Category Archives: Lifestyle

Benefits of Neem Oil for Skin

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nubian Heritage. I was compensated and received a product to try. I fully stand behind this product, and the opinions are 100% my own.

Learn the amazing benefits of neem oil for skin, and how you can incorporate it into your routine with safe and natural products!

I first heard of neem being used in toothpastes, because it’s effective in reducing bacteria that cause cavities and decreasing plaque in the process. It’s only recently that I’ve heard of it being used in skin care products for a variety of benefits, and I was fascinated when I learned more about it and how amazing it is for so many skin issues!

What is Neem Oil?

Neem is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years in India for traditional remedies. Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree, and has been used in medicine, skin care, hair care, and even pest control.

It’s contains powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal components, such as azadirachtin (natural insecticide), vitamins C and E,  carotenoids, linoleic acid, oleic acid, and nimbidin, which is known to have potent antihistamine and antiseptic properties.

Neem Oil for Skin Care

Benefits of Neem Oil for Skin

I was so amazed to find all the benefits that neem oil has on our skin health! It’s basically the unicorn of skincare, and is very popular in India in many of their products for this reason.

  1. Great for dry skin. Because neem oil contains vitamin E and also rich in healthy fatty acids, it’s great for healing cracked dry skin by penetrating into the skin. It also locks in moisture to smooth out the skin texture.
  2. Clears out acne. Neem oil is naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, so it’s great for removing bacteria from your skin and combatting acne. It also soothes redness and known to reduce acne scars as well! I also love that it won’t dry out the skin like other products that target acne
  3. Combats wrinkles. Did you know that neem also promotes collagen production, which is amazing for anti-aging? It’s also rich in vitamin E, which reduces free radicals in the skin to reverse damages and keep your skin supple. Don’t mind me while I bathe myself in neem oil.
  4. Evens out skin tone. As someone who struggles with uneven skin pigmentation, I love this one! Hyperpigmentation of the skin can happen with the overproduction of melanin, and neem oil balances out the melanin secretion to lighten up dark spots. It’s especially great for spot treatment!
  5. Reduce inflammation for eczema. Neem has been known to reduce redness and inflammation for eczema and relieve dry itchy skin. It’s an effective emollient, which prevents loss of moisture and helps build a protective layer over the skin.
  6. Nature’s insecticide. One of the ingredients in neem is azadirachtin, a powerful and natural pest and insect repellant. I usually like to avoid any kind of commercial bug repellants because they are so full of harmful chemicals, so I’m excited to add a neem based product the next time I’m hiking or camping!

Nubian Heritage Skin Care

Neem Oil for Skin Care

After learning about all the benefits of neem oil, one of the safe and toxin free skin care products I found that contained it was Nubian Heritage‘s Indian Hemp Haitian Vetiver line. It’s a new-to-me brand that uses ingredients and methods inspired by ancient rituals passed through communal wisdom. How cool is that? And best of all, they focus on culturally authentic ingredients which are ethically sourced and safe for the skin.

So far, I’ve been using the body wash, body lotion, and deodorant, and I’ve been loving them! They smell amazing from a combination of essential oils and no harsh fragrances, and they’ve been really gentle on the skin.

I especially love the body wash, because it lathers easily but leaves my skin really hydrated, and using the lotion afterwards really gives my skin an extra layer of moisture all day. The aluminum-free deodorant kept me smelling fresh for 12 hours straight on a hot summer day, and a little goes a long way without staining any of my clothes! I’ve been using these products for 2 weeks now with no complaints.

Along with neem oil, Indian Hemp Haitian Vetiver line uses hemp oil, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids for that added anti-inflammatory benefit. I just love how soothing these products are, and more importantly, they contain clean and safe ingredients that are organic and fair trade!

Neem Oil for Skin Care

You can order these products through Nubian Heritage’s website, but I’ve also found them at my local natural grocers like Sprouts and Whole Foods. If you are looking to clean up your skincare routine of all the toxic goop found in conventional products, I highly recommend you try them out!

How My Skin Changed Dramatically with Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel

Learn all about Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel and the amazing results I gained from using it for a month (includes before and after photos)!

Holy moly, guys. I don’t usually write reviews on a single product but I’m honestly floored by the results I got from Beautycounter’s new Overnight Resurfacing Peel. It’s a gentle and safe peel that’s made with 15 botanically-derived acids (from plants!) to smooth the texture and reduce the appearance of pores and dark spots.

My Skin Type

I have dark and chronic dry skin that easily scars with acne and too much sun, and I’ve always had uneven skin tone that would worsen with stress or lack of sleep. My past teenage years and early 20s of sunbathing without sunscreen and frequenting tanning beds definitely have taken a toll on my skin.

Additionally, I have really dark and big pores, especially around my nose (with frequent blackheads) that I always hated and try to cover up with a concealer. Truthfully, I never really felt comfortable without some kind of makeup to cover up my blemishes and dark spots.

I’ve tried a bunch of methods to improve my skin texture in the past, from facials to chemical peels, and they would work for a little while then my skin would go back to how it was before: dry, uneven in color, and dead looking without the dewy glow that I was striving for.

My Initial Doubts

So when I first heard about the Overnight Resurfacing Peel, I was a bit skeptical, especially coming from a company that only uses safer ingredients. How powerful can this product be? I’m always a bit slow to try out new products, especially when there’s a huge hype about it, thinking that it’s just a fad that’ll pass.

However, I kept hearing and seeing rave reviews with almost a cult-like following from social media and my fellow bloggers, and I decided to give it a full month to try it out.

How I Use the Peel

Overnight Resurfacing Peel

After reading the directions for the Overnight Resurfacing Peel, I decided to use it for 3 nights a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

  1. I began by using the Cleansing Balm to remove my face of all makeup and give it a deep clean.
  2. Then, I would apply the peel in a thin layer (only 1-2 pumps) and wait 5 minutes for it to absorb.
  3. Lastly, I followed each time with Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream, which gave my skin plenty of hydration and recovery while it “healed” after the peel each night.

The Results

The good part! I actually saw my skin glow the morning after the first time I used it which made me so excited. However, I know it’s difficult to see changes over a long period of time so I decided to take a before and after photo to see if there will really be a dramatic difference.

And guys? I almost cried happy tears after seeing these photos:

Beautycounter's Overnight Resurfacing Peel

These photos were taken only a month apart with ZERO MAKEUP, except for my lash extensions. And I promise, there’s NO FILTER or any kind of editing done. The lighting may slightly affect the appearance (I moved to a new house between these 2 photos so I couldn’t photograph at the same exact spot), but you can visibly see how much my skin has improved in just a month.

Some huge differences to note:

  • My skin tone is so much more even in the second photo.
  • You can see how much my pores have reduced and are less visible, especially on and around my nose area.
  • The acne scars on my chin are dramatically reduced.
  • Can you tell how much the texture of my skin improved? SO MUCH SMOOTHER.

There’s no doubt I will continuously use this product for further improvements. And the best part? I haven’t felt this great in my skin in a while. I’ve even been going makeup free recently because I feel so confident about my skin, which hasn’t been true for a very long time.

FAQs

As with anything that promises this great of a result, I know I’ll get several questions about this product so I’m going to answer several of them here. If you have any more that I didn’t answer below, leave me a comment below!

What is in the Overnight Resurfacing Peel?

There are 15 acids derived from plants, including resurfacing acids, which gently remove the top layer of your skin. This layer is typically the most damaged with dead cells (making our skin look gray with more pigmentation and finer lines), and are the most stubborn to come off.  There are also soothing and hydrating acids in the peel so your skin doesn’t dry out while using the peel, which is necessary for someone with dry skin like me.

Major key ingredients and their benefits:

  • Glycolic acid: improves skin texture, resurfaces, exfoliates
  • Lactic acid: stimulates cell renewal promoting smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin
  • Malic acid: decreases the appearance of fine lines
  • Citric Acid: evens skin tone and reduces the appearance of dark spots
  • Hyaluronic acid: hydrates skin and helps it retain moisture
  • Fatty acids: including omegas 3 & 6, maintain skin’s barrier to prevent moisture loss, smooth skin, and provide antioxidant benefits

Most peel products only have one or just a few acids in them, but with 15 in the Overnight Resurfacing Peel that work together to deliver the best results, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your skin sees improvement!

How do I use it?

You’ll want to use this peel at night 3 times a week after you cleansed your face of makeup and oil. You then add 1-2 pumps to your hand and gently apply a thin layer to your face and neck, then wait 4-5 minutes for it to absorb into your skin. You then follow up with a nourishing and hydrating cream moisturizer, such as the Rejuvenating Night Cream or the Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream (my personal favorite!).

This isn’t a product you have to wash off until the next morning. Make sure to use it at night because it works best while you are sleeping. You also don’t want the acids to react with UV rays, which can damage the skin.

Does it burn?

No, this is not a typical chemical peel. It’s very gentle on the skin while being extremely effective. It may tingle slightly when you put it on, but this shouldn’t last long.

For me, it tingled the very first time I used it, but I haven’t felt that ever since.

How long is the recovery time?

There’s no recovery time! This is a no-peel peel. The acids gently exfoliate the skin to slough off the top layer of skin without being visible.

I remember being on a house arrest for a week after getting a chemical peel done and I’m so happy I don’t have to deal with that again. It works even better than the harsh peels that I used to do without the pain which makes me so dang excited and happy.

Will it dry out my skin?

I have chronic dry skin and I haven’t found that it does for me. It contains hydrating acids to combat the dryness, and the nourishing creams you use afterwards also helps your skin lock in the moisture. I think it may dry out your skin if you use it more than 3 times aweek, and if you don’t moisturize afterwards.

In the long run, you’ll find that your skin is much more dewy and hydrated after using the peel for a while because moisturizers will penetrate better into the skin and you’ll have better cell turnover. My skin has seriously changed after using this and I don’t think I can even say that I have dry skin anymore.

Do I need to use sunscreen while using it?

Yes, I highly recommend you do. The peel makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays so I use a sunscreen everyday. I love the Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick because it’s safe and so easy to use daily.

What skin issues is it good for?

Almost everyone can benefit from this peel, but it’s especially great for:

  • acne scars
  • dark spots
  • uneven pigmentation
  • large pores and blackheads
  • fine lines and wrinkes

Can you use it with rosacea or eczema?

Yes! Because it’s so gentle, people with these skin issues actually found improvements in their skin after using it. The peel contains raspberry oil which is extremely soothing and great for reducing inflammation.

I do recommend you use a hydrating night cream afterwards if you suffer from rosacea or eczema, like the Rejuvenating Night Cream or the Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream.

Is it safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?

Yes, but I would talk to your ob-gyn to see how they feel about it. All Beautycounter products have been thoroughly tested and ensure safety, but it’s always better to double check with a professional during more sensitive times.

I would also do a spot test before putting it on your skin. Just put a little bit behind the ears then sleep with it on. A little bit of pink and tingling is fine, but if you begin to see some swelling, I would stay away from using it for the time being.

Who shouldn’t use the Overnight Resurfacing Peel?

  • Anyone with a super sensitive skin. I would first do a spot test that I mentioned in the answer to the previous question. However, many people who do have sensitive skin have reported that they are able to use the peel with no issues.
  • Anyone with sunburns or cuts
  • Anyone who’s done a professional chemical peel recently. I would wait full 60 days before using this peel.
  • Anyone currently using exfoliating or harsher products that are prescribed by a dermatologist. Talk to your dermatologist first before using it.

Is it vegan?

Sure is.

How long does a bottle last?

Depending how often you use it and how much (some people also use it on their hands and their shoulders to reduce dark spots), it should last about 3-6 months.

Overnight Resurfacing Peel

How much is it?

$58 per bottle, which is AN AMAZING DEAL compared to what you would spend on professional peels. I used to spend hundreds of dollars on glycolic acid peels and I can tell you the Overnight Resurfacing Peel works way better without me having to hide my face for a week every time I do it!

Have any more questions? Leave me a comment below.

If you are ready to try it out yourself, click on the link below. And if the peel doesn’t perform the way you hoped it would, Beautycounter has an amazing return policy: Even if you opened the packaging, you can return the unused portion within 60 days from the ship date!

Click here to buy the
Overnight Resurfacing Peel

Also, if you want to save on Beautycounter product purchases, you can join the Band of Beauty membership which is $29/year, and you’ll get awesome perks like:

  • Free ground shipping on all orders over $100
  • 15% BACK IN PRODUCT CREDIT on all orders for a year. For example, a product order of $100 will earn you $15 to spend on your next order (and gets you free shipping)!
  • Exclusive members-only offers delivered directly to your inbox throughout the year
  • A welcome gift when you spend $50+

Many times, the welcome gift is worth more than the $29 membership fee itself, so it’s totally worth joining because you end up getting your money back with the free gift! JOIN HERE.

Want More Safer Skincare?

Make sure to join my Safer Skincare Facebook group, for deals, discounts, video tutorials, and more education around why I choose safer skincare. I also send out free samples occasionally so COME JOIN IN ON THE FUN!

Lastly, I’m also sending a free gift to my Safer Skincare mailing list subscribers the first time they shop Beatycounter with me so make sure to sign up. I send out occasional emails about updates and news worth sharing, so don’t miss out! SIGN UP FOR THE SAFER SKINCARE NEWSLETTER.

5 Safer Birth Control Options

Looking to avoid hormonal birth control? Learn about 5 safer birth control options that you may want to look into without the harmful side effects.

Before I talk about the negative effects of birth control pills and safer birth control options, I want to state that I’m not against hormonal birth control in general. However, I do think women need to be educated and informed about the side effects of going on any kind of contraceptive thoroughly before making a decision, which isn’t the case many times. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before making any changes to your health regime or medication.

Safer Birth Control Options

As a woman in the modern world, one of the biggest decisions we make is regarding out birth control. Will you take the pill? Stick with condoms? The patch? Or maybe the implant? There are so many choices these days that it’s hard to know what the best option is, especially when there are so many stories about the negative side effects of some of these options.

Why I Avoid Hormonal Birth Control

If you want to know the details about my experience, as well as some of the negative effects of hormonal birth control, you can read my post here. To sum it up, I lost my period after going off of birth control and it took years for me to finally get my cycle back.

Also, during the time that I was taking the pill was when my digestive issues and food sensitivities started. I know there are other factors that may have contributed to this, but this is a common symptom of the pill, due to yeast overgrowth and estrogen dominance.

There are also nutrient deficiencies that may occur, reduction in your chance of pregnancy for when you do want to have a baby, increase in inflammation, and more. To learn more about some of the other negative effects and what your body may go through, check out my previous post about this topic.

Safer Birth Control Options

So what are some safer birth control options? These may not be as convenient and “easy” as taking the pill, but I think they are 100% worth the extra effort for your health now and in the future.

Condoms

Oh, the good ol’ condom. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it effective? Hell yes. They are cheap, easy to use, and most protect against STDs. I suggest using male condoms rather than female, because female condoms do not have as high of a success rate (79%, while it’s 98% for the latter).

If you are easily irritated by latex condoms or you just want to try ones with less harmful chemicals, there are better alternatives on the market that you might want to check out:

Safer Birth Control Options

  • Sustain Lubricated Latex Condoms: Sustain makes ultra thin latex condoms that are fair trade certified, paraben free, vegan, and free of nitrosomine, carcinogens found in most latex condoms. It also doesn’t smell like latex and many women who are irritated by other latex condoms find that they don’t have issues with these.
  • Lifestyles SKYN Condoms: These are latex free condoms made with polyisoprene, which provides a more natural and more sensitive look and feel than latex condoms.
  • TROJAN NaturaLamb Condoms: These condoms are made with lamb intestines, so you may need some time to get used to that idea and the scent. These are great for monogamous couples, because they do not prevent against STDs. Many couples swear by these because they are extremely thin and provide ultrasensitivity.

Diaphragm with Spermicide

Also called a cervical cap, a diaphragm is a mini cup made out of silicone placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix. There are no hormones involved and it act as a physical barrier to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus.

You do want to use it with spermicide (kills the sperm) to make it the most effective and you do have to insert it with the spermicide every time you have sex, so this may not be the most convenient option. However, if you do decide to try it out, I’ve heard great things about Caya Contoured Diaphragm.

Copper IUD

Unlike hormonal IUDs, copper IUDs do not contain any hormones and are very effective. They are also convenient because once inserted, they can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years. They do have a chance of slipping out, especially during sex, but they have a 99% success rate.

The only caution with copper IUDs is that your PMS symptoms may worsen, such as cramping and bleeding, and there’s a risk of copper overload or toxicity.

One way to reduce this chance of copper toxicity is to supplement with some zinc (I recommend this brand), because zinc and copper balance each other out in the body. Too much zinc causes copper insufficiency, and vice versa, so supplementing with zinc helps the body keep a healthy ratio of these minerals if you decide on the copper IUD for your preferred form of birth control.

Natural Family Planning (NFP)

My favorite form of birth control (or pregnancy planning), and the one that I follow, is natural family planning. It’s most appropriate for committed couples in monogamous relationships because it doesn’t protect against STDs. However, it’s the most natural and noninvasive form of birth control because it works by listening to your body’s natural cycle and rhythms.

Safer Birth Control Options

What exactly is it? It’s a way to monitor the fertile and infertile phases of your body during the cycle to time out when to get intimate with your partner. This works for both avoiding pregnancy, as well as if you are trying to conceive.

You can do this by tracking it on your own with a calendar, but there are so many awesome apps that do it for you! My favorite is the Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, and not only does it track your period and let you know when you are fertile and not fertile, you can also track your PMS symptoms to have it tell you why you are going through those symptoms. I highly recommend it.

Low Dose Hormonal Birth Control

Finally, if you do not want to part with your pills and don’t want to bother with the inconvenience of other safer methods, you may want to explore low dose hormonal birth control options.

Safer Birth Control Options

Low dose pills are still as effective in preventing pregnancy as regular pills, with fewer risks involved when it comes to the negative long-term side effects. However, the downside of low dose pills is that you may experience spotting in between periods and breakthrough bleeding.

There are many options on the market when it comes to low dose, or even ultra-low dose birth control pills. I suggest you talk to your doctor to discuss these options and find out what may be the most appropriate for you.

Do What Works and Feels Best For You

No matter which option you go with, make sure to choose a birth control method that you are completely comfortable with. Take time to fully learn the side effects of each, the pros and cons, as well as what’s important to you in terms of safety, convenience, and ease.

It really saddens me that most women have a limited understanding of how hormonal birth control can affect their health, so it’s important to do your homework to educate yourself because we can’t always rely on our doctors to do this for us. Your health is YOUR responsibility so it’s important to take the time to learn what foreign substances are entering your body.

I hope the breakdown of these safer birth control methods help you gain a better understanding of these options and explore each one a bit more on your own. If you have any questions or if you have any more to add to this list, comment below! I am always open to talk about safer birth control and women’s health, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to discuss the normal things that our bodies go through.

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