Category Archives: Natural Living

Homemade Beeswax Lip Balm (All-Natural and Toxin Free!) + 5 Ingredients to Avoid in Store-Bought Lip Balm

Learn how to make soothing and nourishing homemade beeswax lip balm (Burt’s Bees copycat) that’s made with natural and toxin free ingredients!

Homemade Beeswax Lip Balm

A good lip balm is one of those must-have items for me. I have dry skin and have always had trouble with chapped lips along with it. I think I might have a lip balm in every room of my house, as well as in my car. Trust me, it’s necessary.

Homemade Beeswax Lip Balm Recipe

I’ve been making my own homemade beeswax lip balm for about 3 years now and I love it so much. Not only does it smell amazing (peppermint, always), but it’s actually so nourishing and effective. I used to use Burt’s Bees lip balm all the time, but I actually prefer my version better and it also makes a great gift as well!

With a soothing combination of shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil, and peppermint essential oils (or whatever scent you like), this homemade beeswax lip balm is so easy, costs pennies, and takes less than 15 minutes to make.

Homemade Beeswax Lip Balm

5 Harmful Ingredients in Conventional Lip Balm

I actually started making my own homemade beeswax lip balm after learning about some shady ingredients in drug store versions that are known to cause a host of health issues. It’s especially important to be aware of these ingredients because we are putting these products on our lips and we can easily consume them!

These are some common ones to watch out for and avoid:

  1. Parabens (also known as other ingredients that end in -paraben like methylparaben and butylparaben): Used as a preservative, parabens are widely recognized as endocrine disruptors. They are known to increase the risk of breast cancer and other reproductive issues.
  2. Petroleum jelly: Yes, the main ingredient in Vaseline! Petroleum jelly is a highly refined oil made from fossil fuel. Not only does it block our pores, it also contains carcinogens and chemicals known to cause estrogen dominance.
  3. Synthetic colors and dyes: These are especially common in tinted lip balms. Synthetic colors are composed of heavy metals that cause allergies and irritation, and if accumulated for a long time, are even known to cause cancer!
  4. Chemical sunscreens (also labeled as avobenzone, homosalate, oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and octocrylene): All of these chemicals help the sunscreen be absorbed in our skin fast, especially when our skin is exposed to sunlight. They are estrogen mimickers and are associated with endometriosis in women and lower sperm count in men. If you want a lip balm with SPF in it, look for ones with non-nano zinc oxide instead.
  5. Fragrance or flavor: Companies are not legally required to disclose what chemicals make up “fragrance” or “flavor” on ingredients labels. Those words can mean absolutely any chemical, whether or not it has been tested for safety. Usually, it is a synthetic concoction that includes phthalates and synthetic musks, which are known hormone disruptors.

Don’t Want to Make Your Own?

There have been times that I’ve been busy or lazy and ran out of my homemade beeswax lip balm. In those cases, I ended up buying safer option that are free of the above toxins. Here are my favorite brands that smell amazing without chemical fragrances and work really well:

  • Beautycounter’s Lip Conditioners: Beautycounter is probably my favorite skin care company that has banned over 1500 ingredients that are known or suspected to be harmful in their products, when the US has only banned 30. Their lip conditioners come in peppermint or calendula and these products are so soothing and hydrating with clean ingredients! If you are looking for something that’s tinted or has a light color, I highly recommend their sheer lipsticks which are also made with coconut oil and are extremely moisturizing.
  • Primally Pure Lip Balm: Primally Pure has amazing, natural lip balm made of all the soothing oils like coconut, beef tallow, and beeswax. They come in 5 different flavors, scented with organic essential oils, and the peppermint is my favorite. You can get 10% off your first purchase with them with code: JEAN10.
  • Perfect Supplements Lip Nutrients: These come in 2 flavors, lemongrass and tangerine, and I prefer tangerine. These contain all organic ingredients that nourish you lips you coconut oil and beeswax, along with jojoba oil, essential oils, and vitamin E. You can get 10% off with my code: GREATGRANDMA10

Perfect as Gifts!

If you are wondering what to get for someone special in your life, or if you are looking for stocking stuffers for the holidays, I highly recommend these homemade beeswax lip balm, because there’s nothing better than homemade gifts. I’ve gifted them myself before and all the recipients have told me that they love them. My mom actually insists I make her 20-30 of them every year so she can use them throughout the year. Good thing they are so easy to make!

Because these do not contain any water or moisture and only healthy oils, they actually last indefinitely so you don’t have to worry about them spoiling or going bad!

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Homemade Beeswax Lip Balm (All-Natural and Toxin Free!)

Learn how to make soothing and nourishing homemade beeswax lip balm (Burt's Bees copycat) that's made with natural and toxin free ingredients!
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes
Servings 18 lip balm tubes
Author Jean Choi

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a double boiler, or a heat-safe bowl nestled on top of a pot of simmering water over medium low heat, combine beeswax pastilles, shea butter, and coconut oil.
  • Heat for about 10 minutes until the mixture is completely melted.
  • Remove from heat and stir in peppermint essential oils. 
  • Pour the mixture into a glass cup or a measuring cup with a spout.
  • Carefully pour into the empty lip balm tubes and fill them up to the top.
  • Let them cool for 30 minutes before putting on the cap. 

Notes

*If you don't like the peppermint flavor, you can use other essential oils like grapefruit or lavender. Avoid them altogether if you prefer unscented!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

My Experience With Everlywell Women’s Health Test

Read my honest review of Everlywell Women’s Health Test, and how I applied the results to improve my PMS symptoms, anxiety, sleep, and other hormonal health issues!

Everlywell Women's Health Test

Hey friends! So many of you appreciated my review of Everlywell’s at-home Food Sensitivity Test, and the results from it were so helpful in me pinpointing exactly what was causing my symptoms and alleviating them with an elimination diet.

To further improve my health after some recent issues I’ve been dealing with, I thought it would be wise to take another test to see how my hormones were doing. I ended up taking the Women’s Health Test and I want to share my experience with you, in case you were curious about doing something similar.

Why I Chose Everlywell Women’s Health Test

If you’ve been following me along on the blog for a while, you know I’ve gone through several hormonal health issues in the past and it’s one of the reasons why I’m so careful about the food I eat and the products I use on my skin. I had a long period recovering from adrenal fatigue, suffering from stress-induced hypothyroidism for a few years, and not having my period for several years after I went off of hormonal birth control.

I’ve been slowly recovering for the past several years by taking extra caution to take care of my health, but there are still some issues that linger that seem to be hormone-related, like:

  • not sleeping well at night,
  • being super sensitive to stress,
  • intolerance to cold at all times,
  • painful menstrual cramps,
  • anxiety,
  • and being easily fatigued.

It was time for me to tackle these issues and see where I currently stand, and the hormones measured by Everlywell Women’s Health Test seemed to be the ones that would be the most helpful to know. With the positive experience I had with Everlywell taking the Food Sensitivity Test, I decided to try out the Women’s Health Test as well.

Test Process

Everlywell does a really great job of making their at-home tests easy to take with simple step-by-step instructions, as well as a video tutorial, to help guide you through the entire process. Once you order the test through their website, you get it in in the mail and the kit has everything you need, as well as a prepaid shipping label to send it back to their lab.

The first thing you do is to register your kit online so you can receive updates about your shipping and test results. Then, I had to collect 2 blood samples and 4 saliva samples within 18 days of my cycle. I actually couldn’t take the test for a few weeks after receiving it because you have to wait until day 3 or 4 of your menstrual cycle to take the first blood collection. Here is the schedule for the samples you take:

  • Day 3-4 of menstrual cycle: take first blood sample
  • Day 19-21 of menstrual cycle: take 2nd blood sample + 4 saliva samples (in the morning, at noon before lunch, before dinner, and before bed)

Taking the blood sample

Everlywell Women's Health Test

The blood samples were actually easier for me to take because I’m not afraid of needles and I’ve gone through the same process with the Food Sensitivity Test. They provide alcohol swabs, a few lancets, bandaids, and a blood collection card that you have to fill with your blood samples. You pierce the end f your finger with the lancet provided and fill 6 circles on the collection card, and that’s it.

Taking the saliva sample

I found it a bit more challenging to provide saliva samples, especially the first sample of the day which you have to collect in the largest tube within 30 minutes of waking up before food and water. I honestly didn’t feel like I had enough saliva to fill up the large tube first thing in the morning so it was a bit of an effort for me. The samples for the rest of the day were a bit easier because the tubes were smaller and my mouth wasn’t as dry as it had been in the morning.

Once you label the tubes, you can keep them in the freezer until you ship them out. When you have all the samples collected, you fill out a form that they provide. You input your personal information on the form and then you ship it out, along with all the samples, in the prepaid envelope that they provide. They then reach out to you once the results are ready.

The Results

I couldn’t believe it but my results were ready just 2 days after the lab received my samples!

The Everlywell Women’s Health Test measure 11 different hormones that are known to be instrumental in women’s health:

    • Cortisol

For the women’s reproductive system, as well as our overall health, to be functioning properly, all these hormones need to work together in a harmonious balance.

I got my results via email, and was able to look at them through the Everlywell online portal that you can access when you register your kit. You also have the the option to download the PDF version that you can print out to look over and/or share with your doctor. Here’s what it looked like at a glance:

Just from looking at the color code next to each hormone, I was fairly within the normal range for most the most part. I was actually thrilled to see that my cortisol was at a normal range throughout the day, because I’ve had blood sugar issues in the past which now seem to have normalized. I was also very happy about my thyroid numbers (free T3, free T4, TSH, and TPO antibodies) being well within the normal range, because I suffered from hypothyroidism for a little over a year during my worst days of adrenal fatigue

However, the red dot next to Estradiol and yellow dot next to Progesterone/Estradiol Ratio gave me pause, although I wasn’t surprised by them.

I knew that because of my past of chronic stress and how sensitive I am to stress still, that my estrogen levels would be higher than normal. Estrodiol is one of the 4 main estrogens occurring in women and it is the most predominant one. Estrogen dominance is a common health issue in the modern world because of everyday stressors, environmental toxins, and the harmful chemicals prevalent in the personal care products we use.

Here’s what showed when I clicked on each of these hormones:

everlywell women's health testeverlywell women's health test

Beyond these explanations, Everlywell gave some basic tips to regain my hormonal health like making changes to my diet, and more importantly for me, managing my stress. It’s something I struggle with the most so I wasn’t surprised to see this recommendation:

everlywell women's health test

While the rest of the hormones were within the normal range, I still looked them over to see if they were within the high or low ranges of normal just to make sure. Thankfully, my levels looked really good for the rest.

In addition to the practical recommendations, Everlywell also suggested various articles that I may want to check out about different hormonal health conditions like thyroid disorders, testosterone levels in women, PCOS, and more, which I found interesting and helpful. Even if they didn’t directly apply to me, I loved learning a bit more about various conditions and it also kept me aware of how I can keep my hormones healthy and happy.

Lifestyle Changes I Made Since the Test

After learning that I am estrogen dominant from the Everlywell Women’s Health Test, I decided to take further action to help regulate my hormones. It became clear to me that my stress level was a huge contributor to a variety of health issues I was dealing with.

Here are some actions I’ve taken to reduce stress in my life:

  • Meditation at the end of the day for 10 minutes.
  • Trying to journal everyday. Writing down my thoughts like what’s giving me anxiety and what I’m thankful for each day has been such a game changer.
  • Working smarter. Instead of trying to multitasking or doing all the things at once, I’ve been better about breaking up my tasks and doing one thing at a time. I’ve also been putting away my phone when I work so I’m not distracted by social media and notifications.
  • Giving myself weekends. It’s difficult as a business owner and as someone with a type A personality to stop working when you have free time. This one is still hard for me, but I’ve been trying to put work aside and give myself time to do nothing when I need it.
  • Cleaning up my personal care products. I started doing this a long time ago and I’m so glad that I did. Turning to safer brands like Beautycounter who make amazing products without harmful chemicals that disrupt our hormones has been the best decision.
  • Taking chaste tree supplements. Chaste tree supplements are amazing for PMS symptoms, estrogen dominance, and hormonal imbalance. I’ve been taking this one for about 2 weeks now, and I’m excited to report that my latest period cramps and pain have been significantly diminished! I plan to keep taking it for 3 months. Please consult with your doctor before taking this, especially if you are taking exogenous hormones.

Take the Test Yourself!

If you are having hormonal issues like menstrual cramps, irregular periods, low sex drive, hair loss, infertility, depression, and/or insomnia, Everlywell Women’s Health Test is an easy-to-use and comprehensive test that lets you get a snapshot of your hormonal health by testing out the levels of your various hormones. The test is easy to take with well written instructions to help you guide you through the process.

I’m honestly so glad I was able to take this test and see how my hormonal health was doing. I knew that I needed to take action because I was going through several symptoms which I mentioned earlier in this post, but I didn’t know exactly what was wrong with me and what I specifically needed to do to improve my health. The test has been such a great tool, and I plan to take it again in the future to see if and how much my numbers improve.

Ready to take the test yourself?

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE EVERLYWELL WOMEN’S HEALTH TEST!
Take 15% Off All Orders with code GRANDMA15.

This post contains affiliate links. In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

My Favorite Non-Toxic Mattress

After much research, learn how and why I picked my favorite non-toxic mattress that is not only natural and free of harmful chemicals, but also extremely comfortable!

Disclaimer: I was received a product to try in return for my honest review. I fully stand behind this product, and the opinions are 100% my own.

non-toxic mattress

As someone who doesn’t sleep well with even a little bit of stress, having a comfortable sleep space and mattress is essential for my health and well-being. After sleeping on a cheap mattress for 5 years with constant back pain, and moving to a new, bigger house, it was definitely time to look into upgrading our mattress.

Why Non-Toxic Mattress?

The first requirement I had when I started mattress shopping was that they had to be non-toxic. Most mattresses on the market are filled with harmful chemicals that can not only pollute the air in the bedroom, but also our bodies. With years of suffering for hormonal imbalance and health issues, this was a non-negotiable.

Some of the toxic chemicals and ingredients that I wanted to avoid are:

  • Polyurethane foam
  • Formaldehyde
  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
  • Flame-retardant chemicals
  • PVC covers
  • Vinyl

Many of these are linked to cancer and have adverse effects on our immune system, endocrine system, and our respiratory health. These compounds have also been linked to infertility, obesity, and even developmental brain disorders. They also pollute our environment as well.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping in our bed and it’s during this time that our body detoxes the most, and our bodies can’t properly do their jobs when we are loading our system with these chemicals. We also have 2 small dogs that sleep in the bed with us, and I don’t even want to imagine what those toxins could do to their tiny bodies.

Why We Chose Sleep on Latex Mattress

non-toxic mattress

After doing a ton of research on the safety and comfort of various non-toxic mattress companies, we finally landed on a brand called Sleep on Latex. Sleep on Latex mattresses are made of 100% natural latex foam without any synthetic materials that emit toxins.

Their mattresses also go through rigorous testing to make sure they are highest in quality and safety. Not only that, they are lined with certified organic New Zealand wool for a breathable cover that naturally provides an effective fire barrier without the use of fire retardant chemicals.

And most importantly, I loved that you can choose the thickness of the mattress, as well as the firmness of the mattress from soft, medium, to firm depending on your preference. I have scoliosis and soft mattresses really mess up my back and I wake up with shoulder and back pains if I sleep on one, so I had to make sure I could get a non-toxic mattress that was also firm and comfortable.

Synthetic vs. Natural Latex Mattresses

Synthetic Latex

Believe it or not, the quality of your latex MATTERS to our health and our environment. Synthetic latex is cheaper for a reason. It’s made with petroleum-based compounds, styrene and butadiene, which are both VOCs and pose serious health risks especially to our central nervous system.

And many companies will market their mattresses as “natural latex” when most of it is synthetic with a little bit of natural latex mixed in, so make sure the label says “100% natural latex.” You’ll also notice that synthetic latex will have strong chemical odor when you first open it, which also impacts our health and causes headache, fatigue, and depression long term.

Natural Latex

Natural latex, on the other hand, is made from milky white liquid extracted from rubber trees which is why it’s 100% natural. Sleep on Latex‘s mattresses, specifically, are made from latex harvested in Sri Lanka. Because of this, it is eco-friendly without any harmful chemicals, and natural latex is actually more durable than synthetic latex and it has a more springy feel.

From Sleep on Latex’s site:

Rubber trees must be grown for several years before they will yield latex. Each tree can be used for up to twenty years. The cuts in the tree are periodically changed to maximize yield. After the latex is collected from the rubber trees, it is thickened (by removing excess water) and shipped to factories for use.

Rubber tree plantations have far less of a negative impact on the land than other crops, and they encourage much more biological diversity than other monoculture crops. It takes about ten years of growth before the rubber tree starts producing sufficient amounts of latex. This waiting period ensures that new rubber trees are being planted continuously.

How cool is that? I never ever knew that natural latex came from a tree and how sustainable it is without causing harm to our health.

non-toxic mattress

Test and Certifications to Ensure Quality

On top of being made from 100% natural latex, Sleep on Latex put their non-toxic mattress through rigorous testing to make sure that they are high in quality and free of harmful chemicals, which I was extremely impressed with.

Their latex foam is certified by both OEKO-TEX and eco-INSTITUT, the world’s leading independent textile emissions testing bodies. These groups perform tests that measures any harmful emissions (such as VOCs). Products must comply with strict emissions standards to obtain certification. Sleep on Latex’s foam carries a Class 1 certification (safe for babies and toddlers) from OEKO-TEX, which is the most stringent class, and ensures that the product doesn’t contain several HUNDREDS of harmful substances, from heavy metals, carcinogenic dyes, and pesticides.

Sleep on Latex’s factory also carries an ISO 14001 certification, which is an environmental practices certification that shows that an organization has made an exceptional effort to reduce waste and use their resources efficiently to improve environmental performance.

Our Personal Experience With Sleep on Latex

Now that I explained how Sleep on Latex makes great non-toxic mattresses, I’ll go a bit into our personal experience with our new mattress!

Since we wanted to upgrade to a king-sized mattress from a queen, we decided to go with a king 9-inch thick mattress that’s firm. I was adamant about going with the firmest one because of my back issues that get worse when I sleep on a soft surface.

The mattress was delivered to our house rolled up tightly and compressed in a plastic wrap. There was no assembly needed, we just removed the plastic and the mattress sprung out into its full size. And the best part? It didn’t smell AT ALL. I always get such a headache when I order a new furniture and the smell is so strong and unpleasant, and I was so pleased that we didn’t have to air out the mattress at all before using it.

non-toxic mattress

After sleeping on it for several weeks now, I can’t say enough great things about this mattress. Not only is it so comfortable with just the right amount of firmness, I’ve been sleeping better and my back pains are significantly reduced!

I was actually nervous that it wouldn’t be comfortable at first, because it’s a natural, non-toxic mattress so they may have had to compromise on the support and texture to make it without all the synthetic materials and toxins. However, I can honestly say that it’s one of the best mattresses I’ve ever slept on and even my husband (who does NOT care about toxins or any kind of “safe” or “natural” labels) has said how comfortable and great it is!

If you are interested in switching out your mattress or are in the market for a new one, I highly recommend you check out Sleep on Latex. They also have mattress toppers and pillows, which I’m sure are great quality too.

We found that our 9-inch thick mattress doesn’t need a topper, but we may purchase their king-sized pillows now that we are in love with their mattress.

Check out Sleep on Latex here.

Other Ways to Detoxify Your Bedroom

Not only have we switched to a non-toxic mattress, we have taken several simple steps to detoxify our bedroom. The bedroom is my safe space and I want it to be peaceful and clear of any harmful substances that may lurk in various products or building materials. Here are some easy ways to detoxify your bedroom:

  • Himalayan salt lamp. Yes, not only are Himalayan salt lamps pretty to look at and create a zen space, they actually purify the air. Salt pulls in water molecules from the room, including bacteria and pollutants. When the lamp is on and heats up, it releases water molecules back into the air but holds in the pollutants, naturally purifying the air. It’s also known to increase your energy levels, reduce allergy symptoms, and help you sleep better. This is the one that I have.
  • Beeswax candles. Beeswax is  known as nature’s air purifier because it releases negative ions when burned. Any kind of air contaminants like dirt, pollen, and pollutants carry positive ions. When negative ions from the beeswax meet the positive ions in the air contaminants, they are neutralized and this purifies the air naturally. Such a cool process! Learn how to make your own beeswax candles here.
  • No shoes. We actually have a no-shoe policy in our entire house which my husband loosely follows (insert eye-roll here). Your shoes can carry pollen, toxins, and bacteria that can easily be transferred into the house, so I am especially strict about this rule in the bedroom.
  • Organic bedding. Just like how our mattresses can contain toxins and pesticides, so can our sheets and pillow covers! This one’s an easier and more economical way to reduce toxins in the bedroom if you are not ready to switch out your entire mattress yet, so I highly recommend you invest in some organic cotton sheets. We really like these sheets, and they are so soft and comfortable!
  • Plants. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love collecting plants for the house! Not only do they look pretty, they are actually really great for purifying the air. Some of the best air purifying plants are: spider plants, ficus, snake plant, ferns, aloe vera, and dracaena.
  • Air purifier. This is an obvious one, but I realized that not many people own one. Air purifiers clear the air of harmful pollutants, dust, pollen, smoke, and even mold. They range in size and price, but I really like this compact one for the bedroom that uses a 3-stage Air Filtration System that includes a pre-filter, true HEPA filter, & activated carbon filter.

I hope this post was helpful in educating yourself a bit about the importance of our mattress quality and choosing a non-toxic mattress for you and your family. Our bedroom is where we spend our time the most so I hope you’ll take some steps to detoxify your bedroom to make it a clean and safe space!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
 
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.