What’s the deal with B12?

“Carnivorous humans and paleo-enthusiasts may say that taking a supplement is unnatural and that you should eat more meat. However, consuming the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol found in meat is unnatural for humans, who are best suited for a plant-based diet. There is no health reason to eat meat. Given that one in six meat eaters is also vitamin B12–deficient, they might be wise to take an oral supplement themselves” – Shivam Joshi, MD

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When I became vegan, I felt so good for it that became a bit complacent about nutrition. When my best friend and long-time vegan asked if I was supplementing for B12 I honestly didn’t know what she was talking about. She told me about how vegans are recommended to supplement B12 as it’s hard to get it from diet. I bought an online supplement, then proceeded to forget to take it every day as recommended.

So, what is B12?

Anyone who knows anything about vitamin B12 will tell that the best source of B12 is from animal products. But vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria, not animals or plants for that matter. Vitamin B12 can be found in bacteria-laden manure and unsanitised water and also in the human intestinal tract, but these sources are inedible or insufficient to meet our nutritional needs. Many animal products contain high amounts of vitamin B12 because animals accumulate this bacteria during their lives, which bioaccumulates in their bodies. Livestock are often supplemented with vitamin B12 in their feed, sometimes through other animal’s manure. Historically, vitamin B12 from bacteria was naturally and reliably present in plant foods. However, with soil being exposed to more antibiotics and pesticides and modern sanitation practices, most plant foods are no longer reliable sources of B12. There are plant foods contain some vitamin B12, including certain mushrooms, seaweed, green powders and nutritional yeast. Others sources such as cereals, non-dairy milks, and nutritional yeast are often fortified with a crystalline form of vitamin B12. The crystalline form of vitamin B12 is actually thought to be preferable to the protein-bound form present in animal produces because it’s easier for our bodies to absorb.

What is B12 deficiency?

In one study, vitamin B12 deficiency affected 86 percent of all vegans. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a serious condition which can cause anaemia, nerve damage, neurocognitive changes and even paralysis. If you’re transitioning to veganism, one thing you should be closely considering is your vitamin B12 intake. The Vegan Society recommends one of the following:

  1. Eat B12 fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 per day
  2. Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms.
  3. Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

I have taken an oral B12 supplement over the last four years, as I said though I struggle to remember to take it daily as recommended. I have seen a steady decline in my B12 stores from blood test results over that period, even with oral supplementation. I decided to try B12 injections recently, even though my doctor had previously deferred me from it. Similar to iron, B12 is a difficult to absorb, but getting an injection means it is absorbed straight into the blood stream. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins that accumulate in your body and can have side effects in excess, B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning your body only absorbs a small amount and the rest is excreted through urine. The range for B12 stores is large from 150-800mg with less than 150mg being an indicator of deficiency. A blood test is the only way to diagnose B12 deficiency. My previous blood test indicated my B12 stores were at 180mg – in the low range. I recently had a course of four B12 injections done as a cosmetic procedure, my blood test results this week showed my B12 stores were around 800mg. B12 injections can be done cosmetically, or as I learnt this week, you can buy three ampules for around $10 over the counter at a pharmacy. You need access to a needle and syringe and someone trained to be able to inject it for you correctly, of course you can take it to your doctor to do it for you. My plan is to get a nurse in the family to give me an injection every six month or so. Of course, this is my personal choice to get B12 injections, usually they are only required when you are deficient. If B12 is a concern for you or if you are interested in learning more be sure to raise it with you doctor.

Thanks for reading,

Meg x

References and Resources

Why Every Vegan and Vegetarian Needs Vitamin B12: https://www.forksoverknives.com/every-vegan-vegetarian-needs-vitamin-b12/

Vitamin B12 Questions Answered: https://www.forksoverknives.com/vitamin-b12-questions-answered-2/#gs.pt9c=RI

What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12 (The Vegan Society): https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/vitamins-minerals-and-nutrients/vitamin-b12-your-key-facts/what-every-vegan-should-know-about-vitamin-b12

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Iron and the Anaemic Vegan Stereotype

“If you are not your own doctor, you are a fool” – Hippocrates

This time last year, I learnt I was iron deficient, again. Often when I tell people I am iron deficient they assume it is because I don’t eat meat. The truth is, since puberty I have struggled to maintain healthy iron levels. Before a blood donation in grade 12, I found my haemoglobin was so low I was refused donation and advised to consult my GP. After some blood tests I found that I was not only iron deficient, but anaemic. That year would have been my heaviest year of red meat consumption, two years prior to going vegan. According to the Australian Health Survey data, I am not alone in this:

“Females were much more likely to have inadequate iron intakes from foods than males, with one in four (23%) not meeting their requirements compared with one in thirty males (3%)”

We are often told that being vegetarian or vegan is a risk factor for iron deficiency, despite various studies which indicate that while veggos tend to have slightly lower iron stores, they are no more likely to be iron deficient than meat eaters. I feel that I am living proof of this. As iron is important in many bodily functions, this association can lead people to believing that a vegan lifestyle is an unhealthy one, one which must include deficiency and sickly looking anemia.

But first things first, what is iron?

Iron is an important mineral that helps transport oxygen around the body in red blood cells, playing a vital role in producing energy, supporting immune function and supplying oxygen to muscles. Hemoglobin tests, such as those done at the blood bank, are the most commonly used measures to screen for iron deficiency. The last stage of iron deficiency, called iron-deficiency anemia (IDA), occurs when the proportion of red blood cells in blood by volume are low. Hemoglobin concentrations which are lower than 13 g/dL in men and 12 g/dL in women indicate IDA.

There are two sources of iron; heme iron derived from blood and muscle and non-heme derived from plant-based sources.  Dr Michael Greger describes iron as a double-edge sword, non-heme is not as easily absorbed but heme iron is strongly associated with several diseases including cancer, stroke and heart disease. Therefore, non-heme iron can be considered safer in that it is less likely to cause disease.

When you eliminate heme-iron from your diet you may notice your iron stores decrease, or like me, your iron stores may significantly increase! Shortly after going vegan, having previously been refused at the blood bank, I went in and my haemoglobin reading was the highest it had ever been in about five years of donations. Though my iron stores have remained in the low range over the years I have been vegan, I haven’t again been anemic since I was as a red meat eater. This is not unusual as a vegan diet is rich in non-heme iron and vitamin C, meaning that many vegans are able to get adequate iron from their diets alone. However, in the years since I have returned to a baseline in the low range. I have accepted that low iron is something I will have to manage for the rest of my life, particularly during menstruation and pregnancy.

Plant-based foods that are good sources of iron, such as spinach, have low iron bioavailability because they contain iron-absorption inhibitors, called polyphenols. For this reason, a common nutritional recommendation is to combine a plant-based iron source with a plant-based source of vitamin C, for example add a tomato or the juice of an orange when sauteing leafy greens. Although due to consuming only non-heme iron some recommend vegans aim to consume 1.8 times more iron than is recommended to non-vegans (which by the way, is 18mg per day for women aged 18-59).

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There are many great plant-based sources of iron, however iron is a one of two vitamins I choose to supplement (the other is B12, stay tuned for this post). Anyone that has been iron deficient or anemic would be well acquainted with Ferro-Grad C, an iron supplement commonly prescribed by doctors which can be fortified with vitamin C to assist with absorption of iron. I have learnt a lot about iron supplements over the years.

Not all supplements are made equal.

After watching a Four Corners report regarding the safety of supplements I am reluctant to use them, however due to my predisposition to anemia I feel obliged too. The trouble with supplements such as Ferro-Grad C is its low bio-availability. Bioavailability for dietary supplements can be defined as the proportion of the administered substance capable of being absorbed and available for use or storage. For a time I tried liquid iron supplements ingested orally, which were effective in managing nutritional deficiency but tasted horrible. I have recently started using BioCeuticals Iron Sustain, which provides 24mg of highly bioavailable iron, activated with B vitamins and vitamin C. However, even more recently a friend has told me about iron infusions and how well she felt after receiving just one infusion. I will be seeing my doctor soon to get an iron transfusion, with is 100% bioavailable given that it is administered straight into the bloodstream.

I hope you have a little more insight into this very important vitamin and the vegan lifestyle. Even though I could be the epitome of an anemic vegan at times, many vegans have no problem maintaining healthy iron stores but if you do, at least there are plenty of means in which to manage deficiency.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Meg x

References and Resources

iron – Better Health Channel: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/iron

Iron and the Vegan Diet: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.php

The Safety of Heme vs. Non-heme Iron; http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-safety-of-heme-vs-non-heme-iron/

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013). Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.008~2011-12~Main%20Features~Key%20findings~100 (Iron)

Iron – Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional

Four Corners Repoort into the dangers of supplements: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/supplements-and-safety/7409646

To read more about iron infusions: https://www.niim.com.au/clinic/services/iron-infusions

 

 

 

Hatched (formally 2 Little Birds)

I have been visiting 2 Little Birds for a few years now because their dessert cabinet is always stocked with raw vegan salads and desserts, even back when vegan food wasn’t trending. Open from 7-5 everyday at 46B Roslyn Road in Belmont (at the top of High Street).

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They have come a long way since they opened in 2013, previously the quirky little business was a cafe and fashion/gift shop, serving coffee and cake then gradually crafted a small menu. I have enjoyed many salads there, including this cashew cream zoodle salad in February.

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I was there a couple of weeks ago and noticed that they had undertaken a big reno, which saw the clothing racks moved out and another big communal table moved in along with more seating. I was always fond of the warm, high-end interior design but the reno has taken it to the next level, whilst maintaining good acoustics – I appreciate being able to hear the person I’m having coffee with!

room

And with the new interior they got a new menu, I had the sticky rice pudding and a turmeric latte. So delicious!

sticky rice pudding

I had my coffee and second breakfast there yesterday morning and had a great conversation with the business owner, Tania. Tania explained that they are re-branding, that they had opened 2 Little Birds when their daughters were little and now they have Hatched. Tania said she was wanting to keep her business up with the times, had employed a vegan chef from Melbourne who is passionate about bringing the vegans (and non-vegans of Geelong) “things they don’t make at home”. Tania has also employed another women purely for dessert-making, she hopes to hand over the kitchen to them so she can pursue her passion for fashion.

The menu has lots of items that can be made with a vegan option (VGO), with hopes to transition to a plant-based/vegan menu. They are planning on transitioning into other environmentally responsible initiatives like solar energy and recycled water too – what a vision! There are three vegan options on the breakfast menu; slow roast granola (my current obsession,  pictured below), garden of edey (mushy’s and other goods on toast) and street tacos (because anytime is the right time for mexican, mmm).

granola

The lunch menu has me so excited to return soon and try the pumpkin gnocchi and tofu steak!

lunch

I may have tried some of the jaffa cake as well. This cafe has supported small local businesses like Natural Harry and Earth Angel Pantry but I believe they also make a lot of the desserts in-house.

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Tania said that another exciting component of the re-branding is going to be take away options in environmentally responsible packaging like cardboard. I left feeling so excited to return and satisfied that veganism is becoming more mainstream by the day.

Watch this space!

Enjoy,

Meg x

The Sprout and the Bean Cafe

I didn’t realise The Sprout and the Bean was an organic veggo and vegan cafe until I moved in with a pretty little lady who is a waitress there, my beautiful friend Em.

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The Sprout and the bean is in the heart of the Geelong CBD (163 Malop Street), open 8AM-3PM Monday to Wednesday (until 5 on Thursday and Friday for a jam of the music variety – there are many talented musicians that work and play here) as well as 9-2 on Saturdays. The menu is organic, with the highest quality produce apparently largely sourced from Organic Larder next door. It’s obvious their is a lot of thought and love behind the menu and each of the dishes. The first meal I ever tried was the T-Burger (tofu burger) and absolutely loved it.

sprout

There is often a vegan meal of the day, one of which was vegetable koftas a few weeks ago.

Koftas

The Sprout and the Bean recently participated in Taste Geelong where they put on a vegan Sprout Do Nights menu, needless to say I was there each week.

do nights

Naturally, Pat and I ordered all three…

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laska

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I confess I had that spag bol three times in two weeks, it was just that indescribably good!

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Of course we had to finish an amazing night with the passion-fruit tart!

There is always incredible single origin, organic coffee and an impressive selection of raw vegan treats on any given day. I special mention goes to the best muffin of my life though; this baby is basically a health food with beetroot, zucchini, cocoa, flax and raspberries. Oh, and the jam doughnuts, hot damn!

Muffin

And, Em’s amazing chocolate tarts…

Tart

I am eagerly anticipating the vegan big breakfast and their monthly evening openings.

Thank you Cherie, Em and Jesse – I love your work!

Enjoy,

Meg x

 

 

 

 

Armageddon Cake

I love a bit of cake.

A bit of Armageddon vegan cake and their special vegan high tea events are even better. I have only recently been acquainted with this cute little dessert bar, tucked away at 7 McLarty Place (off Little Malop Street), but ever since I’ve been a huge fan of their red velvet vegan cake. This vintage little gem is open 7-11PM from Monday to Saturday.

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Mmmm, so red, so velvety…

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Recently I was lucky enough to be able to gatecrash their vegan high tea event, it looked a little as follows. I count myself twice as lucky to have been sat beside an older woman Lee, who as the afternoon progressed and I got higher and higher on sugar, I came to call The Veteran.

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Given that I arrived an hour and a half into the event, I got a plate of all the things that had come before including savouries with a noteworthy sausage roll.

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The cake breakdown; I had chia pudding and banana, chocolate mousse, chocolate cake and an absolutely delicious carrot cake. Lee and I discussed the book I had bought with me to read (The Barefoot Investor) but didn’t open, as well as the war on waste and great places to bin dive.

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An iced mocha with soy ice cream, to boot. Lee shared with me her story of being a vegetarian for the last 20 years (vegan for the last year). When I mentioned how good the soy ice cream was she told me a harrowing story about how she used to have to buy soy milk powder and mix with water to produce a lumpy liquid as her only alternative to cows milk, hence dubbing her The Veteran. What a bloody legend.

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They saved the best until last, the ice cream sandwich on an ANZAC-like biscuit. I was really, really high on sugar by this point and was looking around on the plates of what other people had wasted. Lee egged me on to salvage a bit of carrot cake of another table, with one disgraceful bite out of it. We cackled loudly and relished in our fondness of cake and conservation.

The next Vegan High Tea will be advertised on the Armageddon Cake Facebook page, hopefully you can get in early and get a booking so you do have to gatecrash the event. If you’re even luckier you’ll meet Lee there.

Enjoy,

Meg x

 

Cauliflower and Chickpea Tikka Masala

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It’s no secret that I was Indian in a past life, India cuisine is by far my favourite. We have for some time now been celebrating Mexican Monday, which lately has been involving some cauliflower rice. The other half of the cauliflower inspired me to find a curry recipe to use it. I originally used a recipe from Vegetarian Gastronomy then modified to my personal preferences.

Ingredients

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inche piece ginger, outer skin removed, finely grated
  • 1 or 2 of your favourite chilli’s, diced
  • 3 vine-ripe medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium red capsicum, cored (optional but helps achieve that redish orange tikka masala colour)
  • 1/2 cup fresh corriandor, or more to tase
  • 1 cup coconut milk or (BonSoy milk also works well)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of organic  chickpeas, soaked for at least a few hours and cooked for an hour or until cooked (not crunchy)
  • 1 medium organic cauliflower or half a large cauliflower, washed and cut into bite sized florets
  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours is preferable and 1/4 cup water, if making cashew cream
  • Freshly chopped coriander, for garnish

Method

  1. In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat, fry ginger, minced garlic, chilli and onions. Cook for a few minutes until onions are browned.
  2. While the mixture is cooking, add all the sauce ingredients (that is, tomatoes, capsicum, coriander and coconut milk) into a blender, add the onion, garlic, ginger into the blender also and blend into a sauce.
  3. Pour the sauce from the blender back into the pan, then add all the spices listed above and mix to combine. Heat the sauce on medium-low until you achieve a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes on a medium heat.
  4. Whilst sauce is cooking, make the cashew cream (if using) by blending cashews and water and boil rice (if using).
  5. Add  the cauliflower florets and chickpeas into the sauce and cook covered for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat or until the cauliflower florets are cooked to your preference. Cook uncovered over low heat for a further 5 minutes or so.
  6. Season, turn off the heat, serve with rice or Naan and garnish with cashew cream and fresh coriander.

Enjoy,

Meg x

Food as Make Up and Zero Waste Products

As a teenager I had problematic skin; categorically classified as combination, with big pores and acne. For this reason I have a long standing belief that I must wear make up to look nice, even normal. Like many people around the world, my problematic skin cleared significantly once I gave up eating dairy products. The relationship between dairy consumption and problematic skin is well documented. Dairy (even organic and varieties without added hormones) all contain natural hormones that can lead to acne because milk is comes from pregnant cows. Some studies suggest there are around 60 different hormones in one glass of milk and cheese (coagulated milk) is even more problematic. All animal proteins contain inflammatory proteins that have been linked to disease, but dairy’s proteins have been most linked to skin problems, especially whey and addictive casein proteins. I have long stopped putting these products in my body but what about the products I was putting on my body?

I was left inspired after watching a Facebook video in which a girl made up her face using only items in her pantry, including a Mars bar… But also when I read an DIY make up article by Pure Jojoba which explained how you can make almost any make up using just nine of the following natural ingredients:

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The benefits of making your own make up are endless: it’s cheap as you’re not paying for a brand, its satisfyingly easy using a few products likely to be in your pantry, you can be sure it’s safe as you know what’s they’re natural ingredients and you can package it in whatever you like, hence avoiding pesky plastics.

Below are a few I have tried, tested and loved as well as a few I am going to try shortly:

Power Foundation

I simply combine tapioca (otherwise called arrowroot) powder and carob or cocao powder. Tapioca acts as the base, whilst carob is a sweeter tasting powder, providing a slightly lighter in colour than cocao, so I prefer to use carob in the winter and cocao in the summer. I am going to start incorporating turmeric for its oil secretion properties. You can start by combining a quarter of a cup of tapioca and carob each then add more or other powders until to achieve desired colour. I stored in my previous powder foundation container but you could also use a jar.

Blush or Bronzer

I recently attempted to make my own blush, with a beautiful big organic beetroot. I borrowed my friend’s dehydrator, sliced up the beetroot into small slices and dried for the directed amount of time. Moisture is the enemy when it comes to making your own powder so I ended up chopping into even smaller pieces and dehydrating again. I put the pieces into a high power blender and blitzed, then used my powder brush to transfer into a jar. If you find, like I have that the blush is too moist you could try putting the powder on a sheet of baking paper and baking it in the oven, then pressing it with a pestle. If this sound like too much effort, you can also buy beetroot powder online at http://www.biome.com.au. I realised whilst writing this that I had forgotten to combine my homemade beetroot powder with other powders to make a blush. As a rule, combine tapioca powder with beetroot powder, then with other powers until to reach desired colour.

To make bronzer combine brown powders like allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cocao with smaller parts of tapioca, beetroot and turmeric.

Blush

Eyebrow powder

Eyebrows are the window frames of our face… Or something. I have a love-hate relationship with my eyebrows, having to trim scarily long hairs, fill patches and darken to the colour to that of my hair colour. I was recently acquainted with activated charcoal, purchased on eBay, but you can purchase in a glass jar from biome.com or have a go at making your own. I use a thin eyebrow brush to through to the natural line of my brown. The powder you use will depend on your hair colour, use the pictures above to decide.

Mascara

I recently found a recipe for mascara by The Rogue Ginger, using (no surprises here) activated charcoal. This is Erin’s (AKA The Rouge Ginger’s recipe) which I am going to try this afternoon:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon of finely grated soap
  • 1/2 teaspoon of activated charcoal
  • 3 drops of almond, coconut oil or other oil of your preference
  • 1/8 teaspoon of filtered water

Method

Place your finely grated soap into a heatproof dish and warm on the stove (or microwave). I put my heatproof dish into a pot on the stove. As the soap warms up add the water then add the activated charcoal and oil. Mix together with a wooden skewer and pour into your designated container. Let set. Wash your heatproof dish and skewer for next time. To use wet your mascara wand with a drop of water from the tap or use purified water. Rub across your mascara and apply to your lashes as you would normal mascara. The mascara dries quickly and there is no flaking, add as many layers as desired. I’m going to try to pour mascara into my previous mascara container.

Eye Shadow

Is it just me or has eye shadow been in overwhelming excess since 2008? I feel I won’t be able to use up my supply in this lifetime, but if I can lucuma, carob, cocao would make lovey shades, activated charcoal using a fine brush could also be used as an eyeliner.

Lip Balm

I remember as a child, I would use Vaseline as lip balm. When my best friend Ella told me there was petrolium jelly in it I was in disbelief. Then when I was a teen, everyone was using Lucus Pawpaw ointment as lipbalm becuase as my friend told me “all the models are using it”, however this too has petrolium jelly in it. The Rouge Ginger’s lip balm recipe is free of heavy chemicals:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cocao butter
  • 1 tablespoon of beeswax grated (I would use soywax)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of almond oil
  • 1 teaspoon of hibiscus tea

Method

Simply mix all together and store in small container.

There are other zero waste beauty products you can easily make at home beyond make up.

Toothpaste

Homemade toothpaste is perhaps the epitome of the zero waste movement, the founder of which I would argue is New Yorker Lauren Singer, who blogs as Trash is for Tossers and has just opened the Packaging Free Shop in NYC. Lauren writes of toothpaste:

Sure, you have to get over the saltiness of the baking soda, get into using a spoon instead of a tube, and you might miss the frothing and bubbling of commercial toothpaste, but I think of it this way: There was a time when we were trained to tolerate the stinging minty paste that we all grew up with, the one that burned because it was “working.” That burning became normal – I was taught to believe that it was what clean felt like. Not because it was super clean, but because that is what my family and my authority figures said. I later realized that my aversion to brushing with baking soda wasn’t because it doesn’t work, it was because it didn’t align with how I was raised to view cleanliness.

Lauren’s recipe, which I use, is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 25-30 drops organic food grade peppermint essential oil

Method

Simply mix all three ingredients in a glass dish (I use a mason jar). To use, scoop out a little bit with a spoon and put it onto your toothbrush. Add more or less peppermint or coconut oil depending on your textural preference. Give yourself some time to adjust (I had to), it’s pretty different, but that’s OK.

You may also like to try a whitening toothpaste treatment with activated charcoal:

You need 4 tablespoons coconut oil, 10 drops peppermint essential oil, 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 teaspoon of activated charcoal. Take coconut oil in a bowl and add peppermint essential oil to it, mix it thoroughly and add charcoal. There are also many recipes with bentonite clay you could try. 

Deodorant

I have tried soy-wax based deodorants and found my pits to be smelly and my clothes to be stained. I recently tried a recipe I found on SEED blog which I find works much better at taming body odour:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil (I used virgin, because it smells nice with lemongrass
  • 10 drops lemongrass or other essential oil

Method

Simply mix all ingredients together and transfer into an empty deodorant container or a glass jar.

Dry Shampoo

I confess I used to purchase dry shampoo in an aerosol can (bad) for $9 on special (worse). Similar to powder foundation, I combine tapioca powder and activated charcoal, as I have black hair but you could tapioca on its own for blond hair or combine with the power most similar in colour to your hair. I use an old blush brush to apply onto the roots of my hair, then brush through with a hairbrush. It can seriously drag out the time between washes which is great for those of us with dry hair.

 Facial cleanser

I was recently on the http://www.biome.com website (not sponsored by them, but slightly obsessed) and saw the following recipe for a facial cleanser for acne prone skin which I am going to try when I have used up my current cleanser:

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp cocoa butter
  • 1 tbsp shea butter
  • 2 cups liquid castile soap
  • 2 tbsp certified organic palm free glycerine
  • 10 drops vitamin E oil (optional)
  • 3 tsp activated charcoal
  • 3 tsp bentonite clay
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 20 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 12 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 6 drops peppermint essential oil

Method

  1. Remove the dispenser lid from the mason jar. Place the jar into a saucepan that has been filled with about 2cm of water. Turn the heat to medium.
  2. Add the cocoa and shea butters to the glass jar and heat gently until they melt.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vitamin E oil and glycerine if using.
  4. Add the activated charcoal and bentonite clay and stir until combined with a wooden spoon (don’t use metal as it will react with the clay).
  5. Add the castile soap, followed by the essential oils and stir.
  6. Place your dispensing lid back on tightly. It is now ready to use.

I have been using Arbonne skin care for some years now however I would like to transition to making my own skin care too and will be trialing

 Facial Toner

Skin toner, or simply toner, refers usually to a liquid designed to cleanse the skin and shrink the appearance of pores. I haven’t used a toner in years as most commercial brands contain alcohol, but I have found a natural recipe that I am going to try soon (I’ve started a batch of my own ACV recently!)

 Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup strong green tea
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

Method

  1. Simply pour the green tea and apple cider vinegar into a glass jar or a glass spray bottle.
  2. Use a cotton ball to apply your homemade toner after cleansing or as often as desired.
  3. Store this toner in the refrigerator–it should keep for about two weeks this way.
  4. While these two ingredients alone are enough to make a homemade toner, you can also experiment with adding things like: Orange essential oil (astringent, oil-reducing, stimulates collagen production), Lavender essential oil (antimicrobial, soothing, anti-inflammatory), Lemon juice (brightening, toning, helps reduce red marks).

Moisturiser

I was taught to always use a high-quality moisturiser from adolescent however I feel my skin has become overly dependent on moisturisers to regulate the oils on my face. Very recently I have been looking into using essential oil serums as a moisturiser, especially on My Nourished Life.  From her bog I learnt of the importance of selecting a cold pressed carrier oil such as jojoba, castor or sweet almond oil, which acts as a base and dilutes the essential oil moisturiser serum (20:5 ratio normally).

For Oily Skin

These oils have properties that tend to regulate and normalize oil production:

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Bergamot
  • Geranium
  • Cypress

For Breakouts and Blemishes

These oils can be added to your moisturizer to calm and prevent breakouts, and can also be applied neat (undiluted) as a spot treatment:

  • Melaleuca Alternifolia (tea tree)
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli

For Dry, Chapped Skin

If your skin tends to be dry and chapped, a deeply moisturizing oil like shea butter or cocoa butter is a good base. Argan oil and rose hip oil are also good facial oils for deep moisture. Here are the essential oils that are best for dry skin types:

  • Cedarwood
  • Geranium
  • Myrrh
  • Sandalwood
  • Chamomile

For Aging Skin

Argan oil and rose hip oil are some of the best oils for aging skin that tends to be prone to wrinkles and sagging. Use them as a carrier oil and then add these essential oils to nourish aging skin:

  • Tangerine
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Sandalwood
  • Lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Rose

For Combination Skin

These are some of the best essential oils for skin that tends to be both dry and oily:

  • Patchouli
  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Orange

For Red Marks and Dark Spots

Some of the best essential oils for skin with red marks or dark spots are:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Frankincense

These can be used in a serum for toning and brightening skin, especially if you tend to need help with uneven skin tone. Simply use 3-5 drops each per tablespoon of carrier oil.

Body Butter

My dear friend Katie, who founded SEEDblog.net swears by this recipe for body butter, but I also found another recipe which is exactly the same but uses coconut oil instead of shea butter (also whip from solid with essential oils for several minutes).

Ingredients

  • Half a cup of shea butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon base oil, for example extra virgin olive oil
  • 10-20 drops essential oil(s); optional, for example you can use lavender oil

Method

  1. Before you start to prepare whipped shea butter, make sure your unrefined shea butter is on a room temperature. Do not melt or heat it! Put your shea butter in a bowl and mash it with a fork. The same way you make a mashed potato.
  2. Add base oil(s) and mash it little bit more.
  3. Put the mixture into the mixing bowl. Mix it on a high speed with electric mixer for approximately 5 minutes.

Perfume

Essential oils are actually a relatively new product for me. Last year I purchased essential oils off an online candle making company, not realising the difference in quality. My dear mother buys me perfumes for my birthdays and Christmas gifts but I have kindly asked her for books instead. Between the alcohol in perfume and the corporate greed of companies and celebrities that profit from designing them, I’d prefer to opt out and use simple essential oils from trusted brands such as DoTerra. Aromas such as lavender has long been used in aromatherapy for relaxation and skincare, dilute with a carrier oil such as almond oil or rose hip oil, I’m thinking I could use a facial moisturising serum as a perfume on my wrists. Isn’t simplicity lovely?

Have fun and enjoy,

Meg x

 References and Resources

The correlation with dairy and skin problems: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/the-dairy-and-acne-connection/

How to make your own activated charcoal: http://www.paris-to-go.com/2014/07/diy-activated-charcoal-and-homemade.html

Toothpaste recipe: http://www.trashisfortossers.com/2013/10/zero-waste-toothpaste.html

Mascara recipe: http://www.therogueginger.com/2014/08/home-made-mascara.html

Facial cleanser recipe: http://www.biome.com.au/blog/category/diy-skin-care/

DIY deodorant and body butter recipes: https://www.seedblog.net/blog/

Body butter recipe: http://sheabutterguide.com/shea-butter-recipes/

Deodorant: https://diaryofamadcrafter.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/handmade-deodorant/

Moisturising oils for differing skin types: http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/best-essential-oils-for-skin/

I purchased DoTerra oils from: http://www.shopnaturally.com.au/doterra-australia.html