Category Archives: Natural Living

Let’s Talk Essential Oils

Essential oils. If you read any remotely “natural” oriented blog, you most likely have read about essential oils (EO) or seen them advertised. They’re everywhere, from homemade cleaners to body care products to natural remedies to chicken care.

What are these crazy oils?

Let's Talk Essential Oils- Pros, cons, and where to go to learn more about them.

Crunchy Betty quotes Valerie Gennari Cooksley on her EO definition: They are “highly concentrated plant constituents possessing potent medicinal and cosmetic qualities.” doTerra– a large EO sales company- has this to say about EOs: “If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils protect plants and play a role in plant pollination. In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and being beautifully fragrant to people, essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health care practices.”

Basically, they’re a teeny tiny “core” part of a plant sold in concentrated form that can serve people in a variety of ways. I tend to think of it as natural plant extract on steroids. (Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.)

Okay, all that sounds great, but do they work?

In my experience, yes. I’ve had success using them to manage nausea in pregnancy, keep ticks off of my family in springtime, help soothe minor cuts and scrapes, and clean my house safely. I’ve used them for headaches, bath salts, congestion, immune-system boosts, and a quick pick-me-up for sleepy days. (And believe it or not, I don’t consider myself an EO junkie!) While everyone’s body is different (and may react differently to different oils), the general consensus among users (and even a lot of the science/research community) is that these things DO work.

However, like any other remedy or product, oils have their pros and cons. Allow me to briefly explain myself.

I’ll start with the cautions first:

  • It’s easy for people to get carried away with them and believe they can and will fix everything. Not necessarily so, my friends. You can rub on all the oils on you that you want, but you still need to exercise, eat well, and care for your body, mind, and soul in other ways. And as Shaye from the Elliot Homestead reminds us, essential oils aren’t God.
  • They can be used unsafely. Please read up on essential oil safety before slathering them all over or ingesting them. Know how to use each individual oil before trying something new.
  • There’s no FDA regulation on essential oils. Make sure you do your research on individual brands and know what kind of product you are paying for, so you’re not spending an arm and a leg on a bottle that has hidden fillers.
  • They’re a very concentrated extraction of a plant. While this is what makes them work so quickly and effectively, there’s still something so appealing about just using a plant that you’ve grown in your own yard with your own hands. I am a big fan of our own homegrown herbs, elderberries, and other super foods from our yard. While I love and use EOs as needed, for me, they will never take the place of a real live plant. Let’s not forget the form in which medicines, skin treatments, and nourishment are given to us naturally.

I hope I’m being clear- I really like EOs and want to make good use of them- but I don’t want to get carried away with them to the point where I don’t keep them in their proper place. Make sense? Now let’s look at some things I love about EOs:

  • They work!
  • You only need a little to get an effective result, so each bottle lasts a LONG time.
  • They are much less expensive than conventional health remedies. Sure, $10-100/bottle (depending on what kind you buy) can seem like a lot, but when you think of insurance co-pays for doctor’s visits and medicine, expensive natural cleaning products, and the cost of high-end cosmetics, the bottle pays itself off very quickly.
  • They have fewer possible negative side effects than many alternative products (provided they are used correctly).
  • Each oil has multiple uses, so each purchase can be multipurpose.
  • You can take charge of a lot of your health, beauty, and home care needs by making use of EOs.

In an effort to learn more about how EOs work, I’m going to be attending another free online summit to learn what I can about EOs: The Essential Oil Revolution.  If you are interested in increasing your oil knowledge as well, will you join me?

The live version of the Essential Oil Revolution is now over. However, you still may choose to purchase the sessions for your own use at home. Doing so will give me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for supporting my blog!

This post was shared at Front Porch Friday.


My No-Poo Fail

My No Poo Fail

For a long time, I wanted to try going “no-poo.” If for some reason you haven’t heard about this trend, it’s just switching from shampoo to a natural, one or two ingredient hair care regimen, usually comprised of baking soda and apple cider vinegar. It seemed like all the natural bloggers were writing about it, and showing pictures of their glamorous long hair that they hadn’t washed in five days since they switched to no-poo. No toxins! Frugal! All-natural! I’ve gotta try this, said my crunchy-self.

I finally got brave enough to give it a go. I washed with a baking soda paste and showered the ends of my hair with an ACV rinse. It went well- for a while. But, eventually (a few months later), my hair started feeling dry, looking gross, and getting tons of split ends. Hmm, this couldn’t be healthy, could it?

Then I gave birth to my daughter, and the awesomeness of postpartum hair loss set in. Excellent. I couldn’t take it anymore, and went and bought actual shampoo (though it was “natural”). My thirsty locks blessed me with thank-you’s and vibrancy that they hadn’t had for months.

After finally getting off the no-poo kick, I discovered other women had also had back luck with the experience. One woman reported a lot of gross greasiness with no-poo. This lady had her hair falling out with the method. And this writer describes how the pH level of your hair treatment can make or break your hair- and for her, no-poo broke it.

So, after enough warnings, I quit no-poo- for good. I will say that I am sure it could work very well for some people, but like any health/beauty regimen, every body is different- and so, perhaps our hair has different needs as well.

Since then, I’ve tried several natural shampoos- some with more success than others. They have included:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap– I love this soap for shaving, body-wash, and baby-washing. But it left my hair too dry. You, however, may like it if you struggle with greasiness!
  • Dr. Woods Shea Vision Pure Castile Soap– This is wonderfully moisturizing- but too much for my hair. You may like this if you need more moisture! It’s also great to wash the babes.
  • Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap– The first time I used this, my hair felt so soft! But after a while, it turned into a grease-ball on my head. Now I’m letting my husband finish the bottle for me.
  • Yes To Carrots Shampoo – The winner! Not perfectly all natural, but almost. And this shampoo provides the best balance for my hair over the long run. Not too dry, not too greasy, and easy to use without a conditioner.

Your experience with these products may end up completely different than mine were. I think they are all good options, but not all worked for me. You may choose something completely different- and if you do, please tell me about it so I can keep it on the back burner for when I want to try something different!

Have you ever tried going “no-poo?” What do you like and dislike about it? What healthy shampoo options do you recommend? Thanks for sharing!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you in advance for supporting my little blog!