Wellness Encyclopedia: Bentonite Clay + Rose Bentonite Face Mask

Wellness Encyclopedia: Bentonite Clay + Rose Bentonite Face Mask

When it comes to drawing out impurities, reach for the best…

Has there ever been a beauty product so effective as summer? I love what this season, specifically the all natural vitamin D3 care of all that sun, does for my skin. Even with the prerequisite SPF, after just a couple glorious days spent outside, my skin is clearer, my freckles are out, and I’m feelin’ fine in every sense of the word. The days of flaky winter skin far behind me, I find myself easing up on the makeup and embracing my skin in all it’s glory — that was, until a couple of days ago, when I caught a glimpse of things close up! Turns out, all that SPF can wreak its own kind of havoc… it was time for a detox. It’s true, sunlight has a tendency to bring out the best in our skin (it’s believed that vitamin D3 is behind it) but even in summer our skin needs a little pick-me-up every now and then. When it comes to drawing out impurities, I reach for the best: bentonite clay. When mixed with water, this silky soft clay transforms from a powder to a powerful detoxifier, removing all the gunk and junk left in and on our skin from sunscreen, makeup, city living, sweat and chemicals. Learn more about this all-natural clay below, then scroll on for a simple detoxifying mask to refresh your face and reveal your best summer skin yet.

What is it? Bentonite clay is a healing clay derived from aged volcanic ash and consists mostly of montmorillonite, a group of minerals found in clay. Named after the Cretaceous Benton Shale in Wyoming, where most bentonite clay is harvested, it’s also found in Italy and France and can have a different mineral makeup depending on the dominant elements in each clay (e.g. calcium bentonite, potassium bentonite, and sodium bentonite, which is shown in this post). Bentonite clay powder should be a cream/grey-ish color, never white, and is an ultrafine powder, similar in texture to fine cake flour. Bentonite produces an electrical charge when hydrated, allowing it to absorb toxins internally and externally. Because of this, bentonite clay should not come into contact with anything metallic — including mixing bowls or spoons — as metal components can neutralize its effectiveness; instead, always use glass, ceramic, or stone bowls and mixing tools.

What are the benefits? When bentonite is mixed with water, witch hazel, rose water, or any other liquid, it swells, acting like a sponge and giving it the ability to sop up impurities and toxins in and out of the body, especially heavy metals. The negative charge of the clay bonds to the positive charge of the chemical or toxin, and draws it from the system — either getting flushed from the internal system through elimination, or rinsed off topically from the skin. It can help alkalize the body and normalize digestion, and has been found to help with acid reflux and bloating. When used topically, bentonite clay can help heal wounds and skin abrasions, ease symptoms of dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema, reduce redness, clear up acne, and reduce pain caused by bug bites and chicken pox by calming the skin and helping to draw out the underlying issue (impurities, venom from a bee sting, infected acne, etc.). Not only can bentonite clay help to clear up congested skin, it even leaves skin feeling softer and more supple. The perfect way to refresh skin after sun damage or too much sunscreen.

How do I use it? Bentonite clay can be easily made into a variety of masks for face and body and can be customized to treat a variety of conditions. See the recipe below for a simple mask to calm and purify skin. Mix bentonite clay powder with tea tree oil to create a spot treatment to use on acne-prone skin. Mix it with plain old water for a simple mask to draw out chemicals, or to use as a poultice for burns, rashes, minor cuts and burns, and insect bites (spread the poultice on the affected area, then cover with a clean damp cloth). Add to a bath of warm water to treat the entire body and draw toxins from the skin and soften all over (this method is also effective in treating chicken pox, psoriasis and eczema).

Bentonite clay can also be used internally, and has been found to be especially effective in improving oral health, boosting the effectiveness of probiotics, and improving digestion. However, always consult your doctor before ingesting a new-to-you herb or clay, and always be sure to purchase food-grade ingredients meant to be taken internally.

Rose Bentonite Detox Mask

Materials

2 tbsp bentonite clay powder

2 drops rose essential oil

Witch hazel or rose water (see notes below)

Non-metallic bowl

Non-metallic mixing spoon or stick

Method

Place bentonite clay powder in a non-metallic bowl (plastic, glass, or stone works well) and add rose essential oil. Add witch hazel or rose water** and mix until clay forms a paste. Bentonite clay is highly absorptive, so add a little moisture at a time until the paste forms. It may be chunky — that’s fine!

Witch hazel: Use for troubled skin suffering from acne, blemishes, redness or rashes.

Rose water: Use to calm skin and reduce redness, especially beneficial for sensitive skin.

To use: Always do a patch test first to ensure compatibility with your skin. Use a clean brush or your fingers to spread a thin layer of clay mask onto your face, avoiding eye area. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until dry. Rinse with lukewarm water, using a washcloth to help remove the clay. Follow up with your favorite face oil to finish.

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

Follow Julie on Instagram + check out her blog.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

Free People Blog

DIY Wellness Popsicles for Summer

DIY Wellness Popsicles for Summer

Cool your body and quench your skin with these nutrient-packed pops…

Ah, popsicles. The kid-time favorite is reminiscent of summer picnics, sandy days at the beach and happiness dripping down your chin. But thanks to the wave of wellness-inspired options, this sweet treat is now *super* healthy for you. Just replace the fake sugars and red dye #40 with fresh, seasonal ingredients. To get started, we turned to our friends at Vital Proteins, the makers of skin-boosting Beauty Waters, for some recipes filled with antioxidant-rich fruits, edible flowers and other complexion-enhancing picks. Pop in the freezer and say hello to glowy skin.

All recipes serve 6, depending on the size of your popsicle mold.

Pineapple Lime Beauty Pops

Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

1 cup fresh diced pineapple

2 scoops Vital Proteins Cucumber Aloe Collagen Beauty Water

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp maple syrup

Method

In a high-speed blender, add peeled cucumber, pineapple, Collagen Beauty Water, lime juice and maple syrup. Blend on high until completely pureed. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve frozen and enjoy!

Lavender Blackberry Beauty Pops

Ingredients

1 cup blackberries

14-ounce can of organic coconut milk

1 Vital Proteins Lavender Lemon Beauty Water stick pack

2 tbsp organic, raw honey

Juice of 1/2 lemon; slice the other half and set aside

Method

In a high-speed blender, add blackberries, coconut milk, Lavender Lemon Beauty Water stick, honey and lemon juice. Blend on high until completely pureed. Pour into popsicle molds. Add in the lemon slices, placing along the sides of the mold. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve frozen and enjoy!

Strawberry Hibiscus Beauty Pops

Ingredients

1 cup organic strawberries

½ cup water

1 Vital Proteins Lavender Lemon Beauty Water stick pack

2 tbsp organic, raw honey

Juice of 1 lemon

Handful of hibiscus flower petals (grow your own or pick up at the farmer’s market)

Method

In a high-speed blender, add strawberries, water, Lavender Lemon Beauty Water stick, honey and lemon juice. Blend on high until completely pureed. Pour into popsicle molds, adding in the flower petals. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve frozen and enjoy!

Be sure to shop all Vital Protein products here!

Got more summertime popsicles recipes you love? Share them below!

Free People Blog

In the July 4th Kitchen: Rice and Quinoa Salad with Fresh Berries

In the July 4th Kitchen: Rice and Quinoa Salad with Fresh Berries

If you’re one of those folks who could just eat a whole slew o’ sides for dinner (or not), be sure to add this amazing dish to your repertoire…

Remember that weekend black bean burger recipe we shared with you last week? Well, to dress up that plate, and any others you’re planning to serve this holiday, may we present you with this easy and oh-so-delicious rice and quinoa salad, courtesy of our own chef Greg.

Ingredients

½ cup wild rice

½ cup basmati rice

½ cup short grain brown rice

½ cup quinoa

3 tbsp avocado oil

1 red onion, sliced 1/3” pcs

½ tsp garlic, minced

1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/3 cup sliced almonds

¼ cup lemon zest

¼ cup lemon juice

3 tbsp avocado oil

½ cup basil, shredded

2 tbsp tarragon, chopped

3 tbsp parsley, shredded

4 cups baby arugula

½ cup pitted chopped cherries

½ cup blueberries

Method

Cook wild rice, basmati rice, short grain brown rice and quinoa in separate pots. (I prefer to ignore the cooking instructions on the packages.) I like to use ten times the amount of water to the amount of grains. So, in this case, I fill 4 separate pots with 5 cups of cold water, then adding ½ cup of the different rices and quinoa to each pot with a heavy pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Taste every ten minutes to check for tenderness. (Make sure they taste very tender, as grains will harden slightly when cooled.) Drain off rice as they finish and place in a large bowl. Toss with avocado oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.

In a sauté pan, caramelize 1 red onion, sliced in short pieces, in 3 tbsp avocado oil. When onions are sweet and slightly charred add to the rice mix. When rice mixture has fully cooled, add basil, tarragon, parsley and arugula. Next, add toasted sunflower seeds and toasted almonds. Present on a platter topped with cherries and blueberries.

Photos and GIF by Jillian Guyette.

Free People Blog

Wellness Encyclopedia: Calendula & Facial Steam DIY

Wellness Encyclopedia: Calendula & Facial Steam DIY

Dive into the beautiful benefits of the calendula herb and learn a simple way to harness its skin-renewing powers…

Try as we might to keep them concealed, we all have our own unique bad habits. Too little sleep (that would be me), maybe a little too much sugar, not drinking enough water, never cleaning your phone… besides being not-so-great patterns to form, the flaws on this list all share one major factor. Can you guess? While we might wish to keep these habits under wraps, these particular persuasions have a tendency to make themselves known front and center by way of breakouts. Germs, sugar, lack of sleep, and dehydration can result in some pretty nasty skin issues and could be the underlying cause of redness, inflammation and acne. But, hey, we’ve all been there, and besides learning from past mistakes, luckily there are actions that can be taken to treat the issue in the here and now: witch hazel, tea tree, and my personal favorite, calendula. Boasting incredibly calming properties, the yellow calendula flower can be used internally and externally to promote healing throughout the body. Today I’m diving into the beautiful benefits of calendula and sharing a simple way to harness its skin-renewing powers.

What is it?

Also known as pot marigold, sunny yellow calendula is the same species as the marigolds that grace your garden. Native to Europe, calendula can be used internally and externally and has been revered for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and all-around healing properties.

What are the benefits?

These bright yellow flowers are more than just a pretty accompaniment to your bouquet — calendula can help heal, nourish and soothe troubled skin. Linoleic acid present in the plant could help reduce inflammation, helping to heal skin affected by psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and acne. Applying a lotion containing calendula could reduce redness in the skin and around blemishes, promoting healing and reducing visibility. Calendula could help increase blood flow throughout the body, bringing much-needed oxygen to compromised skin, promoting quicker healing and even helping to increase skin’s firmness and resilience. The same healing properties that benefit the external skin could also promote better oral health and even potentially heal ulcers when taken internally as a tea or tincture. If you experience an irregular menstrual cycle, the flavonoids present in calendula could help bring regularity, promoting blood flow and easing cramps — making calendula the flower you’ll want to keep on hand at all times.

How do I use it?

Calendula flowers can be easily dried and distilled to make face and body creams, oils, baths and steams. Always be sure to choose food-grade calendula if purchasing flowers pre-dried. Food-grade calendula can be made into teas and tinctures, either by itself or combined with other food-grade herbs.

Calendula Facial Steam

Materials

½ cup dried food-grade calendula flowers

Boiling water

Large mixing bowl

Clean towel

Face mask or favorite face oil, to finish

Method

Place dried flowers in mixing bowl and carefully pour in boiling water to cover. Cover bowl with towel for 10 minutes to allow to steep. Before steaming your face, be sure to test the steam temperature to avoid potentially scalding your skin. Then, cover your head with the towel and place your face over the bowl and steam for up to 10 minutes. Follow up with a face mask or your favorite facial oil to finish.

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

Follow Julie on Instagram + check out her blog.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

Free People Blog

In the Kitchen: Weekend Black Bean Burger Recipe

In the Kitchen: Weekend Black Bean Burger Recipe

Looking for something healthy and easy to serve up this weekend? Chef Greg Glowatz has something that’s sure to become a summer staple — vegan and gluten-free bean burgers!

Ingredients

½ cup scallions, chopped

½ tsp garlic, minced

¼ tsp fresh green chilies, minced

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 cups drained, canned black beans, dried and mashed

1/3 cup black bean liquid (from can)

3 tbsp ground flax seeds

½ cup crushed gluten-free corn tortilla chips

1 tsp ground toasted coriander

½ tsp ground toasted cumin

¼ tsp Pink Himalayan sea salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Optional: shredded red cabbage, lime for garnish

Method

Sautee the scallions, garlic and fresh green chilies in olive oil for 1 minute. Add to mashed black beans along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir until combined and scoop out mixture into 1 cup portions. Form patties and sear in a hot pan with a drizzle of EVOO.

Serve on bun or alone with vegan lime aioli, sliced tomatoes, lettuce and pickles, or serve with shredded red cabbage, cilantro and lime juice.

Photos and GIF by Jillian Guyette.

Free People Blog

Sacred Smudge Wand DIY with Helios + Solene

Sacred Smudge Wand DIY with Helios + Solene

Creating a sacred container for ceremony that provides a fresh palette for spiritual work to take place without the intermingling of outside energies…

This post comes to you from Emily Mikaelah, a Brooklyn-based energetic healer, teacher and spiritual development coach. She carries the ancestral teachings of the curandera women of Venezuela that have been passed down to her from the generations of medicine women in her family. In 2016 she founded Helios + Solene to create safe and sacred spaces throughout her travels to bring the powerful healing medicine of Spirit into the lives of others. She holds workshops sharing her practice with the community through group classes, women’s circles, and one-on-one private sessions. To learn more about her offerings, please visit her online portal.

Clearing the energy of a space has quickly become a common practice throughout many cultures. Traditionally this cleansing ritual was used before ceremony to raise the energetic vibrations of a space and release it of any evil spirits or negativity that may have been lingering.

Growing up I remember seeing my mother cleanse the house at least once a week with white sage, copal and palo santo. We would take sacred baths and smudge ourselves ceremonially. Every time we moved or refreshed a space, after any large gathering, every holiday and, of course, on Sunday mornings to the sounds of salsa music and live drumming.
The act of sacred smudging is a ritual that is easily attainable with just a few simple tools. Sacred herbs, often found in bundles, are typically placed into an abalone shell or a flame resistant vessel. White sage is the most commonly used — it helps to release any negative energy from a space, body or object when burned. You can also use palo santo if you want to cleanse and ground your space, as well as copal and cedar before and after Ceremony. I choose to burn my sage individually. Because it is so powerful, I like to honor each leaf (you can choose to bundle it as well). Traditional tools used in sacred smudging have been used for years to honor the four elements in the natural world: Earth, the sacred herb; Air, the smoke rising and the use of a feather wand; Fire, the lighting of the flame; and Water, the abalone shell.
Today I will teach you how to make a sacred smudging wand for your energy clearing rituals. These wands become close allies and support us in our rituals during their lifetime. It is important to note that, when making your wand, your energetic footprint goes into them… they become an essence of you. It is advised to keep your intentions during the creation process pure and the vibrations high.
Supplies
Ethically sourced feathers
Floral tape
A scrap of surplus leather
Suede cording
Decorative materials of your choice
Scissors

Step 1

After you have sourced your feathers, it’s time for a deep clean. Feathers can contain micro bacteria from their animal carrier, so it is important to cleanse them thoroughly before handling. (I use a blend of water, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol.) Excess debris can be removed with dishwashing soap and water and allow them to soak in the hydrogen peroxide/ alcohol/ water mixture for at least 2 hours. Measurements vary based on the recipe, but I split it evenly three ways. After they have been cleaned, allow the feathers to dry in partial sunlight or near a cool fan. Don’t try to blow dry or apply heat as it may damage the feather and curl the ends. Once fully dried, hold them to your heart and say a prayer of intention. Smudge the feathers with some sage and making process can begin.

Step 2

Arrange the feathers in a way that appears visually pleasing to you. Explore color, height, texture. Once you find an arrangement with which you feel aligned, wrap the stems with floral tape to hold them in place. Floral tape has enough flexibility to hold the feathers in place while still allowing slight adjustment after taping. It is also a gentle adhesive that will not damage the feather if you decide to unwrap and start again.

Step 3

Cut a piece of surplus leather for your base. I source mine from fabric houses in NY’s garment district. Typically these are scraps about to be discarded, so projects like these allow new life to be breathed into them. You can also find wonders at your local thrift store. The height of the leather swatch should be as long as you want the handle, plus one inch. So if you want a 4″ handle, the height will be 5″. The length will vary depending on how thick you want your handle (we will be rolling the leather), but I would say at least 10″.
Align one edge of the leather against the stems, making sure to cover the tape and begin to tightly roll it like a cinnamon bun. It should be tight enough so that the stem won’t glide out and you don’t see air pockets between each layer. You can use rubber bands — or a friend — to hold in place!

Step 4

Cut a long piece of cording of your choice (at least 3 feet) and begin to tightly wrap around the leather base. Begin at the top nearest the feathers and wrap each end of the chord downward evenly until you reach the bottom of the base. Adjust tightness until it feels secure and tie off on the ends. If the end is uneven you can cut it straight. Add beads or bells as decor or leave the cording as is.

Enjoy your new smudge wand! Take care of her and use her often. Thank her and her animal carriers for their offering in this creation. Give gratitude and make an offering to them in a way that feels suitable to you. Your new smudge wand will assist you in clearing energetic debris from your body and surroundings, and will bring sacredness to all spaces in which you use her. Enjoy your new companion!
+What are your thoughts on smudging? Let us know in the comments below! 

Free People Blog

Keep It Short: Prep Your Legs for Their Best Summer Yet

Keep It Short: Prep Your Legs for Their Best Summer Yet

As hemlines rise with the temperatures, it’s time to focus on your two best summer accessories…

This post comes to you from contributor Arden Andrews.

As spring finally gives way to summer this month, it’s officially time to consider your two most important warm weather accessories — that set of stems you’ve been wrapping in denim and lycra for the majority of 2017. Swapping ankle-grazing hemlines for leg-baring looks is all about preparation, which is why we’ve put together your DIY guide to buffing, hydrating, and protecting your gams for a season in the sun. Below, the necessary steps to letting your legs live their best life this summer:

Step 1: Polish to Perfection

Dryer times leave your legs dull and ravaged of moisture, making circulation-boosting exfoliation the key to bringing the life back to your lower half. Buff away dead skin cells with a nourishing salt scrub, or pair your favorite body wash with a sisal bath brush to slough off dull spots while encouraging blood flow—a must for maintaining youthful skin long term.

Step 2: Elevate Your Routine

Toss your plastic pool toy of a razor for this glam upgrade that’s designed specifically to minimize irritation and ingrown hairs. The nourishing neroli oil acts as an equally modern alternative to notoriously drying shave foam, replenishing skin with vitamins and fatty acids as it allows the blades to safely glide across the surface.

Step 3: Build Up to It

There’s a reason chic French visionaries like Coco Chanel and Josephine Baker popularized the suntan—a bronze glow has the uncanny ability to hide imperfections and sculpt limbs, especially when it doesn’t come at the cost of aging UV rays. With a paraben-free gradual tanning lotion or organic tan extender, you can build that flattering shade of color at a believable rate — no pretend trip to Bali required.

Step 4: Protect Your Assets

It may feel as though you don’t need to block up your legs because they seem to burn at a slower rate than your face and neck, but get serious — the most common place for melanoma on women is their legs. And if that doesn’t scare you straight, the photodamage from extended bouts of unprotected sun should — no one’s trying to rush into crepe-y knees and sunspots faster than they’re fated. This organic, water-resistant SPF formula sprays on consistently sheer, so you won’t have to waste a minute rubbing it in.

Step 5: Let It Gleam

Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a turn on the dancefloor, a little luster never hurts. Shimmer products not only dazzle our senses, they also camouflage (or shall we say, enhance?) problem areas with the help of light-reflecting particles. And as if a superfine dusting of rose gold wasn’t tempting enough, this formula adds the healing powers of bentonite clay into the equation, plus leaves behind the soft scent of lavender as you march confidently toward the next heat wave.

Free People Blog

Wellness Encyclopedia: Benefits of Papaya + Papaya Breakfast Bowl

Wellness Encyclopedia: Benefits of Papaya + Papaya Breakfast Bowl

There’s a reason papaya is a major player in the skincare industry…

Summer is officially-unofficially here (technically there are still a few days left of spring, which is difficult to believe). Along with sun, blue sky and sweltering humidity, comes my complete inability to turn on the stove. Hot temperatures I can deal with, but I have zero desire to make things any warmer than they already are with a hot oven. But as markets are brimming with fresh produce and fruits, who needs heat? Summer is the perfect time to cool your body down with everything fresh and crisp — from bright green local lettuce to more exotic tropical fruits coming into their prime season. To me, papaya is the taste of summer all wrapped up in one convenient package. Peeled, cubed, and drizzled with a little lime juice, this exotic berry (yup, not actually a fruit!) makes a simple meal that nourishes while it cools from the inside out. There’s a reason papaya is a major player in the skincare industry — the antioxidants and enzymes present provide vital nutrition internally while boasting the ability to resurface and renew skin externally. Today I’m diving into the beautiful papaya — what it is, the benefits and, most importantly, how to eat it. Scroll on to learn more and find a cooling recipe, no heat required.

What is it? Believed to be native to Southern Mexico or Central America and originally cultivated in Mexico, the papaya is a large berry with bright orange flesh and greenish-gold skin when ripe. Similar in texture to an avocado (a very juicy avocado), when sliced in half a ripe papaya will reveal dark brown seeds that are easily scooped out. Papaya is available year-round but peak in summer and early fall, making them the perfect addition to fresh fruit breakfasts and snacks on those 90-degree days when you can’t bring yourself to turn on the stove.

What are the benefits? Rich in vitamin C, folate, fibre, antioxidants, beta-carotene, and beneficial enzymes, papayas can benefit the entire body, from head to toe, internally and externally. The vitamin C present in papaya can help boost immunity, and help resurface skin when applied as a mask. Rich in fibre and the enzyme papain, when combined these two nutrients can aid in digestion, helping to break down proteins and scrubbing the digestive tract (papains) and moving food through the system faster and more efficiently (fibre). The presence of fibre also aids in heart health by potentially lowering cholesterol. A popular ingredient in over-the-counter skin care products for good reason, papain, the beneficial enzyme in papaya, can help slough away dead skin cells when applied to the skin, and the vitamin C and other antioxidants can help resurface and smooth skin.

How do I use it? When choosing a papaya, the skin should be a mix of light green and gold tones, and it should be about as soft as a ripe avocado. Papaya is delicious fresh, especially topped with a bit of lime juice and honey, and it blends easily into smoothies. It’s also a great topping for chia puddings, yogurt, smoothie bowls, oatmeal, and banana ice cream. Create an easy face mask by mashing fresh papaya together with a bit of raw honey and applying to clean, dry skin (always do a patch test first). Create a hair mask by mixing mashed papaya with jojoba oil and applying to hair before rinsing.

Papaya Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

½ papaya

½ banana, frozen

½ cup frozen cauliflower

1 tbsp coconut butter

⅛ tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup nut milk or coconut water

Dash of cinnamon

Optional: Scoop of vanilla protein powder of choice

Chopped almonds and blueberries, to top

To prepare the papaya, slice lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Set ½ aside or freeze for later use.

Method

Place frozen banana, cauliflower, coconut butter, vanilla, nut milk, cinnamon, and protein powder (if using) in a blender or food processor. Process on high until mixture is smooth. Pour into the papaya half and top with almonds, blueberries, and any other toppings of choice. Enjoy!

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

Follow Julie on Instagram + check out her blog.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

Free People Blog

7 Simple Beauty DIY’s Using Apple Cider Vinegar

7 Simple Beauty DIY’s Using Apple Cider Vinegar

For all the good stuff it’s supposed to do for you when ingested, ACV is equally excellent as a super-simple skin/hair/almost everything else treatment…

Once upon a time, I kept hearing about apple cider vinegar and how amazing it was for your health. As someone who will try any health-related thing at least once, I opened up my pantry, pulled out a dusty bottle of ACV, poured myself a shot of the stuff and knocked it back. My eyes immediately began to stream, my throat felt like it was on a fire and my stomach…well, I’ve never felt something hit my digestive tract that fast, let’s leave it at that.

It turns out, you’re not supposed to just straight-up guzzle a bunch of ACV. That’s a really quick way to do damage to your insides. BUT. After doing some research (the kind of research I should have done before that ill-advised shot), I learned two things. The first is that if you’re going to drink it, you should dilute it. The second thing? If you’re a bit turned off by the idea of drinking it — and I can’t say I’d blame you — you can use it apple cider vinegar externally to up your DIY beauty game.

If you’ve got a bottle of apple cider vinegar languishing away in a dark cabinet somewhere, it’s time to embrace the stuff. Here are a few stupid-easy ways to incorporate ACV into your self-care regimen, minimal effort required.

Bath Soak

Why: Like a good French pastry, your skin consists of many, many layers. At the very top is something called an “acid mantle” and it’s the protective, slightly acidic film that sits on the skin’s surface, protecting it from the elements. Since ACV has a pH level that’s very similar to that of your protective acid mantle, giving your skin a dose of apple cider vinegar will help restore an acid mantle that may be out of whack due to any number of things. ACV has also been known to help reduce swelling, so if you’re dealing with a sunburn or a bunch of bug bites, this can be seriously soothing. 

How: Fill your tub with warm water and add one cup of ACV. Swirl it around, then climb on in to soak for 10-15 minutes. It may seem backward, but this will have the biggest impact on your skin if you shower and wash everything before the soak.

Facial Toner

Why: Similar to the back soak explanation, using ACV as a toner will help keep your skin’s acid mantle balanced and healthy. Additionally, apple cider vinegar is high in alpha-hydroxy acids and acetic acid, both of which stimulate circulation (blood flow = happy skin!) and minimize pores.

How: Mix equal parts ACV and distilled/filtered water in a reusable, clean glass container. Shake well before each use, then apply the solution to your clean skin with a cotton pad. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then wash off with warm water. If you have normal skin, try a 1:2 ratio by doubling the amount of water. If you have sensitive skin, go 1:4 and always always always do a small test patch first. As always, apply a great moisturizer after rinsing to keep moisture, hydration and pH in check.

Face Mask

Why: If your skin is in need of a serious detox, this mask is no joke. Combining the exfoliating, ph-balancing wonders of ACV with the impurity-extracting properties of clay equal refreshed, detoxed and glowing skin.

How: Instead of mixing your favorite clay mask with water, replace the liquid with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. (You can also go ½ tsp ACV, ½ tsp honey if you’re very sensitive or are worried about dehydrated skin.) My favorite way to embrace this ACV DIY is with Root Science’s Detox Facial Mask. The trio of French green clay, bentonite clay and kaolin clay, combined with apple cider vinegar, leave skin feeling soft, refreshed and totally free of anything gross. Just a heads-up: This combo makes for a fairly active mask, so don’t freak if your skin is red for a bit afterwards — it’s just all the blood circulation happening.

Hair Rinse

Why: Sure, you could look for a green clarifying shampoo that will remove buildup from your scalp and hair so that your locks are shiny and lustrous once more. But you could also DIY one with ACV. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar will immediately get to work ridding your strands of grime and product build-up your regular shampoo might miss, while also stimulating your scalp to help encourage hair growth.

How: After shampooing hair, dilute two tbsp of ACV with one cup of water and pour it all over your scalp and hair. Massage it into your scalp and hair for a few minutes, then let it sit on your strands for a bit. After 10 minutes, rinse it out in the shower and follow with a light conditioner, like the Nourish Conditioner from Josh Rosebrook.

Scalp Treatment

Why: With its natural antifungal and pH-balancing properties, ACV can work wonders on a dandruff-ravaged scalp by settling any acid issues and helping to clean out clogged pores and hair follicles.

How: For a down and dirty option, simply pour ACV onto your wet scalp in the shower and massage it in. (Just make sure to keep your eyes and mouth tightly closed.) For something a bit more nuanced, mix equal parts ACV and water in a spray bottle, generously spritz your scalp pre-shampoo, and massage the stuff into your scalp.

Razor Burn

Why: Even though you should know how to shave sans razor burn after reading this, a few angry red bumps are often inevitable. So if you do find yourself with some angry post-shave skin, let ACV help. The stuff is anti-inflammatory so it soothes irritated skin and hair follicles, and the acetic acid softens skin to ingrown hairs can work their way out more easily.

How: This one is simple: just moisten a cotton ball with straight apple cider vinegar and apply to the razor burn-afflicted area. No rinsing required.

Foot Deodorizer

Why: The least glamorous reason for DIY on this list, but necessary nonetheless! Luckily, you’ve got ACV in your corner with its antiseptic and antifungal properties the deodorize, disinfect and help prevent any fungus that might be lurking on your tootsies.

How: Mix one cup of ACV with four cups of water in a large bowl or tub. Soak your feet for 15 minutes, then rinse and dry. And if you want to take this tres luxurious foot treatment a step further, finish the whole thing by slathering your freshly deodorized feet in Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil, throwing on a pair of thick, old socks and letting your feet soak up all the moisturizing goodness.

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Wellness Encyclopedia: Benefits of Aloe Vera + Fresh Cooling Aloe Gel DIY

Wellness Encyclopedia: Benefits of Aloe Vera + Fresh Cooling Aloe Gel DIY

An amazing after-sun soother that cools and moisturizes without added oil…

I recently ticked two important things off my wellness to-do list: I visited a dermatologist for the first time, and I had a skin cancer screening. May was Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and after playing the avoidance game for far too long, I figured there was no time like the present to get my freckles checked. Or at least no time like the present to make an appointment and wait a month. My appointment finally rolled around last week, and while I’m happy to report no abnormalities, I did catch myself in a lie. When the doctor asked “have you had many sunburns?” I found myself unconvincingly replying “nooo… not really.” Truth is, I’ve probably averaged one sunburn per summer since I was a teenager. As someone with very fair skin, for a long time I thought of that inevitable early-summer burn as the precursor to a tan (this thinking is very very flawed, I know), or at least a solid excuse for why I forgot my sunscreen yet again. I even walked down the aisle on my wedding day with a bright red X singed into my back after forgetting my SPF the previous afternoon while doing yard work. Well, “never again!” I say. This year I’m doubling down on sun protection. With so many natural and non-greasy SPF formulas available, there’s really no excuse… but what if you do get too much sun? Aloe vera is an amazing after-sun soother that cools and moisturizes without added oil. Unfortunately, many of the aloe formulas available in stores contain additives — some even contain alcohol, which dries out skin even more. Today I’m diving into the health and skin-soothing benefits of this beautiful green plant. From aiding in digestion to calming skin post-sun, aloe is the plant we should all have on hand at home. Read on to learn more.

What is it? One in a genus of over 500 species (Aloë), aloe vera is commonly known as “true aloe” and is the most widely recognized species. Characterized by long, spiked stems that produce a jelly-like substance when split open, aloe is native to tropical climates, and the gel has been used for centuries in ayurvedic and traditional medicine to ease digestion and soothe skin. Many store-bought aloe products are highly processed and contain additives, which is why fresh aloe gel is your best bet for harnessing the benefits of this amazing plant! One note: Always drain and rinse freshly-cut aloe to remove the bitter sap, aloin, which has been found to be an antinutrient.

What are the benefits? When applied to skin, fresh aloe vera gel could have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties, making it ideal to use on minor cuts, scrapes and sunburns to encourage healing and reduce redness. Aloe has been found to have positive effects on skin affected by psoriasis, and could heal burns faster by preventing UV-induced suppression. The vitamins B6, B12, and vitamin C present in aloe vera have been found to ease pain and increase immunity, which could be why the pain of a sunburn is eased when aloe is applied. Highly moisturizing aloe moisturizes skin, hair and scalp, and could be a good option for those seeking hydration without the grease of traditional oils. If you suffer from dandruff or dry scalp, aloe could offer some relief! When consumed, aloe vera juice could be beneficial for those suffering from stomach issues such as ulcers and constipation. When consumed, aloe vera increases mucus production and intestinal peristalsis, the contractions of the intestine that help break down food.

How do I use it? The best way to have access to fresh aloe 24/7 is to grow it yourself! However, if you’re not blessed with a green thumb, fresh aloe leaves are available at many large grocery store chains and at some smaller speciality food stores. Fresh aloe can be used to make juice or as an addition to fresh juice, by adding the gel to water or juice and blending. (Note: we’re talking fresh, real aloe, here. Not the neon green “after sun” aloe vera gel at the drugstore. Don’t eat that.) To prepare fresh aloe, slice off one end to expose the inside gel, then submerge it in water to allow the aloin to drain out. Aloin is the bitter-tasting sap produced by the aloe plant – you want to be sure to remove as much of this as possible before consuming as it has been found to irritate the digestive system (I recommend watching this video for a great primer on preparing aloe).

If you’re suffering from a sunburn or minor wound, the gel can be applied for a little relief. Simply slice off a leaf and expose the gel within, or use the recipe below to make your own after-sun soother. Note: Real, fresh aloe gel deteriorates quickly, so be sure to use it immediately or store in the fridge for up to a day.

DIY Cooling Aloe Gel

Materials:

1 large fresh aloe leaf

3 drops peppermint essential oil

5 drops chamomile essential oil

Tools: Blender, vegetable peeler

Method: Use the vegetable peeler to carefully peel away one side of the outer aloe skin. Rinse under cold running water to remove the aloin. Scoop out the gel with a spoon and place in a blender with essential oils. Blend until smooth (note: it’s normal for your mixture to be foamy). Optional: Add a teaspoon of melted organic unrefined coconut oil for additional moisturizing benefits.

To use: Apply a small amount to clean skin for soothing relief post-sun.

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

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