Thursday, January 24, 2013

DIY: Daily Cleansing Grains

For almost two years now, I have been making some variation of a cleansing grain recipe. Inspired by Rosemary Gladstar's Miracle Grains, I researched, ground and blended all kinds of ingredients to create my perfect cleansing grains.

What was I looking for? Texture, consistency, ease of use, application, and cleaning power. This recipe has it all and requires only four inexpensive ingredients that are available at most stores.

The cleansing grain recipe beings with oat flour as the base. Oat flour has a finer texture than rolled oats but all the same benefits. It soothes and heals the skin, reduces inflammation, and provides gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells. It is also very absorbent, a must in an all-natural face cleanser.

Then I incorporated ground adzuki beans (a.k.a. azuki beans). Adzuki beans are a food staple in Japan and have also been used in skin care for centuries. The ground beans are the coarse exfoliant in this recipe. I like them because the texture of the powder is softer and gentler than more mainstream ground walnut shells or apricot kernels. The adzuki beans also turn the mixture milky, which I really like in this recipe.

The third ingredient is bentonite clay. Bentonite is the cleaning powerhouse in this recipe. The benefits of bentonite clay are well documented. Bentonite heals wounds, absorbs oils, removes impurities, improves circulation, combats acne, exfoliates, and more. Bentonite is also compatible with most skin types, including sensitive skin. 

Finally rice flour provides microdermabrasion texture without being overpowering or irritating. Rice flour has a reputation for brightening skin and was used by Geishas in Japan to keep their faces smooth and lighter in color. I like it for its texture, but I'm happy to know it has been used as a DIY ingredient in skin care for generations. 

Daily Cleansing Grains in action.

DIY: Daily Cleansing Grains:

5 parts oat flour
3 parts adzuki bean flour
2 parts bentonite clay
1 part rice flour

First, grind the adzuki beans in coffee grinder until they are a fine powder. Using a fine mesh strainer, sift the ground adzuki beans and discard coarser pieces (see Adzuki Body Scrub recipe for using coarse adzuki). Depending on your preference, you can leave the adzuki powder a little coarse or you grind and sift the powder a second time to get a fine, even texture. I do it twice.

Then combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. To get a uniform consistency, I grind and sift the cleansing grain mixture one more time, but this is not necessary. Store the cleansing grains in a clean glass jar or spice shaker with a sifter top.  

I make about 6 oz by replacing "parts" with "tablespoons" in the recipe, but I recommend trying out a small batch first. You can adjust the ratios or add new ingredients as you experiment with new batches.

To use, mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of the grains with warm water in a small bowl. I use a small glass votive candle container. Stir the mixture into a paste and gently massage onto your face. For a mini facial, leave the grains on your skin for 1-2 minutes. Then rinse off with warm water. It sounds simple, but I find that people can be intimidated by the prospect of "mixing" their cleanser to the right consistency. I never get it exactly right. And sometimes, that's my favorite part.

For example, making a drier mixture makes the cleansing grains more like a mask. I work it gently into my skin in layers and by the end I have this thick, even mask. I let it dry for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off.

When I want a more milky cleanser, I add more water than usual and let the mixture sit for 2-3 minutes. The adzuki bean releases milky goodness and the texture becomes almost fluffy. With this wetter mixture, it works more like an exfoliant than a cleanser.

I also have to address the idea that exfoliation should be done only one or twice per week. Having worked for two major department store beauty brands, this was drilled into my head during trainings. Then I learned that skin regenerates by shedding dead skin cells and pushing new ones to the surface. I though, "I want new skin cells!"

After using the cleansing grains daily for almost two years, I'm happy to report that I can exfoliate every day and my skin is clearer and fresher than ever. It has also been less sensitive. I'm not sure if that's from switching to mostly all-natural products or from the daily gentle exfoliation, but this recipe covers both scenarios.

Experimenting helped me create my perfect cleansing grain recipe. I hope you share your recipes or variations of this recipe in the comments below!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

DIY: Adzuki Body Scrub

Arrowhead Mills Adzuki Beans @Amazon
Coarsely-ground adzuki beans are a by-product of my cleansing grains recipe. Instead of composting them (vermiculture all the way), I decided to whip up a quick body scrub using the ground adzuki beans, which originated in China and Japan. 

I combined ground adzuki with olive oil just until the beans were soaked. Some oil-based body scrubs have a thick layer of oil above the exfoliant, but I prefer a drier scrub. I added enough olive oil  to leave a smooth, glassy surface on the scrub. Then I used it on my wet skin, scrubbing in a circular motion to gently remove dead skin cells. The scrub left me soft and smooth and felt great on my dry winter skin. Although a little messy, I was pleasantly surprised that the adzuki beans had an even consistency and adhered well to the oil. The mixture stayed on my skin while I scrubbed and spread easily and evenly... very important for a body scrub. I didn't mind the slightly earthy scent of the adzuki beans, but try adding just a couple drops of your favorite essential oil if you want a scented scrub.

I always forget to measure things out (and take pictures too), but here is my guesstimate for one, whole-body application:

4 tablespoons coarsely-ground adzuki beans 

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine in a bowl and mix well.

As for how to use, I took a warm shower to soften my skin and open up my pores for exfoliation. I find that the scrub cleansed my skin quite well, but if you want to use soap, do it before scrubbing. You want to make sure you don’t soap off the olive oil because it nourishes and hydrates your skin after rinsing. And all oil-based mixtures have a tendency to leave some oil residue on your bath or shower floor, so be careful.

I bought my adzuki beans in bulk at my favorite local market (shout out to Ward's), but you can buy organic adzuki beans on Amazon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Reader Stars: Top DIY Recipes & Beauty Posts from Nov & Dec

Last year went by in a whirl. It was a great year, although tough at time with lots of work and traveling. I’m optimistic that 2013 will be an even better year. My goal is to manage work with chores, relaxation and blogging. I also want to make journaling and exercise more ingrained habits. To start the year off right, here is a recap of my favorite blog posts from November and December 2012. I look forward to sharing more of my own recipes and experimenting with different ingredients. Best wishes in this new year!

12 Uses for Gelatin
Wellness Mama
Who knew that gelatin could be used in diy recipes to strengthen hair?

My Curly Hair: How (and Why) I’ve Learned to Embrace (and Even Love) It
As a curly-haired chick myself, I’ve learned to love my curls au naturel.

True Beauty Box For the Stylish & Toxic-Free at Heart
Organic Beauty Talk
Loving the idea of a green beauty box with full-sized products!

10 Ways to Go Green in 2013
My Merry Messy Life
We have already adopted many of these tips, but this year we’re going to try toilet cloths. Wish me luck. Ps. check out the Make Your Green and Natural Beauty Products post.

My Top DIYs of 2012
Michelle Phan
Includes: DIY Ice Cucumber Pads, The Potato Eye Trick, DIY Skincare: Lemongrass Facial, Steam, DIY Sun Soothers, The Cinnamon Lip Plumping Trick

DIY Beauty: round up of my favorites recipes
Viva Woman
Because we’re making DIY a theme in this Reader Stars post... I particularly liked the Sun Protection Oil recipe!

DIY Flaky Skin Remedy
And the secret ingredient is... drumroll... milk. This remedy is quick and easy. Milk also works great as a face mask mixed with bentonite clay.

Want to Get Soft Hands? Make Your Own Homemade Hand Scrub!
The Nourished Life
Because I LOVE all the ingredients in this recipe!

Are Probiotics Good for Your Health?
Dr. Cynthia Bailey Skin Care
I swear by probiotics for a healthy digestive system, but I was surprised to find out they have skin benefits too.

The Top Fifteen Natural Beauty Workshop Recipes
The Natural Beauty Workshop
Lots of fun bath and body recipes, like Blissful Body Mousse and Rainbow Sprinkle Bath Tub Cookies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DIY: Light Moisturizing Face Oil

Try putting on any kind of moisturizer in this humid weather (can anyone say Debby and Isaac?), and my face immediately starts sweating. Gross!

I needed something light and nourishing that would allow my skin to breathe. Here's my quickie recipe:

Light Moisturizing Face Oil


2 parts Grapeseed Oil
1 part Apricot Kernel Oil
1 part Macadamia Oil
1 part Sweet Almond Oil

Vitamin E Oil (5 drops per oz of blended oils)

Blend all of the oils together. Pour only a couple drops of the oil blend onto your palm and warm the oil between your hands. Then lightly press oil onto neck and skin. I like my skin to be damp, but it's more a personal preference.

I only blend small batches, so I made about an ounce of oil blend and mixed in 5 drops of vitamin e oil. Vitamin e helps prevent the oils from going rancid and has tons of healing properties for the skin.

My boyfriend and I are really enjoying this oil blend. As winter approaches, I'll start adding in heavier, more nourishing oils. 

Reader Stars: Top DIY Recipes & Beauty Posts from July & August

Here are the blog posts that I Starred in July & August:

Revitalise Your Health
Love her choices of DIY recipes!

Each recipe is for a different type of application: spray, powder and stick.
Follow @vivawoman

7 Ingredients- 20+ DIY Beauty Recipes  
Wellness Mama
Always stocked up on these 7 ingredients, so I'm loving the recipe options.
Follow @TheWellnessMama

@BEskincareful, loved all the pictures!
Just because I would love to own a place like this one day...

Tada! Crunchy Betty’s Natural Market on Etsy
Crunchy Betty
Bought the You Macca Me Glow cleansing grains and am loving the results in this horribly humid, hot weather we're having in Florida.

All-Natural Bug Spray Recipe  
Garden Therapy
I hate bug bites. End of story. 
Follow @Garden_Therapy

Using Cosmetic Clays  
The Natural Beauty Workshop
Stocked up on white clay, red clay, green clay and bentonite this past weekned, so I can't wait to play!
Follow @FNWL