(Work in progress, check in regularly for updates)
Organic beauty & makeup
Your body absorbs everything you put on your skin, so paying attention to this area is just as important as what you put in your mouth (all the more so if you are pregnant or trying to conceive). Here are a few of my favorites:
FACIAL CLEANSING ROUTINE
- May Lindstrom’s The Honey Mud. A gentle daily cleanser that smells divine (seriously, good enough to eat). Can be used as a face mask too.
The Clean Dirt by May Lindstrom. A more intense exfoliator - use 1 or 2 times per week.
- Osmia Organics’ Black Clay Facial Soap. I love all things Osmia, and this clay soap has been a staple! Recommended for normal skin and also benefits those with perioral dermatitis. In fact, if you struggle with PD, read this article by Osmia's founder.
FACE CREAMS & SERUMS
Osmia Organics’ Balance Facial Serum. A great daily serum that is not too heavy or greasy.
- May Lindstrom’s The Blue Cocoon. After giving birth I felt like my skin needed some extra TLC. This anti-inflammatory product fits the bill, and feels like such a treat. The blue color is gorgeous too!
- This Detox Exfoliating Mask leaves one's skin feeling brighter, cleaner and softer.
- A DIY face mask made of Fuller's Earth is great for oily skin and also for minimizing acne scarring.
- This mascara is great. 100% Pure was one of the first mainstream healthy beauty companies out there, paving the way for a lot of other brands.
- I am a fan of this eyeliner.
- The folks at Citrine stock a lot of natural makeup products and are great about helping you find the shade/product that works for you, even when shopping online. Just send them a picture of yourself via Instagram and they'll get back to you with personalized recommendations.
- Ilia's tinted lip conditioners are the best! You can keep layering depending on how intense you want the color to be.
- Kjaer Weis products have a cult following in the natural beauty world (and for good reason!).
- RMS Beauty. Check them out. Their luminizer is fantastic.
- Meow Meow Tweet’s deodorant cream. Never mind the cutesy name, this stuff is hardcore and really works. I've been hooked ever since I read about them in the New York Times years ago.
I found this to be successful in containing mild outbreaks. Oil for acne? Sounds crazy, but yes!
- In all honesty, the best acne treatment is probably sea water and some sunlight shining on your face. The second best option? Sea salt dissolved in water, applied carefully on your skin. How to: dissolve a pinch of sea salt in warm water. You do not want it to be strongly concentrated. Apply to the affected area (preferably with a q-tip), and keep on for a few hours. NOTE: test this salt treatment on a small, inconspicuous part of your skin first as it can cause irritation in some cases. Also, do NOT use iodized salt (i.e. typical table salt). Instead, use pure sea salt such as this one. While you're at it, ditch the table salt and use the sea salt for cooking too.
- Of course, I have to add that dietary adjustments can be helpful in treating acne as a long-term strategy :)
- I’ve tried a long list of body creams and oils, some fancy and others not so much. In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that none work as well as coconut oil or olive oil from your pantry. Sesame oil feels pretty yummy too, especially during the warmer months (just make sure you use UNTOASTED sesame oil, or else you will smell like Chinese takeout!). Use on wet skin right after showering.
- Three words: Mountain. Rose. Herbs. If you haven't discovered this store, I apologize for the addiction I am about to bring upon you. They have an abundance of recipes here, and also sell everything you need to make your potions and lotions, including the containers. You're welcome.
Good health and nutrition starts in the kitchen, and a few kitchen basics can make healthy cooking *so* much easier. Here's where I would start... (note: I offer customized kitchen detox consults, so contact me if you want to dive deep in that area)
GLASS STORAGE CONTAINERS
If you haven't already, ditch the toxic plastic. Use glass storage containers such as these instead. Bonus: you can use them in the oven as well.
- Make nourishing bone and vegetable broths, or big batches of hearty soups to last you all week. I consider a stock pot to be a powerhouse of a well-stocked kitchen.
A GREAT KNIFE
- Cooking with a dull, flimsy knife is tedious and no fun. Invest in a good knife like this one which will last forever with proper care.
A POWERFUL BLENDER
- Despite its cult following, I haven't bought a Vitamix primarily because I am not comfortable with the fact that the container is plastic. I have an old Waring Pro blender which came with a glass container that has been a loyal workhorse in my kitchen. It's not as powerful as a Vitamix, but for my purposes it works very well. I also own a Ninja, which uses this stainless steel cup attachment. Great for smoothies, as it is super powerful!
WOOD, BAMBOO OR STAINLESS STEEL COOKING UTENSILS
The high heat of cooking and the toxicity of plastics make for a bad pairing (why cook a healthy meal only to stir it with a plastic spoon which leeches chemicals into your food?!). An easy and cheap way to begin to detox your kitchen is to buy a set like this one.
A GOOD SKILLET
- Say no to teflon! Cast iron is a great alternative to toxic non-stick cookware. My Le Creuset skillet almost never gets put away, as I use it almost daily (eggs, pancakes, steak, caramelizing onions... etc.) . Lodge products are also great and retail at a (much) cheaper price, although you will have to work harder at seasoning it.
- If I had to keep only one item in my kitchen, this would probably be it. I use it for everything - soup, stews, legumes, sauces, and more. I have used it almost daily for seven plus years and it is still going strong.
WOOD OR BAMBOO CUTTING BOARDS
- Do away with plastic cutting boards which can get plastic particles into the food you so lovingly prepared.
SLOW COOKER and/or PRESSURE COOKER
- You don't need this in your kitchen, but I recently invested in an Instant Pot and I have found that it is quite the time saver. I use it maybe once or twice a week when I'm short on time or energy but still want a healthy meal on the table for dinner. I've made beans, soups, stews and chicken in it with great success. It has many other functions I haven't experimented with (yogurt maker?). More soon....
- I have so many of these, in all sizes. Extremely helpful for everything from making ferments and pickles, to preparing and storing salad dressings, to holding every which grain and legume in my pantry. Essential!
Above all, take care of yourself and indulge in rest and self-care during this magical time. Here are a few things I discovered (or wish I had) along the way:
A GOOD READ
This book by Aviva Romm is a great, accessible resource to read early in pregnancy.
FIND A LOCAL LACTATION CONSULTANT
- BEFORE you give birth, find out if your hospital has a lactation consultant on their staff. If yes, amazing! Make sure you meet with her before you are discharged, whether or not you are having early breastfeeding challenges. If you are a first time mom, you will probably have a million questions to ask her even if your little one is a breastfeeding pro. She'll talk to you about feeding frequency, latches, positions, troubleshooting, pumping, and help you with any pain you might be experiencing. In other words, she's a superstar. Find out how to get in touch with her should anything come up after you leave the hospital. The cliche is true, it really takes a village, so make use of every resource available to you momma!
- If your hospital does not have a lactation consultant on staff, find a local one and connect before your due date. Ask if she can visit you in the hospital after your delivery, or shortly after you return home.
- Connect with your local La Leche League group for ongoing support. They often have weekly meetings which are a great place to ask questions and to meet fellow moms.
HIRE A DOULA
Having a doula assist women during labor has been shown to significantly decrease the likelihood of getting a cesarean section, while decreasing the need for administering an epidural and oxytosin. Moreover, it has been shown to shorten the length of labor as well (and who would complain about that?!). Make sure you find a doula you LOVE - ask around for recommendations, conduct interviews, and find someone who is not only skilled but who you have great chemistry with. Cville moms to be, I cannot say enough good things about Jaide Stover.
Many doulas offer post-partum services as well.
TAKE A CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION CLASS
- I am very fond of the Bradley Method. It is holistic, practical and non-dogmatic. I find that it prepares you for your birth by empowering you with the knowledge you need to act and make decisions regardless of how your delivery unfolds. It also strongly emphasizes the role of the parter in this process, which I found to be amazing. For Charlottesville folk, April is wonderful - I love her! She is a childbirth education pro, and also brings in a lactation consultant, goes over infant care, and importantly outlines routine hospital interventions for newborns so you can think about your preferences before the big day (you don't want to be thinking about things for the first time after a long labor...).
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL BABY COMES TO READ ABOUT INFANT SLEEP...
...big mistake, trust me. This website is a great resource. Hopefully your little one will sleep like a baby (ha!), but it is good to be prepared in advance. Also, should you ever need a good sleep consultant, I highly recommend Allison!
SKIN CARE AND MOM-TO-BE SELF CARE PRODUCTS
- Hopefully you are already using natural skincare products (see above), and so will not need to be making many major transitions during this time.
- Keep in mind that some medications that are applied topically (such as cortisone creams, etc), even if they are over the counter, may not be indicated for use during pregnancy. Contact your doctor as soon as you know you are pregnant to determine if they are safe to use (same with all your meds!). Ideally do this while you are trying to conceive. I believe in treating your body during pre-conception as though you are already pregnant, because at some point you will be and you wont know for sure until you miss a cycle :)
- Baraka Birth - a great store run by a good friend which sells some amazing momma care products (Krystina is also a doula and a soon to be midwife). Check it out!
Natural Baby Care