5 Reasons to Start a Meditation Practice NOW!

Let’s talk meditation for a moment. 

Does the very idea of a meditation conversation make you nervous? feel calm? feel heard? or maybe agitated?

Just notice...

Do you have a meditation practice?

It's okay if you don't. 

It's great if you do.

It's perfectly fine to be somewhere in between.

I've written this post for all of you!

5 Reasons to Start a Meditation Practice NOW!

Psychology and neurological research shows that around 20 minutes of meditation daily can drastically improve multiple aspects of our well-being.

20 minutes is an approximation, everybody is different, everyone’s ability to settle into a meditation practice is different and every meditation is different. I like to look at meditation as a muscle, the more you practice, the more flexible you become and the easier it is to dive deep into a meditative state. 

My current meditation routine is segmented to suit my busy lifestyle. I practice a silent/still meditation for ten minutes in the morning. I practice a five-minute intention based (usually with mantra or affirmations) meditation in the afternoon and then I practice a ten-minute reiki meditation at night. This is simply what works for me, right now.

When my kids were younger, my meditation used to literally happen in the shower. It was the only time I had to myself. I would stand beneath the warm water, feel it’s rhythm, invite my breath to grow slow and deep, and there beneath the waves…I mean, shower head, I would find the peace and grounding that gave structure and form to the rest of my day. 

Not into sitting still for several minutes at a time? There are so many different types of meditation. Perhaps you’re drawn towards prayer or gratitude journaling. Maybe a walking or active meditation is more your speed and a nature walk or time at the beach or fishing by a lake is what you need to reset, reboot, and find balance. Into guided meditations? Check out my homepage, I’ve got a few you can practice with!

Don’t have time for meditation? Download your favorite mantra, affirmation, nature sound on whatever music streaming service you use and listen to it, eyes closed, for a few minutes on your morning Subway, Metro or car commute. It all counts! 

However you feel called, during this National Meditation Month, I urge you to experiment, to open yourselves up to the power and beauty of a meditation practice. If not for 20 minutes a day, then 10; if not for 10 minutes a day then 5, or 2 or 1. Any start is the right start! 

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5 REASONS TO START A MEDITATION PRACTICE:

  1. Meditating Reduces Stress- When you meditate, you stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system which helps the body rest, digest, and experience calm. In this state, cortisol (your stress hormone) production ceases and melatonin (your relaxation hormone) is produced. 

  2. Meditating Promotes Mental Clarity and Focus-  Meditation is both relaxing and rejuvenating for the brain which helps to fine tune our cognitive functioning. A calm and steady mind, is also better at endurance and focus. 

  3. Meditating Helps to Relieve Anxiety and Depression- Cortisol feeds anxiety and depression. Meditating is known to subdue cortisol production and increase the production of melatonin, resulting and feelings of calm, peace and contentment. 

  4. Meditating Can Help to Lower Blood Pressure- Meditation calmed the central nervous system, relieves the body of stress and anxiety, all factors that lead to high blood pressure. Through meditation the parasympathetic nerve response is initiated which encourages a reduction in blood pressure rates. 

  5. Meditation Can Help to Relieve Insomnia- Due to the calming effect of meditation (increase in melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone) the body reacts by entering into a state of rest. This restful state helps to encourage a deep and undisturbed sleep. 

So there you have it.

5 Reasons to Start a Meditation Practice NOW!

Baby steps, dear friends. 

Slow and steady wins the race. 

 

 

 

 

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HUMP DAY STRESS BUSTER YOGA POSE- SUPPORTED SPINAL TWIST

Supported Spinal Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)

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Why You Need to Do It:

Have you ever had one of those days when you just need to be held up and supported so you can drift off into your happy place? Well, my friend, this pose is for that sort of day.

Supported Spinal Twist frees the tension and stress from the day from your spine, shoulders and hips. This pose helps to calm the mind and open up the lungs. Supported Spinal Twist is detoxifying and gently energizing as it encourages blood to flow to the organs.

Your thoughts will dissipate into the ether....

 “When there is no mind, you are in yoga; when there is mind you are not in yoga. So you may do all the postures, but if the mind goes on functioning, if you go on thinking, you are not in yoga. Yoga is the state of no-mind. If you can be without the mind without doing any posture, you have become a perfect yogi. It has happened to many without doing any postures, and it has not happened to many who have been doing postures for many lives."-Osho 
 

How to get in to it:

For ultimate benefits, you’ll want to pull some props aside. If you don’t have yoga bolsters, large pillows will do. Bolsters are best though. A bolster, two blocks and two blankets.

I’ll walk you through set-up.

1)       Two blocks on high and medium setting

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2)         Lay your bolster over the blocks creating an incline

3)         Fold a blanket or pillow at top of bolster

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4)         Bring your hips to the base of the bolster and place a blanket between your legs to soften the space between bony ankles and knees

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6)         Set an eye pillow on your shoulders or cover your eyes

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How Long to Hold?

5-7 minutes per side will do. Set your phone alarm to something soothing.

This is a great pose for try after a long and stressful day at work.

So...what do you think?

 

4 Ayurvedic Practices to Enliven your Morning Routine

Sometimes, the secret to balance lies with consistency and routines.

Generally speaking, you either like routines or your don't (we can count on Ayurveda to help explain these personal proclivities). 

Whether you find mornings to be rough, or enjoy rising before the sun, whether you love a good routine tweak or have a hard time following them, here are 4 Ayurvedic practices to enliven your morning routine and set you up for a balanced day. 

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1)         Sip herbal tea, warm water with lemon, or apple cider vinegar upon waking

Sipping a warm beverage blend first thing in the morning stimulates digestion and encourages elimanation. Herbal tea, lemon water and apples cider vinegar are alkaline and detoxifying. The brew flushes the body and provides much needed hydration after a night’s sleep and or before a morning coffee.

2)         Try Oil Pulling (Gandusha)

Tell your mouth wash to move over! Oil pulling is all you need for oral detoxification. Here's how it works, measure a tablespoon of oil and swish it around the mouth for 10-20 minutes. You can  use coconut oil or sesame for best results. Oil puling removes harmful bacterial in the mouth reducing gingivitis, plaque, inflammation and bad breath. Add a drop of tea tree essential oil if you want that minty fresh tingle. 

3)         Use a Tongue Scraper (Jihwa Prakshalana)

According to Ayurveda, the body detoxifies at night while we sleep. Some of these toxins are released onto the surface of the tongue. Using the scraper first thing in the morning helps to remove the toxins so they don’t get reabsorbed into the body.

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4)         Perform an Oil Massage Before Bathing (Abhyanga)

About 30 minutes before your shower, rub yourself down with sesame oil, slip into your bathrobe, enjoy a cup of tea and breakfast, then shower. A little bit goes a long way. The sesame oil massage helps to relieve stress, improves mcirculation, detoxifies the body, reduces wrinkles and blemishes of the skin, and reduces the signs of aging.

There you have it! A few tips to jumpstart an Ayurvedic routine. These are general recommendations that typically work well for all. Keep in mind that the science of Ayurveda is extremely specific and tailored to each individual person. 

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Interested in learning more about Ayurveda, leave a comment below or contact me through this site!

 

Amethyst: The Incredible Healing and Calming Gem

If I had to choose one and only one crystal to have and to hold and be my companion, I would, without a moment of hesitation go with AMETHYST... the Incredible Healing and Calming Gem!

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A rough, deep purple amethyst to be specific.

 

Ever since childhood when I mistakenly identified my birthstone as amethyst, (alas, June is actually Alexandrite…) I’ve been attracted to the radiant purple gem.

 

It’s not a natural choice since purple is not a color I usually vibrate towards. Some people are unabashedly attracted to the color purple,  I’m not one of those people. Green and turquoise have always been my spirit colors. Color preference aside, amethyst is still my soul gem.

 

Maybe it was my natural attraction to healing work, my connection with the moon, the pitta portion of my Ayurvedic constitution in constant need being tamed, but whatever the case, amethyst, it turns out is the perfect gem for yoga instructor, reiki healer, writer, and lover of quiet, me.

 

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Amethyst: The Incredible Healing and Calming Gem

·             Amethyst calms, protects and cleanses the spirit

·             Amethyst is grounding and balancing

·             Amethyst aids in meditation as it correlates directly with and stimulates the crown chakra and is known to heighten spiritual and psychic awareness

·             Amethyst eases anxiety, emotional imbalance and agitation

·             Amethyst helps to bring about clarity of thought

·             Amethyst is known to emit energy to help strengthen the adrenal glands, the reproductive organs and the respiratory system

·             Amethyst boosts the immune system

·             Amethyst helps with grief and loss

·             Amethyst is known to energize and foster creativity

·             Amethyst has been used to attract abundance and prosperity

·             Amethyst is a heart opener

·             Amethyst helps to free anger and repressed emotions

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I use amethyst jewelry when I’m engaged in healing work, I sleep with an amethyst next to my bed, there’s an amethyst at my yoga altar, I place amethyst around my plants and there’s an amethyst stone at my writing desk.

 

I adore my soul stone and choose amethyst, when it comes down to it, above all others.

What's your favorite stone and why?

Cooling Spring/Summer Green Clay Mask

DIY Cooling Spring/Summer Green Clay Mask

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It's spring! The days are getting longer, the weather is warming and the sun is shinning. This is all great news, but the change in season can wreak havoc  on your skin.

In the spring when the sun shines a bit longer and a bit brighter, the skin can get warm, very warm, it can even feel uncomfortably hot. If you have an understanding of Ayurveda, and you're Pitta in constitution, you're probably saying amen right about now. 

No matter what the proclivities of your skin or your Ayurvedic constitution, you're most likely in need of something cooling and calming.

This cooling spring/summer green clay mask, with it's power to refresh and rejuvenate may just the answer. This is an excellent mask to apply mid-day to cool and clean a hot and sweaty face. Gentle and deeply moisturizing, even the most sensitive skin responds well.  

Cooling Spring/Summer Green Clay Mask Ingredients:

1 tablespoon French Green Clay Powder

1 tablespoon Rosewater

1 tablespoon coconut oil (softened to room temperature) 

1 tablespoon Greek Yogurt (full fat, plain) 

5 drops Rose Essential Oil

1 teaspoon Vegetable Glycerin  

Here's What to Do:

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In a small bowl or dish, measure out your green clay powder and yogurt. Mix with a spoon until smooth then add the softened coconut oil. Mix until smooth then add the rose water, vegetable glycerin and essential oil.

Mix until a uniform paste like consistency is achieved. 

Cool and store in the refrigerator. 

Benefits: 

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cools skin

reduces inflammation  

detoxifies skin and removes impurities  

moisturizing

softening

calms sun burn

tightens pores

reduces and calms Pitta

Directions for use:

Keep cool in refrigerator and apply cold to skin. Smooth over your face in gentle circles using your fingertips. Avoid direct contact with your eyes, nostrils, and mouth.

It's ideal to leave the mask on for ten minutes before rinsing and wiping away with a warm washcloth.  

Even your little ones can enjoy this natural, non-toxic, cooling mask after coming inside after a long day of play. 

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Enjoy the sunshine. Enjoy the glorious warmth and light!

How does your skin regimen change in the warmer months?

How to Sprout and Plant Sweet Potato Vines: Experiments As A Kitchen Counter Sweet Potato Farmer

It's funny, I left a tiny two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn to live in a farm house in the country set on four acres of land and I still do the majority of my gardening on my countertops and window sills, just as I did in Brooklyn. Then, if I wanted to use my outdoor space, I'd lift the kitchen screen and set a pot on my rickety fire escape. Home to my many green treasures and mason jar experiments.

Old habits die hard. One day I'll plant row upon row of bountiful veggies and fruits. One day, I'll put in the work to weed and harvest en masse. But for now, I'm content to be a kitchen counter farmer and my latest joy has been creating and replanting sweet potato slips.

I am a huge sweet potato fan. Loaded with vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, manganese, copper, potassium, fiber, niacin and phosphorus, they are a healthy, clean eating staple.

You can never have enough sweet potatoes! Every inch can be used. The leaves make delicious salads and steamed greens and the potatoes, where do I begin....pies, breads, cakes, cookies, custards, loaded baked, mashed, fries, hash browns, bisque, and on and on and on.....

Since there are so many uses for sweet potatoes, I like to keep them on hand and one of the easiest ways to ensure sweet potato abundance is to sprout and plant the vines yourself. 

It is so easy! All you need to do is follow these simple steps and you too, can call yourself a kitchen counter sweet potato farmer!

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1)  Submerge half of your sweet potato in water and wait for it to bud and sprout. This is so easy and may take a few weeks, so be patient. It's best to use organic sweet potatoes here because they're not treated with preservatives and chemicals, which make it difficult to illicit new growth. 

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2) Keep your water levels stable. Once you see sprouts and then notice the slips growing, wait until they're about five inches tall before gently removing them from the sweet potato.

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3) Submerge the base of your slips into water and wait for roots to sprout. Some of the slips that you pull from your sweet potato will have roots attached, well done, those can go directly into soil. 

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4) Plant your slips and wait for your vines to flourish. Keep in mind, that sweet potatoes are vines and the vines grow quickly. To help control things, I like to prop some of my vines against stakes. 

5) Set your vines in a sunny window and watch them flourish. Harvest your leaves often and add to salads, soups, pestos or sauté like you would spinach. 

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6) In due time, your sweet potato will grow at the bottom of your pot. If you plant directly in the earth, you'll get larger potatoes. 

 

DIY Daily Conditioner

For years now I've been making my own moisturizing shampoo yet for some reason, when it came to conditioner, I've been quick to go to the store. 

My hair is thick with a combination of spiral curls, coils and waves. It takes a lot and I mean a lot of moisture to keep me from looking like I'm sporting a scraggly lion's mane. Conditioner is not something to be taken lightly. 

About three months back, an Ayurvedic client of mine with a similar hair type requested a DIY daily conditioner.  I had a ton of recipes for a variety of hair types but nothing that I could stand behind to address the unique needs of thick, curly hair. 

So I went into mad scientist experiment mode. I tested formulas on my kids and on myself, I added this and I added that, and I came up with a DIY daily conditioner blend I can stand behind.

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First, can we talk about the smell? Your hair will smell divine. The lavander is so fragrantly floral and blends perfectly with the earthy sweetness of myrrh.

Second, did I mention all day moisture of not only your hair root to end, but of your scalp as well. Castor, coconut, and olive oils combined with the essential oil myrrh, pack a powerful moisturizing punch. If you have curls, they will spring into shape. The castor seals your coils like a serum.

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Finally, you can whip up a batch in minutes. I prep mine the day before and store in a 2 oz glass jar.

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You can make single batches or double up. If you're going to double up, I recommend adding a few drops of Vitamin E oil as a preservative. 

Here's what you'll need:

3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon castor oil

10 drops essential oil of myrrh

5 drops essential oil of lavender 

Here's what to do:

I combine my ingredients directly in my storage container. If your coconut oil is hard, soften it by running the jar under warm water so that your items blend easily and evenly. 

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I mix with a small whisk and ta-da!

It's so easy!

A few things to consider:

 One batch is usually enough for my hair (shoulder length thick and wavy) and  both of my son's hair (in pictures). This means that I whip up a quick batch daily before each use. You can make a big batch if that suits your lifestyle better, but if you're planning to keep the conditioner longer than a week, I'd add a few drops of vitamin E oil to serve as a preservative. 

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Also, this recipe is for daily conditioning. Even though it's moisturizing, it's relatively light. Once a week, I do a deep conditioner using the same foundational recipe only adding 1/2 cup of melted shea butter. For deep conditioning, I leave in my hair for 15 minutes before rinsing, for regular daily conditioning, I leave the basic recipe (without shea butter) in for 2-5 minutes.

Questions? Don't hesitate to reach out! You may also like my DIY Shampoo recipe. 

Hump Day Stress Buster Yoga Pose- Legs Up the Wall

Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

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Why You Need to Do It:

Because we live in stressful times my friend!

Legs up the wall, is one of the most calming restorative yoga poses out there. Are you ready for these benefits? Legs up the wall balances the nervous system, increases circulation, increases blood flow, cleanses the lymph nodes, aids in digestion, reduces stress, lowers the blood pressure, quiets the mind, relieves water retention, refreshes the internal organs and helps to calm anxiety. Long story short, this heart and hip opening yoga pose is AMAZING!

How to get in to it:

This pose can be practiced with no, minimal, or (for a super duper luxurious treat) many props. 

You might want to have the following items (props) on hand:

eye pillow

sand bag hand weights

bolster

strap

blankets

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If you're using props, your setup might look something like this. Props are optional, so you can use one or all of these. Place a bolster towards the base of your yoga mat, about an inch from the wall. Over your bolster, place a folded blanket. Fold another blanket and set it on your mat perpendicular to the bolster. Your setup should make the shape of the letter T. Place a yoga strap around the middle of your thighs.

Now to get into the pose....

Sit at the edge of your bolster bringing your shoulder and hip against the wall. Lower down to your elbows and fan your legs upwards. Your spine will run the length of the blanket. You may have to shimmy forwards a bit until you can feel the wall against your sits bones and the backs of your legs and heels. 

Allow your head to soften into the mat beneath you. Hold your arms out to the side, letting your hands grow heavy as you release your shoulder blades. 

To add finishing touches with the props, bend your legs and place a folded blanket on top of your feet to ground your hips. Use weighted sand bags in each hand for grounding and then set an eye pillow over your eyes to cancel out light. 

Let your blissful journey begin!

How Long to Hold?: 

If you are new to this pose, five minutes is a good place to start. The more you practice Legs Up the Wall, the more comfortable it will become. For those used to the pose 10-15 minutes is ideal. 

This is an excellent before bed pose. You also might try this after getting home from work before you settle into your life at home. 

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10 minutes of Legs Up the Wall a day will help keep the doctor away...

Is Legs Up the Wall pose a part of your yoga routine? Let me know how you feel about it in the comments below. 

For more on Restorative Yoga, check out Reclining Bound Angle Pose and 5 Restorative Yoga Poses for Relaxation!

 

Hump Day Stress Buster Yoga Pose - Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Hump Day, Stress Buster, Yoga Pose... is a new series I'm starting on the blog. It's a call to calm the mind and harness peace at the apex of the weekday madness. 

Every Wednesday, I'll feature, and discuss a restorative yoga pose. These are all poses that can be done safely and simply from the comfort of your home. 

Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions.                                   

Today's Featured Pose: Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Buddha Konasana)

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Why You Need to Do It:

Reclining bound angle pose is deeply grounding. This pose opens tight hips, a place where we tend to store a lot of emotions and tension. This pose is also heart opening and relaxes the shoulders. Reclining bound angle pose eases stress and anxiety as well and is an excellent before bedtime pose. 

How to get in to it:

Bring the soles of your feet together as your knees release towards the floor or mat. Your legs will make a diamond shape. If you have a bolster, (or you can use a pillow as well) place it behind you so the base of the bolster is brushing against your sacrum. You may want to place blocks beneath your knees, or books if you don’t have blocks.

How Long to Hold? :

Recline for 5-10 minutes for maximum benefits. Close your eyes, quiet your mind and take deep soothing breaths. 

Are you a visual learner? Check out the video above! Happy reclining :)

5 Restorative Yoga Poses for Relaxation!

When I first began my yoga journey, I fell in love with the rhythm and athleticism of Ashtanga yoga. I loved the challenge, I loved the sweat, I loved the repetition of sequencing. 

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Today, I'm not an Ashtanga enthusiast. 

Something opened inside me when I found Vinyasa yoga. The fluidity, the breath centered dance. I reveled in the smooth movement, I learned to love the unpredictable sequencing of each class. In the moment. I was totally in the moment. 

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Today, I still adore Vinyasa yoga, but.....

Restorative yoga has my heart! Restorative yoga more than any other type has provided me with both an anchor and wings. It has allowed me the precious time to journey deep inside (never underestimate the power of meditation...especially if you're a mom of toddlers and are doing for others every second of every day not blocked out for yoga), the courage to tell my thoughts to be still and the strength to surrender. 

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So....where does the title, 5 Restorative Yoga Poses for Relaxation fit into this billowy wave of yogic nostalgia?

I'm getting there...

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece for the website Sivana Spirit- 5 Restorative Yoga Poses for Relaxation.

Honestly, I can think of no better form of yoga to turn to in times of stress, anxiety, depression or panic. 

You can check out the piece I wrote here.

In it, I carefully outlined my favorite, go-to..."I've had a bad day and I need a remedy asap (that doesn't involve wine... yet)" poses. 

I hope these 5 Restorative Yoga Poses for Relaxation bring you as much peace and grounding as they've brought me!

Blessings!

DIY All Natural Deodorant

I have spent a lot of time over the past few years trying, testing and developing DIY all natural deodorant recipes using organic, natural and botanical ingredients. 

I can finally say that I've found my favorite!

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My latest iteration is floral and calming, elementally drawing upon earth, air and ether. 

This DIY all natural deodorant is an essential oil blend that can be applied directly to your underarms. 

Most importantly, it works!

As in... ALL DAY!

This might be a good time to remind you that I'm a yoga teacher. I literally spend my entire day engaged in movement, and it works for me!

Not only does this blend keep your underarms fresh, it smells absolutely LOVELY! 

Lovely in a grounded, unisex, earthy way. Not earthy musk, as in patchouli, but soft light earth as in frankincense with astringent/floral notes. 

It's worth a try!

This blend will not irritate your underarms in the way that some natural baking soda/corn starch based deodorants might. 

The blend of essential oils is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti fungal. Your stinky underarm bacteria doesn't stand a chance with this new DIY all natural deodorant recipe. 

Here's what you'll need:

fractionated coconut oil 

vegetable glycerine

lavender essential oil

ylang ylang essential oil

tea tree essential oil

white thyme essential oil

rose essential oil

frankincense essential oil

The amount of each ingredient is dependent upon the size of your jar, so you can reference this diagram to help determine the proper ratio. 

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*Roll on bottles and bottles with droppers work best. 

**Note, this deodorant blend is in no way an antiperspirant. You will still sweat. 

***Reapply as often as you like. If using a roller, roll onto clean hands and then press onto underarms. If using a dropper, drop the liquid on your fingertips or directly onto your underarms. 

So...what do you think?????

 

September Love Affair!

I have a confession. This post was originally designed to read- August Love Affair. 

Just when I was about to post this, my youngest broke his foot and it was off to Urgent Care for us. The next day, we went on vacation then I held some Reiki trainings and this poor little post got pushed back, back, back ...life...life...life!

I'm channeling my many arms of Kali and juggling my many hats and I'm excited to share last month's- ahem...this month's lineup.

There's a lot to love about this month's Love Affair lineup!

From tasty treats to nurturing adaptogenic blends and whimsical side notes, each featured product has made me stop and enjoy the moment this summer. And since summer is on it's way out, September  is the perfect time to remind ourselves to stop and savor the moment because before we know it, the winter frost will be here. 

September Love Affair!

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1) Dream Dust by: Moon Juice

The perfect concoction to help quiet a busy mind and gently lull you to sleep, Dream Dust is an adaptogenic blend of herbs designed to help you relax and unwind at the end of a busy day.  Working while you sleep to heal and enhance your brain body, sleep and heart. Full of bioactive minerals, Dream Dust will help to restore mind/body/spirit balance, one sip at a time. 

Dream Dust is a powder that can be added to warm milk, tea, yogurt, ice cream, you name it! 

2) Gulsuyu- Turkish Rose Water by: Ian Tarim

This Turkish rose water is so fun to play around with. It instantly makes every dish and drink fancy. I spent the summer adding it to my baking batters, iced teas and coffees and I even put a few drops in a spray bottle that I kept in my refrigerator for a cool and aromatic mist. 

Note, I added rose water to pound cake batter, two months later, people are still talking about it!

3) Zenbunni- Cacao de Alchemica by: Zenbunni

Possibly the best chocolate bar out there. Zenbunni chocolate makes desert a guilt free must. Made with pure organic biodynamic phycocyanin infused salt and maple crystals and rich 70% cacao, the result is a balanced and almost smoky rich chocolate bar. Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free and Free of refined sugars, each petite bar is a delightful delicacy. 

Have you tried any of these products before? If so, what did you think? 

5 Benefits of Reiki

 Photo by Jusna Perrin Photography

Photo by Jusna Perrin Photography

It was early autumn in the year 2000. I was happy-go-lucky and attracting, as a result, pure joy. Felicity was my favorite tv show and I had my sights set on grad school at NYU. Bye, bye, Western New York and hello city! A Drama major, I had just scored the role of Calphurnia in the school production of Julius Ceasar. To add to my good fortune, during rehearsals for Julius Ceasar, I was offered a "paid" role as a member of a professional theatre company in Buffalo. It was a dream come true. Amplifying my bliss, was the fact that I was head over heels in love in a blindly smitten first love kind of way. 

The universe was open to me. Everything seemed to be coming into fruition. I was glowing! 

On a rainy afternoon, I made my way to downtown Buffalo for rehearsal. I surprised myself and  found street parking right away on the Elmwood strip and reveling in my good fortune, decided to duck into some shops since I time to kill before rehearsal.

I sat my umbrella by the door and made my way towards the rows of books. I found a section of books about herbs. I flipped through some and ran my fingers along the spines, speed reading the titles. My finger stopped randomly at one book. 

The spine simply said Reiki. I had no idea what Reiki was, but I pulled the book from the shelf, smiled at the beautiful floral water color flowers that decorated the cover and after ten minutes or so of flipping through the pages, decided I couldn't live without it and purchased it. This was my unlikely introduction to Reiki. 

Reiki found me.

I held onto the book, referencing the pages on occasion. From time to time, I'd take the book out and show my roommates and friends. They regarded it as odd, changed the topic and life went on. 

Five years later, after graduating from NYU, I was living in New York City. Walking from a friends house in Queens to the Manhattan bound N, I came across a flyer advertising a Reiki training. Two months later, I saw my first client. 

Just as Reiki had found me five years earlier, I had now found Reiki. 

I sent Reiki to my plants, my cat Martha, I worked on myself and my roommates and friends. 

Seven years after my first two trainings, I found myself in Osaka, Japan training to be a Reiki Master. Reiki was inextricably a part of me. 

I had joyously discovered a healing practice that made me glow and feel strong. With Reiki I tingled with excitement and found the calm and quiet I needed to fuel my creativity. I lived in a city that was go...go...go...., yet I felt recharged and energized.

But why? As I started to work with a variety of clients, the same questions came my way. Why Reiki? People would ask, why not massage or acupuncture or something more tangible? 

5 Benefits of Reiki

It's hard to describe the intense radiant love and warmth that overcomes the soul during a Reiki treatment. It's hard to quantify the pleasant electric tingles that radiate down the spine or the soft swirling sensations beneath the palms of one's hands and feet. 

Luckily, science has intervened. Reiki has been studied and its efficacy proven.

Recently, I wrote an article for the website Savana Spirit concisely outlining my answer to the Why Reiki question.

From a girl who didn't know why when she stumbled upon this most healing and transformative art, here are 5 scientifically proven benefits of Reiki.

Want to give Reiki a try? Let's work together!

 

High Protein Overnight Oats

My mornings, despite my best efforts, are ALWAYS hectic. Between my toddlers, my dog and trying to squeeze in a quick yoga/meditation practice and or writing session before getting everyone walked, dressed, lunches/backpacks prepared and out the door by 7am, mornings are a flurry of activity. 

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Feeding myself and my kiddos is honestly the most difficult part of this equation. Breakfast is so important, especially for the little ones, but squeezing it all in is tricky. So many of the easy grab and go breakfasts out there are super processed and full of sugars and additives. I'm not interested in fueling my body that way. 

I've been on a clean eating kick lately, and this easy recipe for high protein overnight oats has been a life saver!

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I prepare my oats directly in a mason jar and take them with me before I head out the door. Preparation couldn't be easier and the ingredients of the oats mixture are protein rich, leaving me sated and satisfied. 

Best of all, my toddlers gobble the overnight oats up, which, considering that it's all natural and organic, is a WIN!!!

I'm still having trouble convincing my husband to jump on the overnight oats bandwagon. But I'm working on him....working....

Here's the recipe for the high protein overnight oats:

1/2 cup oats 

3/4 cups almond milk

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon raw honey (or grade B maple syrup)

1 teaspoon almond butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*You can add goodies to this mix as well. E.g. berries, nuts, granola, chocolate chips......go wild!

**I use organic ingredients when I prepare my high protein overnight oats. 

Here's what to do:

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Put your ingredients in a mason jar or mug in whatever order you wish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

That's it!

In the morning, grab and go! 

Seriously, that's it!

Before you indulge, give your oats a good stir to combine all of the ingredients. You can eat it as it is, at room temperature, or pop your jar/mug in the microwave for warm oats. 

Easy high protein overnight oats - a life saver!!!!!

Easy DIY Household Cleaner!

I have two toddlers and a dog. I clean all the time! I'm an incurable neat freak. They bring the mess and I run after them with my spray bottle and cloth and wipe it all away.

But because I've got two kids and a dog and I care about their health and mine, I prefer to make my own DIY household cleaner instead of using store-bought chemical cleaners.

Yes, you can buy wonderful organic non-toxic household cleaners, but making your own is so incredibly easy and it's much cheaper.

I add my ingredients for my DIY household cleaner directly in the spray bottle. Currently, I'm recycling a 32-ounce spray bottle that used to hold non-toxic all-purpose cleaner. Really, any bottle will do — just keep in mind that if you're using an old Lysol bottle or some similar chemical brand, you should make sure to give your bottle a solid cleaning before use.

Smaller spray bottles will also do just fine, but note, you will need to modify the amount of essential oil used as this recipe is based on a 32-ounce container.

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Easy, Green, DIY Household Cleaner!

Ingredients:

Water

Apple Cider Vinegar

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap

Baking Soda

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Grapefruit Essential Oil

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

 

Directions:

Fill the body of your bottle halfway with water and halfway with apple cider vinegar.

If your bottle doesn't have a defined neck, then you'll need to leave some space in the body of the bottle.

Next, fill the neck 3/4 of the way with Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Liquid Soap, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 20 drops of tea tree essential oil, 20 drops of grapefruit seed essential oil and 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.

Give your bottle a firm swirl before you spray. This is safe to use on counter tops, tabletop surfaces and high chair trays where food might touch.

The tea tree essential oil and apple cider vinegar are antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-fungal.  Eucalyptus essential oil is antiseptic and antibacterial and the grapefruit seed essential oil is a natural disinfectant. This concoction keeps mildew and mold at bay and it smells like fresh sunshine (yes, that's a scent!).

This blend works on mirrors and tiles, and even cleans your floor and the toilet bowl! It's like a magic wand — bibbity bobbity clean!

Ants also HATE the smell of this blend, so break this out in the springtime and watch them march right on out of your house!

Happy Cleaning!

June Love Affair!

Love Affair is a little blog series that I'm experimenting with and am super excited to introduce. In a perfect world, these posts will manifest on the first of every month. In reality, as I'm a mom of two toddlers and run my own business, life...well, you know the saying.

Each month I'm going to share three products/items that I absolutely can't live without. And no, I'm not getting compensated for promoting any of these products (unless explicitly stated). I'm simply sharing products that I use and love. Working in the wellness industry, I'm often asked these sorts of lifestyle questions, so this is a great platform for me to organize my mommy brain and share my love affairs.

So here we go!

June Love Affair!

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1) Marble and Milkweed Rose, Cardamom and Sandalwood Botanical Fragrance:

Can you say yummy! This is definitely NOT your grandmother's rose perfume. While the charming and endearing, heart opening element of rose is abundant, so too are absolutely sumptuous and otherworldly sandalwood notes. The two scents play off of each other and are grounded perfectly by vibrant, peppery cardamom undertones. You know I don't do chemicals, and what I love about this company, as stated on their site, is the fact that all Marble and Milkweed scents are made entirely from precious natural botanical oils, resins, concretes and absolutes. No synthetics are used- ever! Oh, and the fragrance sticks to you all day long- JOY!

2) Pacifica Kale Juice Cleanse Mask:

A few months back, I took a good look in the mirror and decided I needed to do something about my tired mom of two face. Sometimes coconut oil (my go to) just doesn't fully cut it. I was so relieved when I found this super gentle AHA mask. It makes my skin so soft. I use nightly after washing my face with coconut oil. The AHA's are naturally derived from papaya enzymes and all ingredients are 100% vegan, cruelty free, paraben free, formaldeyde free and sulfate free. The result, healthy, happy, glowing skin. 

3) Veriditas By Pranarom Women's Deodorant:

I swear by this deodorant! I'm a yoga teacher, I move all day long and I have never been stinky or felt weary of raising my arms with confidence. The deodorant is made from pure essential oils and nothing else! Nothing.... The essential oil blends smell blissful. Just to be clear, the men's deodorant is awesome as well. The women's scent is floral while the men's scent is woodsy. It's like wearing perfume. Every time you move, a lovely burst of fragrance wafts upwards. Veriditas deodorants are non irritating, easy to apply (they come in roll on tubes) and a little goes a long way. Love, love, love....

See, this series is so easy and breezy ,) I'll be back with more in July!

Have you tried any of these products? Anything tickle your fancy?

 

Restorative Yoga

You’re lying on your back atop an ocean of blankets and bolsters. The room is quiet, the lights dim. So in tune are you with your internal rhythm that you can perceive the sound and feel of your heartbeat. You draw air in through your nose. Your inhale cools you as air floods into your lungs. You feel taller, more open. When the exhale finally comes, it’s warm, your face softens as you release any lingering tension from your body. Down into the blankets and bolster, into the mat and through the earth your tension dissipates — away. This is a taste of restorative yoga.


Restorative yoga is an invitation to slow down, retreat inwards and silence the chatter. In a culture where the ongoing mantra is a flood of “do, do, do — achieve, achieve, achieve — be better, better, better...” an invitation to quiet the mind, step outside of that headspace and into the body and realm of the breath is not only relaxing but life altering.

"The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear." - Rumi


It just may be that one of the keys to finding balance in the modern world lies in a consistent restorative yoga practice. 75 million American adults are currently living with hypertension — that is one out of every three people. 3.3 million American adults currently live with an anxiety disorder. 60 million American adults are affected by insomnia. 100 million American adults live with some form of chronic pain. Restorative yoga, with its emphasis on balance through the practice of connecting with the breath and quieting the mind, may be just the prescription we need.


Meditative and slow, Restorative Yoga draws upon the yogic limb of pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses, offering practitioners the opportunity to quiet the mind and cultivate peace. Integral to the practice of Restorative Yoga is mindfulness and meditation. To aid in this holistic process, Restorative Yoga calls upon the use of abundant props such as straps, blankets, bolsters and blocks which help the practitioner manipulate their body into a state of relaxation, which in turn helps to release tension, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and encourages the mind to be still. Unique to the practice, restorative poses are held for upwards of ten minutes. During this time, practitioners can be guided through a meditation, they can engage in pranayama and connect with their breath, or perhaps perfect stillness where the practitioner is invited to enter into a sleep-like state.


Research is beginning to point to yoga, Restorative Yoga in particular, as one of the best natural ways to combat stress-related illnesses and disorders. According to the Harvard Health Publications, over 55% of people who practice yoga on a consistent basis, conclude that it helps them get a better night’s sleep. Science supports this claim. The baroreflex, a reflex associated with blood pressure is activated during reclining and inverted positions (common to Restorative Yoga) and this activation promotes sleep and reduces stress hormones.

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 High Blood Pressure, dubbed “the silent killer”, is a particularly insidious condition affecting approximately 1 out of every 3 adults. A regular Restorative Yoga practice has the potential to greatly reduce your risk of high blood pressure. The science behind this is clear. With high blood pressure, the pressure of the blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels is extremely strong, causing the heart to have to work much harder in order to pump blood effectively through the body. In time, this can lead to hardening of the arteries, heart failure, strokes and heart attacks. Luckily, Restorative Yoga is particularly effective in reducing the diastolic number.

Blood pressure is gauged by reading the systolic over the diastolic. The diastolic number, which should be no greater than 80, is the most important number when it comes to a blood pressure reading. The reason Restorative Yoga is so beneficial to those suffering from High Blood Pressure has to do with the fact that stress is a major trigger when it comes to High Blood Pressure and slow, breath-centered Restorative Yoga helps with this. When practicing Restorative Yoga, the heart is not put under stress, the body's requirement for blood and oxygen decreases and the muscles soften and relax, activating the parasympathetic nervous system which stabilizes the autonomic (fight or flight) nervous system.

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In addition to counteracting stressful conditions, Restorative Yoga is detoxifying and cleansing, having a profound impact on the lymphatic system, due to pranayama practices. Deep, mindful breathing helps to better circulate helpful fluids through the body, encouraging bad fluids and toxins to become eliminated waste. In particular, poses that invert the legs, such as ‘legs up against the wall pose’ allow gravity to act naturally on the lymphatic system, the system in the body responsible for the filtration of toxins and circulation of antibodies.


Research shows that Restorative Yoga has the ability to lessen the severity of mood disorders and depression. The science behind this being that Restorative Yoga poses stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes the heart rate to slow, dilating blood vessels, which leads to an increase in digestive and glandular secretions which in turn, calm the muscles. A body in such a relaxed state is less likely to suffer from stress-related and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

"Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice; to make us teachable; to open up our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are."- Rolf Gates


Due to their deeply therapeutic and calming effects, restorative yoga poses just might be the antidote for many of our modern western ailments. As outlined above, a regular restorative practice can help lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety and depression, assist with the management of chronic pain, and ease insomnia. It can also relax back and nerve pain, assist with flexibility, lessen the severity of arthritis, boost the immune system which has the potential to ward off a host of ailments from the common cold to cancer. Restorative yoga, rooted in the tenets of ancient yogic wisdom, is an often overlooked and arguably life-saving remedy.

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In gyms and studios, people are often attracted to the classes that promise the most sweat and the highest calorie burn, but what restorative yoga lacks in the calorie-burning department it makes up for in the department of therapeutic benefits. With yoga in the west shifting from its original roots in mindfulness towards an athletic trend and fitness phenomenon, restorative yoga holds at its heart the ultimate purpose and goal of yoga — samadhi, or union with the divine. Through deep introspection, connecting with the breath and quieting the mind, the practitioner of restorative yoga is able to transcend physical space, transforming, balancing, and relaxing their way to awakening the divine within.

Ready to give Restorative Yoga a try? Check out my virtual 1-on-1 restorative yoga private lessons!

 

 

so·journ - a temporary stay

Namaste Lovelies!

You are invited to sojourn with me through the pages of this blog - my virtual home where you'll find travel inspiration, balanced nutrition advice, organic and natural recipes for nourishing and beautifying your body and calming yoga and wellness tips.

Ignite your wanderlust, connect with and ignite your inner light!

Sojourn as long as you'd like!

 

 

7 Fantastic Lip Scrub Recipes for Soft Lips

7 Fantastic Lip Scrub Recipes for Soft Lips

I'm excited to feature this guest post from Sarah Smith, editor of the site- FixYourSkin.com.

 

We all know that many over the counter beauty products contain harmful chemicals. Making your own skin care products is the best way to keep toxins out. If you ever get dry or peeling lips, homemade lip scrubs are the answer.

You may already be using a scrub for your body, but lips are a sensitive area, that are often neglected. As the skin on your lips is thinner, they tend to get drier much faster than other parts of your body. Using a gentle exfoliant is the best way to slough off any dead skin cells to uncover soft lips. A lip scrub exfoliates lips while at the same time locking in moisture.

You may feel that DIY recipes require effort and time, which you don’t have a lot of. But the recipes mentioned below are well worth the effort and take hardly any time to put together.

1. Honey and Almond Lip Scrub

This nourishing scrub will leave your lips super soft. Almond flour is rich in vitamin E, selenium, and antioxidants. vitamin E is an essential nutrient that protects skin from free radical damage. For more information on vitamins and their benefits, check out this infographic.

14 Potent Vitamins for Younger and Healthier Skin

Hello, World!

 

Almond flour also has an abrasive texture to scrub away flaky skin, while the monounsaturated fat present keeps skin moisturized. Brown sugar adds extra exfoliation and honey is a natural humectant which attracts and retains moisture. Olive oil will leave skin moisturized.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Brown sugar

½ tablespoon Almond flour

1 tablespoon Honey

½ tablespoon Olive oil

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together until a paste is formed. Apply this on lips and scrub gently for a few minutes. You can leave this on the lips for a few additional minutes if time allows. Wash off with lukewarm water. You can store any remaining scrub in a small jar.

2. Mint Lip Scrub

This mint scrub is made using a variation of the recipe mentioned above. The inclusion of Peppermint oil gives it an invigorating smell. This also gives a cooling sensation and has a calming effect on the body.

Ingredients

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon olive oil

1-2 drops of peppermint oil

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl to form a coarse paste. Apply this minty scrub on the lips and scrub gently. Let it sit for 5 minutes before washing off. Follow up with a lip balm to leave lips soft and tingly.

3. Chocolate Lip Scrub Mask

This DIY Chocolate Lip Scrub is customizable and super easy to make. Apart from the delicious smell, it is also extremely nourishing.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 small drizzle of honey

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together to form a gritty paste. You can add more cocoa powder or olive oil to get the right consistency. To apply, take a bit of the scrub and massage it on your lips for a few minutes. This can also be left on as a mask to get the most of its nourishing benefits. Rinse off with warm water and apply a light coating of lip balm. This scrub can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

4. Ginger and Cinnamon Lip Scrub

Ginger is high in antioxidants and protects skin. It also improves elasticity and evens skin tone. Cinnamon stimulates blood vessels and plumps up lips.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together until they form an even mixture. To use, rub a small amount on clean lips and massage gently. Rinse off with warm water.

5. Coconut & Honey Lip Scrub.

This lip treatment packs a moisturizing punch while at the same time getting rid of skin cells. It is also easy to make so you can get soft, supple lips at home.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

1 tablespoon Honey

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

Instructions

Mix the coconut oil and honey together. Add in the sugar and mix to form a granular paste. Rub this mixture on your lips in a circular motion and rinse off with warm water.

6. Orange and Vanilla Lip Scrub

This is a revitalizing scrub that is made with orange essential oil, vanilla beans, refined sugar, and coconut oil. Orange essential oil is an antiseptic and has anti-inflammatory properties. Vanilla can help soothe skin and coconut oil moisturizes.

Ingredients

2 whole Vanilla Beans

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon Coconut Oil

2 drops Orange Essential Oil

Instructions

Slit the vanilla beans and scrape out the pulp. Mix this in with the sugar and coconut oil to form the scrub base. Add in the orange essential oil. You can also add some orange zest to heighten the fragrance. Apply this mixture on your lips, scrub gently and wash off.

7. Raspberry Lemonade Sugar Scrub

This lip scrub has a refreshing scent and helps scrub away dead skin cells. Lemon essential oil has antibacterial properties and lightens pigmentation. Coconut oil helps Fix Your Skin and leaves it soft and moisturized.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Coconut oil

1 tablespoon Table Sugar (Brown Sugar can be used as well, but this may alter the color and scent slightly)

2 drops Raspberry extract

2-3 drops Lemon essential oil

Instructions

Place the coconut oil in a bowl with the sugar and stir to combine. Add the raspberry extract and the lemon essential oil. Mix to form an abrasive paste. Apply this on the lips and massage gently. Wash off with warm water and follow up with a moisturizing lip balm. Store any remaining scrub in an air-tight jar.

Conclusion

You don’t need to buy pricey lip products to exfoliate your lips. These homemade scrubs can give you soft, smooth lips at a fraction of the price. They are also completely natural, so you can avoid putting harmful chemicals on your lips. The lip scrub recipes mentioned in this article are extremely effective. Using a lip scrub 2-3 times a week is recommended, as over-exfoliation can strip your lips of their natural moisture. It is most effective to exfoliate your lips at bedtime and follow up with a lip balm so that your skin can renew itself overnight. For more skincare and makeup tips such as choosing the best foundations for acne prone skin (2016's top 10), check out Fix Your Skin.