra drop when you are finished cleansing as a night cream replacement
—In the winter, use it on your legs to prevent alligator skin
—Smooth it on after a wax for a smooth finish, reducing the irritation and redness.
After a week or two of an adjustment period, you are likely to find that your skin feels balanced and smooth. I found a more even skin tone was apparent in just a few weeks, and it does wonders for the appearance of fine wrinkles. You might have a glow… you might be able to fly. Just kidding - you’ll definitely be able to fly.
If you are ready to turn conventional logic on its (oily) head, I hope you give the OCM a try. It’s fantastic as a makeup remover and moisturizer and feels luxurious and decadent.
Just like a pair of pyjama jeans.