Category Archives: Naturally Beautiful

Natural Beauty DIY: Better than Store-bought Facial Exfoliant

Most people know by now that commercial facial exfoliants with those little plastic micro beads are bad for the environment and have looked for alternatives.  Thank Goodness!

However, I don’t understand why people are willing to still buy products, containing other harmful ingredients, in packaging (that may or not be recyclable) and throw down a huge chunk of change to do it.  I just did a quick search and saw a dozen or so facial exfoliants, ranging in price from $5 to $50.  My facial exfoliant is all natural, only has two ingredients and costs practically nothing.  You can make it right now.

Honey-Sugar Facial Exfoliant

Pour approximately a tablespoon of honey onto a dish or in a small bowl.  Add a teaspoon of sugar. Mix them together.  Apply to damp skin in gentle circular motions with your fingertips.  Avoid your eye area.  (If any gets in your mouth, eat it!)  Rinse with warm water.  Voila! Beautiful smooth skin!

Sometimes, we seem to consume for no other reason than …just because.  Our inner child is lured by a shiny new package (destined to crowd landfills and pollute our oceans.)   We are looking for a quick fix to assuage our fears and insecurities.  So we buy something that we not only don’t need but may cause us harm either through artificial ingredients or by befouling Mama Earth.  Let’s top the madness; shall we?  Let’s take care of ourselves by being creative instead of blindly consuming.

How do exfoliate your skin?  Do you DIY your beauty products?  Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Natural Lady: DIY Make-up Remover and Reusable Rounds

It took me a very long time to find an eye make-up remover that I liked.  A lot of them would sting my eyes or leave my skin chafed.  I found I really like the make-up remover wipes from Trader Joe’s but they were quite pricey. There were only 20 in a pack, requiring me to buy 2 a month.  All that plastic packaging and disposable material made me feel a little guilty.  So, I decided to try to make my own.

I culled through dozens of Do-it-yourself recipes on the internet.  They were wildly disparate and contradictory at times but three ingredients kept coming up over and over: witch hazel, water and some kind of oil.  Of course, I could find little consensus on how much to pour of each in order to make a bottle.  So, I decided not to use a bottle at all.

reusable rounds

I use a reusable round (mine are made out of bamboo and are really more oblong) and I put a drop of jojoba oil on it, followed by a drop of witch hazel and then I spritz it with rose water.  And voila! It works great and doesn’t sting.

Effectiveness is only one benefit.  There are others. I like keeping all these ingredients separate because I use them all separately as well.  By combining them as needed, on the spot, I am less likely to run out of anything and not have it available to use for another purpose.  Oh my goodness, the money you save!  I used to spend between around $10 a month on those wipes.  I have had that bottle of witch hazel for years.  Jojoba lasts a really long time too because you need to use so little of it.  The rose water I go through fairly quickly but that’s only because I like to spray all over my body from head to toe.

Do you think you will give it a try?  Do you have your own formula?  Leave me a reply in the comments section.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Being (a) Patient: Progress Isn’t Always Pretty!

Five days from now,  I will go to my uber-talented prosthodontic clinician who will once again rebuild my much abused flipper.

What’s a flipper?  A flipper is a dental prosthesis that simulates teeth that are missing.  It’s used by damaged people like me and pint-sized beauty queens  who are in between their baby teeth and adult teeth.

I have not been able to wear my flipper for over a month, due to a complication with the augmentation bone graft, I had done in  September to restore the bone I lost when I fell.  Originally, my periodontist cut my flipper back to keep it away from the graft.  However, it was still cutting off the circulation to my gum.  So, I had to lose it to ensure the best possible result.

I have mixed feelings about wearing it again.  Physically, I am more comfortable without it.  It tastes like plastic.  It presses against my gum and hard palate all day.  It makes me gag.  It make me cough.  It makes me angry.  It reminds me to hold the handrail on stairs.  Emotionally though, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me feel like maybe people will think I just have adult braces.  It makes me feel less… vulnerable.  I don’t like to feel vulnerable.

I keep my top lip pulled down when talking to people.  When I laugh or even smile, my hand flies up to cover the gap left behind by my two missing front teeth.  I’ve realized since this has happened that a toothy grin can compensate for more than just physical insecurities though.  When you can’t flash a smile, tilt your head and toss your hair, your personality flaws become glaringly obvious.  When it comes to conversation, I’m not an artist.

I think, perhaps, writers are writers because it gives us a chance to express what we would have liked to have said in any given moment, if only we could have thought of it at the time.  If only…

I am determined to learn from this experience and be better for having gone through it.  I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet.  Habits form over decades; not all at once.  Change doesn’t happen all at once.  I hope that by the time this is all over that I can look back and see that I have taken one step at a time in the right direction.

Love and Many blessings to All,

Cynthia

justdragonfly

Natural Hair Care: Are You Caring for Your Hair or Just Styling It?

I stopped coloring my hair sometime in the spring of 2012.  I figured at a certain point in life, you just have to be good enough the way you are.  And I figured if my hair is more brown than blonde these days, well, I’m still loveable.

When I moved in with my folks after Hurricane Sandy, Mom threatened for a while to highlight my hair while I was sleeping… “Come on, just a few to frame your face, Cindy.”  She realized though that I was serious about going natural and eventually gave up.

My natural hair care has since gone even wilder than putting a halt on chemical color.  I noticed that although my hair wasn’t breaking off as much when I stopped, it still seemed to break more than I felt it should.  A little investigation revealed that harsh chemicals aren’t just in hair color and lighteners; they are in nearly every mass-market, commercial hair product we use.   I’m not just talking about mousse, hairspray and gel; they are in your shampoo and conditioner too.  Grab a bottle of anything you use on your hair (or face or body) and see how many of the ingredients you can pronounce.

In the interest of keeping your interest and this blog post a considerate length, I will not be explaining the perils of every ingredient.  (You’re welcome!) One of the biggest culprits in shampoo and body washes is Sodium Laureth (Lauryl) Sulfate, a foaming agent.  Ohhhh, I like a rich foamy lather!  The problem is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a known skin and eye irritant.  It’s kind of funny that we would choose to slather our skin with something that irritates it.  Are we all a bunch of masochists?  The other big concern with SLS is the manufacturing process, know as ethoxylation, produces 1,4 dioxane contamination, a known carcinogen.  Products with SLS contain traces of these 1,4 dioxanes.

It’s easy to dismiss it and say “weeeeelllll, if it is only trace amounts… is it really going to cause cancer?”  Well, I don’t know but when you consider how often most people wash their hair and skin… you are putting this stuff all over your body every day!  That’s a pretty significant environmental toxin if you ask me.

Sulfates are not just potentially poisonous; they also damage your hair and skin.  Ironic, right?  Harsh chemicals in all types of hair care products are dehydrating your hair and stripping off the natural oils that make your hair naturally soft and shiny.  The more products you use, the more you damage your hair.  Then the more you damage your hair, you use even MORE products to make it look shiny and healthy again.  The crazy part is that if we didn’t use these products (or heated styling tools) our hair would be shiny and healthy!  Even more ironic, right?!

Americans never used to wash or style their hair this much.  I remember my Nana would get her hair washed and set once a week.  That shellac-ed masterpiece looked about the same going into the salon, as it did coming out.  I don’t want my hair to look like a helmet but it does show, you can go a week without shampooing and your hair won’t smell or look greasy.

You might think your hair is especially oily and needs to be shampooed every day.  I did.  However, the truth is that is how you trained your scalp.  When you constantly strip your natural oils away, your scalp makes more oil to compensate.  When you stop shampooing all the time, your scalp will slow down the oil production.  At this point, I wash my hair twice a week: on Wednesdays, I shampoo and condition it (with a low hazard, organic shampoo and conditioner); over the weekend, I do a baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse (acv).  I have fine hair.  So, if it looks a touch oily in between washes, I sprinkle a little arrow root powder on it to absorb the oil.  I find this also creates volume at the roots.  How nifty is that?  No mousse or hairspray.  All natural, you can even eat it.

A good rule of thumb in general… if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, you probably want to at least limit how much you put on your skin.

So, tell me, how often do you shampoo?

Love and Blessings to all,

Cynthia

Resources:

Are you intrigued by washing your hair with baking soda and rinsing it with apple cider vinegar?  Crunchy Betty has already laid it out brilliantly http://www.crunchybetty.com/no-poo-to-you-too

Would you like to know the hazard level on the products you use?  Then you might want to check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database,  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/  There is an app you can download to your smartphone or apple mobile device to scan bar codes.  So, you can be informed before you purchase.

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justdragonfly

 

What is a Quick, Easy, Natural Way to Chase the Blahs Away?

What is the quickest easiest way to chase the blahs away?  Buy new underwear!

I am not kidding.  Go look at your underwear drawer right now.  Pull out at least three pairs of panties that are ready for retirement.  Go ahead, I’ll wait… It’ll only take two seconds if you are anything like I used to be.

I have a confession to make.   I was something of an underwear hoarder.  My drawer was filled to the brim with old underpants.  If they didn’t fall off when I put them on, they were keepers.  Then one day while I was folding the laundry, I noticed the sorry, motley lot of undies that had been covering my tushy (Never know whether I am spelling that correctly,) in some cases for more than a decade.  Yikes!

You found more than three; didn’t you?  Why do we do this?  Why do we hold onto things that are ripped, frayed, old and faded?  Think about this for a minute.  Your underwear is the first item of clothing you put on every morning.  Look at the three pathetic has-beens you just pulled out of your dresser; is that really how you want to start your day?   Do you feel confident going out into the world with those on!?!  Please throw them out right now and go pick up new ones in the next 24 hours.  Don’t tell me you can’t afford it.  If you can read this blog right now, you can afford to treat yourself to some new underwear.

I am not talking about anything fancy.  They don’t have to be silk, satin, mink (please don’t buy mink!) or certainly not diamond-encrusted, but for Goodness’ sake, they better not have a safety-pin holding them together either!  (Yep, you know who you are!) Do yourself a favor; toss those three pairs right now and go buy yourself three, new, all-cotton panties… briefs, bikinis…whatever makes you happy but dammit they should be cute!  And you should feel cute when you put them on in the morning.

On a naturally healthy note, all cotton is a really good idea. Synthetic fabrics can be irritating to delicate skin. It’s also important to keep it breezy down there.  Cotton allows for more airflow and less moisture.  Moisture can lead to infections and unpleasant odor.  That’s not cute!

Okay, you have your orders, now go!  You’ll be glad you did.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: A Moment of Gratitude

When you have been through as many dental consults as I have (six periodontal, four prosthodontic and two orthodontic) and several months of procedures with an oral surgeon, you can get pretty tired of going to dentists’ offices, especially when the actual dental reconstruction work hasn’t started yet.  It begins to feel endless before you even begin.  Then the blessing comes.

I had to have my broken bicuspid bonded in order to be able to have a brace put on it.  The entire front was missing. I am going to be in braces for over a year. So my prostho didn’t want to put a temporary crown on it for that long.  When he said he was going to bond it, I figured it would like a patch, similar to the blob of bonding material my oral surgeon put behind another tooth to save it.

So, you can imagine my surprise when he molded it to look like an actual tooth…  not just a tooth either, MY TOOTH.  I could barely talk when his assistant put the before and after photo up on the monitor. It looked like it had never been broken… like nothing at all had happened to it.  It looked perfect!

I know it’s just one tooth and a temporary solution at that.  I still have a looooooong way to go in this dental reconstruction but it’s hard to express how it good it felt to have that first little step be so beautiful!  I felt a little bit more like myself than I have in a long time.  Even with my appliance in, I felt uncomfortable smiling wide because I knew my broken tooth would still show.  Thursday night, I wore the widest, brightest (had a cleaning too) smile that I have had in almost six months when I showed his work to my family.

I knew the prosthodontist I had chosen was an artist.  …I can always spot one a mile away.  I wasn’t worried about whether he could do the work but it is awfully nice to see proof that I was right in my own mouth!

What was your big moment of gratitude this week?

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

Naturally Beautiful: What does it mean?

This one is not so easy for me…

A week or so ago a video of Dustin Hoffmann went viral in which he described his experience of being perceived as a woman while prepping for his role in Tootsie.  It was very moving because he broke down when he realized that he couldn’t look as beautiful as he wanted to.  He realized that, as a woman, he would be passed over based on his appearance, despite being an interesting and worthwhile person in so many ways.  He realized that he, himself, had done that to many women who did not meet his physical requirements of beauty.

I found this particularly moving because I‘ve been struggling somewhat with my appearance since my top eight front teeth were damaged in March.  A friend of mine inquired about my “love life” recently, I sort of snorted and replied, “Hahahhaha, it would take a very special or very un-special man to look past my banged up grill.”

The funny part about all this is I am not a fussy gal.  Before this happened, you were just as likely to see me in sweats and no make-up, as you were to see me done up.  I’ve never been a perfect specimen but I was pretty and had learned over the years that I cleaned up well when I wanted to.  I just didn’t worry about it.  Now I do.  I am much more careful about putting myself together because I don’t feel like myself without my smile.  I wear a decent appliance that covers my missing front tooth but when I start to smile, I can feel my top lip getting close to the top edge of the device and I quickly yank it back down.  It really sucks being this self-conscious all the time.  And before I had the appliance, I did notice a difference in the way people reacted toward me.

I do know one special guy who never makes me feel self-conscious about the way I look, my dad.  A few weeks ago, he had to have a tooth pulled.  My dad is a handsome guy but he had a completely different attitude about it.  He made pirate noises and seemed to get a kick out of flashing his space at my mother.  He started referring to himself as Big Gap and me as Little Gap.  “You call that a gap, Cindy.  That’s not a gap.  This is a real gap!” He even convinced me to take this photo.  No small feat.  It is the first one since I fell.

Big Gap and Little Gap

I am not sure I can be as laid-back about my damaged teeth as Dad is, but this dental reconstruction is going to be a long haul and the final result is not guaranteed.  Soon I will have to wear braces for the first time in my life.  So, I realize it would be a good idea to figure how to handle the situation with grace and humor.  Maybe that is the most natural beauty you can acquire.  I haven’t got it all figured out yet but I am so grateful that I have Dad to light the way for me.

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Scars: What can ya do about ‘em naturally?

It’s been five and a half weeks since the accident.  While Doc fixes the inside of my mouth, I’ve decided to focus on the outside, namely my upper lip.  You can see in the photo below, I still have quite a fat lip and that jaggedy scar is what remains of the deepest cut you can get.  Basically, I ripped my lip all the way through in two places.  So, the scar continues on the inside of my mouth and loops around in a U shape back out again…Ugh!

Unretouched photo of my lip 5 weeks and 3 days after the Fall

Unretouched photo of my lip 5 weeks and 3 days after the Fall

 

So, how do I fix it naturally?  Well, since I got home from the hospital I have been rubbing aloe and organic lavender oil on it at least twice a day.  Most people know about using aloe vera to soothe burns but may not realize that aloe has swelling reduction and skin rebuilding properties.   Lavender oil, according to herbalist Brigitte Mars, “is an essential oil that is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It can be applied topically to wounds, burns, bruises, insect bites and blisters. Lavender reduces the risk of infection, reduces pain and stimulates skin regeneration. When inhaled it has a calming effect on the nervous system and gives comfort during times of trauma.”

My mom has offered several times to buy Mederma for me.  An offer I appreciated but being a nature gal, I wanted to find out what was in Mederma before I tried it.  It turns out that the active ingredient is an onion extract.  There is much debate about whether Mederma is effective or not.  However, I did learn that rubbing onion on a scar may well work on its’ own. Onion is believed to inhibit the over-production of collagen thus suppressing the formation of scar tissue and is an also an anti-inflammatory.   So, I have added rubbing raw onion on my scar to my routine.  (Smelly?  Perhaps… but after being on a liquid diet for 5 and a half weeks, I kind of like it.)

Doc suggested I massage my fat lip to keep scar tissue from forming and because he thought felt a salivary gland dropping down.  (Weird, right?  I had no idea we have secondary salivary glands in our lips either! )  Anyway, I had already been using coconut oil to keep my lips soft and chap-free.  So, now it is massage oil as well.  Coconut oil is also good to use on scars because it may prevent and reverse free radical damage.

I ordered Vitamin E oil and Shea Butter too. Vitamin E is good for skin because it increases circulation and is also a very effective anti-oxidant against free radicals.  Shea Butter is a good source of Vitamin E and Vitamin A.  Shea Butter is also an incredible emollient that will moisturize your skin and make it silky soft.  Keeping the skin soft is important because the last thing you want is for damaged skin; is for it to get dry, leaving it even more vulnerable to further damage.  To that end, I have also been wearing a hat outside to protect my face from the sun, to avoid it getting dried out or burned.

So, what are your tips for treating scars and damaged skin?  I would love to read them.  Please share!

Love and Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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