Homemade lip balms, lotion bars and body butters

homemade lip balm, lotion bar, body butter

By Charlynn Avery

I look around myself in the kitchen. Pots, pans, glass measuring cups, a digital scale, essential oils, beeswax and a whole lot of oil take up all of the available counter space. The music flows and the aroma of cocoa butter fills the room as I am immersed in one of my favorite activities — experimenting with new DIY body care recipes.

A simple solution to dry skin

My goal on this particular occasion was to create my own lotion bar to travel with. As a frequent traveler who doesn’t like to check a bag, I have my liquids all under control with the exception of lotion. Prone to dry skin, I have been moisturizing my skin since I was a child, and lotion or a skin care oil is something I cannot live without. Natural oil is my preferred method of moisture these days, but flying with the quantity that I need is a hassle and (can be) messy. A simple solution was introduced to me several years ago by a dear friend. We were traveling for a month out of the country and didn’t want to check bags, so she made lotion bars — whoa! What a perfect solution.

I spent a few years after that purchasing others’ lotion bars, and finally made it a priority to make my own. I found the process to be so easy and, in addition to making body butter and lip balm for several years, I now have a new item to add to my bag of natural skin care tricks. Continue reading

5 reasons to include aromatherapy massage in your wellness routine

aromatherapy massage

By Charlynn Avery

I still remember my first massage. It was my 20th birthday, and I wanted to do something special to commemorate the beginning of my third decade of life. I decided to get a massage because I wanted to be pampered and to feel relaxed. At the time, the thought of massage as a regular practice was the furthest thing from my mind. It would be a once-a-year luxury experience; something I couldn’t budget on a regular basis as a struggling college student.

Once I got off the table, however, my perspective had changed completely. Of course I felt relaxed but it went so much further than that – on every level, I was improved. My skin glowed, my muscles felt loose, I stood up straighter, I slept better and I felt happy. I remember saying that it was the best $60 I had ever spent on myself. And a few years later, I found myself in massage school with the goal of helping others achieve that very same realization.

Benefits of massage

I hear a lot of folks say that massage is a luxury and is too expensive to do on a regular basis. However, with the many proven benefits of massage it should be part of a regular health care regimen for long-term physical, emotional and mental well-being.  One of my favorite clients from a few years ago shared the way she was able to budget massage into her life – she simply swapped a detrimental habit (smoking) for massage. She said, “I decided to reward myself for not smoking by getting a monthly massage. In addition to making my doctor happier, the expense of massage was much less than my pack-a-day smoking habit.” Continue reading

3 ways deep breathing helps us heal

deep breathing

By Katie Staab

I opened my eyes, disoriented in the snowy January twilight, and immediately knew I needed to focus on my breath. I was just coming to after losing control of my car on an icy road, resulting in a collision that sent my car careening into the ditch. In the hours to come, I’d learn that my four rib fractures had punctured my right lung, filling my chest cavity with fluid and collapsing my lung. Yet, even without the medical explanations, I knew in that initial moment of consciousness that I needed to breathe.

Since my accident, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about breathing. Deep breathing is important to the physical healing of my lung, but I’m also learning its place in the emotional, mental and spiritual process of healing. In yoga, prana is a sanskrit word for breath, but more importantly, it implies our life force. If we choose to think about our breath being a force that carries with it our life and what we go through, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned about breathing through my recovery:

Breathing creates pause, helping us create space for healing in our bodies, minds and busy lives. There’s a reason that we take a deep breath when we need to pause. It’s a physical way of pulling the reins on ourselves when our thoughts or emotions threaten to run out of control. Likewise, healing (physical, emotional or otherwise) requires us to pause our busy lives — slow down, rest, reflect. Deep breathing helps remove the pressure of our hurried lives, reminding us that this pause isn’t an inconvenience to be rushed through, but a rich, revitalizing season of life. Continue reading

Aromatherapy Tips for Teachers

tips-for-teachers

By Tom Havran

Hooray! The kids are out of our hair and back in school … or soon will be. But I wonder if the teachers and their aides are “hooraying” as enthusiastically as we are?

We expect a lot from our teachers, not least because they have proven themselves as some of the most important people we will ever encounter in our lives. Whether you’re headed back into the classroom yourself or sending a child to school this month, consider making the day more pleasant with these aromatherapy tips for teachers.

Diffuse essential oils. Some days, students need inspiration to tackle new learning; others days, a teacher simply needs a moment of quiet!  Rather than relying on the overwhelming, artificial scents of fragrance oils, invest in a simple vaporizer that will subtly and deliciously fortify the air of the classroom. To use, simply place a few drops of essential oils on the vaporizer pad. It will quickly become a classroom tool for both learning and teaching. Continue reading

Yoga and essential oils: Alignyo blog posts recap

If you’ve ever used an essential oil during yoga, you know what a difference it makes. Perhaps the scent of lavender deepens your relaxation in savasana. Or, you begin your yoga practice by inhaling peppermint to energize you. But, did you know that essential oils can enhance your yoga practice even after “Namaste”?

Essential oils for yogaFrom the practical (like cleaning a yoga mat) to the spiritual, Aura Cacia aromatherapist and yogi Charlynn Avery describes many ways that essential oils are important to a serious yoga practice in her blog posts for Alignyo, an online yoga hub.

Catch up on Charlynn’s top yoga posts below, and be sure to subscribe or “like” Aura Cacia on Facebook for future posts!

Homemade deodorant: The quest for a natural counter to body odor

homemade deodorant

By Charlynn Avery

For years, I have searched for the perfect natural deodorant. Perfect for me, that is. Not one to be overly concerned about sweat or perspiration (it is natural and healthy for the body to perspire, so why suppress it?), I wanted something that was a good counter for body odor that was also effective – meaning, something that would last longer than an hour or two.

Before I explored homemade deodorant, I tried many natural, store-bought deodorants, which have a bit of a bad rap. They aren’t as effective as the consumer wants them to be, often requiring reapplication throughout the day. In some cases, the ingredients in these deodorants aren’t as clean as we want them to be, which can also prove to be a challenge.

After a little bit of digging, I found a couple of recipes online that were quite simple to make in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipes to create a formula that incorporated some of the best aromatic effects of the chosen essential oils and to give them a stronger odor fighting punch. Once all the components were gathered, it took less than 15 minutes to create a crème deodorant that rivaled a natural version I paid a tidy sum for someone else to make for me. Never again with this recipe. I am happy to report it worked well – sometimes for a couple of days at a time, and didn’t leave permanent white streaks on my clothing.

What you need to make your own homemade deodorant:
Baking soda – A key ingredient in natural deodorants, baking soda can be used on its own for a simple deodorant as a paste made with water. It is a must-have in any natural recipe, as it is free of harsh chemicals and very effective at keeping odor at bay.

Powdered clay – Another great component used to fight odor, clay comes in a lot of varieties. I chose a bentonite clay for this recipe, but different powdered clays can be used. However, color rich clays are generally not recommended as they could cause discoloration the skin.

Coconut oil – Great for fighting odor and for moisture, coconut oil was the key binding ingredient for the dry powders.

Cornstarch or arrowroot powder – Either powder can be used to absorb moisture. This is great for keeping underarms dry.

Bergamot (bergaptene-free) – As one of the better essential oils for a deodorant formula, I chose bergaptene-free bergamot because it removes the concern of photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight) that the use of bergamot can bring. In choosing your own essential oils, make sure to use oils that are kinder to the skin as the underarm is a sensitive area. Suggestions include lavender, geranium, rose, sandalwood, tea tree, ylang ylang and Texas cedarwood.

Charlynn’s homemade deodorant recipe:

¼ c. baking soda

1/8 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1/8 c. powdered clay

5 tbsp. coconut oil

24 drops bergaptene-free bergamot

Blend all ingredients together and place in small container. If the recipe is too soft, you can refrigerate after mixing to help solidify. Use as a crème and apply to underarms with tips of fingers.  The application may feel a bit gritty – that is completely normal and is due to the consistency of the baking soda.

Have you tried making your own deodorant? Share your tips below!

Charlynn Avery Aura CaciaAbout the author: Charlynn Avery, aromatherapist and educator for Aura Cacia, is on a quest to change the way we look at health and healing in the U.S. She has spent her career practicing and teaching in the arena of holistic health and wellness as a licensed massage therapist, and currently holds additional certifications in Holistic Nutrition, Thai Massage and Life Coaching. Although she loves natural healing, she loves spending time in nature even more. An avid traveler both for work and pleasure, she can often be found getting her U.S. National Park Passport stamped or reading a good book in an airport.

Create your signature scent with homemade perfume

By Charlynn Avery

When it comes to blending perfumes, essential oils are a tried and true way to incorporate nature into your own signature scent. Homemade perfume is easy to make and isn’t as expensive as department store perfumes – plus, it can be made with ingredients that are friendly to our bodies and our planet.

homemade perfume

Blend patchouli, sweet orange and ylang ylang essential oils for a sweet, floral homemade perfume.

Once you understand the basics, experiment with making your own blend or try one of our recipes below.

Choosing your aroma

To make a great perfume, get to know your aromatic preferences.  Are you prone to florals?  Do you like earthy or musky aromas?  Are you drawn to light citrus aromas?  What smells the best to you and on you?  Once you figure out what you like, choose recipes that combine your favorite aromas. Continue reading

Giving back: Building a school for the children of ylang ylang harvesters

By Jennifer Ferring

“Bonjour Mademoiselle Jennifer!”

This was the enthusiastic greeting I received from fifty children in unison when I arrived at their new school in the northern Madagascar town of Ambohimena last fall. I was visiting to attend the dedication ceremony for the school, which was built through funding from Aura Cacia’s 1% Fund.

Aura Cacia One Percent Fund

Jennifer Ferring poses with students at the Ambohimena school, built for the children of ylang ylang harvesters in Madagascar through the Aura Cacia Organic 1% Fund. The fund gives back 1% of sales on Aura Cacia’s organic products to support organic farmers and their communities.

 

Continue reading

Loving yourself and the planet: A homemade body scrub and other February web finds

homemade body scrub

Give your skin some attention with this homemade body scrub from WholeGreenLove.

By Katie Shatzer

Forget the standard flowers and chocolate. This Valentine’s, it seems people fell in love with natural and organic goodness of all kinds. We felt the love — for our partners, families, communities, planet and even ourselves — all month long.

Let’s keep the love going with some of our favorite web finds from February: Continue reading

How (and why) to include an oil cleansing method in your skin care routine

Charlynn Avery, Aura Cacia Aromatherapist

Charylnn Avery

By Charlynn Avery

It might sound contrary to conventional skin care advice, but an oil cleansing method is one of the best ways to improve the look and feel of your skin. This routine gently exfoliates your skin, without using abrasive or synthetic ingredients. All skin types can benefit from this practice, which will give you a healthy, radiant glow. In my experience, you will notice an immediate improvement in the appearance of your skin.

Natural oils act as emollients and maintain the soft, smooth and youthful appearance of your skin. They also are nutrient dense, absorb readily, and (when used appropriately) don’t attract bacteria to the skin. Gentle massage and steam also are part of an oil cleansing method – it is not just about the oil. Continue reading