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Use citrus essential oils to add zest into your life

March 10, 2020
citrus essential oils

Do you ever have those days where you wake up and feel a bit blah? You’re not tired because of a late night – but your energy is low. Nothing is going particularly badly but you’re still not feeling great. You just can’t really identify why your mood is lower than usual?

This is the time to reach for a citrus essential oil. They’re characterised by their ability to uplift, energise and invigorate our senses. Plus citrus essential oils tend to be a bit cheaper to buy than some essential oils so they’re an easy way for a quick wellbeing boost.

One of the rules I live by is, if it’s a zesty fruit, then it’s going to fill you with zest. Yes, I really am full of pearls of wisdom… However, it’s an easy way to remember what essential oils are good for mood boosting. 

Citrus essential oils are best used first thing in the morning (rather than last thing at night), or when you’re feeling below par to lift your spirits and put a spring in your step.

What are citrus essential oils?

Citrus essential oils are:

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Bergamot
  • Petitgrain
  • Tangerine
  • Mandarin (red or green)
  • Bitter orange
  • Blood orange
  • Yuzu

Blending scents with citrus essential oils

The scents from essential notes are characterised as top, middle and base notes. Citrus fruits are top notes which means whilst their initial smell is strong, they do evaporate quickly. It’s worth mixing with a middle or base notes to help the scent last longer.

Spices and citrus blend well together, such as ginger and lemon, cinnamon and sweet orange.

Woody scents and citrus also work well together. Try rosewood and bergamot or cedarwood and lime.

Seven benefits of citrus essential oils

  1. They’re antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body, which can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. They’re linked to multiple illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. However, free radicals also serve important functions that are essential for health such as fighting infection so we need them too. There are lifestyle and environmental factors that can promote excessive free radicals so antioxidants help balance them out.
  2. They eliminate germs. Citrus essential oils are a natural disinfectant. Mix with water for a natural cleaning spray or you can use orange peel and vinegar too.
  3. They act as a natural air freshener. Mix citrus and peppermint essential oils with distilled water and grain alcohol and add into a spray bottle for a natural air spray.
  4. Use to wash off insecticides and pesticides from fruit and vegetables by adding a couple of drops to water.
  5. Ease anxiety and irritable moods by creating an uplifting blend to use in a diffuser. Orange and bergamot are one of my favourites.
  6. Improve circulation by adding to a carrier oil such as argan oil and massage on to the skin.
  7. Give yourself an energy boost by either adding to a carrier oil or I add a few drops to a crystal I wear around my neck. What can I say? The hippy life chose me… 😉


wellbeing

Why lavender is an essential oil superpower

January 19, 2020
lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil

I must admit, I was never a huge fan of lavender. I associated it with overly perfumed soaps and a fragrance only an elderly woman could love.

But, I’m happy to report, I was wrong. Completely wrong in fact. Lavender is one of the most essential of essential oils. It’s highly versatile and can be used for everything from boosting your mental wellbeing to cleaning your home. 

Lavender essential oil is a must have in your aromatherapy tool kit. 

What is lavender?

Lavender comes from the lavender plant. It can be grown as a shrub in your home garden (even in the UK) and commercially is grown as a crop most famously in Provence, France. 

It’s actually one of my dreams to cycle through the lavender fields in Provence on a vintage bike with a baguette in the basket. Yes, I really am that basic…

Lavender has tiny violet coloured flowers which can be dried and used in beauty products and around the home. The essential oils are created through steam distillation, which is quite a long, technical process. Apparently, you can do this at home – however, I’ve never tried it so can’t vouch for this DIY lavender extraction method

Top 10 benefits of lavender essential oil

  1. Anxiety and stress – Feeling stressed and anxious? Lavender can help calm and relax the mind. Inhale lavender oil right out of the bottle or use in a diffuser.
  2. Sleep – Lavender oil is proven to help induce sleep. Try putting into a diffuser whilst you go to sleep or adding a few drops to your pillow.  
  3. Pain relief – lavender is an anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce redness and pain from insect bites and try adding to a carrier oil such as wheatgerm for muscle pain.
  4. Cold relief – lavender can help with respiratory infections by loosening phlegm (apols if you’re reading this first thing in the morning…) and providing soothing relief. Add hot water to a large bowl and add 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil and 2-3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Cover your head with a towel to trap the steam in and breathe deeply.
  5. Wounds – lavender has antimicrobial properties which have been shown to speed up the healing of cuts, burns, scrapes and wounds. Mix with a carrier oil like coconut oil and use a cotton ball to apply to the bruise.
  6. Cleaning the home – did you know lavender is antibacterial and a natural disinfectant? Mix with water into a spray bottle for laundry and with white vinegar for a natural chemical-free cleaner.
  7. Skin – there’s a reason why lavender can be found in so many beauty products. Try mixing with a carrier oil such as argan oil and massaging into your skin.
  8. Hair – lavender is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal so helps in reducing dandruff and supporting scalp health, which can stimulate hair growth. Add a few drops to your shampoo.
  9. Stimulating the brain – lavender can improve cognition because it helps remove stress. Try diffusing when studying or working.
  10. Detoxifying lavender contains antioxidants and is a natural way of removing toxins from your body. Just add a few drops into a hot bath.

Subtle (spiritual) properties of lavender

Essential oils can also be used as part of a spiritual practice. Use lavender for balancing, calming and to clear a house of negative energies.

Easy ways to use lavender essential oils

The power of smell is linked to the brain’s limbic system. It triggers positive and negative reactions in us. Smell can help provoke memories and emotions, which is why it impacts on our wellbeing.

There are several ways to use essential oils. Try using a diffuser, adding to a hot bath or mixing with a carrier oil for quick results.

How to buy lavender essential oils

A good essential oil should have ‘100% pure essential oil’ and the proper name on the label. In lavender’s case this is lavendula. If you see the word ‘fragrance’ it almost always means there are chemicals added in.

The best essential oils are therapeutic grade, which means they are unfiltered and untreated and really good quality.

Essential oils are natural but powerful. Some people may develop an allergic reaction so it’s always best to do a patch test. If you’re pregnant, nursing or planning on using on a small child, then check beforehand. Lavender is safe in all of these instances though.

Where to buy lavender essential oils

I buy my essential oils from Baldwin’s or Tisserand. However, there are lots of suppliers around – just follow the advice above to ensure you’re buying a good product.

You can buy a 10ml bottle for around £5-7. A small amount goes a long way.

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My eco-friendly lunch kit

October 6, 2019
eco-friendly lunch kit

Bringing my lunch to work

I recently started a new job and along with understanding my role and the organisation; I’ve been getting to grips with a new working environment too. We have kitchen facilities but no cutlery or crockery.

I want to get better at bringing my lunches in. This is partly due to financial and health reasons: it’s expensive and I struggle to find healthier options when I’m out and about. However, I also feel conscious of all the packaging the food I’m buying comes in too given that I’m trying to reduce plastic waste.

Up until recently, my only option has been to make sure I keep a few wooden forks in my desk (thanks M&S) so I don’t have to use plastic forks from our work canteen. This is why I was really pleased when Global 1rst got in touch with me seeing if I wanted to try their eco-friendly wooden cutlery set. Its handmade from sustainable mahogany wood and is washable after use (not dishwasher safe). The size also means I can keep them in my locker comfortably along with the rest of my eco-friendly lunch kit.

I also now make sure I carry around a reusable cup with me, a stainless steel water bottle and a lunchbox. There is an initial investment and eco-friendly products aren’t always cheap because they’re made out of better, more durable materials. However, given that you reuse them and coffee shops often give you a discount if you have your own cup, then they start to pay for themselves.

My next step is to start investigating different food suppliers to see if I can reduce plastic packaging. I work long hours and so supermarket home deliveries have been a lifesaver. However, I want to explore some different options and see what else is out there. Any tips, let me know.

My eco-friendly lunch kit essentials

  • Reusable coffee cup – I like keep cups. I love their design and as I’m a black coffee drinker; I find the cups are better insulated so they don’t burn my hand.
  • Stainless steel water bottle – there are so many brands out there for lots of different prices. I have this Chilly’s one.
  • Stainless steel lunch box – look for ones that don’t leak. I bought one from Black & Blum
  • Reusable cutlery – such as from Global 1rst

Some of the products reviewed in this blog were gifted but all my opinions are my own.

home wellbeing

My eco-friendly bathroom products

September 15, 2019
eco-friendly bathroom products

I’ve been working towards a chemical-free home for a while now. I’ve become more conscious of what I buy, what I put on my skin and more importantly the products I use on my child.

I’ve always been aware of the amount of plastic I use – possibly because I grew up in the 80s when there was less packaging around. However, I’m ashamed to say I never really gave much thought to all the chemicals I released into the oceans when I was desperate to buy the latest designer shampoo promising me some hair magic.

Please note, my hair has never been magic…

I’ve been trying to buy (or make) more eco-friendly bathroom products. I always try to be honest and highlight that this is a work in progress. I still use toothpaste and I’ve struggled to get on with shampoo bars because I don’t have 2 months to be able to adjust past the greasy stage – if anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

What I am doing is trying to be thoughtful about what I do use and think about the environmental impacts. Eco-friendly bathroom products aren’t going to reverse climate change – but every little helps.

My eco-friendly bathroom products

Bamboo toothbrush

It’s estimated that we use 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes worldwide and 80% of them end up in the sea where they take over 1000 years to dispose. 

One of the easiest changes to make is to switch to a bamboo toothbrush.

I’ve used a bamboo toothbrush for years now. I only used to be able to buy them online but now I live in an area with lots of health food shops, I can find them everywhere.

They’re recyclable and biodegradable. you need to pull the bristles out to put them in the plastic recycling and the actual toothbrush can be composted.

Brands include: Bambaw

Natural teeth whitening charcoal powder

Want white teeth but not at the expense of the planet? Yes, me too.

I use charcoal powder. It’s really easy to use and 100% natural. The packaging can all be recycled too or in my case upcycled into candles.

Brands include: Smile UK

Soap bars

For some of us that are old enough, we can remember a time when shower gel was just a glint in its mother’s eye. We all used soap.

I’m getting back into using soap again. It contains far less packaging and lasts a lot longer. Sometimes I make my own using an SLS free melt and pour base from my favourite apocotherapist Baldwin’s. Otherwise, I buy locally.

Brands include: Friendly soap

Hand wash

I make my own hand wash using castille soap, distilled water and essential oils.

I buy everything in bulk and decant it into amber bottles I buy from Baldwin’s.

However, I completely appreciate you may not have the time or interest to make your own. I happen to love doing anything vaguely crafty. There are good options on the high street such as Faith in Nature or Method. I have a shop locally that does Faith in Nature refills so I don’t need to keep buying the bottles.

Bath salts

I make my own bath salts and honestly, it couldn’t be easier. I can never go back to buying ‘luxury’ bathing products ever again.

They only contain 3 ingredients and essential oils but failing that, use Epsom salts. They’re also natural and the magnesium will give you a health boost.

Brands include: Westlab Epsom salts

Cotton buds

I tried to go on a cotton bud break because I convinced myself they’re a product I only use because they’re there. Anyway, my break only managed to prove that I do need them after all.

I will only buy products that contain no plastic and have some guarantee about the cotton used.

Brands include: Organyc

Room spray

Without wishing to go into too much detail, there are sometimes occasions when the bathroom needs a bit of freshening up..

Get a spray bottle and add 30 drops of essential oils into water. Job done.

Please note, some of these products were gifted but all reviews are my own. The sites I’m referring you too aren’t always where I bought the product – it’s just for ease of reference.

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DIY natural fabric conditioner: a how to guide

June 5, 2019
DIY natural fabric conditioner

At the risk of sounding utterly boring, I’ve got sick of seeing my washing machine clogged up with the old residue of fabric conditioner. I’m also not convinced it’s great for the environment or our clothes. However, I really like the smell and so I’m not quite ready to give up my fabric conditioner addiction. I do try to buy more natural products but even then I’m still worrying about all the plastic packaging. This is why I’ve been determined to try to make a DIY natural fabric conditioner at home.

I’ve tried putting a few drops of essential oils into the washing machine, as well as using a homemade fabric spray afterwards. It’s not quite the same though.

After searching for a while online, I decided to give this DIY natural fabric conditioner a go using only three ingredients that I had already at home. They are epsom salts, bicarbonate of soda and essential oils.

Anyone else starting to realise that you can make almost anything from bicarbonate of soda or am I just really late to the party?

Anyway..

To make DIY natural fabric conditioner you will need:

  • 1 cup of epsom salts
  • ¼ cup of bicarbonate of soda (or baking powder if you’re in the US)
  • 10-15 drops of essential oils. I went with sweet orange because I love the smell and it’s also supposed to be an uplifting scent. I think I was feeling a bit fed up on the day… Really any oils would work so next time I think I’ll try lavender and lemon to mix it up a bit.

I buy my ingredients from Baldwins, a natural goods store and a health food shop near where I live.

Mix and pour into an airtight storage jar.

To be completely transparent, mine does stick sometimes. It may be that my jar is letting in air? Or more realistically, it might be that commercial products tend to have anti-clogging agents… Regardless, it does work just fine after a quick stir.

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How I’m moving towards chemical free living

April 30, 2019
chemical free living

My interest in natural and chemical free living really started after my son was born. Spending more time in the home, meant needing to clean more often and I became much more aware of the number of products on the market, all promising different things.

We now have cleaning sprays for every room in the house, plus different ones for your shower, bath, sinks and toilet. Each one promises to create a cleaner experience, eliminate all germs and leave your house sparkling. I’m a marketer’s dream and can pretty much be persuaded to buy anything – but even I started to question how different these products really could be.

I also started to think about how necessary all these chemicals actually are. Now, I’m not a scientist or chemist so I don’t have any research to back up my claims, but there just seems something wrong with needing to wear gloves to use cleaning products inside your own home. How healthy can that be? I can’t imagine all those fumes are good for us.

Impact on the environment

The reality is cleaning products contain a number of chemicals that are harmful to our waters and marine life. Every time we clean, we’re rinsing all these chemicals down the drain and they eventually end up in the sea. Plus, they come in plastic bottles, which as we all know isn’t great for the environment so where possible we should aim for better alternatives.

There are a number of eco-friendly products around and if you buy in bulk or do refills, then this cuts down on all the packaging. Although this is very dependent admittedly on where you live. There have also been times when I just haven’t had the money to pay that little bit extra for better products.

However, there are a number of ways we can keep our homes clean and germ-free using entirely natural products which can be found easily.

Here are a few chemical free living ideas

Did you know vinegar is a natural disinfectant and citrus fruit peel has anti-bacterial properties? You can make an antibacterial, disinfectant white vinegar and citrus fruit cleaning spray so easily and it costs less than a pound.

Tea tree oil is often used as an ingredient in beauty products and is known to help with oily skin and acne. It makes an excellent cleaning product too. Mix equal quantities of tea tree oil to water and use it to get rid of black mould.

Want to make a nice linen spray? Add lavender essential oil to distilled water (you can buy it online easily) and spray away. Lavender is an antiseptic as well as having stress-relieving, sleep boosting and anti-anxiety benefits so it’s helpful in a number of ways.

Possibly the greatest natural product out there is bicarbonate of soda. You can use this for practically everything (and not just baking cakes): brightening up white clothes, unblocking drains and cleaning fridges, cookers and microwaves. You can even add it to your bath and your skin will be silky smooth.

Overly clean houses and our immune systems

Research shows the best method of cleaning germs from your home is using elbow grease and hot soapy water. To further eliminate them, then use the vinegar and citrus fruit spray afterwards. As much as we’re told we just need to spray down our kitchens, worksurfaces etc, the reality is that using cleaning sprays are no real substitute for hard work. You’re just adding chemicals unnecessarily into your home.

Improvements in sanitation have increased our life expectancies and helped us live healthier lives. But, we do also need to remember that overly sterile environments are not good for developing our immune systems either. We do need to come into contact with germs in order to build our resistance to them.

Whilst I’m not suggesting giving up cleaning altogether, I am saying next time you’re wondering what cleaning product to buy, ask yourself if you actually need it at all?

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DIY natural bath salts and how to make them

April 10, 2019
DIY natural bath salts

I know it’s a self-care cliche but a bath always makes me feel better about life. It’s a moment of ‘me time’, allowing me to be fully present (rather than overthinking) and helps soak away some of the stresses of the day.

I used to love treating myself to really luxurious bath products. I felt it was a nice indulgence for someone with a busy life. If I’m also being really being honest, I liked the look of them in my bathroom too. Hello, working class aspirational roots…!

However, I started to question why they included so many chemicals, all the packaging and how good for me these products really were.

So for the last couple of years, I’ve made my own natural bath salts using only a few ingredients, essential oils and flower petals for that ultimate luxury bathing experience.

Not only does it feel great, this DIY natural bath salts is good for our health too. It’s completely chemical-free and uses only a handful of natural ingredients: Epsom salts, Himalayan salts and bicarbonate of soda. I add essential oils for an extra wellbeing boost and flower petals just because it makes the bath look so pretty. Homemade doesn’t need to look homemade after all. 

Epsom salts help boosts our body’s magnesium levels. We need magnesium for energy, regulating blood sugar levels and helping with healthy bones amongst much more. It’s also good for sleep, stress and reduces swelling and bloating. 

Himalayan salts are a detoxifier and help remove toxins from the body. They are also a natural mineral and work to counteract the electromagnetic energy we get from using technology. 

Bicarbonate of soda will make your skin silky smooth and also reduce any inflammation. 

I add essential oils  which add scent and have a host of different benefits depending on your needs. I tend to go for lavender to help with relaxation and sleep. 

These bath salts make great presents too.

How to make DIY natural bath salts

This is for lavender and rose petal bath salts. 

You will need:

  • 2 cups of Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup of Himalayan salts
  • 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil
  • Dried rose petals (a small amount goes a long way)

The method:

Simply pour all the ingredients into a jar. I use a funnel for this. And then shake…

That’s it. Enjoy!

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