Five Tips to Help You Pack When Traveling

Summer time means travel for many, and with airline baggage fees being through the roof, plus stringent TSA regulations, your packing game needs to be on point.  Here are some tips that can help.

  1. Know The Rules

Any liquids must be in a resealable container that is 3.4 ounces or less and all containers must fit in one clear, plastic, resealable 1-quart-sized bag. You will need to take this bag out of your carry-on luggage when passing through airport security.  So either be super-efficient about packing all of your toiletries into one bag, or pay the fee and check a bag.

  1. Get Creative

Many products can do double duty.  For example, our Cosmopolitan Eye Shadow Palette can also serve as a highlighter (Angelic), blush (PS Pink) and contour (Kashmir).  So you’ve really got four products in one small palette.

  1. Sample or Travel Size

Sure our sample sizes are great for trying new shades on your skin, but they also make perfect travel companions.  Five shades of eye shadow would take up quite a bit of room in your makeup bag.  But you can pack lots of our little samples into a very small space, and not have to limit your color options.  Also, our soap samples are perfect for those overnight stays where you don’t know what (if any) amenities will be available.  And they’re great to take on camping trips.

  1. Gift Sets Do Double Duty

Our gift sets are a great value but they are also perfect for packing.  Why pack that 8 oz bottle of our Alcohol Free Hair Spray when the 2 oz size in our Happy Hair Gift Set takes up less space?

  1. Be Smart About Size

Our shipping manager Karla got a nasty sunburn last year, and the only thing that soothed it was our Facial Toner.  And personally, I can’t live without our Herbal Aftershave which I use to clean cuts and scrapes and any other malady I inevitably encounter while traveling.  But why make room for bulky bottles, when you can use this trick instead:  fill a small snack baggie with 10 cotton balls, and then pour in enough aftershave or toner to wet the cotton.  Seal up the baggie and you’ve got a little first aid kit to go.

Have a favorite travel/packing tip?  Share it with us!


Buying Gifts Stresses Me Out

It’s that time of year – the ‘gift season’.  Religion seems like an after thought when so much emphasis is placed on what the holidays are supposed to be like.  Who is cooking dinner?  Has the house been decorated to the nines?  And most importantly, what are you going to buy Uncle Leo?

It really is tough, though I’m sure I make it even harder on myself than it needs to be.  I think that what I buy a person says so much about me – was my gift unique, was it thoughtful, was it what they wanted, etc.?  Sometimes I think it’s just easier to give gift cards or money but then you’re seen as boring, unimaginative and can even get accused of not knowing the person well enough to be able to read their mind and know exactly what they want. 

So I’ve come up with a list of ideas which might help you. Continue reading “Buying Gifts Stresses Me Out”

Our Herbal Aftershave ROCKS

Our very first product that I ever made was our Herbal Aftershave. I use this product every day. No, I don’t have a beard (yet….I am getting older). I use it for removing make up, zapping acne, cleaning cuts and scrapes, and treating skin irritations. Why would I use an aftershave for something other than what it was intended? Because of how it’s made and the ingredients in it.

We use WHOLE herbs in the preparation of this product; not extracts or distillates. The entire plant goes into a vat and steeps for a period of time so all of the beneficial properties of the entire plant are extracted and absorbed into the liquid. The whole plant contains all the healing compounds found in the herb. Sometimes a single herb contains hundreds of these compounds that work together in ways that scientists don’t always understand. The combined effects of the compounds found in a whole herb often provide exactly what the body needs to heal itself. The problem with isolating a single compound is that it may not work as effectively when it’s used by itself. Increasing the concentration of one compound may also lead to side effects that aren’t seen when using a whole herb. Another issue is that chemical solvents are often used to extract the desired compound (when making an ‘herbal extract’). These solvents include acetone, hexane, benzene, and methyl chloride. Besides the fact that residues of these inorganic solvents may be found in the finished herbal extract, these chemicals also harm the environment.

That’s the ‘how it’s made’ part. Now here is what’s in it and what those plants do.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): A powerful herb used topically to speed wound healing, and improve other skin conditions such as rashes and abrasions, calm inflamed skin. The name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Calendula has perhaps the longest history of use of any herb in skin care. The flowers help stop bleeding and promote healing. Calendula is also used for chapped and otherwise irritated skin, and is good for sensitive skin.

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): This herb is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen and is nourishing to itchy skin; improve skin’s texture and elasticity, as well as reduce signs of photo damage. It’s also so gentle that it’s used in many baby products.

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra): Elderflower is the oldest herb cultivated by man. It contains powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent free radical damage.

Bay (Laurus nobilis): Bay is able to increase the blood supply to skin, restoring the skin’s healthy appearance.

Rose (Rosa Centifolia): Rose is great for all skin types, but it is especially valuable for dry, sensitive or aging skins. It has a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface, which makes it useful in diminishing the redness caused by enlarged capillaries and shaving.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint has cooling properties that reduce skin inflammation, skin burn and rashes In addition to soothing and calming skin, mint may also help out in another way. It contains a nutrient called perillyl alcohol, and studies have shown that it may prevent the formation of skin cancer cells.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ): Lavender numbs pain and heals wounds. Lavender is one of the most active essential oils against MRSA. Lavender is also moderately active against Propionibacterium acnes, one of the principal bacteria involved in acne. A Japanese study suggests that the regular use of lavender in skin preparations could suppress the aging effects of sunlight on the skin.

Lemon (Citrus limon): Lemon has Vitamin C which is responsible for building up collagen in our skin. Collagen is necessary to keep the skin firm and young. It’s a powerful antioxidant that can speed cell turnover and can improve skin’s ability to slough off dead cells and heal. Lemons are also highly acidic, making them effective antiseptics that can kill off bacteria on the surface of the skin.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A native North American shrub this plant was widely used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans, mainly to stop minor bleeding and reduce skin irritation.

Aloe (aloe barbadensis leaf juice): The ancient Egyptians were using aloe as early as 4,000 BC where it was known as the “plant of immortality”. It contains glycoproteins which are known to help in healing by reducing inflammation and stopping pain. Also polysaccahrides which help with skin growth and repair. It’s also believed that these two substances together help stimulate the immune system.

It took me a long time to come up with this formula using herbs growing in my garden, and there was much trial and error. But I still remember that “a-HA” moment nearly 20 years ago when I knew I had gotten it right. I love this stuff. Such a great ‘it does it all’ product.

Stop Bugging Me!

There’s nothing I love more than being outside in the warm weather. I especially love sitting on my deck in the early evening, listening to the woods and watching the fireflies. So peaceful. One thing I don’t love is the dang mosquitos! I have citronella torches and candles, but those buggers seem to find me any way.

I’m not fond of commercial bug repellents because most of them contain DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide). It’s designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse neurological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats. DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River.

Natural insect repellents are a much safer alternative. And in my opinion, just as effective. Plus they’re super easy to make. Basically, you combine any of the following essential oils in a witch hazel base, and you’ve got a great natural repellent: Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint, Palmarosa, Pine, Rose Geranium, Lemon Balm, Myrrh.

Here’s how you do it:


Essential oils (see list above)
Natural witch hazel
Distilled or boiled water
Vegetable glycerin (optional)

1. Fill an 8 oz. spray bottle 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin (if using)
4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be.

Other quick fix natural insect repellent ideas:

■Add vanilla extract to the above recipe, or just rub on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version.
■Rub lavender flowers or lavender oil on your skin, especially on hot parts of body (neck, underarms, behind ears, etc.) to repel insects.
■Rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc. or citronella, lemongrass, etc.) Basil is also said to repel mosquitoes.

What if you do get bitten? Personally I apply our Unscented Herbal Aftershave to the bite and it takes the itch out every time (can’t live without that stuff!). But there are several other remedies to try:

• Apply a simple baking soda and water paste directly to bites and leave on for at least an hour.
• For an anti-itch bath, add ½ to 1 cup baking soda to running lukewarm water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
• Apply a drop of lavender or tea tree essential oil directly onto each bite to reduce inflammation and help prevent infection.
• Make a solution of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts water, and rinse the irritated area. Repeat this procedure several times until the itching decreases in intensity.
• Apply a drop of neem base oil to each bite. Neem is naturally cooling oil with antibacterial properties. It relieves many types of skin irritations.
• A common weed probably growing in your lawn, plantain (Plantago, various species), is one of the best herbs to treat bug bites. To use the plant as first aid for a mosquito bite, crush a few leaves and rub them on to the bite.

I Hate Blood Suckers

I love this time of year. The plants in the garden are kicking into high gear, most of my spring cleanup work is done and the weather is consistently warmer. The one thing I hate about this time of year is ticks.

I live in a wooded area in Pennsylvania. I’m fortunate enough to have several acres, and I spend most of my free time cutting grass, tending to gardening beds and keeping the woods from taking over my property. I know I should use insect spray and sunscreen and all that stuff, but I’m a get it done NOW kind of person. I get home from work, check on the cats and immediately go out to start on yard work. Thankfully I haven’t gotten sunburned, but I can say I’ve had a few ticks on me already this year. All deer ticks. I usually catch them before they bite, but on two occasions this month, they got me before I got them.

This past weekend I was taking a shower and noticed the out of place black spot on my ankle. I knew what it was. I did everything you’re supposed to do. I used a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and tried to grip the tick by the head, as close as possible to the point where it makes contact with the skin. But I couldn’t grab it. It had all but buried its whole body in my skin. I won’t burden you with the gross details, but I did manage to get the sucker out. I immediately put our Unscented Herbal Aftershave on the wound. It’s my go-to product for all skin conditions: rashes, cuts, scratches, bites, stings, etc. It has always worked well for me and I feel confident that the site has been cleaned thoroughly. Due to the threat of disease, I followed up with a generous dab of tea tree essential oil. And I’m keeping an eye on the bite to make sure it heals with no rash.

I don’t kill bugs. I always say there’s a purpose for them, and who am I to interrupt that purpose? I catch spiders and let them free outside; drives the girls at work nuts. But I gotta tell ya, I just don’t see the purpose for ticks! Hate those blood suckers.