1.18.2018

A Safer Switch: Tampons & Pads

Welcome to week two of, A SAFER SWITCH!

If you are new to this series let me give you the run-down. Each week I will share ideas on how to switch over specific products to safer, non-toxic but still effective options. We will walk through information on what ingredients you should avoid, safer brands and/or alternatives!

Last week we kicked-off the series with DEODORANT & TOOTHPASTE; you can dive into the full post here!

Today we are diving into FEMININE PRODUCTS.


Overview
Did you know that the average woman will use over 16,000 tampons or pads during her lifetime? That is almost 300 pounds of products being added to the environment, and 16,000 exposure points to harmful chemicals per woman! 

As I dived into this topic I quickly saw two points to consider: the environmental element and the ingredient element. While I think both elements are important to consider, only you can decide where you stand on the matter. Personally, while our family makes efforts every day to help our environment, this is one area of life where I opt for connivence. This article helped me come to this decision. Personal decisions aside, I've included options that are not only safer from an ingredient stand point, but also environmentally mindful! Below is a high level list of the top ingredients you should avoid when picking tampons or pads as well as a few great options for the next time Aunt Flow arrives!

INGREDIENTS to Avoid
  • Rayon: There are four synthetic ingredients commonly associated with increasing the likelihood of Toxic Shock Syndrome; rayon, polyester, carboxymethylcellulose and plolyacrylate rayon. While the last three listed have been taken off the market, rayon is still found in most tampons on the market today.  
  • Dioxion: This is a result of chlorine processing and is linked to hormone and immune system disruption. According the the EPA, there is NO SAFE LEVEL OF EXPOSURE TO DIOXIN. 
  • Non-organic Cotton: Most cotton is treated with pesticides and herbicides to protect it's growth. The issue here is that most of the cotton used in our tampons and pads still contain these chemicals! This is why it is SO VERY IMPORTANT to use products with 100% organic cotton!
  • Fragrance: Anytime I see "fragrance" listed in any product, I run! One fragrance can include hundreds of chemicals and companies are under no requirement to share what ingredients are included under the umbrella of "fragrance".
  • Chlorine: Chlorine is used in the bleaching processes and does produce trace amounts of dioxins in the process.
  • BPA: BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that comes from producing plastic, and it has been linked to cancer. When searching with tampons, make sure the applicator is BPA-free. 
SAFER Options
There are many great, safe feminine hygiene products on the market today. Below are two standard tampon and pad options, along with one reusable and environmentally sound option. I hope this is helpful!

  1. LOLA: Lola is a monthly subscription service offering tampon, pads and liners to their customers. Their products contain one ingredient, 100% organic cotton, and are shipped directly to your door each month which is incredible. Right now they are offering 15% off your first subscription order! MORE INFORMATION HERE.
  2. NatraCare: NatraCare is a middle ground when it comes to safer ingrediants that are also better for the environment. Their products are made from renewable, natural materials including organic cotton, bioplastics (made from plant startch) and wood pulp. The can be found at some stores and on Amazon for a few dollars less than Lola products. MORE INFORMATION HERE.
  3. The Diva Cup: The Diva Cup is a sustainable, easy-to-use, cost effective and eco-friendly menstrual cup. You can see a full run-down on this product here, but many uses (including my sister) noted that while there was a learning curve on how to use and care for the product, it was extremely effective and met their monthly needs. MORE INFORMATION HERE.
Alright friends, I hope week two was helpful and informative! Make sure to come back next week for a full run-down on your laundry essentials! 

4 Steps to Create a Summer Glow in the Winter

I become such a ghost in the Winter months and it can be so hard to fake a summer glow without looking too orange or overdone. I can be done though, and I wanted to quickly share how I create a natural summer glow in four easy steps. This is a very simple look with minimal makeup used, (it takes me about three minutes to create this whole look) which is another plus since we are all back into our normal, busy routines!

 All the details on what I used are below:

 ☀️ When I started the video I had on Tint Skin Foundation in Linen and the touchup concealer pen in Fair.
 ☀️ Color Pinch Cream Blusher - I used Hibiscus but Umber is very similar with a rosy tint instead of pink, and Caramel is just the perfect neutral glow. I LOVE this formula. 
☀️#1 Matte Bronzer: I used this under my cheek bones to my hair line and up my forehead. I love the subtle depth and color it adds. I was pretty light with my application here so you can absolutely use more and create a deeper contour.
☀️ Ocean & Pacific Palette: As I mentioned, you could skip the #1 Bronzer and use the one from this palette that I used on my eyes. I just wanted to show you both bronzer options since they are on sale! I love the eyeshadows in this palette but the blush, bronzer and highlight are my favorites!

What are you tips for creating a Summer Glow in January?

Please let me know if you have any questions! All the products I used can be shopped here!

1.12.2018

Three Day Curls

I receive so many requests for hair tutorials, so I decided to share my routine for three-day curls today. Fair warning, these are tighter curls to begin with! I love a loose wave and will share that routine soon, but we are in such a busy stage of life that I've been enjoying the longevity of these curls! Below are details on what products and tools I used to achieve this look!  I hope you enjoy!

 

ITEMS USED
✔️ Beautycounter Repair & Nourish Shampoo and Conditioner (Beautycounter has the best non-toxic shampoo and conditioners. My other favorite is their Daily shampoo and conditioner. I've never been someone who can go more than a few days in between washing but this formula has allowed me to go 4-5 days!)
✔️ Beautycounter Repair & Nourish Split End Serum
✔️ Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron 1 inch

If you have any questions about Beautycounter products or this tutorial, please send me a message!!

I love talking about non-toxic beauty with y'all!!

1.10.2018

A Safer Switch: Deodorant & Toothpaste

Welcome to my new series, A SAFER SWITCH!

When you begin learning about the toxic chemicals that are not only in the products we use on our bodies everyday, but also in our homes, it can feel pretty scary and overwhelming as you consider how to make changes.

I felt the same way last year, but when I finally took the time to understand why I should care about this topic, I started researching our move to safer alternatives. Looking back now, I realize it didn't have to feel scared or overwhelmed; you can make small changes each month that will result in a huge impact for you and your families safety and health.

Join me each week as I share ideas on how to switch over specific products to safer but still effective options. I will share information on what ingredients you should avoid, safer brands and/or information on how you can make your own!

I hope this helpful and makes it easier to make a few safer switches around your home and in your personal care routine!

Today we are launching week one with DEODORANT & TOOTHPASTE.

DEODORANT Overview
Deodorant is one of the most toxic products we put on our bodies every day. Some of the most common ingredients found in deodorants have been linked to cancer and causing significant hormonal imbalance. For this reason, it was one of the first products I switched for my husband and I last year when we started our journey to safer personal care products. Below is a high level list of the top ingredients you should avoid when picking a deodorant, as well as a few great options we have tried!

INGREDIENTS to Avoid
  • Aluminum Compounds: This ingredient is found in most antiperspirants and acts to actually block your pores and prevent you from sweating. You may think, "Wait I need this", but you don't for it to still work! The biggest reason to cut this ingredient out is that long-term exposure to Aluminum has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and interferes with your estrogen levels. If your body can't process estrogen properly, there’s a higher risk for breast and prostate cancer.
  • Parabens: This is one of the most common preservatives and also one of the most harmful additives used in our personal care products today. It is linked to disruptions in estrogen levels which leads to a higher risk of breast and prostate cancer.
  • Steareths: These additives are the product of ethoxylation (weakening of harsh chemical in the manufacturing process), which simultaneously produces carcinogens and dioxanes.
  • Triclosan: The FDA has classified triclosan as a pesticide, yet it is in the majority of brand name deodorants. It’s used to kill bacteria in the manufacturing process, as well as when it comes in contact with your skin. When triclosan is combined with water it can also create a carcinogenic gas called chloroform.
  • Propylene Glycol: If used everyday, this chemical can cause damage to your central nervous system, heart and liver. It is also shown to irritate skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. Propylene glycol can be harmful at as small a percentage as 2%, yet deodorants generally have a high dose of 50% propylene glycol.
  • TEA & DEA: Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) are chemicals can seep into your skin and affect your liver and kidneys. In fact, they’re so harmful that these two chemicals have already been banned from products in Europe because they are known carcinogens.2
  • Artificial Colors: Some artificial colors and bleaches in deodorants can cause serious allergic reactions and are also known carcinogens.
SAFER Options
There are many great, safe options on the market today including deodorant rocks, pit pastes and traditional cream sticks. Since this is a product we use every day and I lead a pretty active lifestyle, my criteria was that it WORKED, was EASY TO FIND AND PURCHASE and was at a REASONABLE PRICE POINT. 

TOOTHPASTE Overview
69% of Americans brush their teeth morning and night but have no idea there are harmful chemicals lurking in their toothpaste. You may not think that little dot of toothpaste on the end of your toothbrush really matters but it adds up over time. In fact, the average brusher will consume 20 GALLONS of toothpaste during their lifetime; that is HUGE! Below is a high level list of the top ingredients you should avoid when picking a toothpaste, as well as a few great options we have tried!

INGREDIENTS to Avoid
  • Fluoride: The fluoride used in toothpaste is sodium fluoride and is considered an over-the-counter drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you look at the back of your toothpaste you should see a required warning label stating to keep it out of the reach of children under 6 and to alert poison control if they swallow more than the needed amount to brush teeth. Today, 95% of the toothpaste on the market contains Fluoride, which is linked to fluorosis, a condition that discolors or spots tooth enamel and affects 41 percent of American adolescents, according to the CDC. 
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Sorbitol, a liquid that keeps toothpaste from drying out, is a laxative that can cause diarrhea in children. 
  • Artificial Colors: Synthetic colors are derived from coal tar. Only seven colors remain on the FDA’s approved list; all others have been banned. Yellow #5 is under review due to links to hyperactivity, anxiety, migraines and cancer.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: This is a detergent known to cause microscopic tears in the mouth (which can lead to canker sores) and was originally used to clean floors. 
  • Carrageenan: Derived from red seaweed, carrageenan is added to thicken toothpaste, but it’s been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcers and even colon cancer in laboratory animals. 
  • Propylene Glycol: This is the main active ingredient in antifreeze and is used to soften cosmetic products. It has been linked to damage to the central nervous system, liver and heart.
  • Triclosan: Triclosan is added to personal care products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. Studies link triclosan to a decrease in thyroid hormones and an increase in antibiotic resistance, as well as tumors in mice.
SAFER Options
Just like deodorant, this is a product we use every day so my criteria was that it WORKED, was EASY TO FIND AND PURCHASE and was at a REASONABLE PRICE POINT.

I hope this was helpful and will make the process of switching these two products over to safer alternatives easier! Come back next week for our next, A Safer Switch!

1.03.2018

Top Five Ways to Equip Your Body to Fight Winter Viruses


This time of year is always so hard on our bodies as we are bombarded with exposure to so many different viruses every time we leave the house. I know for many, especially those with multiple children, it can feel like a rotating door of illness. If one person gets sick, it doesn't take much to spread it throughout the house, and just as you feel like everyone is getting healthy, someone picks something up again. 

In an effort to prepare for this winter and my son (two years old) starting a mothers-day-out program at a local church, I decided to research ways to naturally boost and support our immune system. In late June 2017, I started the routine below for my son (my husband and I have a very similar routine but our dosage and products obviously differ) and thus far have seen incredible results in not only in our overall wellbeing, but our body's ability to naturally fight off the viruses we encounter. 

While I don't think there is a magic pill that will keep you from ever getting sick, I do believe you can equip and support your body to do what God intended it to do when it encounters viruses, and this routine has been a huge part of that for us. 

OUR TODDLER'S DAILY ROUTINE 

After a full breakfast: 
  • Zarbee's Naturals Toddler Multivitamin Gummies | 2 Gummies: These are designed for ages 2-4 and have been the only multivitamin that my son will consistently take. While I'm not a huge fan of gummy vitamins for children due to their high sugar content, Zarbee's uses honey to sweeten their product which I appreciate. They have no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners and no artificial flavors. Their vitamin profile also covers all the main areas I want to focus on for a toddler. 
  • Childlife Liquid Vitamin C | 2.5 ML: Vitamin C has long been one of the best antioxidants for immune deficiencies, but this year I learned just how powerful it really is when my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and one of his first medications was a very high dose of Vitamin C. Most people run to it after they get sick, but it was important to me that each of us receive our daily value consistently. The multivitamin mentioned above contains 50% of the daily value needed and this additional supplement covers 208%. I love this brand because the flavor is great and it's gluten, casein and alcohol free. It also contains no milk, eggs, soy, wheat or yeast and uses no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. 
  • Nature's Way Sambucus for Kids, Organic Elderberry Syrup | 5 ML
  • Elderberry is a rich source of vitamins A and C, which are crucial in helping the body maintain optimal health. The bioflavonoids in elderberry syrup also boost the body's immune system by increasing antioxidant levels and viruses that damage cell walls. We have made our own Elderberry gummy bears many times using this recipe, but recently we've been using this liquid form. I mix this with the liquid vitamin C and give it to my toddler in a medicine cup. He is pretty picky on flavors and I've never had an issue with this. 
  • Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey | 1 Tbl.: I mix this in his yogurt or morning smoothie.  Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush. While most honey has natural antibacterial qualities through the production of Hydrogen peroxide, Manuka Honey has one of the highest degrees of antibacterial qualities because it also has the antibacterial component methylglyoxal (MG) is some of the highest quantities. I addition to it's antibacterial benefits it also can help with SIBO, acne, eczema, MRSA, tooth decay, gingivitis, IBS, and allergies.
  • LoveBug Tiny Tummies Probiotics | 1 Packet: Treating and or supporting the source of any system is ALWAYS the best route which is why probiotics are a must in our house. I love this powder from Lovebug. It has the most CFUs of active probiotics on this list, coming in at 15 billion active cultures! It is tasteless and odorless which make it easy for my son to take. I will either mix it in his morning smoothie or in water.  
In addition to the supplements above, we have implemented the following practices which I believe have made a huge difference!
  1. Essential Oils (Thieves from Young Living): I made a roller bottle of Thieves (20 drops of Thieves and then fill the rest up with Beautycounter's soothing baby oil) which I apply to the bottom of his feet before he gets dressed every morning and apply again at night after bath. I also defuse this in his room with lavender and in our main living areas.
  2. Move Up Bath Time: On school days or days where we have been playing for extended periods of time in public areas (like a jump house) we take our bath right when we get home and put on new clothes or pjs. I used to believe that keeping them in "germs" was just part of building their immune system, and I still believe exposure is important, but I don't think they need to "bath" in it all day. I honestly feel this is a huge part to stopping the spread of germs in your home.
  3. Wash Hands: It might be the oldest trick in the book but boy is it important. We always make sure to wash our hands before every snack or meal and we also wash our hands frequently when we are out. 
  4. Well Rounded Diet: I know if you have a toddler, this can feel like a never ending battle at times. We certainly have had our struggles with our son as it relates to food, but I know just how important it is that I try to fuel and fill his body with as much nutrients as possible. One way I do this with a picky eater is through smoothies. We have found a daily smoothie that is pant and protein based that he loves and I love because it includes spinach, zucchini, avocado, chia seed, hemp heart, banana, fresh almond butter and water or almond milk. We have this every day (with breakfast, lunch or as a snack) and no matter how well he eats during the day, I know I've gotten in healthy fats, protein and plenty of greens!
  5. Consistent Sleep: I think in the fall with all the holidays and festivities it becomes so easy to get out of a consistent sleep routine. As much as we can I try to make sure we stick to our nap time and bed time every day to help support his body as much as possible.
  6. Plenty of Water: It is easy to get dehydrated in the Winter months so we try to keep water out at all times. Our son drinks almond milk or pea protein milk (Ripple is amazing) but we really try to limit his juice intake to a few times a week and just stick with water. It is so important for overall health but especially important when you up your supplement game.
  7. LASTLY, CONSISTENCY IS EVERYTHING! With any routine, consistency is the most important to understand the impact and benefit it may have for you and your family. In the beginning I had an alarm that went off during breakfast time every morning. It was the perfect reminder to get everything out and ready for our little one and ourselves. Now it is second nature and I don't need any reminders.
Before I leave you I just want to note a few things:
  1. I'm not a doctor and have no medical background in the immune system. I am a woman who has an auto-immune disease, and has always suffered from a weak immune system so I've chosen to educate myself and naturally equip my family to the best of my ability. This post is just sharing what has been successful in keeping my family healthy the past seven months. 
  2. You should always consult your doctor before starting any supplements for yourself or children. 
  3. I've had many people ask for the specific products we use, which is why I've chosen to share the brands. I have no affiliation to these brands and have received no compensation for this post. 
I hope you have found this post helpful and I'd love to hear how you naturally protect and equip your family to fight common viruses! 

11.19.2017

My 1-minute Waves

Hello friends! I have to be honest with you, I would have never thought to make a tutorial for this style because it is so easy and something I did when I was in middle school! But after receiving comments/questions about it last week, I changed my tune and thought this oldie might be the perfect hair hack for my busy friends.

TURN ON THE VOLUME for the literally three steps and ONE MINUTE STYLE instructions.
I mentioned last week on Insta stories (if you don't follow me, you can at @ashtonv) that some may say this is a summer style, but I LOVE it for the Fall. Not only does it compliment my busy mornings, but the messy waves are perfect for those chunky sweaters and it give your hair a much need rest from heated styling tools during a season when hair already tends to dry out and dull!

You will hear in the video that the GOLDEN TICKET for making sure these waves stay defined, shiny and not frizzy is the Beautycounter Hair Oil*. In addition to the application after you shampoo and condition, I rub one pump in my hands then use my fingers to go through the waves, defining the ones on the otter layer, around my face and the ends. This adds unbelievable shine and locks in moisture, making it a hair style that can last for days (I just braid my hair each night again and then add a little dry shampoo on my crown in the AM).

For those interested, the products I used are below are listed below along with the link where you can read more!

PRODUCTS USED:
- Beautycounter Smooth & Control Shampoo and Conditioner
- Beautycounter Smooth & Control Hair Oil *
- Beautycounter Style Sea Salt Spray
- Beautycounter Volume & Shape Volumizing Mist

I love talking about non-toxic personal care items that are safer for you and your family! If you have any questions, please just let me know!!


10.06.2017

Healthy Pumpkin Granola Bars - Dairy and Refined-Sugar Free

Last month we took a quick trip to the Colorado Mountains for a little R&R. We were greeted with crisp air and Aspen trees turning the most vibrant shade of gold. The combination of mountains, frost covered cabin roofs each morning and cozy fires begging you to dress like a lumber jack turned me into the most obnoxious cheerleader for Fall and all things pumpkin. Lucky for Tanner I know myself well, and planned ahead making us these amazing and very healthy pumpkin granola bars. They are dairy-free, refined-sugar free, and toddler-approved. Enjoy!

Ingredients 
- 1 Cup Organic Oats
- 1/2 Organic Steel Cut Oats
- 1/4 Cup + 2 tbl Organic Oat Flour (I used from food process and organic oats to make this flour)
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1 1/2 tsp Organic Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 3 tbl. melted Organic Coconut Oil
- 8-10 Organic Dates (depending on your desired sweetness)
- 1/4 Cup + 2 tbl. Organic Pumpkin Puree
- 1 tsp Organic Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/3 Cup Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips (OPTIONAL; if you are going for refined-sugar free you can omit this or add coco nibs) 
- 2-3 tbl Warm Water

Directions
1. Line 8X8 glass baking dish with parchment paper and coconut oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a food processor, place dates (make sure to remove pits) with 2 tbl warm water. Process until they are fully broken down into a paste.
3. In large bowl stir together all dry ingredients - set aside.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together all liquid ingredients then slowly pour dry ingredients into wet until batter is moist.
5. Transer to baking dish and press down firmly making an even surface.
6. At this point you can either chill in the fridge overnight or you can bake on the center rack for 18-20 minutes.
7. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

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