Finding Cruelty Free Beauty

There is a lot of conflicting information and contradictory advice out in the big, bad beauty world. Some of it is good, some of it is bad, none of it works for everyone…and most of it is ambiguous. Words and phrases like ‘clean beauty‘, ‘natural’, ‘sustainable’…they all mean different things to different people.

Cruelty free is no different. Some companies will say they are cruelty free because they do not test their finished goods on animals…but they don’t say anything about their ingredients. Some will say they do not test on animals, and then contract other companies to do the testing. And some (like us) verify that everything from ingredients to finished product is not tested on animals. So what is a conscientious consumer to do?

Well, other than read claims printed on labels, which are not always clear, you can look for certifications from independent organizations. Certified Vegan and Leaping Bunny are two such organizations. Both require proof that there is no animal testing on any of the ingredients or finished products that they certify. Certified Vegan appears to be limited to the US, and will only certify individual products, while Leaping Bunny is internationally recognized and will certify companies.

Besides looking for logos on labels (because let’s be real, how often do you have time to scour the label when running ten million errands in the 42.3 minutes you have between appointments and activities?) Leaping Bunny also offers an app that helps you find brands, promotions (yes! saving money), and make shopping lists.

So, even though the beauty world is still a bit of the wild west, there are tools that can make it easier to find cruelty free products. Download that app, look for the bunny logo, and enjoy indulging guilt free. (of course, you can always shop with us too…)

Do you search out cruelty free products? We’d love to hear your experiences and any tips you want to share!

All About: Kukui Nut Oil

Welcome to our ‘All About’ series, where we take a look at some of the amazing natural ingredients available out there.

Native to Polynesia and southern Asia, the Kukui, or Candlenut, tree is most commonly associated with Hawaii. This tall tree has light green leaves with gray downy undersides and was introduced to the Hawaiian islands by Polynesian settlers. It produces fruit from small creamy white flowers, the kernel of which is where we get Kukui Nut oil.

Native Hawaiians embraced the Kukui tree, and used it for everything from medicines to canoe making to beauty applications. The oil, which is what we are interested in, was historically used to fuel lamps, soothe irritated skin and promote healing, stimulate hair growth, moisturize, and as a universal massage oil for everyone from infant to adult.

There has not been much modern scientific study on the cosmetic uses of Kukui Nut oil. We know that it is high in vitamins A, C, and E, has a similar composition as that of our skin’s natural oils, absorbs easily, and provides a semi-permeable barrier. It has shown some indication of antibacterial activity, is thought to be anti-inflammatory, and seems to promote healing of wounds. More study needs to be done to verify these claims.

What does all this mean? Well, it means Kukui Nut oil is an excellent moisturizer. It absorbs easily and provides a breathable barrier that holds in moisture. This barrier makes it especially well suited for rough, chapped skin. The high vitamin content and potential antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties also make it ideal for problem skin. I look forward to more research being done on this promising oil.

Have you ever used Kukui Nut Oil? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

Sources: Power of the Seed by Susan M. Parker                                                                                            

Ethnobotany of the Ahupua’a : Kukui http://apdl.kcc.hawaii.edu/ahupuaa/botany/other/kukui.htm

Hawaiian Kukui Nut Oil History : http://hawaiikukuinutoil.com/kukui-nut-oil-history-in-hawaii/

This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

All About: Tamanu Oil

Welcome to the first in our ‘All About’ series, where we take a look at some of the amazing natural ingredients available out there.

So many of the ‘new and exciting’ natural ingredients we hear about actually aren’t new…but they are exciting. As conventional science begins to study traditional remedies, they are finding a plethora of quantifiable benefits. This is particularly true of Tamanu Oil.

The evergreen tree with fragrant white flowers that produces the oil is native to the tropics, although it can be found in Africa and North America as well today. Known as Alexandrian Laurel, Borneo Mahogany, Beautyleaf, Doomba, Tamanu, Kamanu, and Faraha among other names, it produces oblong fruits approximately 2 inches long. The kernel of this fruit is dried on a rack and then mechanically pressed to produce a thick, rich, deep green oil with a pleasantly nutty smell. This is a fixed, or carrier oil and absorbs into the skin completely and leaves no residue.

While the oil has traditionally been used topically to treat burns, scars, and infected wounds, until 2015 there had not been many studies done to verify these claims. The 2015 study verified that Tamanu Oil did in fact cause wounds to heal 1.3 to 2.1 times faster, and was also effective against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Not only that, but it was effective at dilutions below 1%.

So what does that mean for us? Well, it means that products containing Tamanu Oil are ideal for wounded or problematic skin. Chapping, minor cuts and burns, acne, and irritated or inflamed skin can all benefit. In addition, its natural anti-bacterial properties make it an excellent addition to deodorants.

Have you ever used Tamanu Oil? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

Sources:  The Wound Healing and Antibacterial Activity of Five Ethnomedical Calophyllum inophyllum Oils: An Alternative Therapeutic Strategy to Treat Infected Wounds https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4583440/ 

Oil of Tamanu:  http://www.medicinehunter.com/tamanu

Power of the Seed by Susan M. Parker                                                                                            

Modern Cosmetics Ingredients of Natural Origin A Scientific View Volume 1                                

This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

A Tutorial Experiment: Body Butter

I often get asked how to use body butter, as well as how much to use, so I put together a quick tutorial experiment to answer both questions (plus a couple more) in one shot – multitasking, baby!

I started with the theory that a tablespoon of body butter would be enough to moisturize a person from head to toe, then measured it out and weighed it to get my starting point.

One tablespoon of New Leaf Naturals Radiant Body Butter - Quiet (lavender + green tea) scent
My starting point: 1 tablespoon of body butter
Looks like it weighs .385 oz.

 I already knew that the quickest and easiest way to apply it was by melting a bit between my palms and gliding them over my skin to leave a light layer that quickly absorbs, so all I needed to do now was figure out exactly how much to use. I started with my hands, face, and neck:

Use about half a pea sized amount of body butter to moisturize your hands, face, and neck
New Leaf Naturals Radiant Body Butter, Quiet (lavender + green tea) scent.
This is how much I used to moisturize my hands, face, and neck. 

First, use it on your hands – about up to where your watch band would be – then glide them over your face and neck. There’s no need to rub or pull – your hands will leave a nice light layer of body butter on your face that will moisturize and keep your skin soft all day without being greasy.

Moving on to feet/legs, arms, and trunk, you use a similar technique. Melt the butter between your palms and glide over your skin.

I used this much for each foot/leg.
Melted by rubbing it between my palms before applying.
This much covered both arms/shoulders.
And this was the last bit I needed to cover my trunk.

As you can see, I needed much less than I had estimated. A little bit truly does go a long way! I reweighed the body butter:

I had .280 oz left over.

Doing the math, I learned that just a smidge less than a teaspoon was all I used. So that one ounce container will last me 8-10 days, and the larger 4 oz container I have waiting in my drawer will last me 38-40 days (assuming daily use).

Some other common concerns I hear about using body butter are the time factor and greasy feeling. To that end I can say that, including time spent taking pictures, it only took 3 minutes to moisturize from head to toe. Because I used so little, it absorbed very quickly and I didn’t feel greasy or like there was a heavy film left on my skin – but my skin was super soft and not itchy for the entire day. I’d say that’s a win.

Do you use body butter? What other questions do you have? Leave a comment and let me know!

For all you data geeks out there who may want to verify my math:

One tablespoon is equal to 3 teaspoons. One tablespoon of body butter weighed .385 oz, and I used .105 oz (.385-.280). Percentage equals used divided by whole multiplied by 100, so (.105/.385) x 100 = 27.27%, or just less than one third of a tablespoon.

Better Smell, Better Sex?

I think we can all agree that it is easier to focus on enjoying an intimate experience with a partner when both of you smell nice.  Most healthy and functional people don’t consider the scent of old shoes or a gym bag left in the back seat too long an aphrodisiac (not judging if you do…just saying).

Depending on which article you read, there are between 5 and 7 stinkiest parts of the body that need particular attention. The “big 2” most people have in hand:  the hair and the mouth.  Washing your hair and brushing your teeth have proven to be really good ideas, not just for an enjoyable evening encounter, but as a basic expectation of being in public (except for the emergency run to the grocery store in pajamas and slippers, which is allowed 4x / year).  There are a host of really good all natural options for both shampoos and toothpastes on the market today.  In addition,  natural food stores often carry several options of essential oil breath sprays that can help battle the side effect of your coffee addiction – and may even offer some anti-viral benefits.  I, for example, like an oregano oil based spray which I use before bed each evening, and before singing at church.  

The other stink zones, in no particular order, are the underarms, feet, and groin, with honorable mentions by the neck and ears.  I am going to throw in the under-boobs here as well, which while escaping most mainstream areas of attention, can (especially in later years of maturity) accumulate sweat and ‘funk’. While underarm deodorants are prevalent, there is a reason most name brand deodorants don’t strongly recommend applying them to your groin, boobs, and feet. First and foremost, many deodorants contain components too harsh for these sensitive areas of your body.  Many natural deodorants, while being free of harsh synthetic ingredients use high concentrations of baking soda as the primary bacterial fighting component, which in itself can be pretty harsh on the skin. Beyond deodorants to anti-perspirants… blocking perspiration isn’t the best idea for your body. It is accepted only as a necessary evil…a willing sacrifice of health for the sake of social acceptability.  Finally, who wants to contaminate their stick deodorant with toe, crotch or butt jam? Nobody…thats who. 

There are a couple of conventions when considering nether sweat and foot funk…application of corn starch, to help dry and contain sweat, and an avoidance of over “perfuming” the sensitive areas to cover the stink without addressing the underlying issue: fungal or bacterial odor generation.  Beyond corn starch, there are some specialty formulated talc, calamine powder blends used by runners and marketed as a better baby powder alternative.

There are, however, natural cream deodorants that offer some advantages worthy of consideration beyond use in the armpit.  Look for products with minimal baking soda concentrations, and those that use arrowroot (a common alternative to cornstarch in “gentle” baby powder alternatives). Additionally, look for creams that use mild concentrations of anti bacterial and anti fungal essential oils, and avoid synthetic fragrances. These essential oils not only offer fresh scents, but serve as a mechanism to fight the actual odor creating bacteria. Finally, cream deodorants offer a potential advantage in application.  While I would never offer to help my wife apply stick deodorant to her under arms,  I am more than willing to help in the application of a soft cream for under boob and ‘upper thigh’ area sweat.  As to foot sweat…some partners like massaging feet and some don’t.  Your mileage may vary, but it’ s worth asking.


Sixteen years ago, I was 8 months pregnant with my youngest. My husband called me on his way to work, said to turn on the news, and I watched the towers fall. Sixteen years ago, a friend was supposed to be on one of those planes. By the grace of God, he caught an earlier flight and was safe. Sixteen years ago, a friend’s husband was supposed to be at a meeting in the twin towers and was running late for the first time in his life. He was safe. Some of his colleagues weren’t. Sixteen years ago, firefighters, policemen, and people from the street worked frantically to save as many as they could.

Today we remember and honor the lost, the rescuers, and the survivors. Today we remember what hatred can do, and how love responds. Today we choose love.

10 Things You Might Not Know About B.O.

Body odor. It’s an odd thing to make a list about. But when you sell a natural deodorant cream, people expect you to know things. Weird things. Disturbing things. Gross things. Things that once known can never be unknown…

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So in honor of all things sweaty and stinky, here are 10 things you may not (want) to know about B.O.