Meredith Tested: Kari Gran Cleansing Oil

I have a strange relationship with skincare. On the one hand, I love testing out products and when something works for my skin, it makes me so happy. However, I also kind of hate that it’s a daily (sometimes multiple times a day) task. Bottom line: it’s a chore. So are taking showers but I’ve tried to get better with that by keeping my hair a little shorter (backstory: my hair is super thick and wavy and therefore maintaining long hair is a huuuuuge hassle). ;)

Basically I just admitted to everyone that I’m lazy. I prefer to think of it this way: I’d rather spend my time doing other things than going through a messy 7-step process just to keep my skin under control. ;)

kari gran starter kit

Anyway, I think I’ve found something that helps reconcile my two opposing feelings about skincare: Kari Gran Cleansing Oil.

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Natural Birth Hospital Bag Packing List

hospital bag packing list

The internet can totally use another birth bag post, right? Right? ;)

Here is what I had in my hospital bag for my natural birth (I used the hypnobirthing method, FYI). What I used/strongly recommend bringing is noted with a ‘*’. Please note, though, I’d probably recommend bringing everything. Don’t let people call you “that crazy over-prepared/over-zealous/nutso pregnant lady.” Unless you live right next door to your hospital or birthing center and are OK asking your husband/birth partner to run back to your house if you need anything, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind knowing you’re (over) prepared.

My hypno-birthing instructor said it best: “Air on the side of caution and your comfort. If you don’t want to lug everything into the hospital, just leave it in the car!” Eureka! Maybe it was pregnancy brain, but for some reason this simple solution of leaving stuff in the car didn’t come to mind when I was reading the zillions of hospital bag “what I brought vs what I needed” lists out there. So, we left a lot of stuff in the car, including all of the baby’s stuff, my birthing ball, etc. If I really needed something, it was easy enough for my husband to grab it from the car in the parking garage. But we didn’t have to worry about schlepping tons of stuff into the delivery room (…and then to the recovery room.)

Also – ask on your tour of the birthing center what kinds of things the nurses recommend bringing. It might be different at every hospital/center so the best way to be prepared is to customize for your situation.

Main bag (I used “day-tripper” sized tote):

*Button-down sleep shirt (black)
*Black cotton robe
*Sleep nursing bra
*Nursing tank top
*Cozy socks
Underwear (big/old)
*My favorite lip balm
*Hair elastics and clips (I had a bag just for these and I had some in my toiletry/makeup bag)
*Toiletries (hand/body lotion, face lotion, lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor, deodorant)
*Makeup (lightweight foundation, concealer, blush, mascara, eyelash curler, lip gloss)
Cleansing face wipes
Nipple cream
Small spray bottle of witch hazel (some people also bring Tucks wipes/pads)
Pacifica Tuscan Orange solid fragrance (Scent is huge for me so I used this to develop positive associations during my hypnobirthing practice)
Tennis balls (for lower back massages)
*A bath towel
*Extra long phone cord & charger (you never know where outlets will be!)
Reusable shopping tote for hospital stuff (like the super-glamorous disposable underwear, etc.)
*My wallet
*My iPhone
Headphones (for music and recordings to help with hypnobirth)
Aux cable for plugging my iPhone into the hospital’s speakers
*Eye mask
*Plastic bag for laundry
*Coconut water & snacks (FYI our hospital had great food and were super awesome about my food allergies)
Gum, lozenges and cough drops
Some prenatal vitamins
Small notebook & pen
*Manilla envelope (copies of birth preferences sheet, misc forms/paperwork/brochures from hospital)
*Gallon ziplock bag for baby blankets/etc. to bring home for the dogs to smell. (FYI, our dog trainer recommended this book on how to prepare pets for baby.)

My husband’s bag (not pictured, he used a backpack):

*Change of clothes (pants/shirt)
*Toiletries (the basics – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant)
*Eye mask
*Phone charger
*Small blanket

Leave in car (smallish canvas tote):

*Baby’s stuff (Footie pjs in various sizes cuz who knows how big your baby will be, a hat, swaddling blankets, a few disposable diapers)
*My going home outfit (comfy black leggings, loose t-shirt, warm wrap sweater)
Box of nursing pads

Also in car:
*Car seat & car seat base (Obvi! Hospital won’t let you leave without it!)
Birthing ball (my birthing center/hospital had tons of balls to use but I brought mine just in case)
Pillows (recommended by the labor & delivery nurse but I didn’t want to bring to my room right away)
Nursing pillow

Packing a hospital bag can be a fun way to prepare for baby’s homecoming, but don’t stress. As the amazingly wise Pregnant Chicken says, “You really don’t need much to have a baby. Got your vagina? Packed!”

I didn’t have my hospital bags 100% packed until week 37/38 but I started doing research and got a few things together starting week 30ish. Start packing at week 22 if you want! This is your pregnancy and you can prepare however you wish. If your sister/aunt/friend laughs at you, just shake it off. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, baby! Not that anyone knows what a Polaroid picture is anymore.

 Feel free to leave questions/advice/rants about how I over-packed in the comments ;)

Meredith Tested: Hand and Body Moisturizers for Dry Winters

hand and body moisturizers

I know it’s not “officially” winter … yet. But as the air gets colder and dryer in New England, I’m already in winter mode with my skin. Here are my favorite ways to battle the dry skin that comes with living in a cold winter climate. Even people who wouldn’t call their skin “sensitive” experience more reactions in the wintertime. At the bare minimum, avoid products with fragrance. Better yet, stick with products that are green, clean and natural to make sure you’re helping, not aggravating your possibly-already-aggravated dry skin.

I have a lot of other moisturizers hanging around, but these are the ones I reach for most often and I find are most effective (aka I don’t have to reapply every 5 minutes):

1. Argan Oil
I use it on my hands, body, face, hair … It’s incredibly versatile and can be mixed with other products. I usually use it on it’s own but if you find the texture hard to spread on arms and legs, mixing with a moisturizer can help. My current favorite brand is Arzoyi, available on Amazon.

2. Aveda All-Sensitive Moisturizer
This has a thin texture that might make you think it’s not as effective as a huge glob of thick cream. Not so! I like that it’s easy to spread out over my arms and legs. Super dry skin will easily “drink it up.” It’s fragrance free but I find it does have a nice light scent. This is always in my rotating arsenal of moisturizers because it always works. I sometimes use it as a bottom “layer” of moisture and then add one of the other products mentioned in this post as needed. Another great, similar option I sometimes use is from Beauty Without Cruelty.

3. NovaKera Cream
Made in the USA with simple ingredients. Not greasy but works really well on hands and feet. I see pretty instant results even on cracked fingers/heels but it’s designed to be used for 7 days straight to get full results. Buy it on Amazon or buy it here. Get the small tube if you want to test it out.

4. Coconut Oil
No list would be complete without this workhorse oil! Depending on how dry I am, I find this doesn’t work as well on my hands as I’d like but it’s great for the rest of my body and I do like working it into my fingers to keep hangnails at bay. It smells great and absorbs relatively quickly, though I usually have to wait a few minutes for it to fully soak in. I buy a huge tub at Costco so I usually portion out a small amount to keep in the bathroom.

TIP >>> If you’re standing at the (mainstream drug or grocery) store, desperate for something to help your dry/itchy skin, check out the baby stuff. Aveeno, Burt’s Bees and a few other big brands have with good moisturizers that are green/clean/non-toxic but marketed for babies. Scan the bar code or search the product on EWG’s Skin Deep app from your phone to double check that there aren’t any gross/possibly irritating ingredients inside.

What are your favorite hand and body lotions and potions? Share in the comments!

Third Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

third trimester pregnancy products advice essentials

Home strrrrrretch! Wahhhoooooooooo! Yes, I think it’s totally okay if you turn into a woo girl at this point (minus the taking shots of vodka part, obvi.) I love the third trimester for lots of reasons not the least of which is that you probably actually look nice and pregnant at this point and not just … puffy. I was 32 weeks before a stranger (a nice check out guy at Trader Joe’s) confidently mentioned my baby bump. Why yes, kind stranger, I am growing a human – thanks for noticing. ;)

Sure, there is some discomfort sleeping/etc. when you get to the last couple weeks or so, but anticipation about meeting your gorgeous baby is mounting by the minute! Yay!

Looking for what to have on hand during the third trimester of pregnancy? Here are a few things I found that made my life during the last weeks of pregnancy much much better.

1. Body/mind relaxation.

This was the most important thing on this list by far for me, so I kind of wanted to make it numbers 1-5. When I say “relaxation,” I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching a movie with popcorn with a side of pickles and ice cream. Distractions and having fun are fabulous and also helpful during these last few weeks, but deep mind/body relaxation isn’t going to be found while staring at a sitcom.

Whatever your birth preferences, I highly recommend at least reading about hypnobirthing. In particular, the relaxation techniques are a huge help in alleviating anxiety that might be creeping into your brain during the second and third trimester. HypnoBabies offers a free download of two MP3s – one is an introduction to hypnobirthing and the other, “Relax Me,” is for anyone wishing to learn how to gain deep relaxation. No mention of birth is made during “Relax Me” so it can be used by anyone. Include your partner in the practice – he might just find he’s hooked on it, too. In less than 30 minutes, I found intense relaxation and felt like I had just been to a fancy spa. Increasing calm and decreasing stress can only be good for you and your baby.fantasia harry henshaw

While the “Relax Me” track was a great gateway for me, I mostly used the recordings by my hypnosis for birth instructor (Wellspring Hypnotherapy Center of Vermont) as well as the music she used “behind” her tracks – Fantasia by Dr. Harry Henshaw. For a few dollars on iTunes, I got his Fantasia album which includes a few (very similar) 30ish minute tracks.

Everyone is different so you may have a better experience with guided meditation (there are lots of CDs available on Amazon or iTunes or you might find classes locally) and/or gentile prenatal yoga with a relaxation component. The thing I recommend is making sure you 1) have the support and/or participation of your partner and 2) follow along with an expert’s guidance, at least at first. I found daily practice of hypnobirthing relaxation techniques (buy a book, find a class in your area) and prenatal yoga (I like this DVD) to be the most effective.

2. Actual maternity clothing.

If you’ve stayed away from actually-made-for-pregnant-ladies clothing, now is the time to invest in a few pieces to make your body more comfortable. You’ll probably wear a few of these items during the “4th trimester,” too. And if you really want to stay minimalist and eco-friendly, share with friends or sell when you’re done. I recommend at least one (loooong) t-shirt, one (looong) long-sleeve shirt and leggings with the full belly panel. I pretty much cried I was so comfy in my maternity leggings the first time I put them on. I probably should’ve gotten them sooner. Like, at 3 months pregnant. Why was I being so stoic? Silly! Learn from me. Don’t be stoic. Jump on that legging train! You will wear these items over and over …and over again to justify any price. If you’re trying to be minimalist and buy the least amount of items possible, choose a neutral color and wash them over and over again. I have black and olive green and they go with everything. My pick: Blanqi High Performance Maternity Leggings, $64. (Alternative: Preggers Light Support Leggings, $36.95. Also USA-made.)

3. Nursing bras and tanks.

If at all possible, try on bras in person instead of buying online. Most people recommend going later in your third trimester but if you’re feeling really smothered and want to go at 7 months on the dot, go for it girl. Just make sure to tell your sales associate how much longer you have. They’ll probably recommend you get a bra that’s roomier or adjustable so it can accommodate the milk supply that will come in after the baby is born.

I was so glad to have a professional size me and recommend a few brands/styles. Especially since the sizing isn’t consistent at all. I ended up with bras that were different sizes on the label (38DD, 40F, 42D) but all fit similarly. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to figure that out on my own! Get a variety including ones that you can wear around the house/sleep in and one for going out in public (possibly with more sturdy construction, but not necessarily an underwire if you’re trying to stay away from those.) A few months in to nursing your baby, you can purchase a duplicate of the one(s) you used most often.

4. (Red) Raspberry Leaf Tea.

I drank a cup or two of this almost every day during my last trimester. There are several brands but my favorite for taste was Traditional Medicinals. It tasted like a mild black tea with a tiny hint of sweetness. The Yogi Tea one might be easier to find but I found it to be quite bitter. There are also a few tea blends that have raspberry leaf and other ingredients to help with pregnancy. Those are typically called “Pregnancy Tea” or “Third Trimester Tea” etc. Here are a few resources with more information on why this can be an effective way to help prepare your body for birth:

  • From “Medical studies have shown that red raspberry leaf can be consumed safely during pregnancy and can decrease the length of labor and decrease the number of interventions.
  • From Wellness Mama: “Raspberry Leaf is probably my favorite herb and definitely my most consumed herb. It has an amazing nutrient profile and a gentle taste similar to regular black tea but without the caffeine.”

5. Argan Oil

During pregnancy, I’m all “Argan oil errywhere, on errything!” I like the brand Arzoyi* because it’s high quality (Triple Extra Virgin Argan oil) and is Organic certified by ECOCERT ICO and displays the USDA Organic seal. I also like that it comes in a glass dropper bottle. It’s really easy to use. I don’t think anyone can fully prevent stretch marks but stretching skin can make pregnant women feel really itchy so keeping that skin hydrated keeps everything comfy. I use it on my body, face and hair. I like using Argan oil on it’s own or mixed with another lotion/potion. But most of the time I’m using it straight up. Straight up! On the rocks! With a twist! Uh yes … I might have cocktails on the brain. It’s been more than 9 months, folks! NINE. MONTHS.

6. Exercise (aka Birth/Birthing) Ball

I’m sitting on my exercise ball right now and it’s oh so comfortable. It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s a back/hip/sanity saver in the end, trust me. Mine is 65cm and it’s the perfect size for me. I’m only 5′ 2″ but I think this size would work for taller women, too.

7. Sayonara Couch

This is a weird “essential” but an important one. In the third trimester it’s good to try and avoid sitting in bucket seats (like in your car) or super soft chairs or couches since it can cause pretty nasty back pain and might encourage your baby to settle in a less-than-optimal position for labor. That isn’t to say you have to avoid the car or couch at all costs for the last 12 weeks but just try to cut down if possible. I used the exercises outlined in this post by Mama Natural, as well as consulting Spinning Babies and my hypnosis for birth instructor. My hypnosis for birth instructor was probably the most helpful since she was watching me in person. You may also want to talk to your midwife or doctor about sitting/sleeping to get more info on optimal baby/mama positioning. Also, take walks. It’s great for your hips, baby position and it just makes you feel good to get fresh air. Listen to podcasts or audio books.

8. Lots and lots of hydration

Just like the other trimesters, staying hydrated is paramount to your comfort (yes, even though you’ll have to pee even more) and health. Because getting up and down to refill can get cumbersome towards the end, upgrade to a giant bottle/cup or have a collection of 2-3 at your desk/wherever you’re parked for the day/night. If straight-up water is getting too boring, switch it up with coconut water, sparkling water, or add a bit of juice. You probably don’t need all the sugar in Gatorade but if it’ll make you happy, go for it :)

9. Journal/Notebook

eco sketchbookKeep a pen and notebook nearby – you’ll have lots of lists to make and thoughts to get out. I decided it might be fun to see everything side by side – from to-do lists and reminders to emotional poems about anticipation of being a mom.

(Photo from Etsy seller NikkiCrossApplesauce)

10. Food Prep

Grab your favorite cookbook or blogs and head to the kitchen. I loved cranking out meals with my husband – it made us feel a little bit more prepared even though we know there’s no way to prepare for the giant changes that come with bringing a tiny human home. I recommend having some meals in the freezer even if you know friends and family will come through with food in your first few weeks. (Lucky you!) Quick breads, crock-pot meals, stews and soups, burritos, casseroles, etc. are your best bets for easy freezing and easy thawing/eating when you’re a half-asleep new parent. Do you want details of what we made? Let me know and I’ll do a separate post on it.

Leave questions (and your 3rd trimester essentials) in the comments!

*Indicates affiliate link or gratis product/service sample. I occasionally receive product samples to test and review. However, I will never post about anything on this blog that I don’t truly love and recommend.

5 All-Natural Ways to Avoid Winter Colds and Flu

avoid colds and flu all natural

First, this post is about being pro-active to avoid colds and the flu. Stay tuned to Meredith Tested for ways I combat sickness once it’s INSIDE THE HOUSE. Duhn duhn duhnnnn.

I used to be one of those people who got every single cold/flu that went around. Now I plow through winter with way less bouts of sickness. When you go to school or an office every day (or you’re around people/kids who do), chances are you’re always around someone carrying a cold or flu germ. Usually our bodies do a good job of keeping the germs we come into contact with at bay. But sometimes the stars align and you get a cold or worse, the flu.

I still occasionally get sick, but these are my tried-and-true top tips for avoiding winter colds. I should note that a good, whole food diet and regular exercise throughout the year are the absolute best ways to ensure good health during the winter months, but using these tips in addition will give you an extra boost!

1. Make a habit out of washing your handsLavender Mandarin Self Castile Foaming Soap
This is the simplest yet most effective way to fend off germs. Train yourself to wash your hands every time you see a sink/think about it. Not just when you have to use the restroom or are washing dishes, etc. Yup. Every time. Yes, you might end up washing your hands a bajillion times a day. Every time I walk by my bathroom or kitchen sink and see it, I wash my hands with warm soapy water. Just regular old soap – not antibacterial. Believe it or not, this may take practice for you just like the formation of any other habit. Dedicate yourself to it for a few days and you should be locked in.

If you use a simple (not antibacterial) soap, you shouldn’t experience too much dryness. But if you do, I find that a few drops of argan oil or a nice (fragrance free) cream works wonders. Fear of dry hands shouldn’t hold you back from taking care of yourself.

2. Cut out (or down on) sugar and alcohol
I know, I know, ughhhh. Around the holidays?! Are you nuts?! Tis the season for revelry and merriment!! But… alcohol and sugar do nothing to help your immune system. I’m not saying you have to go full Whole30 and shun all sugar for the winter. But, commit to making (difficult) good choices. Enjoy the occasional cocktail or slice of your aunt’s famous chocolate cake, but maybe skip that handful of jelly beans/chocolate/cookies hanging around the office/your sister’s kitchen if you’re just doing it out of habit. And please, do not under any circumstances listen to your friend who says that “OMG, tequila totalllly kills cold germs!” (Ahem, you know who you are.) You might feel better in the short term after a few happy hour margaritas (or hot toddy’s, or beers), but you’ll feel that cold attack your system tenfold over the next few days.

3. Disinfect surfaces without bleach
Bleach is not necessary, y’all. Put down the bleach wipes and pick up some DIY options and a microfiber cloth (or paper towels). Using safer alternatives like rubbing alcohol (watch this awesome video for tips & words of caution), distilled white vinegar, and simple old dish soap will clean your house and is safe for you, your pets, your kids, and other living things. One part water and one part rubbing alcohol mixed in a small spray bottle (clean and reuse bottles from beauty/haircare or other house cleaners, or buy new at the dollar store) is my go-to for light switches, computer keyboards, remotes, phones, etc. A few spritzes on a microfiber cloth, wipe down the surface and voila! Disinfected.

4. Stay focused on your heath on the go
It might seem easy to keep up good habits at home but when you’re running around doing errands, visiting friends and going to holiday parties, avoiding colds might be the last thing on your mind. And honestly, you should be more focused on your friends and loved ones and fun activities this time of year than cold-fighting techniques. Just a few steps and you’ll be ready. Bring water with you everywhere (a water bottle with a built-in filter means you can fill up pretty much anywhere), pack healthy snacks so you don’t get famished and cave into a sugary treat (see #2), and keep an all-natural hand sanitizer in your purse/car/desk. No need to douse yourself in Purell. Gross. Make your own all-natural sanitizer if you’re crafty, or pick up a natural brand (double check the ingredients, as usual!) at your local Whole Foods or natural foods store. I’ve even found the non-toxic brand Cleanwell at major drugstore chains! It’s spray nozzle makes it easy to apply and it’s small enough to keep in a pants pocket or purse. One complaint: I found the “orange vanilla” scent to be very oregano-y with faint whiffs of orange/vanilla, just a warning.

5. Rest when you need it
Put on your big girl pants and rest when you need it. Ever have that run-down feeling where you’re not sick but you feel like doing anything but sitting on the couch would be impossible? You’re probably majorly fighting something off. Help your body – listen to it. Grab a mug of tea (decaf/herbal if possible), go to sleep early (no TV/iPhone, thankyouverymuch) and try to relax. If you’re stressed about work/family/etc., skip the nightcap or glass of wine and try some deep breathing to soft music instead. You might miss the new episode of The Good Wife, but your health will thank you. If necessary, take a sick day even if you’re not “fully” sick. Get some RNR before you dive headfirst into a terrible cold, and you’ll head back to work/school with renewed energy.

If you do get a full-blown cold, do yourself and everyone around you a favor – stay home. Technology makes it easier than ever to stay on track with projects and assignments. Get in touch with your coworkers, professors, etc. early so you don’t fall behind. Everyone will thank you for not bringing your germs to visit.

Another step is to get the flu vaccine. I know some people might find this controversial but I skipped it one year (“I’m too busy”/”where do you even get the shot?”/”but I’m not a kid or old person…”/excuses/excuses) and bam!  the flu knocked me out for almost a week. Ugh. You probably walk/drive past several places that administer the shot (low-cost or free, depending on your insurance) so take a few minutes one day to stop in and get ‘er done.

xo, Meredith

There are tons of all-natural ideas out there for fending off the cold and flu from shots of apple cider vinegar to steam showers with essential oils. What’s your most effective way to avoid winter colds?

Drugstore Finds: Non-toxic Beauty and Skincare

natural drugstore productsDrugstore finds that are actually non-toxic? Yes, they exist! While I purchase many of my favorite green, clean products at natural food stores and online (Try these online stores: [1] [2] [3]), you can still sometimes find good options at your local “mainstream” drugstore and/or supermarket (Target and Walmart seem to be expanding their natural options daily).

Here are reviews of a few products from widely-distributed brands (found at Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and even Hannaford’s, my local supermarket):

Complexion Balancing HibiscusAlba Botanica Facial Toner Complexion Balancing Hibiscus (EWG: 2)
I like the scent of this toner. A little also goes a long way so this should last a long time. Just a quick squeeze on a cotton pad and it definitely deep cleans. I don’t use a toner every day but definitely more often in the summer months and when I’m working out more. Check out all the ingredients on the package or EWG Skin Deep, though, since some people might be more sensitive to some of the not-so-natural ingredients than others.

Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer, Fig (EWG: 1)
These lip shimmers look great on and are sheer enough for everyday use. They’re not as moisturizing as a straight-up lip balm but they’re pretty good. I’ve found that the consistency varies wildly from color to color, though. Some are “gritter” than others (due to the glitter/shimmer in certain colors?) and some colors are way more sheer than others regardless of what the color looks like on the cap. Currently I’m liking the color ‘Fig.’ Also, be “warned” that certain colors have higher Skin Deep ratings due to differences in ingredients (ex: another one of my favorite colors Caramel EWG: 2).

Miss Treated ShampooKiss My Face Miss Treated Shampoo (EWG: 2)
This shampoo is a good, basic option for people with any hair type, despite the name. Might be good for people who color their hair. I like the fact that this formula cleans my hair well but doesn’t feel like it’s stripping it of natural oils. Some “repairing” products also just seem like they’re depositing build-up but this product doesn’t do that. However, it doesn’t feel like it’s repairing as much as I hoped, though, so it could be used by people with any hair type. Please note that the conditioner that pairs with this shampoo has a higher EWG rating of 4.

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Face Sculpting Trio, Sunkissed Organics (EWG:1)
This is a great year-round product, not just for summer months when you can “get away with” a more bronzed look. It just adds a bit of “life” to your face after evening out with foundation and/or concealer. It comes in a few different tones. I am fair skinned and I think all would work for me. One issue is that I’m not a huge fan of the packaging. It gets kind of gross/worn-out-looking quickly since the paper packaging gets dirty from the product quickly. The brush that comes with it is cute and better than some but it doesn’t spread the product evenly on skin. I kept it for on-the-go applications but I end up blending with my fingertips afterwards.

Also, I can sometimes find good-quality essential oils at my local Rite Aid and other drug stores. Score!

If you’re in a pinch, these big brands offer a FEW items that have low/safe ratings on Skin Deep, but are certainly not the most eco-friendly options for makeup out there. However, better than choosing something with potentially harmful ingredients.

Maybelline New York Define-A-Line Eyeliner, Brownish Black (EWG: 1)
Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick, Miracle Mauve 030 (EWG: 2)
CoverGirl Lip Perfection Jumbo Gloss Balm, Blush Twist (EWG: 2)
Wet ‘n Wild Fergie Eye Shadow Palette, Desert Festival (EWG: 1)

TIP >>> Just because one item you love from a brand is super green and clean, doesn’t mean everything they offer has great ingredients. Check EWG Skin Deep and look at the ingredient lists closely before making any purchase. I’ve had a few heartbreaking moments thinking I could “get away with” not reading the packaging because I’d used the brand before. This leads to … “Huh, why does this smell like chemicals and why is my skin all of a sudden breaking out? (Finally checks ingredients) Oh…” [insert sad face]

What all natural brands/products do you buy at “mainstream” stores?

Best DIY Stain Remover Ever

Whatever your age or situation, stains happen. Whether your common stains are more of the chili and beer variety or butternut squash baby food, you can use this simple formula to save your clothes! Just put this mixture on the stain, let it sit for 30 minutes (or overnight) and then run in the wash like normal. Way safer and in my opinion, way more effective than bleach, a Tide pen or any number of “miracle” stain-removing formulas you can buy at the store.

DIY all-natural stain remover

I’ve been using this for about a year and it’s taken out a number of mysterious stains (and not-so-mysterious … hello huge glass of red wine that spilled all over my shirt!) on lots of different kinds of fabric. If your item is particularly delicate, you may want to test out a small area that’s not very visible just in case.

I don’t know how effective this would be on carpets or furniture as I’ve found running through the wash has been a necessary step. But you could try pouring a small amount on the stain and blotting with a microfiber cloth.

I mix this in a small jar as needed but you can use a bowl, larger jar, etc. I recommend making it as needed versus storing it pre-made, though, since the hydrogen peroxide will turn into water eventually and won’t be effective. I’ve read lots of variations with different ratios but honestly as long as you put in some of each, it’ll work pretty well.

Warm water + basic dish soap + baking soda + hydrogen peroxide

And you’re done! You can just pour it on the stain and be done with it, but I like to rub it in a bit with a soft brush (an old toothbrush would work well) or a washcloth/microfiber cloth.

One way we can live more minimally with only stuff we love and use regularly is to take care of those few items we have! No need to toss something just because it’s been stained! We’ve been amazed at how well this has taken out stains (from who-knows-what) on baby clothes we’ve received as hand me downs. I know that some of the stains had most likely been on those clothes for years, too.