College O'Natural

My life as an earth-wise health-conscious college student. DIY, budgets, and the occasional rant!


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DIY Make-up Remover and Facial Cleansers

Hey guys!

I wanted to write today about facial cleansers and make-up removers.

Earlier I posted my own Facial Scrub recipe that I use in the shower.

However, what about the daily light cleansing and make-up removing task?

In the past I’ve spent a fortune buying the brand name make-up removers and loved them. However, there are better ways. Have you ever looked at the back of the bottles at the ingredients? I have and it is daunting. First, most of the time the ingredients are in french. Second, even if they aren’t in French, they may as well be because I have no idea what they are.

So I’ve decided to list my inexpensive and easy facial cleansing solutions and make-up removers.

Make-up Removers

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Coconut oil– I swear this is just the number one product to have in your house at all times!

(if you need proof check this list of 101 coconut oil uses)

Above is the brand I use. I love it! It’s simple and easy to use.

Step 1: Open Coconut Oil Jar

Step 2: Stick fingers in and wipe

Step 3:Rub oil on make-up covered area

Step 4: Wipe off gently with warm wet towel

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Coconut Lotion Bars- I use these when I need something a little heavier to remove my make up.

Here is my recipe.

I keep one in my shower and one on my sink ledge at all times. These are great for nights where I put a little more mascara on.

The best thing to do is take it in steps. Get some on your fingers, apply to eyelashes and gently rub with warm wet towel and repeat.  Now its not perfect and there is sometimes left over residue, this I take care of in the shower in the morning, same process.

All in all, no raccoon eyes and no harsh chemicals.

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Baby Lotion- I used this before I realized the wonders of coconut oil. However, beware! Read the ingredients people!

Unfortunately a lot of baby lotions are laced with iffy chemicals, and we only want plant derived and not modified. The brand above is a great brand and unfortunately Johnson’s is not. I know this because I used to use it.  I really like it because it was gentle on my skin, but then I looked at the ingredients. 😦

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Lesson learned, ALWAYS LOOK AT THE INGREDIENTS!

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Also, checkout this great make-up remover recipe!

Easy Facial Cleansers

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Thayer’s Witch Hazel Formulas- I use this before going to bed. Squirt it onto a cloth and wipe my face, dirt comes right off. Just remember witch hazel is a natural astringent so moisturize afterwards.

The best thing about this particular brand, is that there is a ton of different options. This is the most basic witch hazel aloe combinations. Some of the others have rose hips, cucumber, lemon, etc.. It’s awesome. So do your homework and pick your favorite.

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Oatmeal- Oatmeal is a wonderful cleanser, really loosens and grabs the dirt. Just mix with water.

Yoghurt

Yogurt- Yogurt has tons of protein, lactic acid, and fat; all of which are great for your skin and great for cleaning. Just use it plain or add lemon, your choice.

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Honey- Another super multi-purpose ingredient. Honey is my favorite cleanser of all time. The quality of clean as well as the feel of your skin afterwards is amazing. Its easy to use too, just squirt some on your hand and wash.

And I always encourage buying honey from your local beekeepers! We do!

Of course there are tons of other complicated recipes and products out there that are natural and safe. However, I prefer simple and cheap. Hopefully this was helpful!


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Tea! What you should know!

Hey!

As we all know, allergy season is well on its way. If you’re on the East Coast like me it has come and gone more than once; making life difficult for the allergy prone, like me!

Being someone who has had allergies all my life, I’ve become intimately acquainted with the plethora of allergy medicines that are offered. They’re great sometimes, but I hate relying on any medicine; so I stopped.

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Now, I control all my allergies and sicknesses with food.

Tea is always my first step when I feel like I am getting sick, because it’s AMAZING!

But why does it work so well? I’ll tell you 🙂

According to WebMD, some teas:

  • can help with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease
  • encourage weight loss
  • lower cholesterol
  • bring about mental awareness
  • are antimicrobial

Purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. However, no matter the type (with the exception of herbal tea) they all come from the same plant; the tea plant or camellia sinensis.

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The tea plant is full of flavonoids and tannins, which have significant anti-inflammatory properties as well as high antioxidant power.  The most powerful of these antioxidants is ECGC which can help against free radicals. These free radicals contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. The more processed tea leaves are, means the have less of the flavonoids and tannins. An example would be Black and Oolong teas which are oxidized and fermented. This doesn’t mean they are bad for you, in fact they still have high anti oxidizing powers. Also, if you have any sensitivities to tannins, these may be the tea types you want to try.

Here is WebMD’s info on Tea

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
  • Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
  • Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.

WebMD info on Herbal teas-

  • Chamomile tea: Its antioxidants may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, and stunt the growth of cancer cells.
  • Echinacea: Often touted as a way to fight the common cold, the research on echinacea has been inconclusive.
  • Hibiscus: A small study found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered blood pressure in people with modestly elevated levels.
  • Rooibos (red tea): A South African herb that is fermented. Although it has flavonoids with cancer-fighting properties, medical studies have been limited

It is important to note that there is a lack of concrete research on many herbal remedies. However, this is not because they don’t work. Most of the time, pharmaceutical companies are the ones who fund research, and they won’t want to fund something they can’t sell.

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Now, not everyone has a tea plant in the backyard so we have to buy our teas. This seems simple enough right?

Wrong.

This is where the consumer faces problems. Unfortunately due to the large demand of tea, more tea crops are needed. And how do they keep the tea plants from being eaten? Pesticides. These pesticides find their way into our tea, sometimes at levels that far exceed the regulations. Food Babe did an article not too long ago that investigated what exactly was in our tea and which brands to buy. These were her results:

Numi, Rishi, and Traditional Medicinals are the best brands to buy.

 To see the full chart and the worst offenders click here.

So what are the different types of tea packaging?

Loose leaf tea

Loose leaf tea is just like it sounds, loose. No bag or anything. There are multiple steeping methods.

Click on the photo below to go to a review of the best steeping methods for loose leaf tea.

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Silk Bags

TOXIC!

In Food Babe’s article, she also refers to an article in The Atlantic that covers the toxicity of silk bags and how when steeped, the plastic in the bags in being broken down by the high temperature. So while these bags may seem cool or pretty, they’re also poisonous.

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Paper Bag

This is the most commonly used and well known form of steeping tea. I have yet to find any problems with this form of tea and it is the form I use. However, always read the labels and do your homework! Never assume anything.

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So now you know!

Brew and Enjoy!


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Cosmetic Ingredients

 

Everyday we hear about new things that aren’t safe, but still managed to get into our products.

So what do you do?

Read the labels!!

However, unless you’re in college level chemistry and biology classes, half the stuff on the back of the labels mean squat to you. It’s like they’re in a different language.

That’s because they are!

Oh great, now what? Do I have to enroll in a chemistry class just to understand what is in my product?

NOPE!

Because we on the blogger-sphere and world wide web are here to help!

Nature’s Pulchritude, one of my favorite blogs, has been posting about how to read the pesky labels and understand what you’re buying.

Here they give a comprehensive list of safe, beware, and avoid ingredients.

CHECK IT OUT!

Answer to poll here!


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Face Scrub and More!!!

The rain this weekend ruined our hiking plans completely. So, instead I spent the day turning the kitchen into a mess experimenting.  By the end of it I’d come up with a few recipes.  Take a look at them below!

Just Add Water Face Scrub

Chai Body Scrub

Lotion Bars

Lip Scrub/Balm


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Do you know your meat?

Know-Your-Farmer

Facing the Facts

So let’s be honest, meat is expensive; but, unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, it is also a must. Meat is a very important part of our diets, all  essential vitamins can be obtained through eating a colorful fruit and vegetable diet except for Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential for proper cognitive function and chemical reactions in the body that produce hormones, proteins, lipids, and red blood cells, all very important.

Now, this does not mean you should go out and eat a ton of meat or even that you need meat everyday.  In fact, Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver which can store several years worth of it.  Being deficient is rare because of this and most commonly occurs in the elderly due to a lack of stomach acid which is responsible for absorption. However, being deficient is possible and not a good thing; it can lead to anemia, depression, fatigue, and dementia.

Basically what I am saying is, you need meat (or a B12 supplement, although it is often fortified into foods). Whether in large or small quantities, you will eventually have to purchase it.

My Chicken Story

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I am a college student, a busy one at that. In a typical week, monday through thursday, I do not get home until around 6:30 from class, volunteering, and club activities. Once I get home I have oodles of homework to do, club organization stuff, and a social life to tend to.  Often times I leave again later that night to go to the gym or library.  All in all, I don’t have time to bargain shop.

When I first started college life I would buy bags of frozen chicken for meat. However, I ran into some problems.  One, I would never remember to pull the chicken out ahead of time to thaw and would then have to microwave thaw it.  This sucks because it makes the chicken tougher than it already is. Two, it’s not very tasty and the pieces always seem super small.

My next decision was to buy the raw chicken breasts packaged at Harris teeter. I would buy the split breasts with all the skin still attached for around four dollars for three big ones.  Its only the two of us, so one breast that size is enough for one dinner, especially since I try to not eat as much meat.  This worked great for awhile, we would buy multiple packets and when I got home I would cut off the fat, put them in portion bags, and freeze them. At times it seemed like a lot of work having to fix the chicken right after I got home, but it was so worth it.

However, then I got to thinking… Why is that chicken so inexpensive? What exactly is Harris Teeter brand chicken? Where does it come from? Am I poisoning myself?

Knowing What You’re Paying For

After some major reflection, I decided the best course of action would be to start at the sources.  I went to the websites of all the grocery stores in Wilmington in search of information about their meat. This is what I found:

Whole Foods definitely gave the most information.
Tidal Creek  was a hard one to judge but if you read their “buying policies” section and go into the store to look at the meat available it’s not bad.
Trader Joes has a letter to the customers admitting that they have antibiotic free and non antibiotic free options of which they label.  Nothing was stated about animal welfare though.
Harris Teeter states that “some” of their meat is higher welfare but what does that really mean? How much is some?
Lowes Foods didn’t give hardly information concerning their meat and was extremely unhelpful.

Why Animal Welfare is Important?

I know this seems like a common sense answer, and it is as far as morals are concerned. A life, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is important. Of course, we all know this, or at least I hope.

Nonetheless, animal welfare is important for more than just morals. It also affects meat quality and toughness.  I have attached two articles outline the effects of stress on meat quality. The first is from a guidelines for humane handling and the second is a study from the Elsevier journal.  I encourage you to read at least the abstract. If not I’ll summarize below.

Effects of stress and injury on meat and by-product quality

affects of stress on meat

Stress on the animals and inhumane treatment and abuse toughens the meat. Sometimes it does it to a point of making the meat nearly inedible. Pokes and prods leave marks on the meat where the glycogen in the muscle has been depleted, again making the meat tougher.

If you think about it, it’s not that hard to believe. What does stress do to humans bodies? It’s all the same.

Okay, so where should we buy our meat?

(I’m only talking about the grocery brand not the other brands they sell)

Where I buy my meat honestly depends on how much money I have to spend.  If you have a farmer’s market with a local butcher, price and quality will always be best there. You can’t beat local food.

If money is not a major issue, Whole Foods is always a great place to shop.  Another plus for them is their animal welfare rating system. They have stickers on their meat with different levels or “steps” of animal welfare outlined below.

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If money is an issue, Trader Joe’s is a good option if you’re careful about which meat you choose.

Tidal Creek as far as money goes really depends. Because they are a co-op and buy their food from local and small farms, the meat prices fluctuate.  However, I always try to buy there if it has a local label.

Harris Teeter and Lowes are no-nos for me. Especially Lowes.

So is your meat Lady Gaga quality?

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All Natural Cold Sore Remedy, Only Two Ingredients

Hey guys!

So, my mom just told me about a cold sore remedy that works better that Abreva.  She doesn’t get cold sores very often, but when she does it looks like a busted lip. It’s BAD. On the other end, my boyfriend gets cold sores all the time when the heat picks up and they aren’t as bad as my mom’s, but they still aren’t pretty.

However, mom just tried a new method recommended to her by a friend and it worked wonders. Her normally gigantic cold sore, stayed tiny the whole time.  The best part about it is that is tastes good too!

Recipe is super easy,

1 part honey

1 part real vanilla extract (not fake)

mix and apply as often as you please

Boyfriend hasn’t tried it yet but we will let you know it goes!

Good luck!