Au Naturel

I have a ton of beauty products littering my life, ahem, vanity. Despite this fact, every now and then I like to put my Martha Stewart pants on and mix up my own skin elixirs using time tested natural ingredients, most of which can be found in my kitchen. What’s great about making one’s own beauty products, aside from it being a lot of fun, is that you can decide exactly what goes in it. This means that there will be no nasty preservatives or cheap, irritating ingredients coming in contact with your skin (mineral oil is the WORST and is in so many store bought moisturizers). You can also customize your potions to better suit your skin type, whether you have ultra sensitive skin or your complexion is a little more on the oily side. Below are four of my go-to beauty DIYs. They can all be made in five minutes out of four ingredients or less. So slice up some cucumber for your eyes, light a scented candle, and pamper yourself with an at home spa day.

matcha-rose-yogurt-face-mask

1 // Matcha Rose Face Mask

Matcha (finely ground green tea) is chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that your skin loves. Rosewater is a natural humectant (draws moisture into the skin, keeping it hydrated) and has anti-aging and antibacterial properties that keeps your skin soft, supple, and youthful. Plain yogurt is incredibly soothing and helps to hydrate your skin while calming redness. This mask is very gentle and excellent for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. I like to do a mask like this two or three times a week to keep it in tip-top shape.

Things You’ll Need

  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 2 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until the mask turns a pale green and is a creamy consistency. Spread it evenly over your face and leave on for 15 minutes before removing with a warm washcloth. Rinse your face with cold water and apply a light moisturizer to lock in the hydrating effects of the mask. Easy peasy.

honey-lemon-sugar-scrub

2 // Honey Lemon Sugar Scrub

Honey has natural antibacterial and moisturizing properties, making it an excellent ingredient for fighting both acne and dry, flaky skin (combination complexions, this is your holy grail). Brown sugar softens skin and sloughs away blockages and dead cells, while olive oil deeply hydrates. Lemon juice is great for balancing oil production while brightening dull, tired skin. This scrub can be used on the face and the body. If your skin is sensitive, ease up on the lemon juice as it can be irritating for temperamental complexions. This is great for deep cleansing the skin, keeping it looking glowy and radiant. Because of the astringent lemon juice and scrubby sugar, I would not use this scrub more frequently than once or twice a week.

Things You’ll Need

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Enough olive oil to get a fluffy consistency

Combine ingredients in a bowl until you get a fluffy, snow-like consistency. Customize the mixture depending on your skin type – if your skin is dry, add more honey and olive oil, if your skin is oily, add extra lemon juice. Apply the mixture to your skin in gentle, circular motions. Rinse off with warm water and pat dry. Apply a light lotion to make your skin even more soft. Your face will feel like a baby’s tush, no joke.

balancing-witch-hazel-lavender-chamomille-toner

3 // Balancing Witch Hazel Toner

Toner is an important, but all too often skipped step in most people’s beauty regimes. This simple version only has three ingredients but powerfully cleanses the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Witch hazel, a potent natural material in many clarifying skincare products, helps to kill acne-causing bacteria while balancing oil production. Lavender soothes the skin while acting as a mild astringent, and chamomile tea calms redness and irritation. Use this toner before bed to prep your skin for your moisturizer. Get ready to say ‘bye felicia’ to your pimples.

Things You’ll Need

  • 1 cup of witch hazel
  • 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 1/2 cup of chamomile tea (brewed and cooled)

Mix all of the ingredients well and strain into an air-tight bottle. Keep your toner stored in the fridge to keep it fresh – plus keeping it cold adds to the tingly-clean sensation you will feel when you use it. After cleansing, apply it to your face with a cotton ball. Don’t rinse it off and allow it to sink it before applying your moisturizer. This is my favorite toner and I find it really helps to ward off pimples, even during shark week when my hormones make me breakout like cray.

coconut-argan-hair-mask

4 // Coconut Argan Hair Mask

If you have dry or curly hair like mine, this deeply hydrating mask is a god-send. Even if you don’t, it will help to keep your stresses glossy and softer than a baby bunny. I’ll tell you right now, the consistency is gross and it doesn’t smell great. I hate the smell of raw egg, but it is incredibly nourishing and helps to smooth the hair follicles while strengthening your strands and preventing breakages. Coconut and argan oil are also fantastic lightweight moisturizers that penetrate deeply into each strand, keeping your hair hydrated and unbelievable shiny. I use this mask once or twice a month (although I could stand to use it more) and it totally bans frizz, keeping my mane smooth and silky. I am also very prone to split-ends and this mask really prevents my strands from breaking, meaning that my hair stays a lot healthier in between hair cuts. It is worth braving the slightly unpleasant smell, and after you wash it out you will be rewarded with gorgeous, mermaid hair. You simply have to suck it up and let your hair soak it up.

Things You’ll Need

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp argan oil
  • 1 egg

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave so that it is a liquid consistency. Whisk it together with a whole egg and the argan oil and apply to your hair, focusing especially on the ends. Wrap your head in a shower cap (or towel if that’s all you have) and let the mask soak in for 30 mins to an hour. Afterwards, wash the mask out of your hair and shampoo and condition as you normally would. After using this mask, I like to apply leave in conditioner to enhance its hydrating effects. That being said, you don’t need to, and if your hair is oily you would be better off skipping it. Let your hair air dry and resist the urge to make everyone around you touch your silky soft hair.

What did you think of these DIYs? Do you have any all natural beauty recipes you would like to share? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

Alicia

Sweet Sakura Dreams

Nothing makes it more clear that spring has finally arrived in Vancouver than when the first few cherry blossoms start to bloom. The streets are lined with rows of pale pink flowers and petals float around the city like falling snow. We still have a few weeks (at least) until these beautiful blooms start making their appearance, so right now I’m bringing spring to me with sakura (the Japanese word for cherry blossom) scented beauty products, cherry blossom decor, and accessories. Wake me up when spring arrives, and until then I’ll be having sweet sakura dreams.

SAKURA BUYS

sweet-sakura-buys

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1 // Britney Spears Fragrances – Fantasy in Bloom

2 // Oblong – Graceful Hanami Cashmere & Silk Scarf

3 // Swag Style – Cherry Blossom Giclee Shade Plug-In Chandelier

4 // Small Le Pliage – Neo Fantasie Tote

5 // Nike – WMNS Roshe Run “Cherry Blossom”

6 // OGX – Heavenly Hydration Cherry Blossom Shampoo

7 // Michael Michaud Jewelry – Cherry Blossom Bracelet

8 // Chairish – Van Gogh Inspired Cherry Blossom Linen Pillow

9 // YourLaMode – Cherry Blossom iPhone Case

10 // Timeless Pearl – Cherry Blossom Pearl Brooch

11 // Ecoya – Limited Edition Reed Diffuser in Cherry Blossom & Tuberose

xoxo,

Alicia

Hydrating Lemon Sugar Scrub DIY

  
via I Save A to Z

One of my favorite steps in my skincare routine is exfoliating. There is something that is so satisfying about sloughing off all of the dead skin, oil, and dirt that has accumulated on my complexion at the end of the day. My skin is very sensitive though, and so I have to be careful about the exfoliants I use (anytime a product contains crushed shells of any kind – case in point, the walnut shells in St. Ives Apricot scrub, my face freaks out). Lately I’ve taken to making my own face scrubs as opposed to buying them and I find that they work just as well and are a lot gentler on the skin. This lemon scrub is my favorite as it is very hydrating but balances the oil production in my skin with astringent lemon juice. It also smells like lemon merengue pie and takes five minutes to make. In fact, you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now. Here’s how it’s done. 

Things You’ll Need

  • 1 Cup – Fine Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup – Course Sea Salt
  • Coconut Oil or Jojoba Oil (enough to get a fluffy, snow-like consistency)
  • 1 tsp – Almond Oil
  • 1 Vitamin E Capsule
  • 1 tsp – Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp – Lemon Juice

Put the sugar and salt in a small bowl and gradually add the oils until you get the consistency you want for your scrub (I like mine to be light and fluffy). Next, split open a vitamin E capsule and stir it into your mixture. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and stir until everything is completely mixed. Store in a mason jar or air-tight container. You don’t have to keep it in the fridge as it keeps pretty well for a few weeks, but I do like the feeling of using this mask on my face when it is nice and cold.

To Use: Massage onto damp skin in circular motions. Rinse off with cold water and pat dry. Follow up with your favorite moisturizer or facial oil.

So there you have it, easy peasy. I really love this scrub and find that it is gentle enough to use every other day (and my skin is very sensitive). The oils hydrate and protect your skin’s natural barrier while the lemon juice tones and brightens the skin. For those of you that may try it, let me know how you feel about the results!

xoxo,

Alicia

The Best (Gross) Hair Mask Ever

 

diy-nourishing-hair-mask

I have been using face masks on my skin for years to keep it healthy, glowy, and in tip-top shape but I used to neglect my hair and would simply slather it in mousse, gel, or hairspray to keep my naturally curly hair frizz-free and manageable (albeit crunchy and lackluster). A couple of weeks ago I was having an indulgent night at home (Netflix, a face mask, popcorn, and Ben & Jerry’s ‘The Tonight Dough’ ice cream were all happening) and I decided to do a simple hair mask. I googled natural hair care ingredients and found that honey, coconut oil/olive oil, and egg were all consistently listed as excellent, nourishing conditioners for the hair. The egg enriches the hair with proteins and nutrients while the oil deeply hydrates the hair. The honey acts as a natural humectant, drawing more moisture into each strand. It also has natural anti-bacterial/fungal properties and helps to kill the fungus that causes dandruff.  I was initially grossed out by the idea of putting a raw egg in my hair (it smells funny y’all) but I decided to include it anyways to see if it would actually benefit my consistently dehydrated hair. Needless to say, this simple but effective hair mask has become a part of my regular beauty routine. While I have used both coconut and olive oil, I find olive oil to be much more hydrating for my hair (although it is heavier). This mask works wonders on parched, colour-treated, and curly hair. Yes, massaging an egg into your hair is gross, but trust me, the silky Princess hair that you will be rewarded with afterwards will make it worth it. Here’s how it’s done.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

DIRECTIONS

1 // This hair mask is honestly so easy to make, it’s ridiculous. First things first, scoop 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil into a little bowl. If you choose to use coconut oil, heat it up in the microwave so that it melts from its natural solid state. Next, crack an egg into the oil and whisk it until it is well blended. Lastly, add the honey. I use liquid honey, but if you do choose to use solid honey, heat it up in the microwave for a few seconds so that it melts. Mix it all together until it’s smooth and well blended.

2 // When you put the mask in your hair, I would recommend doing so over the sink because it can get messy, and the last thing anyone wants is a raw egg, honey, and oil splashed all over the bathroom. Bend your head over, and massage the mask into your hair and scalp, trying to get as much of the mask into your hair as you can without letting any run down the drain. I like to focus on the ends of my hair because they are always super dry with the most damage. Finally, wrap your head in a towel and let the mask sink in for as long as you can stand. I would recommend waiting at least fifteen minutes. I usually leave it in for an hour or two while I relax and watch TV so that it really gets the chance to penetrate the strands of my hair.

3 // When you are ready to wash it out, hop in the shower and rinse all of the mask off before applying conditioner. Rinse out the conditioner, shampoo as usual, and then apply conditioner again to your ends before rinsing with cold water. Comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb and let your hair dry naturally. Enjoy your ridiculously soft, shiny hair. Seriously, I feel like a bunny after I use this mask, my hair is so silky.

So there you are. I love this hair mask and use it once or twice a week to keep my naturally curly soft, hydrated and frizz-free. It has totally transformed my hair and I can’t recommend it enough. For those who give it a try, let me know how you feel about the results!

xoxo,

Alicia

Last Minute DIY Holiday Gifts

 

However much I may like to pride myself on my organizational skills in other aspects of my life, when it comes to gift shopping, I tend to be more of a “last minute dash to the shops, thirty minutes before I am actually supposed to give the gift” kind of girl. Every year I plan to plan ahead and every year I fail to do so. This lack of gift-buying direction coupled with the fact that I am a still a university student with a fairly modest budget, means that the holiday season, as warm, cozy and magical as it can be, also stresses me right out.

One method I have of sticking to my budget while minimizing my stress is to make my own gifts. When one thinks of home made gifts one might think of sticky glue, tacky crafts or misshapen, lumpy scarves. That being said, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest and all of the talented, crafty people out there, there are a ton of different ideas when it comes to making one’s own gifts for the holidays. I have chosen four DIY gift ideas that are very easy and quick to produce (if you had all of the time in the world to painstakingly crochet or craft something out of wood, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?) but also luxurious and indulgent. From tasty, homemade pickles to a simple yet very personal initial pendant, here are a few gifts you can (cheaply) cross off your list.

Homemade Pickled Veggies

pickled vegetables

Photo Source | Averie Cooks

As a total pickle addict, it blows my mind that I have never before considered making my own. Using any vegetables you like (radishes, carrots, cauliflower, and green tomatoes are my favorite) you can customize each jar based on the recipients preference. Not only is this a easy gift to make (you likely have all of the necessary elements already in your kitchen) but they are absolutely delicious and are beautifully presented in a simple mason jar with a ribbon and sprig of lavender or rosemary.

Custom Wine and Cheese Basket

wine-basket-mr-gallery-x

Photo Source | myrecipes.com

When it comes to gift giving, one thing that I firmly believe it that gifts should be indulgent. When choosing something for another person, I always feel that it is best to pick something that they wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves, and that they don’t necessarily need but that would bring them pleasure. And surely nothing brings more pleasure then the classic and ever-elegant combination of cheese and wine? Gift baskets are fun to make and are so personal because one can completely tailor the flavors and items to the preferences of the person. Choose a varied but complementary selection of cheeses and wines as the base of your basket. Other nice additions are biscotti, chocolate, gourmet crackers, olives, jams, nuts, and pickles.

Customized Oil Perfume

natural perfume

Photo Source | hellonatural.co

Perfume is one of the most personal gifts a person can give. Our sense of smell is more powerful than we know or pay homage to and is deeply intertwined with the part of our brain that stores memories. We all link certain smells with memories or people that mean a lot to us. Whether it is the smell of your mother’s perfume or boyfriend’s clothes, or the smell of rain on hot pavement in the summer, no other sense is capable of stirring up as much emotion as our sense of smell. With this in mind, create a custom oil perfume for your loved one with all of the smells that remind you of him or her, or that you know they love. Consider it an olfactory love poem. Using essential oils and a base oil such as jojoba oil, it is not only relatively simple and quick to make, but it is also all natural, meaning that it is more intimate (you can only smell the fragrance when you are hugging the person) and it isn’t as likely to cause a reaction for people who are sensitive to scent.

Initial Pendant

diynecklace

Photo Source | happyhourprojects.com

Jewelry is always a classic, relatively fail-proof gift to give. One doesn’t need to worry about fit or sizes (unless it is a ring) and nearly everyone likes jewelry. Jewelry is special, luxurious and meaningful. While not all of us have the skills to recreate the stunning pieces we might see at Tiffanys, with just a bit of chain and sterling silver letter beads (easy to find at bead or craft shops).Β One could also swap the silver chain and beads for a rose gold or copper hue, depending on the person’s taste. In this way, it is easy to create an ultra-personal, on-trend necklace that looks high-end but is easy on the wallet.

Hope you enjoyed these ideas. Do you have any holiday gift DIYs that you love and would like to share? I would love to read about them in the comments as I am always looking for new DIY projects. Happy holidays everyone!

xoxo,

Alicia

 

 

 

Natural Beauty

In the last few years there has been a surge of interest in products that are deemed as being all natural. Words and phrases such as “green”, “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, “paraben-free” and “all natural” have become buzz-words in the beauty industry. Many people pride themselves on using exclusively “natural” products. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, sometimes it can be unclear what “natural” really means. A lot of products out there on the market may have those reassuring labels but may not be 100% natural. Like with the food industry, there are many ways that companies can use clever marketing and packaging to suggest that a product is natural and eco-friendly when in fact they are not. Because the government has not completely defined what natural means in terms of food and beauty products, there are very thin regulations about what products can contain and what designates a product as being natural.

Despite the popularity of natural products, products are not necessarily of a lesser quality or harmful because they contain artificial ingredients. For example, there seems to be an overall consensus that parabens (a synthetic ingredient in many cosmetics that prohibits the growth of microorganisms such as fungus and bacteria) are cancer-causing and toxic. Many people go out of their way to avoid all products that contain them, despite the fact that there has been no official research conducted that has proved that parabens are in any way unsafe. In fact, the research that has been carried out regarding the parabens that are used in the cosmetic and health industry has proven time and time again that parabens are not harmful and do not pose a significant health risk in the small amount that they are being used. That being said, while I myself do use a variety of products, with both natural and synthetic ingredients, I do recognize that there are merits of using natural beauty methods. For those who find it important to use only natural products, the best way to ensure that what you are using is completely natural is to make your products yourself. Not only is it actually a great deal cheaper to make your own skin care products but it is also very easy and I find the simpler the recipe for a product and the fewer the ingredients, the more effective and gentle to the skin the product is.

With this in mind, and inspired by a suggestion from the talented lady behind The Urban Gazelle, here are three recipes that I enjoy using in my own skin care routine. Most of the ingredients are very cost-effective and friendly towards most skin types. They are also incredibly quick and easy to make.

CoconutOilTeaTreeFacialCleanser

Coconut oil is one of the best ways to remove makeup. I read an article years ago about the benefits of washing the face with coconut oil (hydrated, balanced skin, fewer blemishes because of the oils antibacterial properties) and initially found it to be a strange concept. For people with oilier skin, you are used to being told to wash your face with oil free products and that oils cause breakouts. While that can be true if the oils are comodegenic, the truth is that washing one’s face with a hydrating, nourishing oil like coconut oil actually breaks down the oils, dirt and make-up on your face, allowing you to rinse away all of that pore-clogging junk leaving behind a hydrated, balanced complexion that is not stripped of all it’s necessary oils like so many cleansers tend to do. I promise that I have never had a breakout as a result of using coconut oil and that if anything I feel it prevents pimples and leaves my skin really soft and glowy.

What You Will Need: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Jojoba Oil also works well) and Tea Tree Oil

What to Do: This is without a doubt the easiest recipe for a cleanser. Simple scoop out some coconut oil into a small container and put 3-4 drops of tea tree oil into the mixture and stir until well blended. You can add more or less tea tree oil depending on your skin type and how astringent you want the cleanser to be. Simply wash your face how you normally would (avoiding your eyes, use plain coconut oil to wash any eye makeup off) and take it off with a warm damp wash cloth.

roseandlavenderclaymask

Roses are known for more than their luxurious appearance and beautiful smell. They have been used in skincare for hundreds of years due to their moisturizing properties. Similarly, lavender is renowned for its ability to reduce stress and balance the skin. It also has natural antiseptic qualities making it a great ingredient in acne-fighting products. Yogurt is incredibly moisturizing and is great for soothing sensitive, irritated skin while green clay is often used to draw out impurities and purify the skin. I found the inspiration for this mask here, but modified it switching out the honey for rose and lavender hydrosols.

What You Will Need: 1/4 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt, 1 teaspoon of Green Clay, 1 teaspoon of the rose hydrosol, 1 teaspoon of the lavender hydrosol

What to Do: In a small bowl mix the ingredients together with a spoon. If you want a thicker consistency, simply add a little more of the clay until it has a creamy texture and goes on smoothly. Pat onto your face, leave for 15 minutes and then rinse off. Enjoy your smooth, hydrated, delicately scented skin.

green tea toner

Although most skincare routines stress the importance of using a toner to remove excess oils and impurities, a lot of the toners that are offered in stores contain alcohol and are very dehydrating. This toner is simple to make, will not dehydrate the skin and has a base of antioxidant rich, fragrant green tea along with witch hazel and a drop or two of grapefruit essential oils. Witch hazel is a natural antiseptic and is a great product to use even on its own as a toner. It helps heal everything from insect bites and pimples to sunburns. I like to add the grapefruit essence for a light and uplifting scent and also because grapefruit oil has lots of antioxidants but it is completely optional. I store this in my fridge overnight but carry it with me in a little spray bottle and I like to spritz this mixture on my face throughout the day to keep my face feeling fresh, clean and balanced.

What You Will Need: 1 cup of strongly brewed green tea (to increase the level of antioxidants that are infused into the tea), 4 table spoons of witch hazel, 1-2 drops of grapefruit essential oil (optional)

What to Do: simply mix the tea with the witch hazel and essential oil in a small bowl and siphon it into either a bottle or spray bottle, depending on whether you like to spread toner on your face using a cotton bowl or whether you like to mist your face with it instead. Store in the fridge when you are not using it. It keeps for about a week and a half when kept in the fridge which it why I tend to keep the portions small for each batch. The green tea especially, has a very brightening effect on my skin and I really enjoy using this during summer months for its fresh smell and healing, cooling effect on my skin.

I hope you enjoy these easy, all natural skin care recipes. For any of you who try them out, I would love to know what you think and if you have any other all natural beauty recipes you think I should try, please let me know in the comments. Happy Monday!

xoxo,

Alicia

3 Gemma Redux Inspired DIYs

3gemmareduxinspiredDIYS

Rachel Dooley of Gemma Redux is one of my all time favorite jewelry designers. There is something about her approach to design that I love and am so inspired by. Raw gemstones, roughly cut crystals, tangled chains and unexpected colour combinations and themes set Dooley apart in an industry that is filled with an endless supply of sameness and cookie-cutter concepts. Having obtained a degree in mechanical engineering and material science, her passion for science, nature and mechanical construction entwine together when it comes to the otherwordly, bohemian line that is Gemma Redux and is uniquely evident in Dooley’s approach to design and her aesthetic.

Although I adore her pieces and believe they are more than worth the splurge (crafted out of precious stones and metals, they are truly wearable pieces of art), I also enjoy taking on DIY projects that allow me to get the look of something expensive for less, while giving myself the option to take creative liberties. Here are three jewelry DIYs (from a few of my favorite DIY websites) that are reminiscent of iconic Gemma Redux designs.

1. Draped Chain Necklace

It was the tangled, drapey necklaces dripping with stones and crystals that first led me to fall in love with Gemma Redux. This necklace is surprisingly easy to make and is the perfect statement necklace to pair with either a plain, little black or white dress or to add some boho-esque style to a basic t-shirt and jeans ensemble.

2. Blue Stone Bracelet

Photo Source |www.fallfordiy.com

Photo Source |www.fallfordiy.com

Lapis lazuli is one of my favorite semi-precious stones and is used constantly in the Gemma Redux line. A similar look can be created with faux blue stones, or if you are feeling a little more luxurious, most bead stores will have a selection of true lapis beads.

3. Trapeze Earrings

A fun twist on the classic chandelier earrings, these angular, structured earrings will add a little bit of tribal flare to your summer wardrobe. I would use brightly coloured beads, like tangerine, lemon, cobalt or coral like the beads that are pictured here.

Have any thoughts or favorite jewelry DIYs I should know about? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

xoxo,

Alicia